September 12, 2007

Back in the classroom and back at the keyboard

SACRAMENTO, Calif. USA - The dominant feature of my in-home office right now is a Mexico countdown calendar, which already has an impressive number of Xs on it as September slips away and we look at the much cooler days of October. Today, it looks like the temperature will barely crest 80 degrees after a couple of weeks of close to 100,

Already, my vow to wear shorts and sandals until I leave for Mexico in mid-December is looking like it will be test of mind over temperature.

Marking off the days

There is a certain shock in being back in the classroom for four classes - two basic newswriting classes, a magazine writing class and a column writing class (a class I haven't taught since about 2000). But compared to the political battles of last year (leading to a vote of no confidence in the university president) the questions of undergraduates about news values and how to pursue their research for stories is a welcome relief.

The fun thing about being in the classroom, is finding out what's new with these students. A writing group last night told me that the hot new college-age trend for recreation is - are you ready? - board games.

Board games?

Yup, Scrabble topped the list, but there were some others. Parker Brothers rule!

Of course, the lunacy in other areas is hard to avoid. At a small lake, three hours north of town the Department of Fish & Game is poisoning the water to rid the lake of Northern Pike - a non-native fish that somehow showed up there 10 years ago and which has resisted an earlier attempt at poisoning. This one will cost $16 million and kill everything in the lake.

Yup, $16 million - and then the DFG will spent God-knows-how-much on restocking the lake with trout.

Unwanted fish, apparently

The return to Sacramento has also meant a return to some of the foulest air in the United States. (I believe Sacramento is ranked as having the 10th worst air in the nation, even fouler than Los Angeles.) The only good news in that is that in the fall, the cool air at night drops all the pollution down to the ground. The bad news is a freshly washed car is covered with silt, dust and half-burn hydrocarbon every morning.

That's ok though, I suppose, because I need the stretching exercise, washing the cars a lot.

How many weeks until we move to Mexico?

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