THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 9, Issue 25 – February 3, 2015
Deep in the Heart of Winter
January is over and good riddance, though truth be told, it really wasn’t that bad. There wasn’t much snow and even though the temperature dropped to -18 a few times, it never stayed below zero very long. The days are getting longer, though they probably won’t be getting too much warmer until mid-March.
Yesterday (Monday) was the first real snow we’ve had. The weather report predicted a high of 6° and 3-5” of snow for Canton, but the temperature never got above zero that I saw, and there seemed to be more snow, especially with the wind causing lots of 2-3 foot drifts. We’re not supposed to get any significant snow for the next week, so that’s something anyway.
I spent last week in Florida doing alumni visits. It’s a tough job, but I sacrificed myself to fly down to Orlando and meet up with Peggy Sue Lovato, driving to The Villages and then south of Tampa. The weather was reasonably nice the whole time—in the 50’s and 60’s. One morning, as I was headed out from the hotel, the clerk said “be careful out there—it’s really cold”. Of course, it was actually 50°, which is cold for there.
I drove down to Syracuse on Sunday afternoon and caught the 7:35 PM flight on Jet Blue to Orlando. Jet Blue supposedly has more legroom than any other airline and that seems to be true—I felt much less crammed in than I do on other airlines. There are some seats with even more legroom than the standard ones, but you have to pay $40 extra to get them. One odd thing—when the plane took off, they wouldn’t let people move into any of the empty extra legroom seats, unless they paid the $40. My experience has been that other airlines are OK with “upgrading” at no cost if any extra legroom seats are available when the plane takes off.
The flight landed at 9:45 and the ever efficient Peggy Sue was there to pick me up and drive me to the first hotel, located at Orlando’s Airport. She had arranged for a few snacks to be available in my room in case I was hungry, but I mostly just wanted to get to sleep.
The next morning, we drove up to a place called The Villages, somewhat near Ocala. I’d never heard of The Villages before, but there are now around 100,000 people who live there, most of whom seem to be retirees. There are three villages currently built (and a fourth one going up as we speak) with a nice town square in the middle of each one. The town square has a couple of streets of stores (mostly restaurants and boutiques, as well as doctors offices with practices focused around the elderly) and a nice park in the middle, where they play concerts every night.
Each village has lots of events for its residents, but you have to live there and pay a fee to participate. One interesting thing—a lot of folks who live there seem to have ditched their cars, and get around on golf carts. One problem is that some of the golf cart drivers seem to think they’re Mario Andretti, and forget just how flimsy a golf cart can be if there’s a crash.
At the hotel, I saw someone was hauling a Jaguar XKE on a car trailer, so I asked Peggy Sue to take a picture of me with it, framing it so you couldn’t see the trailer. I’ve wanted to own a Jaguar XKE since I was 10 years old, and this is probably the closest I’ll ever get.
My first alumni visit was with John and Rosella (Todd) Valentine. We were meeting at Ricciardi’s Italian Table restaurant, but we ran into a small problem—the street it was on wasn’t on the iPhone map—it was too new! Peggy Sue knew about where it was and by the time we got there, I had called up the Google Maps app on my phone, which apparently had been updated more recently, so we were able to find it without any real problem. The waiter mentioned that the restaurant was celebrating its one-year anniversary and gave each of us a little gift bag. When Peggy Sue said “happy anniversary”, the waiter said “For saying that, you win a glass of champagne each, and 10% off your dinner”. Nice touch!
John and Rosella Valentine are really delightful people and I very much enjoyed talking to them. I asked if John gave Rosella a rose every Valentine’s day, and Rosella smiled and said “No—he gives me a dozen”. She said some people had even asked if they got married because of how well their names fit together. Rosella graduated from SUNY Canton in the class of 1968 with a degree in Business Administration. She enjoyed a 31-year teaching career, and was New York State’s first Teacher Ambassador for Occupational Education. She has served on our Canton College Foundation, and is a former president of our Alumni Association. She received Heuvelton Central School’s first Alumni Hall of Fame designation, and was a board member at the Remington Museum of Art. Currently, she is active in the Lake County (Florida) League of Women Voters. Her husband John taught music for many years, and we had a nice conversation about favorite operas, which tenors are underappreciated, and which is the hardest aria to sing (we both agreed it was “A mes amis” from Donizetti’s La Fille de Regiment). It was amazing about how similar our tastes were and I was kidding Rosella that she didn’t know her husband and I were clones of each other.
The next morning, we had breakfast at Denny’s with John and Lorraine Henderson. John graduated from ATI (as we were then known) in the class of 1952, with a degree in Drafting. He was responsible for an addition to the science building, expansion of athletic facilities, and the creation of a facilities master plan at Jefferson Community College, where he worked for many years. He’s a strong supporter of the college, and told me about a number of pleasant memories he had of the time he was here.
That afternoon, there was a gathering at Franco’s Ristorante for alumni who live in The Villages, with about 25 people in attendance. It was nice meeting with many alumni I’d never met before (as well as the Valentines once again), and a good time was had by all. I gave a short talk about some of the new programs we’re planning at SUNY Canton, and the alumni were happy about the directions we are pursuing. As has happened so often, I got to hear stories about how SUNY Canton had made all the difference in setting up their careers.
On Wednesday, we drove down to Sarasota, checked into the hotel, and then drove to Cape Coral to meet Bob and Margaret Rogers for lunch. Bob graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology in 1960 and was a member of one of the most successful basketball teams in Canton’s history, helping lead the Northmen (as we were then known) to a 34-6 overall record in his two years. He went on to play Division 1 basketball at New Mexico State, and went on to work in the elevator industry for 41 years. He recently made a generous scholarship gift to the college honoring Hall of Fame Coach Stanley Cohen that will provide future students the opportunity to achieve their educational goals.
When we got back to the hotel, I tried to call a friend of mine, Sandra Stone, who is the new Regional Chancellor (which is what they call presidents of branch campuses in Florida) for University of Southern Florida—Sarasota-Manatee. Sandra had been the president of Dalton State College in Georgia, so I knew her very well. Another Regional Chancellor is also a friend of mine—Han Reichgelt at USF-St. Petersburg, who was my Dean of Computing and Software Engineering at SPSU. Unfortunately, Sandra was tied up in new president meetings the next two days, so we weren’t able to get together. Maybe next time.
That evening, I wanted to try and find an Indian restaurant, and fortunately, there was one at the next shopping center over. We decided to walk there, because it wasn’t very far, but as it turned out, the sidewalk didn’t go the whole way (making us walk on the shoulder of a busy highway), and there was a fence that needed to be climbed over to get to the road without having to backtrack quite a ways. Still, we persevered, and the restaurant was quite good.
Thursday for lunch, we met with Bernie Regan at Gecko’s, a south-west themed restaurant. Bernie graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology in 1965, and went on to serve in the US Army. He then worked for UPS in their corporate domestic and international engineering groups. He established the Bernard C. Regan Family Endowed Scholarship, and built the Regan Flag Station at the front entrance to our campus. He is on SUNY Canton’s College Foundation Board of Directors, and serves on the executive committee. Among other things, we talked about how to get more people to consider making unrestricted gifts to the college—most people want to restrict them in one way or another, making them less flexible in what they can be used for. We also talked about that afternoon’s gathering in Sarasota, at a different Gecko’s. About a dozen alumni and supporters came to the gathering, which again was very pleasant.
That night, we drove back to Orlando and stayed at the airport Hyatt Regency (quite a place—you can take the elevator to the 3rd floor, which is where the gates to the airlines are). I was able to change onto an earlier flight going to NYC at 9:40, and change there for Syracuse. I got to Syracuse about 1:00, got the car, and was back in Canton by 4:00.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s trivia contest dealt with military ranks. Our winner was Terri Clemmo. Others getting all five right included Bill Prigge, Sean O’Brien, and Robin Gittings. Here are the correct answers:
- This Marvel super-hero carries a shield. Steve Rogers is his secret identity. Captain America.
- Steven Spielberg movie about the WWII D-Day invasion, and the search for the last surviving brother of four servicemen. Saving Private Ryan.
- Longest running American soap opera still in production, it premiered in 1963. As of January 23, 2015, it had 13,229 episodes. General Hospital.
- 1958 movie about a backwoods rube who is drafted into the army. It launched the careers of both Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. No Time for Sergeants.
- The character’s name for the Stalag 13 commandant in Hogan’s Heroes. Colonel Wilhelm Klink.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
In honor of our first “big” snow this year, this week’s challenge deals with the word “winter”–every answer has that word in it. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize. 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!
- They were held in Sochi (Russia) in 2014, and in Vancouver in 2010.
- Christmas song that begins “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening.”
- Title of the most recent Captain America movie.
- American comedian, he co-starred in the show Mork and Mindy and in the movie It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. He had 11 grammy nominations for best comedy album, and was the voice of Papa Smurf in the 2011 Smurfs movie.
- 2014 movie about a burglar who falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her.