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Showing posts from October, 2011

Tick...tick...tick

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I got this clock in the mail today as a park of the ETSU PEAKS Campus Suicide Prevention Project.  It's a wonderful project.  Oddly enough, the clock was delivered in a plain, brown box with the battery already installed so the clock was running.  And ticking.  It freaked our student workers out.

Hopefully, no one called homeland security.

Get in line

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For inhalable caffeine.  Yes, I said inhalable caffeine.  This innovation should prove to be better than the short-lived caffeine mints I blogged about earlier.  By Maia Szalaviz, writing in Time's Healthland.

What We’ve All Been Waiting For: Zero-Calorie, ‘Inhalable’ Caffeine

Ever wish you could mainline your coffee? Well, here's the next best thing: AeroShot, a new product that delivers "inhalable" caffeinated puffs, and has got productivity-obsessed technophiles buzzing.

AeroShot's delivery system is a light, plastic inhaler that shoots lime-flavored puffs of powdered caffeine to the tongue, where they are instantly absorbed. Each inhaler contains three puffs, providing a total of 100 mg of caffeine — about as much as in a large cup of coffee.

The product also contains 100% of the recommended daily allowance of niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. It's sweetened with stevia, an herbal sweetener that is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories.

Facebook Zombie

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Source: All Facebook
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Redneck all-purpose repair

When Dennis Snow opened the recent ACHE annual conference and meeting with the first keynote address, he told an entertaining story about flying on a small plane that appeared to be repaired with duct-tape.  Turns out, this is standard practice.  And it only looks like duct-tape. From Salon.

Oh my god, they're duct-taping our plane!
For starters, there was no duct tape. The mechanics had applied a heavy-duty aluminum bonding tape known as “speed tape.” Embarrassing as it might appear, superficial or noncritical components are routinely patched with this material. It’s a temporary fix, until more substantive repairs are made later on. The tape is extremely durable and is able to expand and contract through a wide range of temperatures.
“We never use, and don’t even stock, duct tape,” says Charlie (last name withheld), a veteran airline mechanic with 22 years experience on Boeings. “Some of the tapes we use cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per roll. Speed tape is one of tho…

Advice for completing your terminal degree

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While working full-time.  Many of us in continuing higher education have completed our doctorates while working in higher education and raising a family.  It's hard, and there are many, many A.B.D.s out there to prove that point.  George S. McClellan, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, has advice for those combining doctorates and full-time employment.  And like he says below, for those already with jobs, it's all about finishing! The one thing he neglects to mention is finding a supportive spouse, like I had, to help you along.
Pursuing a Doctorate on the Job There is a great deal of wisdom in the adage that the best dissertation is the one that is finished. Beyond the surface, however, what factors increase the likelihood that your thesis will be not only finished but good? I see three essential elements: Your dissertation topic has to be compelling to you, acceptable to your committee, and doable within the scope of your time and resources.

Some tips that could help adult learners

Carol Brown sent me this link.  It's worth a look.

50 Great Ways to Grow Your Personal Learning Network Online College Tips

Why we need liberal arts majors

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Should we only produce college graduates in STEM fields?  This college president, writing in Slate, doesn't think so.  We will always need creative people who can solve problems and handle abiguity, and these can come from a variety of majors. Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University, explains why Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s emphasis on practical education is short-sighted. Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for reductions in state appropriations for particular academic disciplines so that public universities can focus resources on producing graduates in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math. This shift, he claims, would better serve the state by spurring job creation. For some reason, he seemed especially concerned that Florida universities might be producing too many anthropologists. He was quoted as saying: “We don’t need a lot more anthropologists in the state. … I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering,…

Tales of the non-traditional

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She earns her GED at her local community college

Diploma opens new doors on life
Just months before she was to turn 50, Debi Tully decided to finish high school.
It was the summer of 2007 and the Oak Lawn mother of two believed that finally getting her diploma would be the ultimate birthday gift to herself. She registered for the General Educational Development (GED) review class at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.
“I was the oldest in my class,” she said. “But after the first half hour, I felt perfectly comfortable.” She always knew she was bright. Over the years, she had held administrative assistant and office management jobs, usually boosting her income by waitressing. But the weakening economy seemed to indicate it was time for her to tend to unfinished business, not to mention to come clean.
For many years, she’d lived a lie of omission. Her husband, Joseph, a graduate of St. Laurence High, didn’t know that she had not earned a high school diploma.

Coffee. Is there anything you can't do?

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Prevents skin cancer. From Vitals on MSNBC.com.

Three cups of coffee a day to help keep skin cancer away?
Drinking copious amounts of coffee may reduce the risk of the most common type of skin cancer, a new study finds.
Women in the study who drank more than three cups of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, a slow-growing form of skin cancer, than those who drank less than one cup a month.
Men in the study who consumed more than three cups of coffee had a 9 percent reduction in their basal cell carcinoma risk.
Drinking coffee did not reduce the risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, the study found.
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Call for proposals

Deadline is Friday for proposals for the annual meeting of the National Association of Branch Campus Administrators.
"Regional & Branch Campuses:
A Prism of Possibilities for the 21st Century"
April 11 - 14, 2012
Orlando, Florida
We welcome proposals that encourage discussion, dialogue, and engagement in the area of branch and regional campuses, university centers, and the students served. We also encourage proposals that address challenges faced, research results and the processes or innovations used to overcome or adjust to challenges. Especially sought are proposals that reflect best practices, recent findings, and/or new perspectives on the topic or issue your proposal addresses. We look forward to proposals that provide diverse and innovative perspectives on a topic of interest.

Click here for Conference Theme and Session Tracks

Completed proposals should be sent as an email attachment to: atkinsol@ohio.edu and must be received by Friday, October 28, 2011, 5:00 pm Ce…

SACS and so forth

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Assessment is draining all the energy out of higher education.Lesboprof, blogging in The Chronicle of Higher Education, commiserates for all of us....

Assessment in higher education: On the train or under it
For those of you who are responsible for collecting data for outside accrediting bodies, I would like to invite you to join in on a moment of bitchingwhining reflection.  For those of you faculty and administrators who don’t have primary responsibility for evaluating our work with students, our new programs, our curricula, and our productivity, you might as well read the following as an educational piece, because you won’t be able to avoid the assessment process much longer.

We know the public has long had a distrust of higher education, thinking we were mainly pointy-headed, poorly-dressed, over-educated, socially-awkward types who earn too much money to do too little work: teaching students and conducting research. This trend has worsened in recent years, for a variety of reasons…

Where's MMMBop?

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Time picks the 100 greatest songs of all time.  Hmmmm.  Quinquagenarian that I am, I don't even know many of these until we get into the 80s, 70s, 60s, and below.  I must must admit only a couple of handfulls are on my iPod.
TIME Critics Pick the All-TIME 100 Greatest Songs

Short-term executive business programs

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Although business schools/colleges prefer to run these themselves, there might be opportunities here for continuing education partnerships. From The Wall Street Journal.

B-Schools Say Demand Still Strong for Pricey Leadership Programs
These days, $39,000 can buy a new Lexus, a three-bedroom house in Detroit or a full year of undergraduate tuition at the University of Pennsylvania. It also can get you a three-week executive-education program at Penn's Wharton School.

The program, dubbed Global CEO Program: A Transformational Journey, includes one-week sessions in Philadelphia, São Paulo and Shanghai in partnership with IESE Business School and China Europe International Business School. Travel fees aren't included in the $39,000, which is split among the three host schools.

"It's expensive," says David Heckman, director of senior-management programs at Wharton, who expects about 50 executives to enroll in the program in the current academic year. "But it'…

The College of Charleston's unconference

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Sounds like a interesting way to plan a meeting.  Perhaps a model ACHE could use for regional meetings or miniconferences.  From the Charleston Regional Business Journal.

BarCamp returns for another ‘unconference’
In less than two weeks, BarCamp Charleston returns to the campus of the College of Charleston for the annual ad hoc conference that prefers to be called an “unconference.”

BarCamp, which in the past brought together experts and attendees to talk about everything from computer programming to bacon, is a free-form gathering; participants pitch ideas for seminars in advance online or on the day of the event.

This year’s BarCamp Charleston will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 22 at several sites on the College of Charleston campus. Registration will be held at Maybank Hall, which will serve as one of the session sites during the day.

The finalists for the ETSU presidency

Have been announced.  The search had an ambitious timeline but seems to be working.  From The Johnson City Press.  Now to go look at the continuing education units at their universities....

Final 3: ETSU finalists picked
Three finalists to be the ninth president of East Tennessee State University were selected Thursday for on-campus visits next week.

The following three people were selected from a pool of eight semi-finalists interviewed Wednesday and Thursday at the Millennium Centre by the ETSU presidential search advisory committee: 

Robert Frank, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Kent State University. Brian Noland, chancellor at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Sandra Patterson-Randles, president of Indiana University Southeast.

Ah, to be disconnected from the Overmind

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Sure it's tempting.  But then what would I do on the weekends and on vacation?  Like Sam Graham-Felsen, I too have read Thoreau.  From Technology.

Why I Dumped My iPhone—And I'm Not Going Back
No matter how impure Thoreau’s experiment in simple living may have been, there was something undeniable in his suggestion that we often have to strip convenience from our lives to feel alive. The iPhone had certainly made my life easier, but had it made my life better?

First thing the next morning, I went to the AT&T store. I had to explain several times that I didn’t want to trade my iPhone in for a newer model, or a Droid, or anything with the Internet. I just wanted something that would allow me to make calls. The sales clerk looked at me with an expression that read: “Who gets something worse on Black Friday?” I walked out with a ridiculously unsleek '90s-era Nokia that my friends still tease me about.

Since then, I haven’t become a Renaissance man or a soulful motorcycle me…

Which states have the highest student loan default rates?

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Arizona has the highest at nearly 16%.  But some of the others are surprising: Arkansas (11.74%), Indiana (11.61%), Iowa (11.56%).  Tennessee is at 9.92%.  Montana and North Dakota are below 4%.  USA Today has a neat interactive map if you follow the link below:

For-profit colleges focus of student loan issue
Federal student aid is increasingly flowing to for-profit colleges and universities, raising concerns about whether the money is being well-spent.
The federal government has promoted and subsidized loans as a way to help young people and workers get the education needed to succeed in a troubled economy. The government made or guaranteed more than 80% of the $1trillion in loans outstanding and backed more than 90% of new loans this year.
For-profit schools such as the University of Phoenix, DeVry University and hundreds of smaller institutions have been particularly successful in winning students and their federal aid by offering courses that focus on specific careers, often taught…

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be

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Teachers.  Has there ever been a worse time to be a teacher?  Now, a new study shows high attrition rates after the first year. From the National Center for Education Statistics.

Beginning Teacher Attrition and Mobility
Of the teachers who began teaching in public schools in 2007 or 2008, about 10 percent were not teaching in 2008–09, and 12 percent were not teaching in 2009–10.
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From xkcd.

PLA is so hot right now

I started working with PLA back in 1980, when I was an advisor for the Board of Governors Bachelor of Arts degree program.  I've always been a supporter and have seen it spur students towards a degree.  I think it's an important part of higher education, although it's only a part.  So to see it championed lately as some kind of higher education change agent makes me a little uneasy.  I guess it would be fair to say I'm a bit conflicted on the matter.

For one thing, I've always been reluctant to market our adult degree programs with PLA out front.  It sends the wrong message; it cheapens it.  Sometimes the process is presented inappropriately. Although it comes up less often lately, for example, I hate the term credit forlife experience.  Of course, credit should only be awarded for learning, not for experience or anything else. A good PLA program is comprehensive: it includes CLEP, ACE recommendations, DANTES, challenge exams (testing out of courses), in addition t…
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Found on an ETSU trash can

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Education Leaders Stress Need to Give Credit for Life Experience - Students - The Chronicle of Higher Education

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This is timely in light that I've been named to a Tennessee Higher Education Commission PLA Task Force. As always, when something like this appears in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the comments are spicier--albeit predictable as well--than the article.  Lacey Johnson is the author.
Education Leaders Stress Need to Give Credit for Life Experience
The time has come to make it easier for students to earn credit for practical skills obtained outside the classroom, said education leaders during a conference on Wednesday at the Center for American Progress. "Prior-learning assessment," which recognizes experiential learning, like on-the-job training, military experience, or volunteering, should be taken seriously, the speakers said, especially now when increasing college graduation rates is a priority for lawmakers and educators.

"There's no need to relearn something you already know," said Gerri Fiala, deputy assistant secretary for employment and training …

A continuing educator walks by a bar

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I hope you've enjoyed the walks into a bar series.  Of course, there are many of these jokes and many of them were either too off-color or otherwise inappropriate for the format.  So to end it, I'm going to just list the punchlines of some of the jokes I didn't use.  You can either extrapolate the joke from the punchline (shades of the Millers Analogy Test) or google the punchline.  I've numbered them so at next year's conference in Austin, we can just yell the numbers out! I'm sorry, we don't serve food here.I can't believe that the ferret sold the place.They gave me a CHIHUAHUA?!!Go home, Dad, you're drunk.So I came into this bar trying to work up the courage to end my life, and you show up and drink the damn poison!No, I'm a frayed knot.At these prices, no wonder.Because he's my newt.Eats shoots and leaves.We don't serve your type in here.Give me a beer, and I'll have a lawyer for my alligator.Did you really think I asked for a ten…

I'm not surprised

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Although sometimes a banana is just a banana.  Or so I've heard.  By Dino Grandoni writing in The Atlantic Wire.

92% of Top Ten Billboard Songs Are About Sex
Get your heads out of the gutters, America's musicians. We always knew that with all your nipple-showing and lesbian-kissing and crotch-grabbing that you're obsessed with sex, and today we have the science to back it up: "Approximately 92% of the 174 songs that made it into the [Billboard] Top 10 in 2009 contained reproductive messages," says SUNY Albany psychology professor Dawn R. Hobbs in Evolutionary Psychology. That's right--"reproductive messages," our newest favorite euphemism.

A disturbing Tennessee trend

Gun violence is high. From The Tennessean.

Tennessee gun crime rate is among highest
What DyShieka Whitlow is seeing is reflected in a disturbing trend over the past two years in Tennessee: People were more likely to be victims of a violent gun crime here than in any other state in the nation, according to a Tennessean analysis of FBI statistics. Only Washington, D.C., had a higher rate of gun violence. Tennessee came out worst in the nation in the rate at which its residents are victims of aggravated assaults with a firearm and fifth-worst in robberies.
The federal government defines aggravated assault as an attack that inflicts severe bodily injury and is usually done with a weapon likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
The high rate is difficult to explain. Officials at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation declined to comment, saying they didn’t collect that data and couldn’t comment on analysis the agency hadn’t performed.

ACHE starts today

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God help me I do love top ten lists

The University of Tennessee is number 10.  Somehow, I think the rankings are rather subjective.  From The Huffington Post.

The Top 10 Fast And Flirtatious Colleges

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando. He has recently defended his dissertation, so he is very proud of the "Dr." on his name tag.  He sits down at the bar and orders a hazelnut daiquiri.  He and the bartender chat for a while, and the continuing educator orders another hazelnut daiquiri. 


Time passes, and he orders a third. The bartender is dismayed to find that he is out hazelnut extract. Thinking quickly, he mixes together a daiquiri made with hickory nuts and sets it on the bar. The continuing educator takes a sip of the drink and exclaims, "This isn't a hazelnut daiquiri!"
"No, I'm sorry, "replies the bartender, "it's a hickory daiquiri, Doc."

From my Urban Dictionary

Text Out:  To weasel out of a prior engagement by text message. Not to be confused with text message breakup. Alternative meaning: The action of asking someone to be your boyfriend/girlfriend by texting them instead of asking in person or over the phone.

Man, I can't bear the thought of going to dinner with Jane again, so I think I am going to text out.

Dude, I heard you're goin out with Sarah. When did you ask her out?
Oh I texted her last night
Man, dude you texted her out? That's lame.
I was recently asked to serve on a committee by text and gave the person asking a hard time.  I guess I'm old fashioned but I like to be asked in person...

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando.  He has a roll of tarmac under his arm and says: "A beer for me, please, and one for the road."

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new report

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That looks at online enrollment in higher education.  It's...wait for it...growing.  I've linked to the report and listed its key findings.

Learning at a Distance: Undergraduate Enrollment in Distance Education Courses and Degree Programs
• From 2000 to 2008, the percentage of undergraduates enrolled in at least one distance education class expanded from 8 percent to 20 percent, and the percentage enrolled in a distance education degree pro-gram increased from 2 percent to 4 percent. • Compared with all students, students studying computer science and those studying business enrolled at higher rates in both distance education classes (27 percent and 24 percent, respectively, vs. 20 percent) and distance education degree programs (8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, vs. 4 percent). • Participation in a distance education course was most common among undergraduates attending public 2-year colleges; 22 percent were so enrolled. Participation in a distance education degree progra…

Tales of the non-traditional

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Ty Hobson-Powell can barely drive himself to law school.  Not all non-traditional students are older. From The News & Observer.

Motivated 16-year-old enters NCCU law school
One look at Ty Hobson-Powell and you may think that he is an average teenager.

He likes to play basketball and video games; he even occasionally wastes time on Facebook and Twitter.

But Ty isn't the average 16-year-old.

He began classes at N.C. Central University Law School in August after he became the youngest person to graduate from the University of Baltimore at age 15, finishing a four-year degree in two.

The average age of a day-time student at NCCU is 24 years old, according to Linda Sims, associate dean for student services at NCCU school of law.

"I wouldn't say that I always knew that I wanted to get finished early," Ty said. "I can say that from a young age I was driven."

When he was 3 years old, he learned how to read, write and speak Chinese.

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando with Thomas Edison.  Edison orders a beer.  The bartender looks him over and says, "Ok.  I'll serve you. But don't get any ideas."

PowerPoint fatigue

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There are options.  Johnathan Blum, writing in Entrepreneur.com, lists alternatives for presentations.  I've excerpted his section on Prezi, because I was recently given a Prezi presentation, and it was pretty slick.  I later learned that the staff member who designed it had used it as a part of a job interview.

A Look at PowerPoint Alternatives for Your Next Presentation

What it is: Prezi offers a different approach to building online presentations. Rather than a series of traditional slides, Prezi's Web-based tool works from a single canvas where you insert elements such as text, images and video and then link them together to create visual storylines. A Prezi presentation starts as this mash of text, images and video and then zooms in on each cluster of connected ideas, topics and other media in the order determined by the user. If the tool sounds a little offbeat, it is. The basic tool is free. Paid versions start at $59 per year, and offer such features as personalized comp…

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando.  She asks the bartender, "Do you have any helicopter-flavored potato chips?"  The bartender shakes his head and says, "No,we only have plain."

Happy Columbus Day

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Tales of the non-traditional

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U.S. News & World Report has a nice story on lifelong learning. When this quits being news, our jobs will be done. Laura McMullen is the author.

Baby Boomers Keep Learning With Continuing Education Classes - US News and World Report
Clarice Belcher is 58. She taught English at community colleges, worked at a newspaper, and never thought much about economics. But her life partner is interested in the subject, so Belcher decided to enroll in an economics class at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Emory University in Atlanta.

"Honestly, at the end of that [class], I said, 'This is not rocket science. I can do this. I can understand this. I can learn this!'" Belcher says.

Since taking her first class in spring of 2011, Belcher has enrolled in several more courses and is currently a member of the curriculum committee. At OLLI, many students are experienced enough to also teach courses, and with her education background, Belcher now teaches a class called T…

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando.  He's had a hard day at the conference and orders a drink. After his first sip, he hears a high-pitched voice. “Hey mister! Nice-looking shirt!”  He looks around, doesn’t see anything, and quickly shrugs it off.   After a little bit, he takes another sip and hears the voice again. "Hey mister! Nice pants!" it says.  Again, he looks around, sees nothing but a bartender who is busy attending to other customers.   Shaking his head, he sips once more. “Hey mister! Cool shoes!”   He puts down his drink, frustrated at this phantom voice, and signals to the bartender, who comes over. “Barkeep,” he begins, “what is that high-pitched voice I keep hearing?” “Oh, those are the peanuts,” he replies. “They’re complimentary.”

A continuing educator walks into a country and western bar

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In Orlando.  They already have their Christmas decorations up, and she notices a nativity scene behind the bar.  In the nativity, the three wise men are all wearing fireman's hats.  She asks the bartender why the Magi are wearing the hats, and he replies in a deep Southern accent, "Well, everyone knows they came from afar."
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ETSU’s Office of Professional Development to offer a phlebotomy certification course

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East Tennessee State University’s Office of Professional Development is offering a two-day Phlebotomy Certification Course on two consecutive Fridays, next Jan. 20 and Jan. 27. The sessions meet from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at ETSU at Kingsport. 
The course is being given in conjunction with a Clinical Medical Assistant Training Program provided in partnership with Boston Reed College and offered at the same site from Oct. 18-Feb. 9. Participants in Clinical Medical Assistant Training Program may take the 16-hours of phlebotomy training for a fee of $600. The deadline for registration is Oct. 12.
For further information about the Phlebotomy Certification Course, contact the ETSU Office of Professional Development at (800) 222-3878 or www.etsu.edu/professionaldevelopment. For more information about the Clinical Medical Assistant Training Program, contact the same office or Boston Reed College at (800) 201-1141 or  www.BostonReedCollege.com.

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando, accompanied by his dog. He asks for a martini for himself and a beer for his dog. With that a man at the bar says, "I don't want to drink at the same bar as a dog." The dog and the man get into a fight, and the man shoots the dog in the foot. With that, the dog yelps out of the bar and down the street. A week later the same dog walks into the same bar, this time wearing a black hat, a black vest, black chaps, black boots, a black gun belt with a pair of black colt .45's one on either side, and a black bandage around his sore foot. He goes up to the bar and says to the bartender "I'm looking for the man that shot my paw."

I powered down my iPhone when I heard the news

For a moment of disconnectedness. From io9 and Slate.

RIP Steve Jobs, who made the world more science fictional
Today Steve Jobs' death has us all reflecting on how a technology entrepreneur could have changed our lives so much, leaving us a world where we can't imagine daily life without Apple products. Partly that was because Jobs was never just a technologist. He always seemed to start with a social or cultural question, and tried to answer it with technology. That's why we have to remember Jobs not just as a technology innovator, but as a culture producer who, among other things, ran the innovative movie studio Pixar. The Man Who Invented Our World
If Steve Jobs hadn’t been around, what might that stuff have looked like? To appreciate how Jobs changed what you do every day, you’ve only got to look at how entire industries shifted after Jobs pushed Apple into them. Think of the BlackBerry, the Palm Pilot, the Creative Nomad music player, or MS-DOS. These are all perfectl…

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando.  He sees a colleague from Kentucky sitting alone so he joins him.  "Did you know," asks the man from Kentucky, "that lions have sex ten or fifteen times a night?"

"Damn," said the other continuing educator.  "I just joined the Rotary."

Coffee. Is there anything you can't do?

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Liquid health food.  From Time.
Drinking Coffee May Help Boost Women's Mood Many of us rely on a cup of coffee to kick-start our day (you're welcome, Starbucks), and now new research suggests that our morning caffeine infusion may also help ward off depression over the long term, especially for women.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day were 15% less likely to develop depression over the 10-year study period, compared with women who consumed one cup or less per day. Women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 20% lower risk. Women who drank decaf didn't show a similar reduction in depression rates.

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando.  He says, "Give me three pints of beer, please." So the bartender brings him three pints and the continuing educator proceeds to alternately sip one, then the other, then the third until they're gone.

He then orders three more and the bartender says, "Sir, I know you like them cold, so you can start with one, and I'll bring you a fresh one as soon as you're low."

The man says, "You don't understand. I have two retired continuing education colleagues, one in California and one in Mexico.  We used to regularly meet for happy hour. We made a vow to each other that every Saturday night, we'd still drink together. So right now, my colleagues have three beers too, and we're drinking together."

The bartender thinks it's a wonderful tradition and every week he sets up the guy's three beers as soon as he enters in the bar. Then one week, the man comes in and orders only two. He drinks them, then orders two more. The barte…

Race to the top

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We have the highest average sales tax and the third highest sales tax on food in the country. From The Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Tennessee has highest average sales tax
Tennessee shoppers continue to pay the highest average sales taxes in the nation, according to a report issued by the Tax Foundation.

The Washington-based, nonpartisan tax research organization said the statewide average state and local sales tax burden in Tennessee is 9.43 percent for every dollar spent on taxable items.

Tennessee is in a five-way tie with Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Rhode Island for the highest state sales tax rate -- 7 percent.

But local governments' ability to add up to 2.75 percent catapults the Volunteer State into the No. 1 position in terms of state and local sales burden, the foundation analysis found.

Just south of Chattanooga, the burden is far lower. Alabama ranks sixth with a state sales tax of 4 percent and local option taxes of up to 4.64 percent -- a combined rate of up…

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando with Julius Caesar.  The continuing educator orders a beer, and Julius Caesar says, "I'll have a martinus."

The bartender gives him a strange look and asks, "Don't you mean a martini?"

"Look," says Caesar, "If I wanted a double, I'd have asked for it!"

iPad shame?

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First I've heard of it.  Professor Doug Ward notes that his graduate students were embarrassed about carrying their school-provided iPads.  "They felt," he explains, "elitist."  I'm thankful that my staff doesn't feel that way--otherwise I'd feel like my recent decision to approve 5-6 iPad purchases was unwise.  Hate to make them feel bad.  Professor Ward is writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

iPads and the Embarrassment Factor
News that all the graduate students in my Future of Media seminar would receive iPads for the semester generated a flurry of excitement.

Some students replied with exclamation points in their email messages. Some stopped and asked when the iPads would be available. Others passed on word to classmates and seemed to enjoy the envious responses.

Then something odd happened: The students, all in their mid- to late 20s, became self-conscious about carrying iPads. They refused to use them in public. They felt elitist. In t…

Because I like literature

And TheSimpsons.Do'h!  From Jared Keller writing in The Atlantic.

A Visual History of Literary References on 'The Simpsons'

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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in Orlando.  He meets a pirate sitting at the bar.  The continuing educator notes that the pirate has a peg-leg, hook, and an eyepatch. He asks, "So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?" The pirate replies, "We were in a storm at sea, and I was swept overboard into a school of sharks. Just as my men were pulling me out a shark bit my leg off." "Wow! What about your hook?" "Well," says the pirate, "while my men and I were plundering in the middle east, I was caught stealing from a merchant. I was arrested and my hand was cut off." "Incredible!" remarks the continuing educator. "How did you get the eyepatch?" "A sea gull dropping fell into my eye," says the pirate. "You lost your eye to asea gull dropping?" "Well," explains the pirate, "it was my first day with the hook..."

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando.  After sitting down, she hears someone yell out, "Number 23!"  Everyone in the bar laughs.  A minute later, someone else yells out "Number 55!" Again everyone laughs.  She asks the bartender, "What's going on?"  "The jokes have been told so many times," he says, "that people just yell out their numbers instead of retelling them." So she yells out, "Number 29!"  Nobody laughs. The bartender shrugs, "Some people can tell a joke, and some people can't."

A continuing educator walks into a bar

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In Orlando. When he sits down, the bartender tells him: "I'm sorry, we have a dress code here.  I can't serve you unless you have a necktie on."  The continuing educator leaves, goes back to his rental car, and looks around frantically for something to use as a tie.  He finds some jumper cables, wraps them around his neck, and walks back into the bar. The bartender looks a him a minute and says: "Okay, I'll sell you a drink.  But don't start anything."