1. A new semester, crisp and clean 2. Engaged students 3. A new textbook to engage the engaged students 4. Fresh snow that looks like cotton growing in treetops 5. Blankets and a home to protect me from fresh snow 6. Family 7. Coffee, always coffee 8. People who work hard and do their jobs 9. Old school Bic pens.   ∞Read More →

The Blackboard app sucks more than Blackboard itself. The mobile app is teacher unfriendly. In fact, it’s downright teacher-hostile. Remember, the medium is the message. Since Blackboard has yet to master mobile-responsive design, the mismatch between the website and mobile app causes users to get mixed messages. This is a huge headache for teachers and students alike. Additionally, instructors cannot access the grade center, or grade anything, which renders Blackboard Mobile pointless for teachers.  The app is just an added burden for instructors to address in course design, without much payoff. What the app is useful for 1. Uploading docs at the last minute. 2.Read More →

This picture of flesh colored crayons is George Takei’s Facebook meme a few days ago, and it’s a fitting one in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. My first thought in response to the image: “Because only Nixon could go to China.” There are lots of inferential leaps from crayons to Nixon and China, but it’s all about Star Trek’s ambiguous multiculturalism. On the one hand, the message here can be read as a colorblind attitude toward racism and assimilation. On the other, it can be read as something rather radical, and in that regard, George Takei is an excellent spokesperson for the message.Read More →

Remodel the kitchen or embrace what you have with gratitude and work for social justice instead? The choice should be easy, but it’s not. I admire this man and his family so much, especially now that I pay two mortgages and consider daily how to remodel this new home in the Northwoods. Maybe I should buy a hammer instead of surf Apartmentherapy. How to use that hammer without succumbing to DIY culture is a whole different question, though.   Give me gratitude or give me debt: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/08/11/give-liberty-give-debt/Read More →

Wind chills to 45 below zero. In other news, the deer are turning on their oppressors. Having befriended the deer, we are guiltless. We are on the right side of history. Deer fights back at hunter who shot her (in Wisconsin). And this is even better: Another day at the Wall, with all its fierce winter beauty. So far, we’re still on good terms.Read More →

As of today, students pay a larger percentage of their tuition at state schools than the state does. The humanities died in higher education a long time ago. Now, higher education itself is under threat. Until academics realize we lost certain battles, and we move strategically to different grounds, we will continue to lose the war. The fault is ours. We are weak tacticians who suffer from occupational psychoses that prevent us from wisdom on the battlefield. Many ages ago, during my first semester in graduate school, a professor used the metaphor of the Catholic church to explain what was expected of graduate students. HisRead More →

Fiat Pop 400c’s sold in colder areas have cold-weather packages. My popalicious car is from the south, and has no such thing, so it’s being slowly winterized. Two challenges for cold weather: Pop engines won’t start at -20 F, and perhaps I won’t either. The certainty of a sneauxpocalypse in the Northwoods this year has had me gravely worried. People talked about driving to school last year in -35 F. Yeah. Remote starters are luxury up here, but engine block heaters are a Pop necessity. We went to the Fiat dealer in Appleton (great folks there) to get the heater and starter installed. The mechanicsRead More →

Which company will become Skynet? Will it be Google or Amazon? Although Google has a neural net cast over the entire world, giving it a head start in the race toward Skynet dominance, Amazon is building drones. Drones are only a step away from Terminators. Google has turned its back on its “Don’t Be Evil” corporate ethos, but Amazon’s labor practices are, well, evil. If these two companies have babies, we’re all a step away from getting Terminated. So, uhhh, yeah, I have a drone. My household now has an Echo from Amazon. (Note: I am not the one who purchased it.) Echo is aRead More →

It’s the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers. – Mario Cuomo, 1984 DNC RIP 1/1/2015Read More →