THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 9, Issue 1 – June 27, 2014
On Monday, it was goodbye Georgia as I loaded up the car and headed north. It probably would have been smarter to have looked at a map before I left and to determine what the shortest route between Marietta and Syracuse was, but guy that I am, I didn’t do that. I dropped Jill and Mark off at Target (they’re staying behind in Georgia until I get settled in), stopped by my office at SPSU to drop off the missing volume I found of Compton’s Precyclopedia that I had given away (the set is now complete!), said a few good-byes, and I was off.
I drove on I-285 east to I-85 north, which I took into North Carolina. The drive was very pleasant—not too sunny, not too cloudy, not too much traffic. I’m not sure why, but gasoline is much cheaper in South Carolina than anywhere else—I paid only $3.27 a gallon, and it was like that throughout the state. I hit Charlotte by noon, stopped for a quick lunch, and was approaching Greensboro when I decided that I didn’t really want to go on I-85 all the way to Richmond, because I didn’t want to hit the traffic in DC and in Baltimore. I began to think: “Should I have taken I-77 back in Charlotte?” I pulled over, pulled out the atlas, and saw the I could take US 220 north up to Roanoke, and pick up I-81 there, which goes all the way to Syracuse. US 220 is an interstate-in-the-making (I think it will become I-73), and there was lots of construction on both sides of it. US 220 was a two lane road in some parts, so the going was slow there, but most of it was four lanes through some very pretty southern Virginia countryside, so I was glad I went that way. I hit Roanoke about 4:00 PM, swung onto I-81 north, and by the time I got to Lexington, VA, decided I had driven enough for the day.
Lexington is a cute touristy town with a nice downtown area and a couple of colleges located there. I had turkey dinner in a local restaurant, the kind of place where they don’t take credit cards, the waitresses all wear starched uniforms, and they all tell you their first names. The food was great, and I stayed the night in a local motel called the Red Carpet Inn, which had a very friendly manager who was from India. We talked about where the good local Indian restaurants were and about the World Cup. In the morning, I had a couple of doughnuts and a cup of coffee, refilled the tank ($3.57 a gallon now) and was off again.
Virginia is a fairly long state along I-81, which runs from the southwest toward the northeast. It was about a two hour ride to Winchester, the last city in the state, and it was a lovely ride alongside the Shenandoah Valley and passing a number of sites (Natural Bridge, Luray Caverns) that I had only previously seen in View-Master reels. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to stop at any of them, but it’s on the list of stuff to do in the future. The highway then goes through a little piece of West Virginia (Martinsburg) and a little piece of Maryland, and before you know it, you’re in Pennsylvania. There was some construction around Harrisburg, but nothing too serious, and it was then up into the Allegheny Mountains.
Many years earlier, while I was still in grad school at the University of South Carolina, I remember having driven from Columbia, SC to Syracuse. Things were going well and I was making good time, so young and cocky guy that I was, I decided to not stop and spend the night in Virginia, and to go straight through to Syracuse. Everything was fine until I passed Harrisburg and started the climb into the mountains, and that’s when the fog rolled in. You couldn’t see 20 feet in front of you, and to make matters worse, the highway had just been repaved but hadn’t been striped yet, so you couldn’t see where the side of the road was as it began to get dark. Under the circumstances, I slowed down to 25-30 mph. Whenever a truck passed me, I’d try to follow it, figuring that if it went over the side of the highway I’d have enough notice so that I could stop, but I’d lose my nerve after a few miles and have to start creeping slowly again. After a couple of hours (which seemed like longer), I pulled off the road to get a bite to eat and to ask when would the fog lift. The folks at the local diner laughed, said they got a lot of business that way, and said that the fog would lift in Hazleton, just a few miles up. Sure enough it did, and I was off and racing up to Binghamton, NY where there was construction for the next 45 miles in a heavy rain. We got to Syracuse at 5:00 AM and crashed into bed, but my Aunt (who lived two doors down at the time) saw our car and called at 7:00 AM to invite us over to breakfast.
Anyway, this time there was no fog, though there was a bit of construction, and I hit Hazleton PA at about 1:00 PM, and stopped for lunch. I got some fried chicken at the Turkey Hill convenience mart and gas station, which was located at the highest point in Hazelton, and ate at a picnic table there, enjoying the nice sunny day and strong cool breeze. When I paid, the clerk asked if I had a convenience card so that I could get points for my purchase. When I told her I didn’t, because I was from Georgia, she noted that the store was a division of Kroger and their card would work equally well. Sure enough it did, and I even got a discount on my gasoline purchase, bringing the price down to $3.75.
The drive from there to Binghamton was fine, except for some construction around Scranton, where the concrete Jersey barriers were disturbingly close together—I don’t know how trucks could fit between them, but they apparently could. After passing Binghamton, sure enough—more construction between there and Cortland, in pretty much the same places that I had seen 35 years earlier! Fortunately, there was no rain this time, and I was in Syracuse a little after 4:00. For interested Civil Engineers, the junction between I-81 north and I-690 east in Syracuse is as badly designed a road as I can think of. There are two lanes of traffic merging in from the right that you have to cross to reach the one lane turning off to get onto I-690, with only a short distance to make the crossover. The traffic wasn’t too heavy so it really wasn’t that big a deal, but I can only imaging the mess that must occur every rush hour.
I spent the night in Syracuse, and on Wednesday morning, my parents and I piled into the car at 6:45 AM and we went up to Canton. The weather was really lousy most of the way—lots of rain, getting worse in the usual locations where you get the lake effect snow. Things began to improve north of Watertown, and by the time we got to Canton, it had stopped raining though it was still very cloudy and humid. We unloaded the car at the college’s Alumni House, had a little breakfast, and met the real estate agent at 9:00 AM to look at a few more houses.
After lunch, I went into the college to say “hi” and went to a reception for a candidate for an open position for Director of Admissions, and then interviewed the candidate. That evening, my parents and I drove the 18 miles to Ogdensburg to have dinner at a nice Italian restaurant I had eaten at during my last visit, the Little Italy, and the food was excellent once again. Ogdensburg is where the nearest bridge into Canada is, and it’s only 45 miles to Ottawa (the nearest big city to Canton) from there.
Thursday, I slept in and went to the college in the afternoon. I had lunch and a nice conversation with the public relations staff at the college, and then met up with Michaela Young (who is my Assistant to the President) to get my official ID card, sign up for my parking permit, and to pick up my new president’s car—very nice. It’s pretty cool to park in the spot marked “Reserved for President”, though I’ll only get to do it for one day, because construction on that lot will begin on Monday. Dinner with my folks was at Josie’s, a local pizza shop, and the food was excellent. And that brings me up to date—I’m settled into my new office, and typing this first SUNY-Canton issue of the Weekly Blab on my new computer.
I’d like to thank several folks who have helped make the transition so smooth. Interim President Joe Hoffman did a great job at Canton over the past year, and filled me in on upcoming issues and provided me with a strong background of the college’s history. He was a wonderful host on my visits to campus. Michaela Young, Assistant to the President, has done a great job in seeing to the thousands of details involved in making the transition, getting my computer, etc. The folks from Alumni Affairs have been so helpful in making sure I have everything I need at the Alumni House, and in making sure my parents are comfortable, and the folks from computer services have done a fine job in having everything ready and waiting for me. Thanks to all!
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last time’s trivia challenge was the last produced at SPSU, and appropriately enough, had all answers featuring the word “last”. For the first time, our winner, also appropriately enough, was from SUNY-Canton—Terry Clemmo from the Career Services Office. Others getting all five right were mostly from SPSU (except as indicated), and included Sam Beadles (CE), Bob Brown (IT), Kit Trensch (Dir. Of Development), Alan Gabrielli (Dir. U-Teach), Michael Thackston (Physics), Diane Payne (Public Relations), Tom Nelson (Dean, A&S), Marietta Monaghan (Architecture), Jamie Garrett (Admin. Asst. to the President), Bill Prigge (U-Tenn College of Pharmacy), Ginny Bennett, Mark Vickrey (SIS) and my sister, Drorit, who is off in the wilds of Texas. Here are the correct answers:
- Final meal between Jesus and his Apostles. The Last Supper.
- A procrastinator always waits until this. The last minute.
- 1972 X-rated movie starring Marlon Brando. “Last Tango in Paris”
- Debut single by the Monkees in 1966, it reached #1 on November 5 of that year. “Last Train to Clarksville”.
- 1826 historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper. “Last of the Mohicans”.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
Today’s trivia challenge focuses on the word “first”, since this is my first week living up in Canton. 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!
- It prohibits the making of any law regarding establishing of religion, or abridging freedom of speech and of the press.
- When you’re sixteen, you obsess as to whether you should kiss on this.
- Traditionally, the bride does this with her father.
- Three parter expression of firsts about Washington.
- Performed by Christiaan Barnard on Louis Washkansky on December 3, 1967.