Tuesday, February 26, 2008

French Hall Remodeling

French Hall, the building where my office and classrooms are located, is under construction. The central portion is blocked off and only two hallways are open.

Here's the Foreign Language hall (photos courtesy of my colleague Fred):

Here's the English Department hall:

Interesting, eh? The overhead lights disappeared with the drop ceiling and we are amused by the temporary coal-mine style lighting. (If you can't tell from the photos, the lightbulbs are in cages on a heavy extension-cord type line, strung along the hall at ceiling level.) When I look at all the steel above the ceiling level I am amazed that my cell phone works at all in this building!

This phase of remodeling should be done around the end of this semester (April). Then they'll start on our hall: rearranging walls, painting, recarpeting, etc. I'm glad I'm not teaching spring or summer semesters and will miss all the mess, but it will be weird to pack up and leave my old office and come back to a brand new one!

While Googling "French Hall" for external pics of our building, I found a few related links:

French Hall Renovations (with a really nice external photo)

The University of Michigan-Flint on Wikipedia (who knew?!)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Indy's Back!

In case you haven't heard, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth Indy movie and the first in almost 20 years, will be released May 22. Take a look at the trailer:

I can hardly wait! It looks like an outstanding successor to Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. They've advanced the timeline 20 years so it's set in the 50s with Indy fighting Commies instead of Nazis, with Cate Blanchett at the head of the bad guys. Other characters include Marion Ravenwood; her father and Indy's mentor, Abner (who was supposed to be dead before Raiders so let's hope we see him via flashback); and a new character, Mutt Williams (rumored to be Indy and Marion's son). Sadly, Denholm Elliott (who played Dr. Marcus Brody) died in 1992 and there is no sign of John Rhys-Davies (who played Sallah) or Sean Connery (Dr. Henry Jones, Sr.). I hope they are just being careful with the credits and we'll get to see Indy's dad.

For more info visit Indian Jones: The Official Site, The Raider (fan site), or The Internet Movie Database (which isn't very helpful at this point).

Get your Fedora and leather jacket ready... only 87 more days...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Always a Marine

In memory of my cousin, Gene, who died unexpectedly this week of heart failure at age 57. He was one of my favorite cousins, and one of the nicest guys I've ever known. We hadn't been close for years, but I will miss him and I am proud of his service as a Marine -- and he was one of the best.

I love you, big Gene.

Marines' Hymn

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli,

We fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom, and to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.

Our Flag's unfurled to every breeze from dawn to setting sun.
We have fought in every clime and place, where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far off northern lands and in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job, the United States Marines.

Here's health to you and to our Corps, which we are proud to serve.
In many a strife we've fought for life and never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy ever look on heaven's scenes,
they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.


Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
'Neath the sun, 'neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Happy Valentine's Wedding

Congratulations to my nephew, Derrik, and his beautiful bride, Katrina, on their romantic Valentine's Day wedding!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bifocal Contacts

A couple of years ago I had to get bifocal eyeglasses. Since I wear my contact lenses about 14 hours a day and they changed the contact Rx slowly, I never noticed a problem with my aging eyes -- until now.

Recently I've had trouble reading small print. I just can't get it to focus no matter where I put it, even with a new Rx for my contacts. I spent the weekend with a pair of over-the-counter reading glasses for emergencies but they weren't quite right either. I was so frustrated! Oh sure, reading glasses are way better than the Coke-bottle glasses I used to wear before I got contacts at age 18, but I don't like the inconvenience.

Today they eye doctor gave me bifocal contacts to try. Unlike my old contacts where one eye saw clearly up close and the other eye saw clearly far away (don't ask me how my brain figured it out!), these contacts are bifocal lenses, just like my glasses. I don't understand how they work but they are like magic! Once again I can see any range and it feels very natural. Best of all, no reading glasses are required. Whew.

I've got to stop typing now. Now that I can see better, I have papers to grade and books to read!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Winter as it Should Be

For the first time in years, I have a snow day today! (U of M closing last Friday, a day we don't have class, in anticipation of bad weather we did not get, does not count!)

Yesterday we got a foot of snow. One report said we were getting an inch an hour but judging by the amount of snow each time I cleared off my car, I'm sure it was faster than that! It was so heavy I couldn't see a block away. It was so heavy that snow accumulated on the roof of my car, then slid down on the windshield in an avalanche so heavy the wipers couldn't move. I was so glad to get home and out of the mess! All the schools, including U of M, closed early.

Since a snow day is an unexpected gift from God, and rare indeed at U of M, I decided to enjoy my holiday. I mostly spent it cuddling with my cats and reading The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller.

So much for global warming, eh? :) This is winter as is should be, the kind of winters I grew up with: lots of snow with an occasional snow day. I just wish the meteorologists would stop acting like snowstorms are something new!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

6 More Weeks of Winter

In case you missed it on CNN: "Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Saturday, leading the groundhog to forecast six more weeks of winter."

For more on this quaint superstition, follow the CNN link above or visit:

Groundhog.org - Official site of the Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Groundhog Club

Groundhog.com - yet another site about Phil