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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Boo F*&^ing Hoo

In an attempt to reduce stress for the students, the administration has proposed adding another break to the spring semester and lengthening the Thanksgiving break slightly. In addition to the current spring break, there would be another short break in February. To make up for the couple of days that this would entail, the pre-finals study period would be shortened from seven days to four, the finals period would be shortened from eight to six, and "senior week' would go from seven days to three. (yes, it's true, the last day of classes is May 4, and graduation is May 27. You do the math.) I would've expected that this would be popular, but then again I am an old biddy who never got a study period. We had "Dead Week", where we didn't have any tests or assignments due, but still had classes. Finals week was five days, and the senior week was 3-4 days, depending on when you finished your finals. We were on the quarter system, so we did this did this three times a year, not two. As far as I know, it is still done this way there. A quick poll of grad students and friends at other universities revealed that a minimal study period is still pretty much the norm. Nonetheless, the proposal precipitated a giant shitstorm from the students because they think this will greatly increase stress. I just don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I would've liked to have a week with no classes prior to finals, but if I could've traded some of it for a few days off during the term I would've totally done so. For me, a longer pre-finals and finals week would just prolong the stress, rather than help with it. While I respect the opinions of the students who are very outspoken in favor of the current schedule, there is part of me that wonders what the overall outcome would be with the proposed schedule. I suspect that it's a question of benefiting a few vs many people. The administration is probably thinking about the kind of extreme stress that can lead a few people to commit suicide, whereas the students may be thinking of it more in terms of their own personal stress. However, no one is coming out and saying this. Back at MIT we were no strangers to stress. We got a four day weekend every full month of classes. This was achieved by tacking on an extra day off for a few state or national holidays, ostensibly in the interest of keeping the MWF classes on track with the TTh classes. (Hello Patriot's Day!) The university claimed it was for stress relief, but the word on the street was that it was their way of preventing suicides. It seemed to work, and was quite popular with everyone. The cynic in me thinks that the Cornell students should just suck it up and have a few fewer days of partying in the interest of the greater good. They just might find that the extra vacations really help.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chicken Black Bean Chili

I don't make chili very often - I've got a weird aversion to ground meat, especially ground beef. My brother sent me some turbo charged chile powder (New Mexico chiles with enough ghost chiles to give it a serious kick, aka green ghost powder) so I decided to make some. I opted to use boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of ground meat. And, since I had canned black beans, I used those. It came out way better than I expected. The chicken fell apart into nice shreddy pieces and I am already planning on making it again soon.

Old Biddy's "No Pink Slime Plz" Chicken Chili

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 1/2 red bell peppers, chopped
Taco seasoning
olive oil for sauteeing
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ghost chile/New Mexico chile powder (this stuff is hot!)
3 cloves garlic
3 cans black beans
salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle taco seasoning on chicken cubes. Brown chicken and peppers and place in crock pot. Add remaining ingredients and a bit of water. Cook on high for several hours until chicken is falling apart and beans are soft.