Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yes, it has been miserable

The past week or so we have been coping with one of our dogs:  Jane (the little canine girl in previous post, actually).  After a period of time when she seemed "quiet" which progressed to "something is not right" & then "something is definitely wrong", we learned she had inflammation between her 2nd & 3rd vertebrae.  Unfortunately, in order to learn this she had to be sedated & then manipulated and x-rayed which has certainly increased her pain (& no, I don't regret doing it as she was without a doubt getting worse & she may as well have pain meds sooner rather than later).

As a result, since last Wednesday we (I) have been on little dog watch, 24/7.  I am making sure she eats enough to keep her pills down, drinks enough to keep her kidneys functioning, goes outside at regular intervals, does some walking around every few hours & (& this is harder than you think) making sure she does not feel so good she does more damage because she is as high as a kite. 

Little dogs in general & this little dog in particular are not known for their long term risk assessment.  They can be a lot like red necks that way, actually.  If she feels good enough to jump on a chair & then up onto the counter & then back down to the floor when she gets caught, why shouldn't she do it?  This means I would rather give her little slices of pills (we are down to a 1/4 pill every 3+ hours with one of them), than give her the whole pill & let her feel too good for a little while.

The result is that first thing in the morning here can look a little like that scene in Terms of Endearment.  Janie wakes up feeling stiff, she has to be carried outside without jostling, set down to pee & walk a bit to warm up.  Then she goes back in for breakfast & a pepto (1/2 pill).  The timer goes off in 15 minutes & she gets her anti-inflammatory (1/2 pill) & a pain killer (1/4 pill).  After 50 minutes (yes, we are that precise these days), she gets carried back out so she can have something the close to diarrhea but not quite (caused by the anti-inflammatory & the reason for the pepto).  We will do a few variations on this throughout the day, mostly giving her pain medication in the smallest dose I can manage.  Near bedtime, she will get that second 1/2 of the anti-inflammatory & a nighttime walk around the yard.

This morning we were joined by Lise & Faraday.  Faraday is the tiger kitten in that same picture posted yesterday.  The cats bump noses with her & roll around on the grass with each other & provide a nice distraction, just the reason so many people keep cats.  I am very careful that Jane doesn't feel so good she is able to join them.  After her business was done, we did a few slow orbits & then came back in the house.  She turned her nose up at water & has settled back into the dog bed she spends most of her time in.  Our hope is that once the inflammation comes down-down we can make some better quality of life decisions for her, find a low dosage that will allow her to move more freely, but there is always the possibility we won't be able to & then we will need to make a decision about that.

Yes, it has been miserable.

Monday, April 29, 2013

52 Photos Project: Conversation

I discovered the blog 52 Photos Project thru another blog (yes, a quilting blog) & of course it fascinated me.  You can read all about it over there, but without further ado:


Last year while out running me & A***** discovered five kittens that had been dumped.  It took a few tries & some blood, but we got them all here & then to the vet & then spayed /neutered & two of them went to other homes.  The last three are living happily in this same barn, but this picture was taken that very first day after all five had been reunited & my little dog followed me in while I checked on them. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reve D'Or

I have written before about the local roses people.  It was not until I went looking for the link I realized it had been a couple years; trust me I head over there more than once every couple years.  & about a year ago I went & bought several different roses including Reve D'Or.

I chose Reve D'Or on the basis of it being a climber that could handle some shade.  We had removed a diseased (three, actually) cedar tree from the backyard & two live oak volunteers were coming in nicely more or less in the same spot as two of them, but because it is a spot we mow & walk & so forth, we know we would be removing any low branches that made an appearance & keeping most of the area around quite clear.  & I thought wouldn't a nice climbing rose in one of those old cut-down whiskey barrels be just the thing?  & it was.

I did a little (very little) research, but mostly I asked the antique rose lady.  She actually recommended Maggie, a lovely Bermuda that I did purchase but put elsewhere (& she is doing fine), but I got to liking Reve D'Or.

While this is Reve D'Or's second year in the barrel (just beginning her second year), the complete lack of any substantial freeze means she has had plenty of grow time.  & she has given our very healthy potting mix an A++; the lower 2/3rds of the barrel are filled with greenhouse dried manure (what else can you do with all that manure & a greenhouse the hits 120-136 most of August?) & the top 3rd is whatever that rich mix is right in front of the barn where all the animals run & the rain seems to gather off the roof on the day I shovel it into the barrel.  After the heavy rain last week & the days of sunshine since she is showing a new bud & bloom almost every day.

Not entirely unrelated, last week was that one-of-two-weekends a year that is my most favorite days of the year:  the Friends of the Library Book Sale.   & yes, I did some damage in the horticulture section, specifically old world roses, new world roses, roses generally & so on.  Not a single quilting book in my bag when I got home, but still I am happy.  I am especially happy with Shrub Roses & Climbing Roses by David Austin, circa 1993 (it cast 75 cents).  Of my newly beloved Reve D'Or he says "a first class climber " YAY & lists her birthdate as 1869.  She is the daughter of Madame Schultz & a granddaughter of Lamarque.

I feel a new obsession coming on.  Okay it has been coming on for a while.  Now I feel its grip.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brown & agile child or What would the poet do?

(More than) a few year's ago, the movie that was ALL THE RAGE with the snotty film set was Il Postino.  & I will grant you, it is a lovely film (the trailer is dreck, just trust me about the movie).  The story revolved around a postman who is hired because a lofty exile has settled in the remote area & needs someone to bring his mail as his communication with the rest of the world is, in a word, VAST.  That exile was better known as Pablo Neruda.  He died 40 years ago & earlier this month, they dug him up.  Because there has long been concern that Pinochet may have had a hand in his death (Neruda was quite ill & planning & going back into exile...again.  Then he died, in hospital).

As with so many stories about poets, that one interesting & odd angle on a life is just a small slice of the pie.  It rather amazes me they have the reputation of being soft, fluffy bits of flotsam with no foothold in the real world.  Every active poet I ever met was manically obsessed with something (or things) & it was rarely socially acceptable.  About the nicest thing I ever heard of a poet doing in the last ten years or so was to get arrested for smoking in a nonsmoking restaurant & it just goes downhill from there (it turns out they only give tickets for smoking in non-smoking restaurants & then the police leave you there to finish your meal...& your cigarette.  It is up to the establishment to evict you).  I am not absolutely certain but I think the-poet-I-know was already mostly done with his meal, so he ditched the check & went to the movies.  I know he went to the movies, because that's where I heard the story (during the opening adverts, poets don't talk through movies). 

But don't take MY word for it (& no poet would want you to either.  Get off your lazy slacker ass & do your own damn research).  A few years ago, & really just a few. Less than ten.  Probably.  SOME years ago, I picked C****** up after school & she told me they were on to poetry in her English unit (I hate how schools talk) & she was quite sure she hated all poetry, ever written.  I almost had a coronary right there, behind the wheel.

We went to the library & I started pulling (she had spent the afternoon with his true love's hair being like wire & was completely sonneted out).  So I yanked every 20th century poet I thought might have something short enough to get in there like a blade & cut this outdated notion from her thoughts.  I don't remember the whole list but I know it included Lucille Clifton, Robert Lowell, William Carlos Williams, Theodore Roethke & Wallace Stevens.  It also included the poet that did the job: Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ginsberg was not on my list, nor was Whitman.  I was worried they might have been included in her crash course & already ruined; I should not have been concerned they spent a WEEK on effing sonnets & never touched anything else.  Also not on my list Maya Angelou & Emily Dickinson; I looked but they were checked out YAY.

So they are digging up Pablo Neruda.  I am not sure how I feel about that (& not being Chilean nor a revolutionary, I am not sure anyone should care what I think).  It is interesting that when they buried him, despite a two month delay & Pinochet's refusal to hold a public funeral & general ban on all public gatherings, THOUSANDS showed up.

This past week I took the time to revisit what is probably his best known poem.  & the one I refer to the most:  A Dog Has Died.  & I cannot help but look at the past week, the Boston Marathon & the ricin letters & know that is no way to win a revolution.  No one wins when the only stakes are random undiscriminating death; Neruda lived a life of life & by every measure, including immortality, he won. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prayer in school

I occasionally see the bumper sticker:  as long as there are tests, there will be prayer in school.  I always want to ask the driver if they really meant to link up prayer with cheating because most teachers with tell you that so long as there are tests, there will be cheating in school.  I realize it was almost certainly not what they meant, but maybe it was, what do I know about the kind of person who wants that to be the message to all the random other people who share the road.

I wish I could find the article, but it was ages ago (before the interwebs, girls & boys) about a teacher, a devout Christian or so she described herself, who was so bothered by the mandatory prayer thing that she began having the students read prayers from other religions during this allocated time.  The upshot was her school district had a hard time explaining that when they said "prayer" they meant only their prayer, the prayers of the majority of attendees who wanted to pray (which was not incidentally a majority of attendees).  The teacher, who was born again - I remember because this is the moment when I learned a born again person's definition of "born again" - felt that jamming prayer down everyone's throat, even if it was good for them, was not the way to become born again.  Apparently there is something voluntary there, like needing to ask forgiveness before being forgiven.

It has been years (over a decade) since I read the little human interest thing about this teacher.  Alas, I have NO IDEA what part of the country she was even in as in those days I did a lot of traveling for work & newspapers are often complimentary.... 

Ah well, wherever she is or was, here it is the countdown to the final.  I have bitched before about people who use their religion as a get-out-of-exam free card, but that is actually less common at the student level than the administration level.  Among the students it is dead grandmothers & cheating.  All of this kind of brings us to the saint of the day (it has been a long time, hasn't it?  Or is that just me?):  Wolbodo of Liege.  How can you not love that name:  Wolbodo. 

He was born in to a wealthy Flemish family, which I also love.  It is so hard to find someone who calls themselves Flemish.   & he died of natural causes, which always peak's my interest.  In between he was the Bishop of Liege.  Wolbodo was big in caring for the poor, not so much in regional politics, thought there should be more emphasis on the saints (I presume he didn't know he would be joining them) & is one of legion Patron Saints of Students.  What really caught my eye was that his name has been taken by the Menschen Vereeniging Wolbodo, a group founded by catholic students who for whatever reason did not want to join the other catholic students in their official catholic students group.  This group effectively left the church less than ten years after they formed & went in, well, a different direction.  No, not satanists.  More humanists.  Or contemporarists.  They have been strongly identified with hippies, but that was when most hippies were still students.  Wolbodians are more about the present than anything & don't worry too much about what you are either.  Funnily enough, their patron had that same reputation.

So if you are going to pray to someone during finals, why not Wolbodo?  At least his followers look interesting.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

This week at the ranch, uselessly

It has been stooped-crazy-busy here at Useless Ranch this week.  So busy I found out about the Boston Marathon bombing Tuesday morning.  I learned they had pictures of the suspects after the first one was already dead.  & I still say Lucky Me.

Other things that occupied my time this week:

The donkey did some damage to one of his hooves last weekend.  Our farrier was sweating, dizzy, barfing sick for what might be the second time EVER in 10+ years & could not get out here until Friday.  This means that every day, several times a day I was walking water to him where ever he was; I did not want him getting dehydrated because he did not have what it takes to shove in at the water trough.

We have had a small cold front which coincided with a lot of rain, so four baby birds were back in my bathtub.  Maybe I was over reacting, but one in particular was looking a bit glazed, pecking lethargically & why wait until she is too weak to stand?

I have also spent a rather extraordinary amount of time on the phone due to a family event elsewhere.  During those conversations I also learned my parents are wallpapering their bedroom, which I guess is their prerogative, but I actually liked the old wallpaper & I NEVER like wallpaper.  On the other hand, the mish-mosh of linoleum-thru-the-ages that comprises their kitchen floor remains untouched, especially since I told my mother I am 99.9% sure one of their linoleums is the same as the one in the kitchen of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's house

I finished several books:

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.  This is the second Flynn book I have read, but I think it was the first she wrote...?  All I can say is YIKES.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson.  This is my bookclub's May 2013 selection & I have really wanted to read it for awhile (but never had the time, OY).  The movie was at the local theatre-that-shows-not-so-much-mainstream-movies over a year ago, so I knew what happened.  Still a great book, even though I knew the ending.

Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King.  Not the best of the Russell/Holmes series but I still enjoyed it.  What will those crazy kids get up to next?

If this seems like a lot of book for one week, keep in mind the first two were audio, so I listened while I did stuff in the house I listened while I ran errands, I listened while I sat & had a cup of coffee when the rest of the country was watching CNN/Fox/MSNBC et al. 

& now I have some work to do, as the cool temps & rainy weather has meant:

The return of the nettle, a noxious unpleasant stinging plant that I have become somewhat immune to much in the way a clownfish does a sea anemone.  For much the same reason, I am sorry to say as for all intents & purposes I make my home in a bank of stinging nettle.

Early roses!  One of the bushes I planted less than a year ago is covered in blooms & most of the others are pushing buds.  It looked like we were going straight from a muddy Fladidah winter to the steamy broil of summer, but we have doubled back for a weekend of spring.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

World Hemophilia Day

You know I love a crazy holiday.  Actually I guess they aren't "holidays" so much as commemoration days.  Or raise awareness days.  Yup, I love a crazy Raise Awareness Day.  & today is...of course...World Hemophilia Day.

The thing about hemophilia is it is probably better known than it ought to be.  I am not suggesting that we should ignore it, just that as fairly rare (dare I say obscure) blood conditions go, your average college educated adult in the western world more or less knows the primary symptom of hemophilia.  This is because of two large world wide...you can say Events, you can say Plagues.  I am talking of course about AIDS & Queen Victoria.

One thing we know about hemophilia today is its hereditary nature (OKay what was taught about hemophilia circa 198X, the last time I sat in on a high school science class of Gregor Mendel et al); what we said then as Queen Victoria was a carrier.  Women did not suffer from the disease (baby girls might, but medical science being what it was those that did, did not survive babyhood never mind having their own children).  & Queen Victoria was a prodigious producer of offspring (like those pea plants!).  & those offspring sat in some high profile chairs themselves, lending their hemophilic DNA to the next generation.  Once those cousins started having children together, all hell broke loose.  No really, imagine the Bolsheviks without a Tsar distracted by a lack of heir. I'm not saying hemophilia turned the tide, I am just saying it was a factor.

Flash forward to that same high school classroom circa 198X where we were told that hemophilia was a done disease, kinda.  Transfusions were common place enough that a person could expect to live a long life, not necessarily in the picture of health but well into adulthood. 

In 1992/3, I met an interesting family.  The father had just died of AIDS, the mother was raising the two daughters & their son alone.  The son was HIV positive & has since died.  One of the two girls had a her tubes tied for her 21st birthday.  She had trouble finding a doctor that would do it to such a young woman but she was determined the buck should stop with her.  While transfusions were a miracle & no doubt extended father's & son's lives, those years came with a price.  & a mad scramble to make sure AIDS didn't get handed over to the hemophilia-gene-carrying-but-not-suffering daughters & the hemophilia-bystander mother.

Which brings me to sickle cell anemia (you can read up on your own if you like). SCA is also hereditary, also a malfunction in the blood (to simplify both), but many sufferers lived to reproduce before the age of transfusions & it was & is much more widespread.  There are famous sufferers of SCA; I BINGed & discovered Miles Davis, a person whose biography I read once-upon-a-time & although this fact was probably in it, it just didn't stick.  I BINGed because the only famous person I knew of who had SCA was fictional:  Corpora Klinger on MASH. 

There is a Sickle Cell Anemia Awareness Day.  it is June 19th.  I cannot tell you much else about it though, because the website I found had not been updated in almost 2 years.  World Hemophilia Day on the other hand has been publicized by Novo Nordisk.  I guess there isn't all that much cash to be made treating SCA.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Where have all the quilts gone?

I am trying to keep abreast of the Block Lotto Weekend Update  ?themes?assignments?, but it is really hard! Okay, not my children are starving to death & my husband is out of work hard but still not easy.  This is no reflection on Block Lotto, but more a reflection on me.  I don't really have an assigned kind of mind.

This week, this month actually, as there is only one "assignment" a month (did my difficulty just get sadder?):  Where do your quilts go?  My quilts are a lot like the old joke about last call:  You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.   Because when I am done I am done.  Also my house is small & crowded enough as it is, so if I am not working on it & cannot use it out the door it goes.  I wish I could say the same thing about shoes.   Or books.  Or dogs (although I am still using them, in a completely not creepy or food-based way). 

Wow, this post is going hopelessly astray!  Let me start again- where DO the quilts go?  Mostly they go as gifts to people to whom I would otherwise give a gift of some other kind.  I am always a little bit freaked when someone talks about making a donation to a person going through chemo & it turns out that person is their brother-in-law.  In my book that does not quite fall under the heading of donation.  I am not saying it isn't generous.  I, too, gave a quilt to a neighbor of mine going through chemo but I don't consider it charity.  Actually, it was more payback for all the stuff she has done for me (she mowed my pasture without being asked, just opened the gate & mowed it.  I was so happy I almost cried.  & then she did it again & again & again) & the quilt was in the works before she was diagnosed (in an everything loops back to the beginning way, the quilt was completely lifted from a Block Lotto pattern which did not register until I was putting the finishing touches on this post; despite all appearances to the contrary I occasionally use spell-check). 

So mostly the quilts I make go as gifts to people I know.  The next big block (no pun intended) of quilts really does go to pay some karmic debt that was not incurred in this life (like paying back a pasture mower which is incurred in this life, every summer).  I have made quilts for auctions & raffles to raise funds for causes I believe in.  I have made quilts at a shelter for the use of the residents, both to cover themselves & to teach them a technique (one of the favorites to make & to give away is the foundation free string quilt). 

There are a few (a very few) quilts sitting on a shelf waiting to become one or the other of these.  They tend to be quilts I made while working something out; like a potential block swap pattern.  They are rarely personal enough to use as gifts, unless it is a gif to someone I don't know all that well (A's grad students went through a fecund period a few years ago & it was nice to have some potential baby gifts on the shelf.  Fortunately physics grad students aren't like so many other fields where you really can fit in a family life so I rarely make more than one baby quilt every two-three years). 

The last big pile of quilts are those that are not quilts yet. Because I hate to baste.  I hate to baste so much I have ELEVEN quilt tops, with backs pieced & bindings pressed ready to go if I would just baste them.  But I hate basting.  & yes, I am getting to the baste or die point in my sewing room because there is quite literally no more room for one more completed top + accoutrements on the almost done shelf.

Finally:  number of completed quilts I have kept for myself:  none.  There is one in the tv room made especially for my husband & one in the dining room he puled from the giveaway pile, so I think of those as his.  The quilt on our bed came from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What we read

I have made passing references to our bookclub, but last Tuesday was our once a year day when we choose the nine books for the next twelve months (we take July, August & December off).  We try to have a mix of fiction & non-fiction, contemporary & classic (& I confess I like to see one low brow choice  à la Nancy Drew). & of course one wild card like a play or an epic poem or someday maybe a graphic novel.  But that is just the ideal; what we read is what gets bought to the table & voted on. 

As a result of this mi, it is rare for any given book not to be modified by a previous book.  For example, earlier this year we read Mark Kurlansky's Salt, which made for an unusual & unexpected tie in to A Tale of Two Cities

Without further ado, here are the 2013-2014 books:

June  2013:  End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

September: New Ways to Kill Your Mother by Colm Toibin

October: The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer

November: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

January 2014: The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett

February: Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd Taylor

March: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

April: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

May: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Alison Hoover Bartlett

Most of the books, so far can be seen here:

Kitchen Table Bookclub

Too Many Cooks
Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Lady
The Secret of the Old Clock
The Love Queen Of The Amazon
Salt: A World History
How Fiction Works
The Black Moth
Forgive the Moon
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families
The Songlines
Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie
Baking Cakes in Kigali
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
My Latest Grievance
The Clothes They Stood Up In
Beautiful Ruins

Marybeth's favorite books »

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Another problem with don't ask, don't tell

The first exam is in the rear view mirror, the second exam is two weeks away & the final is just around the corner.  It should come as no surprise then that the cheating season is upon us.  It used to be dead relatives, but now it is way too easy to check what with obituaries being on-line.  I know an employer who likes to trip people up with details that were included in the obit that a person actually related would know ("it must be interesting, your grandfather having been rescued in the raid on Entebbe...so sorry it was the Achille Lauro, wasn't it"; if you have to study that hard you may as well just show up for work).

So, now it's mostly cheating.  The old stand-bys make an appearance, of course, but crib notes are both better & less well concealed what with cell phones, sophisticated calculators, water bottles, etc.  One of A's favorites is people who write up the formulas & then paste them, writing side in, behind the water bottle label; since he hands out a page with such information to every student, the value is only in the act of writing (which is not without value, just maybe they would have not tried so hard to fit everything on such a cramped piece of paper).   He has also become an avid reader of reddit which helps ferret out a few more techniques every year.

On the flip side, when it comes to cheating, the advantage is definitely with the student these days.  I know another professor-not my husband, let me be clear- who was threatened with an official reprimand when he refused to back down on handing a ZERO to the guy who copied & the guy who let him copy when he busted them during the exam. They did not even deny it, just laughed & said "oh you caught us" type things until he took away their exams & tore them up in front of everyone else.  The university (part of the UTexas system, if you are curious) agreed that cheating probably had taken place & then it was confirmed it HAD taken place, but the administration felt that the prof was over reacting.  They backed down when same prof offered to contact potential employers via a local television station & explain that while only a few graduates had not earned their degree, the whole student body was suspect because the university wanted to keep cashing those tuition checks.  Guess who didn't get tenure; guess who didn't want to stay anyhow.  Because it is a small, small world I later met one of the undergrads who was also taking that exam.  He described the two as "frat-boy assholes" & remembered them being surprised they did not have the sympathy of the room when it all happened.  Mostly he & the other students were aggravated by the distraction of the floor show.  In a not-so-funny sidebar, I know an exam proctor (also in the UTexas system but different campus) who got into similar trouble when he called out cheaters during the exam.  I think he asked them to change seats or something & they went batshit & so he asked them to leave.  Which it was later determined he did not have the authority to do.  The cheaters got to retake the exam; he doesn't know how they did.

It's a long way from when I was an undergrad.  I once took a discussion class on John Milton (riveting stuff, the cataloging of angels & so forth), which unsurprisingly was not a very large class.  I mean there were five of us.  Five.  Imagine my surprise when there were almost twice that many there to take the final.  Then the prof refused to give an exam to any student he did not know.  Just plain wouldn't give it to them.  When one of the MIA-students got snotty, same prof told him to take it up with the dean, who would be very familiar with the issue as apparently prof did this every time he taught a discussion class.  As a result, he maintained a balance of A+ to FAIL roughly on par with any other class.  It's just that in his discussion classes, there was never anything in between.

There have been quite a few truly creative plots to bring in banned material or phone-a-friend equipment, & one outstanding attempt to steal the exam the week before the exam kicking around A's department, but the latest cheating scandal is a bit strange  So strange, in part because it might not actually be a cheating scandal.   Here's the story:  prof gets a phone call in his on-campus office.  Person gives the name of a student in class & says s/he has been doing homework for student but now feels...remorse?  Same person gives own name, but as it is not a name of a student in the prof's class, it is as good as unverifiable.   So.  Now what?  There is no proof just the word of one person against another, even if it is true, which it might not be.  Alas this same prof has been stalker&stalkee-adjacent too many times to take anyone's word for anything anymore & in this case the two parties are a male & a female (not that there isn't such a thing as same-sex stalking).  Right away he gets twitchy. 

If the cheating did happen, it highlights a flaw in the system, but not one he can do anything about.  After all, students have to be able to turn in assignments completed outside of class, right?  Each person can (& often is) given a slightly different set of parameters so direct copying is rarely an option, but if a 3rd party is willing, even temporarily, to do the work what can the prof do about it?  & then there is the reverse:  what if the student did NOT have any third party help & this is just someone making trouble?  Or what if cheating did happen, but the person who reported it had nothing to do with it?  If that last one seems extreme I myself have been witness to an instance where one person claimed a friend's husband made pass at her; he HAD made passes at other friends of his wife & she figured she would not be believed unless she had first hand experience.  As it happens, the couple is still married & the women have completely lost touch.  Or even what if the cheating did happen, the names given are all involved, but the person calling is not actually one of the people, just using the name?  Most of all, whose responsibility is it to investigate the whole thing?

Another funny trend pointed out on reddit re: cheaters.  Many people are appalled at how  unobservant the teachers are, how unwilling they are to pursue the cheaters.  My response to that is actually a question: how many people go into teaching because they want to fight crime?  & when students & their parents & their attorneys get involved, how many of those teachers do you imagine are just THRILLED to spend their time & money defending themselves (if you think parents don't call an attorney, think again.  & who can blame them, since as far as they know their little darlings are being railroaded)?  The answer is not many & for those teachers that are, the cheating scam has to be pretty egregious, obvious & provable.  This almost never happens.  But when it does, yes that can be fun to watch.

//I wrote this in parts, ready to post last month.  The Monday before I had scheduled to post, I happened to get in touch about another matter (yes, quilting) with another friend who teaches in a business program at a prestigious eastern college (all of the above examples came from different parts of the country, but in liberal arts programs, which have the reputation -deserved or not- of taking themselves too seriously)  & this latest cheating incarnation came up.  She told me how last semester she caught a student handing in paper that was verbatim what had been handed in the year before by a different student.  She knew last year & this year that the paper had been wholly copied from a website.  She even knew which website.  She was directed by her department's documented policy, both times, to return the paper, ungraded & ask the student to try again because the school's honor policy does not provide for any other recourse.  She went on to complain that she has to carry on her person, at all times a clunky pager type piece of equipment to activate the copiers in the department, the library etc. because so many people were stealing copies.  There used to be a jar for people to put their change in when they made a copy but people rarely did, also the jars keep getting stolen.  Her argument is if we cannot trust these same people to pay for a ten cent copy, why do we assume they wouldn't cheat to get a better grade (this is peeve of A's too, actually-where is the beloved honor code when it comes to photocopiers?)?  She can also do a many-minute rant on the university that bends over backwards not to ruffle the feathers of anyone who pays them but can make things damn inconvenient over any fee they might have to pay, even just ten cents at a time.  The class she teaches is not ethics although this would be a very funny story if it was.  She currently teaches marketing.  Or branding.  I forget which.  Anyhow, I pulled the post until  had time to add that postscript.

/// & then this post hit another bump.  The night before it was rescheduled, the prof got notification that campus PD had indeed become involved in a harassment complaint.  Since then there was another contact from the person claiming to be the person who did the homework, who may or may not be who they say they are, in any guise.  That person wanted to know what was being done by to punish the cheater & was irritated when told that information was confidential.  It was suggested that person come on down & file a formal complaint so naturally has not been heard from since.  On the other hand, I decided to pull it until enough time had passed that the events were semi-common knowledge on the campus involved.

Monday, April 8, 2013

My debt to society

I won the Block Lotto in February.  That's right, after dropping out for a looooong time, I returned last month & won right away.  Which means I have a debt of 38 blocks (that is how many I won) I need to pay.  Well, want to pay.

So in March I made I don't-know-how-many blocks (I just checked: 11).  It was a simple block & one of the key colors was gray, which I have in abundance because of, you guessed it-Bird Trap Blocks.  Now that I think about it, I shipped off all 9 of the heart blocks I made in February (& then mad so many many more).  Which means that as of March 31, I have paid back 20 of the 38 blocks.

I realize that I might be the only person who thinks of the Block Lotto this way.  & I admit that I have been known to start out thinking this way & then sort of fallen off the....wagon?  This is not the first time I have won Block Lotto.  It is not even the second time I have won.  It would be the fourth or fifth time I won except that once (or twice, I forget), I had donated my blocks & they got scrambled in & I won!  But I threw them back.

Flash back to a completely different situation.  Well, not completely different, it is still a quilting situation.  My first Bird Trap block quilt top is ALMOST finished.  Flash further back: I made so many bird trap bocks & I get a lot of inquiries about the swao but notso many commitments I thought maybe, just maybe a completed op would show what potential the block has & then

Then this month's Block Lotto block arrived in my mailbox & I want it.  I don't necessarily want to win, I just want to keep my own.  So I made two for the swap & uhm a dozen in the wrong size(s) & wrong color(s) so I guess they just don't count.  Guess I will have to keep them.  Leaving my debt to the Block Lotto society hovering at -18.