Campus Alive: One last time Tuesday, Aug 26 2014 

(This is almost a re-blog of a post I entered a year ago.  I touched it up a little for the  context of this year, but in the main, it’s an appropriate back-to-school post for just about any academic year).

The pitter-patter of students feet returned to the halls of the Community Education Classroom Building at the start of a new school year.

The pitter-patter of students feet returned to the halls of the Community Education Classroom Building at the start of a new school year.

The ebb and flow of the academy’s calendar has two high-water marks: August when the school year begins, and May when it winds down. Today marks the beginning as the hallways outside the office, dark and quiet since the middle of May last spring, once again bustled with excited students and faculty scurrying from class to class on this perennial day of fresh starts and blooming optimism.

The campus air bristled with excitement, anxiety, and chatter. As I walked by lecture rooms up and down the hallway, one after the other, I heard lofty pontifications arising from lecterns where faculty strove to inspire, motivate, and perhaps scare fresh crops of learners arrayed in rows of desks before them. And what keen observer would ever miss the heavy, palpable sense of late-adolescent hormonal rush as handsome, eligible youth strutted the halls and sidewalks in the timeless gamesmanship of coy flirtation?

So here we are, awash in hope and fear, glossy texts and notebooks stowed in shiny book sacks, ready to assault the base camps of this mountain known as Academic Year 2014-15.   Come December, if the muse be kind and inspires us well, we’ll attain the peak, from which we’ll descend in the spring semester to the green valley of May nine months hence. And sweeter yet, about three months after the spring semester ends, this 28 year in public education will end, too, in noble retirement.

The last academic year lies ahead: Hie we hence thereto!

In Favor of Active Voice Saturday, Aug 23 2014 

Signs should say what they mean, and mean what they say.

Signs should say what they mean, and mean what they say.

Must I appear tattered and torn to shop in this establishment in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, or is this another example of why the proprietor should avoid the use of passive voice?

Summer’s Lease Hath so Short a Date! Sunday, Aug 17 2014 

Quoting Shakespeare in the title, of course. But so was the season. For the fourth year in a row, on the eve of the annual “back to school” fall semester faculty/staff in-service, unofficially signaling the end of the summer and the beginning of another academic year, I pause to reflect on the highlights of a summer in review, Summer 2014. Going back to May, what will we remember?

Undoubtedly, Summer 2014 memories begin with the ever-so-memorable wedding of Brandon and Ann. The months of planning culminated in a lovely church ceremony followed by a memorable outdoor reception on the prairie south of town.

The wedding!

The wedding!

Well after the newlyweds were off to whatever newly-weds do on their night of newley-wededness, but before that eve had passed, Zach officially proposed to Trisha Fay Suire in the Happy Place. Another family wedding set for November!Engagement ring

First of June, we helped Zach and Trisha move to Texas where they would both start new careers. We were amazed how their separate needs and plans came together to move to the same place at the same time: The hand of Providence!

In mid-June, I got a clean bill of health from the annual wellness physical. It’s nice hearing the Nurse Practitioner tell me, “Whatever you’ve been doing, keep on doing it.” (And so I will!)

A few weeks after the wedding, Sarah and I threw the bikes in the back of the pickup on a Sunday afternoon and rode around UL-Lafayette’s campus.

Cypress Lake on campus was a highlight that Sunday afternoon at alma mater.

Cypress Lake on campus was a highlight that Sunday afternoon at alma mater.

That was an impromptu treat that we’ll likely repeat in the future. Ann and Brandon moved to Colorado on a whim and a wish (as it appears to staid old fogeys like Mom and Dad)–not our design or wish, but the future is theirs. We hated to see them go, but we root for them as they embrace their future.

The July 4th weekend in Hays, Kansas: We spent blessed hours with Brandon’s family. The July 4th assault on Lake Wilson State Park will be a Pulling family memory for years to come. And Brandon’s Mom Cathy is the hostess with the mostess’! That 13 hour, 25 minute drive back home at the end of that outing will

July 4th on the Great Plains of America

July 4th on the Great Plains of America

also stand in my memory as the best day of driving in my life. Thank God for that road-worthy Tundra traveling machine!

Jed's daughter is still a sweetheart!

Jed’s daughter is still a sweetheart!

Ellie Mae lives! We’ll never forget the Donna Douglas gala at LSUE in July. That 81 year old Baton Rouge girl we watched on Beverly Hillbillies years ago was a charming and endearing motivational speaker for our OLLI membership renewal campaign. She was so sweet and so patient and so eager to delight! Her story was truly a testimony of God’s work in her life.

I spent my birthday lunch with Mama. I don’t remember the last birthday I was together with her. It may have been 30+ years! And Janice and Bob were able to join Sarah and me, too, as we celebrated with the most awesome oyster po’boys served up at the New Orleans Seafood and Spirits location in Covington.

Eat oysters, love longer!

Eat oysters, love longer!

Zach passed the Edward Jones “big” test! We knew there was a purpose in his career change, and we rooted for him all through July as he studied and prepped for the big test. The day came and his future hung in the balance: He made it! Not only did he pass, but he scored exceptionally well. Thank God for an outstanding result.

And last but not least: Tomorrow, August 18th, I will attend the LAST “back to school” in-service of this 28 year career in public education. A year from now, what will I have to say?

We shall see, with eager anticipation toward that day!

Le Cafe’ Cajun Friday, Aug 15 2014 

Cajun CoffeeMy friend Ms. Swiz Fontenot Kellar told me a memorable (and true) description of Cajun coffee. In French, it goes like this:

Le café Cajun est chaud comme l’enfer, noir comme le diable, doux comme une ange, est fort comme l’amour.


Cajun coffee is hot as hell, black as the devil, sweet as an angel, and as strong as love.

Mais, ca c’est du bon café, ouai!

Wordplay on “ism” Monday, Aug 11 2014 

Yes, an ism. A noun ending with the suffix that conveys the idea of “a belief in” the root meaning of the noun. Familiar examples: Idealism is the belief or confidence in ideals; realism is the belief and trust in reality; Protestantism is the belief in Protestant religious ideals. So on and so forth.

So this morning I was listening to my favorite call-in radio talk show on WWL radio out of New Orleans. Some caller was lamenting on the condition of the world and our society and its loss of moral and religious foundation. OK, valid points. But he made this assertion: The problem with our culture is that we have given in too much to paganism and abominationism.

Hmmm. Paganism I totally get. The belief in pagan gods has been around since antiquity. But abominationism? My text edit Grammar check underlined that word in red. Why? Maybe because there is no such word? Maybe because it’s a word that doesn’t make much sense? “Abominationism: the belief in abomination.” I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who believed in abominations. I know some who practice abominations. Who commit abominations. Whose profligate lifestyles are living abominations. But it’s just not something people should be believing in?

OK, maybe I’m just not cool. I got to thinking: Maybe I’m too self-righteous in my linguistic expertise–there are some “ism’s” that haven’t been coined yet, but maybe they deserve to be coined. For example, is there any value in the concept of belief in flatulence . . .

Flatulism: the belief in the most natural of natural gasses.

Deflatulism: the belief in expelling the most natural of natural gasses.

Inflatulism: the passing, romantic belief that an instance of flatulence can be captivating.

Preflatulism: the belief in physiological signs that an episode of flatulence is about to occur.

Postflatulism: the belief in physiological signs that an episode of flatulence is over.

Hyperflatulism: Overly-zealous belief in the most natural of natural gasses.

Megaflatulism: Belief in rank, corrosive bowels that emit the foulest, most disgusting odors.

Misflatulationism: Belief in episodes of flatulence that inadvertently produce more than gaseous emissions.

No, Walgreens: Save your remedies for flatulence for those devoted to the varied manifestations of flatulism.

No, Walgreens: Hide your remedies for flatulence from those devoted to the varied manifestations of flatulism.

OK, enough fun. Have I made a point? Probably not. But it’s entertaining wordplay.

Patiofare Saturday, Aug 9 2014 

Today was a make-up spring cleaning day. We scrubbed and rubbed and bleached and shined up outdoor living areas that we ordinarily would have done in May or June.

But what were we doing in May? A wedding. On account of that more urgent priority at the time, we skipped the spring cleaning routine.

Yesterday and today were make-up days. We assaulted the patio yesterday afternoon, the Happy Place this morning–with bristles and bleach and Purple Power. Even the dogs got a bath before we put up the cleaning stuff: No sense having a clean outdoor living area inhabited by dirty dogs.

For reward, we treated ourselves this evening to oven-fried shrimp po’ boys with sweet potato fries and cucumber salad. The afternoon thundershowers missed direct hits, but they were close enough to blow up some comforting breeze right about supper time, so we dined outside to celebrate the effort of our cleaning labors.

Patiofare was the Saturday night reward for patio cleaning.

Patiofare was the Saturday night reward for patio cleaning.

Dog Days in August: A Month-Long Sunday Night at Work Tuesday, Aug 5 2014 

Granted, Gulf Coast weather in this climatological peak of summer is as sultry as sweat. And lots of sweat. We call this season the “dog days.” Not really sure what it has to do with dogs, but somehow the figurative intent of the expression makes a sensible connection.

We must survive the withering "daze" of preparation as summer wanes!

We must survive the withering “daze” of preparation as summer wanes!

In the profession of education, though, the season is doubly harsh. Yes, the weather is insufferable, but so is the saddening prospect that blissful days of summer ease are numbered. In days rather than weeks, harsh-sounding school bells will clarion the end of vacation and the beginning of one more nine-month grind. Those who have never taught don’t understand it. In fact, many accuse those who profess the teaching arts of childish, selfish, even unappreciative behavior, since other professions don’t get two-plus months of liberty in the peak of the holiday season. Whatever conclusion or judgment the public would voice either for or against the profession, such is the culture and rhythm of school work.

As a 12 month administrator in post-secondary, the change in season is not as striking, because I’ve punched the clock every day all summer. But even so, my summer routine rages not nearly as tempestuous as regular semesters; the soft season provides a reposeful island amid the chaos and delirium that so often rules the academy during the other nine and a half months.

So now, how sad: the peaceful ease and tranquility that attended June and July will evaporate as jittery, stressful days of August turn to planning, starting, and managing crises that erupt moment-by-moment until mid-September. Yes, in the profession of education, August is a long Sunday night in the ebb and flow of school routines. At all levels, we feel the lonesome soulness that tends this back-to-school season in these enduring “daze” of preparation.