Saturday, March 15, 2003

Note to Self: Things To Avoid In Bangladesh During Monsoon Season

#1. Taking a ferry.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:29 PM | 0 comments

Beware the Ideas of March

Not only is today the Ides of March, it's also been declared International Eat An Animal For PETA Day (originally by Yourish, now spreading across the bloggiverse). Seems a whole crowd of bloggers feel that the new PETA ad campign which compares omnivorous and carnivorous practice with the Holocaust goes way, way too far, far enough to deserve a counter-protest. For my own part, I ate some bits of chicken from some leftover chinese food, and half a pig-and-cheese sandwich so far. Maybe later I'll make a burger, or some fish, just to complete the set.

Personally, I think PETA is shooting themselves in the foot. Buy local meat, as one can do in small towns like our own, and one can feel free to ignore the ads while patting oneself on the back for weakening the mass meat production apparatus through your own savvy consumer practices. My meat doesn't have to come from fear, thanks.

[UPDATE 10:07 p.m. -- It's worse than you think. Today Yourish posted a roundup of bloggiverse responses to MeatDay, including this tasty tidbit:

Elie Wiesel is in the picture of the prisoners in the bunk at Buchenwald; he saw the picture and was stunned that they used it. PETA said in a news article that they weren't even thinking about apologizing to him for it. Plus, they've taken many of the quotes from Jewish organizations and put them on their site, with their "explanation" below. Here's a roundup of negative articles on the campaign.

God save us from machiavellians, especially PETA.]

posted by boyhowdy | 8:23 PM | 0 comments

File Under Music: Reviews and Missing Pieces

Home alone all afternoon, Darcie, baby and dog up at the inlaws in Brattleboro. Messing with the stereo. Thinking about music.

The holes in my music collection aren't physical; they exist only in my memory. Each is a CD or record lost, stolen, sold for grocery money when we were living on minimum wage and not always making it. The three early Bobby McFerrin albums lent out to a fellow Bard College student weeks before I dropped out in 1992. Robert Palmer's excellent Marvin Gaye and Dylan covers on 1990's Don't Explain, sold but sorely missed. Hole, Medeski Martin and Wood, two Sublime albums, all stolen from the media center the first year I worked here.

I don't know why I never buy those albums when I bump into them in record stores. Maybe I'm subconsciously convinced that they sounded better in my head all those missing years. Maybe I'm just too stubborn to repurchase something I already bought once. I suppose I do already own a single-copy license, so could in-good-conscience go to Kazaa...but most of these are either too obscure for mass distribution or are a Sublime album (I do have the Sublime mp3s, legally, I figure, even though I downloaded them off student computers shared across the LAN).

The new self-titled Trey Anastasio album I bought yesterday is really growing on me. The River's been playing Alive Again and, more recently, Cayman Review, a one-two punch at the top of the order folky enough for a station which plays Muddy Waters and PJ Harvey. But now that the whole think loops on the stereo, the album feels good. It runs raggedly consistent from top to bottom, a full experience, as the eclectic tracks run the gamut from acoustic through world music and funk to all out jam. It's not Phish, but pretty good for what it is.

When I got the stereo a couple of years ago, a gift from my father, I chose a record player over a tape deck. It was an easy decision. I knew CD burning was coming, and tapes have always pissed me off. Tapes just seem to me like a mismatched technology when applied to popular music -- there's no easy way to just play one song, or just the songs you like, and skip over the rest.

But although I now have a decent turntable (albeit just one, and no microphone), it supports a lamp, primarily because the tall corner entertainment center looks weird in the corner without a lamp on top of it. The best of the vinyl is out, while three milk cartons full remain in storage, but I hadly hear this music anymore, even in my head, it's been so long. These, too, become missing pieces, literally. Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones, Velvet Underground and Nico, an obscure Dinosaur Jr. EP with a cover of the Cure's Just Like Heaven on one side, and an unplayable image carved-out of the vinyl, a collage of of body organs and, curiously, a box of rice crisps, on the other. If only there was another place to put the lamp. If only it wasn't so dark, and peaceful and sweet, just sitting here doing nothing in the middle of the afternoon, listening to Dolly Parton's voice as it cuts through the fog.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:49 PM | 0 comments

World of Ends: What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else.

The Nutshell

1. The Internet isn't complicated
2. The Internet isn't a thing. It's an agreement.
3. The Internet is stupid.
4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
5. All the Internet's value grows on its edges.
6. Money moves to the suburbs.
7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
8. The Internet’s three virtues:
...a. No one owns it
...b. Everyone can use it
...c. Anyone can improve it
9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?
10. Some mistakes we can stop making already

The whole thing.

Thanks, Ev.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:45 AM | 0 comments

Wait, when will my items arrive? Between three and six days ago? Now that's really going the extra mile for the customer.

Kudos to after all; they seem to have invested in (invented, for all I know) a time machine.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:01 AM | 0 comments

Friday, March 14, 2003

When Flight Attendants Attack

Heard the one about the fed-up flight attendant who tried to get a screaming little girl to shut up by slipping her a crushed Xanax cocktail instead of the apple juice she asked for?

I found the news item in question during my daily browse of Customers Suck, of all places. Thanks to saveyoursanity for passing it along.

Bonus moron points to Northwest Spokeswoman Mary Stanik for the following quote, by the way:

Our standard procedures for flight attendants do not include prescribing medication unless it is through the assistance of a physician with our in-flight emergency services.

Since when is crushing Xanax into a little kid's apple juice standard pharmaceutical protocol? "Prescribing" my ass. The difference should be obvious: when kids are prescribed medicine, usually, the parents know about the prescription. Thanks for the scare, Northwest; from now on, I'm carrying my family's food and drink onto the plane myself.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:21 PM | 0 comments

Deep Thought from the Right

I have trouble seeing the surely-impending Iraqi conflict (Desert Storm Und Drang, perhaps?) in black and white. I recognize the tenuous nature of politics, of world stability, and am made nervous by endemic stupidity and cruelty and political machinations from the liberal left. I lean towards pacifist. I feel like no matter how informed I was, I'd still be on the fence.

It's difficult to be so, surrounded by adolescents most of the time. Teenagers, I've found, are predominantly liberal, partly, I suspect, because they like a good protest, and partly because the average teenager, when asked what he is rebelling against, still says "What have you got?" only in the new millenium he says it with detached irony to the sound of wind whistling through his nipple piercing. And he prefaces this remark, like all remarks, with like, as in like, dunno, whatcha got, dude?

But webblogs brought me to On The Third Hand, which tips the hat to The Emperor Misha and presents the War FAQ, and I'm thinking it's good, and that it's karma.

That's right, it's Answering 50 Frequently Asked Questions About The War On Terrorism, from Right Wing News, which I'd never seen before. But now I'm probably gonna have to, like, come back and look for other, like, stuff, because, like, conservatives, hey, once you dig underneath the conspiracy theories of oil and daddy-revenge, maybe they've got a point.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:20 PM | 0 comments


My CDs from amazon.con didn't arrive today, either. But the check from the insurance company's appraisal did, and the sun was out on a clear and mild blue sky day, so after stopping at a d'angelos for steak and cheese and double mushrooms with ketchup, mayo and pickles on half a pita (in many ways the perfect sandwich, best eaten in huge waxy swallows off the top of the pita mouth) while the car got lubed next door, we drove north to Putney, Vermont, and Ray's Auto Body, into the bright snow lining the highways like fluorescent lights around the bathroom mirror.

The grandparent mobile lurked brightly in the afternoon sun at the lot where Darcie dropped me off. The glint was uneven, of course, new parts on the right showing off in the sun while their older brothers on the left hid their scratches under 38 thousand miles of dirt and bugs, winters and summers. But somehow the car, for so long my grandfather's, felt right in a way it hadn't before. Maybe it just seems more mine now that we've been in a major accident together -- if there's one thing I've learned several times over, it's that stress brings out strong emotional attachments.

I signed the insurance check over to Ray himself and drove downstate towards Brattleboro and, soon after, Massachusetts and home. Stopped off for a crossword puzzle and free latte from Ginny at Mocha Joes. Bought two old Spenser books at the used bookstore a bit father down the street, and finally found Darcie a Sea Otter puppet from the Folkmanis collection at Beadniks, a funky bead-and-things store with a huge yellow paper mache sun in the window. Browsed the racks of the new Turn It Up directly above MJ's head, picking up Trey's solo album and Dolly Parton's hardly country Little Sparrow for eight bucks apiece. The latter has a bluegrass cover of Collective Soul's Shine not to be believed.

Drove home. Parked the second car behind the first in the driveway for the first time in three weeks. Played peekaboo across the crib with Willow and Darcie until they went down for their nap. Took a picture of the sun going down. Here it is.

Winter sunset over NMH dorms Rikert and Wallace

posted by boyhowdy | 5:11 PM | 0 comments

Big Bravenet Is Watching You

Not all who wander find what they're looking for.

In the past 48 hours, someone hit this site via a Yahoo search for the phrase "fridge painted like a pickle," someone else by Googling the phrases "groin pull" and "shoveling snow," and a third party searching for "opossum gifts and merchandise."

We once owned a fridge painted like a watermelon, I think. I got Darcie a possum puppet before Christmas. And I did pull my groin a while ago shoveling.

But I can offer no photos of picklefridges, sell neither gifts nor merchandise. I have only sympathy where some guy in pain surely needed advice.

Sorry to disappoint. Especially the guy looking for "Darcie sex."

For more visitor stats, click on the counter down the blog to the right.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:23 AM | 0 comments

Feeling Slimy?

As far as I can tell, Wedgey's Slime Volleyball has no evangelical agenda.

It's just one yellow Inferior Human Controlled Slime against the world.

[UPDATE 8:10 p.m. Reached the third level after several hours. The Slime Master kicked my butt, but I am determined to persevere, at least until I get bored with the whole thing. Figure I'll find another new one in a week or two.]

posted by boyhowdy | 12:03 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Shaw's Blog Lives In My Comments

Call it blogsquatting or underblogging, guerilla blogging or a hostile blogover. Whatever you call it, Shaw has begin a subversive campaign to usurp the comments for Not All Who Wander Are Lost as his own tinyblog.

The primary purpose of this entry is to provide him with ample posting space.

The secondary purpose of this entry, however, is to provide explanation for those who are just arriving on the scene.

If you're totally confused, start here and read subsequent and previous comments.

If you continue to be totally confused, put your head between your knees and breathe deeply. And try not to think of elephants.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:06 PM | 0 comments

Snow, The Other White Meat

We had been lulled into, if not spring, than the hope for spring, after days warm enough for the sap to begin flowing from tap to bucket on the lone maple tree outside our window. The snow startled us. By just before one o'clock the air was dense and white outside the window.

We went to Brattleboro anyway. The dentist wouldn't wait -- my teeth haven't been cleaned in far too long, and the nicotene gum nestled far too long up against my molars has caused some serious cavity action. I watched the baby watch the cukoo clock while Darcie had a quick cleaning first. Then I spent far too long tensed under a hot light. Luckily, Dr. Kauffman keeps CNN on over his patient's heads while he scrapes and grinds, so all I remember about the visit is that they've found that Elizabeth Smart girl, and they're gearing up for war. Nothing new, nor newsworthy, about teeth, or snow, or war or even found kidnappees by now, I suppose, but I hadn't been keeping up, so it was mildly interesting.

Back home the baby was cranky; I shoveled the first layer of snow from the driveway while Darcie made a chicken and risotto dinner for ten students who are spending the week harvesting sap and learning the sugaring process with the NMH farm program, the baby bouncing in her saucer in the kitchen doorway. In return for the dinner, we get a gallon of maple syrup from our own tree and the others on campus. I've recently declared that I will only eat maple syrup which originated within 25 miles of where I am eating it -- mostly because, living in New England, I can -- but this syrup's karma will be exceedingly strong; I envision myself eating waffles at the window, looking at the tree which sweetens my meal as it buds in the coming months, and it makes my heart glad for such a wonderful community, and for our eco-centric life.

Darcie delivered while I danced with the baby to some surprisingly good Liz Phair and Joan Osborne CDs that Ginny left behind. A bath for the baby afterwards; they're settling in now while I contemplate a nice quiet night with nothing on TV but a new ER episode at 10. Ah, vacation. I'll miss it when it's gone.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:33 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

You Also Gotta Fight For Your Right To Play The Accordion

After two run-ins with police for playing his accordion on the streets of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, the Village Council has ruled that Jacob Kouwe can polka once again. Thank goodness.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:16 PM | 0 comments

You Gotta Fight...For Your Right...To Not Fight After All

Just a day after I read a feature somewhere (The Boston Globe? The New York Times?) decrying the almost-total lack of modern anti-war protest songs, Bragg and Earle notwithstanding, the Beastie Boys release In A World Gone Mad..., about which Adam Horovitz has this to say:

This song is not an anti-American or pro-Saddam Hussein statement. This is a statement against an unjustified war.

It's a decent song, and the Boys from Brooklyn have redone their home page to showcase the song and their statement; each is quoted, but other than the download itself, the page offers little more than links for those who wish to get involved.

Download it here or here.

Hey, did you know the Beastie Boys met in Yeshiva?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:05 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Suburban Recitative

As promised, a recap of the four day vacation-within-a-vacation taken by myself, my spouse and my child in Boston and the surrounding suburbs 3/8/03 - 3/11/03. Ginny stayed at our apartment and watched the dog.

On Saturday I woke at ten, in my parent's house and in my brother's old room, now remodeled to a rust-carpeted guest room lined with travel books in newly painted frostywhite shelves. Darcie and the baby, having woken at 7:30 to play with Mom (aka Grandma, to the baby), were ready for their turn on the bed and their midmorning nap. Dad took me to his tailor and had an old suit of his fitted to me. The somber blue with thin grey stripes will do for "formal" on the two nights that require such attire on our summer Alaskan cruise. They also, I've discovered, serve something called a High Dutch Tea on the last afternoon, which sounds a bit Amsterdam Coffeeshoppish, but is probably not at all what it sounds like.

Home again and on the road to the New England Aquarium by noon. We thought the baby would like the fish and were half right, as she liked everything, the flashing headcocked penguins and the glowing blacklight shark models and the bubbles rising from the diver in the big ocean tank. And her fellow visitors, the heaving sweaty tightly-packed masses which began to drive Darcie and I insane after 45 minutes. The baby was sleepy anyway, so we went to the Legal Sea Foods across from the Aquarium and the tourist trolley tracks and ate thick creamy chowder, crab rolls and fries, and midday Chardonnay while the baby threw cookies on the floor.

Back home for a quiet afternoon. Sarah had some friends stop by and I chatted with them while they figured out how to get a nonexistent bus to the other Central Square. Mom eventually drove one of them to the T, the baby fell asleep on a bed surrounded by every couch cushion in the house just in case, and Sarah and Amy watched TV while Darcie and I set up the data projector and VCR I just "happen" to carry in my car during breaks for just such an occasion and watched old Fawlty Towers episodes on the wall in the den while we ate take-out barbecue -- pulled pork and purple ribs, slaw and cornbread and pecan pie -- on the floor.

On Sunday we slept late. After a fun trip to the pet store, where a cinnamon cockatiel hopped on the baby's shoulder for justamoment, Mom and Dad offered to take the baby while Darcie and I had a "date." So we went to the Chestnut Hill Mall, had a luxury brunch at Paparazzi (eggs benedict on filet mignon and lobster for 13 bucks! It came with a Mimosa!), and shopped for baby clothes we couldn't afford from designer stores where even "sale" items never dipped below thirtyfive dollar blouses and eighty dollar jumpers.

By the time we got back at three, Darcie and the baby needed another nap. I went out to sit in Starbucks and drink evil corporate coffee while reading the entire Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series in one sitting, and I broke the passenger side mirror off the car on my parent's fence on my way out of the driveway.

Sunday night Dad had his book group so I went out to Malden to hang with PJ, who had written a rather decent song while I was on my way over. Another old school friend, Bob, stopped by for a while; after he left, we made breakfast (okay, I made english muffins, and PJ made breakfast) and PJ made me watch the first-aired episode of the space western Firefly from a bootleg DVD; I highly recommend it. I stayed way too long and drove back tired and crashed.

It's always a good day when you eat two big meals and both of them are breakfast.

Monday morning we moved the baby seat into my mothers car and started with a visit to Grandpa. He communicates mostly with his eyes now; he can nod to answer yes or no questions, but only speaks on some days, and never on the tooseldom days when I visit. His roommate, Norman, is wheelchair bound as well but more alert and talkative, cooing at the baby while my gentle grandfather looks on ever expressionless. Still, Grandpa seemed rewarded by seeing Willow, especially when she danced for him. He seemed relatively whole, and clean-shaven, which I know makes him happy.

From there to Framingham in the Lexus, my mother behind the wheel, looking for a fabric place called Fabric Place. The downtown neighborhood has become predominantly, ethnically Brazillian in the ten years since I have been through; we park in the Fabric Place lot and walk first down the busy main street in a chill wind past Brazilian supermercados and travel agencies and cultural centers. After some dithering we eat cheeseburgers in the booth of a slightly grimy diner, run by Italians, that served both Pasta Putanesca and Empanadas and had menus in both Portugese and english.

Fabric Place had an endless series of rooms filled with bolts of cloth on shelves, in bins, and in fat quarters, which, like High Dutch Tea, sounds like a drug reference but isn't. My mother and I played with the baby on the floor and talked about her mother's estate while Darcie wandered around gathering patterns and cloth for this summer's petticoats and jumpers for over an hour. Then we paid, and left, and found a different car in our parking space.

The towing company hired by Fabric Place saw us get out of the car and walk purposefully away from the store. Reasonably, how could they know we planned on spending almost a hundred dollars on cloth and string? But we had been there, and the management of Fabric Place was nice enough to call to towing company, and the tow truck driver was nice enough to give me a lift to the muddy lot where the ar was, and the guys behind the desk in the lot were kind enough to waive any charges (they should have, but they didn't have to, you see, so it's still nice), and so that turned out okay. If it had been my car, we'd surely be sitting outside an impound lot right now, counting out our remaining life savings on a brown-grained formica counter.

On our way back we stopped at a wonderful little used clothing store in Auburndale, the next village of Newton over from West Newton (my parents' village) and proceeded to buy about one in ten of the outfits in Willow's size, making moot much of the need, at least, for the cloth-gathering adventure in the first place. Darcie made dinner for the four of us -- two couples of two generations -- and we ate it: walnut and blue cheese on mixed mescline greens, spinach-capped portabella, risotto and roast chicken stuffed with thyme and surrounded by butternut squash. The baby spooned oatmeal and rice onto her brow with a deliberate spoon throughout the meal.

Tuesday I wrote about, mostly, on Tuesday. But before homecoming, we left, which meant hugs for mom and an hour straight of packing, and had lunch with PJ at a Chinese Buffet in the middle of nowhere near his house. PJ seemed agreeable towards but generally unimpressed with the baby -- a behavior I find intelligent and, to be honest, somewhat of a relief, as you get sick of people cooing at you while you're eating.

And today? Ginny stayed on the loveseat last night but left this morning after I came out with the baby at around 8. After a short walk around the warming campus, Darcie's up in Brattleboro with Willow while the power's out for maintenance all day, and I am, to my immense surprise, blogging. The LAN still runs, I can blog as long as the battery lasts. Isn't technology wonderful.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:11 PM | 0 comments

This one's good too.

The reason I like these so much, I think, is that my brother used to do this as a kind of performance art form. He'd make these...xeroxed sheets of cut-out images and surrealistic captions, and then hand them out in harvard square to see what people did. At one point, his entire bedroom was papered with the things.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:51 PM | 0 comments

Farking Around

So far, this is my favorite entry from's ongoing contest challenging smarmy-yet-smart digidweebs everywhere to Photoshop some more appropriate graphics for

But why take my word for it? Come see the current voting results.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:44 PM | 0 comments


In an act somewhere between grassroots terrorism and writing in the margins of someone else's book (a phrase which, interestingly, also describes American Feed magazine), Shaw (beloved editor of said magazine) has taken over the comments of my blog as his own blogspace.

It seems very organic, and the phenom of sub-literature is, at first, like nothing I've seen. I'm specifically not asking him to stop while I figure out what it means; I'm trying to wrap my mind around this "as" "we" ("may") "speak". Is this like writing one's diary in the margins of the family bible? Is it talmudic? Artistic? Dadaist? If one can read another's dreams inside one's own, even in an open dualistic form like that of the blog/comment dynamic, ownership of thought (intellectual property) is even more than before a whole new ballgame.

I wonder if this has happened to other bloggers, in other blogs? How does it look from outside? When does it become appropriate to add a comments function to the comments fuction?

Kudos to Shaw for blowing my mind. Please hold while we reboot and perform a disk check.

[UPDATE 9:36 p.m. -- Names for this tactic might include Sub-Blogging, Guerilla blogging, blogsurpation, comment bombing, nestled blogging, termiting, underblogging. I like the last one, myself. Submissions and suggestions cheerfully accepted if you've got addenda to this list of possibilities. If folks are interested, maybe a poll/vote to follow]

posted by boyhowdy | 9:22 PM | 0 comments

And Back Again With More To Follow

We're back from four days in the suburbs with my parents, and I'm happy to report that we're all still about as sane as we were before.

Some people dream of life in the suburbs: the white picket fence, the climbing ivy, the house set back from the street behind rhodedendrons, the unused lawn heavily landscaped. Newton, MA, a dense and sprawling immediate suburb less than ten minutes from Boston noted for having the most resident therapists per capita of any township or city anywhere, may be a bit more on the upper side of upper-middle class than the average, but it is prototypical of the suburb form in many ways. Its two malls (one high end, one a bit scarier), its fourteen quaint village centers, its overabundance of brick houses and good schools are the marks of suburbanity, the 666 of the winding residential street.

Once, I was a suburbanite, spending my childhood in those silent yards, my adolescence in the malls and, later, under the bridges and friend's parent's basements of Newton.

It just isn't me anymore. I'm a country boy -- rural by marriage, and by deliberate effort well worth it. The suburbs exhaust me. Too much light pollution; too much peripheral noise, too many cars but too little parking. I need to just relax and process in my own space for the evening.

So call it almost home, mentally-speaking. Tomorrow the power's out for a while so they can fix the local grid, but stay tuned nonetheless for a comprehesive and surely overwhelming blogmissive about the last few days. It's been a doozy of a time. It's good to be home.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:23 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Away Message

Last night we arrived later than expected due to Darcie's frantic rush to make deadline for the last pages of the yearbook and a need for a babynap directly afterwards. My sister was doped up and grumpy, but the rest of us -- mom, dad, Darcie and Willow and I -- went out to a nice glass-walled place for latenight Chinese. My parents have a very different diet, so food out with them is always an adventure: the steamed shrimp dumplings and sesame chicken were MSG-less and deliciously familiar; the garlic spinach, scallops in egg white, and Ants in a Nest (bits of chicken clinging to browned burning-chile-hot cellophane noodles) were a new treat, similarly delicious.

This morning at my father's tailor to rework one of his somber suits into my mostlysimilar frame and new potbelly. Turns out there are two formal dress dinners on the Alaskan cruise at summerend. Did you know you're supposed to wear black shoes with dark blue suits? Guess you learn something new every day. So, shoes will probably happen this weekend too, I'd guess.

And now, a rare moment at the computer, on my father's AOL account. Blogging at my usual pace and time is difficult when we're in Newton, MA. Late night competition for the single computer in my parent's house can be stiff; we're a family with a genetic tendency towards nocturnality (nocturnalness?) and my sister seems to have claimed first rights, given her pain and the need to express it to the cyberverse after having her wisdom teeth removed (we're also a family with a genetic tendency towards wisdom teeth that grow in sideways towards our back molars, pushing against all other teeth; I was lucky; mine point out towards my ears).

Which is by way of saying that blogging may be sparse for a while, at least until Tuesday night when we return. Look to this space for the occasional coming attractions and short onthespot summary of the family visit between now and then; look to it for a quitelikely long and detailed report by Wednesday morning or so. For now, a mere list of what today and tomorrow have in store:

  • Fish with the baby at the New England Aquarium
  • A visit with Grandpa Jerry at the nursing home
  • A date with Darcie while mom and dad watch the baby
  • Aimless late-night drifting around the neighborhood in which I grew up
  • Surely, many more dinners out

Stay tuned for next time, when boyhowdy says...are we there yet?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:38 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Teeth In, Teeth Out

I've been thinking about the word cranky, because the noise emanating from the family bed right now is a creak and a whine, primal, inarticulate, as if cranked from a wheezemaking machine, some sort of mind's-eye turbine. After four perfectly-behaved, from-nowhere incisors the baby is teething painfully on her fifth, an outoforder canine coming through with light blood all day. And the teething makes her congested, which makes her unhappy and choke-y. Darcie was in the bedroom cradling the baby while she snuffled; now she's running the bath for the steam while Willow gurgles and squirms in her vibrating chair.

And I've been thinking about family. Because this is really the longest we've spent together, the three of us, alone, and Willow's finally on the cusp of being a real person, not just a baby -- she has a personality all her own, and we've stopped doing to and started asking about. Words are about to happen -- the baby spent supper looking at the dog and saying "da," then looking at me and thinking. I think we've grown something, completed some stage of familyhood, in the past few days. And some of that's just the isolation, the privacy of us, that happens when the dormitory is otherwise empty and the snow falls all day unexpectedly.

Usually we are in the midst of bustling community, passing in waves just on the other side of the maple. Today we went to the Whately Diner, technically The Fillin' Station, and sat amongs the truckers and the college students, the only family in the place; you can tell it's a real trucker's diner because there's biscuits and sausage gravy on the menu, and because of the showers. And tomorrow we go to Boston for four days to visit my parents, a traveling home or oasis in the midst of the maddening crowd.

My sister's getting her wisdom teeth out tomorrow and will be around, supposedly. But that fact seems more outside us than it used to. They are somehow less my teeth than they once were, just this week, just now. Instead, my teeth are my family, coming in, new, a little painful sometimes. From close up, they look like her fingernails, like tiny crescent moons, breaking through the tiny pink flesh of her mouth.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:22 PM | 0 comments

Oh, The Inanity!

How long can you Hold The Button?

posted by boyhowdy | 4:02 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

On Time

Grades were due today at noon -- the reports digitally, the actual grades on paper to the Registrar's office. I tend to procrastinate not just up to but past the last minute, and am generally notorious for getting them handed in last and holding up the whole report card process, but this term I was only teaching sixteen kids in a single minor course in Mass Media Messages, and so it took only two hours this morning to crank out and submit the grades. Thank goodness I remembered to ask each student to write a short paragraph saying what they learned and what they thought they deserved for a grade; most of them were right, so I just cribbed off each student's own self-analysis to write my own 'graph, which makes the whole process much easier.

It felt weird to be on time. I'm not, usually. I tend to be early for dates and appointments, and late for deadlines. Some of that's just ADHD, coupled with a general tendency to work best under overwhelming time pressure. Some of it's the reactive result of having parents who were punctual with bills but never made it in time to see a movie's opening credits.

But some of it's just the lack of a watch.

I used to run through a new watch every four months -- I have low appendage awareness, less kindly known as Stupid Clumsy Oaf Disease, and tend to gradually scrape the faces off of watches. I stopped wearing a watch regularly several years ago; it was getting too expensive. I'm still hard on my stuff -- I go through a few pairs of sunglasses each summer after sitting on them or worse, and tend to buy two good pairs of shoes at a time to get me through a school year. But knowing what time it was had become such an expensive pursuit, back when I was out of work after college, and then there I was suddenly in an environment where it no longer needed to be my problem. When you work at a school, in classrooms with clocks, in front of computer screens, back and forth in the car with the dashboard time-and-temp display, you don't need a watch -- time is there, wherever you go. And now I don't get a watchband tanline in the summer.

At the mall this afternoon, for where else can you wander without having to stuff the baby like a sausage into her outdoor clothes, some lady asked Darcie and I what time it was. We didn't know, and didn't need to know, and said so, grinning at this middle-aged woman's confusion. Hooray for vacation.

[Glossary note: at NMH, minor courses from Chess Club to Chinese Cooking to Film Analysis to Study Methods and Writing Help meet in the afternoon once or twice a week while most other students are participating in competitive sports; it is our elective curriculum, you can't assign homework, and it doesn't even end up on the permanent transcript. By comparison, in our block-schedule, block-calendar school year, students take two major courses every ten weeks, and each meets for two hours a day, every day, with two more hours of homework for each class that evening.]

posted by boyhowdy | 11:33 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Blogging Blogs About Blogging For Dr. Pepper

Amy Kropp at More Like Mary, Less Like Martha got to the story about Bloggers being recruited by Dr. Pepper to promote their new pink milk-substitute first, and better than I. Read I blogged for Dr. Pepper and all I got was this lousy T-shirt to see what she/I mean/s.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:19 PM | 0 comments

Product (pre)Placement

Mazda's RX-8 in Sony’s Gran Turismo 3 (left); the real car (right)

From the new issue of Newsweek comes this story exploring a new media/commerce shift. Seems an interesting reverse causality relationship is currently being enacted between automakers and videogames. To wit:

Far from being a child's plaything, videogames are becoming the new virtual showroom and design studio for automakers. ... Automative art is imitating virtual life.

Mazda launched the sporty RX-8 on Gran Turismo 3 two years before the real deal hit the dealer's lot. Mitsubishi is launching their originally Euro-only 29k Lancer Evolution in the states after being swamped with interested emailers demanding the "Evo" they saw in GT3. Porsche debuted its new SUV in VR and RL simultaneously last fall, in Need for Speed and at the Paris Auto Show.

Notably, the idea that enacted worlds allow us to explore possibilities for the near future is an easily accepted tenet. From a commercial standpoint, participatory and collaborative-feeling cyberspace, especially the playspace of the modern videogame, is a logical, even ideal arena for branding, and for nurturing product loyalty. The combination of these ideas should be understood as mildly ominous -- it reminds us to mistrust the effects of others we don't know and can't really see in the constructed enviroments in which we virtually romp, as they may be trying to sell us something. Not All Who Wander Are Trustworthy. Some are even corporations.

On the bright side, the design evolution of the car moves correspondingly forward -- fins and spoilers become the norm in a culture expecting the same ride at the lot that they can envision from their couch. From those environments will spring, I suggest, an acceleration in the degin of the space-age car; we should begin seeing an increase in design elements which clearly don't spring from pragmatists.

As a total aside, when did videogames become one word?

posted by boyhowdy | 3:20 PM | 0 comments

Monday, March 03, 2003

Turns Out Environment Was Just Fine, Thanks

First doing the dishes wastes water.

Now brings us this story about a team of Swedish scientists who have decided that burning cardboard, plastics and food leftovers is better for the environment and the economy than recycling.

Is the enviromental lobby losing its credibility...or merely its grip on the left?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:02 PM | 0 comments

Truth r Satire?

Text message essay baffles British teacher

An English essay written by a British teenager in text messaging short-hand has reignited concern among teachers that literacy standards are under threat. ... The girl's essay began: "My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kids FTF. ILNY, it's a gr8 plc."

Could have sworn I saw this same story in The Onion a while back. Can anyone confirm/deny?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:46 PM | 0 comments

From Beards To Bangladesh

The grizzly bear look didn't seem right for Phillips Andover, so I set the alarm, and woke early into a frigid blustery day. I was itching for a shave. Pressed khakis and a semi-casual light blue buttondown, brown shoes and tan cardigan vest, overlong taffy-pulled woolen scarf and slate grey cord greatcoat, a kiss and a sniff of that nasal ambrosia that rises from a baby's head took me swirling through the dizzy galeforce streets to first one and then another barber shop, all closed Mondays.

Finally found one in Greenfield. After a buzz over the jawline and a too-short moustache trim, I hit the road. Two hours later, I pulled out of a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot after dropping my vest button into their toilet, and turned into what most folks know as Andover, and those in-the-know call P.A. Andover is a bit like NMH, but suburban where NMH is rural, square angled quads where Northfield follows the rolling hills and their paths. It's seen, I think, by all of us as a bit more elitist, and perhaps a secret mite better; after years of getting our butts kicked by Deerfield, our athletic department seems to have cast them as their new rival, with ourselves the perennial underdog. All I can say is, I liked it, but it wasn't home.

Mostly there were meetings in large computer labs and small offices and classrooms with those desks attached to their chairs -- meetings about safety abroad, about teaching technology to teachers, about schools and learning and malaria shots. Lunch was in there somewhere. Plans began, vaguely but oddly better than expected, towards a modular approach to the 7 day teacher workshop Henry, Margaret and I will be leading in Bangladesh this August. We're still not in the groove together, but I think the potential is there, and I'm glad. And Chris and Mary, the coordinators of His Highness Aga Khan's International Programs -- I kid you not -- are eager to help me get from Bangladesh direct to Vancouver and the cruise in Alaska with my whole family that last week before school starts up in the fall.

Summer's shaping up nicely, then. School ends the first weekend in June; week-and-a-half camping with Willow and Darcie and Ginny and volunteering at performer check-in at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival the last weekend in July; two weeks in Bangladesh and rightaway one week cruise in Alaska in the last three weeks of August. A summer that starts slow and relaxing and gathers momentum. A roller-coaster summer.

I really am going to Bangladesh. Weird.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:24 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Imperative Musical Pick Of The Week

Hear cuts off this album on The River.

Download this full-length song and listen to it repeatedly.

Listen to these two-minute samples.

Read Brooks Williams' website; see where he says that Sometime - a long time ago - spent from a long road trip - I sat in my living room and played albums that I dug - ones that put me in a zone - ones that took me on a journey - ones that were complete thoughts.....Miles Davis’ “Kind Of Blue” and Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark,” Peter Gabriel’s “So” and Bruce Cockburn’s “Dancing In The Dragon’s Jaw”....and I said: note to self: one day make a record like that. I think this one is it. Notice, by the way, that his website is powered by blogger.

Then buy Nectar direct from the artist.

Go on, now.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:19 PM | 0 comments

Overheard In The New Yorker

The Talk Of A Transformed Town

If one wants proof that Seabrook, himself a writer for the New Yorker, correctly identifies the once high-culture magazine as a perfect example of modern Nobrow mentality, one need only take a gander at page 32 of the current issue, where one will find both Three American Haikus by Jack Kerouac and this article about Listening Post, an art installation currently at the Whitney Museum of American Art which:

...probe[s] into all the unrestricted Internet chat rooms in the English-speaking world and dredge[s] up thousands upon thousands of random sentences even as they are being typed. The casual remarks, desperate pleas, and lecherous queries that are sucked out of the stream of world chatter are then relayed in various ways on the two hundred or so small screens and ten loudspeakers that make up the machine's public face. The found words and sentence fragments can be strung out at random on the display monitors or made to race across the screens in constant streams, like a Times Square zipper, giving the thing a Jenny Holzer-like gnomic and oracular quality. Better yet, a speech synthesizer can read aloud from the found chatter—either intoning words and sentences one by one in a sepulchral English announcer's voice or chanting and singing them in fuguelike overlay.

It seems Nobrow Nirvana is attained, by definition, at the moment when Jack Kerouac appears in the New Yorker alongside the voice of the multitudes, tapped and wrapped for mass consumption.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:04 PM | 0 comments

From Nature, a trustworthy source if ever I saw one, comes Doing the Dishes Wastes Water. The title makes it sound as if we couldandshould save resources by eating off dirty plates; the article actually goes much deeper, offering a double-whammy disappointment to all those who thought "by hand" always equals environmentally friendly:

1. People who wash their dishes by hand are sending the environment down the drain. They can consume more than ten times the water and twice the energy of a dishwasher.

2. Less than 15% of handwashers get dishes as clean as a machine.

And guess which 15% of handwashers get dishes as clean as a machine? That's right -- the ones using the most water.

Just one more tidbit of ammunition to use against the thoughtless knee-jerks that inevitably surround us all; one more blow for thinking moderatism. I love it.

Now if only we could afford a dishwasher.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:25 PM | 0 comments

Happy Birthday Dr. S Sir!
(You're the best from east to west sir!)

And we would love you on a train...

According to my parents -- 'cause who remembers such things, anyway -- the first book I read successfully on my own was Dr. Seuss' Hop on Pop. Since then, I guess you could call me a Seussaholic (better than a Suessamabob, I guess). I read the shorter stories on my weekly radio show once a term or so, populating the music with Sneetches, Sam I Am, and both North and South-Going Jax, and the entire populations of Whoville and Mulberry Street, Circus and Zoo. We read the youngerkid books Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? and There's a Wocket In My Pocket from board books to the baby.

Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel, would have been one year older today if he were still alive. Luckily, the best authors live on through their masterworks forever. You couldn't say I like the whole collection equally -- I never really got into the Cat in the Hat, for some reason; I think I've always felt it was a bit too forced -- but you could definitely call me a fan. We've even taken a trip down to Springfield, MA, just to see the town tribute and sculpture garden in honor of their favorite local son.

I was in my first year of college when Dr. Seuss died. As a letter to Seuss notifying him of a "Seuss Club" being formed on campus had resulted in personal correspondence from the man himself saying basically "can't see why you'd want a club like that, but whatever makes you happy, makes me happy," Bard College laid claim to the only Dr. Seuss mutual appreciation society in the world, so the memorial celebration was no trivial thing. Our week of seussian meals, readings, sculpture installations and other sundry events culminated in a celebrative evening of perfomance of his works including the college president's reading of If I Ran The Zoo and Charles Stein of Music Program Zero's energetic tonal gibberish interpretation of...something seuss-like, at any rate.

For some not-for-kids-only classroom or home activities to celebrate this wonderful wubbulous day, try this link. Or there's always Seussville, the official site of all things Seuss.

But if you really want to celebrate Seuss the way he would have wanted to be celebrated, read about and then join the National Education Association's yearly nationwide reading party. NEA estimates that almost 40 million children and adults celebrated Dr. Seuss and the joy of reading last March.

Yes, get off the computer and go read a book. Any book. Read to your child, or to your cat, or to yourself out loud in your living room in your underwear and slippers. I highly recommend Green Eggs and Ham or Bartholemew and the Oobleck, but even the dictionary would do. For the good Dr. S, nothing's too small; just read one quick book and you'll feel ten feet tall.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:52 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Poem Of The Week

For a while, this was the poem I sent out for publication. Of course, it never got accepted, but I still think of it as my so-far magnum opus.

The baby in the poem is Fen, the child of hippies also featured in this canzone. We had gone to the mall with his mother; I don't think they had a car.

In Image, Imagine

On the checkered countertop under the attached telephone
Darcie is copying down her Rock and Roll course syllabus.
Around the cylindrical fishbowl the tiger striped cat
wraps his long paws, reaching for the goldfish's tail.
At the kitchen table with the broken leg, I am writing
anagrams: in image, imagine. The red snowplow
scrapes against the marble steps on the patio.

There is more to this photograph than meets the eye.
While I fix the table leg Darcie is going to Wal-Mart
where the baby will eat through a package of bobbins.
Rudy the fish is on loan from the college library.
The driver of the red snowplow is having an affair
with our landlady, the owner of the hotel.
Fortunately, Rock and Roll is here to stay.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:53 PM | 0 comments

The Kids In The Hall

Actual kids in our actual hall during a blackout

Dorm parenting isn't as bad as most people think it is. Being one of a small group of people in power over a large population 24/7 serves the ego sinister; the kids themselves respect and look us to us, and only bother us once or twice a day -- it is more the fact of our presence than the exercise of our authority that serves the purpose of in loco parentis for most kids most of the time. We get free housing, free utilities, free maintenance, free snowplowing. And we get to live year-round in a beautifully maintained landscape like a small wealthy middle arts college, sharing it only eight months a year with our workplace and 1100 high school students.

In other words, there are perks, mostly psychological, small victories related to the job and its contained status.

Like: it's break, and so Willow and I went out into the long dormitory hall late this morning to throw the ball for the dog while Darcie took a nap.

When break rolls around the kids don't have to go home -- but they can't stay here. Many go to New York or Boston to hang out with friends; some rent ski condos and illegally cram 15 of their friends on the floor each night; undecided seniors and midprocess Juniors visit colleges. But most go home, many even if home is Korea or Japan.

They're gone for two weeks, between trimesters after the longest consecutive run of class weeks in the whole school year (seven, and worse because of the snow and cold). It gets quiet, and the dog knows that the kids are gone. Once again the dorm is her playground. Once again it's ours.

Which explains the dog wagging her tail by the kitchen door, the one that leads in to the student residence hall, when I woke up at 11.

Which explains why Willow and I were in the hall, her sitting on her own safely between my outstretched legs on the carpeted floor, no kids in sight, breaking the rules playing ball in the hallway, by 11:30.

Which explains everything, somehow, about the joys of dorm life.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:00 PM | 0 comments

Friday, February 28, 2003

Loose End

Darcie hung a painted chainlink chinese fish on the baby mirror in the back window. The metal tinkles when turning corners. It sounds like icicles are falling off the car.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:10 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, February 27, 2003

There Must Be 50 Ways To Use Your Duct Tape

I've got duct tape on the brain.

Despite a general sentiment on-campus that CNN is too biased to be trusted, CNN's Offbeat News comes through again with Judge duct tapes defendant's mouth: Man 'was being very disruptive'. Seems the defendant in question was trying to fire his court-appointed attorney, and when the Judge tried to explain that firing court-appointed attorneys is the exclusive privilege of the court, the guy kept interrupting him. Happened in Texas, of course (sorry, Laurence).

Saw a cartoon in this week's Newsweek with a newspaper-reading woman telling her book-reading husband that there's good news...the terror alert has been downgraded from duct tape to masking tape.

Today's Student Life Curriculum activity for the kids in my dorm was to watch the video footage of last week's build-and-ride-a-duct-tape-and-cardboard-toboggan race. As a practical joke on the House Director, I "accidentally" showed footage of our dorm's prizewinning crossdressing lyp sync performance two years ago, featuring said House Director in a plaid-skirt-white-shirt Catholic Schoolgirl outfit and me with my hair up in a stunning green dress that really brought out my eyes. Good times...

And Shaw, in an email on the American Feed mailing list, points out that if there's one person who's sure to benefit from the duct tape craze sweeping the nation, it's Red Green. He's not just the grand poobah of Possum Lodge; he's also the official spokesman for Scotch Duct Tape, which also comes in a convenient pocket size. It's like Uncle Red says: if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:42 PM | 0 comments

Fred, Interrupted: A Death In The Neighborhood

Fred Rogers, better known as television's "Mister Rogers," a cultural icon and kindly neighbor to generations of American children, died Thursday at the age of 74. Rogers died at his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after a brief battle with stomach cancer, according to a spokeswoman for his production company.

The last original "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" aired in 2001, making it PBS's longest-running program ever. >>more from CNN

John Donovan, whose interview of Rogers aired on ABC's Nightline in 2001 and will be rebroadcast tonight with additional commentary mourning Rogers' passing, had this to say:

He was a man on television who spoke gently and honestly, putting the priorities of his audience - the most vulnerable, impressionable TV viewers there are--children - in front of everything else. He didn’t do it for fame. He certainly didn’t do it for money (there are no Mister Rogers talking dolls and action figures out there in the merchandising channels). He did what he did because he believed in it. And in a world where there were certainly flashier shows on TV, and sexier, more aggressive characters vying for kids’ attention, Fred was always softspoken, forever gentle, maybe even a little shy, and yet he had an enormous impact.
[taken from an email dated 2/27/02, sent to the mailing list for Nightline viewers]

For those parents looking for answers or strategies to help process Mr. Rogers' passing with their children, PBS kids offers some helpful hints for parents in this sad time.

There's also a place on the PBS Kids website where you or your children can share your thoughts about Fred Rogers. I highly recommend it.

If there's a heaven up there, surely the good reverend's got a place in the choir all his own. Thus, in memoriam, for this loss and for the loss of our childhood it represents, my favorite Mr. Rogers song:

There Are Many Ways

There are many ways to say I love you.
There are many ways to say I care about you.
Many ways, many ways,
Many ways to say I love you.

There's the singing ways to say I love you.
There's the singing something someone really likes to hear.
The singing way, the singing way,
The singing way to say I love you.

Cleaning up a room can say I love you.
Hanging up a coat before you're asked to.
Drawing special pictures for the holidays
And making plays.

You'll find many ways to say I love you.
You'll find many ways to understand what love is.
Many ways, many ways,
Many ways to say I love you.

Singing, cleaning, drawing, being understanding,
Love you.

We love you too, Mr. Rogers.

The neighborhood just won't be the same without you.

[UPDATE 2/27/02 at 8:14 pm: From an interesting interview found at Newsweek, aka MSNBC; originally published October 6, 2000:

Newsweek: What advice would you give parents about the Internet?

Fred Rogers: The Internet, television, whatever happens to come into the home, the greatest thing parents can do is to offer their children a tradition that they’re comfortable with themselves. Ultimately, kids want to know that they belong. If they sense that their parents really feel strongly about something-I’m talking about young children-they will often embrace it because they want to belong. When the time comes for them to thumb their nose at everything, then they’ll have a brick wall that is their family’s tradition that they can knock up against during adolescence.]

posted by boyhowdy | 3:46 PM | 0 comments

Peeling The Onion

This Week In History, Feb 26, 1913

Here at NMH we chatter among ourselves almost predominantly through SWIS, a First-Class-driven all-in-one, email, chat, bulletin boards and conferences, private and public folders, web publishing space. SWIS technically stands for School-Wide Information System, but after a dozen years of use the term is by now both active verb and noun, both swis me that paper on Hawthorne as an attachment and Did you get that swis I sent you? I have had all my Media Literacy students write an analysis of swis as a medium in the context of its user community since I first began teaching the course in 1998; it's been interesting to watch swis evolve through their eyes.

And swis has changed over that time. For one thing, it's gotten more conservative, or at least, the combination of technological development and administrative expectations for appropriate use have driven a move towards more structure and oversight in student folders over time. Students lost the use of the the resume function, which allows one to create a small web page-like thing in content much like the AIM buddy info, but in design more like a hybrid between a basic web page and a jazzed-up MSWord document, a few years ago due to inappropriate language, and the aforementioned AIM is by far the preferred choice when chat is desired. One might say that as the cultural situation of swis matures, the culture of NMH and the culture of swis continue on parallel but tonally distinct tracks, each serving as a fundamental layer of discourse, part of the process of constant self recreation that is inherent in, nay, vital to the healthy growth of any community. But I digress.

Among the conferences provided for faculty and staff but invisible to students, a Community Circle folder contains several subfolders, like For Sale and Kids Corner; among them, a Humor folder, generally filled with a sprinkling of smart satire and a small flood of Irish/Blonde/Priest/Southerner jokes (Race and sexuality are off the table in the modern post-PC universe, but ethnicity, regionality, vocation and intelligence continue to be fair game). It's a good dump for that mildly funny office joke making the e-rounds, better than the old email account, subtle and surreptitious, easily taken or left as the user prefers. It's a good read when you're bored, too.

Today I posted the following in the Humor folder, from this week's issue of The Onion™:

God Quietly Phasing Holy Ghost Out Of Trinity

HEAVEN—Calling the Holy Trinity "overstaffed and over budget," God announced plans Monday to downsize the group by slowly phasing out the Holy Ghost. "Given the poor economic climate and the unclear nature of the Holy Ghost's duties, I felt this was a sensible and necessary decision," God said. "The Holy Ghost will be given fewer and fewer responsibilities until His formal resignation from Trinity duty following Easter services on April 20. Thereafter, the Father and the Son shall be referred to as the Holy Duo."

It was up for an hour, and then an English teacher, not coincidentally the advisor to the Catholic Student Organization, suggested that the post oversteps the line into bad taste. Not because of the recent loss of 30 jobs here at the school. Because it mocks God.

My opinion: The satirical target in the above example is businesses, not the Holy Trinity. Jokes which target nuns and Priests as stereotypes are more damaging, and more frequent to boot. But action in an institution is (and should be) motivated by a complex web of reasons political, communal, social; moreso should the role models of that institution (the teachers) practice moral appropriateness as a norm in society where it does not compromise their own values as individuals (an invaluable caveat, I note). And action in a PC culture is best erred on the side of caution and politeness -- this is an age where misunderstandings of words and meanings spoken are the fault of he-who-speaks, not the misunderstood.

He asked me to delete the post. I deleted the post. And I'm okay with that...I think.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:14 AM | 0 comments

Finally, Almost

It's finals week here at good ol' NMH, and we're all cranky and exhausted. The students spend half their time wandering in search of printer paper or study buddies and the other half slamming doors, waking the baby. Teachers are up to their eyeballs in grading and begin sitting alone at lunch with stacks of papers. The media center was busy busy busy today with kids scanning and teachers taking out videos and powerpoint and my movie won't play on this computer and I need it for class tomorrow and gah. I just did way too much laundry and got off duty late as the basketball team didn't get back from their game until midnight.

Sorry for the mundanity and relative incoherence, but there you are. Break begins on Friday and surely I'll have more time and more patience then. So c'mon back now, y'hear?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:29 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

On The Other Hand...

To my immense chagrin, it turns out the games I posted are but one small part of a plot to convert kiddies to the way of the Lord. I've never seen the videos, but I feel that the 3-2-1 Penguins! website speaks for itself:

Get ready to meet four of the wackiest space cowboys ever to leave our solar system! Blast off with 3-2-1 Penguins!, from the creators of VeggieTales!

3-2-1 Penguins! is a video series that tells the story of two young kids (Jason and Michelle) and four out-of-this-world penguins, as they explore the galaxy -- and learn important, Bible-based lessons and values along the way.

The Jesus stuff isn't anywhere in the games -- unless maybe the duct tape has something to do with him being a carpenter?

But I still feel...used.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:02 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Also, Doom Funnel Chasers!

Still in space, but with duct tape balls instead of penguins.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:23 PM | 0 comments

Spaced Penguins!

Penguins. Slingshots. Space. What more could you want?

Found at Addicting Games, and they're not kidding.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:13 PM | 0 comments

Family Days, Radio Nights

My first year here I realized that the librarians I worked with worked one night a week, and took a morning off in return. Seemed like a good idea. I, too, work one night a week, albeit in the dorm, a requirement inherent in being the only dorm-resident faculty in the instructional bunch. I also fill other responsibilities unparalleled by my peers, some part of my official "job" and some just stuff that seemed like it needed/wanted doing and fitted me well: grading papers, chairing the faculty professional development committee, answering the door at 2 a.m. to key a kid back into his room, helping to advise the Jewish Student's Alliance, doing the radio show. I checked with Patty, the woman I work with in the media center, to make sure she'd be willing to cover the center, and discovered that my predecessor had done the same.

With a morning off I'm free to take care of Willow on Mondays until my 2:00 class. She's such a different, more relaxed-and-focused baby in the morning; it's wonderful to be able to rediscover her morning side once a week. We sat splayed on the hall carpet and threw the dog's ball down the long cinderblock strip while the boys were in class, and danced a little to the Dixie Chicks on the stereo. The baby sits up now, on the couch and between my legs in the hall, and a third tooth has poked through her upper gum; it looks like she's sticking her little pink fat tongue out at the dog, but she's really just running her tooth along the back of it (tongue, not dog).

Patty and Neil, Darcie's parents, arrived at 1:00 to babysit; both teachers, they're on school break for the week. Their phone was out, so Neil was glad of the opportunity to check email on the LAN while I went to teach the last installment of my course on mass media messages, Satire and the Animated Sitcom. The theme for the final day was the recycling of other media and popular narrative in the nobrow cartoons; The kids ate chips and cookies and deconstructed that Simpson's episode about the Monorail, Beavis and Butthead's take on Beverly Hillbillies (spoiler: the oil they think they've struck in their backyard turns out to be a sewage), and perhaps the funniest South Park episode, Chinpoko Man.

Willow was getting cranky with the 'rents when I returned, but I managed to keep her occupied for another hour or so until Virginia arrived in her father's car (the engine's dead on her's). Picked up Darcie at the yearbook office and went to dinner at the dining hall, some sort of odd asian-style steakum shreds with carrots and peppers on that squiggly pasta that should be rotini but isn't. Forgot babyfood but managed to semisuccessfully mash brown rice with the remnants of some homemade turkey soup which didn't seem too salty or spicy.

Tributary, the radio show Ginny and I DJ every Monday night from 10 to midnight, was quiet. Someone left their CDs in the studio and I played a couple of them, most notably Randy Newman and Hank Williams. Talked a lot about the Grammys, which I hadn't seen. I read two-minute mysteries and promised free coffee for a week to the first caller who could solve one, but no one called. Tonight's featured album: Home, by the Dixie Chicks. As always, tonight's setlist follows.

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Dixie Chicks -- Truth No. 2
Eddie From Ohio -- Quick
Dave Matthews Band -- Satellite
Keller Williams -- Breathe
Stevie Ray Vaughn -- Chile Con Carne
String Cheese Incident -- Up The Canyon
Dixie Chicks -- Landslide
Norah Jones -- Don't Know Why
Hank Williams -- Cold, Cold Heart
John Gorka -- Hank Senior Moment
Dan Hicks -- My Cello
Barenaked Ladies -- Grade 9
Phish -- Esther
Indigo Girls -- Love Will Come To You
Dixie Chicks -- Travelling Soldier
Kris McKay -- Wish You Were Here
Rani Arbo -- Comes Love
The Story -- Dog Dreams
Lucy Kaplansky -- It Ain't Me Babe
Randy Newman -- Sail Away
Dar Williams -- Iowa
Cindy Kallet -- Sarah's Song
David Wilcox -- Wildberry Pie
David Massengil -- Rider On An Orphan Train

posted by boyhowdy | 12:57 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, February 23, 2003

He's Got The Whole Car In His Hands

Today's theme is cars.

The baby has a soft stuffed rattle that looks like the front end of a taxi and is banging it against the side of her crib while Darcie is off frantically doing layout for yearbook parent ads to make deadline.

The driveway is melting clean in the rain outside the window. The snow level's going down all over campus; the driveway snowwalls are down to a respectable three feet high, and I think we'll be able to see behind us the nexty time we pull out onto the road.

Thanks to snowcat for passing along Parking Spots, wherein people take photos of toy cars interacting with real cars and car-environments.

Zellie the wonderdog sits in her windowsill perch waiting to bark at the UPS truck. Don't have the heart to tell her it doesn't come on Sundays.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:16 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, February 22, 2003


Found while browsing after a quick ping this evening: FoodDork, a site which wins kudos for its design and focus, but makes me feel sheepish about eating peanut butter crackers and apple juice as I blog. A few cooking tips and recipies, mostly musings on freshness and storage, the two best ways to cook salmon, tricks for Onion storage, anecdotes about pie. The two guys who run the site -- Mike, a journalist from Pensacola Florida, and Rick a pastor in Alaska -- are true amateurs (technically, "lovers of subject") who are, in their own words, "keenly aware of the need for better food in the world." Their icon is also a very cool spoon.

Today Mike asks: When you create a dish from someone's recipe, and it turns out great and you get all kinds of kudos and kind words, who should really get the acclaim, the cook or the composer of the recipe? His answer seems sensible.


Speaking of food, I'm glad to report that after a short hiatus American Feed is publishing again. Okay, this predominantly liberal online 'zine run mostly by some of my old Marlboro College cohorts has nothing to do with food, but my recent rant re: Howard Zinn's visit to our lovely institution is supposed to be published in a few weeks. I'll keep ya posted.


posted by boyhowdy | 1:26 AM | 0 comments

A Different Duty

It's the last weekend before finals, and for a while, it seemed like the students were all just going to stay in their rooms. When we went up for supper (fried breaded fish and buttered egg noodles, because it's Friday, and its always fish and noodles on Friday) the campus was deserted and quiet as if they had all gone home. Some were at practice or still in class, or off skiing or snowboarding for Phys Ed, but many quite likely had gone: there are usually several "closed" weekends in the term but I don't think this is one of them. It was just getting dark at 6:00 when we bundled up the baby and headed over the student center to begin the evening's wandering.

Darcie works for Student Programs; instead of doing dorm duty like other NMH faculty, she works from Friday night to Sunday two weekends a month delivering food and supplies to club meetings and dances and lectures, checking in with student workers setting up stages and lights, and generally overseeing the diversity of activies we offer to keep kids from smoking dope in the woods, necking in empty classrooms, and just generally going insane here at boarding school. Depending on how the baby's sleeping, I usually stay home with the baby or go along with the two of them on the rounds; most nights the baby doesn't sleep, and cries without Mama, and tonight was no exception. Darcie's programs duty has become a family affair, involving such adventure as driving a halfsleeping infant and wife back and forth across the river, letting Darcie out of the running car, driving slowly around the campus so as to keep the baby from waking while Darcie checks in with the teachers chaperoning the evening's events and coordinating the crafts projects.

Tonight we held the dancing baby up to a flashing-light Jukebox playing Alana Davis, saw a mediocre Improv comedy troupe from a local college, ate cheese sticks in the snack bar, passed the baby in her yellow ducky feetie pajamas around the room, pulled down some inappropriate and vague advertising signs (swastikas with tiny letters underneath that said what does this make you think about?; I have nothing against performance art and guerilla advertising per se but c'mon, now), and left instructions for the students setting up sound and video projection for the Freshman after-hours party later that night (imagine a sleep-over that ends at midnight).

Tomorrow night the same.

One week 'till spring break.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:37 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Nerds and GEECS

Remember these dorks? Yeah, me neither.

As an adolescent in the late eighties, the era most definitively immortalized by John Hughes movies and John Cusack's early film career, I was neither smart enough nor disinterested enough in the pursuit of popularity as a full-time occupation to be truly considered a nerd. But I identify with nerds, an inevitability when one teaches media and web design, and when one, due to a pedagogical belief that students will rise to the occasion most successfully when treated like adults, most prefers those students who are more intellectual than not, more adult than not in their thinking.

Now, along comes Paul Graham with Why Nerds Are Unpopular, a long but eminently readable treatise on adolescent nerd-dom currently making the bloggiverse rounds -- if popdex is to be trusted, second only to evhead's musings on google's purchase of Pyra Labs, blogger parent company. Graham's thesis:

Nerds aren't losers. They're just playing a different game, and a game much closer to the one played in the real world. Adults know this. It's hard to find successful adults now who don't claim to have been nerds in high school.

For those who have been living under a rock with cheerleaders for the past few decades, geeks are a specific subset of nerds, distinguished within the larger nerdgroup for their interest in things technical and physic. GEECS, in true nerd form both a recursive acronym and a homonym for the descriptive term, stands for GEECS for Electronics, Engineering and Computer Science, although the long form of the acronym does change over time as technologies change. The group's strength and numbers wax and wane, but it is most famous for first bringing the internet and later email onto campus; these days, the students continue to toy with their own server, and meet not-regularly-at-all to discuss all things geek. Of the several of my students that read this blog regularly, most belong to this small club.

There's no question that W.N.A.U. holds true for much of the predominantly tech-oriented blog community. But I was curious to see if Graham's detailed treatise held water today, so I forwarded the link to the NMH's GEECS club. The essay in question isn't technical; it's social science, much like the cyberstudies I proclaim to practice, so I wasn't sure if they'd be into all that reading. But I am pelased to report that, so far, the response has been very powerful. They like the piece; it resonates. Seems Graham's thesis is as true today as it once was. Seems that nerd-dom hasn't changed much since Graham and I were in high school.

And that kinda makes me happy. It also makes me miss some of my favorite adolescent peer groups, much like the one Graham describes: the token asian student, the kid in the fedora, the girl with the neck brace, the kid who never washed or changed his clothes, me. Like Graham, I moved on to the freaks group -- an overlapping group of equally smart kids who tend to dress much cooler, skip class for McDonalds runs in illicit senior's cars, and furtively smoke behind the gym door between classes -- by mid-high school, and, for a while, toggled between the two groups, but I miss it, and I think of the kids who think I'm cool, not nerd-like at all, I I wonder if they're missing the whole idea of it all, and I've never wished I was still a nerd more.

Incidentally, I'm toying with the idea of an eventual (really long term) blogserver and internal template here at NMH, for classroom use; I snuck the article to them under the radar by pretending I was asking them about this possibility, and the few GEECS kids who responded seemed to like the idea of getting involved if and when we decide such a thing would be useful and desirable. I like it too. I can keep my socialsci status, and not have to learn RSS after all. It's a fulltime vocation just studying the stuff; better let the next generation of nerds and geeks do the dirty work if and when they can: arguably, it's the only way they'll learn.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:49 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

What's In A Name?
Not All Who Wander Are Consistent

I've noticed that links to this site are all over the map: In various places Not All Who Wander Are Lost is variously listed as Not All Who Wander Are Lost, Mediakit, and now, in ericj's succinct style, Wander: Not Lost. Similarly, as some who comment and visit know me in real life (hi, dad!) and some don't (hi,!), I've been referred to by visitors as Josh and Joshua, BoyHowdy and boyhowdy. And I just wanted to take a moment to make it clear that I'm okay with that.

Look, I know I'm not following the rules that would help focus the blog. For example, I know there should be a link to some rules back there in that last sentence, but I got distracted looking through my myriad links to find one of the many blogs out there which offer some sort of litany for success; ADHD can do that to a blogger. My name and my site's name and my site's address don't match, and don't interconnect thematically. This blog isn't really about one thing; it's about me, and I am many things (and also not many things -- I am not, for example, every woman, nor would I wish to be).

But life's like that -- multiple and amorphous, lazily interconnected, occasionally starbright but mostly hazy with a 90% chance of confusion. Cyberlife even moreso, now that we can breathe a kind of projected humanity into our avatars, divorcing the body from the self completely. A life like that deserves a representation to match; an accurate complexity demands it, really. Unless we're okay with the two-dimensionality of our avatars. But doesn't that just beg the question of whether there's a here here at all, and if so, whether we're really in it?

I could refer to myself as mediacat and call the site mediapundit, or something similarly derivative which matched URL with title. Not All Who Wander Are Lost could be hosted by The Wanderer, at; we could make puns about wanderlust if we were feeling cheeky. I could sift through the cracked facets of the ego mirrorball, and try to discern the middle; I could find my totem, and use it. But that's just not me me me me me. And no matter what we claim we're doing, blogs are about ourselves.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:23 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Another Snow Day

Notably, no radio show last night, as the blizzard was in its tenth hour. The snow falling fast, thick, and horizontally looked like television static outside under the streetlamps. Reports of total snowfall here range from 7 to 30 inches, depending on who's doing the measuring and how the snow drifted outside their porch or dorm entrance. Did you know that, by definition, a blizzard has to have two inches of snowfall per hour, and winds up to 35 mph? Ah, the things you learn watching the Weather Channel with the baby.

D'oh Millionaire

Instead, Darcie and I curled up by the virtual hearth with popcorn and hot cocoa. Fully intending to channel-surf, we ended up sucked into the utter banality and predictability of the two-hour finale of Joe Millionaire. The soap opera lighting and camera angles only added a veneer of the surreal to what was already clearly the dregs of televisionary "reality," in which beautiful people pretend they're average, and we agree to go along with it for the sake of form. Within the first three minutes I had already guessed, correctly, that the "twist" they kept plugging would be a million-dollar "gift" to the happy couple, and the way in which they tried playing up the ultimate loser as "perfect for Joe" for the first hour and a half was so transparent that I doubt sincerely that anyone really thought he'd pick her.

I knew FOX thought its viewers were stupid, but I didn't know they thought we were that stupid. Worse, what if most people are that stupid? The mind boggles...well, at least mine does; apparently not everyone's mind is capable of it.

A Conspiracy of Snow

With school cancelled, one of us got to sleep late, and it wasn't my turn. After diapering and an hour or so of on-the-floor with the baby and her veritable plethora of stuffed squeakers and shiny gum-soothers, I handed her back to a now-awoken Darcie for breastfeeding and their midmorning nap, made coffee, sat around in my socks and caught up on my reading. Darcie awoke an hour later and offered to shovel out the big blue grandparentmobile if I watched the baby; to keep her occupied while Mama was gone I played the flute and thumbpiano for her along with the excellent new Dixie Chicks album on the stereo, which she thought hilarious.

By a civilized 11 o'clock, the car cleared and the day warmed over, I headed out into the newly-plowed roads on an excursion to solve the car problem. The originally Floridian and therefore antifreezeless wiper fluid was a frozen block in its plastic tenk alongside the engine, but after stopping three times to wipe the windshield with snow melting off the car hood, I finally found the exit to Easthampton only to realize that my directions ended at the exit ramp. Called Darcie from the parking lot of what turned out to be a small warehouse-turned-arts-building, one of those mostly-dead spaces filled with odd crafts stores and web development companies, and at least one ethnically obscure restaurant specializing in Broiled Yak or garlic yoghurt. Got the address and, more importantly, the name of where the heck I was going. Asked directions in a coffeeandgas place; forgot to buy windsheild wiper fluid; went back.

Managed to both find the Deputy Collector's Office and successfully pay the backtaxes on the car. Then went back to right behind the warehouse/mall thingie with it's deeply gouged laquered floor, in an attempt to re-register the car with proof of tax up-to-dateness, to find the RMV darkened and locked. Seems the snow caused arbitrary unannounced closings of some state services. Either that, or something more sinister: lunch break with no sign for the customers, maybe. Your taxes at work.

Bah, humbug. Bring it on, spring.

Living La Vida Virtual

In other news, over the past two days I bought a whole bunch of CDs I couldn't afford at for purely self-soothing reasons, and then a whole bunch more off a godsend gift certificate someone special sent me as a belated birthday present. I prefer to buy locally, even if it costs a few bucks more, but one great thing about snow days, 'specially when you live on a T1 LAN, is that you feel perfectly justified sitting home and venturing out virtually: blogging, catching up on e-pals, doing the daily jigsaw puzzle, shopping online. Where are you going to go, a mostly shut-down Easthampton? What else are you going to do, watch crappy, overly predicatable television? Cyberspace is da bomb.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:21 PM | 0 comments

Monday, February 17, 2003

Snow Falls From Sky! School Cancelled Across Northeast! Citizens Panic!

By February, snow is no longer news in New England. But you'd never know it from the lead story on every network news show in the region. Or from the whooping and hollering in the two-feet-so-far outside.

Some are sick of it, but I say bring it on. It's already spring in my head.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:27 PM | 0 comments

Schoolbus Poem Of The Week

It's been dry and windy and, as the radio DJ says, in the single digits all weekend, so we -- Darcie, the baby, and me -- waited for the bus in the car, listening to the radio. Outside the students shivered by the flagpole; next to us another idling car held another faculty couple, our co-chaperones for the school trip to the mall. When the bus came we stepped forward to check the students off on the sign-up sheet and then joined them in the kind of silent repose which only happens on schoolbusses, something about the noise and the waiting making conversation all seem so futile. Some kids slept.

It takes an hour to get to the Ingleside Mall, just outside of Springfield. Upon arrival, we reminded the kids of the rules, and gave them our cell phone number on a little piece of paper in case of emergency, and then watched them move as a group through Sears and then, as they emerged into the midst of it all, they were swallowed by the mall people, and we were on our own. Then after about three hours we all got on the same schoolbus and went home into the greying evening.

I was just on time to attend the first meeting of the Northfield Writing Society, a group which appears to have risen from the long-dead ashes of a similar group I was in a few years ago; it's hard to sustain writer's groups over summer vacation, and they never seem to come back together after such a long hiatus. I had schoolbusses on the brain, and someone had brought an excellent chardonnay and I had too much, and I wrote about schoolbusses.


The smell of schoolbusses never changes. It's something about
diesel fumes and the green plastic seats
and the goo they use to plug the holes in the seats with.
And the smell of a woman who sits in her seat
all day with the lives of unbelted children
in rows numbered 1 2 3 in colored construction paper
behind her. And the smell of winter coats
worn unwashed all winter at the end of the winter:
greasy and slightly like pee.

Schoolbusses are loud with children's taunts
and furtive experiments with lunchmeat sandwiches.
They are boistrous with windows opened and closed
because it is too hot and then too windy. They are
germy with pulped white paper spit through straws.
There is, on average, one old piece of gum under every seat.

The best seat in the schoolbus is with your friends in the back row
next to the emergency exit with the red light.
The worst seat in the schoolbus is in the front row where the driver can keep
an eye on you.

If you had to explain schoolbusses to an alien,
or to my grandmother, you'd say "first, they are filled
with children, and the children are filled
with anxiety and hope and cheerios and maybe
George Washington's wooden teeth and an egyptian mummy."

And they are going somewhere.
Sometimes schoolbusses are on their way to school
or back from school. When this happens, children get
off and on the bus, either all at once or one by
one, depending on where they live and which direction
they are going. Sometimes they go to the science museum
or the colonial reenactment village,
and hang their coats up in the coatroom together
before collecting their stickers and handstamps.

The coatrooms smells like schoolbusses, minus the diesel
and the green plastic goo the seats are made of,
because coatrooms don't have seats, or engines.
But they are just as loud, and no one has to shout
"If you don't sit down this instant I will have to tell the principal."
And the children breathe their lunchmeat breath
and run their lunchmeat hands on the pulleys
and butterchurns while the busdriver has a cigarette
out behind the bus in the parking lot:
this is what schoolbusses are and how they work.

And if the bus goes over a bump and you are in the reallygood seats
in the back your butt leaves the seat, and if the bump is really big
and if the bus is going really fast your head can hit the metal roof
of the schoolbus and your butt might miss the seat on the way down
and you might land in the aisle and get yelled at anyway.

[afterthought: How different this poem is from other recent works is, I think, a function of two things: this poem was handwritten where the native medium of most of my work at home is the word processor, and this is essentially a freewrite, fast and furious and limited by the 20 minute block of silent, frantic creation that is the exclusive province of the groupwrite. And, to me at least, it is really, really different. Not bad...just different. Hmm.]

posted by boyhowdy | 12:09 AM | 0 comments
coming soon
now listening