Thursday, December 21, 2017

I finished fall grades two days ago, but didn't enter the grades untul this morning. And then Winter session begins today! There are 10 students in my class. I already got one email with a student who is "confused," asking what is due today. Always funny, as blackboard reveals student has put in zero time exploring class, which of course has several documents that explain everything.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

I had a memory today of Mimmie and her old house on Whispell Road. I have never written about it before. Upstairs there was a small bedroom where we slept when I stayed overnight. The toilet (there was no bathroom) was in the downstairs bedroom where Grandpa and eventually Uncle Bud slept. Mimmie had a chamberpot upstairs for us to use (for pee only, LOL) during the night. I wonder how many people my age have had this experience? I think I had this memory today because the bathroom in my old house is three flights down from my office and the bedroom. I was thinking how handy that chamberpot would be!

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Don't really know what to say about this story. It's scary that someone would have no common sense. There should be a penalty for such absolute stupidity, but I'm not sure jail time is the appropriate choice.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

I am amazed by the #metoo phenomenon. It's not that I am exactly surprised, especially by the appalling behavior of those in the media and politics. For years we gave Roman Polanski and Woody Allen a free pass, rather than shunning them for the creeps they are. What is more shocking is that it is so widespread everywhere. Personally, I can't say I have had this type of experience often, except on a couple of occasions, and it was not extreme or serious; it did not rise to the level of a #metoo. On the other hand, I have sometimes been targeted over my religion, and especially over my ethnicity -- or should I say, my half ethnicity. The latter happened to me all the time, and in every setting. It still happens on occasion. I can only shake my head.

On a completely different note -- my classes are over today. Yippee!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Things are going incredibly well in the Village. I am so pleased. However, there is still occasional pushback from a few select individuals. It's like they are so comfortable with their dystopian reality -- a dead, crumbling Main Street -- that change and improvement are too threatening.

Friday, November 17, 2017

I am a yogurt enthusiast, and I have loved Chobani since the company first got started. I recently bought some Noosa brand yogurt at The Store, and it is incredibly delicious! I am not abandoning Chobani entirely (which luckily The Store sells as well), but I encourage you to try Noosa!

Friday, November 10, 2017

I don't understand the trend of tearing down buildings that have been the scene of violence. It's not that I think congregations or school communities don't have the "right" to do it, but do people think the tragedy will somehow be erased or that the building itself is responsible?

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Election Day. So here is my annual complaint post. 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 even after several years, I still miss you, lever voting machine, and feel nostalgic for the past. 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. I will never get used to the scantron system, which always seems confusing and not private enough, and as a result, I now dislike voting. RIP, charming dinosaur :-(

Monday, November 06, 2017

I will be so glad when tomorrow's election is over. Tired of throwing mailers into the recycle bin. I should just put the bin under our mail slot so they fall in when the mailman delivers and save myself the trouble. How much $ did the candidates spend on them?

Friday, November 03, 2017

I've had a drop in the number of posts here over the past two years, but very recently, I've felt like writing a flurry. Not sure whether it will continue. But today's post is about Massachusetts considering year-round Daylight Savings Time, but not wanting to do it alone.

“Massachusetts should only consider moving to what in essence is year-round Daylight Saving Time if a majority of other northeast states, also possibly including New York, also do so,” Commission chairwoman Sen. Eileen Donoghue said.

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want my hour back & I don't want it to be dark at 7 AM. Can't wait to be back on EST - REAL TIME. I am still pissed that DST is starting earlier (in March) and ending later (in November).  DST is torture. I guess I am OK with it in June, July, August -- but hate it in October and March. If a switch to consistent time is considered, it should be to real time -- EST -- NOT DST.

I searched this blog, and see that I have written about my dislike of DST many times before, especially regarding Springing Ahead. So I made a new label. If this idea is considered in NYS, my opposition will make Save Our Stewart's look like apathy.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

I hate to admit this, but I think I am getting burnt out on teaching. Not at the graduate level, but at the undergraduate level. I say "they are getting younger and younger," but it isn't that I can't relate to them or keep up with them. What bugs me is the (admittedly small) proportion who just don't care and make no effort. This type of student has always been present, but it bothers me more now. Why would someone (fairly) consistently come to class, but make no effort and do no work? I have five small five point assignments due throughout the semester. Why would someone just not hand them in? Four of the five are done at this point -- so this is a loss of 20 points already. I don't get it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

So I've been doing Blue Apron since late August. Overall, I like it. I don't think it's too expensive or a bad value, the vast majority of the recipes have been delicious, the ingredients are both fresh and unusual, and it saves me from having to go to the supermarket (something I hate) so often.

At first I struggled with all the steps on the recipe card, and with the amount of dishes generated. But after a couple weeks, I figured out how to streamline things and use some of my own methods, instead of theirs. I also have been able to use ingredients for something else, when I suspect the recipe will not work for me.

A few times there have been missing ingredients, but customer service has been great about issuing refunds. I took the opportunity to give feedback, but I don't think they are using my suggestions. As a vegetarian, the recipes tend toward too much reliance on carbs (pasta especially) and do not include ingredients like seitan. Only twice have the recipes been things I consider truly inspired from a vegetarian perspective (both were lentil dishes). I did a little looking on the 'net, and there does not seem to be any vegetarian or vegan service. Or rather, there are, but the recipes sound no different than Blue Apron.

My most significant criticism, and it is quite a serious one: the packaging. They use far too much plastic, and it is mostly, if not entirely, unnecessary. Every little thing is in a film plastic bag. Why? I don't need 10 red pepper flakes in a plastic bag. I don't use the red pepper anyway, but I would feel this way even if I loved it. I don't get it. If I discontinue the service, this is likely to be the reason why.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This video is coming up as a memory post from three years ago on Facebook and a friend shared it this morning. It's still great, possibly even better now, because in the end, we won! We fought to the point of being a-holes. We tortured @garydake and @StewartsShops on the net -- and were rewarded by being blocked from their Facebook page. We boycotted. (No easy feat when traveling from Castleton-on-Hudson to Samsonville on the Thruway!). We took our protest to the Village, and used the momentum to grab two board seats 18 months later. Some people, even close friends and family, laughed at our intensity and thought we were crazy. But our advocacy caused Stewart's to lift their usual deed restriction of no convenience store, and three years later, we have a better privately owned shop at the location (as @chris_churchill announced in the Times Union) and Main Street is revitalizing!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I'm sure the two people in this story are / were wonderful human beings, and it's sad the man died. I was extremely relieved the dog was saved by police.

Monday, September 25, 2017

More commentary on something that is contentious on Facebook, and I am not joining in. Full disclosure: I can't stand football. I find America's obsession with it like a scene from Idiocracy. The only reason the "athletes" are (far) less sympathitic than in the "sport" I disdain even more (horse racing) is because they choose to play, and they are paid handsomely. I could not care less whether they streak, do cartwheels or set themselves on fire on the field. What gets my attention is when a scum like Vick is still given kudos by his former team and that team's fans, rather than called out for the jerk he is. I also am appalled at people's understanding of the First Amendment. The Bill of Rights is all about limiting government power. "Congress shall make no law..." The First Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with fans boycotting, owners threatening to fire players, or keyboard pundits yelling about it on Facebook. Finally, I am shocked how little attention anyone pays to this issue. The players themselves don't care, and the team owners, beer and car companies, media and fans certainly don't. We may as well still be watching a spectacle dating from Roman times.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

In 2014, when Stewart's announced they would close, I dreamed of an article like this one in the Times Union. Pinch me.

Monday, September 04, 2017

I am in the midst of a very unpleasant situation with a contractor. In all my years of home ownership (30 in Castleton-on-Hudson and 18 in Samsonville) I have never had a bad experience, much less anything like this happen. It is not over yet, and I have no prediction for when or how it will resolve. I consider myself unmaterialistic, and so I know it is only a house, but it's a significan part of my retirement portfolio, not to mention a source of relaxation and stress reduction, a place to get away from the demands of professional life. Bob is proud of the work he has done on the house, and in fact, only finished his every-three-year maintenance of the exterior finish a couple weeks ago (and this time it took two summers to complete). Since he received the startling news from the contractor while he was at work late Thursday afternoon, we have discussed and brainstormed and theorized about "Why?" Why is this happening? How could it happen? WTF? We want a logical explnation, one that makes some kind of sense. Sometimes there is no rational explanation I guess, and that's hard to swallow. Maybe the dude is just plain crazy, or a liar, or a cheat. Last night we postulated, perhaps he is a drug abuser, and is addicted to opioids. That would explain his behavior, and make more sense than anything else we have formulated.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

I refuse to comment about this story on Facebook, because a mob of commenters would call me an idiot or worse for saying this, but there is something very wrong with this story. The detective in me says "Screw up and Cover up." How did the officer get shot in the abdomen? He was facing the cop who shot him? And they still can't figure out who it was? What BS. I'll bet they freaked out when they learned the victim -- who they shot six times -- did not have a gun and was a beloved elementary school teacher, and they had to work very, very hard on spin. Most people gobble it up, of course, and are fine with blaming the victim. Suicide by cop is only supported because cops killed him. Death by cop is way more accurate. The take away for me? Stay far away from cops, especially local ones.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Finally picked the first tomato!! Isn't it a beauty?

So many things happening: End of summer & back to campus (summer class ends this week), and in the Village, Repair Cafe, farmer's market, and I finally got a grant! Despite writing nine so far, I've had success with only two, and both are not money, but things (seeds for community garden and the latest, plants for the park).

I wish I had time to write more, but someday this blog will be a priority again.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Village of Castleton-on-Hudson will be hosting Repair Cafe at the Village Hall, 85 South Main Street, on Saturday, July 15, from 10 AM to 2 PM. Bring your beloved but broken item and volunteers will do their best to fix it for free.

Friday, June 23, 2017

I have been spending an enormous amount of time doing research and writing grants for the Village. I enjoy it, and it has garnered compliments from reviewers, but unfortunately no actual $ awards to date. Yesterday was a demoralizing day, so I think I'll pick myself up, dust myself off,  draw a cartoon, and move on.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Spring grades are done! (Deadline is tomorrow.) Just have to enter them. Summer session begins May 31...

Monday, May 08, 2017

About the last post, apparently it was open & shut guilty. And, I continue to be revolted by the defense attorney.

Friday, May 05, 2017

I've been finding the quest I've been on for a year - getting access to the Hudson River for the village -- very demoralizing. First, all the grants I've written have come to nothing except compliments from the state (about how excellent the writing was). I'm changing my focus from "keep your word & build us a bridge" to "just open the gate because it's equitable." I'm not very optimistic about that approach either.

Riveted by this trial. Maybe because I can't stand rich entitled punks who are enabled by their foolish families. Also because I've found the defense attorney repugnant ever since she sported an offensive Halloween costume at a party, and was in the DA's office, prosecuting the shooting at UAlbany in the 1990s. And most importantly, I know I am not on the jury hearing the arguments (and not hearing some evidence that is public) but it seems open & shut guilty to me.

Friday, April 28, 2017

There have been several occasions since my last post when I had an idea for something I wanted to write here, but I was busy and didn't make the time. Now that I am writing...can't remember or don't seem relevant any longer, LOL. I know, saw Barenaked Ladies at the Egg last Friday (sixth time we've seen them, and they were awesome, as always), and one project I am working on for the Village that I am really excited about: Repair Cafe (July 15). It will be the first in the Capital District!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I like this TU writer. He championed the village in the Save Our Stewarts advocacy and I am forever in his debt. However, I disagree with this column. A policy may have more than one goal, in this case supporting middle-class college students and keeping college graduates in the state. There will surely be consequences of this policy, and some may be unintended. One can debate the merits of the residency requirement, but trying to avoid being an exporter of our most skilled workers is hardly an evil justification. Making a deal that is palatable to both the Assembly and Senate is difficult. And, full disclosure, this will be good for SUNY, my undergraduate and graduate alma mater and where I have worked for nearly thirty years.

On a completely different subject, in honor of my father's 90th birthday, I am sharing this story I wrote years ago that was published by the Daily Freeman in 2006. Happy birthday to Daddy, one of the best storytellers I know.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

This is a tragedy, and a crime.
The Nicholaus building was adjacent to the former Olender Mattress building. Before the Olender was razed, historic preservationists called for an in-depth review of how demolition might affect the Nicholaus building. At the time, Schenectady Heritage Foundation Chairwoman Gloria Kishton said she believed the demolition would "extremely endanger" the Nicholaus building, and called for an engineering plan to be developed that would ensure its structural integrity.
That this was not done makes all involved culpable for this shameful act of historic destruction. Makes me sick!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A comment on the United Airlines passenger assault.

Full disclosure:

  • I am not much of a traveler (call me provincial, but I just don't like it much. Also, when you decide to have a weekend house, all extra resources go in that direction. And finally, I favored staycations before that annoying term was coined)
  • If I was a traveler, I prefer trains and would not be an air traveler (can you say "carbon footprint?")
  • I am not big on being publicly embarrassed or physically injured. So even if I had initially refused to leave the plane, I would have immediately done so the moment the cops arrived. No screaming. No dragging.
That stated,why didn't they increase the incentive until there were enough willing takers? The bad PR (and eventual lawsuit) from this will cost them way more. Stupid!

It was fun to see the Airplane! clips floating around social media, though. Love that movie.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Finally hit my stride in my toleration class this semester. It was a rough start because the room is just awful - small, crowded & very structured, and discussion is difficult at best. The registrar was either unwilling or unable to find me new space. So I've been suffering (tolerating, lol). One change I've made is to rely somewhat less on in-class discussion (I'm using online discussion instead). I decided to go in-depth into a subject rather than taking a mile wide and an inch deep approach, so since March 9 we've been focused on a single topic (classroom simulations). We've seen a documentary (A Class Divided), read a novel (The Wave), written a paper, had an all-class discussion of the paper executive summaries (by creatively re-arranging the desks) and it has so engaged them that I decided to stick with the focus another week. At their request, Tuesday I purchased (from amazon) and showed another excellent documentary called "The Lesson Plan" about the actual "Third Wave" class experiment.
I have three reactions to the ridiculous Pepsi / Kendall Jenner thing (what else to call it escapes me).
  • Two minutes is ridiculously long for a cola ad.
  • This is a faux controversy, generated for publicity by the company and the model.
  • The most irritating part: It's hawking soda! EWWW. Nobody should be drinking that crap.
OK, this is unrelated. Because of weeding my FB feed of all political posts, it is now almost exclusively nice photos and funny memes from friends, or atrocious stories about animals. Yesterday there was one about a teenager stomping a Chihuahua to death. Currently NYS is negotiating a late budget, and one of the roadblocks is "raise the age" legislation. I tend to think 16 & 17 year olds should not be prosecuted as adults, but yesterday after reading that appalling story, I thought, prosecute him as an adult, or better yet, forget the trial, and let a mob stomp him to death. (And this is coming from someone who doesn't support the death penalty.)

Monday, April 03, 2017

I don't visit the Times Union's website as often as I once did, mostly because the screen seems to now be optimized for phones or tablets, and I only use my devices for email and social media or rarely, a google search. But I do visit by clicking links in Facebook when I am using a desktop computer. Today while I was there reading about a college student who died after a pancake eating competition, I looked at the list of "most popular" stories and noticed one about the TU's integrity, or rather, lack thereof. It was a post from the blogs section (from a lifestyle blogger I've never read before). I read it, and laughed. Not to dismiss what seems like the blogger's genuine outrage, but it was re-hashing the same tired subject that has been visited and re-visited numerous times over the years, about the unfairness of TU policies regarding non-staff, community, unpaid bloggers. That history was not detailed (and possibly is not known by the current crop of volunteer bloggers), but having read the TU blogs quite a bit years ago and every so often more recently, I would need more than ten fingers to count off the number of times the situation has arisen. The TU does something to offend such as edit or delete, a group of bloggers cries foul, one or more depart (willingly or unwillingly), other bloggers defend the unfairly treated blogger(s), and commenters also defend or sometimes fight each other. URLs to the new blogs of the departed are shared. The controversy gets a lot of attention for a couple days, generating clicks on the TU website. The TU will eventually recruit and promote new community bloggers who are naive and flattered by the offer of the TU platform. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

It's quite amazing how defensive people get when you criticize television. They don't want to be seen as a TV person, but don't you dare threaten it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Recently we binge watched the amazon original series "Catastrophe." Once we got through Season 1, I remarked, "it is a vulgar show." We started Season 2, and it went from kind of vulgar but funny, to very vulgar and quite offensive. We bailed before the first episode ended. Really? Their banter about their baby's penis made me think "pedophiles" and the treatment of the dog was what led to us bailing. No thanks. Not funny or worth the time.

Friday, March 17, 2017

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm sharing this story from my book "A Visit with Mimmie: Catskill Mountain Recipes."

All four of Mimmie's grandparents immigrated from Ireland. She was proud of her Irish heritage, and had no patience for tired jokes about being Irish and drinking. Her mother, she said, would not touch birch beer or root beer either, just because of the word “beer.”

On the card for my 18th birthday she wrote:
“Want to wish you Happy Birthday for Tuesday. Hope my card gets there on time. Eighteen is a lovely age to be isn’t it. Just think you are now your own boss. Have a Happy Birthday Tuesday and don’t drink too much (champagne). Suppose that is spelled wrong, but guess you will know what I mean. That horrible tasting drink that they always have at weddings.”

Years later, I noticed Irish Soda Bread being sold at the Kiwanis Club barbecue at the firehouse. and many restaurants serve it on St. Patrick's Day. I was not really familiar with it, so was wondering if Mimmie had a recipe for it. I looked, and couldn't find anything. However, the 1926 Old Book begins with a recipe for Irish Wedding Cake. Mimmie wrote on the page: “I started this cookbook in 1926. My first recipe was given to me by Gladys Fox.”

Irish Wedding Cake
Flour 2 cups
Baking Soda 1 teaspoon
Butter 1 tablespoon
Cinnamon 1 teaspoon
Cloves 1 teaspoon
Egg 1
Molasses 1 cup
Boiling Water 1 cup

Sift dry ingredients, add remaining ingredients and beat all together. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes in loaf pan, or recipe can be used to make layer cake. Use white icing.
Here's Mimmie's Irish Apple Cake recipe; this one is not from the 1926 notebook, but from the little 1970s mod recipe file box:

Irish Apple Cake
Flour, sifted 3 cups
Sugar 3/4 cup
Salt ½ teaspoon
Egg Yolks 3
Butter 1 cup
Lemon Rind, grated from one lemon
Applesauce 1-3/4 cup
Cinnamon ½ teaspoon
Cloves 1/4 teaspoon

Mix flour, sugar, salt, egg yolks, butter and lemon rind. Divide mixture in two parts. Press one part in bottom of pan. Mix applesauce, cinnamon, cloves, and spread over mixture in pan. Sprinkle rest of mixture over applesauce. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9x9x1-3/4-inch pan for 40 to 45 minutes. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

 Ann Kathryn McSpirit Eckert (1904-1993) at about age 17

Monday, March 13, 2017

Today is the calm before the storm. We are supposed to get hammered with snow tomorrow. Mid-March is famous for these big storms.

Friday, March 03, 2017

This was a momentus week! Rosie's fifth gotcha day, the 15th blogversary of Gully Brook Pess, and The Store opened at the old Stewart's (and it is much nicer)!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Clearly not doing too well with that goal of posting here more than in 2016! The 15 year anniversary of this blog is coming March 1, so I better get busy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Starting the year out with a post here to say, I'll set a goal to post more than I did in 2016. When I started this blog nearly 15 years ago in 2002, my goal was to write once per week. I easily hit that number in every year besides 2016. Bob came in from the car on Saturday with a set of colored pencils, handed it to me and said, "I bought this for you for Christmas and just found it in the trunk." I saw the sets at Ocean State on Sunday for $2.99, LOL. But I picked up a new sketch pad while there (I think the one I've been using I've had since high school). So that bodes well for Nileston News too.