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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Romanian Tribute to Neil Armstrong

On my 69th birthday, 25 August, 2012, America and Earth lost a hero.  This image of his imaginary grave marker for The Merry Cemetery of Săpănța* in Maramureș was sent to me by my good friend Lucian Bogdan of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, who has kindly translated it for me, and for my readers.

English Translation by Dr. Lucian Bogdan, Ph.D., of the American Studies Program, Faculty of European Studies, Universitatea Babeș-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, Romania:

It was about 1969,
When the world was split in two:
Us: we hitched a ride to the moon,

The Russians: no, it's a hoax!
That they saw in my helmet
The glittering of Hollywood
Reflecting people dressed up
in city slicker clothes: "that's John Wayne!"
But they failed to explain
How I was able to jump as if I were in "Matrix"
Without gravity
As if levitated!
For, my cousin, back then we had
Neither Finalcut, nor Premiere

So that you won't believe the Russians,
Let me tell you now a secret:
On the moon, wherever you may look,
It's as dusty as in Bucharest!
Do you think I could have made it up
without touching down on it?
Judge for yourselves
whether it's the Russians or us that are lying!

Saying hello from outer space,
Neil, son of the man with a strong arm!

*See link: The Merry Cemetery of Săpănța

Chennai, Mahabalipuram, and Malanai

The flight Wednesday night from Bangalore to Chennai was uneventful.  

Thursday morning, I was taken on a guided tour of Mahabalipuram, an archeological site on the shore of the Bay of Bengal near the city of Chennai (formerly Madras).
Goats resting in the parking lot at Mahabalipuram

 This Sixth Century temple was excavated from sand dunes about 100 years ago.  There once were six temples here, stretching toward the sea, but the others now lie beneath the Bay of Bengal.  One more is said to have appeared briefly during the ebb flow of the Tsunami of 26 December, 2004.

Mahabalipuram is a fishing village.  The fishermen are said to have been heading to sea when they felt the sea falling, and to have returned quickly to warn the village.  The water is said to have covered the village to a depth of 15 meters.  As a result of the fishermen's warning, the village had been evacuated, and no one in Mahabalipuram was killed by the Tsunami.

The slightly-inland Temple of Five Chariots is a monolithic sculpture.  Its reliefs relate the legend of a man named Arjuna, who is said to have left his mother and four brothers to go into the jungle to do penance.
For twenty years, he stood on one leg with his hands folded above his head.  After this time, a Hindu God appeared, and gave him a power (the guide said it was a bow and arrow).  Still he stood in penance, until a beautiful girl became attracted to him, and one day asked if he was still bound by his penance.  He told her "I am bound no more.  the Goddess has given me power."  She said, "Then come and I will marry you."  So, he took her to his mother's house.  But when he arrived, his mother was in a bath, so he called to her, "Mother, I have completed my penance, and I am home.  Come out, I have brought you a gift."  She called back to him, "That is such wonderful news, my son, that I need no other gift from you.  Please instead share it with your four brothers."  Hence, the beautiful young woman took five husbands, and the monument represents five chariots, five places for shaded rest, and a nearby cave sculpture has five sleeping chambers.

While in the Chennai area, I am staying on campus at GLIM, Manamai, the Great Lakes Institute of Management. 
The Tower of Reflection at the center of the GLIM Campus

The Great Lakes referred to in the Institute's name are Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Eire, and Lake Ontario, all in North America.  The school's founder and dean, Dr. Bala V. Balachandran, is still a faculty member at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University, and has a home in Northbrook, Illinois, where my Nana (the late Sophie (Voltz) Brueggeman, 1877-1967) spent her childhood at the family farm on Voltz Road.  Dr. Bala used to live in Wilmette, and two of his sons attended my high school, New Trier High School in Winnetka.  

Da, da!  There are no coincidences.  Adevarat!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bangalore and Mysore

Perhaps nothing so impresses the first-time visitor to Bangalore as the traffic, and the ubiquitous three-wheeled "motorized rickshaws."
I am about to check out of the excellent Ibis Hotel Bengaluru Hosur Road in Bangalore, India.  I have been staying here for the past six days, but today will head east to Chennai (formerly Madras) on the Bay of Bengal, a half-hour's flight or a six-hour train ride from Bangalore.
Palace of the Maharajah, Mysore
My first days in India have been busy, and gratifying.  I have been visiting an excellent graduate business school here, and have become friends with a number of their faculty.  On Sunday, I was taken as a tourist to Mysore, the seat of the Maharajah of Southern India, where I was able to visit two palaces, that of Tipu Sultan, a great general who held the British Empire at bay for many years, and that of the Maharajah, himself.
Living hieroglyphs, hitched to a cart of sugar cane.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Logan Airport Non-coincidence

Alina Sime is in the black suit with the red Chute, lower-left.
(All Photos from Alina Sime's Facebook page.)

Last night at Boston, I picked up our latest Plymouth State University MBA student from UBB/FSEGA.  His name is Daniel Rusu.  He is from Cluj, and will soon be working as a graduate assistant in the College of Business Administration.  (Perhaps, dear Romanian Reader, you and a partner should apply for next year's class!)
Alina and friends

At the airport, while waiting for the arriving passengers outside of the Customs area, I stood with a group of skydivers identifiable as such by the bat-suits they were wearing ... the Pepperell (Massachuseets) Skydiving Team to be exact.  They were waiting for a teammate to return from Europe, where he had been in a competition.  I mentioned to a young woman in the group that I was waiting for a Romanian MBA student to arrive.
She said, "Oh, I am from Romania."  Her name is Adriana.  She lived 19 years in Galaţi before coming to Colby College in Maine, and going on to graduate school at the U. of Maryland.  We talked a bit about Romania, and I told her about my UBB-FSEGA student, Alina Sime, the Romanian women's spot-diving champion of 2008, valedictorian of the Englishline, also degreed in environmental engineering, and now an environmental consultant in Bucharest, a wife, a mother, and still active in her favorite sport.
Alina Meda Sime hitting the spot.

I am proud of Alina, one of my very best FSEGA students, and a fine young woman, indeed!

Pepperell Skydiver Adriana's teammate arrived bearing a trophy, and the Pepperell Skydivers erupted in cheers.  I smiled with them, and considered the probabilities.   (There are no coincidences.)
Alina and David at the Airport (Clinceni?)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Education Debate Entered on Facebook

A Facebook friend posted this link today, and I felt compelled to respond.
Very imteresting read..and I'd particularly like to see what Amy F has to say on this subject.

    • Duncan C. McDougall If our universities had championed free thought, intellectual rigor, and truly broad, unbiased cultural and historical studies, I would mourn with you. A few great private universities still do so. But, the role of too many public and private colleges has become simply to inventory for four or five years the unemployed youth of America, keeping them paying (and borrowing), and passing them in their courses no matter how little they read, how little they care, and how ill-prepared they were upon entering. The collapse of American education is an unforeseen effect of women's liberation. Fifty years ago, the women at the top of the class became teachers. Today they are becoming MDs, PhDs, bankers, lawyers, managers, financiers, and CEOs, and a much lower cut of the population is choosing primary and secondary school teaching as a career. I applaud equal opportunity, but I believe that our society must find a way to make teaching attractive to the top ten percent of students, or our school systems will continue to erode. Want to know why Johnny can't do math? It is because his teacher can't do math! Want to know why Jane can't spell? It is because in first grade, her teacher praised her, without also correcting her, for having phonetically "sounded out" and written "gote" under a picture of a goat. The degree to which our educational system is broken, and the complexity of the issues involved, truly boggle the mind. But I am quite sure it is not due to the exploitation of adjunct teachers. I started my teaching career as an adjunct. So have many, many professors in professional schools. We taught in the evenings, after doing our "day jobs." We did not mind the token pay, for teaching was for us a way of "giving back" to society. Many adjunct professors do an outstanding job, and bring real-world perspective into the classroom. I believe that the article linked above is a written by a sad and narrow-viewed unionist. I can say from personal experience of some thirty years in higher education, that accusing "the establishment" of consciously destroying the universities is nonsense. The establishment in America mourns the great institutions that used to say to the freshmen, "Look to your left, look to your right, only one of the three of you will be here next term." In that era, society thrived and grew. Only the meritorious earned academic honors, a "gentleman's C" was a respectable grade, and a college degree, when combined with a healthy work ethic, was a ticket to prosperity. The egalitarian ethos of the "social justice" movement ran a few correlations, learned that a college degree could be associated with a major boost in lifetime income, and concluded that everyone should have a college degree. (The Wizard of Oz to the Scarecrow: "You don't need a brain, you need a diploma!") The result: a far greater percentage of high school graduates went to college, the colleges grew and multiplied for five decades, and their standards eroded. I am proud of my University because my recording of the grades earned in my Management Accounting courses by the undergraduate business students, which averaged within one-tenth of a point of 2.0 (an average of "C") for thirty-odd years, was never criticized. My students in the 1970s dubbed me "Flunkin' Duncan," and my department chairman called me the quality control manager of the business programs. I wonder how many of us dinosaurs remain active! (Thus endeth the Rant.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Asian Comings and Goings, or "Fera and Afar"

With Sorin Ungariu and Roxy Fera in Sibiu, 2009
The big news at Hotel New Hampshire since my return from Alaska is the arrival from China of our dear friend Roxy Fera.  Long-time followers of my blogs will recall that I met Roxy in her home town of Sibiu, Romania, during my Fulbright year of 2008-09.  Since then, Roxy has lived in Oxford, UK, and taught English in China for two years.  She and I have kept in touch over the Internet, with the result that when a delegation of Plymouth State University deans visited Hangzhou, China last year, Roxy happened to meet them at her university.  (China is a big country ... could it be that there are no coincidences?)   The result: Plymouth State has a new international student in the MEd Program, and we are blessed with a new guest at our home.  We welcome Roxy, and wish her a great experience here in New Hampshire!

Oh yes, and in 11 days I shall again be going afar, flying to London, then on to Bangalore, India for a ten-day academic visit.  Life goes on!