Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bees!


If you're interested in bees, take a listen to NPR's Science Friday tomorrow. My very own uncle, Jerome Rozen, Jr., Bee Scientist Extraordinaire, will be interviewed.

I'm not sure I'll be able to tune in or not, but I'm sure going to try!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gary's Better, Thanks


I figured I should post to this effect, since a friend e-mailed to ask me. He's fever-free and fine, for which I'm very grateful.

The weather's getting warmer, finally.

Summer's coming.

Work's grim right now: ongoing budget issues, a colleague in the midst of a personal tragedy, widespread exhaustion and plummeting morale.

But summer's coming.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Get Well, Gary!


My hubby's sick! Last week, very uncharacteristically, he had a cold; we figured he'd picked it up from being around so many other people on the cruise. (He attributes the fact that he almost never gets sick to his treasured social isolation; he happily describes himself as a hermit.) Two days ago, he said he finally felt better, and yesterday he went for a short hike.

Last night, though, he went to bed unusually early, which worried me. This morning, he woke up and said he felt feverish. I took his temperature and it was 99.7, which is pretty high for an adult for first thing in the morning. So he took two Tylenol. I'll take his temp again at two and see how he's doing. I think the last time he had a fever was eleven years ago.

I really hope this isn't flu. I get a shot every year because I volunteer at the hospital, but Gary never does.

Send him good wishes, please!

Hands


You're one of the oldest patients I've ever visited, but -- alert, friendly and bright-eyed -- you look much younger than your years. When I ask if you'd like prayer, or conversation, or a warm blanket, you opt immediately for the blanket. "I'm so cold!"

The ER's nearly always cold; staff rushing from one spot to another warm up quickly, while patients shiver. The blanket warmer's one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in the department, even in summer. And although it's technically spring now, snow covers the ground outside, with more forecast for this evening.

So I fetch a blanket for you, and you beam when I spread it over you. You ask for a prayer, then, and I hold your hand and offer one. "I know Jesus is with me," you say when I've finished. "A few years ago I was here and I was just freezing, but then I felt someone holding my right hand. I turned to look, and no one was there! But my right hand was so warm, even though the rest of me was cold."

I love stories like this; they're one of the reasons I volunteer at the hospital. For all the pain and tragedy that fill the building, there are also small, improbable miracles (and sometimes larger ones). Hard-headed, empirically-minded ER staff don't bat an eye at these tales. Whether they believe them literally or not, they know their patients do, and anything that helps a patient feel better is welcome medicine.

Later, as I load more blankets into the blanket warmer in a chilly back hallway, a nurse greets me as she hurries by. Then she doubles back. "Hey, can I ask you a question? You're a chaplain, right? Don't you guys do that Blessing-of-the-Hands ceremony? Can anyone do that, or does it have to be a priest?"

"Any of us can do it," I say. Every October, hospital chaplains spend a week blessing the hands of any staff members who ask. In October, we're given holy oil to daub on caregivers' palms, and a printed prayer to recite. "I don't have the formal props we usually use," I tell the nurse now, "but I'd be happy to offer a blessing anyway."

So, standing in the dim hallway, I hold the nurse's hands. I give thanks for their skill, tenderness, and compassion; I pray for them to continue in strength and gentleness. The nurse beams, thanks me, and rushes away again. "I need to remind myself," she calls back to me as she vanishes around a corner.

"We all do," I answer to her disappearing back.

And then I go back to loading blankets, thinking about all the work done by the many hands here, and reminding myself always to be grateful for how we reach out to each other, and how the divine reaches out to us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Another E-Book


Noodling around Amazon, I discovered that Shelter is already available on Kindle, even though The Necessary Beggar -- published first -- still isn't slated for e-book release until December 2012.

The ways of publishers are strange.

In any case, Shelter's a great choice for an e-book, because it's a big heavy brick of a print book and would add several pounds to any piece of luggage, but it will add no weight to your Kindle at all. Magic!

Also, did you know that you can now buy Kindle books as gifts for other people? Recipients don't even need a Kindle to read the gift: they can read it on their PC, their iPad, or their Blackberry. I believe Amazon will soon be releasing Kindle apps for microwave-oven doors and digital watches. Surely you know someone who has a birthday coming up soon and would welcome the gift of a book that's weightless even though it's over 500 pages long?

Weightless books! The future has arrived! Get 'em a copy of War and Peace while you're at it! (Seriously: if I'd had my Kindle ten years ago, I might not be having back problems now.)

In other news, I'm glad to report that the anniversary of my dad's death went fine, mostly. I was a little foggy-brained, but that's business-as-usual for the week after break, and for several weeks after that. In fact, I'll probably be foggy-brained until the end of the semester (and maybe much longer; it may simply be a permanent condition at this point).

All right. Clearly I'm punchy and need to go to bed. Good night!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tomorrow


Tomorrow's the second anniversary of my father's death, and the first day back to work after Spring Break: not an especially auspicious combination! I've felt tired and sad all day, although I did swim for an hour this afternoon. My weight basically held steady on the cruise -- I ate too much chocolate, but I also ate lots of fish and fruit, and got a decent amount of exercise -- but I still need to work on shedding some of it.

I'll probably be too busy tomorrow to think much about Dad, but I'll still be glad when the day's over. We got home yesterday to find a lovely note from Fran, marking the anniversary and talking about how much she loved Dad. That meant a lot to me. It's good to know that someone else is aware of the date, too, and thinks about him. I'll call Fran tomorrow if I have time.

It snowed most of today, which didn't help my mood. I believe we expect nasty weather through mid-week. Yuck.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Home!


We're home! The cats are delighted to see us. We're delighted to see the cats. We're really glad we went on the cruise, although the horrors of air travel rather destroy the relaxation of the previous seven days.

But we're home. And tired. I'll sleep well tonight!

Prow of Disney Wonder (docked next to us in PV)

Marietas Arches

Blue-Footed Boobies

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ah, Cabo!


This morning Gary and I woke up to find the boat anchored off Cabo. We ate breakfast on our verandah while watching whales and dolphins. Lovely!

We really liked Cabo (much better than Puerto Vallarta). The bay's so pretty, and it didn't hurt that the tender dropped us off right in the thick of the action -- bars! t-shirt shops! jewelry stores! ATM ATM ATM! -- so we didn't have to worry about taxis. As in PV, there were a lot of military around, but they wore simple sidearms and ambled along the boardwalk with everybody else, instead of wearing helmets and holding machine guns and generally looking combat ready.

Our second snorkel excursion was better than the first in a few respects. There were fewer people on the boat, and the boat itself was nicer: a catamaran with webbing between the pontoons, so people could sit there. On our way out of the bay, we watched sea lions playing in the water, and also saw a baby whale, surrounded by a ring of water taxis (no boat would have been allowed to get that close in the U.S.), breaching and slapping its fin on the water. One of the other passengers on our boat said, "Junior's doing tricks for the paparazzi." I just hoped that the fin-slapping wasn't baby's way of yelling, "Moooom! I'm being chased by those little boxes that travel on top of the water! Help!"

At the actual snorkel site, Gary and I were once again very glad we had our wetsuits. The water was cold. Also murky. Also, we'd been told to look for fish by the rocks, but we'd also been warned against touching the rocks, which sported sea urchins that could have pierced our snorkel flippers. The problem was that when we got close to the rocks, waves tried to smash us into them, so we had to keep a healthy distance. We still saw lots of fish, although not as clearly as we would have in Hawai'i. Mostly we saw other snorkelers; the site was a sea of waving blue fins and yellow snorkels. So it was still fun, but Hawai'i's much better for snorkeling all around.

Tomorrow's an at-sea day. Saturday morning, we disembark in San Diego. I'm sorry the cruise is ending, but it will be nice to be back home with the kitties. Our cat-sitter's been sending us photos and little notes to reassure us that all's well.

Oh, and we had no untoward effects from the Starbucks coffee. Thank goodness!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Which We Become Ugly Americans


Our second day in PV has been a bit of a bust. We slept late, rolled off the boat around ten, and ambled down to the docks to see if we could find a short whale-watching trip. The only one we found was from one to five, though, and the boat's leaving at 3:30, so that didn't work. The tour operator offered us a private trip for $200. I know buyers are expected to bargain in Mexico, but I just wasn't up to it, so we told him we weren't interested.

Walking back to the cruise pier, we saw two Mexican soldiers with machine guns and grenades casually guarding the tourist docks. Mind you, this is inside the cruise complex, which is surrounded by fencing topped with barbed wire and guarded by private security guards who check cruise ID at the gates. (Getting off the boat, one of the HAL crew had told me, "Be careful with your belongings!") After seeing the machine guns, Gary decided that he wasn't up to exploring. I'd wanted to amble around old PV when I thought I could get there on foot, but having to take a cab -- and not being sure how reliably I could get one back -- made me chicken out, too. If I had more energy today, and if we'd had more time, I'd have gone for it anyhow, but I'm exhausted. I've been having a lot of nightmares on this trip (the nuclear news from Japan certainly hasn't helped), and last night's was a long, complicated dream about losing my job, so I didn't wake up feeling very refreshed.

So what did we do? We crossed the street and, heaven help us, went to the mall, where I bought a Nike swimsuit I've wanted and hadn't been able to find in the States. Then we went to the Starbucks and had iced coffee. I used my tiny bit of Spanish only to apologize for the fact that I speak only a tiny bit of Spanish. The Nike saleswoman and I communicated largely with hand gestures.

On our way back to the ship, it occurred to me that one isn't supposed to drink iced beverages in Mexico. I just hadn't been thinking: we were in an American-style mall, buying from an American chain, surrounded by Americans on their laptops, but that doesn't change the fact that the fauna's different down here. I'd committed the very definition of a stupid tourist mistake. Whoops. Back on board, I talked to a member of the crew, who rolled her eyes and told me I'd probably be fine, but that if I got sick I should call the medical department.

So far we're okay, but the crew member said it takes twenty-four hours. In the meantime, we ate lunch. Gary's pacing the deck; I'm blogging. I wanted to take a nap, but our stateroom's right above the showroom, where there's a rehearsal for some extravaganza with thunderously loud bass, so that wasn't going to happen.

The ship's internet cafe is ten decks up. From up here, the view's lovely, and I just saw two pelicans fly by. That's the highlight of the day so far.

I'm so glad we have an excursion booked for Cabo tomorrow. I just hope we're healthy for it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Exuberant Ocean


Today was our first day in PV and also our first snorkel excursion. The cruise terminal is across the street from a mall and a Wal-Mart; we'd think we were back in the States, if it weren't for the huge Mexican flag flying at a nearby park.

The snorkel excursion was quite delightful, though. We love our wetsuits -- the water was cold, so they were welcome! -- and Gary could see some fish even without a corrective mask. (HAL had told me the excursion company would have some, but they didn't.) The water here's not nearly as clear as it is in Hawai'i, but we still saw a lot of pretty fish. Other snorkelers and divers saw manta rays and an octopus; we missed those, but we'll be snorkeling again in Cabo the day after tomorrow, so maybe we'll have better luck there.

Above the water, though, things were hopping, literally! We saw several diving whales, lots of dolphins, and baby manta rays flinging themselves out of the water and diving back in. Groups of them did this, as if they were trying to imitate the dolphins. I asked one of our guides why they jump out of the water -- it's not like they need to breathe -- and he said they're building up their muscles so they'll be strong enough to migrate to Argentina. (I'm not sure if they mate down there, or what.) It sure looked like they were just playing for the sheer joy of it, though.

Very cool. I'd never known that baby mantas did that, and it was definitely the highlight of the day.

We also stopped at one of the Marietas Islands to lounge on the beach for a while. That was lovely, and we were surrounded by blue-footed boobies, who nest there.

Unfortunately, the guides on the boat insisted on doing tourist shtick on the way back: playing loud dance music and trying to get everyone into conga lines, that kind of thing. I guess it comes with the territory, but I don't know why these outfits can't just shut up and let people enjoy the scenery.

It was a nice day, despite the conga lines, but we were very glad to get back to the ship, take showers, and change into dry clothing. Dinner was welcome, too: neither of us had found the tour-boat lunch very appetizing, so we'd skipped it, and we were starving. The food's been exceptionally good this trip; Gary thinks it's even better than it was on our cruise to Alaska. (We eat in the dining room, not the buffet, but we have open seating, so we can eat whenever we want.)

Last night at dinner, we were seated at a table for six, since we'd gotten there too late for a two-top. It turned out another couple at the table was from Reno. Then it turned out that they both work at UNR. Then it turned out that they're good family friends of one of my former masters students. Talk about small worlds!

I'm not sure what we'll do tomorrow. Maybe a whale watch, if we can find one without shtick. Maybe some shopping, if we can figure out how to get to something other than Wal-Mart.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ark


Yesterday we walked around the deck for forty minutes for exercise, ate a calorie-heavy dinner, and listened to the string quartet for three hours. I finished one pair of socks and started another. I also did a tiny bit of writing last night, courtesy of Google Documents (which is really slow via satellite connection!). I hope to repeat that minor miracle today.

This morning we ate a lazy room-service breakfast on our balcony; then I worked out for an hour in the ship's gym (which was jammed) while Gary walked around the deck for seventy-five minutes. We're taking stairs everywhere we go (no small matter, since the passenger part of the ship's ten stories). Anything to burn off some of the extraordinarily yummy food!

We're already blissfully relaxed, although of course all televisions (in our room, in the library where I sit now) broadcast a steady stream of quake news from Japan, broken only by flooding news from New Jersey. It feels a little bit like we're on an ark, a floating island free of disaster.

Yesterday at lunch I sat next to a woman in her eighties who was diagnosed two years ago with stage-four lymphoma. The minute she finished her first brutal round of chemo, she and her husband took off on a cruise. They did five last year and three so far this year, with at least one or two more planned. She told me that they don't have a lot of money: they were both schoolteachers who've been retired for twenty years, but they've gotten very good at finding cruise bargains. (A fellow passenger I told about this commented, "Well, cruises are cheaper than nursing homes, and they sure treat you better.") She and her husband travel six months out of the year. She looks terrific: she swims an hour a day, and attributes her survival so far to the fact that she was in excellent shape before her diagnosis.

"I just wish I could tell people to enjoy every minute they have," she told me. "We all have to do some planning for the future, but really, live each day as if it might be your last, because it could be."

Amen. And I hope I'm as vital as she is when I'm her age, even without cancer!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sailboats in San Diego Bay


Nix on Mazatlan


We're waiting to board the boat, but were informed upon check-in that Mazatlan's off the itinerary because of recent violence; instead, we'll spend an extra day in Puerto Vallarta.

I thought HAL had been stopping at Mazatlan again, but the letter says it's cancelled for the rest of the season.

I'm told there's good shopping in PV. I'll make do.

View of Ship from Hotel Window


Our San Diego hotel's right across the street from the cruise terminal. How convenient is that?

Our trip yesterday went fine, but seemed to take forever. There are no direct flights from Reno to San Diego, so we had to switch both planes and airlines at LAX. This involved not one but two shuttle-bus rides: very surreal. A small highway, in effect, winds through the airport, and you're driving with other shuttles and cars past huge machinery and arrays of blinking red lights, with the neon glow of terminals in the distance. Very Blade Runner.

When we finally got to the gate for our connecting flight, the overhead TV was full of dire predictions about nuclear meltdown in Japan. When we got to San Diego, a woman on our hotel shuttle (who'll also be on our cruise) told us that her grandson had flown into Tokyo the day before. He landed right before the quake hit, and is stranded at the airport.

I read a news story this morning that cruise ships at sea are safe from tsunamis. Good to know.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Getting Ready


I've now crammed almost every item of clothing I own, along with too many shoes, plus swimming and snorkel gear (swimsuits, snorkel, mask, and wetsuit) into my suitcase. We leave tomorrow afternoon, so I still have time to organize the carry-on stuff tomorrow morning. I'm not bringing my laptop; I'll probably buy one of the internet packages on the ship -- so I can scan messages for emergency e-mail from our cat-sitter or my sister -- and use the computers in the library. I may or may not blog.

Our prescription masks arrived yesterday, but to our great disappointment, Gary's didn't fit. He'll have to take his chances with whatever the shore-excursion people have on the rack. The cruise line assures me that corrective masks will indeed be available, but whether they'll be a good fit for Gary's eyes is another matter. He's done well in the past at Snorkel Bob's in Hawai'i, but I suspect the shore-excursion companies don't offer that large a selection.

My mask seems to fit very well, although I haven't tried it in actual water yet. The correction seems fine too, although these are straight diopters, and not lenses custom-ground to address my astigmatism.

I'm absolutely exhausted -- along with just about everyone else I know -- and I really need this trip. I hope we have good weather and lots of colorful marine life, and that warmth and sunshine revive both my brain and my spirits.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

News Flash! Social Work Reprieved!


From the homepage of the UNR Social Work Program:
Message from Dr. Denise M. Montcalm, Director UNR School of Social Work:

A short while ago, we received word from Provost Johnson that, because UNLV is proposing ”curricular review” of their social work programs, he is retracting the proposal to close the School of Social Work at UNR. This action reflects the President’s and the Provost’s commitment to ensuring “… that Nevada students have an opportunity to obtain a social work degree in Nevada.”
Thanks be to God! I'm unclear on the relationship between UNLV's curricular review and what's happening here -- it sounds like UNLV thinks they'll close their programs, so we get to keep ours so there will still be one in the state -- but it's good news. We'll take it!

Meanwhile, In Las Vegas . . .


UNLV's President has released his own budget recommendations. These include, but are by no means limited to, the loss of twelve departments, thirty-three degree programs, and 120 faculty positions (some tenured). There's lots more, but I'll let you read the list for yourself.

The mood at UNR today was somber, as you'd expect. I was careful to be good to myself: I swam for forty-five minutes this afternoon, practiced the viola for forty-five minutes this evening, and ate a square of dark chocolate after dinner. It's very important to find things to enjoy right now.

And, hey, it's Mardi Gras! Talking on the phone with my sister -- who's embroiled in her own very grim job woes in the Philadelphia public-school system, and who says higher ed in Pennsylvania's being gutted too -- I commented, "Yeah, tomorrow's Ash Wednesday. Nevada's giving up education for Lent." Liz usually finds church references annoying, but she chortled at that one.

If only the cuts were slated to last a mere forty days.

Today I talked to my friend Katharine in the music department. She's trying to figure out some way to set up a UNR-only version of Craig's List, internal to the university, so that faculty who, say, have extra rooms to lend or rent in their houses can share that info with other faculty who may need to find inexpensive housing. I think that's a great idea; one of the problems right now is that faculty who aren't currently threatened are feeling a certain level of survivor's guilt, and also simply don't know what to say to their less fortunate colleagues, who feel even more isolated as a result. So everybody's miserable, and anything that anyone can do to restore helpful, civil communication will be invaluable. (I spent an evening last year being guilt-tripped by someone who'd been laid off in the first round of cuts. Although my heart ached for this person, I didn't -- and don't -- agree with the premise that I should quit my own job in solidarity. That's not going to restore anyone else's position, unfortunately. A more focused discussion of what kind of material help this person needed, and how the rest of us could offer it, would have been more helpful all around.)

I've tried to think about what I'd do if my own job were on the chopping block, but the prospect fills me with blithering terror rather than productive energy, so for the moment, I'm backing off that issue. If I have to confront it, I'll confront it when I have to.

I don't know if our cruise next week is perfectly timed or howlingly irresponsible, but it's mostly already paid for, so we're going. Who knows when we'll get another chance?

I'll attempt to give up apocalyptic anxiety for Lent. Well, no, that's probably too ambitious. How about this: during Lent, I'll attempt to spend at least forty-five minutes a day free of apocalyptic anxiety.

Notes on Previous


To those who've asked: as far as I know, my job's relatively safe. I'm in a department that a) teaches every student who comes through the university (via entering composition classes, although some students do elect to take those at our local community college) and b) has a large number of majors. As of now, the university can't fire tenured faculty, as long as those faculty are actually doing their jobs, unless it eliminates entire programs or declares financial exigency (bankruptcy, essentially).

UNLV is preparing for the possibility of exigency, but Glick has said he won't consider that option for UNR. I hope he doesn't change his mind. If we have any surviving university at all, I can't imagine closure of the English Department.

On the other hand, before last year, I couldn't have imagined the current evisceration of foreign languages, either. Our only remaining foreign-language degree program is Spanish. We lost German and Italian last year; French was saved, barely, only to be cut this year.

Losing Theater and Dance is a hard blow, but there's been speculation about that for a while now, so it's not a complete shock. My friends in the Music Department are very nervous. They have more majors than T&D did, though, so I hope they're safer.

It kills me that the School of Social Work's being shut down. This is already a terrible state for anyone who needs social services, right down there with Mississippi, and it's about to get worse.

The poor get poorer.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Letter from the President of UNR


Dear Colleague,

Today, the University notified faculty and staff in programs and departments that are being proposed for closure, reorganization or reduction. The proposals announced represent an annual budget reduction of $26 million and the elimination of 225 positions. Of these positions, 150 are currently filled and the remaining have been held open in anticipation of possible budget cuts.

I am deeply saddened about the ramifications of this news, and what it means to the lives of the people who were notified today. Our University is first and foremost a people enterprise. Whenever we eliminate positions, we diminish what we are and what we represent to our state. My sincere wish is that the notifications made today will somehow be alleviated in the future. The reality remains, however, that the proposed reductions announced today are a first step in anticipation of a budget reduction that could reach as high as $59 million by July 2012. The final budget reduction will be determined through the budget process now underway within the Nevada State Legislature. The round of proposed reductions announced today follows significant reductions already made by the University. Since 2009, the University’s annual general fund appropriation has been cut $44 million, or 20 percent. More than 400 budgeted positions have already been eliminated and more than 100 faculty and staff have lost jobs. Twenty-three programs have previously been closed and 29 services and programs sharply reduced. Coinciding with these cuts, undergraduate tuition and fees have increased 28 percent over the past two years.

The decision to propose elimination, reorganization or reduction of the programs notified today was not easy, as the budget picture in Carson City is far from clear. The final budget reduction may include additional factors such as across-the-board salary reductions proposed in the state executive budget and possible further increases in tuition and fees as determined by the Board of Regents. Even with several unknowns, we nonetheless are facing a tight budget timeline. The Board of Regents and members of the Nevada State Legislature have already made requests of us to detail how we could accomplish such a budget reduction. The projected reductions are of such magnitude that today’s announcement was made with a desire to provide faculty and staff directly impacted with as much notice as possible if such a large budget reduction indeed comes to pass. I believe it is imperative that we look ahead and begin this process, however painful it could be, now.

As with all of our previous budget cuts, we have attempted to maintain the University’s core strengths, which include a strong research program and quality degree programs. We have attempted to preserve access for our future students and to ensure their success on our campus. However, there is no denying that these proposals will have a dramatic impact on our campus. Cuts implemented previously, cuts announced today and cuts still to come represent the greatest challenge the University of Nevada, Reno has ever faced in its more than 130-year history. I’ve mentioned in numerous Town Hall meetings that sustained budget cuts would change the very nature of our University. The news announced today, sadly, affirms this new path.

Today’s plans include reductions in administrative, support and academic areas. Reductions will be made within the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Student Services, Office of the Vice President for Research, Finance and Administration, Development and Alumni Relations, Information Technologies, Libraries, and Athletics.

Services and programs proposed by the Provost after consultation with Deans and Vice Presidents for reduction include the following among others:

Significant reduction in University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: Following a projected $5.5 million cut, some presence along with educational services would continue in all Nevada counties through federal, county and limited state funding. The statewide 4-H program would continue.

Significant reduction in the Bureau of Mining and Geology: Following a projected $1.1 million cut, the role of the Nevada State Geologist and related services, which are defined by Nevada Revised Statutes, would continue;

Additional and significant reduction in Student Services including reductions in Disability Resource Center, Center for Cultural Diversity, Student Success Services, Student Conduct, Recruitment and Admissions and Records. Also, additional student services will move to fee-based support;

Closure of the School of Social Work and related degrees;

Closure of academic programs and degrees in theater and dance;

Closure of the degree major in French;

Reductions to the University of Nevada School of Medicine;

Closure of the Special Collections Department within the University Libraries: Current collections would remain archived;

Closure of the Assessment Office;

Additional and significant reduction in University-wide information technology services and the libraries’ materials budget;

Additional and significant reduction in the Facilities Department which will further impact custodial and maintenance services at all University campuses and facilities.

In addition to these proposed reductions, it was also announced that an assessment of college mergers will be initiated. Specific proposals have not yet been determined.

The Provost’s proposals for closing or reducing academic programs and restructuring colleges and departments will be reviewed through a formal Academic Planning Process, which will be initiated March 7 and will provide for a period of further review and input. During this time, units will respond to proposed closures; Faculty Senate will review and make recommendations for or against plans to the Office of the President; the President will make final recommendations to the Board of Regents; Board of Regents will make final decisions on program closures in early June. Academic program closures will be effective June 30, 2012. Closures and reductions in administration and support services will be effective sooner.

To find out more about how this process will work, please visit: www.unr.edu/curricular-review-2011.

I wish to make clear to the campus community that we will continue to make a strong case to the Governor, the Legislature and the citizens of our state about our vital importance to the people and economy of the state of Nevada. We appreciate all that you, as individuals and citizens of our state, can do in this regard. A strong higher education system is the cornerstone by which Nevada can chart a wise and clear future, one that diversifies and improves the state’s economy.

As we have faced previous budget cuts, you have all shown great support for one another. Please continue to do so. The character, collegiality and hard work of our faculty, staff and students during these difficult times have all been clear affirmation of the values that make our University so special – and so central to realizing the promise of Nevada.

Additional information is available at www.unr.edu/budget2011.

Sincerely,

Milt Glick


Milton D. Glick, President

Double Occupancy


Sunday, March 06, 2011

New Trick


Bali likes to hang out on the dining-room table while Gary and I eat dinner. Sometimes he tries to mooch food, but I really think he mainly does it for the company. He always wants to be where we are. The cats are very different that way; Figaro demands an intense lap session every day or two, but otherwise prefers his space. (And yes, I know, we're very indulgent to allow Bali on the table; if you disapprove, you don't have to eat at our house, but then you'll miss Gary's wonderful cooking.)

Tonight he was kind of pacing around at the far end of the table. "Bali," I said, "lie down!"

To my amazement, he did.

A few minutes later, after he'd gotten up again, I gave the same command, and again he obeyed it.

Of course, since he's a cat, he only obeyed because he felt like it. Still, he understood what I wanted. (Naturally, I praised him lavishly for his intelligence.) This just goes to prove that he's still our puppy-cat.

He's going to be distraught when we're gone next week, poor baby. But I know our cat-sitter will spoil him rotten.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Vacation's Coming!


This time next week, our cruise ship will be on its way to Mexico. I can't wait! We now both own snorkels and wetsuits; corrective masks are on their way and should arrive Wednesday. Today I found the fitover sunglasses I'd misplaced -- they were wedged between the gearshift and the driver's seat in the car -- so we're just about all set.

I've ordered an MP3 of my mother's message: it wasn't very expensive, and I prefer that to fooling with cables. (Thanks again, Danielle! So good to know that service is out there.)

As of today, I've volunteered over 950 hours at the hospital (950.5, to be precise). We had a code, but the patient came back quickly, and I pray he'll do okay in the ICU. Otherwise, my most memorable visit of the day was with a sneering atheist -- a bit like my father, but with much less pleasant manners -- who lectured me for several minutes about how all religions are based on guilt, about how religion is just an addiction, and about how religious people just want to kill anyone who doesn't share their views.

I commented that if religion's an addiction, it's healthier than heroin or meth. He ignored that. When he got to the homicidal believer part, I said, "Y'know, I'm religious, and I'm not trying to kill you, am I? I've never tried to kill anybody. I've never even wanted to kill anybody."

He ignored that, too. It's a source of continual amazement to me that people who a) don't share my faith, and b) are actively hostile to my faith, nonetheless a) believe that they know more about what I believe than I do and b) blithely disregard whatever contrary evidence I'm providing by standing in front of them.

"All religious people only want to kill nonbelievers!" Yes, that's why the hospital chaplain just asked if there's anything she can do to make you more comfortable.

I guess it just goes to show that non-religious folk can be every bit as closed-minded as the believers they're berating. Although, really, when I started volunteering six years ago, I expected much more of this kind of thing (as my father's daughter, I learned to get ready for long, detailed arguments whenever the word "God" popped up). In all that time, only a handful of patients have been nasty, which is really pretty remarkable, when you consider that anybody in the ER is having a very bad day. What amazes me is how polite almost everybody is, regardless of spiritual background. Still, this guy could have used some courtesy coaching from one of our well-mannered Satanists.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Message from Mom


It's been a stressful week, not just for me but for almost everyone I've encountered. (Gary's remained imperturbable, but that's his great gift.) The general level of anxiety right now reminds me a little of what life felt like after 9/11: everyone was jumpy, uncertain, scared, and didn't know what was going to happen next. People right now are worried about their jobs, having health problems, and desperately trying to figure out if and how they can live on less.

Sunday at church we had a guest preacher who, homilizing on the famous "consider the lilies of the field" parable, airily informed us that we shouldn't worry about money, because God will provide, and then added that anxiety's "a sin." I like this guy; I really do. He's a sweet man. But it was one of the most pastorally clueless homilies I've ever heard. I actually went up to him afterwards and said, "C'mon: Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the country. The state economy's a disaster. Are you really telling people not to worry?"

He didn't answer.

The anxiety-as-sin thing pushed my buttons, too. Well, actually, from a psychiatric standpoint, anxiety's an illness (which then contributes to other illnesses). Do you think shaming sick people makes them feel better?

In a tiny triumph of tact, I didn't say that.

Sigh.

None of this what what I intended to talk about when I started this post.

So, yeah, anyway: bad week. Today I sat down to take care of some chores I thought would take only a few minutes. First on the list was calling Verizon to see why Gary's cellphone had gone inexplicably dead.

I think I spent an hour with the customer-service rep. The phone number I gave her -- the one on the cellphone -- didn't match the phone's serial number, and I couldn't come up with any of the right answers to the security questions (even though I was using my standard responses), and, well, it was a mess. We eventually managed to figure out what had happened. Remember those phones I got Dad and Fran when they came here? When Fran left and Dad died, Gary took one, which we converted to a prepaid account. I thought we'd thrown the other out. Well, the discarded phone was the one on the account; Gary -- who never uses his phone -- had been hiking with the wrong cellphone in his backback, and only when he tried to use it to find me in a mall last week did we discover that it wasn't working.

The very patient customer-service rep programmed the defunct phone with a new number, and we started up a new prepaid account. Finally! A working phone! Yay!

Since I'd already spent far too much time with Verizon, I decided I might as well deal with all my wireless issues at once. The voicemail on my Blackberry has been on the fritz for a while -- I can't get into it and people can't leave me messages -- so I called Verizon back to get that straightened out. This was much easier to resolve than the other issue, thank goodness.

When I got into my voicemail, I had two old messages. The first one was a beloved voice saying, "Susan, this is your mother. Nothing important; I just called to chat. Bye, love." She left me that message a few months before she died. After she died, I carefully saved it, but when I upgraded to my new Blackberry, it vanished, even though the Verizon people had promised me it wouldn't.

Today I got it back, and (in tears) carefully saved it again. I'm terrified I'll lose it if I don't remember to save it periodically; it's my only recording of her voice. Does anyone reading this know how to back up cellphone voicemail messages?

When Gary got home from his hike, I filled him in on the Verizon fiasco. He shook his head, opened a desk drawer, and pulled out my father's phone, decorated with the familiar Winnie-the-Pooh sticker (which I thought we'd removed when Gary took over the phone). That made me tear up, too. "If you'd asked me," Gary said, "it would have been much simpler."

But I thought we'd thrown it out. I really did.

In less convoluted news, the new Kindle arrived today snd seems to be working fine. Let's hope that the third time's the charm and this one won't go wonky on me!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Grrrr. Aaaargh.


The other day I was listening to an audiobook on my Kindle, using headphones, when I felt two small electric shocks -- one in each ear -- and the book stopped working. This is deucedly strange, but to make a long story short, the entire Kindle stopped working, and I called Kindle support, and they said they'd send me a replacement machine. This is my second replacement machine, and you have to print out a mailing label for the one you're returning, and although they make it as simple as possible, it's still a pain in the neck, not to mention the inconvenience of being without the Kindle for several days.

So today I got the e-mail from Amazon.com saying that they'd shipped the new Kindle, which will be delivered tomorrow. Fortunately, I read the whole message, because they're not delivering it to me tomorrow. They're sending it to my sister's house in Philadelphia. I have her address saved on my account so I can send her gifts easily; the customer-service rep hit the wrong button and didn't confirm the address.

Gah.

So I shot off an urgent e-mail to my sister and then called Amazon back. This evening's customer-service rep apologized profusely (although she was also laughing very hard), and put a $15 credit on my account for the inconvenience, which was very decent of her.

Still: aaaargh!

Small Piece of Good News


In the middle of running errands this afternoon, I stopped by the hospital to see if my supervisor was in. He was. I asked if he's had a chance to read the ER Sonnets manuscript yet (I gave it to him in December), and he said he's about halfway through it. He likes the poems and sees no HIPAA problems.

That was a big relief, and bodes well for the ultimate fate of the project.