Saturday, November 24, 2012


A GOP stronghold goes wobbly (Politico)
It’s a sign of the GOP times: Republicans in California’s Orange County, once a conservative citadel, are worried about the future of the party.
     … In the 1980s, the local GOP had good reason to boast that it was “the most Republican county in the nation” — Reagan carried the county by 429,000 votes in his reelection bid.
     Now, however, the OC continues to slip through the party’s grasp, another once-mighty GOP machine laid low by demography. Mitt Romney won 53 percent here, a far cry from Reagan’s 75 percent in 1984, or even George H.W. Bush’s 68 percent in 1988….

Rear Window—for those with only 3 minutes to spare

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkeys on Thanksgiving

Rebel Girl and her family had been worried about the flock of turkeys that lives off the main road in Modjeska Canyon.  The birds often stop traffic on the road, especially the morning elementary school carpool which can come to a complete halt (really, a complete get-out-of-the-car-and-shoo-kind-of-stop). The birds are definitely "free range," like most animals in the canyons.

But as Thanksgiving approached the little guy grew concerned.  He'd ask, "How could someone eat an animal they know?" 

Explaining the way the world works (and doesn't work) to a ten-year-old can be humbling and educational for the explainer. 

Then, yesterday, there the flock was in all their turkey glory, strutting into the road on Thanksgiving afternoon, once again stopping traffic and not, as Rebel Girl had imagined, being served on fine platters across the county.

The little guy was not surprised but his mother sure was. 

Gobble, gobble.

Prïtourïtze Planinata, etc.

     This video is made up of parts from one of my favorite films, Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1996), with Johnny Depp and Robert Mitchum.
     The movie's soundtrack is provided by Neil Young. Pretty wonderful stuff.

     Yes, Helen Mirren is a goddess, but she couldn't save Pascali's Island, an interesting but not entirely successful film released in the late 80s. I remember seeing the movie with Kathie. We left the theater awestruck by the music, particularly the movie's main theme, and so, some period later, I bought the soundtrack, for a never forget a song, especially a great one. And that was that.
     Today, I came to learn that the song (Prïtourïtze Planinata—Song From the Thracian Plain) is traditional in Bulgary. When Bulgarian music and singing was showcased on an album released in the U.S. back in the late 80s, it made quite a splash, owing to charming peculiarities of Bulgarian vocals.
     Evidently, the album to get is this one: Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares. The video above features that album's recording of "Song From the Thracian Plain."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Pics: purely unacademic

The Tige, talkin' to one of her friends: Joy Boy

People have been asking me about young Bugsy, a domestic shorthair kitten my folks rescued recently up here in the Santa Ana Mountains. Well, he's settled into being my parents' (they're about 80 years old) "new baby." That means they dote on him all day long, which is good, I figure. Keeps 'em out of trouble.

Here's mom with the youngster, who still hasn't grown accustomed to me. (He's giving me the stink eye.) Unless I approach him very carefully, Bugsy runs from me as though I were a grizzly bear. It was hard taking these pictures, what with this goofy kid acting like I'm a chupacabra or freakin' Bigfoot.

Mostly, I couldn't use the flash on my camera, cuz it freaks out the Bugster. 
He sure is a beautiful and fun little guy. Always playing, always cute.
Mom says he's "obviously the most beautiful cat in the world." I just nod in agreement.

Here he is playing with my mom's shoe. Somehow, he just loves my folks' shoes.


Later, I took Annie's cat TigerAnn out for a walk. Here she is hunting out on a hill. 
She's pretty good at it. Mostly, she catches lizards, mice, and birds. She always brings her victims to me, and I can generally save 'em--but I've gotta do that carefully so as not to offend Tiger. Once, she saw me save a mouse she gave me, and it weirded her out for days. I found her in the shower, staring at the corner. Not good.

Compared to Fluffy Boy, Tiger's like, well, a tiger. She's at least twice his size.

Suddenly, she pounced and ran toward the house. Don't know why. A few minutes later, I took her out again.

Drove down to the Trabuco Canyon post office to mail a letter.

The weather was beautiful.

Hope you're all having a good Thanksgiving. 

The Tige in my imagination, maybe walkin' to Grandma's house or stoppin' for a smoke. Some cats are like electrons; you never know what they're gonna do. It's like, Bam! There she goes!--and don't even think about asking why she did that.
"'Constant conjunction' my furry ass," says the Tige."With me, it's just 'shit happens,' all day long."

Protecting academic freedom (in this perpetual sh*tstorm)

New Statement on Accreditation and Academic Freedom (Inside Higher Ed)
     The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the American Association of University Professors on Tuesday released a joint statement affirming the importance of academic freedom in higher education, and the role of accrediting in assuring that academic freedom exists and is nurtured. The statement, an advisory to accreditors and others, urges the review of accreditation standards to be sure the role of academic freedom receives appropriate attention. A statement from Judith Eaton, president of CHEA, said that the new document "is a response to concerns that academic freedom is increasingly challenged in today’s environment and that accreditation can play an even more helpful role in meeting this challenge."

"You and your 'good time' buddies."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Magic for a frosty evening

Jess Stacy in New York, January, 1938
Bandleader Benny Goodman gave 'im the nod, and off he went—
an unplanned and miraculous solo.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November's meeting of the SOCCCD board of trustees: incentivizers & benefactories

     (Be sure also to read Tere's Board Meeting Highlights.)
     5:58 - I’ve just arrived at the Ronnie Reagan room for the monthly meeting of the SOCCCD board of trustees. The meeting’s supposed to start at 6:00 p.m., but the agenda for the 5:00 p.m. closed session—including review of some key 'strators—might slow things down.
     Not that anybody is complaining about Gary Poertner’s efforts as Chancellor. On the contrary, I think. But SC Prez Tod Burnett? Some say he routinely oversteps his bounds, authority-wise. He’s done that with prayer at commencement and, most recently, with his odd input re bestowal of honorary degrees.
     Tonight’s agenda for the open session is unremarkable. There are two reports: one on yet another “student success” recommendation—something about “incentivizing” students to get their sh*t together or something—and one on the colleges’ foundations, those odd benefactories.

     6:00 - BUGSY THE KITTEN, A FINE YOUNG MAN. I've got time to vamp. I spent some of the afternoon with Miracle Boy (aka "white boy"). Bugsy the kitten continues to flourish with my two elderly parents. He was very sick when we found him out in the wilds of the Santa Ana Mountains, fending for his tiny self among the coyotes and bobcats, about a month ago. He seems pretty normal now.
     He's got a seriously bad ticker, he has, or so says the vet. But my mom's been babying him, and she's gone totally gaga over the furry little dude. No surprise there.
     Today, as per usual, the Bugster was kittening all over their house, but bringing his fuzzy self up against my mom and pop at regular intervals. My mom melted. Dad too, I think.
     BOB THE CAT. Here's a weird detail. Yesterday, says mom, a bobcat showed up just outside a back window, silently staring inside. Bugsy immediately hid. Don't know what that was about. You'd think a bobcat would have better things to do.
     That Bugsy really zips around. He can be hard to find; mostly, one sees the Boy as a flash of white here and there, he's so fast and small and intent on invisibility. My dad, not really a cat person, says Bugsy regularly "goes nuts" around the house. "That's just his bein' a cat," I say.
Bugsy and his photonic doppelgänger
     Pop has always been a dog man, and he's been pushing for a dog for years--his last one died maybe seven years ago--but mom has resisted, mostly, I think, because its so hard when these guys pass away. Doesn't want to go through that again.
     "Well, at this point, the pup's likely to bury you!" I say, trying to be helpful.
     PUP FOR POP. I've noticed that Pop is now calling Bugsy "my little pup," only he says it in German, which, as I'm sure you are aware, is the lingo of dogs, especially German Shepherds.
     It's pretty clear that, contrary to the original plan, my folks have taken in this little guy for keeps. And that's great.
     OK, enough with the schmaltz.

* * *
6:13 - OK, there's still no sign of the Merry Boardsters, nor their painted bus.
6:31 - Trustee TJ Prendergast has entered the building. He's got an unseemly strip of fur under his nose. He acts, however, as though everything is normal, AOK.
6:34 - Chancellor Poertner just arrived. [An administrator friend tells me that, when Gary arrived, he was pissed or upset. I didn't notice.] Next: Meldau and Lang. Now Padberg and Milchiker. Now Wright. I figure we'll get started in a minute. Where's Bill Jay?

Mike, leaving; Gary, remaining: a moment in time
6:38 - the meeting begins.

     Milchiker reads an action taken in closed session: 6/0 (Jay absent) rejected claim of student against adjunct instructor.
     Invocation: Wright: "Our father who art in heaven...."

     Mike Meldau gets a big fat resolution. This is likely to go on for a while.
     Poertner: "Mike contributed a lot"; etc. Plaques, applause, etc. "You more than distinguished yourself...."
     Meldau: "It's been a real honor...." Etc.

Public comments: no one wishes to speak. Why of course. It's South Orange County.

Nancy's World
Board reports:

     Meldau: no report tonight
     Milchiker: we'll miss trustee Meldau.
     (Evidently, Poertner explains to Nancy that she missed some commendations. So Tod Burnett comes up to introduce "our new interim chief of police." Etc.)
     Prendergast: Gracious remarks for Meldau. Says he's happy with the election outcome (a reference to Prop 30).
     Padberg: there's a pattern in this district: people try to retire but get pulled in again, etc. Congrats to sports teams. Attended the two forums. Very successful. Agrees, should do it twice a year.
     Wright: Joins in expressing gratitude, etc., to Mike Meldau. Congrats to winners on our board in election. "My wife was very grateful that I ran unopposed." Attended forums. Etc.
     Lang: "adds to the chorus of voices...." Meldau always showed "intellectual curiosity." Lang says he attended the two forums. Well done. Good exchange of ideas. "Happy Thanksgiving."
     Park: attended meetings, etc. Congratulated IVC debate team. "My first time voting, very exciting."

     Chancellor Poertner: some items tonight: student success task force rec. 3. We'll hear about that. We'll also get some Foundation reports. Look forward to that. Lastly, we'll hear from an auditor, district books.

Advance 6.1: district audit report.

     AUDIT REPORT. Deb Fitzsimmons introduces Jim G., the Audit Guy, and he comes up to present audit. He says: No restrictions placed on us. We've expressed unqualified opinion. Basically clean opinion. Letters from us: "our required communication." Key items: managers are supposed to adopt appropriate accounting principles. Blah, blah, blah. We agree with the principles used. And they've been consistently applied.
     One critical item: estimates by management. We look closely at those. We look at "notes"--financial statements--many pages. An integral part of understanding statement. Highlights two notes: the "restatement." Construction costs left out, added back in. Also "employee retirement plan." Finally: dealing with post-employment healthcare benefits. "Neutral, consistent, and clear." Did not encounter significant difficulties. Talked with numerous people. We've identified "audit adjustments." Presented to management. It's all in the financial statement. No disagreement w/ management re accounting principles.... Any questions?

     Prendergast: refers to a point in report. Not sure what his point was.
     Milchiker: describes meeting with audit committee. "I feel everything is well explained and well done."
     --No further questions.

Discussion items:

An ineffable disquiet (in my imagination)
1. Task Force Rec. 3.
     SADDLEBACK COLLEGEBob Cosgrove comes up, along with four others (Schmeidler, de Roulet, Choo, and Sheldon).
     A math instructor (Deanna) comes up in behalf of SC. (See Overview.) BSI Math tutoring center explained. Unintimidating center. Etc. Just two semesters in. Blah, blah, blah. Testimonials, etc.
     Next, an English instructor: Marina ("one name, like Madonna"). (See Overview.) Writing tutor overseer. When she arrived a few years ago, she/they started asking basic questions about existing tutoring. We saw some problems, some good things. Lack of consistency. Applied for BSI grant. Got small grant to run tutoring. Three tutors hired. "Hands free approach"--tutors don't write on student papers. This year, trained 19 people.
     Explains different models for tutoring. Helping with the student's paper--that's one way. Their approach: "Student as agent of paper." Only the students fixes the paper. Questions, probing & clarifying. Improve the writer, not the writing. Etc.
     This gal has lots to say, and says it well. Nice presentation, though it's hard not to be skeptical of this, or any, model of tutoring. Must be hard to test for efficacy.

     IRVINE VALLEY COLLEGE: Next: the IVC group. Kathy Schmeidler, IVC Academic Senate Prez, introduces three instructors. (See Overview.)
     Brooke Choo: Student Success Center coordinator. We truly want to be a leader in the state.
     Dan De Roulet: co-chair, English dept., IVC. Our job to move students through at an "efficient rate." Experimental class.
     Joel Sheldon: coordinator, Math Center, IVC.
     Brooke: discusses Student Success Center. Also "hands off" approach. Computer lab access. A new center, so getting the word out. Shows "usage snapshot."
     Dan: writing and reading Centers. Close together. We're emphasizing "student care."
     (--All these people do a great job presenting what they and their centers do.)
     We're actually turning away students this semester. Pretty full. All day long.
     Joel: describes Math Center.
     (I don't blame any of these people, but this has become painful. Not sure why. But please stop. Please. Meldau seems to be the only trustee still listening. Wright seems to be in his own world, far away. Prendergast is, I believe, stabbing himself in the hand. Lang is visualizing a bean in his mind. --Please stop the horror.)
     Bob C now says: money comes from the state, and that money is now shrinking. Students are coming to us increasingly without basic skills. Etc.
     Padberg: asks for budget total per college. This seems to strike some as an odd question. But Cosgrove has an answer; says "$90K." Schmeidler, on behalf of IVC, says the amount is a bit higher at IVC. Says something about pretzels.
     I'm dying.
     Meldau: are there any "outcome studies" in the field? All this tutoring sounds great, but is it making any difference? Brooke: have been studies for blah, blah, blah. (She seems to be scrambling.) Burnett breaks in to suggest to trustees to "come out and visit" these centers. The discussion is over. Whew.

Second discussion item: foundations. (See Presentations.)

click on graphic
From the IVC Foundation report

     IVC Foundation. Richard Morley, director, IVC Foundation. "Fund raising has changed a lot." Introduces Bill Crosby, Pres/Chair of IVC. Briefly speaks. Mentions some highlights. Praises Morley. Mentions "astounding inventions," 20th Anniversary. Angels Gala. Garnered unprecedented amount this year. Shows chart. Turns it over to Morley.
     A DIP. Morley: shows income and expenses. (See above.) Explains a "dip" during transition to new director. He goes through pie charts, but quickly. Seems to be defending some numbers. But nobody's asking about them.
     Shows "financial position." Lots of numbers. What does it all mean? Do we want a profit? Yes. (He's alluding to fact that they're not making a profit, I guess.) But net assets grew.
     He stops. It's quite sudden. "Any questions."
     Padberg: no questions. Very positive, she says. She moves on:

     RICKNER HAS AN AGENDA. Next: Saddleback Foundation. President of Foundation comes up (didn't catch his name). This guy's a relatively strong speaker, but kinda rams things down our throats.
     Highlights accomplishments. Student scholarship awards up 46%. It all sounds good.
"We need to staff out."
     Don Rickner is introduced. He's now a bearded fellow. "We need to staff out." If you don't have people to do the job, it doesn't get done. Makes a case for larger staff. Gosh.
     Prendergast: what is your current staff level? A: Three and a half at Saddleback. IVC: two and hiring a third.
     Rickner: we'll probably top out at 2 million a year.
     Again, he seems to be urging hiring of more staff. Mentions other college that has increased staff. We'll see how they do. If we had a staff of 5 or more, says Rickner, we'd have an income of 3 to 5 million a year.

8:15 - Padberg: ten minute break. I think that's cuz she noticed trustees sleeping and/or slipping into comas.

8:28 - we're back. Now consent calendar. Any items to be pulled? 5.15 pulled, I guess. Other items pass.
     Milchiker asks about $18k for In-n-out Burger at IVC Senior Day. Deb Fitzsimmons responds. She says some things, don't know what. Roquemore continues. That vendor, we used 'im six years in a row.  (Yeah, six mistakes in a row.) 6,000 incoming seniors. (Hey, isn't that $3 a head? Not much of a deal. Maybe they're including the Bouncy House.) Gotta have burgers, fries for these kids. (Well, he didn't actually say that, but it's the unspoken premise. Gotta grease up these kids or they'll go elsewhere.)
     Somehow, such mutterings satisfy everyone. Approved. I'm seriously weirded out. Have I mentioned that meat is murder?

Mom with her boy Zeppy, about 15 years ago
     Need to take action on 6.1.-- forgot to do that earlier. They vote "orally," since computer system is suddenly hinky. I think the vote was unanimous.

     6.2 - board policy revisions. Approved.
     6.3 - more BP revisions--discussion and approval.
     Prendergast: asks about bp3517. Do we have a problem with student organizations, off-campus?
     Fitzsimmons: no. "No criminal activity at this point in time."
     Lang said something, don't know what, but I'm sure I heard him say "ek cetera."
Carries unanimously.
     6.4 Contract with Neudesic, software development
     6.5 Academic Personnel Actions. B pulled. I think that was about chair compensation.Wright notes that, in the report, that compensation has not increased. --Yeah, that's why pulled. Unanimous approval.
     6.6 classified personnel actions.
Pulls item B1. Unanimous approval.


7.1 board requested reports. Nada
7.2 College speakers. Nada
7.3 Basic aid report. Nada
7.4 Facilities plan
7.5 Retiree trust fund report.
7.6 Quarterly investment
7.7 monthly financial...
7.8 Non-resident tuition....

Group reports:

SC Ac. Senate: Cosgrove raises issue of no office space for part-time instructors. No office hours because no offices.
Faculty Association: Congrats Jay, Wright, Lang. Best wishes to Meldau. Would have endorsed you, dude, but you bailed.
IVC Ac. Senate: senate is working with Pres and rest of college community to work out budget issues, to find reasonable ways to make reductions. The senate is working "consultatively" with administration in general...
IVC Prez: .... Mentions Accred crew that came down. Our report well written. Went well. Blah, blah, blah.
--OK, I'm outa here.

Too eager to give, um, thanks

Trying to Regulate Thanksgiving Break (Inside Higher Ed)
     Colleges have long tried (with limited success) to make sure classes are in fact held on the Wednesdays before Thanksgiving break or the Fridays before various weeks off, but many professors have reported that they call off class in part because few students show up.
     At the University of Florida this year, for the first time, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be an official holiday, but the university is now campaigning to be sure classes are held today and tomorrow. Some students are planning to be away for all of this week. But The Gainesville Sun reported that Bernard Mair, associate provost, told faculty members last week that they should not let vacations start early. "I'd just like to encourage you to reinforce that with your students and spread the word in your departments that Monday and Tuesday are not holidays," he told the Faculty Senate. "If students start to try to make that such, you should disabuse them of that idea."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Other boards (there be Democrats)

"Not a member of any
organized political party"
     I just came across a recent post by OC Political’s Chris Emami that presents “School Board members and their party affiliation based on who will be serving post election.”
     Assuming the data are accurate, they are interesting. What follows is Emami's information re the OC School Board (all Republicans) and the four OC community college districts.
     The other three OC community college districts (beyond SOCCCD) have boards dominated by Democrats.*

*Emami does not explain NPP, but I assume it refers to some sort of independent or decline-to-state status.

Guess Who?

Check out who is performing as Boy Ebeneezer in South Coast Repertory's production of "A Christmas Carol."  (Hint: first row, on the right, not looking at the camera. Scion of Red Emma and Rebel Girl. The rebellious family is proud to be a part of an Orange County holiday tradition.  God bless us everyone.)


8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary