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The Weekly Blab 4.12

The Weekly Blab

Volume 4, Issue 12—February 12, 2010


It Was an Unusual Week…

Last week was an unusual one, with a number of unusual things happening.  It started on Super Bowl Sunday.  I’ve never watched a Super Bowl before in my life, but Jill had invited our next-door neighbor to watch the game (Jill likes the commercials).  I wanted to be polite, so I watched the game.  I know I’m in a tiny minority here, but I’m just not a football fan.  I don’t like the fact that they switch the offense and defense squads in and out (what, no stamina?), that time outs can be called, that the clock can be stopped, and so on.  Give me soccer any day, and wait ‘till the World Cup—now that’s an event!  Still, I have to admit the game wasn’t bad, and I found myself enjoying most of it.  So, I guess I can’t be as much of a soccer snob as before.


On Monday, I attended the first meeting of the reactivated SPSU student chapter of the NAACP.  Aaron Love, the student chapter president (and a heck of a nice guy), had asked me to show the powerpoint on the History of Diversity at SPSU that Jeff Orr and I had developed.  The presentation was originally made for the USG’s Conference on Diversity a few months back.  Since only a half-dozen Universities wound up submitting something, the presentation session got cancelled.  Lots of people at the meeting were interested, and most were unaware of SPSU’s history on this subject.  We’ll show the powerpoint again to any who are interested, later in the term.


On Wednesday, as I was driving to work, I came within an inch of being hit by a truck.  I was driving down Roswell Road, and a truck in the left lane had to brake sharply to avoid hitting the car in front of him.  He saw he wasn’t going to be able to stop in time, so he swerved right at me, and I had to swerve into the turning lane.  Fortunately, there was no one in it, but it was scary enough.


Thursday, there was another NAACP event, this time the movie “Glory Road”.  For those who don’t know, it’s the unbelievable story of the West Texas College (now University of Texas—El Paso) basketball team, one of the first at a non-HBCU to play more than one African-American on its team.  Despite the fact that they were unranked and were coached by a man whose previous job had been as a women’s basketball coach at a high school, they went on to beat Kentucky for the NCAA championship.   It was an excellent movie that showed the difficulties and racism that the team had to face.  What was really unbelievable was that in the audience and speaking after the movie was Henry Flournoy, one of the players on the team who now lives in Georgia.  He spoke eloquently for about 30 minutes on the importance of education, and took questions from the audience.  In response to a question, he mentioned that the racism actually got worse after the team won the national championship, and the city of El Paso didn’t embrace this remarkable event until 20 years later.  It was a real privilege to meet him.   Also part of the event was the reading of a poem by Urban Light, an Atlanta poet whose son will likely be attending SPSU next fall.  And as if all that wasn’t enough to make this a cool evening, just before the movie, a young lady came up to me and introduced herself by saying “Hi, Dad”.  When I turned around to see what that was about, she told me her name was Zifrin, and due to the similarity of her name to mine, she constantly gets asked if we’re related, or if I’m her father.  So, she said, she has decided to call me Dad, and I’ve got a new daughter.  Now that’s a fate you wouldn’t want to wish on anyone—to be named Zifrin Szafran!  [Of course, her real last name isn’t Szafran.]  So, this turned out to be one of the most interesting evenings I’ve had in 20 years.


Finally, since Lisa was downtown for meetings on Friday, I got to make the call to cancel classes when it began to snow heavily (at least for Atlanta).  I was laughing at the irony, since back in New Hampshire, this would have been viewed as a nice spring day.


Now it’s on to watch the Olympics.  And speaking of the Olympics, if you want to see something really strange, go onto Youtube and search under my name, and you can see me win a medal at the European Judo Championships.  [Yes, there is another Zvi Szafran!]


Advising Plan Comin’ Up

The Deans Council recently endorsed a draft proposal for providing enhanced training for faculty advisors (both full-time and part-time).  The proposal is in response to P&P 308.0, which calls on the VPAA and school deans to ensure that an effective academic advising program is in place, and to conduct ongoing assessments to improve the University’s advisement program.  As many of you know, this is also the year that the USG is making a major push on advisement and improving retention and graduation rates.  The proposal is on its way to the Faculty Senate for their endorsement, so if you have any comments, you should share them with your senator.


We and Our Shadow

As part of the Executive Leadership Institute being run by the USG, we have two visitors doing their shadowing at SPSU.  Working with Lisa and with me is Dr. Al Panu, who is Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at Gainesville State College.   Al is a fellow chemist, so you know he has to be a nice guy, and will be working with us on communication and graduation issues.   When you see him on campus, be sure to say “Hi”. 


Still Cataloguing, and a Contest

I’m still cataloguing the vast Szafran CD Repository.  The current count is 3,480 different albums (4,805 discs).   In the lead is Duke Ellington at 123, followed close behind by Stan Kenton at 108.  Jazz dominates at this point, with 1,875 albums.  I’m only up to “M” on both pop and jazz, and haven’t touched the Classical or World Music racks yet, nor have I done any of Jill or Mark’s discs.  If anyone wants to guess the ultimate number, I’ll give a CD to the person who gets closest.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest was won by Mark Vickrey, who got all five.  Way to go, Mark!  He is the proud winner of a jazz CD (of course!).  Here are the answers:

1.   In what country is the movie “Casablanca” set?  Morocco

2.   What African country was founded by freed slaves from the Unites States?  Liberia

3.   What country’s ancient name is from the Egyptian word for “gold”? Nubia (today known as Sudan)

4.   What country was formerly known as the Somali Coast and later, the Territory of the Afars and Issas?  I thought this would be the stumper, but it wasn’t.  The country is Djibouti.

5.   What country was formerly a protectorate or mandate of Germany, France, and England?  Cameroun.


This Week’s Trivia Contest

This week’s contest carries with it the prize of a brand new DVD of “The Gold Diggers of 1935”, a great corny musical from way back when.  All you need to do to win it is to get more of the following correct than anyone else!  Today’s topic is the comic strip “Peanuts”.  No looking on the web, now!


1.  What profession is Charlie Brown’s father?

2.  What is Lucy’s (and Linus’) last name?

3.  Where was Snoopy born?

4.  Who was the teacher that Linus had his first crush on?

5.  Which space flight had a command module named “Charlie Brown” and a lunar landing vehicle named “Snoopy”?