Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The latest accusation of bias

Courtesy of The Onion ... possibly NSFW, depending on your workplace ...

In The Know: Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give A Shit?

I'm just waiting for TPTB to come down with edicts that there is yet another class of students that we need to make sure we don't discriminate against.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank you, Ella

This sentiment is totally out of date, but I need it right now ...

A back-to-school message

Kids, love your library!

This is especially true of your college library. It has tons of resources that can really help you. The narrator of this video is only slightly exaggerating when he extols the benefits of studying there. He makes a brief mention of one of the most powerful resources available through a college library -- databases. They're a gold mine of research information.

One caveat: Not all libraries have a Snack Zone. Otherwise, the information about the BYU library transfers to campuses everywhere.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You want oleanders? You got oleanders!

Sometimes something in the blogosphere just demands a response ...

For O Docker and everybody else who's talking about oleanders, here's a video of the song that those of us in a certain generation think of the instant somebody mentions them. What I find interesting is that these guys looked really nerdy back in the '70s, but they're way cool now, even with the silver hair.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taking it easy

Life in the slow lane ...

Pat, Dulce and I are at Five O'Clock Somewhere; Gerald has taken Scratch to Tempe for the start of the new school year.

Dulce had found the new kitten to be rather irritating, so she had been hiding in her lair under the bed in the master bedroom since his arrival, coming out only briefly to eat or use the litter box. She is now much more at ease, without the vexation of a kitten to put up with, and up here at the place she likes best.

Our main reason for coming up here, and being here on a weekday, was so we could arrange for a plumber to fix a leaky water pipe. The well is at one end of the house, and the place where the water line enters the house is at the other end; for most of that distance, the pipe is buried four feet deep so it won't freeze. But the last couple of feet before it enters the house is not as deep; it probably froze in the winter and cracked. We didn't even realize we had a leak until recently; it's been gradually getting worse.

So now that I have a couple of weeks off between terms, we decided to come up for a few days, get the plumber in, and just relax a bit. We've been doing some reading, some sleeping, some movie-watching (Clint Eastwood), and of course, some online stuff. Dulce has been enjoying her royal cushion on the back of the sofa, and she's eating much better now that she's more at ease.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time for a breather

The summer term draws to a close …

Because the summer term is shorter than the fall and spring terms, it's more intense. Classes have 12 weeks to get through 15 weeks' worth of material. At least I'm not at a university where the work is packed into eight or (gasp!) four weeks. Still, even condensing the term by three weeks makes for a more intense experience.

Making matters worse is that this has been a rough time for both instructors and students. Some of it has to do with economic woes – both institutional (state funding being cut) and personal (unemployment and underemployment are rampant among my students). But it's not just about the economy. In just my department, four colleagues have died unexpectedly this term. And many of my students are going through various sorts of turmoil – illnesses and injuries, relationship problems, deaths of loved ones, and more.

Last year, as part of efforts to alleviate possible H1N1 outbreaks, the college issued each instructor with a bottle of hand sanitizer and a box of tissues. But it was a very small box and didn't last very long. This term, I brought my own, jumbo-sized boxes of tissues – one to keep at each of the campuses where I teach. Now I'm nearly out of tissues; my students and I have used a lot of them.

So, this week is the last week of the term, and I have my students working on their portfolios, so I'm not buried under papers to grade. Friday will be intensive portfolio grading; then I will enter grades into the computer system, and then I will have two weeks off before the fall term begins.

And if you hear an enormous sigh of relief coming from the Southwestern U.S. late Friday afternoon, you will know it's me, looking forward to that breather and hoping I won't need so many tissues next term.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Poetry Corner: Walt Kelly

Look up and to the north …

Gerald is making coffee, preparing to go sit on a mountaintop with a friend and watch for the aurora.

Normally, we don't get auroras in New Mexico – we're too far south. But NASA has reported a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun. In plain English, that means that there is an unusually strong wave of ionized particles headed our way. These particles interact with the Earth's magnetic field to create the glowing displays known as auroras.

The peak of the first wave is supposed to be about 1 a.m. MDT. Gerald's ham-radio friends are already reporting a high level of electromagnetic activity, and he's hoping not only to see the aurora but to photograph it – he does have a good camera for that sort of thing, as his pictures of Earthshine during last summer's eclipse attest.

I can recall one time when I actually did see an aurora in New Mexico. It was faint, and I'm sure it could never compare to the spectacular displays that folks further north can see. It was September, and the sun was in a phase of high activity. The high-school astronomy club had a star party (if I remember correctly, it was to look at a comet) in the very small hours of the morning. We saw very faint wispy glowing streaks, in pale yellow and green. It was not exactly spectacular, but it was an aurora – in New Mexico.

In honor of the aurora, here is Walt Kelly, the creator of the Pogo Possum comic strip:

Oh, roar a roar for Nora,
Nora Alice in the night.
For she has seen Aurora
Borealis burning bright.

A furore for our Nora!
And applaud Aurora seen!
Where, throughout the summer, has
Our Borealis been?

For more about the CME, check out NASA's official announcement.

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