May 20, 2014


Volume 8, Issue 32 – May 20, 2014


Hello Canton, Part 2

The previous WEEKLY BLAB covered the first part of my trip to Canton (May 4-9). Here’s the rest of the story.

On Thursday (May 8), the day began with a tour of the campus provided by Acting President Hoffman via a small electric vehicle called a GEM car. In order to be “certified” to drive it, he had to get special training, but it was worth it because it was pretty cool. We had a beautiful, sunny spring day to go around in, and I got to see the various buildings and some interesting history of the campus. Among the interesting highlights were the Newell Veterinary Technical Center (perhaps named after some relative of Julie’s?), the old gymnasium with its very high ceiling braced by beautiful wooden arch beams, the library (which contains a Starbucks coffee shop—I’m sure Jill will be visiting often), a very attractive building designed and constructed by Canton’s Construction Management students which is now used to teach sustainability classes (powered by solar panels, naturally), and the older residence halls (pretty nice, with new furniture coming in for the lounges).

The building that houses Canton’s Advancement Office was especially interesting, since it has pictures from throughout the college’s history (it was founded in 1906) hanging all along the broad stairway walls. Just like SPSU, the head of SUNY-Canton wasn’t always a president—earlier leaders were deans and directors and there have been some interims and acting presidents, so it turns out that officially, I will be the 4th president.

After the tour, it was off to see a few more houses. President Hoffman came with me and the realtor to lend moral support. The first house we saw was a very pretty cape, which had a surprising amount of room in it, since the previous owners were determined to use every inch of space in it, including up in the rafters. Thus, the upstairs had two good-sized bedrooms, a bathroom, and a third smaller room that was used as a study. In the back of the study, there was a door leading to a medium sized semi-finished storage room, which then led to another storage room that was a little smaller. The first of the storage rooms also had a door to the side, which when I opened it, surprised me be being the entrance to a 20 foot-long, 9 foot wide “man cave” room, with the chimney in the middle. A woodstove came off the chimney, and one of the long walls had a 3-foot high, 4-foot wide pedestal running along it, with nice shelves above that. I’m not sure why the pedestal was so wide—it would make reaching the shelves difficult unless you climbed up on it. There was a steep set of stairs coming down from that room to a little wood storage room on the first floor, which was also where the house’s well was. It was a pretty interesting house!

We then went to see some condos that had recently been built near the intersection of US 11 and Main Street, on the second floor of a brick commercial building, right next to the Grasse River. The condos were just beautiful—brand new, gorgeous wooden floors, bay windows with a river view, new appliances, the works. They were pretty roomy for a two-bedroom condo too.  The taxes and condo fee were quite reasonable–under $3,000 for the taxes and about $150 for the condo fee.  I am also told that the heating costs are extremely low.  The people who live there must love them!  I’ll likely be making a decision about where I’ll be living in the next few days—there are a lot of nice choices, so it’s tough to make up my mind.

Thursday afternoon was taken up with several more meetings, including with Jondavid DeLong, one of the Deans; Randy Sieminski, the Director of Athletics; and a wrap-up with the president’s staff. On Thursday night, I attended the President’s Gala, which is where Canton announces their larger awards, and many emeritus faculty are invited. One nice surprise was that a retired faculty member who was a chemist came up to talk to me, and he had done his research on boron nitrogen compounds. We obviously had an interesting talk! The Gala was a lot of fun, with the Randy Sieminski acting as the master of ceremonies, and it included a slideshow of some of the funnier moments from the previous year narrated by President Hoffman. That’s a tradition I know I’ll be maintaining. There was a jazz trio playing through the dinner, and they were quite good. The trio consists of three faculty—two from SUNY-Canton and one from Clarkson and they were kind enough to give me a CD of their music. The one from Clarkson (Bill Vitek) is a philosophy professor who is interested in sustainability, so I’m looking forward to talking to him about microscale chemistry, and to all three about jazz.   I got a chance to reconnect with some people from the college’s Board that I had met during the interview process, and to meet lots of new people as well.

On Friday morning, I packed up and drove back to Syracuse, getting there a little after 11:00 AM. The drive was pleasant enough, except for when I hit Gouverneur, NY, where the main street was still torn up and had lots of delays for construction equipment. The flight back to Atlanta was uneventful, and I got onto campus at 4:00 just after the rehearsal for graduation had ended.


And Speaking of Graduation…

Graduation this year was especially poignant for me, since it will be my last one at SPSU. I haven’t missed any during my time here, even when I had to take the red-eye back from Portland, OR one year, arriving in Atlanta at 6:00 AM on graduation morning—I just drove to campus, put on my robe, and was off to the races—so I wasn’t about to miss this one. As anyone there can tell you, the morning half was the biggest turnout of all time at an SPSU graduation. The place was absolutely packed, with the graduating students filling almost the entire floor area. Normally, the back floor section is for family and friends, but given the huge number of graduating students, we had to ask a bunch of them to get up from their seats and move so that the students had a place to sit. It was also darned hot, so I was sweating up a storm under my cap and gown after putting the medallions on the first 50 graduates—I had to toss my cap aside to keep going. The graduation speaker, Randy Brown Jr., was the first student every to be the commencement speaker, and he did a great job delivering his speech, even taking off his shoes to do so. The event was even nicer because former Regent Willis Potts also came—it was great to see him again. The afternoon session was a little smaller but still quite large. The highlight came when Dean Jeff Ray mangled one of the students’ name, and when he asked: “did I say that right?” the student took the mic and pronounced it himself to the cheers of the entire audience.   It was a wonderful event, and I’ll be keeping a copy of the group photo that was taken of the senior staff, and of the video of the graduation itself for posterity.


Home Doings

At this point, my home life is filled with packing boxes, since I’ll be moving in about a month. The comic books are the easy part—they’re already in boxes, so I don’t have to do anything to them.   I know exactly how to pack CDs, DVDs, and blu-rays into the U-Haul small sized box so that they can’t move and don’t get crushed, and I’d saved the boxes from when I moved to Georgia, so it’s recycle and reuse time. I’m packing the ones I’m figuring on not using in the next 30 days first, all in alphabetical order of course so that unpacking will be easy. I’m hoping the new place has lots of shelf space, or at least space for me to put up a bunch of CD racks, and lots of dry open space for the comics. That rumble you’ll hear is Marietta’s elevation rising three feet (and Canton’s dropping the same amount) when my stuff goes on the road.   True story—when the truck hauling my stuff from NH to Georgia back in 2005 missed its exit to stop for night in New Jersey, the driver decided to cut across one of those crossing lanes meant for the police on the NJ Turnpike. The weight of the truck and my stuff was so heavy, they wound up damaging the turnpike and got a $5,000 fine!

And One Final Word…

Go Hornets!  Win that World Series!


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest had questions having to do with words that begin with the letter “J”. Our winner was Bob Brown, getting all five right, but taking two emails to do it since the last answer only hit him after he had sent the first one. Others getting all five right included: Tom Nelson and Mark Stevens. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Roman emperor and play by Shakespeare. Julius Caesar.
  2. Double “J” expression that you do when you’re really happy. Jump for joy.
  3. First settlement in Virginia. Jamestown.
  4. Double “J” girl in song by Donovan. Jennifer Juniper.
  5. According to the 1969 movie title, Krakatoa is east of here. Java. The ironic part is that Krakatoa is actually west of Java (it is east of Sumatra, all being islands of Indonesia). So much for geographical accuracy!


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

In honor of what I’ve been packing all weekend, this week’s trivia challenge has all answers involving the word “disc”.  As usual, the first with the most takes the prize.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO, since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Another word for conversation.
  2. You throw it in an Olympic track and field event.
  3. He spins stacks of wax.
  4. Medical condition where a tear in the outer fibrous ring of a vertebra allows the soft central portion to bulge out, causing much pain.
  5. Usually made of cast iron (though sometimes made of composites), it was first patented by Frederick William Lanchester in 1902.



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2 Responses to May 20, 2014

  1. rcoleacm says:

    Your stuff was so heavy it damaged the NJ Turnpike? Funny!

  2. Dabney Mitchell Copeland says:

    “…a chemist came up to talk to me, and he had done his research on boron nitrogen compounds. We obviously had an interesting talk!”

    Cognitive dissonance here…

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