27 Years

Filed under: — Joe @ 11:14 am

Lots of things change.  Grief doesn’t go away.

R.I.P. Scott Daniel Ugoretz.

February 24, 1964-October 28, 1988.


26 years

Filed under: — Joe @ 12:02 pm

R.I.P. Scott Daniel Ugoretz.

February 24, 1964-October 28, 1988.

It seems a strange thing to do on a sad anniversary, but tonight I’m taking my class to see Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera.  It was just the way the schedule worked out.  Last night talking to my parents on the phone I said that Scott would have enjoyed the opera, but then after getting off the phone I remembered that he and I went to the opera together several times as kids, and Carmen was one of the operas we saw.

I wonder if that was in my head somewhere when I made this reservation.  It was some kind of program for elementary school kids to be exposed to opera at the San Diego Civic Center.  I don’t remember how old we were–I think I was probably 8, so Scott would have been 7.  Or something like that.  I can actually picture the costumes and set, and remember talking to him about it afterwards.  In fact (and I’m not proud of this) we both agreed that the woman singing the title role was too fat.  And we actually wrote a letter to the opera saying so–that we couldn’t believe someone so fat was believable in the role of Carmen.  It’s embarrassing to remember that we were that shallow and immature and …but we were 7 and 8 years old.

We got a letter back from someone at the opera company (probably in the marketing and communications office) who told us (in quite a snotty tone) that they chose singers based on their singing ability, not their superficial physical attractiveness.  Even at the time, I remember that we felt chastened.

This was part of a time when we had these unlimited public passes.  We could travel anywhere in San Diego, and I remember trips to Balboa Park, to Fashion Valley mall, to the main library in downtown San Diego, and Horton Plaza–which at that time was extremely seedy.  Sailors, homeless people, prostitutes and petty criminals and vendors.  We traveled everywhere and I think that freedom (we had no money so mainly just went places to walk around and look around) made both of us comfortable in cities and new places–and we experienced something similar in our trip to Europe together, the last summer before he got sick and lost the person he was.

We were also big on writing letters then.  I remember in addition to the letter to the opera a letter to San Diego Rapid Transit praising our usual bus driver.  I remember his name was Floyd Chapman, and he was friendly and protective and funny.  The SDRT responded to us, too, and told us that they would tell Mr. Chapman and his supervisor about our letter.  We were so pleased to see his big smile and he shook our hands the next time we rode his bus.

Scott and I were close–partners in letters, in exploring, in talking and arguing.  For so many years.  On anniversaries like today, and in fact often still, I remember that closeness and the times we had together before he was gone.

I wish I could talk to him today.  And many days.



25 Years

Filed under: — Joe @ 7:39 am

An impossible number to really comprehend.


R.I.P. Scott Daniel Ugoretz.

February 24, 1964-October 28, 1988.


On Being a Wizard

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:23 pm

There are many things to like about Gandalf, but one of the best is that he is a wizard not because he is some kind of magical creature, not because some other wizard bit him, but because he learned to be a wizard. When he has a serious question, what does he do? He goes to the library!

(First animated gif I made from “scratch,” too).



Walking the Open Dissertation Walk

Filed under: — Joe @ 5:01 pm

Inspired by some conversations about copyright and third-party “sales” of dissertations, I decided it’s high time (embarrassed I haven’t done this before!) to get my dissertation out there and available for anyone who wants to read it.  Please do read, do comment, do share, and let me know that you did!

So, in several different formats, here we go.

First, if you don’t want to read the whole thing, why not just look at the cloud.

Or if you are inclined to read, you can download, or read here on the screen, the abstract.

Download (PDF, 50KB)

And if that piqued your interest, you can either download or read right here the whole megillah:

Download (PDF, 1.78MB)


Shooting in Arizona

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:15 pm

I don’t really have the wit or the writing skill to explain what troubles me most about the recent shooting in Arizona.  It’s troubling on so many levels.  There’s plenty of valid criticism to be made about the poisonous, venomous, right-wing rhetoric (and yes, you can find some on the left, too, but these days it’s overwhelmingly from the right) that passes for political “discourse.”  There’s plenty to be said about “don’t retreat, reload” and crosshairs on congressional districts, and “second amendment solutions.”  All of that is very dangerous, very ugly, and while it’s a symptom, not a cause, it’s still a troubling symptom.

But there’s also some other rhetoric that demands critique and examination and soul-searching.  I’m reading, from all sides of the political spectrum (but again, mostly from the right), things like “lunatic,” whackjob,” “psycho,” “nutter,” “head case.”

The main, primary tragedy here is the innocent people, including the young girl, who were killed or wounded. But there’s another tragedy, too.  And in a way there’s another victim.  The young man who did the shooting had a terrible illness.  And (as far as we know now) it was completely untreated.  We haven’t at this point heard anything from his family, but I know how hard it can be to treat someone with this illness.  How hard it can be to watch him deteriorate and separate from all that he was.  We do know that this young man acted out in class, and we do know that the school identified the problem as one of mental illness.  And I know that sometimes schools, even schools where they should know better, identify the kind of behavior he demonstrated as just “bad” behavior, without even asking for or requiring treatment.

Most people with the illness this young man had are not violent at all–at least not to other people.  And it’s a terrible shame that he killed and hurt so many innocent others.  But it’s also a terrible shame how vastly more often this illness kills and hurts the people who suffer from the illness–taking away the people that they were, even taking away their physical health or sometimes their lives.  And hurting–even if not with shooting–many innocent people, too–their families and friends.

We need to think about political discourse.  We need to think about poisonous partisan hatred.  But we also need–every day–today–to think about how we respond, how we fail to treat, fail to understand, fail to identify, the illness that destroys so many more lives all the time…even (or especially) when there is no gun, no shooter, but still a complete and tragic destruction of a person.


22 Years

Filed under: — Joe @ 7:16 pm


R.I.P. Scott Daniel Ugoretz.

February 24, 1964-October 28, 1988.

A site with some photos and a letter from someone who knew him.


Some Personal–Career–Progress

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:02 pm

I’ve had a very good three years at Macaulay Honors College as Director of Technology and Learning. It’s been a good position, a good fit for me, and I have enjoyed the challenges and opportunities. But as is usual, I’ve been wanting more–more involvement with the “I” in “IT,” the “Learning” in “Technology and Learning.” I have ideas about curriculum and ideas about student projects and progress, and about faculty development and new initiatives.

So I’m pleased to say that my contributions and my eagerness to do more have been recognized and rewarded, and I’m now (as of September 1) Associate Dean of Teaching, Learning and Technology. Even with an official press release and announcement! 🙂

This means a great deal to me personally, and a great deal to me professionally. I’m hoping and expecting that it will mean a great deal to the college and our students and faculty, too.


Vassar Talk Tech

Filed under: — Joe @ 4:07 pm

Talk Tech I had a great time talking to the guys at the Vassar Talk Tech radio broadcast (WVKR 91.3) this week. Not only did I get to talk about eportfolios (always good), but was able to stay and discuss the iPad.

Thanks, guys!



WordCamp NYC Coming Up

Filed under: — Joe @ 1:58 pm

Coming this Saturday, and it should be a great day. I’ll be on the roundtable on the future of WordPress in Education, and presenting my own eportfolio spiel:

Eportfolios are (too often) seen as tools for assessment, for assignments, or for career placement. But thanks to WordPress and BuddyPress, at Macaulay Honors College, we’ve been able to set up an entirely flexible and free tool, allowing students (and faculty, and instructional technology fellows) to redefine the term “Eportfolio” and to let them each create a “Cabinet of Curiosities” or a “Museum of Me,” which promotes reflection, interaction, and truly integrative learning. These eportfolios are student-driven and student-designed, and the flexibility of WordPress allows us to watch as students forge new paths, and create an eportfolio model which is new in higher education, and which has the potential to work for students beyond the classroom, beyond the college.


21 Years

Filed under: — Joe @ 5:28 pm

Even still it’s a sharp pain–it doesn’t really lose the edge.

R.I.P. Scott Daniel Ugoretz.

February 24, 1964-October 28, 1988.


September 11

Filed under: — Joe @ 11:11 am

This, lightly edited, is the email I sent to my family in other places on September 12, 2001.

I was in the subway when the first blast happened, and some people got on my train and started talking about a plane crash and brushing broken glass from their clothes and hair. I pretty much ignored them. Then I got out of the train at City Hall and started walking across town. I heard a lot of sirens and a helicopter and at the next intersection I looked up and saw the flaming hole in the first WTC building. I looked back down and started walking quick to work at BMCC to call Beth to tell her to stay home (cell phones were not working, pay phones had long lines, people were running up the street crying).

Then I heard an echoing explosion, like a series of 3 or 5 loud rippling bangs, and I looked up and saw the huge cloud of smoke and flame (and large pieces of debris–people next to me said they saw people falling in the air, but I don’t think I saw that–not clearly) coming out of the second building.

I ran to work and called Beth–I wanted to tell her to stay home, because the subways would be a mess. At that point I thought it was just something like a gas fire. Somebody told me that a plane had crashed into the WTC, but I didn’t really believe it.

Then they started evacuating the college.

I walked out the North Entrance (about eight blocks north of the WTC) and saw two of my students, one crying and both pretty freaked out. I started walking with them, telling them I would help them get to Brooklyn, and that we should get out of the area, but we would be OK.

We made our way East and South and when we got to Broadway, turned South to go to the Brooklyn Bridge. Then we heard a loud noise like a subway train or a jet plane was going right down the street. Everyone stopped and looked around.

Then people were running north, towards us, from the south (the WTC, about 6 blocks south and 3 blocks west) I saw some running police and firefighters, running away from the WTC, then more and more people, a big crowd. I lost track of my students. I looked south where the people were running from and saw a huge cloud of smoke and debris (many stories tall, taller than the surrounding buildings) billowing and rushing up Broadway behind the mob of running people. I turned and started running. I saw a pair of high-heeled shoes that a woman must have just abandoned to run faster. Then a lady next to me fell down and people started trampling her. I got behind her and picked her up and she ran away. I thought I might fall or get hit by broken glass so I hid in a doorway and covered my face. Then the leading edge of the cloud was past and the air was dusty but there weren’t people running anymore.

I looked south and I couldn’t see where the Brooklyn Bridge was. Just the cloud of dust. So I turned north. I wanted to get out of Manhattan.

I walked towards Canal Street. People in the crowd were saying that nobody was being let out of Manhattan, that all the bridges were closed by trucks and troops. I thought “I don’t care. They can’t keep me here. I am going home.” I got on the Manhattan Bridge. As I was walking across I looked back and saw only one tower of the WTC standing. Then I heard that subway sound again and I looked again and saw the second building coming down. People in the crowd were saying that more planes were coming, and that they were going to attack the bridges next. I kept looking over the edge of the bridge to check the distance to the ground in case I had to jump.

I walked all the way to Brooklyn, and kept trying to call Beth on my cell phone until the battery died. When I found a pay phone with not a long line, I tried that, but the call wouldn’t go through.

So I just walked the rest of the way home. I was covered with the dust and ashes, and when I walked in I had to keep telling Beth that I was OK. Then Beth went to get Julie at school. I am just so happy we are all OK. (alternating with incredible anger at the bastards who did this, and those who are celebrating our grief and fear)

I talked to a lot of people, and I saw a lot of New Yorkers comforting each other, even strangers. At one point I was having some trouble breathing (mostly anxiety, some asthma) and a guy came over and helped me. Then I was OK, and I said thanks, and he walked away.

I feel so bad for the many people who lost loved ones.

Just thought I’d write it all down.


Newspapers Will Fold?

Filed under: — Joe @ 9:52 pm

Time Magazine lists 10 Newspapers that will either Fold or Go Under Next.

1. The Philadelphia Daily News
2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune
3. The Miami Herald
4. The Detroit News
5. The Boston Globe.
6. The San Francisco Chronicle.
7. The Chicago Sun Times
8. NY Daily News
9. The Fort Worth Star Telegram
10. The Cleveland Plain Dealer

They give their reasoning for each one in the linked article above. It could be they’re right, even about all of them.

But here’s something I notice…I read this list because of a link from one of my twitter community–somebody I don’t know in “real life” at all. He linked to this Time Magazine story. On Yahoo News (where that link above is going to). And Time is actually just taking it from 24/7wallst.com.

So if I’m counting right, this story reached me only after being re-purposed 4 times from its original source. And now it’s reaching anyone reading this after a 5th.

Content “producers” become content aggregators–and content “consumers” become content disseminators in the new media economy. And then those disseminators comment on the content, and re-purpose it, and make their own points. Like I’m doing here. So everybody’s role gets reshaped. Who’s the “real” producer?

Interesting times, that’s who.

(And by the way, I can’t think of a time in the past 10 years or more when I’ve actually bought a paper copy of Time Magazine–or even touched one except when stranded in a doctor’s office with nothing else available.)


20 Years Later, Remembering

Filed under: — Joe @ 10:55 am


R.I.P. Scott Daniel Ugoretz.

February 24, 1964-October 28, 1988.



Filed under: — Joe @ 9:24 pm

Mexican FoodEven with ongoing health issues, I still enjoy everyday absurdities, which is why I’m a big fan of The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

It’s not a terribly mean grammar “gotcha” site. It’s really just for fun, and many of the finds are quite hilarious.

So I sent in a photo of my own–a sign that I noticed right here in Brooklyn. And today it was posted! This is a measure of fame that I can handle–first name only, and just plain silliness!

(I saw another classic–the “all you can eat” pancake breakfast, over the weekend, but didn’t snap a photo).

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