THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 8, Issue 14 – November 18, 2013
Thanksgiving is Almost Here…
…and the Christmas decorations are up in lots of places. I’m hearing that lots of stores are going to be open on Thanksgiving evening, to give shoppers a chance to get a head start on their shopping. Frankly, I can’t think of anything more disgusting than forcing someone to work on Thanksgiving, and I wouldn’t dream of supporting such a thing. I guess I’m in the minority, though. I can’t believe how fast this semester has been going—it will be over before you know it.
Catching up on a few things I’ve mentioned in previous BLABs, I did watch the original Wizard of Oz in 3D, and was pleasantly surprised at how good the 3D effects were. As I’ve mentioned before, retrofitting 3D onto older movies generally doesn’t add anything, but in this case, I think it was worth it. They even changed the rating for the movie to PG, because the flying monkey sequence and the wicked witch of the west’s castle sequence are scarier in 3D. Pretty cool. A also saw the 3D version of Pacific Rim, and enjoyed it thoroughly, even though it was pretty mindless robots vs. monsters stuff, and was kind of a combination of Avatar and Transformers. The special effects were cool, we got to see a city destroyed, and the good guys won. What more do you want?
I also finally gave in and bought a new 3D DVD player. Even though the old one was working perfectly well, I had my eye on this one—a Sony S5100 3D Blu-ray—because it also could play SACD’s (super-audio compact discs). I had accumulated about two dozen of these over the years, most of them hybrids (which means they can play both as regular CDs also), with half being the Rolling Stones ABKCO releases. Stones fans know that the ABKCO stereo Stones masters are pretty crappy, but I had heard that the SACD versions were quite good. When I got the machine home, I immediately hooked it up (and all went well quite easily), and first up, put on the Stone’s Beggar’s Banquet. It was like hearing the album for the first time—far clearer, crisper, with each track sharply separated. Since then, I’ve listened to several Ladysmith Black Mambazo SACDs, and they’re even better, since they’re multitrack surround-sound—it’s like sitting in the middle of the group. The classical (Fiedler conducting Offenbach) and jazz (Coltrane’s A Love Supreme) ones are terrific as well. I’m not sure why this format really hasn’t caught on in the US, but it is popular in Europe and various SACDs are available at decent prices on Amazon. Hopefully, it won’t turn out to be one of those things where you order one format and they send you a different on. We’ll see. Just because nothing is perfect, I put in a DualDisc (another oddball format that was popular for a while, with a CD on one side and a DVD on the other), and the machine wouldn’t play it at all. It seems like an odd omission for something that plays everything else, but there you go.
Board of Regents Vote
By now, everyone probably knows that the BoR took the official vote to begin implementing the merger between SPSU and KSU at their meeting last Tuesday. Several locations on campus were wired to allow people to watch what was going on, but this led to bandwith problems, with the video feed constantly freezing at critical moments. SPSU was represented by two students and an alumnus who had been given 10 minutes to speak. They did a magnificent job, stating that they had been taught to frame decisions on the basis of clearly defined questions, gathering of data, careful analysis, and only then making a decision. They asked the Regents to hold off on the vote until (in a transparent fashion), the issue could be defined and data gathered with full student input. They ended by stating that they were choosing to believe that the Regents would do the right thing.
Right after they finished, a protest erupted from a group of students protesting the USG’s tuition policy on non-documented students. At first, we thought the protest was being carried out by SPSU students thereby reducing the effectiveness of our three representatives, but quickly found that this wasn’t the case. The protesters were escorted out of the room, and the BoR resumed its deliberations. Shelley Nickel gave a presentation about previous consolidations and why this particular one was a good idea and would help students.
In the end, the Regents voted to begin the consolidation with no delay. A few complimented our students for their presentation and advocated that the SPSU name should live on in some fashion in the consolidated university. Hopefully this will happen.
Another Accreditation Win
Ronny Richardson emailed me this weekend, with the message that our Business Administration program has just been reaccredited by ACBSP. Great job! Congratulations to all of our business faculty!
Military Appreciation Week
We had a fine week of activities for Military Appreciation week, thanks to Dawn Ramsey, Nikki Palamiotis, and other members of the Military Task Force. The week’s activities began with a flag ceremony by the sycamore grove, emceed by Rich Cole (Dean of ACM), featuring a proclamation from Lisa and me being read, and a color guard ceremony from Georgia Tech’s ROTC group (which consisted of all SPSU students). For the flag ceremony, anyone could place a commemorative flag in honor or in memory of anyone they wanted into the ground. I put in two—one for Jill’s father, who was a proud WWII veteran, and one for SPSU’s own Bill Barnes (former Dean of ACC), who was equally proud of his service.
I got to Tuesday’s event, a talk by Bob Babcock, past president and current historian of the National 4th Infantry Division Association, too late to hear the actual speech, due to UCC and GPC meetings I needed to attend. There were a few pieces of cold pizza left (which I ate) and I was able to have a nice conversation with Bob, who was chilling out afterwards with Roger Soiset (SIS) and a mutual friend of theirs, about various military campaigns, my father’s military service in Israel’s war of independence, and life on the Kansas City Southern railway. I’m a bit of a passenger railroad buff, so when Bob mentioned that he used to live in Heavener, OK and ride on the Southern Belle with his girlfriend, we were off to the races.
Wednesday featured a student panel on “The Transition from Soldier to Scholar”, though I couldn’t attend due to being at a Rotary meeting. I hear it went well, though.
On Thursday, I enjoyed attending a luncheon featuring a talk by Tommy Clack entitled “Freedom Isn’t Free”. Tommy Clack is a veteran who was wounded during his second tour in Vietnam, losing both legs above the knee, and his right shoulder and arm. He was hospitalized for 22 months. After 33 operations, Captain Tommy Clack was able to “walk out” of the VA Medical Center in 1971. He is a life member of AMVETS, the American Legion, DAV, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and VFW, and helped start the Atlanta Veterans Day Parade Association in 1987, and was a member of the coordinating committee to erect a Georgia Vietnam War Memorial at the State Capitol. He is the winner of one of five national Silver Helmet Awards from AMVETS, and was awarded Outstanding Veteran in America. Listening to Tommy, who was incredibly upbeat about his life (“think of all the socks and shoes I haven’t had to buy” was one of his quips), which he has dedicated to helping other veterans, certainly puts other problems into perspective.
Marietta Center for Advanced Academics
It’s a cliché that public schools across the country are poor, and those in the South are even worse. I’ve never believed this to be true, though there are no doubt some that can use some improvement. I went to public schools in Syracuse, NY growing up and got a very strong education, and I know lots of folks who went to public schools in other cities and likewise did very well.
Anyway, on Friday, I had the pleasure of attending a Community Connections Forum at Marietta’s Center for Advanced Academics, which is a magnet elementary school containing grades 3-5. I ran into lots of old friends, including Shan Cooper (VP and General Manager, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics), Ron Newcomb (President of Chattahoochee Technical College), Dr. Emily Lembeck (Superintendent of Marietta Schools), and Dean Arlinda Eaton (KSU’s Dean of Education). Han Reichgelt (Dean, CSE), was also there representing SPSU with me.
First up was a tour of the school with a stop in a 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classroom, led by Sydney, a young lady with a great future as President of the USA or a cattle-driver. The classes we visited were quite impressive, with the students working in groups and independently on various open-ended projects, including coming up with a “shock absorber system” for a Styrofoam cup containing two marshmallows (representing a space capsule and two astronauts). One class was covering the westward expansion in history, with the students having researched the period at home online (flipped classroom, y’all) and making crafts from the period in class. Next, during lunch, we had a discussion of what suggestions we had for students getting more authentic learning experiences that would prepare them for college and for work. Our own Marka Ormsby and Robin Daniel (SPSUTeach) also work with the Academy and were well featured at the Forum, and our own School of CSE has worked with the students there developing academic computer games. MCAA’s principal, Jennifer Hernandez, has done an outstanding job in implementing the mission, “learning without limits”, at the school. Stormi Johnson, a teacher at MCAA, is also the Marietta District Teacher of the Year—I had the pleasure of seeing her win the award at the Faculty Member of the Year Rally a few weeks back. The school is extremely impressive, and the fact that it has won numerous state and national awards comes as no surprise whatever.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last time’s trivia challenge focused on words that have an “x” in them. Erin Grant was the first with all five right. The seven others with all five correct included Alan Gabrielli, Laurie Strauss, Richard Halstead-Nussloch, Michael Franklin, Misty York, Bill Diong, and Jonathan Lartigue. Wow! Here are the correct answers:
- No one likes to pay them. Taxes.
- Spicy food from the lone star state. Tex-Mex.
- Cyclops, Marvel Girl, the Beast, Iceman, and the Angel. X-Men, or later X-Factor.
- Kublai Khan built his stately pleasure dome there. So did Olivia Newton-John. Xanadu.
- The fourth king of kings in Persia, also believed to be Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther. Xerxes.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
Today’s trivia challenge focuses on Paul McCartney. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!
- Paul’s hometown.
- Group Paul formed after the Beatles broke up.
- Paul owns the copyright to this song about a USG university.
- The original first line for this Paul McCartney song was: “Scrambled eggs, oh, my baby, how I love your legs.”
- First classical music work by Paul, performed by his hometown’s symphony and choir in 1991. Its movements are War, School, Crypt, Father, Wedding, Work, Crises, and Peace.