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23 february 2017

I've been a teacher for 35 years, but I've rarely thought much about the buildings I teach in, except when they occasionally start collapsing around me. (Lest you think I'm exaggerating.) The building where most of my classes are held is 90 years old and laid out like 90% of other classroom buildings: three floors, a wide hallway on each, medium-sized classrooms (30-40 seats) opening off each side of each hallway. The classrooms have movable chairs with desk attachments – many of them have been at my university longer than I have. For items built by the lowest bidder, they are damn near indestructible, which is good because they have gotten steadily smaller than the average student over the past forty years. A blackboard and some ancient, crumbling tables and lecterns give the room an old-timey feel. An obsolete computer with a projector that frequently fails and a pull-down screen that tends to snap up without warning indicate that we're in the 21st century.     read more


22 february 2017

A few months ago, two young dudes appeared in the doorway of my faculty office one evening to announce that, sir, people were smoking in the stairwell. I said, yeah, that's too bad, it's supposed to be a tobacco-free campus but nobody cares. No, said the dudes, they're smoking weed. What do you want me to do, I thought, get them to stop bogarting? It wasn't till today that I realized that my office is room 420. The dudes probably thought they had come to Dope Central.     read more


20 february 2017

Doll (1965) is a suspenseful crime novel with some well-planned plot twists. At a certain point the twisted-up plot unravels quickly, but the book does not outstay its welcome, and is a memorable entry in Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series.     read more


16 february 2017

Descriptions of other planets always emphasize really bad weather – lightning striking through clouds of methane and sulfur, howling red hurricanes the size of Asia, sandstorms that can rip spaceships to shreds and leave Matt Damon stranded. But periodically we are reminded that home sweet Earth is a planet like any other, with its own ferocious atmospheric events.     read more

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