Thursday, November 29, 2012

So happy!! My father, Bob, my brother and sister made a trip to Boston today for the post-surgical follow-up. We all know he is doing well, but it is wonderful to have it confirmed by MGH. The best part of all, he does not need radiation! Just MRI in six months (and I assume routinely every so often after that).

I am still on campus. I went to campus center to get something to eat just now, planned to sit in Tim Horton's and have dinner. Alas, it was closed. So I brought the food back to my office. Couldn’t see myself sitting  at a table, everyone appeared to be at least two decades younger than me or even more. How did I ever get thru grad school? During the day time it isn't quite as obvious as there are others around who have seen more than eight semesters! LOL.

The low point of the day, a note informing me the suspension was lifted and now I have to work with the student (from yesterday's post) so he can catch up on the work he missed. WTF? Then, he blew off class anyway. But, who cares? Nothing can put a damper on this glorious day, not being a "weird lady," not wishing for maple pecan danish, not slackers in fake fraternities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In general, I think the TU salivates over bad publicity for UA (such as kegs 'n' eggs, which naturally they couldn't resist referencing), but in this case, the two questions they ask in this editorial have been on my mind as well:

What would compel any student to physically abuse and otherwise degrade his or her classmates? And why would anyone submit himself to such mistreatment and humiliation?

One of the nine dumb asses from this fake fraternity charged with a crime is in one of my classes. He asked to get into class after it was closed, and I let him in. But of course! He's personable, confident and participatory, although his attendance has been lacking, and he constantly emails or tells me at the next class that he has been sick. Even before this outrageous incident, I had to bite my tongue to resist saying, "yes, I know. It's called a hangover." He is prohibited from coming to campus or having any contact with me pending a hearing. The university does not usually get involved in off-campus crime, but hazing is a specific violation. 

These are not kids, despite the stunning immaturity and seriously bad judgment. We cut 20-somethings far too much slack, we make far too many excuses, and we extend childhood for far too long. These are men! Pathetic men, yes, but men just the same.

What's most alarming to me is not really the astonishingly sick behavior of the nine perpetrators, shocking and appalling as that may be. There are surely a-holes in this world of all ages, and I run across them from time to time. But the fake pledges, those 18-year-old victims. Are they so desperate for acceptance, so lacking in confidence that they were willing to submit to this? Did they not have the common sense to know it was dangerous, that they might even be hurt or killed? What is wrong with them? And if they are so weak, why are they not still at home in their childhood bedrooms, watched over by helicopter parents?

Unfortunately, if experience is any guide, I have a feeling that the parents of the nine losers will vigorously defend their precious babies, claim innocence, extenuating circumstances, or police brutality and try to save them from taking any responsibility for their actions.

One consolation, I would be even more outraged if this idiot was in my other class. In that one I spend a lot of time on moral education, ethics, honesty and character.
What would compel any student to physically abuse and otherwise degrade his or her classmates? And why would anyone submit himself to such mistreatment and humiliation?

Read more:
What would compel any student to physically abuse and otherwise degrade his or her classmates? And why would anyone submit himself to such mistreatment and humiliation?

Read more:
What would compel any student to physically abuse and otherwise degrade his or her classmates? And why would anyone submit himself to such mistreatment and humiliation?

Read more:

Monday, November 26, 2012

 All leaves are on the ground -- except for this tree! Nothing short of a miracle given how windy it has been.
Some of the herbs are still hanging in there.

Thanksgiving was very nice, as was the weekend overall. The pie was not perfect, by my standards -- too much liquid and a touch too sweet. Everyone else disagreed, but I guess I must be channeling Mimmie.

Back to the grind! But only 2.5 weeks left of on campus duties, yay.

We watched "Lady Eve," an old Henry Fonda / Barbara Stanwyck movie, over the weekend. It was atrocious!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Making Apple Pie and Thinking of You

Today I made traditional apple pie for Thanksgiving. It was the first pie I've made in a year or since last Christmas anyway. I like to make apple pie, and often make one or more for holidays. It is one of my favorite desserts at any time, but in recent years I buy them here for all except special occasions. (The apples for this pie did come from there, we bought a half-bushel.)

I use a Cutco peeler to pare the apples, and it was a gift from Millie. Apple pie is one of my "signature" dishes, and she gave me many utensils over the years, including decorative pie plates and an apple coring machine -- but none as useful as the Cutco peeler. Last time I made a pie, I was sending one of them down to Long Island. But not this year.

Last time I made a pie, Sophie begged for the apple peels, cores, and pieces of apple. She would even grab a whole apple out of the bag and eat it. I've had two dogs in my life, Sophie and Howie, who loved apples and spent the entire time I was baking waiting nearby, barking impatiently at times, cheating the compost. But not this year.

Bob and I came up with a poem to capture Sophie's love of pie:

Ode to Pie

Pie, Pie, Pie
Pie for dinner
Pie for lunch
Pie for breakfast
Pie for brunch
Pie in the morning
Pie at night
Pie when you're hungry
Pie when you're full
Pie for a snack
Pie for a meal
Pie, Pie, Pie

I always think of Mimmie when I bake for the holidays, and this year is no different. Is the pie perfect? Did the dough roll out just right? Are the apples just right?

You be the judge.

My recipe:

2 C flour
1 t salt
2/3 C butter
6 T water

7 cooking apples
1 scant C sugar
1 scamt t cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
2 T flour
2 T butter,

Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake ~50 minutes @ 400 degrees.

Making apple pie today! Meeting friends here tonight, headed to Samsonville tomorrow.

Exciting things coming professionally...(stay tuned).

Happy Thanksgiving!
I was reading some animal quotes and came across this one that resonated:

Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.
--John Galsworthy

Monday, November 19, 2012

Feeling happy! I'm a little ashamed to admit it probably has more to do with not having to go to campus for a week than anything else. But that means progress on the end of semester workload, and it allows me a little procrastination time too!

We watched two great old movies recently. One was Penny Serenade (great title) and the other, recommended by netflix because we watched that one, was No Man of Her Own (a horrible title that would have caused me to skip it if it didn't appear as "recommended." They were not the typical light fare from those days, more like indie (although they weren't), circa 1950. But that was the flavor. Both were pretty dark, and the first raised a lot of questions, good flick for discussion and thought. The second was almost a thriller, very suspenseful.

Recently I had my orthotics adjusted -- have not had that done since '06. They arrived in the mail on Friday. The change was significant. Painful. Even excruciating at times. Oww! But I can tell it is exactly what I need and once they are broken in, I will be in much better shape with my balance, stability and walking. Yay. Maybe even able to do something that has been only  fond memory since '09, hike again someday? (Talk about really jumping the gun.) 

Yesterday, our Castleton church had a ceremony honoring everyone who died from 11/2/11-11/2/12. Bob was called up to the altar to light a candle for Millie. (Miss her.) It was said hearing all the names (a lot) and remembering, but also very nice. I remembered Sophie too. RIP Weg!

And in West Shokan, my father attended church for the first time since his surgery. He has also gained 6 pounds back of the 18 he lost. Yay again!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I ordered a new toaster oven from amazon just now. The one in Castleton stopped working several days ago. For at least the past 20 years, toaster ovens have sucked. In the '80s I had a great one that was a wedding present. It may have been a GE, but I can't remember. It worked for many years. The door popped open and the shelf came out when the item was heated or toasted. It was simple, it didn't have a bunch of dials. Unfortunately, years ago it vanished from the universe of consumer items and when it was worn out, it couldn't be replaced with a similar model.

As I recall for a while before it completely broke, the door pop up mechanism had to be fiddled with when closing the door. Maybe that flaw was the reason they stopped making it. Or maybe all the convenience junk food our society now eats demands a different appliance. So I'm not sure what happened in the world of toaster oven design and function, but it is impossible to find one that is satisfactory (the bar is pretty low: reliable, works well, doesn't burn your hand every time you use it).

We're restricted in Castleton to a shelf that is 17" X 10", but I don't think size matters. Cost doesn't seem to make a difference either. I hate the one in Samsonville (a large, pricey Krups) just as much or more than any toaster I've had, and I was pretty apathetic about the one that just broke in Castleton (a small inexpensive Cooks brand). Considered a smashing ceremony a la Office Space before Bob toted it to the landfill this morning, but rejected the idea. It's very appealing for the Krups when its time is done, though. (Just have to wait until it breaks since I never replace something that is still working. Including only sort of working.)

I thought about ditching the oven idea and going with a regular toaster, also was almost sold on a small Black & Decker, but finally settled on a Hamilton Beach that is both a toaster and a toaster oven. I fully accept that multi-appliances are almost always a disappointment, so I assume we will complain about this unit after it comes, too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Finally making progress on the to do list! Yay.

It's been a week since I last posted. I rarely go that long even if it's only a picture or a few lines. So that gives you an idea of how busy I've been. I guess, with my "blue" attitude, I must have let things build up. I didn't think I was slacking. Truth is, I just wasn't working like crazy. That's how it can be, when there are assignments to be graded. If you don't spend more than a full day here and there, but instead cut if off at a reasonable hour and take off weekends -- it piles up. Kind of a "duh," I know. Americans love working and are used to there being few boundaries.

My father's surgery was 6 weeks ago this past Wednesday. He had a bout with pneumonia a week after her came home from the hospital, but he is recovered. On Monday he woke up and announced that he wanted to go to the Veteran's Day ceremony held by his American Legion post. So we did! It was his first excursion away from home, aside from doctor's visits. All were surprised and happy to see him.

I've been wanting to post this story.  There are a couple shots of my father in the front row of the audience (also my mother and me, a couple rows back) in the video. He has on his leather jacket, and Ma and I are wearing shades. The videographer must have been invisible, I didn't even know they were there.

Unfortunately, his follow-up in Boston was canceled and rescheduled from this past Thursday to the 29th, but he has gained back two pounds of the 18 he lost, his hair is almost back to normal, and all in all, everything is going well. On Monday I heard him telling people that he found out there is nothing on Pluto (that's where he went during his seven hour surgery).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Spent the afternoon on campus. Fridays have such a different atmosphere. Quieter, but lots of personal chatter. Nothing to do with that necessarily, but my office is freezing! Do they shut off the heat or what?

We will eventually be moving into the school of business building, once they move to their new digs and the old building is renovated. Not sure what will happen with education. Maybe they will move administrative offices out of the dorms (that they have taken over). I hope I get nicer space. I'm not complaining -- my office is OK, but in "my former life" I had lush environs. I won't have my hopes up, though, and then I won't be disappointed.

Some annoyances have arisen with my classes -- falls in the arena of slacker students. Today is the deadline to drop a class, and so I did something I don't usually bother with -- I told the deadbeats to drop. A couple actually did, after arguing (unsuccessfully) their POV. The others did not bother to dignify my advice with a response.

I'm usually a cup half full type person, but I have been feeling rather "blue." I won't say depressed because that's too clinical. 2012 has not been a banner year for me. It's been one thing after another, and at the moment it feels as if even a tiny irritation could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. As a result, I'm having to struggle to stay afloat work-wise, and I am not feeling all that motivated. There are numerous things right now (some serious and some trivial) burdening me. Most are not things I write here, and whether I break that guideline at some point remains to be seen. Cryptic, sorry.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I feel the nor'easter coming. At this point the forecast doesn't look that bad, but the first snow of the season is always difficult, in that people drive like jerks. And in this case, it is hard to get the folks who are still without power, and those who have damaged homes, off my mind.

Later: Seems so cold here. What doesn't help...recently, Sophie's license renewal came in the mail, and today, as I was paying my bills, I had to check the box "deceased" on the form and get it ready to send back. Feeling so very sad!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I know, I know...they weren't always accurate, they weren't modern, they weren't efficient, the records weren't good enough, blah, blah, blah. But I still miss you, lever voting machine. The click of the little levers...scanning the top for ballot initiatives...trying to write upside down during a write in campaign...the turquoise curtain...the loud snap of the big red lever in the beginning and end. Still can't get used to the scantron system. RIP.

In Sandy news, still a lot of people hurting. Gas shortages, in the dark, and now the cold.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Today was the 125th anniversary Mass at church followed by brunch. The bishop was there. It was a very nice day.

More and more are getting their power back, but some communities are still in bad shape. But strong!! It is getting cold, though. And a nor'easter is predicated for later this week.  Bob visited family on LI yesterday. He took the Bridgeport ferry, and reports that gas lines are a reality all the way out in eastern Long Island. I've heard that people are coming farther and farther north as well -- all the way to Greene County. 1970s redux!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Last night, inspired by this journaling exercise, I had student do a five minute free write on two prompts:

1) Recall a time from your own schooling when you felt especially included, engaged, appreciated, and validated
(2) Recall a situation when you felt especially excluded, alienated, and invalidated from school

Then I invited them to share, with "thank you" being the only class response permitted. This is my vision -- to the second prompt, obviously.

They discussed the free write with their groups before they shared with the whole class, and one comment about the group dialogue was that most of the stories were about elementary school even though feelings of alienation are common in college classes. They speculated, is it easier to reflect on something when time passes and distance has been achieved?