Category Archives: college


But first, happy SEVENTH blogiversary to both Tegan at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog and Johnny Bacardi. That’s like forever on the Internet.

Sunday Stealing, yet again.

A- Advocate for: mass transit; buses and light rail.

B- Best Feature: my brain. I think. (OR, my brain, I think.)

C- Could do without: the screaming that passes for political discourse.

D- Dreams and desires: for the child to thrive at whatever is her heart’s content.

E- Essential items: certain reference books, or in lieu of that, certain bookmarked reference web pages.

F- Favorite past time: blogging.

G- Good at: confusing my opponents, and occasionally myself, with racquetball shots.

H- Have never tried: jumping out of an airplane.

I- If I had a million dollars: I’d contribute more to some arts organizations and food pantries.

J- Junkie for: music of many types.

K- Kindred spirit: Uthaclena.

L- Little known fact: when I was in college on the Student Government Association Financial Council, the books were audited and the accounts were off by thousands of dollars. The books for my area, education, which included the newspaper and the radio station, were off by 79 cents.

M- Memorable moment: getting a standing ovation for playing a kazoo solo at a Red Cross training camp.

N- Never again will I: take penicillin (allergic reaction).

O- Occasional indulgence: a day off from work, just for myself.

P- Profession: librarian, dammit!

Q- Quote: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it…. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” ~Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

R- Reason to smile: The daughter’s dancing.

S- Sorry about: slow to asking for forgiveness from one person, which would have had a huge effect on my relationship with a third party.

T- Things you are worrying about right now: Well, worried would overstating it, but I’d like to be around when the kid graduates college.

U- Uninterested in: 99.973% of celebrity gossip.

V- Very scared of: a loss of freedom in the country.

W- Worst habits: an unlibrarianlike level of disorder.

X- X marks my ideal vacation spot: Hawaii. Because I wanted to go, was invited to go, but couldn’t.

Y- Yummiest dessert: carrot cake.

Z- Zodiac sign: Pisces.


Sweet Hitchhiker

Something Jacquandor cited reminded me of this: my primary form of transportation during my college days in New Paltz in the Mid-Hudson Valley of NYS was hitchhiking. I lived in Binghamton in the Southern Tier of NYS my first year in college, 150 miles and at least three highways away (Route 17, and then there were options). Even when I moved to New Paltz, there were friends to visit back in my hometown.

The easiest hitch I ever had involved me trying to get from New Paltz to Binghamton. Somehow, I found a large metal orange and white sign, perhaps cast off from a gas station. It said 17. I put it out on the outskirts of town and got picked up by a guy from the CIA who dropped me off at the Binghamton exit maybe a half mile from my grandmother’s house. Oh, the CIA is the Culinary Institute of America.

I lived briefly in Kingston, maybe a dozen miles away from New Paltz, and hitched back and forth on Route 32 as well.

But my regular hitch in my freshman year was with my buddy Jay Rose. It was exceedingly easy to thumb a ride to New York City; just stand at the Thruway entrance. What was more difficult was hitching back to New Paltz. I discovered that the best way was to take the subway #4 line as far north as possible, take a commuter bus as far north as it would go on 90 cents, and THEN start seeking rides.

For four months in 1977, I lived in Charlotte, NC, a place that I did not much enjoy. It had lousy mass transit and I was broke. Ultimately, I hitched out of Charlotte to Binghamton; it took about 24 hours. Hitching in the South in 1977 might not have been the wisest move, but it was an incident-free trip, though I was stuck outside of Harrisburg, PA seemingly forever.

I stopped hitching in 1979, not out of any sense of real danger, but because it just took too long. A 150-mile trip from Binghamton to Schenectady took over six hours on old Route 7, pre I-88.

The trip I remember best I did with my friend Alice. Friends of ours were in a terrible car accident; a couple died and the rest were in a hospital in Hornell, NY, pretty much in the middle of the state. We got through Binghamton OK, but had slow going past there. Then one guy finally picked us up. He wanted to save our souls, and surely our souls needed saving, for we appeared to be a mixed race couple, and miscegenation was a sin according to his interpretation of the Word. (His basis for this theory was the OT prohibition against Jews intermarrying, I’m guessing.) However, he was otherwise harmless and let us out when he got to where he was going.

Alice and I never did get to Hornell, since this involved traveling on a rural road, Route 34, and we may not have met the appropriate demographic profile to get picked up. Instead, we went back to New Paltz, in record time, considering it was the middle of the night by then.

We always wondered what that guy would have said if he had found out that Alice was a lesbian.
In honor of John Fogerty’s birthday late last month, Sweet Hitchhiker – Creedence Clearwater Revival


25 Random Things

I was reading The random beauty of “25 Random Things” in Salon. I’m not that great a Facebook participant, I guess, since I have not been “tagged” to do this. Yet the article made it so appealing, I thought I’d do it here and crosspost in Facebook. I’m trying not to repeat myself, but I make no guarantees.

1. I lived in the Binghamton, NY house I grew up in for 18 years. I’ve spent nearly the last nine years in my current home. In the intervening 28 or 29 years, I moved at least 20 times.

2. I couldn’t tie my shoes until I was nine; I wore penny loafers, with real pennies in them.

3. I received, for one marking period, an F in handwriting in third grade.

4. Conversely, I received a 100 in the fifth grade spelling final.

5. In elementary school, some kids were playing keep away with my hat. I got annoyed, hopped a Crowley’s milk truck and went home.

6. The first girl I ever kissed, when I was 13, is in one of the same social network things as I am, but I’ve had no contact.

7. I was reading the op/ed pages of the local newspaper when I was 10. I was much older before I realized that not every 10-year-old read the op/ed pages.

8. My paternal grandmother taught me to play canasta when I was about seven; I then taught it to my great aunt.

9. I took apart the door lock to my home to see how it worked, but couldn’t get it back together; my father was annoyed but not particularly angry, and I think my curiosity pleased him more than the need to get a new lock bothered him.

10. There was this novelization of an I Spy TV episode that I used to read all of the time as a kid. It’s where I learned the term “hoist by his own petard”; in the case of the story, this was literally true.

11. My father used to come to my classroom every semester and sing to the class. One of the songs was “Goodnight, Irene”, and everyone thought I had put my father up to this, assuming I had a crush on the girl named Irene in my class; to both parts, I did not.

12. My fifth grade teacher taught us to count to 10 in Russian; I can still do so.

13. I used to read the Encyclopedia Americana and the World Almanac from the time I was 9 or 10, including those EA annuals.

14. There was this girl in 7th grade who had a major thing for me. Her friend was always passing me notes and everyone assumed the friend was the one with the crush on me. About four years later, the young woman with the crush moved next door to us, with two babies in tow. Yikes.

15. My father, sister and I used to sing in the Binghamton area. The best-paid gig was also the worst one, at a VFW hall in front of a bunch of drunken guys. Someone requested The Battle Hymn of the Republic, not generally in our repertoire, which my sister and I sang, and my father sang as a counter-melody, “what a hell of a way to go.”

16. I was student government president in high school. The principal was throwing people into detention for walking on the school lawn. So I held a meeting on the sidealk, and the body voted to have its meeting on the lawn. Later, I walked passed the principal’s office, and he growled, “I hope you’re satisfied.” Actually, I was.

17. I had a button that read, “Kiss me – I’m germ free”. I lent it to a friend of mine and it was confiscated. He wore it on the seat of his pants; I never did get the button back.

18. I used to go to parties in high school. Sometimes when I was not having a particularly good time, I’d hide in the attic or basement or a closet to see if anyone would miss me. It wasn’t intended as attention-getting, it was insecurity; I had my doubts that they actually WOULD miss me.

19. I applied to only one college, which is where my high school girlfriend was going. But by the time I got to college, she had broken up with me.

20. The husband of a friend of mine had committed suicide and she had asked not to tell the means of his demise because she had young children. I concocted an elaborate story which I told so often to our mutual friends that I was convinced it was true, until the point she released me from my bond of secrecy. Then I had to remember who I had told the lie to so that I could tell them the truth.

21. I went to a number of antiwar demonstrations, mostly in DC and NYC, in the early 1970s. One NYC rally my friends I I lleft after a number of hours, turned on the radio miles away, but still within the city limits, and discoverded that John Lennon was speaking at the rally we had only recently left. Bummer.

22. I went to grad school in public administration at UAlbany in 1979-80. I was immediately disadvantaged because for the whole first week, I was bedridden with an infection that was running from my toenail up my leg, which might have killed me. So I was always behind, it was extremely competitive (cf the cooperative vibe of library school a decade later). It was a disaster and I dropped out, ending up working at a comic book store for 8.5 years instead.

23. On at least three occasions, I quit jobs with no new job lined up.

24. I’m terrible remembering names, and it’s not just at parties. I might see a teller at a bank for three years, then she’d leave and I’d see her six months later. More often than not, her name is gone. SHE’S not gone; details about her life I’d recall, but her name: gone. Worse, the other person almost always remembers MY name.

25. About the only thing I truly covet right now is one of those turntable combos that would turn my vinyl into CDs.


It's the Stupid, Economy

About three months ago, my wife got a letter from one of her credit card companies LOWERING her available credit. Understand that she always pays on time. This is so contrary to what had been happening for the past decade or more, where they kept upping her available credit to absurdist levels; i.e., greater than her gross annual salary.

Now, last week, I got a letter from one of my credit card companies. They noted that I had not used the card in 24 months, which was true. In the olden days, i.e., last year, they would have sent me checks to write against the account. Instead, though, they CANCELLED the card. This is NOT a complaint, BTW, just an observation, since I too have more available credit than income.

Meanwhile, gas is going down, but not at the same rates. While the Mobil station nearest my house has that traditional dime’s difference between the various levels (on Monday, $2.199, $2.299, $2.399), a couple other Mobil stations in Albany were $2.199, $2.659, $2.699. I don’t begin to understand pricing for this stuff, but I am fascinated that it could be so different within the same city limits.
or here.
The State University of New York is raising tuition, largely as a result of the state budget crisis; apparently, the state government can’t print money to spend its way out of its crisis as the feds can. Since two of my alma maters were SUNY schools (New Paltz and Albany), I’m interested in noting that the result of this is an INCREASE in the number of people who want to attend college. Do they figure they might as well go to school in hopes that things will be better when they get out?


Julie Hembeck Turns 18

One of the great pleasures I’ve had as a result of reigniting my friendship with Fred Hembeck and his wife Lynn Moss was getting to know their daughter Julie. From an awkward 15-year-old teenager to a beautiful 18-year-old young lady, she has blossomed in her confidence as well as her artistic eye. She will be going to college next month in New York State, but about four hours from home, compared with a couple colleges she looked at right in the Mid-Hudson that were only about an hour’s drive. So Fred and Lynn have to cope with being empty-nesters.

In fact, Leonard Bernstein, who would have been 90 today, discusses and plays the Ode for Joy, just for Julie:

And speaking of the Hembecks, Carol, Lydia and I made our annual trek to their chateau earlier this month. As usual, Fred and I blathered about what we’ve later described as unincapsulable. I know we talked about FantaCo, Regis Philbin, and Fred’s new book. But the conversation tended to flit from subject to subject.

He, our wives and I also had a philosophical conversation about blogging. My wife chastised me for me saying that she should look at my blog, rather than me having to explain what I had written. I noted that it isn’t just the information in the blog that I was trying to convey but the style and manner in which I said it. So to give a Cliff’s Notes version of it wouldn’t do it justice.

Fred ragged on me when he discovered that I had watched on the Internet the last 10 minutes of “There Shall Be Blood.” About every 10 minutes he would find some parallel slapdown to give me, ending with “Oh I suppose you listened to/read/watched/ saw the last 10 minutes of THAT,” no matter what it was. He even got my beloved wife to join in the fun. I had a good time anyway, with Lynn’s vegetarian dinner a highlight of the day.
Another satisfied Fred Hembeck customer.

She'll Be Home for Birthday

I’ve missed my wife.

Carol has been attending the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, MA for the past two weeks. She is seeking an Advanced Certificate in Educational Administration. Carol has no interest in being a school principal, but would like to be able to help mold the curriculum for English as a Second Language. She left on Sunday, June 29 and returned home only yesterday. And it’s not as though she just took a couple of classes a day for two weeks. Prior to her arrival there, she had to read seven books and write three short papers based on the material in those books.

Her typical day started with breakfast at 7 a.m., classes that began at 8 a.m., and various activities that could run up to 9 p.m., including weekends and the Fourth of July. This coming school year, Carol will be doing an internship of 300 hours, and then next summer she will repeat the two-week marathon. The internship means that she will be working at only an 80% teaching capacity, which will put a bit of a crimp on our budget, but I’m very happy that she has decided to take on this educational process because 1) she has a great passion for it, and 2) I believe she will be very good at it.

So she’s made it back home, just in time for her birthday, taking her parents, Lydia and me out to dinner to celebrate. Happy Birthday, sweetie, and welcome home.