Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Mary asked about books to read, so I will occassionally pop a couple out here. My first suggestions of "best books ever" are the following (not in any particular order):

1) Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.
2) The Republic by Plato.
3) The Analects of Confuscious.
4) The Dhammapada.
5) The Ramayana.
6) El Cid.
7) Don Quixote by Cervantes.
8) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.
9) The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
10) House of the Spirits by Isabell Allende.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thanks for the comments--

Hi all!

Mary--The dish like this is pretty fatty. To reduce cholesterol, I would drop the egg (or at least the yolks)and add other vegetables. There is also a ground meat version that is essentially stuffed meatloaf cooked in a loaf pan. We use a lamb and beef mix which has less choloesterol. We actually used slices of Matambre for sandwiches. (The picture is off of the web, so those are not my napkins.)

I will have to try that Argie restaurant!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


My wife and I cook a lot, so (after seeing my students favorite meals and recipes) I decided to share one--Matambre!

I just had to try this one when I saw it in a magazine after having eaten it in Mendoza, Argentina. Ah, Argentina! Where they shop for beef three times a day and consider ordering sides to a 3 pound steak (called baby-beef) “sissy.” Not exactly easy to make, matambre is still worth the trouble if you feel adventurous. Be sure you salt well enough or the matambre will taste flat.

2 2 ½ pound flank steaks, butterflied and
pounded thin. Ask the butcher and tell him what you want to do with it.
4 large carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (or spinach)
6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
freshly ground white pepper

Generously seasons both sides of meat with salt, then rub into meat. Lay one steak on a baking sheet and scatter half of the garlic over the meat. Sprinkle half of the vinegar and cover with the other steak. Scatter the remaining garlic and vinegar over the meat and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate overnight in refrigerator.

Lay one steak on a clean surface with the grain running horizontally towards you. Lay the second steak, also with the grain running horizontally, in front of the first, overlapping the ends by 2”. Sprinkle with cumin, red pepper flakes, and white pepper. Lay one-third of carrot and pepper strips horizontally to go with grain of meat, beginning about 2” in from end nearest you. Sprinkle one third of the peas over vegetables. Then arrange a row of the three eggs on top of the veggies. Carefully roll meat over filling in a tight, jelly roll style. Repeat with another third of carrots, peppers, and peas, and three eggs and roll again, then lay remaining veggies and eggs and finish rolling. Pin edges of roll together with skewers, then tie with kitchen string around roll to keep ingredients packed.

Put meat in a large, heavy pot and add enough water to come halfway up the meat. Cover, and cook on low heat until meat is fork tender, about 3 hours, turning meat once halfway through. Remove from heat, uncover, place a sturdy plate on top of meat, and weigh it down with heavy unopened cans. Set aside until meat cools to room temperature. Transfer meat to a pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, then reweigh with plate and cans. Refrigerate overnight. To serve, bring meat to room temperature, remove string and skewers, then carve into 1 inch slices.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ooops (There it Is)

So I spent ten days NOT posting and now have a VERY long list of the things that can go wrong with Blackboard. In any case, my class (hi guys) is at the American Museum of Natural History today. All, that is, except Nikki. Where were you, chica?

Here is the assignment I have them doing:


1: Get Tickets (contribution) and a Map. Study the map for a few minutes to get the gist of where everything is in relation to everything else. Getting your bearings is essential to effective utilization of your time. You may complete the tasks (2 and 3) in any order.

2: Visit the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth (in the Rose Center for Earth and Space, second floor to the right of the entrance). While there, you should be looking for details, examples, and evidence that support Al Gore’s assertions in An Inconvenient Truth. Be sure to get the documentation for the evidence you find most compelling. Feel free to be creative: note-taking is fine, but you might also take photos of the information plates to post on your blog.

3: Nature as Media: As a group, pick any ONE hall that focuses on living beings such as the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins (i.e. no meteorites). Make a list of presentations/installations that you find most convincing and identify how logos, ethos, and pathos (remember how we did the slides).

4. Blog: For your blog, pick ONE media form to compare ONE Installation (one setting), one exhibit, and the museum as a whole to. For example, I might pick “Film compared to Tyrannosaurus Rex Installation / Saurischian Dinosaurs Exhibit/ The AMNH” and write about how the exhibits embody traits of film or the “cinematic sensibility.”


I hate brand new assignments because I never know how they are going to work and something innevitably goes wrong on-site. Perhaps I should have hauled them around as a group, but some people are inevitably late and others are early and work faster, so I like to use "do it yourself" assignments that don't require my continual imput. I'll consider a "tour" version for the Met a couple of weeks. I just dread the possiblity of saying things like "would you two hurry up for crying out loud" and "don't touch the Van Gough!" or "put the Ming vase down!"

But, I will think about it (particularly since I would then need zero paper).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Trouble on the Cyber-frontier

Of course Blackboard would be having trouble again, just as I was trying to shoot some fast responses to my students on their draft of the media mid-term. The system would not let me post at all. SO . . . I had to pull a rabbit out of my hat and decided to email everyone with all the responses. The plan was to post holistic responses to each paper in Bb so everyone could see the range of issues (grades were posted in the private grade book). The interesting thing is, this approach has made me re-evaluate how I respond to papers. Instead of “justifying grades” I have to respond directly to the issues with the particular draft—otherwise, it would be the same as posting grades publicly (which is, of course, illegal). It was very interesting to see how similar my responses were. They were identical in many cases because the problems fall within certain categories. Ooops. Another issue just came up . . . .

More later . . . .

Thursday, October 11, 2007

If I Only Had a Brain

For next semester I need a PowerPoint of images of magazines (and etc.) so I can show where to find the necessary MLA information. It should be easy to take photos and even little movies to demonstrate how to find the materials.

Monday, October 8, 2007

275 Pounds a Year

OK, so I and two of my students kept our trash for two days (the others opted for the food-research track) and we all weighed in at about 1 ½ pounds, give or take a few ounces. Over the course of a year that is 1.5 multiplied by 183 (1.5 pounds every two days of the 365 day year) which yields about 275 pounds a year. And that did not count all the paper memos and other items I received in that two days that was ultimately doomed for the garbage or recycling. The real number is probably more like double that amount, even with me trying to go paperless in my classes. In one week alone, I have received over 30 pages of memos and handouts at meetings! Multiplied by 72 weeks and you get 2160 sheets of printed paper even if I don’t print a thing! How many trees is that?

**Part of me wants to not think about this at all anymore. Ugh. It is just depressing.**

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Waste Paper Count

As of today, I have used the following in all of my classes:

7 new pieces of printer paper.
25 pieces of re-used paper (printed on second side)
27 Blue Composition Books (due to a scheduling problem, I had to have my LIB 200 students write in class) Unfortuantly, the blue books also have to go in my bag o' trash as they are destined, ultimately, for the waste bin. *sigh*

My composition class is still very close to paperless. I have had them take some notes on paper and handed out the one library assignment (5 groups with on esheet each) but, otherwise, am getting to the point where we could almost go without paper altogether!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Class and Tiny News 2

I had the idea for class that rather than giving a PowerPoint on argument terminology and expecting the students to take notes (as if!) that I would have them create PowerPoints explaining the basic terminology for argument/rhetoric in their own words. This had the added bonus of being both paperless and of helping them with basic PowerPoint which they need for their Media presentation in a few weeks. And, of course, they have their own Ppt and the rest of the classes (as we posted them to our class site) to study by.

So, in unrelated news, I have been using my phone for Tiny News. I was originally underwhelmed but am kind of getting the hang of it. Of course, my "subway" (the N/W and 7) is entirely above ground so I do not lose signal, but the load times are slow. However, I am slowly learning the tricks to see what I want (international, national, local, and technology) and skip the rest. I think I might be getting carpal-thumb, but I am a bit of a hypochondriac, so maybe not.

In other news, I have started keeping my 24hour bag of trash. I thought this would be really easy since I have "reduced" my impact already, but I had a LOT of junk mail and bills today (bastards!) as well as TWO deliveries so I have a lot of paper and cardboard waste. Everything goes into the bag. I need to go totally paperless on the bills. Maybe next month, eh?

I am considering the fact that I will waste less energy overall if I replace MMORPGs with other types of games where I have to meet (gasp) real people in person. Just a thought.

And that's all for now.

Dr. J

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tinynews! Yay!

So, I figured out that my Razr phone can get the internet and, ergo, internet mail and NEWS! They had a $5 a month plan or a $1 for 24 hours. I chose the $1 plan to see how it works. I am pretty sure they will screw me on this somehow, probably with the hidden 25-year commitment or something, but what the heck. So, starting tomorrow, I will be paperless on the subway. I will now be one of the locos who looks like they are playing tiny video games on their phone instead of reading something. Woop! Give me tiny-news! (At least it isn’t Fox.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gimme my morning paper!

Things I have already been doing to reduce my personal environmental impact:

  • Switched from disposable razors to a reusable handle with disposable blades.
  • Switched from can shaving cream to old-fashioned shaving soap (Burt’s Bees) and shaving brush in a mug.
  • We are slowly changing out lights in the house.
    We added power-bars to most electronics and *try* to remember to turn the bars off at night.
  • Switched from a table-top PC to Laptop (though I sprung for the really fast Alienware.)
  • Working on the paperless classrooms (see earlier posts).
  • I started using a glass bottle for water instead of plastic bottles and refill it at home and at school. This one significantly reduced our trash output.
  • We recycle paper for drafts and I bring used paper from work home to use for drafts here (it just goes into recycling there with only one side used).
  • We used the AC almost not at all this summer.
  • Subscribed to magazines I like rather than picking them up at the stand.

Things I am planning on:

  • Putting mini-blinds on all windows for winter.
  • Reducing over-all trash output by cooking from scratch more (we do a lot already, but when we get busy with writing and school, takeout starts looking really nice and easy).
  • Looking for electronic versions of magazines.

Things that I still can’t do:

  • Giving up the morning paper on the subway.
  • Composting. We live in an apartment. I know about the worms in a box thing, but . . . yuck!

    Well, that’s a start anyway.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jones-ing for Handouts

What is a teacher without handouts? I actually made 7 copies to handout to groups today for their library assignment and it felt GOOD. There is something about that paper that has authority. For next time, I may make this an online quiz but I will need to be sure that the students can access it while on task in the library. PDAs would be great, but that would take a grant at least.

Random thought: I miss the card catalog in the library!

My goal for the week is still unfulfilled. I have yet to find a replacement for my morning newspaper. There should be some way to download a Metro or something to my PDA. I’ll give it another shot tonight.

Total pages used to date: 14.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Being Louis

I'm back from the beach where I tried to get a tan like Louis but mainly got a red neck because I was hunched over reading the whole time. I have already imagined all possible jokes about this, so consider this mini-blog a preemptive strike. Yes, I know. Texan. Red-neck. Funny. I get it.


P.S. Prof. Lucca (aka "Dr. Lou") is now online with us! Check the links to the right.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day Three

Day three without paper in the class and I estimated that this has saved approximately 20 sheets of paper per student already. That would be 1000 sheets saved already! But it is becoming increasingly difficult as I am now giving lots of verbal directions (how to create a blog) and demonstrating on the wall-projector in the computer lab how to do things such as navigate the web and etc. I seriously need to work on embedding links into my web-documents and whatever else I can do to get us through some of the more technical tasks of setting up the class such as how to use MSWord, how to make a blog, how to log in to Blackboard, all the “how to’s.” I am still not sure how to make the library scavenger hunt coming up “paperless.” I may have to go “low paper” instead by using a smaller font, one page per group and etc. It helps to pretend that paper is $1 a sheet. Sure, I’d pop for $5 but $25? Another good note, the students haven’t been printing either! They are actively avoiding it as well without my prompting.

Using the blogs to replace traditional journals really looks like it is going to work great. The students seem to be pretty into it and I like the pedagogical potential of the public nature of their compositions.

Still no computer in my office. Still no watch. I did buy a new flash drive, but I'm having a hard time trusting it not to go wonky. Oh well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Now where'd I leave that flash drive?

Day Two

It was very odd to be working without a paper syllabus the first day and I found that I was nervous about the prospect. Though I did have one hard-copy of everything, the thought of being heavily dependent on PowerPoint and Blackboard and the computers (I did not bring blue-books for backup) caused me more stress than usual for a first day, but the students were fine and class moved along fine. I also noticed two things: 1) I have a tendency not to proofread as well on screen as in hard-copy and found a few mistakes in my syllabus and assignments and, 2) I do not yet work as well off of PowerPoionts as from an in-hand assignment and have a bit of a “chaotic” feel to my presentation of material in Blackboard as I can go in any order. I’ll have to learn to use the non-linearity to advantage in the class. That, I should get better at with time.

The computer in my office is still out. My watch is still dead. My flash drive is now acting wonky as well. Ah for the days of scratching on one rock with another (though I do not miss the sound of chalk as it always sort of creeped me out.) The students are all good with MSWord and tech stuff, so I had all of them logged-in and ready to go ahead of schedule. And the best part is, they seem to be working with minimal multi-tasking, though my ears aren’t used to this lab yet and since this is an Apple lab, the mice sound different. Yes, I can usually hear “double-clicking.” I’ve been doing the lab thing for years.

Now, where did I leave that flash drive? Damn.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

My name is C. Jason Smith. The “C.” stands for “Christopher,” but I go by “Jason” or “Dr. Smith” depending on whether or not I check your attendance and regularly give you grades. My parents call me “Jabo.” I have no idea why. Originally from Marshall Texas, I am an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York in New York City which is specifically in Long Island City, Queens for those of you who care about such things. I am also a free-lance writer.

Trying to get into the spirit of the new
Common Reading for LaGuardia Community College, which is Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, I decided to try and green my classroom by having my students engage in environmental impact awareness projects and to engage myself in making my class preparation and pedagogy as low impact as possible without seriously impeding my ability to teach, or the student’s ability to actively engage with the course and learn.

This is my blog. Classes start today.

In order to significantly reduce the impact of my classes on the environment, I decided that my first task would be to attempt to go “paperless” as much as possible. I currently teach in both computer classrooms and “smart” classrooms and have taught online courses in the past, so this seemed a reasonable goal for the semester as all of my materials are already on the web in an educational program called Blackboard6. My students can, of course, print off what they need, but I’m thinking of all the syllabi I run each semester and all the assignments and all the “extra” copies I make “just in case.” Last semester I filled a whole paper box with “extra copies” and drafts of student papers. To heck with that! Today I am down to ONE copy of everything “just in case”. The rest is online and in my Bb6 site “just in case.” If worse comes to worst, I will get innovative and write on the board.

What could happen?

Well, for starters, my office computer crashed at 8:00 am just as I was reviewing my online courses and PowerPoints. However, most of the material had been uploaded to the Bb6 site already so I was, after a moment of hysteria, ready to go. I had some other technical issues with the course as well. This class is a liberal arts capstone on humanism, technology, and science, so the whole thing was pretty funny . . . or will be someday when I tell it at a bar. We made it through. Day One of class and I used a total of 6 printed pages rather than, literally, hundreds! Yay me.

Did I mention my watch stopped working this morning as well and I backed up my PDA the wrong way and whiped out most of my semester schedule. Is it possible God doesn’t want me to be low impact? Maybe I am destined to bring the End of Days one piece of paper at a time. Hmmm.