October 14, 2013


Volume 8, Issue 9 – October 14, 2013


Red Sox!

This just in—a stunning come from behind win in game two of the ALCS.  Big Papi hit an 8th inning grand slam tying the game, and the Sox win it in the 9th.  Go Sox!


Flood Recovery

About two years ago, we came home from shopping and I heard some water running.  I looked high and low, but couldn’t find an open faucet.  Finally, it occurred to me to check the room behind the garage and sure enough, a pipe had broken and water was pouring out.  Unfortunately, that’s one of the rooms that I kept my comic books and DVDs in and I thought I had a disaster on my hands.

As it turned out, it could have been worse.  The fact that the comic boxes were semi-waxed and the comics were all in plastic bags kept 98% of them dry.  We shut off the water to the house and a neighbor and I hauled hundreds (no exaggeration) of long boxes of comics out of the room into the garage. We had to rebox many of the comics (after wiping the bags off with towels) into U-Haul boxes (which I had kept after our move from New Hampshire to Georgia) and throw out the comic boxes as they were now water damaged and no longer could hold their shape.  We called a plumber who repaired the pipe, shut off the water to that part of the house, and called the insurance who replaced the rugs and covered the damage.

And there the comics sat for the next two years, as I could never get up enough of a head of steam to tackle the massive project of ordering new boxes and reboxing the comics back into order.  Last Saturday, I was digging around on eBay and came across an ad for comic boxes at a decent price.  I ordered 50 boxes and they arrived this Saturday, so guess what I spent most of the weekend doing.  Right—trying to find the DC comics to start, and get them back into the original room, in new boxes.  I’ve already gone through 35 of the new boxes (each of which holds about 300 comics), only have 8 U-Haul boxes of DC’s left to rebox, and am busily putting them back into alphabetical order.  I should be done by next weekend, and then it’s on to the Marvels, Dells, and Archies.  The 50 boxes I ordered should be enough to finish the DC’s, but I’ll have to order a bunch more for the other comics.


My favorite comic book cover of all time—Mystery in Space #90, drawn by Carmine Infantino and inked by Murphy Anderson

The good news is that so far, everything seems to be where it should be and I think I’ve got the DC’s all in the same place.  The bad news is that I’m exhausted.



Committees and Task Forces

As most of you should be aware, we are forming a committee to look at developing a new online course evaluation instrument to replace the SIRs.  It seems everyone hates the SIRs, since they take forever to get processed and we never have them back in time for the next promotion and tenure cycle.  Nonetheless, we haven’t been able to come up with a replacement.  The Faculty Senate tried for a year (or was it two?), and finally kicked the ball back into my court.  After some discussion in the ALC, we decided to set up a committee consisting of two representatives from each school, plus Jack Duff (who chaired the Senate committee), David Stone (who developed the current instrument we use for online courses), and me.  After sending out a call for volunteers, here are the folks that the Deans selected:

ACM:  Tony Rizzuto (ARCH), Brandi Williams (CM)

A&S:  Ratnappuli Kulasiri (PHYS), Tom Nisley (SIS)

CSE:  Chao Peng (CSSE), Chi Zhang (IT)

ENG:  M.A. Karim (CCE), Lorraine Lowder (SME)

ETM:  Ronny Richardson (BA), Greg Wiles (IET)

We’ll start meeting the week after next, and will issue reports every so often about how it’s going.  The final draft will be shared with the faculty for comments before moving any further.


We’re also setting up a task force to look at issues related to the proposed online campus.  As mentioned in an email I sent out about two weeks ago, the process of developing a fiscal model turned out to be a bit more involved than we originally thought.  The task force will consist of one faculty member from each school, as well as Han Reichgelt, Sam Conn, and me.  It will be supplemented by several relevant administrators and staff who will help address specific issues in their areas.  The members of the task force are:

ACM:  Chris Welty (ARCH)

A&S:  Laura Palmer (ETCMA)

CSE:  Richard Halstead-Nussloch (IT)

ENG:  Bill Diong (EME)

ETM:  Tom Ball (IET)

As mentioned in the email, the task force will issue reports after each meeting through a blog, and your comments are invited.  Several open forums will also be held to solicit wide input.  The target is to complete a draft report by January, which will be shared with the community and submitted to the President as to how to proceed.




A Business Model Under Threat

I’ve written from time to time about the tough times that are facing higher education in general.  As I mentioned in last week’s BLAB, I was at the Education Advisory Board’s annual meeting up in Washington DC, and one of the talks presented there was called “A Business Model Under Threat”.  I gave a modified (removing parts that applied mainly to private colleges) version of it using their PowerPoint slides at the ALC meeting last Wednesday, and from the feedback I received, most people thought it was pretty informative about our current situation.  It occurs to me that members of the faculty might be interested in hearing it as well, so I’ll schedule a presentation for this Friday at noon.  Questions are welcome.  I’ll send out an email when I know the room details.




Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s trivia challenge focused on filling in the missing words in the cliché.  Most responses were as shut down as the government, with only one person entering!  Our winner was therefore Tom Nelson, who still got a respectable 3.5 correct.  Come on folks, you don’t need to know them all to enter, and you can still get on the honor roll if you get ‘em all even if you’re not first.

  1. What DC stands for.  District of Columbia.
  2. Street that the White House is on.  Pennsylvania Avenue.
  3. Fill in the missing words in the “motto” of the old Washington Senators baseball team: First in war, first in peace,                                    (five words).  Last in the American League.
  4. The three major American documents that can be found in the National Archives building.  Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution.
  5. Who is the only American president buried at the National Cathedral in Washington DC?  Woodrow Wilson.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

Today’s trivia challenge focuses on superhero origin stories.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO zszafran@spsu.edu, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Born on the planet Krypton, rocketed to earth as a baby.
  2. Parents killed while going to the movies, son swears vengeance on all criminals.
  3. Rocket ship affected by cosmic rays.
  4. Man without fear given ring of power by dying alien.
  5. Homeless boy wanders into abandoned subway station.
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