What a BAAAAD Idea

There is a proposal afoot in New Jersey to merge Rowan University and Rutgers University's Camden campus and to rename the merged institution as entirely Rowan University.

I think this is a terrible idea and would love to discuss my reasons with anyone willing to listen. The following is a list of talking points with which I wholeheartedly agree.

1. The plan robs South Jersey of the benefits of a university with a world-class reputation. South Jersey residents have been paying taxes and tuition for centuries to build Rutgers into a world-renowned university. If this plan goes into effect, South Jersey residents will instantaneously lose all of their accrued principal in The State University of New Jersey. That is fundamentally unfair.

2. It will take decades or centuries for an unknown regional university to attain anything like the status of Rutgers. This is one more example of South Jersey being treated as a second-class region of the state. Central and North Jersey will continue to be served by world-class Rutgers, and South Jersey has to settle for an institution unknown beyond South Jersey.

3. Rutgers–Camden has top-flight faculty because we are Rutgers. We can recruit people at the very top of the field, who bring their expertise to the South Jersey region. Jacob Soll’s Macarthur is a recent example. Rowan cannot do that and will not be able to the same for the foreseeable future.

4. Economically successful regions are driven by the presence of several strong diverse institutions of higher education. The Bay Area in California draws from the research outputs of Stanford, multiple campuses of the UC system, multiple campuses of the Cal State system, and many private universities. The Research Triangle is driven by three research universities. Boston and its 128 corridor are driven by the presence of innumerable colleges and universities. Yes, helping Rowan grow and improve will bring benefits to the region. But South Jersey needs more higher education activity, not less. Folding a campus of a great research university into a minor regional university is a net loss for the region.

5. The commission began with a charge to study medical education, and they never really got past that frame. The whole analysis is driven by the fact that Rowan is connected to the Cooper Medical School. The Cooper Medical School is not even offering classes yet, so the significance of that relationship is far less than the significance of the relationships of all of the Rutgers-Camden programs to Rutgers. If we are to reorganize higher education so drastically, it should be driven by a study that looks holistically at higher education, not as an afterthought to an analysis of medical education—which is important, but isn’t the only important issue.

6. The commission was studying higher ed and medical education. It contained two lawyers, no physicians, and just one former higher education official. These are honorable and respected citizens, but we should not make such a drastic change without having the right mix of knowledge and experience in the room. We need proposals based on the right mix of expertise, and we need careful deliberation that includes the residents of New Jersey and our elected representatives.

7. The recommended path represents the worst kind of government over-reach—just the sort of thing Chris Christie has built his reputation opposing. Rutgers and Rowan have been growing successfully despite dwindling state support and a bad economy. Rutgers continues to cement its strength as a world-class university, and Rowan has become a successful regional university. The recommended reorganization puts all of that at risk because five people behind closed doors think it’s a good idea.

8. Rutgers-Camden is helping make the right kind of revitalization happen in Camden—the slow, steady growth of jobs and an increase in education levels in the city. Folding Rutgers-Camden into Rowan will shift the focus away from the necessary revitalization of South Jersey’s urban center.

Thank you.



Disney Planning

OK, we'll also be visiting the Kennedy Space Center, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure (Hogwarts!!!), but we all know what a trip to Orlando means .... Disney World!!!

I love planning trips. I'm a planner. I also love to travel ... so it works out really well. I often think my dream job would be a trip planner/coordinator. Or a guidebook writer. Travel, travel, travel.

I also love Disney World. Not in a go-every-year-and-never-vacation-anywhere-else kind of way. But, in a Happiest Place on Earth, take my breath away, I know the castle doesn't have an "apostrophe s" in the name kind of way. I adore the level of planning and detail that Disney puts into every aspect of their theme park experience. I'm kind of a planning and details kind of gal ... so it really appeals to me on vacation, too.

And a Disney vacation is a vacation with pre-planning. Piles and piles of pre-planning. Yay! I mean, sure you could just show up and buy your tickets at the gate and pick up a map and wander around and eat wherever you can manage to get a seat, but honestly ... I am completely convinced of the value of pre-planning a Disney trip.

That's how I did our family trip in 2006, and the trip Joe and took minus the kids in 2009. So, it's how I'm setting up for 2012.

I've already subscribed to TouringPlans.com and bought their 2012 edition of the Unofficial Guide. I browse AllEars.net and receive their weekly email newsletter. I've scoured restaurant reviews and examined charts of which parks are likely to be more or less crowded on any given days.

The result of all of this research is compiled in a color-coded document I call At-a-Glance. When complete, it will include which parks we're visiting on which days, all of our dining reservations and confirmation codes, as well as which meals I'll need to buy groceries for. We stay in a timeshare and have a full kitchen ... saves a LOT of money on dining out.

It's too early to have much of the information. I can't make dining reservations until 180 days in advance of the trip, which begins in February. But, I just thought I'd give you a glimpse into the (neurotic?) way I plan a big trip.


Friday 8/17Saturday 8/18Sunday 8/19Monday 8/20Tuesday 8/21Wednesday 8/22Thursday 8/23
Main IdeaTravelAnimal KingdomMagic KingdomUniversal StudiosMagic Kingdom
Park Hours9-79-109-10
Special Events
Breakfast, 7amTimeshareHouse of Blues Sunday Gospel BrunchCrystal PalaceTimeshareTimeshareTimeshare

Downtown Disney
Lunch, 12:30pmLiberty Tree Tavern

DinnerHope-de-Doo RevueBoma


Friday 8/24Saturday 8/25Sunday 8/26Monday 8/27Tuesday 8/28Wednesday 8/29Thursday 8/30Friday 8/31
Main IdeaEpcotEpcotDisney StudiosIslands of AdventureEpcotTravel
Park Hours9-99-99-99-9
Special Events
Breakfast, 7amTimeshareTimeshareTimeshareTimeshareTimeshareTimeshareTimeshare1900 Park Fare

Lunch, 12:30pmRose & Crown

DinnerBiergartenLe CellierMama Melrose’s



The Beginning of the End ...

I've spent part of my morning today exchanging emails with various members of the Rutgers-Camden English department.

I'm working on a timeline for wrapping up my Master's program. Which is awesome. And scary.

At the end of this semester I'll have completed 7 of the required 10 courses. And every MA student in English must choose one of two graduate requirement options: two comprehensive exams or one exam and a thesis.  Most people choose the exams.

So, naturally, I'm opting to write a thesis. I plan to analyze and discover the sources for Thomas Southerne's Restoration play Oroonoko. 'Casue, you know, that's something everyone wants to read, right?

So in addition to writing this over the summer in conjunction with an Independent Study with my advisor, I'm also working on trying to transfer in some credits for my prior graduate work in other fields. I'll have to argue those points, maybe quite a lot, because the work isn't in English and was done several years ago.

*sigh* Never hurts to try, right?

In any case, the end of the tunnel is in sight. I should graduate next January.....with any luck.



Baby Steps ....

I started watching what I eat and trying to move more starting after we returned from the Poconos on January 1. (before then it was a holiday food free-for-all, multiplied by the extra eating (especially of crap) we always do when we're at the mountain house.

Anyway ... 4.5 lbs down so far. That's almost as much as a standard bag of sugar. I used to just be carrying that around all the time.

It helps me to visualize what I'm no longer carrying around. Before I'm done I want to carry around a total of eight fewer bags of sugar.

Or four of my cat.

Or half my daughter.

Or five gallons of water.

Or a cinder block .... a cinder block!

That last one hits home. I've been carrying around a cinder block with me all day, every day. No wonder I'm tired.


[EDIT: 1/20/12 -- Another pound and a smidge down.]


Many Things Make a Post

a la Adrienne ...

I know the Many Things is Adrienne's thing. But today I've come across some things I wish to recall later ... so why not record them here?

Just another way that the Republicans are successfully lying to everyone.

How Google is breaking Google -- We don't use you to make friends, Google!

If you're ever in Scranton ... I can highly recommend this place.

Yeah, Sarah ... because breast feeding is only an option when milk is expensive. Hate to break it to you, but babies shouldn't be fed cow's milk. Keep reading, later she blasts a healthy food for youth initiative, too. The "god-given right" to what, Sarah? Childhood obesity? Diabetes?

And, finally, on a non-political note -- I wish this necklace were cheaper. Emily would simply love it.



Scaly, flakey, itchy ....

This is not me. But -OH BOY- do I empathize.
I want to scratch my face right off.

It itches.

Quite a lot.

Allergic reactions suck. See yesterday's post.




My Fears of the Superbugs

I'm allergic to penicillin.

I developed this allergy as a small child. When I was very young, I had repeated strep throat infections. One after another after another.*

I was given penicillin over and over again, which I apparently hated taking.  Lacking the modern pharmaceutical convenience of bubblegum flavoring, my mother resorted to giving me the medicine mixed in juice. This is now known to reduce the efficacy of many drugs, including some antibiotics.**

Anyway, I eventually developed a "Gloves and Socks" rash. Doctors interpreted this as an indication of a penicillin allergy (and indeed the rash went away as soon as they switched meds), and ever since penicillin has been on the "DO NOT USE" list for me.

So, I've made my way through life without it. No biggie. I've become friends with the other families of antibiotics, including tetracycline (makes me throw up if I don't use with a large meal),  erythromycin, and my especial favorite -- the Z-Pak.

Due to my physiology, exacerbated by my seasonal allergies, I get 3-4 sinus infections and/or upper respiratory infections each year, primarily in the fall and winter months. Each time I wait as long as possible to see if my body will fight off the bugs in its own, and each time I wind up on some sort of antibiotic, occasionally accompanied by a nasal spray of some sort.

A few weeks ago, right before Christmas, I felt the tell-tale signs of this season's first bout -- the abrupt lack of drainage, the low grade fever, the positional pain, the pressure, a weird taste in the back of my throat. Believe me, after all these, years, I know sinusitis.

Determined to be well for the holidays, I hesitated less than I normally do and I called the doctor's office. The nurse checked my chart and prescribed a Z-Pak (my favorite!).

Within 48 hours I was all better (don't worry...I always finish out my antibiotic prescriptions like a good girl). Or so I thought.

Last Friday, the pressure and pain were back. So was the fever. When I called back, the nurse was unsurprised, "This one's a bad one. Everyone's having trouble shaking it." This time I was offered a prescription of Cipro (which I've taken once that I recall -- for a resistant staph infection) and a nasal spray.

I took my dose Saturday morning and my next dose in the evening.

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling scratchy and hot -- my face felt sunburned. I wanted to claw my skin off. Strangely, I didn't attribute it to the drug right away, so I took my morning dose.

I little Googling later, I found that facial rash can be an indication of antibiotic allergy.


The on-call doctor told me to stop the Cipro and start taking Benadryl. He also cautioned me to avoid the quinolone family of antibiotics in the future. Joy.

Today I'm a bit better. I still want to scratch my face off. My face feels hot and tight and scratchy. I'm swollen and puffy. (my coworker assures me its unnoticeable) I feel like my head is a tight, hot, itchy pumpkin.

Anyway. Now I'm just that much more concerned about the world's increasingly numerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Superbugs are multiplying faster than we can find additional antibiotics to try.

I try not to read the reports and I try not to use antibacterial products in my house. I want to let the weaker bugs live and crowd out the tougher bugs. Or something. I don't know. I just can't believe that excessive use of antibacterials in everyday life is helping. I strongly believe such products are rarely used in a way that truly kills off all bacteria. I think we're mostly killing off the weak and poorly-evolved ones, giving the tough guys more room to flourish.

So, that's what's on my mind today. Well, that and the fact that my sinus infection (which the Cipro took the edge off) will be back in all it's glory now that I'm not medicated. I have to wait until the reaction completely goes away before I'm allowed to start a new prescription.



*These infections apparently resulted in my mastoid bones no longer having the hollow mastoid cells. Scar tissue or something? I don't know. Doctors attribute it to the infections. So my head is heavier than it should be, I guess.

**When my mom first read these studies a number of years back, she called me on the phone, almost in tears, about what a terrible mother she was for basically neutralizing the medicine that could have made me better. For the record, I harbor no ill will toward my mother in this regard.


Smartphone Angst

My cell phone (which I like) has been eligible for an upgrade since early December. I don't really need an upgrade, mind you. My phone (a basic slider model in a nice shade of red) works fine. It does everything I basically need it to do.

But, a smartphone would be super-fun. I love my iTouch and the apps and the convenience and the touch screen and the lovely interface. There are so many things I would love to be able to do app-wise via 4G, rather than wifi.

But I don't want a mandatory data plan. I don't want to pay for piles of data I don't need, and likely won't use. Price checking now and then at the ShopRite or the mall or occasionally checking in or updating my status just doesn't require 2GB of data at $30 additional per month.

I just can't justify it. Even with my new job and feeling pretty flush, I just can't justify it.

So, I'll keep using my red "dumphone" until it dies, I guess.

Dang you, Verizon.



Pinterest ... sigh

This is not one of my Pinterest boards. I just Googled.
For awhile Ravelry took over my life. I drooled over expensive and exotic yarns I would never buy, oohed and aahed over elaborately cabled and intricately lacey projects. I queued up a bunch of stuff I will likely never make. I found a bunch of fantastic patterns I've enjoyed knitting up into all sorts of cozy amazingness.

Then the obsession faded. There was clearly no point in continuing to tag and queue and link to soooo many things so that I would need a sorting and filing system to differentiate between the stuff I loved but would probably never knit and the patterns I want to knit now, today.

Don't get me wrong. Ravelry is still my number one first stop when I want to browse anything knitty or yarny. The comments and adaptations made by others on the patterns are particularly helpful. And, just yesterday I spent a hundred and *mumble, mumble* dollars on yarn and linked said yarn to a variety of projects in my Ravelry queue. Here we go, 2012!

But, Pinterest pwns me now.

What a neat site! Folks (seemingly folks of a crafty/cooky/creative bent) "pin" online items to virtual bulletin boards in order to remember them and find them again later. For example, I have created boards for Christmas, DIY Gifts, Foods to Try, DIY Home, Knitting & Sewing, etc.

Thanks to these ideas, I already have the stir things up in my house bug (Granted, I was bit by this bug when we had a our minor kitchen fire back a few months ago. The fire resulted in replacing the stove, counter and floor, but I also painted all the kitchen cabinets, and Joe and my dad installed a new (vented to the outside for the first time) range hood and put in pendant lighting.). And thanks to Pinterest, I've already bought the vinyl stickers to add this nifty organization system to a cupboard door near the stove.

But now I want to spread the new decor around.

We're going to use leftover vinyl from the kitchen and refloor the foyer. But now, thanks to Pinterest, I also want to redecorate the entryway and coat closet (maybe with a hidden door, like this one).

The family room is getting a do-over as well. While I still have the paint to match the wall, I'm going to remove the 97 family pictures from the wall. They're going to go in coordinating black frames and line our stairwell (like this, but diagonal). I'm finally going to add an official ledge to the top of the simply-painted freezewall, like this one, but painted white to match our trim. (For that matter, I'm going to finish painting the trim in the house, so that it's all white and not a mix of white and ugly 70s dark brown stain.) Then I'm going to store our scrapbooks someplace else or in some other manner, so I can use my wall table to create lovely seasonal vignettes out of stuff we already have but never have a spot for. And with the pictures down, I can free up the wall for something more modern, more "us."

Maybe I'll get these hip subway art Doctor Who prints for a start. It is the TV room, why try to disguise that with country kitsch? Why not embrace the media-center-ness of it? (I'm hoping that once we do our taxes, a nice new flat-screen TV is coming our way.) Or maybe I'll frame some vintage movie posters ... I could even swap them out seasonally for new ones, like It's a Wonderful Life at Christmastime or The Birds for Halloween.

Finally ... our bedroom. Other then new carpeting and moving in our furniture, we haven't redecorated our bedroom in any way since we moved in 11+ years ago. The major reason why not is the horrendous wines and berries wallpaper. We've stripped wallpaper from many other areas of our house to sometimes disastrous effect. Apparently the walls were inadequately primed and/or painted before applying the wallpaper, so removing it rips big hunks of drywall right off the wall. Not. Good. I've become a rather adept spackler over the years, but some of our earliest attempts in the wallpaper-removal nightmare have resulted in the walls looking rather primitively plastered rather than the smoothly drywalled effect I'd prefer. Anyway, I don't think we're planning to recarpet, so that will remain a medium-blue color. And our bedroom furniture is custom-made, natural red oak (made by my dad: headboard, my dresser, Joe's armoire, plus a quilt hanger and two nightstands) ... and that's all staying. So, it really comes down to wall color and linens. Hello, Pottery Barn!

This seems like a lot. Heck, considering the wallpaper-removal, maybe it is a lot. But really it's a bunch of small projects that will update our home a lot, and hopefully amp up its cool-factor, usefulness and hominess. And, I don't have to keep track of any of it in little file folders stuffed with magazine clippings.

I have Pinterest,

Bring it on, 2012!


Update: just purchased 9 posters for the family room. Going to do an arrangement of 3 16x20-sized prints in frames, and change them out for Halloween and winter. They're combinations of movie posters and classic book cover illustrations. Me likey.

Update: priced ledge at Lowe's.com ... 1x8x8, cove moulding, and a gallon of semi-gloss trim paint = $82.