Friday, August 31, 2012

Can it be classes only started on Monday? What a week this has been. Yesterday I barely had time to eat my Genisoy bar and yogurt and I had to drink my seltzer during class. Not easy making it to 7 on only 250 calories! But my classes are going well, at least. Toleration in particular was engaged and engaging last night. I kept them busy for three hours!

Another campus construction picture 

Tuesday they are closing Fuller Road around I-90 and Washington Avenue to install the second of two rotaries. The relocation of Washington Avenue due to the expansion of Nano is making the morning ride to campus a challenge.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tired does not begin to capture how I feel. Two long days in a row -- quite a shock to my system after a leisurely nearly four months! Yesterday I was back on campus for my first day of classes. They went fine, although I wasn't my usual chipper self. Not sure the students noticed, though, so I guess I did fine. I took some photos of the construction, which is going on everywhere.

These are everywhere. The long stretches make it a hassle to access the buildings, to say the least. I have no idea what they are doing. I suppose it is in the plan (there is a big sign explaining the changes in the last photo, below, but I didn't bother to study it).

Today was Dolly's funeral. My suit sure has been getting a lot of use in 2012. It was heartbreaking. So many memories. The outpouring of support from the community was touching, the ride to the cemetery through West Shokan and over Peekamoose Mountain and the cemetery itself in Grahamsville were beautiful. The procession had a police escort, which was much appreciated. I can't imagine what her family is feeling. Not that I cannot identify with the emotional impact of a loved one's death, but being hit by a car is just awful. With my driving phobia and in-general automobile aversion -- well, there are no words. And then there were the media stories -- despicable.

I took this picture on the way home.

 We stopped at the Mountain Brauhaus -- such a good place!

Tomorrow is another long day on campus, so no snoozing until Friday. Then it's off to Samsonville. I have barn duty this weekend. A glimmer of good news, my mother reports that she is feeling a little better -- so our help appears to be working.

This is funny. Much appreciated the laugh today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Last day before classes begin! I'm ready. I think. But what will I wear...?

I ordered flowers this morning. The woman who answered the phone could hardly understand me for some reason, but I wanted Dino & Florence, Janette & Ed, Gina & Bob and all the Giuliano family on the card. I had to spell every name several times - including "Ed" and "Bob." And, believe it or not, even "And."  I just hope the card doesn't wind up saying "Jane Al Forage Annette Hans End Amp Jenna Ask Bowl Ask Owl Too Gilligan Farming." I am only exaggerating a little with how ridiculous it was.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rosie Posey. (One of the joys of my life.)
I had orientation for new students in our department yesterday, which was a first-time effort. It went well. I think it is a good idea. I left after lunch. The afternoon session was about doing library research, and then there was a dinner, and to be honest, I didn't feel like devoting any more than half a day.

Afterwards, we went to Albany Rural and St. Agnes Cemeteries (they are really one big cemetery with a fence dividing the Catholic part from the rest of the cemetery). They are so big that they have offices to look up graves and tell you where they are. Unfortunately the Albany Rural office is only open 9-12 on Saturday and the St. Agnes office is only open weekdays so I will have to go back. I hoped to visit Myrtle McSpirit's grave in Albany Rural and also see if Mimmie's brother Lawrence is buried in St. Agnes. 

So we drove around in both -- they are huge, especially the Albany Rural side. I'd been to St. Agnes twice before when the family members of friends died but I'd never been to Albany Rural before. We thought we would try to find President Chester Arthur's grave and maybe the Cherry Hill Van Rensselaers too. We couldn't find the Van Rensselaers but we did manage to locate Chester Arthur, since that one has signs directing you. It is really an amazing cemetery -- not only enormous but the monuments are incredible. From St. Agnes you can see the Hudson River. 

Afterwards I treated Bob to dinner etc. on Lark Street. There was a pub crawl going on for an adult kickball team. I didn't know adults played kickball (brings a shiver to my spine). The planned bar hopping seemed so contrived but the attendees seemed to enjoy it. Bob tried to convince me to get matching tattoos of a Beagle. I said no, of course. Twenty years ago I would have said yes -- and actually I probably would have been the one sales pitching him. Afterwards he said if he comes up with an idea like that again in the future, to get him some food, stat (he's been dieting). 

He had a chuckle this morning -- as we were leaving for church he noted his white shirt and dress pants and my tie dyed tee shirt and wrinkled cotton capris and said we are reminiscent of Darma and Greg (not that we ever watched the show, but we both understand the premise). As a result, I decided that it was best not to flash a peace sign to folks too far away to easily shake hands during Mass, as I probably would have if I was dressed less like a hippie. 

Today we took the dogs for a walk in Mountain View cemetery behind our house (I saw a deer in the old part) and are catching up on household tasks that get neglected when we go to Samsonville for several weekends in a row. Where does all that paper come from? Seems to spontaneously generate. May as well put a recycling bin right under the mail slot. I watered the garden and flowers and picked produce. Tomorrow I will finalize the plan for Tuesday's and Thursday's classes. Wednesday we will go to Dolly's funeral.  So sad. Hard to not dwell on the tragedy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

All day I planned to post some kind of a photo essay once I put the finishing touches on my syllabi, so as I was making my morning rounds, I took a bunch of pictures. I got the syllabi finished, and the first problem was that I couldn't find the USB cable to plug my phone into the PC. That isn't a hassle for one of two photos, because I just email them to myself. But for a bunch, that is a time-consuming pain.

I threw in the towel and emailed the photos. Then as I was preparing the get started, this transformed from a wonderful day into an absolutely terrible one. I learned a dear friend of my family whom I have known since I was born was hit by a car near her driveway, and died. As usual, the Freeman is outrageous. The article says no tickets have been issued, that it was an accident. Also that she walked into on-coming traffic and the state police are unsure whether she had Alzheimer's.

The road is a dangerous one -- among the reasons I am afraid of cars, I suspect. People drive like nuts on it, and on a Friday there is heavier than usual traffic, as people come from the NYC-metro area to the Catskills for the weekend. If she was near her mailbox, the driver would have had to go into the shoulder, which is quite wide, to hit her. And I know she did not have Alzheimer's. I cannot imagine her walking into 28

I've decided to post my photo essay after all. She loved gardening, flowers especially. RIP Dolly.
 There are tomatoes everywhere
 The beans are looking good
 Cucumbers are thriving
Zucchini plant looks good, but no fruit! WHY?
This hosta bed in all its glory borders the garden
 So, yes, there are plenty of bees
Scarlet runner beans have lovely flowers (but aren't as prolific as their less showy cousins)
 In general the flowers are fabulous this year
 The lone zinnia!

 The impatiens in the dog planters is thriving, although enveloped by tomatoes
 Basil is magnificent
 Have Basil will Travel is hanging in there
 Chives are thriving
 Catnip holds its own despite daily mauling from TB/TC
 I consider every year whether I can somehow bring the herb pot inside for the winter
I love this vinca vine
 Little Shop of Horrors has almost completely recovered!

It's a good thing we live life not knowing what's up ahead.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I've been meaning to share the link to my sister's painting for the Leaping Trout project.
While we were waiting for the academic integrity hearing to start or continue, we shared some ideas for making students aware of the severity of cheating, in an effort to discourage it, and so that fewer students wind up in this offending student's predicament. It seems we all find 1-2 cases of academic dishonesty per year. So I designed a True/False  "test" that I plan to use in all of my classes in 2012-13, to see if it helps. It carries zero credit -- but it is mandatory. I will require students to drop the class if they do not complete it with correct answers to every question, and I will give them unlimited attempts to get each one right.

Basically, there are three questions:

1) I have read the following information:

Academic Dishonesty is...

Conduct including, but not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, multiple submission, forgery, sabotage, unauthorized collaboration, falsification, bribery or use of purchased research service reports without appropriate notation; and theft, damage or misuse of library or computer resources. Attempts to commit such acts shall also constitute academic dishonesty. Students assume full responsibility for honesty in academic exercises.

T: Excellent! Hopefully you will not be one of the 1-2 students I find violating academic integrity this year.
F: Go back, read it, and try again. Scores less than 100% correct are unacceptable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Academic integrity hearing took just over an hour. It was quite an experience, one that I hope to never go through again. I have no idea why a student who is not innocent would want a hearing. The student did not deny the offenses, but argued 1) embarrassment and 2) ignorance of the rules. Her goal was not to change the outcome in either my class or the other professor's, but to avoid being expelled. I am not sure why she wants to stay and keep throwing money away, because her GPA is abysmal and I'm guessing she will be on probation this fall regardless, and kicked out in December anyway. But I suppose academic integrity violations would be a worse reason in terms of getting readmitted eventually. I don't know the outcome -- the decision is not made during the proceeding, but my suspicion is: she will be expelled. In her remarks, I didn't see even a glimmer that she has soul-searched and has now developed an appreciation for learning and the importance of education.

Being on campus was a little strange, but I was happy to go back before classes start. The crush of students will be enough of a shock on Tuesday, after my isolated, quiet summer.  Today it was not busy, but it turns out that my building is still a construction site. Furniture is packed into the hallways, floor is stripped down to concrete in places. There was an electrical burning smell everywhere. I asked, and was told it was normal and the heating system was being tested. At least my PC wasn't crashed, something I have been greeted by at the beginning of the semester more than once!

One positive outcome of the hearing, what they call the "referral" side (us) got to vent, commiserate and share ideas before it started and during the break in the proceedings. Campus may be crowded next week, but faculty will continue to work in (relative) isolation, amidst the chaos. It would be nice to have a chance for more dialogue on issues such as this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I had a great but tiring weekend. An abundance of tomatoes were waiting when I got home. This morning I awakened to Bob calling out to me from the kitchen. Little Shop of Horrors had done something horrible -- tipped over! I ran outside and we managed to get it right side up -- I wasn't sure that would be possible, so what a relief. It didn't take out any other plants, but it did snap a few of its own branches. So it is a little wilted here and there, but otherwise seems to be OK.

I am nervously anticipating tomorrow's academic dishonesty hearing (what to wear?), but the salve is being excited to be asked to teach combined Grades 4/5 catechism this upcoming academic year! Had our first prep meeting last night -- what amazing materials we will be using! Much more generous than the university in that respect.

Otherwise...working away on syllabi etc. I've volunteered to attend the department's graduate student orientation on Saturday.  Yikes! The semester looms.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The lettuce has bolted and gone to seed, but the reward is these cute little flowers!

The garden is really producing. I have a tomato sandwich every day for lunch. Last night we had just-picked tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans for dinner (with grilled veggie burgers). And zucchini that we bought at a farm stand, because my plants haven't produced any (yet -- I hope).

Also -- my lone zinnia is blooming. I planed three packages of seeds and that's all that germinated! (I eventually planted marigolds in the spot). The zinnia is pink. I will post a picture eventually.

Off to Samsonville for another long weekend, full of friends visiting and barn work. Arrivederci!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Since I can't do Friday, the hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. This is a first; despite my (too) many occasions of discovering academic dishonesty, I have never had to appear at a hearing before. The reason for this is my policy -- if there was any doubt about the cheating, I wouldn't bother pursuing. So there was never an appeal.

I am not sure what to expect. Going with my friend to court a few weeks ago was a new experience. Any time I've had anything to do with the legal system, it has been eye-opening, disheartening, and all around unpleasant. This isn't exactly the same thing, of course. Still is going to be unpleasant, I suspect. What a lovely way to end the glorious summer (not) !

Later, unrelated: almost forgot! I dried some of the tomaccio tomatoes (AKA Little Shop of Horrors). That's their intended purpose. I've been growing them for three seasons, but this is the first time I've tried it. They seem to come out great! I washed them, put them on foil on a cookie sheet, salted them, and baked them for 3 hours at 200 degrees.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm past the bittersweet part of August and into the reality part -- which is writing syllabi and getting ready for the semester. Work email has spiked (because everyone else returns from whatever they have been doing wherever they have been). My building has been extensively renovated this summer, so after an absence of four (!) months, I am curious to see it. Yesterday a reminder of the more unpleasant aspects of college teaching hit me in the face. I received a meeting notice. I suspect it is mandatory, although I cannot be there. It is a hearing on Friday for one of the spring academic dishonesty cases.

Are you kidding me? Four days notice for a Friday (gasp!) meeting over the summer, no less? I have never had to attend a hearing before -- my evidence is always irrefutable so there is never any point. Even at that, I did not refer the case to the university level. I didn't even issue a penalty, since the student would have failed even without the dishonesty. But I did report the incident (as is required) and it turned out to be a second offense, so it was automatically referred (as is required).

I'm not sure whether the meeting is something new in the process (could be) or if the student has demanded it, as is her right. I ruminated about it -- too much, as usual tearing myself into pieces -- wondering why. This will be another planned three-day weekend in Samsonville, going down there on Thursday night. So a Friday morning meeting is out of the question. Friends of Bob are visiting (enough said, not my story or at least the part that is cannot be shared here).  Then, my mother recently learned she has two herniated discs in her back and she must rest if she wants to avoid back surgery (and of course she does). She was insistent that all the things she does (which is a lot; think couch potato, and now decide what is the opposite; look in the dictionary and there should be her picture) are not very strenuous and she is being careful. But we decided that is not so -- strenuous or not, caring for horses involves bending and twisting and reaching, even if the lifting is not super intense (though 50 pounds is not uncommon).

So my sister took charge, convinced Ma (not easy! But she comes out to the barn and supervises at all times, and we promised to do the care to her standards) and drafted a schedule, and all of us -- siblings, siblings-in-law and one or two in the next generation are taking turns with the barn work. We are doing it twice a day on a month by month basis, since the doctors said she may heal in 6-8 weeks. It could be more, which is OK with us, although she has a goal besides taking her beloved barn work back over -- to go riding at the end of September (which she is not openly sharing with anyone except my sister and me, so hopefully no-one else is reading this -- if you are, leave her alone! It is a very motivational goal in terms of her taking it easy now).

Since I live 75 miles away, I volunteered for the weekends, including Fridays or Mondays when they are three-day weekends. So in addition to planning to be in Samsonville and having friends visit, Friday is a barn chores day for me.  Naturally one of my amazing family would step up if I had to face the accused, and under normal circumstances I might have to ask them, but in this case it would also involve Bob rescheduling his vacation day and the friends changing their plans. Plus, why should a dishonest student be more important than my mother and her horses? So it's not happening. I do wonder, though, at the timing. Are the parents coming along? Maybe rolling it into a Saratoga vacation? That's a product of my fevered imagination of course -- but it is not exactly a secret how I feel about such foolishness.

Ma and Cinderella, a rescued thoroughbred race horse. Cindy sez: "Screw you racing fans!" (She also sez "Just in case you had the wrong impression, all you helpers could never replace Flo.")

Later:  Now this is funny. Ma is tougher than these Giants!

Monday, August 13, 2012

I intended to post this on Friday -- the beginning of one of our three-day weekends in Samsonville, but was too busy! I did spend a small amount of time on the computer, but what I was doing was the last part of the laptop rejuvenation, detecting the S'ville network, installing the printer, and I discovered on Thursday I'd left the software CDs there so that was still on the list. End result was complete success! The machine is like new.

We ate all these already, but when we arrived back home last night, there were many more waiting :-).

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Among the things on my summer to do list, once higher priority tasks are accomplished, are to back up the files, re-format the laptop and take it back to factory default. I am finally getting around to it today ~ everything is now backed up to a flash drive, and I am nervously monitoring the progress of the recovery at this point. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

These pictures don't really capture how lush, vibrant, prolific and massive the tomato patch is this year.
Here is a recent Dear Abby letter that I found to be so funny (and as a cemetery trustee, quite plausible):
DEAR ABBY: My nephew "George" -- who dumped his wife and children for a barmaid -- died recently. He was dead broke, so my sister paid for his funeral. I didn't attend, but I was told that George's cremated remains were put in a whiskey bottle by the barmaid, and the bottle was going to be buried in my mother's grave. Why my sister, his siblings and his kids went along with this idea I'll never know. None of us were raised that way. I found out about it only after the service and put a stop to it. As far as I'm concerned, they could have buried him in a condom, but not in my mother's grave! Was I wrong to put a stop to this travesty? -- DISGUSTED UNCLE
(Abby's response was unremarkable and not worthy of posting.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The tooth extraction was so much easier than tooth #18, which was pulled in 2009. It was so problem-free, in fact, that I probably could have done it with Novocaine only, no twilight sleep. I guess how would I know, since I can't remember the procedure -- I did opt for twilight sleep. But last time I had bad pain for several days afterwards. This time, after taking one hydrocodone when I got home and sleeping off all the drugs and trauma, I don't even need Advil. The only remaining hassle is not being able to drink hot liquids or eat food that requires much chewing for a few days. But that's OK, because I take my coffee very light, and I love my diet of yogurt, tomatoes, and fruit.

So as a result, I was able to finish the grades with no sweat!

It also made me feel "Yes" on the question of an implant, so I have an appointment for a consult after it heals in November.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Oral surgery tomorrow! The university's systems did come back online last night, and I did put in a couple of hours, but of course I am not finished with grades! I refuse to burn the midnight oil tonight, because I want to be well rested (and I can't eat or drink after midnight since I am having twilight sleep). So I hope I feel good enough on Tuesday to get it done.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

I still can't access Blackboard or other university services, although my work email seems to be working. I'm not having any other problems with my Internet connection -- AOL, gmail, facebook, blogger all fine so it has to be a problem on the university's end. Maybe because of the extreme heat? IT Services says to allow up to two business days for response to the online help request, and I called the help desk, but they are closed weekends and evenings. Trying not to panic...

Bob is making (what he alleges) will be a quick stop at the tower -- the governor is no joke. (Enough said, as it is not my story.) We have an ozone advisory -- and it is just so freakin' hot out there. Weed whacking can wait. I'd allocated today to working on grades. So now is as good a time as any to share a couple of stories that are mine. Let's call the following a travelogue gully brook press style.

1) TMI on the West Bound Train:

I originally drafted this post on July 29 while on the train. I love to write on the train, so I located an old journal book (August 1, 2001 - June 5, 2002) that still had some blank pages and took it along. I get motion sickness if I try to read in a car, but this doesn't happen on the train so I also brought my Kindle.

I am taking the train to Buffalo for a few days. Name censored's court date (one of many) for her divorce is tomorrow and I am going with her for "moral support." We are just now pulling into Utica so there are about 3 1/2 hours to go. The train is fairly crowded though not as bad for me since Amsterdam (when my seatmate got off). It has been a lot more pleasant since then, not because of my seatmate (who was fine -- unobtrusive, she even complimented my Kindle cover and asked me where I got it [I responded "amazon" and thought "duh"]) but because the woman sitting behind me talked nonstop to the unfortunate soul who was sitting beside her. He is still aboard. I am not sure where he is coming from or going to, but she acted as if he was completely lacking in knowledge about NYS -- all parts of it. She kept pointing out landmarks, such as the State Capitol.

She'd grown up "downstate" (as she called it), had lived in Syracuse because of a now ex-boyfriend and currently lives in Dallas where she owns a house and the standard of living is marvelous. She was on vacation, visiting a friend in Amsterdam. She told him more details about her life than I know about some people I've known for years. I learned all this in a span of one hour -- imagine how much she told the guy who I assume was sitting with her since NYC. He told her he was single -- although he is wearing a wedding band (?), which she noted.When I got up to get my water bottle out of my suitcase, I was surprised to see a balding middle aged man. His voice sounded younger. I assumed the same of her just based on her immature conversation, but she'd already disembarked by then so I didn't get a look.

He remarked to her that he can't stand small cities, sneering at Schenectady in particular. That led to motor mouth telling him all about the culture of Dallas -- opera houses and symphonies and the like. What came into my mind was cultural deprivation v. cultural difference: That this pinky-in-the-air definition of culture is inherently classist and racist.

The guy has been silent since she left the train, thankfully. It is wonderful that texting has made audio cell phone chatter disappear!

Later: There is an incredibly needy young woman in the seat across the aisle, going from Amsterdam to Syracuse. She has done nothing but ask the conductors for assistance -- even to use their phones (yet she does have some sort of tablet). Everyone on the train has about 20 devices each: smartphones, tablets, ereaders, laptops, mp3 players. We are more connected than the borg in STNG (dating me? It is not a reference I'd ever make to students).

2) How My Ameribag Almost Turned the Case from Civil Into Criminal:

I went with my friend (of 46 years) to a court date. I was reluctant to bring my pocket book -- I am always afraid I will leave it somewhere, I was wearing a suit, my pocket book is heavy, it was hot and I didn't feel like carrying it. Also, once when I was at the airport seeing a friend off I was permitted to accompany him into the passengers only area. This meant I had to go through the scanners. My pocket book caused all sorts of problems and eventually security had to go through the contents. I don't remember what triggered the problem but I do recall what an ordeal it was. I have been carrying an Ameribag from LL Bean for many years. I am on my second one. I stuff it full of crap until I can't take it any more, and then I (sort of) go through it and weed it out. This airport scanner incident was at the point where it was full -- could spark a new television show, "pocket book hoarders."

I should have gone with that feeling of reluctance and left my trusty Ameribag in the car, but I had a journal with me for taking notes and would need a pen, plus I was uncertain whether I'd have to show ID -- so I didn't. Entering the court house, my pocket book went through the scanner once, twice, three times. After the third failure, the officer said, "ma'am, do you have a change purse in here?" "I have a wallet that probably has change in it," I responded. "Can you take it out and we'll run it through separately?" "Sure," I said, and I removed my wallet -- which is a miniature Ameribag, in the same condition as the big version. I had to jam my cash, IDs, plastic, haircut appointment cards and some stray ATM receipts back in to zip it. Baby Ameribag went through the scanner, no problem. Mama Ameribag still did not.

He handed me the bag and said, "do you have a lot of keys in here?" "Yes, I do. Probably a couple rings." (In addition to many that are worthy of carrying, I have several that unlock things I no longer own and some that I have no clue what they unlock.) I pawed around in the bottom of my pocket book and grabbed the key rings. He took the bag and ran it through the scanner again. Still no dice. There was a long line of people impatiently waiting at this point. Employees? Lawsuits and divorces? Criminals? Who knows.

He held up my bag. "Do you have something like a Swiss Army Knife or multi-tool in here?" Suddenly I remembered. Gulp. "Yes, I do." My brother gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago and that's where I keep it. Where else would I keep it? I laughed, tried to make light of it. My friend was laughing hysterically. I dug around in there some more and produced it. He told me that I would have to surrender it and could have it back when I left. I had to fill out a form (and that was the only time I needed my ID). Luckily, on the way out, I didn't forget to retrieve it and return it to Mama.

3) Calling Bloomberg to Police the East Bound Train:

The train on the way home was packed. I'd expected to have two seats to myself for part of the way so I could sleep -- I was so sleep deprived I planned to relax my standard of always being on high alert and in control of all situations and steal a few Zees. Well, that wasn't the case at all. There was a woman with a boy who looked about 10 and his teenage brother, and I ended up sitting next to the teenager for the whole ride. He was polite enough -- we exchanged a few words here and there and a sentence when we got to Albany and I was getting off, but he was a fat kid who spilled over into my seat and he was eating something constantly. His mother alternated between rummaging around in a bag at her feet and reaching across me to hand him a stream of pudding cups and soda, and reaching across me to retrieve her coffee from his tray when it was his turn to hit the cafe car for a hotdog and cheese board.

Along with sleeping, writing in my journal was out of the question, so I finished Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I'd read quite a bit on the west bound train, and had about half left for the return ride. It was OK, but only OK. It started out strong (except for the repetitive sentence fragment writing style) but became more ridiculous and less engaging over time, and I really disliked the ending.

Beautiful Lake Erie

4) I Just Hope It Didn't Contaminate My Tomatoes:

Once I got home from my trip, I was so tired! I planned to sleep in on Thursday, but Bob woke me up early in the morning because there was a news report that we were under a "shelter at home" advisory. That means stay inside, turn off A/C and fans that take in outside air, close windows and don't exert yourself. That reason was because of this fire at a factory near 9H in Ghent that recycles transformers. It's pretty far away in Columbia County, but the advisory was for a 15 mile radius around the plant. I did stay inside all day, sweating (figuratively and literally) with the windows closed until they lifted the advisory at 2. I watched the press conference and I have no idea whether to believe them that no PCBs were detectable in the sampling. I didn't sense any smoke when I went outside for about five minutes with the dogs, but have I mentioned how freakin' hot and humid it has been? It was hard to tell if there was a slight odor or if I was being suggestible. I'd say one thing is for certain, the burned site is a brownfield, and if I lived closer and drank well water I'd be worried.
I am not sure if this is the longest stretch I've gone without posting, but it has to be close. I did have a bunch of things to write, including some funny anecdotes -- but I had no time while I was away and then was exhausted upon my return. Thursday I could hardly be in my office because the A/C had to be off and windows closed (I will explain eventually). Now that all is resolved and I am rested, the grading deadline is looming in my class (it ended yesterday). I have until Tuesday night, but I'm having oral surgery on Monday so I don't want to leave much unfinished work -- I want to be done Sunday night. The only reason I am posting this now is that the university's various online systems are glitchy today -- can't access the registration database and blackboard just kicked me out while I was evaluating discussion. I hope that it is fixed soon -- but sometimes the best plan goes awry!

Picked and ate the first green beans of the 2012 garden season!