Thursday, May 31, 2012

I managed to plant the container plants on Tuesday -- tomatoes, basil and other spices, and lettuce, despite what was the hottest May day in memory! It was brutal. I could work for no more than 90 minutes before I had to come inside and take a break, so the task took longer than anticipated. If I had known that yesterday would be so much less humid, I may have waited. I did the hanging baskets last week, so today's job is the bean and cucumber garden, which involves rototilling. I love my rototiller! I am going to give zucchini a try again. I have never had much success with it in Castleton, but what the heck. May need to weed whack (again!), or maybe that is tomorrow's task.

Later: prepared the garden all the way through rototilling, but did not plant. So that's on my agenda for tomorrow. (Also weed whacking.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Samsonville weekend was long and productive! Bob mowed, I planted zucchini and pole beans, we took the cover off the pool, went to the Memorial Day parade (the band was a little better than usual -- they played two songs), and did a lot of visiting. Ticks are no joke this year; I pulled one off of Sam on Friday (dog tick); Bob had one crawling on his wrist after mowing on Saturday, and I found one crawling around in my hair after we got back to Castleton. Both of the ticks on us were deer ticks. (And I took a shower and put my clothes in a plastic bag after removing the cover from the pool! I even sprayed myself with Off before that task, which is something I never do.) There were a few deer flies hoving around while we were working too. I should be more scared of those since that is how I got Lyme Disease! Maybe it is because ticks look like mini spiders?

Ah, that reminds me. While removing the cover from the pool, I encountered the biggest beetle I have ever seen. Seriously. It wasn't a June bug, either. Those are always big, but this made a June bug look like a Lady bug. Moments later, a huge spider appeared. Not only was it large, it was incredibly scary-looking. Hairy, fast, with an exotic pattern. Blended into the pool cover exactly. It wasn't a Black Widow or Brown Recluse (thank God). It looked like a Tarantula. Terrifying! I think Bob thought I was over reacting -- I was standing on the pool deck, removing leaves from the cover. There was no where to go to quickly get away from the thing -- couldn't jump into the pool and one of the stairs on the ladder is broken so you need to step carefully. He came up to see what the fuss was about, probably expecting to see a large wood spider or something. When he finally spotted it -- he freaked out too. This spider looked like it could take you down without breaking a sweat. I am not sure where it went once he got a look. It didn't stick around. Wasn't scared of me but figured he was a threat, I guess.

When we got back to Castleton, it had been so hot that my poor plants were so thirsty. Most looked dead. But I soaked them,and today they are fine. So -- planting day! The mosquitoes seem kind of tame by comparison to the jungle creatures in Samsonville.

Later: Google search indicates that it was probably a Wolf spider. A very large one! Biggest, hairiest and most colorful one I've ever seen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

No student questions about grades! That might be a first. I will post breakdowns in blackboard next week, but it's nice to not have to answer those emails. I am going out shortly to see whether gardening is possible. I tried yesterday but it was still too wet -- and so buggy. When the bugs are bad here, they are intolerable. I plan to weed whack regardless, unless it is so bad that I can't take it. The grass isn't that high yet but with a Samsonville weekend on the agenda, it will be up to my knees on Monday. The bugs have not been terrible this year, and I assumed it was the warm week in March followed by a cold snap -- repeated in April -- that zapped them. But maybe that was wishful thinking. We'll see..

Later: I was a mosquito banquet, but I managed to do poop patrol, weed whack, plant two hanging baskets, and water everything (they were surprisingly dry considering how much rain we have had this week). It was very humid and I have many welts. Not happy about that, nor about not getting to the tomatoes etc., but very pleased to have accomplished that much under the circumstances.

Almost forgot! The bunny managed to find the parsley, Italian parsley and cilantro and eat some if them, right out of the pots! I thought they'd be safe in the upper bed near the sidewalk for a few days during the rain, but I was wrong. I rescued them yesterday, and I don't think they will die, but it is a setback. May have to buy more. And no way can I plant them until I am ready to protect them. You'd think with a Beagle -- a rabbit hound! --a blue tick/border collie X, and a Maine Coon Cat lurking around they'd be safe for three days in (what I thought was) a/n inhospitable place, but the bunnies must be laughing at Rosie, Sam and TB/TC.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The registrar's link is down, which means that students won't get their grades until tomorrow. Since the weather is not nice enough for gardening (the original plan, sigh), this means I won't have to be interrupted by queries of "why did I get ...?"(pick one: A-, D or E; in my experience other students rarely ask that question) today, and can happily surf and catch up on various details. One important loose end related to my research that I'd planned to wait at least a day before addressing has taken first priority.

Bob had a big day yesterday, and since I finished the grades, we went out to celebrate. That rarely happens when the grading marathon is done, because invariably I am done but he has a big meeting to prepare for or is traveling or something so it has to keep. Same is often true of his "big days" (yesterday is not my story and so not shared here), the timing almost always means that I have something major due and we can't celebrate. So that the planets aligned yesterday and we were both free and champing at the bit is notable.

It being a Monday complicates things, naturally, but we have a favorite restaurant that opened about six weeks ago. (The link goes to the original Delmar location.) The decor is so "2012," there is parking (given the location that is not a given), the food is fabulous, the by-the-glass wine selection satisfying, the prices not bad, and the owner is both competent and extremely gracious. We have been to the Albany Shogun location numerous times since they opened, and last night did not disappoint. Can't wait to go back!

Our anniversary is Thursday. Bob has a two-day meeting in NYC (of course) so we've been pretty up in the air about when to celebrate. With this being Memorial Day weekend, we are headed to Samsonville and neither of us likes going out to a fancy dinner there. When we go out it is usually casual, and we more often prefer to stay at home. We don't go there to go out on the town, we go there to be in the woods. (That sentence is making me think of ticks, eek.)

Given last year's fiasco, 2009's nightmare (and how could I forget this?), he thought it over and decided to go to NYC on Wednesday, and telecommute on Thursday so we can go out on the actual date, and be closer to Castleton. The current plan is to go to Lee, MA to the Salmon Run Fish House. It isn't really a fancy place, but it is special.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I worked for several hours yesterday, and got myself to the point where I was comfortable with taking today off. We went to both parties last night, stayed longer than I'd planned at both, but is was reasonable. Today I did get to go to Becker's -- got not just seeds, but some of the plants too. So on Tuesday if the weather holds you know what I will be doing! Among the things I got: nine tomato plants -- that's many more than in recent years, as well as a flat of lettuce, which I rarely grow. (And with the bunnies we have in Castleton, it will be a challenge.) For Samsonville, I got three types of squash. A`new herb I am trying: curry.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I've finished all evaluation except the final papers in the toleration class, the assessments in all three foundations classes, and the lesson plans in the online foundations class. That last one is a breeze, as I read them all when they were submitted last week. A lot of work is done on the assessments already, but it it a very time consuming task calculating everything for each class. The final papers will take some time as well.

I'm in pretty good shape with three days left until the deadline, but a complication is that two of the days are a weekend. We've been invited to two parties tomorrow. We'll stop in at both, but it will have to be brief. I also want to go to Becker's, buy Page's Seeds and be inspired by the beauty in the greenhouses.

I escaped for a while yesterday and weed whacked the yard. The battery ran out before I could finish. I'd hope to get it done today, but with the workers next door, I decided against it. I hope they aren't working all weekend, but who knows. The noise didn't bother me that much since the dogs were not barking, but there was one stretch when they had the radio on, and I did find that distracting.

I have things I want to write. An idea for a poem was haunting me yesterday, and I want to document my continuing quest to prevent lightening from regularly frying the computer equipment in Samsonville, but it has to keep. Unfortunately, sometimes the creative writing inspiration is fleeting. You have to immediately write it down or it's gone. Not sure if that will be the fate of the poem. I do know the details on surge protectors and grounding kits will stick around.
If having a cold and finding a second case of academic dishonesty were not enough of an impediment to finalizing grades, yesterday a neighbor came home early from work and mowed the grass for what seemed like 7 hours straight. I had the window to my office open -- it was a beautiful day and it gets hot upstairs. I'm noise sensitive, and by 6 PM I thought I would go insane. Then today a crew of roofers arrived; they are ripping the shingles off the house of that same neighbor! What the...? What's the next thing that is going to happen to ruin my progress, flames shooting out of my computer, frying the files on both the hard drive and the back-up flash drive?

Amazingly, the dogs have been fairly restrained. If they barked all day (not unexpected given the construction activity, shouting etc.) I would have to throw in the towel. I should note that Rosie still doesn't bark at anything except Sam when she believes he is threatening the food. (She is crated during all eating.) Perhaps her calming presence has influenced Sam's desire to bark?  (He barks plenty otherwise though so I am not sure.)

So "dogs" should not have been plural. I wrote it out of habit, because Sophie and Sam enjoyed barking their heads off together whenever one of them detected something that was worthy of barking. (It is a low standard, BTW.) And Sophie would have been furious over the various noises and workers on ladders. I'd happily throw in the towel if she was still here to do it. :-(

As it is, I have made surprisingly good strides even with the various distractions and at this point can see that I will make the deadline without breaking a sweat.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I did find another case of academic dishonesty, and I do have a cold. Both are the icing on the cake for the Spring 2012 semester. What timing too! This guilty student argued for a lesser penalty, and when I was not negotiable, wanted to take the course over again this summer. Good heavens, no! I have my limits, which have been reached.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It turns out the dishonesty case is a second offense, which means it must go to Judicial Affairs (which has a different name now. Something to do with conflict resolution. Why do new upper managers feel the need to change office names all the time?).

I feel as if I am coming down with something -- a cold? Ugh. Allergies can't be this bad. What timing. All the exotic spreadsheeting required for end of semester grades makes my head numb, no need to feel lousy otherwise.

It has been raining for two days straight - so can't escape into weed whacking! The grass is growing like crazy this year.

Added: I am reminded that I told this story to students in my toleration class this semester, when the class topic was ethics and academic dishonesty. One young man raised his hand and said, "you should be a cop!" and that was all the opening I needed. Who with an iota of sense would risk cheating in my class?

Also: Oh no! As if bamboo grass (knotweed) and garlic mustard don't keep me busy enough, this year Dame's Rocket seems to be everywhere.

Still later: I think I have found another case! AAAAAHHHHH!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

It was a lovely weekend in every way. The tour on Saturday was great and I was not expecting such good weather yesterday. I did not do any "work," just a little yard work (which to me isn't work) in Samsonville; planted a lily that the church gave away (from Easter). The one from last year is up and looking good.

I can hardly wait until I can really get into it in Castleton, but sadly no time until after May 21, when grades are due. If I could finish sooner then I will be out there digging, but with a week before the deadline, it doesn't seem likely.

Grading is going about as well as can be expected. What an enormous task it is, even with a lot of streamlining over the years.

 Wonderful cat. Also very handsome.

Friday, May 11, 2012

It wound up that it took me a day and half to document and report the incident -- thanks a lot! The funniest (if academic dishonesty can ever be funny) part of this saga is that the student would have failed the class even without the dishonesty, or if it had gone undetected. Not even enough effort was put into cheating to pass.

One thing I have been meaning to write about is that I believe the toleration class showed the most growth over the semester in terms of learning of any semester since I started teaching it in 2005! Also the discomfort zone presentations as a whole were the strongest batch ever. The class had rough patches, caused primarily by immaturity (to be expected when the class has a lot of freshmen) and that there were at least two large-ish groups of friends enrolled. That doesn't happen when there are a lot of freshmen in the fall, as they don't know each other when they register during summer orientation. For a few years I didn't restrict the class to half+ freshmen in the Spring, only in the Fall. A few semesters ago, the restriction was placed on the Spring class as well, but this was the first time the freshmen friend groups issue surfaced. So the evidence of strong learning was even more of a surprise.

Samsonville weekend, going with my mother and my sister to the Saugerties Historic House Tour tomorrow to celebrate Mother's Day. Bob took a vacation day today and totally cleared away the bamboo grass colony behind our fence in Castleton. It's an enormous job that he last did in 2003! I have done it twice since then, in 2004 and again in 2008 (that last time I didn't do a very good job). It is a losing battle in a way, as bamboo grass can't be truly eliminated. But at least this will tamp it down. He did a very good job, so it will be a while before it can really get a foothold again.

Tomorrow he is going to LI to visit his mother' grave. Very sad.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I found an incidence of academic dishonesty in my evening section of foundations. Took me all day to document, as if I have the time right now to waste on that. I am pissed! The last time I caught a student was a year ago. Anecdotally -- I usually do find about one case per year.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Today is National Teacher Day, a holiday made up by someone. Hallmark? The NEA? Indeed, I ask the students in my foundations classes every semester to reflect on this -- although not just on being appreciative, also on less than stellar experiences. And so in that spirit, here's a link to my story, Seven Teachers.

Recently my sister commented that she had remarked (sadly) to her husband that if something happened to them, their six-year-old granddaughter would not remember much about them. He said she would -- until asked what he remembers from 1958? She's right, of course, but I am still amazed at the number of people who say they can remember very little of what went on in school, especially in the early grades. Some cannot even remember teachers' names, including those from high school. This is not the case for me. I always intended to add to Seven Teachers, considered it a work in progress. I haven't, and most likely won't. However I am going to try a little exercise -- a list of things I remember from each year.

Kindergarten, Mrs. M: It was half-day; I went in the morning. We lived across the road from the school. My brother drove me. On the first day, I couldn't wait to get inside; ran up the stairs without looking back. As the youngest, I wanted to go to school, just like my older sister and brothers. I had a kind teacher who my siblings also had; the was the only kindergarten teacher at that time. I met my best friend on the first day. She spent a lot of time sitting on the teacher's lap, crying. I remember the i.t.a. alphabet on the wall above the blackboard. Decorating another wall were cardboard shoe cut-outs with laces and our names. We didn't get a shoe on the wall until we'd learned to tie a bow. I excelled except at this task, and I recall the anxiety I felt about not having my shoe up there until I finally mastered tying my shoes.

Grade 1, Mrs. T: Again I remember liking the teacher, a woman who was also well-known to my family. It was not nearly as memorable a year as kindergarten, but I do have memories of reading i.t.a. books and writing stories using i.t.a. We started having gym class with Miss A, and she was mean. (This is elaborated on in both Seven Teachers and Gym Teacher from H-ll, although she isn't the main character.)

Grade 2, Mrs. H: I had a teacher worthy of teacher appreciation day; she's featured in Seven Teachers. I do remember we had ability groups that were pretty easy to identify by level; I am not sure this is best practice today. But with the i.t.a. transition, I don't believe she had a choice. I was sent to the Principal's office for the first (and only) time in my elementary school years, when Mrs. H was out of the room and Mrs. F, who taught the other second grade class, was watching us. Another girl punched me to get a brown crayon away from me, and we were both sent to the office. I remember the humiliation I felt, sitting there squirming while the secretaries made sarcastic remarks to me as I waited for my punishment. But the principal never spoke to me. Instead Mrs. H came and bailed me out. She said, "I knew you were not at fault and I'm sorry you got sent to the Principal's office." This was also my first year with the Gym Teacher from Hell (also featured in Seven Teachers). We moved from Boiceville to West Shokan and I was thrilled.

Grade 3, Mrs. C and Mr. B: The ability groups issue became less obvious, because the school switched to tracking in this grade. Prior to this, I had been with my kindergarten peers for three years, while the afternoon kindergarten class had also been together, with different teachers for Grades 1 and 2. For grade 3 they sorted us into two sections, based on "ability." Both classes had the same teachers, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Mrs. C taught math and social studies; Mr. B taught English and science. I liked Mrs. C a lot, but Mr. B not so much. He also  has earned a spot in Seven Teachers. In math that year I remember timed tests for the times tables, and how many kids freaked out over them. It did seem cruel and anxiety-producing, but today I am thankful I learned the multiply in my head. I also remember Mrs. C cut her hand cooking Thanksgiving dinner and was out for weeks, because she needed surgery to repair the tendon.

Grade 4, Miss I and Mr. D: Miss I is another teacher featured in Seven Teachers, and not for the appreciation reason. About Mr. D, I remember he was a gentle teacher who must have had affection for geography. I recall making relief maps with paper mache. It is during this year that I have my first memory of my "difficult" friend. She had been put into my class in Grade 3, but she wasn't on my radar screen. Miss I was trying to illustrate sets in math -- asked us to get into groups if our houses had 2 or 3 or 4 bedrooms or our fathers worked at IBM or owned businesses or were a teacher etc. My friend did not go into a group and when asked why, responded "I don't have a father." It stuck with me.

Grades 5 and 6, Mrs. V and Mr. H: Mrs. V taught fifth grade in the morning, and sixth grade in the afternoon. Mr. H taught sixth grade in the morning, and fifth grade in the afternoon. So we had them for two years, and the other section had two different teachers over the two years. Both were quite influential in terms of learning -- the two year stretch may have been the reason. I liked both of these grades and teachers, Mrs. V in particular. I liked math and English especially, and each teacher taught one of those. I wasn't crazy about science, but she must have been a good teacher because I don't remember being repelled by the subject, as I was in Grade 3 with the weird Mr. B. Although I didn't have this problem and I liked him a lot, now I know that there was too much singling out of students in Mr. H's class, and even then it made me uncomfortable.

Two memories from Grade 6: 1) it was the presidential election, and Mr. H and one student (the son of our music teacher, and sadly, this student was killed in an alcohol-related accident senior year) supported McGovern. Everyone else in class supported Nixon. 2) I consider this year to be the actual start of a friendship with my troubled friend. It was facilitated by my "best" friend -- the one I'd met the first day of kindergarten, who had been put in the "other" section of class after Grade 2. Before grade 2, we were sorted by the hamlet we lived in, rather than tracked. As a result of the scrambling, she became friends with some kids who lived near this other girl who was now in my class. Sometimes my "best" friend would be invited to the party of a kid in her class that this girl from my class was also attending. They got to know each other, and the three of us slowly became friends.

Grade 7: This marked the beginning of junior high. I remember I couldn't wait to get out of elementary school, but I also remember it turned out to be a disappointment. My goat, Heidi, died right before the school year started, which erased my excitement. We changed classes. Gym was better; I had a teacher who was on the verge of retirement who was a heavy drinker, and she stayed in her office and didn't care what we were (not) doing. Of course I didn't become a jock, and in subsequent years when I did have to make some effort, I still didn't like it, even though I had an occasional competent teacher (and one who was a little too flirty with the popular girls). I had to take general music, which was taught using the Socratic Method. I did fine, but it was terrifying. Mrs. or Ms. (not sure which) H, the science teacher was young, green, and obsessed with discipline. (She is not one of the Seven Teachers, but she is briefly mentioned in the opening, and also here. We took home economics; no fault of the teacher, but that was pretty much a waste of time. I wrote a paper about one-room schools for my seventh grade social studies project on local history - a harbinger of things to come?

Grade 8: I was placed in accelerated math and art. Neither turned into a great experience, in both cases it was the fault of the teacher, but for whatever reason I did not include them in Seven Teachers. The art teacher is mentioned here. About the math class, Mr. C was possibly the worst (academic) teacher I have ever had in my life. Another Mr. H teaching social studies, with a few choice memories from his class. I recall him sneering at me about status symbols because of my parents' car; I remember his stepson was a friend of my brother's and he told us stories about how they didn't get along; I remember an obnoxious guy who sat behind me snapping my bra strap; I remember another obnoxious guy opening the door of our class and yelling "guinea guinea wop wop" at me. My "best" friend moved away at the end of the year. This was very traumatic for both of us, and led to my budding friendship with the other girl going into full bloom, with mostly negative consequences (for me). At the end of this year, the Traver Hollow Bridge, which connects West Shokan to Boiceville, was closed and our bus had to go around the Reservoir to Shokan to get us back and forth to school. This situation continued almost until I graduated. I am not a lark now, and was not a lark then; I missed the bus often.

Grade 9: I landed the same teacher for math as the year before, the school refused to change my placement and I suffered another year. In social studies, I remember Mr. W liked anthropology, and tolerated rampant cheating. I started taking Spanish, and loved it. I took physics, and hated it. Not because of the subject matter, which I found interesting, because the teacher was a blowhard.

Grade 10: Social Studies also stands out -- I must have been tracked into a class that was not the top one, and this continued in eleventh grade. In both cases, the atmosphere was bedlam. I did like my tenth grade social studies teacher, he was an amiable guy. One time he said to some kids in the cafeteria, "you should all be smiling like she is," indicating me. I responded, "I may be smiling but you have no idea what I'm thinking" and he laughed. Once again, I got the same teacher for math as I'd had in eighth and ninth grades, but this time the guidance counselor moved me when I told her I would drop math entirely if she didn't, since only a year was required to graduate high school at that time.  So, for the next two years I had a math teacher who was strict, but very skilled. I spent a lot of time in many classes doing monotonous homework assignments for the next class rather than paying attention. We were permitted to take English selectives -- this and art were the two bright spots. I started taking extra classes rather than study halls. At the end of the year, I was recommended for a year of study in Mexico because of my performance in Spanish class. I thought about it and declined. The teacher, Mr. W, asked me if it was my parents' decision? I said no, it was mine. (And it was; they thought I should accept.) I wanted to go to college, not come back for another year of high school.

Grade 11: I wrote for the school newspaper and continued enjoying English selectives, although one teacher really stands out, Ms. S -- she taught writing -- and I wrote about her in Seven Teachers. I loved her classes. The others, who taught reading courses, did not strike me then or now as having any special insight into classic novels (another of the selectives teachers is also one of the Seven). The same is true for social studies; I remember being forced to rewrite a review of a Maya Angelou book that I'd written not because it had errors or did not meet guidelines, but because he did not agree with my take on the reading. I continued doubling up on classes. My friend's life went from bad to worse and she moved in with us in November of that year. By June, I had enough credits to achieve my goal: graduating and getting the h-ll out of there. At this point I had to go -- for academic and social reasons. My parents visited the school to be sure it was a good idea -- I was only 16 -- and the administrators said they believed it was. They had nothing to offer me.

Monday, May 07, 2012

We watched The Iron Lady movie, on Amazon Prime via the roku last night. It has been available for a while, but we'd both been reluctant to commit to watching it. Neither of us is crazy about biopics, which tend to be Hollywood hatchet jobs of the subject. I think that is almost universal, I can't think of one that revealed a truth, told an important story faithfully, made me like or admire the person more, or even just understand their work in a different way. Instead they invariably leave a sour taste that taints all future thought.

In this case, I'd say it is worth seeing just for Meryl Streep -- her performance is stunning, as always. The rest of the cast is good too, but neither of us liked how the movie jumped around from present to past. The chronology is very confusing. There was an excessive amount of attention to present day (probably because they wanted to show off the make-up job, which admittedly, was marvelous). But that took away a lot of time from covering details of British history, Thatcher's early life and her political career. In fact, it reminded Bob of another Streep movie, Julie and Julia, with its tedious Julie scenes subtracting from the far more interesting Julia story. Watching it made me wonder if I'd missed a news item, and Thatcher had died, because I couldn't believe they would include all these scenes of dementia in old age if she was living. It seemed too insensitive, invasive, speculative, and unfair to her and her family. To my surprise, I discovered that she is, indeed, still alive!

Bob said it left him feeling mad. So here's another example of a biopic that was ill-advised!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Lovely day, weather-wise and otherwise. It was another productive one! We took the dogs on their cemetery walk, then to the groomer (Rosie was an angel), out to lunch (at Wendy's), I weed whacked (for the third time this season!), Bob chopped down some bamboo grass (a losing battle) and then we worked on new window boxes for the front porch windows. That last project was a long time coming, haven't been able to plant in the old ones since 2008. Today we made the shelves, and painted them with Sikkens Rubbol (awesome stuff) - we've used Cetol on the log home and the deck in Samsonville and Rubbol on all fences at both houses. The color is dark green - of course. Too early for annuals but when the time arrives the porch will be ready.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The spring ants are back. I think this is when they usually appear, but this year, after the week of summer we had in March, suddenly there they were. Then it got cold again, and they vanished. Another few days of warm weather in April; magically, they thawed or hatched or spontaneously came into being, whatever it is they do. Weather turned nasty for a spell -- no more ants. Yesterday it was warmer, and today it is downright nice -- I saw a couple again.

This is a stay in Castleton weekend, and today we are going to my nephew's for a barbecue to celebrate my grandniece's sixth birthday. I don't tell stories here that aren't "mine," suffice to say she's a miracle, and not just because all kids are. Just thinking of her makes me smile. She shares her grandfather's (my brother-in-law) birthday, so will celebrate that too.

Tomorrow Rosie is going to the groomer for the first time. She's getting her nails cut. I could do it, and she's the first dog I've had in a while who would let me, but we've decided to take her where we took Sophie instead. Bob finally called and told the woman about Sophie. She was very, very upset.

She thought maybe Bob was having health problems again, and that was why we hadn't been in. She said she considered calling to see if we wanted her to come to our house to cut Sophie's nails, which is something she offered in 2009-10 when Bob was having his surgeries. She never imagined Sophie had passed away. She was surprised that Sophie was 13, which is surprising! We'd taken Sophie there for at least half her life, I am not sure how old she thought Sophie was. Basset Hounds do not usually live to be 13.

Sophie demonstrated something that Bob says is the optimum goal for old age -- vitality until shortly before a brief end-of-life illness. Amazing that special needs, allergic Sophie achieved this. So I guess this is why the groomer was shocked, last time she saw Sophie she did not seem frail or failing.

Friday, May 04, 2012

My two classes each ended with class discussion. We talked about educational technology in one, and about class debriefing (mostly) in the other. The reaction of students to e-books is mixed. Even those who like kindles for other types of reading are not wild about electronic textbooks. Also, the "look" and reading experience of paper is satisfied on Kindles specifically and only -- not so much on other devices. I think this is one area of handhelds where apple is not the leader. A couple like the money savings or convenience of not having to carry around as much stuff, but most prefer a paper version. I wonder when, or if, that will ever change? They want to highlight with a pen. They think it is easier to flip to a page than move around electronically.

As usual, on campus students are skeptical about online learning. Several have taken an online class and most reported it was not a good experience. They felt it was more work, and the instructors did not interact with them enough. I shared with them the debate about digital badges rather than college credits and degrees.

The debriefing had it moments -- I added the article from the ASP and connected it to cultural insensitivity a la Heslep and Wagner. Most felt it was inappropriate stereotyping, a few felt everyone should lighten up. Then one student, who is an officer in the complaining organization spoke up. I am not sure whether she was upset by the dialogue -- but it wasn't very inflammatory and she is more than capable of defending herself. There are always surprises in the classroom, even on the last day of class. (For students and for me; I scrambled the groups by handing out paper slips of differing colors -- one more exercise in toleration.)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Last day of teaching for the semester! It was very tiring, but a good day overall. Had dinner at Lombardo's...wonderful. I think there is no finer restaurant anywhere. Will write more tomorrow, lots of interesting dialogue in my classes.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Last Tuesday night class last night. In spite of the early difficulties in that class, and also the machinations of my personal life this Spring, it was a good class, filled with many bright lights. Discussion on the topic of educational technology last night was very engaging. They said "thank you." Nice to hear!

Tomorrow will be the last afternoon class and the last Thursday night class, and then I have two more days on campus, both Wednesdays and that's it! Next week the Wednesday is the end of semester presentation to faculty for me and the students who have been working with me on research, and the following Wednesday is our semester's end luncheon. I'm ending the online class on that same Wednesday.

Then grades are due on the 22nd, and Spring 2012 will be a memory. It's a trite cliche, but time really does fly, although this has been a long, leisurely semester, maybe too long. It is hard to adapt material between a semester of this length (the longest I can recall, must be 16 weeks) and the short semesters when for whatever reason the calendar only allows 12 weeks. However, the online class has really benefited from the extra time.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

This semester there is a woman -- whether student or employee, I am not sure -- who is often in the bathroom on my floor, having an argument with someone on her cell phone. Now admittedly it is usually empty -- students rarely venture up to the third floor and when they do they do not generally use the bathroom. Then, there are not a large number of female faculty and staff on my floor. I can understand wanting privacy during a difficult call, and if you are not one of those privileged with a private office, that privacy is hard to find. But give me a break! It makes the bathroom environment even more uncomfortable than it already is, and she seems to be constantly in a fight with whomever she is calling. Hello! Say goodbye already.
Today I received the "open letter" below:

Dear Campus Community:

As the leading foodservice provider in North America, our commitment to diversity is reflected in the companies, partnerships, customers and associates that make us who we are. Collectively, we have developed a positive impact within the commercial foodservice industry and academic communities we serve through our dedication to diversity and inclusion.

Chartwells brought the Blue Agave Mexican Grill to campus by popular demand from students.  The opening was anticipated by the campus since the return of spring break.

In no way was the theme associated with the grand opening meant to be negative in any way. If the promotion used to celebrate the opening of this new eatery offended anyone, we sincerely apologize. It was not our intent. The excitement surrounding the opening was shared by the many guests who waited in line for the grill to open in order to enjoy the quality global foods we are truly proud to prepare and serve. We hope that the concept can live up to the expectations of the many cultures it proudly represents.

We would like to share with you our Diversity and Inclusion Report which shows our sincere commitment to the diverse clients and customers we serve. We have a very active Diversity and Inclusion Action Council (DIAC) which supports the needs of our diverse associates, clients and guests.  The Chartwells DIAC is dedicated to attracting, retaining, and developing a workforce filled with associates from a variety of backgrounds.  We respect all individuals and embrace their differences, similarities, backgrounds, life experiences and the cultures they represent.

We are grateful for the confidence and trust our customers place in us every day. We will do our best to make you feel that trust is warranted.

Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services

Naturally, this sparked my curiosity, so I checked out the most likely source for additional information, and found this. I'm sort of vanilla myself over such controversies (although I definitely could have predicted this outcome), but I really dislike non-apologies of this flavor: "If the promotion used to celebrate the opening of this new eatery offended anyone, we sincerely apologize." Sorry if you were offended? When I  say something like that, I am not really intending to apologize.

Last toleration class on Thursday -- another discussion topic presents itself! A campus example such as this can change an esoteric point in the reading into something more relevant and understandable. I'm thinking specifically of this debate between Heslep and Wagner about PC and cultural disrespect (my most viewed post ever, interestingly). I think I did not mention Wagner in the old post, but his reaction to Heslep's ruminations boils down to: We should all just lighten up. (So he'd agree with the interviewed student who advised chilling).