Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I had a sore throat on Friday. It turned into a sinus infection by Sunday. I felt lousy, but managed to get a lot of work done. I cut myself (some) slack on this semester's duties, and focused on something inspiring, development of this summer's blended learning philosophy class.

I'm feeling somewhat better today, but I decided not to push it, so I canceled my classes and designed online activities for them instead.

The big news is that I just received Shop Rite home delivery. It will be the first of many! Flawless. They even gave me a bouquet of flowers! OMG I may never go to the supermarket again.

Also, I got a Droid, and switched my phone.

If you can bear to look at this, here is the sad state of St. Patrick's right now

Friday, April 26, 2013

Last night Bob stopped at Barcelona while he was waiting for me to finish class. A man was sitting next to him at the bar who was exclaiming about his age (50), in that way people do when they perceive you are considerably younger. Bob's blessed in this way, he appears a decade younger than his actual age (53). He chose not to disabuse the man of the notion.

This led us to talking about age, retirement, etc. Sometimes I wonder how I'll manage to continue teaching for 15 more years, but the alternative, administration, is not more attractive. The problem is that the students keep getting younger (it can't be that I am getting older, LOL)...the challenge is to figure out how to stay relevant, in sync.

The woman who teaches in the same classroom before my afternoon class is teaching a writing-intensive course. We've chatted a few times about the decline in students' writing and critical thinking skills. I'm generally more of an optimist, but then my classes aren't writing intensive. They aren't absent writing requirements either, though, and on Thursday, with this semester's performance on my mind, I mentioned SED's proposal to her.

We are in agreement that it's a good idea, and she said the proposed requirement -- four pages using four sources -- is what her students are up to right now, and they grouse about it. She also said she'd attended some forum with corporate employers who shared that they refuse to hire recent graduates because they are so lacking. Tough message in an economy that already is not friendly to the inexperienced.

On the other hand, Bob is having a hard time finding experienced  architects and engineers to hire. Really illustrates what I've anecdotally heard, that there is a shortage of candidates for skilled jobs.

I've been thinking that I have to make an effort to change some of the requirements in my classes, to intervene sooner and teach more about writing. The timing is good, since with the creation of the new reader, I will have to transform some of the curriculum and assignments.
I missed this in the student newspaper (which doesn't have a great website and I never bother with the paper version), but here it is from the TU. What bad publicity!

I will have to pick up a paper copy on Tuesday so I can read the original story. I'm shocked they named one student involved, I thought that sort of information was confidential.

As I've written here many times before, I do everything I can, but I'm sure a few still slip through occasionally. I change assignments as much as possible every semester, keep past semester's assignments for comparison, stress the importance of ethical behavior to students, and if that's not enough, try to scare the daylights out of them with colorful tales of students I've caught in the past. But, it's not possible to police whether a friend is logging on to the class Blackboard webpage and doing the work.

I haven't discovered any instances since last spring, but this semester, if students in my classes are paying someone to do the work, they should demand a refund. (LOL.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Waiting for Bob to pick me up on campus so we can go to Cafe Capriccio. (Heavenly.) Scholarly writing may be sub-par this semester, but classroom discussion is very lively. Something I have tried is asking them to do "free writes" on various prompts. I time them for two or five minutes. I ask them to share with class afterwards, and have been surprised by the number of students who volunteer. It works really well!

I am going to try online grocery shopping. Shop Rite has it, and my hair stylist (and friend) raved about it last night. He said he has ordered twice and it was flawless; he says he may never go to the store again. I'm psyched!! Stay tuned.
I got my haircut yesterday, and while I was waiting, I read the newspaper. I've written before that I stopped receiving a daily paper in February 2011 (after being a lifelong subscriber). I expected to miss it, anticipated the loss of my morning routine -- but after a very short time, found I didn't miss it one whit.

I still read many articles from the news, of course. It's just that now I read them online. Rather than as a morning coffee companion, I read in brief intervals throughout the day. Actually reading the hard copy has become an unfamiliar experience. Another thing I notice is that my reading patterns are different online than they are in the "paper." Admittedly, this is probably the biggest loss: in the paper I would read stories that I either miss or skip on the website.

This is one example. I saw the headline, but didn't immediately "click" it as I was busy working. When I was perusing the dead tree version, it was a top headline, I remembered it, and I'm glad I read it. I want to use it in class next week. PLEASE, SED! Adopt this!! Maybe it will result in no more grade distributions like the one I wrote about yesterday.

This isn't really another example...I did read the story online, which made me sick. The "perp" better not cross my path. What a shameful thing for campus to be associated with. Here's hoping they catch this monster pronto.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Here is the grading distribtion for an essay I just evaluated in one of my classes. Not at all happy with student writing this semester.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I've been busy keeping myself from falling behind in grading so that I can spend time on course development for summer and fall. So far, so good. It hasn't been easy to avoid distraction given what's been going on in the news, but on Friday I evaluated all the essays I had pending, and today I managed to create a reader and e-reader for fall.

Speaking of essays, there have been a very large number this semester that aren't very good. I don't notice anything particularly different in student behavior or demeanor this spring, but in all classes, the writing just hasn't been meeting expectations. Why don't students read the guidelines?

We spent a second weekend in a row in Samsonville, something we don't usually do this time of year, but Bob's brother is turning 50 next week, and he had a dinner at Carmine's on Saturday. It was allegedly a surprise party, but he wasn't surprised.

We drove to Poughkeepsie from Samsonville, and took Metro-North to Grand Central.  I used to take the commuter train to NYC from Brewster when we lived there in the 1980s, but I had not been on Metro-North since then. What a sensory experience! It brought back a lot of memories -- most not pleasant ones. When I go to NYC now, I take Amtrak from Rensselaer. Although I prefer Grand Central (Amtrak goes to Penn), Amtrak is way better: nicer, cleaner, faster, smoother ride. Smells better too!

Anyway, it was a nice party and we had a good time, chem toilet "fragrance" on the train or not.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today I sent this cartoon with the following note and Bob's Advantage Card to Jerry Golub, CEO of Price Chopper Supermarkets:

A year ago, I wrote to plead the case for saving St. Patrick’s church in Watervliet. If the church was demolished, I vowed to send you my Advantage Card (it is in my husband’s name) and never set foot in a Price Chopper again, no matter the location, and to encourage all my friends and family to do the same. Although you chose not to dignify my letter by responding, I have received your answer loud and clear. As I write this, St. Patrick’s is being destroyed. This is me keeping my promise.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The bad:

After a day and a half of effort (bad), I got the taxes done and mailed. Feels good to have it completed, but it is such a frustrating annual task!

My new lap top arrived on Friday (yay, this part is good) but I was too busy doing my "civic duty" (bad) to do more than plug it in and be sure it works (it does, another "good."). Now for more bad: Over the weekend a fb friend wrote about her hassle with Windows 8 and there were a few commiserating comments! Oh great. I like Windows 7 a lot. Will my new Win 8 machine suck? :-(

Sad doesn't begin to capture what this is. A year ago, I wrote to Price Chopper and told them I would never shop there if this happened. I am now going to cut up and send my Advantage card to them.

The good:

My father's 86th birthday! My sister hosted a party. (I didn't get to the cake in time to snap a picture when the candles were on it.)

Monday, April 08, 2013

I wrote a facebook post on Friday about Mimmie, since it was the 20th anniversary of her death. There were several reminiscences shared in comments, including my niece remembering songs she sang. One had lyrics "oh you dirty little kid does your mother know you're out." My mother remembered Mimmie singing it to her also. So my sister did a google search and discovered two versions:

Version 1:
Oh you dirty little devil;
Does your Mother know you're out?
With a hole in your britches;
And your mickey sticking out?

Version 2:
Oh you dirty little devil;
Does your Mother know you're out?
With your hands in your pockets;
And your shirt hanging out?
If it a cop came along;
And he grabbed you by the pants;
Have you ever seen {insert kid's name here}
do the hootchie cootchie dance?

Mimmie's version:
Oh you dirty little kid;
Does your mother know you're out?
With a hole in your britches;
And your hiney hanging out?

 Took all day yesterday -- but the new exercise bike is assembled!
The chives are up, and I think-maybe-could be I saw a hint of a leaf bud on the forsythia, but it's hard to beat my flaming katy kalnchoe
 Potatoes really need to be planted outside! Yikes. But the ground isn't warm enough.

Some possible good news here and here? I don't trust the developer at all but I'm trying to be an optimist. Besides the developer, the grocery store chain, the city, and the lawyers, I am mad at the Albany diocese too.

I fully appreciate that "the church" is not "the building." I really, really do. On the other hand, nothing will pain me more than if our little mission church is closed by the NY diocese. I won't lie; I will probably fight.

 However, in St. Patrick's and many other cases, I am realistic about how expensive it is to operate a huge, old inefficient building in a neighborhood that has experienced a deep demographic shift and now has a declining, and aging congregation. I know people don't pursue vocations any more and there are severe personnel shortages. 

But I'm still mad. I think they should be more selective about who the buyer is, and what the intended purpose will be. Another church? Check. School? Check.Senior Center? Check. Theatre, library or museum? Check. Food pantry? Check. Check. Animal shelter? Check. Other non-profit offices?

For profit business? Let me see the plan. Re-use existing buildings? Very, very likely check, as long as the business purpose is reasonable. Razing this jewel to make way for one more Price Chopper? Denied! Now how easy was that?

Speaking of church, this was in the bulletin on Easter Sunday. Close enough! (Something you have to get used to when your name has a lot of diphthongs.)

Friday, April 05, 2013

It's hard to believe it has been twenty years since she died. I wish I could have a cup of tea, piece of danish (heated up in the toaster oven, of course) and a visit with her, but my memories will have to do. Miss you, Mimmie!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Evil attorneys, evil corporations. ("Is there a difference in those three terms?," she wondered. "I think not," came the reply, "they are indeed synonyms.") I have a new place to boycott. But this is good news, hope it isn't short-lived.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

I am done grading midterms, yippee. It has not been a fun task this semester. Students were definitely trying, but overall they were not very good. Certainly there were some outstanding efforts and there weren't any that showed complete slacking (except for one student who didn't hand in anything) so I suppose that's good, but they were difficult and time consuming to evaluate because there were so many that required extensive commenting and correction. Time for dinner.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

I had a wonderful Easter, starting with Holy Thursday at Sacred Heart (where Bob was asked to bring up the oil of chrism, and I was so pleased to see everyone admiring the kid's mosaics), Good Friday, dinner at my brother's, Mass Easter morning at St. Augustine's, brunch afterwards at my other brother's, and celebrating my sister's and brother's birthdays!

We went out to eat on Friday night after the service at church. When we got home, there was broken glass all over the place  in the road. There was some on the sidewalk as well. Also on the sidewalk was the back of what appeared to be a large picture frame. There was no photo to be found, though.

We suspect someone in a car threw the photo out of the window, perhaps in the midst of a (drunken) fight, then stopped or came back later and retrieved the picture, since it would be incriminating evidence. We immediately swept the road and the sidewalk, cleaned it all up, and then when we got home last night, Bob dumped our trash can into a bag, since we know the glass would be everywhere again if the can was emptied the way it was. What a mess! And what a jerk whomever it was who did it.

It was very cold last night -- this morning we awakened to a flurries. It was only a coating, enough to cover the ground, but still! It's April! 

Still cold in Samsonville but at least the snow is gone