Saturday, March 22, 2003

You May Already Be A Loser

Today I had a cheese sandwich for lunch. It was really good. Do you like cheese?

Voting ends tomorrow for this year's Anti-Bloggies, and only true blogheads need apply. Categories include Most/Least Updated, Most Often Late To Work, Most Caffeinated, Most References To Pet, Dumbest Title, Worst Meme Bandwagoner, and Best Amazon Wishlist; Prizes tend to be product, worth, on average, 20 bucks.

P.S. Please do not nominate me for anything. I'm happy being a loser solely in my own mind, thanks.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:40 PM | 0 comments

War's 15 Minutes Of Fame

According to Yahoo's Buzz Index, War toppled sex and music as the most popular search term among Web users as the conflict in Iraq captured the attention of the online crowd... (full story at

This is news? It's interesting that the search term War has finally beat the search term Britney Spears on both counts, I suppose, but cynics around the globe know that after a mostly silent day or so of sexual frustration we can expect the bloggiverse to go back to normal.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:17 PM | 0 comments

Smuggling The Truth Out Of Iraq

Interesting UPI story from Blog Title Of The Week winner Occam's Toothbrush:

A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

How interesting to hear about folks who went to Iraq specifically because they were anti-war coming out of Iraq no longer anti-war at all.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:40 PM | 0 comments

Back to Mundania

It's been a long time since I just blogged down the day. But as we settle into the idea of war, I think it's especially important to keep track of the important things in life, like family, and the crystaline moments of peace we each carry with us throughout our days. In the interest of thinking locally while we act globally, then, here's a FridaynightintoSaturday, the first of the new term:

Mom's in Washington DC for her yearly weeklong social worker's conference; while our recent trip to Boston was a full adventure reported earlier, Dad hasn't been up to see the baby for a while, so he drove up solo last night for a visit and an overnight stay at the school's guesthouse. We took him to Yankee Candle's flagship store down in Deerfield to marvel at the 22-room spectacle, and he took us to dinner at Chandlers, their excellent and adjacent gourmet winery (lit entirely by candles, of course). We sampled white wines sweet and dry, ate potato and carmelized tartlets, steak and scallops. Dad ordered sea bass because the waitress told him that the chef said it it wasn't Chilean sea bass, which turns out to be merely a fancy name for Patagonian Dogfish, which isn't a bass at all, and of course it was the dogfish, but one of Dad's finest qualities is the ability to let things go and relax, and we all enjoyed ourselves.

The cat woke us up with a robin in his jaws, so I guess it's officially spring. An hour later, Dad, a late riser like myself, came back over; after transferring the baby seat into his Lexus, we directed him through the woods and over the river to Turner's Falls, an old mill town a couple of miles down the road with plenty of brick architecture and rowhousing but no remaining industry. The diner in Turners is essentially authentic, by which I mean they serve breakfast all day, change their menu seldom if ever, grill pretty much everything, and make real milkshakes with local ice cream; Dad had poached eggs on dry toast, Darcie had pancakes; I had three overeasy with sausage and white toast; the baby had dry Cheerios, although most of them ended up on the floor.

As a non-narrative aside, it was great to see him, and a wonderful treat to have him all to ourselves, and I know he reads this, so Dad, thanks for the visit, and come back every month for as long as you are able, okay? 'Cause we miss you lots, and watching you play with Willow makes me feel like my heart is exploding, and I'm so very glad we've found ourselves friends after all those years of terror. Oh, and if I haven't said so before, I know you know, but geez, I was a mess for a long time, and I'm really, really sorry, Dad.

Okay, back to the plot.

Dad left before one o'clock, Darcie and baby drove off to Brattleboro for a visit with Willow's other grandparents, and I headed over the New Hampshire border to meet up with a crew of NMH Sophomores doing a ropes course at Camp Takodah to prepare for their impending trip to South Africa. The directions were easy to follow, the frost ehaves on the back roads made for a wonderful roller-coaster of a ride in, and the newly thawed mud on the camp access road was treacherous, but I managed just fine in the slippery weight of the Grand Marquis.

Although the place seemed deserted upon arrival, I managed to find the students without taxing my limited tracking skills -- sneaker prints being uncommon enough in the woods of New Hamshire. Little to say about the event itself, as I was there only to take a couple of hours of video tape for the documentary they're making of their trip experience; through the lens, I watched 'em crawl through string spiderwebs and catch each other trustfalling, and mananged to soak my good shoes standing up to my ankles in the meltingsnow woods, but the kids were mostly familiar, it was great to be outdoors on a warm barelyspring day, and I even got a bit of color on my prominent Semitic nose -- hoorah for the first sunburn of the season, yet another sign of Spring.

Home in time to jumpstart the battery of the maroon conversion van that's been sitiing under the nowmelting snow all winter, uninspectable and rusted through, to show it to Chris, the verymellow cook at the school snack bar. Chris loved it, as I knew he would, and what was once my own private home on wheels was sold on a handshake for $300 bucks. We had some good times in that van, two years of camping and concert trips with students afterhours; I'll miss it and the freedom it represents, but it's time to grow up a bit more, and it's nice to see it's going to a good use, and to a good home -- he's hoping to put some time and cash into it and start a catering business with it. We'll take the week to find the title and clean out the accumulated camping gear and then he'll drive it off with borrowed plates to start reconstructing the body on it, and then maybe I'll cry a little for the loss of one more scrap of my emotional bachelorhood, and then I'll sneak into the bedroom in the dark and wait until my eyes adjust to the darkness, and the baby's fuzzy head and soft breath fill my senses, and my heart explodes again, and it will be more than alright.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:59 PM | 0 comments

Friday, March 21, 2003

National Guardsmen: Robots in Disguise

I am Optimus Prime! Bow before me, puny non-mutable organic beings!

Optimus Prime is heading out to the Middle East with his guard unit on Wednesday to provide fire protection for airfields under combat.

In a metallic voice, Prime, a member of Ohio's 5694th National Guard who legally changed his name on his 30th birthday, proudly adds I got a letter from a general at the Pentagon when the name change went through and he says it was great to have the employ of the commander of the Autobots in the National Guard. As an added bonus, now that he's more than meets the eye, Prime is his own virtually indestructable transport vehicle.

Thanks to reporter Vic Gideon at WKYC Cleveland for bringing this vital issue to our attention. A video clip is also available.

No word yet on whether Pikachu, the Wonder Twins, or the Shmoo will be joining the war effort.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:07 PM | 0 comments

Quick Post From Work

Here's what The Greenfield Recorder, our local paper, had to say about yesterday's speech by Robert Kaplan.

Here's what I have to say.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:12 AM | 0 comments

As We May Blog: My Response to The Survey

Dear Kara:

From one cyberstudies person to another, I'm really looking forward to seeing the results of your work. Myself, I'm working on best-practice methods for blog curriculum integration at a bleeding-edge technology-using Prep school; if you think your work might benefit from a discussion with a teacher teaching blogging to teachers and students, let me know and I'd be happy to chat. Survey follows:

*** Questionnaire ***
1. How long have you maintained your blog?

5 months or so.

2. In the last week, how many entries did you post on your blog?

Twenty two. It's been a slow week.

3. In the last week, how many hours have you spent writing entries for your blog, or otherwise maintaining your blog?

About eight -- average an a day, plus or minus.

4. In the last week, approximately how many hyperlinks to external web sites (not your own) did you post within your entries?

43 hyperlinks TO external sites, but there was some site duplication (two docs/pages at one address, for example). Figure 35 different sites linked to, if that's a more useful statistic.

5. Look at your first entry for 3/20/03. If you do not have an entry on that day, use the next entry after that time. Did you include a
hyperlink in that entry?

Two, actually.

6. If yes, what page did that hyperlink point to?


7. (If you remember), where did you first encounter that hyperlink?

1. Went hunting for it [via google] to create the link. The linked text is the title of a book by today's all-school speaker; the link .
2. Known it for some time -- it's the URL of the school where I teach.

8. In general, how do you find the links that you add to your blog entries?

Pretty equally split, two ways

1/2 wandering the web, something catches my eye and I "blog it" using blogger's right-click "blog this" option, adding comments alongside.
1/2 I'm talking about something I did (went to a museum, ate dinner at a nice restaurant) or purchased (like a new CD, or a puppet), and I use google to find the address so others can see what I'm talkiing about.

9. What criteria do you use to decide if you will add an external hyperlink to your blog entries?

Generally, if it is the kind of thing I'd tell people about if they were right there, I "tell people about it" by blogging it. Maybe it's funny; maybe it is politically interesting or thought-provoking; maybe it's relevant to something I was alreadyt hinking about.

10. Do you list permanent links to other blogs (such as a blogroll)?

Yes, but not with a blogroll -- I have a hand-coded list. It's short (maybe 20 blogs).

11. If yes, what criteria do you use to decide if you will add those blogs to your site?

Essentially, the criteria is whether I read them or not. Some of them are people I know from Real Life; most are just blogs I found when surfing and they struck my fancy. All are blogs I follow, albeit some more sporadially than others.

12. Do you list permanent links to other web sites (other than blogs)?

Yes. The list includes museums, jigsaw puzzles, and my own thesis work.

13. If so, what criteria do you use to decide if you will add those links to your site?

In all cases, permalinks to non-blog websites are selected because their content relates to my persona. I read (or have been published) at some; I used to (or still) work at others. Some are websites of mine (poetry, Media Literacy course), or to which I am connected in some way.

14. Approximately how many hours do you spend surfing the Internet in a typical day?

Not counting blogging, since that's not "surfing?" About a half an hour per day, mostly in increments of just a minute or two. .

15. What sources do you rely on the most for your news information?

5 different media, one "channel" each, all used daily:

The Boston Globe (hard copy). local NPR stations. The Daily Show at 11:00 p.m. each night. The grapevine -- when you live at a prep school, news is contantly buzzing through the community.

16. If applicable, please describe how you interact with other blogs. This would include, but is not limited to, leaving comments, following hyperlinks
from entries, and following hyperlinks from blogrolls.

Ready for the most unique answer you'll be receiving from this question?

I am actually HOSTING someone else's blog IN MY COMMENTS. Really. It started spontaneously, but the potential seemed too interesting for me to make Shaw, the blog's owner, stop. We're trying a sociological experiment. The term I've been using for it is blogsquatting, but underblogging or Guerillablogging works just as well. If you want to see how that's working, check it out here.

Other than that, my primary way of interacting with other blogs is by following referrer sites back from my bravenet visitor counter, which means I also read the blogs of those who have linked to me. I also like to click on random blognames that sound tasty at; I see one or two new blogs a day with that method. .

I leave comments seldom but not never, follow hyperlinks from entries often but not always, and regularly follow a small number of blogs, maybe six or seven, reading each more than three times a week.

17. What criteria, if any, do you use to decide whether or not you will follow a hyperlink?

In blog entries, it depends on whether I am interested in the original source as presented by the blog author. If the entry seems to say all there is to say about the linked item, why follow it? On the other hand, if the blog entry is a recommendation, it would have to be something I'd already be interested in. Mostly, that's quirky things about people and institutions.

On and on other people's blogrolls/permalinks, most often, it's the name of the website, actually.

18. If applicable, please describe how visitors to your blog interact with you.

Almost exclusively through my own comments -- we've had some heated discussion. I do have a guestmap but it isn't featured prominently on the page, and few people find it.

19. Is your writing style and content affected by having visitors to your site? If so, how?

I do occasionally say hi to my readers. Intellectually and habitually, I know they are real people. But stylistically, blogging ends up a bit like being on the radio -- because you can't SEE your readers, they're not fully real. They are, we might say, unrealized. To make them feel real, I necessarily clothe them with my own projected image, somewhat amorphously. Although I am externalizing my thoughts, I think more than anything I clothe the people I encounter with, mostly, a double of myself, for whom else do I have to project upon others than my own imagined mind?

I feel very natural talking to myself in public; I'm a teacher, after all, and I have been a radio DJ for many, many years. Tonally, I do think I was a bit stiff when I started, but I think eventually I stopped thinking about it, and I believe - although I cannot be sure -- that my now the "voice" I use is essentially my own "diary voice."

As for content selection, yes, there are some things, mostly secrets, both my own and those I hold for others, which are not for blogging. For some reason, I seem to have a lot of secrets.

20. What web sites, if any, have you visited today?

Well,, with the War on.

I visited Google several times, and a specific page on through google twice.

I visited my own blog a bunch of times. I checked out the photo of the day at I went to I visited my own syllabus for the class I was teaching today at so I knew what I was planning on doing today in class.

Please add any other comments about blogging or reactions to this survey.

There are at least five entries in my own blog which specifically address the sociological meaning and ramifications of the Blog as Medium. They are VERY easy to find: they're listed at the top of all my blogpages, on the right.

May I send a follow up survey to you?

Please do!

Thank you for your participation! Please refer to my site in the next few
days for preliminary results!

posted by boyhowdy | 1:30 AM | 0 comments

I'm Taking The Survey

Because Kara asked me to.

Maybe I'll post it when I'm done.

I bet you'd like that.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:26 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Robert Kaplan Makes Sense

I had a strong suspicion that I was going to like Kaplan, author of Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands A Pagan Ethos. What I didn't expect was that I'd lead the standing ovation we gave him at the end of his 40 minute talk today at NMH. I felt good about what he had to say -- he made, in a much more organized way, the same case for war that I think/hope I was making earlier this week. I now feel like I understand why Iraq is the worst totalitarian regime out there, for example, and why that was inevitable, and why stopping Saddam as soon as possible, even if we leave only a vacuum in place, is better than leaving things be. I also realize that pretending that we're going to leave them with a democracy is silly, and that any new leadership would be much, much better for the Iraqi people than what's there now.

Where Howard Zinn appealed to our emotions, Kaplan appealed to our logic. Yet it was clear that, like any good thinker-historian, he, too, has a fundamental assumption at the heart of his arguments, an assumption that what the people of the world need is, ultimately, to live in a governmental structure which is both stable and preserves basic rights, such as those of the US Bill of Rights. According to Kaplan, this war is not really prompted by an issue of international security. It's a case based on humanism, on trying to engender a stable life for Iraqis, to lead them to a place where they can begin to lead themselves, a longer process than most believe. In other words, his long-term desires are about the same as anybody's -- peace, justice, and basic freedoms for all. I just think he's more a realist, like me, than an idealist like Zinn.

But Kaplan's ideas speak for themselves better than I ever could, and his argument is linear, so it's best presented in the same exact order that I heard it. Thus, what follows is a verbatum transcript of my notes from Kaplan's speech today. It's long, but worth reading, especially if, like too many people, you persist in the belief that this war is about oil, daddybush, or even -- surpise, surprise -- about trying to impose our own standards of democracy wholesale on other countries. As best as possible, it uses the actual phrasing Kaplan used.

Notes On Robert Kaplan's Speech to the NMH Community 3/20/03

Historically, always true that development (centralization, social change, etc.) escalates and diversifies demands on govt. beyond the capability to serve those demands. Because of this, development inherently leads to increasingly shaky social infrastructures -- and most collapse. Also, in the process of migrating into cities, religion refocuses ideology, compensating for a lack of social governance. This also, however, becomes a petri dish for the development of extremism, like that which engenders terrorism.

Therefore, periods of growth are always followed by periods of upheaval. AND, when small places change, big places change in response (development in small countries leads to increased emigration, for example). Interconnectivity.

"I'm only interested in one kind of population statistic. Political upheaval is always instigated by young males..." Therefore, "youth bulges" are a solid indicator of impending growth pains in developing nations/regions. The top ten youth bulges right now are sub-saharan, but the NEXT ten are all middle eastern, and middle eastern countries are so small that their growth is much more ccentralized (one city per country; the country becomes an extension of the city). We're entering an era where the middle east is becoming urbanized, and literacy is rising, so look for increasing unrest from the middle east. Leaders will need to be more like big-city-mayors, Giulliani-like, as small countries become citified.

Urban populations are harder to govern. More management, less opportunity for families and individuals to solve sustenance issues on their own (no urban agriculture for family food, for ex.). Their needs are interconnected; they are more dependent on / suceptible to supply/demand, etc. For example, in ten years, the amount of clean water per person in the middle east will be half what it is now.

"Newly formed, mostly-finished democracy is the MOST destabilizing element out there." Because when you have a crisis, you want to act, not discuss and consult. "So we preach democracy, but rely on autocrats." A condensed, literate population is less likely to tolerate autocracy. Thus, developing countries don't handle crises well at all. Our difficulty with Turkey, then, is BECAUSE there is a committee, not just a president, to convince and work with. You get, in the formative stages of democracy, neither a decisive democracy nor a decisive autocracy. "If we're frustrated with Turkey and the palestinians now...well, welcome to the future of our relations with the middle east over the next generation."

Big idea/thesis: What we're striving for, then, is NOT democracy in the short term -- democracy will need to spring from the people of Iraq if it is to take hold well. We're striving for "historic liberalism", by which we mean a civil society which supports basic rights and freedoms, like free press and speech, freedom to own property, basically the whole idealized Amnesty package.

But here's the problem. The world is a big and diverse place. In many places historic liberalism is traditionally furthered by mature democracies. BUT in many places, benevolent dictatorship provides better historic liberalism than a popular election would produce. Tunisi is a perfect example: their current benevolent dictatorship provides a strong foundation for civil society and fundamental rights, but a popular vote at this time would produce a restrictive fundamentalist society with hardly any rights for the people at all. This is also true of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine at the moment. You'd get worse rights preservation with voting. The benevolent dictatorships / autocrats need to be supported until such time as they can be sure that basic rights have taken root, and that elections would further those rights. That's coming, but not yet.

Now to Iraq. Iraq is "the last of the cold war regimes," by which we mean Stalin-era. Worst case scenario of basic rights -- none for people at all. The most centralized respressive kind of regime there is. Almost anything that replaces it would be dramatically better for the people. Even a general would produce a military regime like that of Morocco or Tunisia, where distribution of goods would be better (assumption -- no-longer-hungry people then can better advocate for rights, higher on maslo's pyramid)

"So I plead: don't expect absolute results. Even a measurable change in leadership is significant to the human freedom and rights of the average Iraqi family" (asumption: even if we take into account some deaths in those families in forcing a regime change, since there is no potential for regime change otherwise, deaths will be equivalent or worse as people starve slowly). "If Iraq isn't a democracy next year, then by no means can we conclude that the war was wrong."

Yes, expect it to be messy and brutal. War isn't pretty. But it seems necessary. IF we can carry this through, existence in the entire region will improve immeasurably. And there was, and is, no better way to do so. The Hussein regime was, and is, an evil, oppressive, narrow dead end. Only the creation of a vacuum will/is the way to help the Iraqi people.

Finally, in answer to the question "but should we have acted without the "proof" the UN was asking for?", I say this: Philosophically, the greater the danger, the less evidence you need to act. If you knew I was going to kill three people, you might wait to act until you had some evidence; if you knew I was going to kill thirty thousand people, you'd probably call me in for questioning, at least, with little proof. Therefore, in this conflict, virtue comes on acting on probable evidence. And, if the danger to the Iraqi people and to the world is great enough -- and it is -- we cannot wait IF waiting would continue to escalate a danger of that scale and scope.

And so it ended, and we filed out of the auditorium, swarms rushing into the beginnings of the first rain of spring.

Let the criticism begin.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:52 PM | 0 comments

Timing Is Everything

On the morning of war, the headlines swell to twice the size of previous days. This afternoon, Robert Kaplan is speaking here at NMH. Here's the bio we've been using to promote his visit:

Atlantic Monthly correspondent Robert Kaplan is the bestselling author of nine books on international affairs that have been translated into over 15 languages. His latest work is Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos, about how ancient philosophy can improve critical thinking in business and foreign affairs in an age of terrorism and other nonconventional threats. In the 1980s, Kaplan was the first American writer to warn in print of a future war in the Balkans.

Surely the author of a new book promoting a new pagan ethos in international foreign policy and conflict will be relevant. According to a long-time history teacher I know, the book is supportive of Machiavellian tactics, and promotes, among other things, the idea that power fades if it is not used. Those who follow this blog regularly might remember how much fun we had with Howard Zinn's visit last month. By this evening I should have my report.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:58 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Duty Addendum-dums

Had to proofread more yearbook pages during much of tonight's dorm duty. Not done yet, so apologies in advance if it cuts into the blogging over the next few days. For some reason, yearbook doesn't attract the best and brightest writers here at NMH; this is, I think, partially because it's so much work that it turns the best kids off, and partially because the school newspaper and the school literary magazine meet at the same time, so yearbook loses some of the best writers to those other electives.

On the bright side, Darcie says if there's any budget left at the end of the year, I get paid for all the hours I put in proofreading the predominantly ESL-student-written and therefore generally mangled text. On the notsobright side, who ever heard of a school department having a budget surplus at the end of the year?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:52 PM | 0 comments

Watching The War

My Media Literacy class began this morning. The first day is boring on purpose, so those kids not really invested in the subject can decide to find another class before the end of our veryquick add-drop period, but it seems like a good and animated group, even if one student did try to derail discussion by claiming that deliberate communicative intent wasn't the exclusive province of humans, but could, philosophically speaking, be ascribed to, say, airplanes and flowers and stuff. As an added bonus, the class is more than half female, a real triumph for a study of technology and communications, a field which traditionally has somewhat less trouble than computer science in attracting girls but still doesn't always attract the sexes equally.

Tonight's assignment was to watch 40 minutes of network television and log all major "events" (commercials, station breaks, sitcom or other programmatic bytes). Usually, the most startling thing about this exercise for the students is the relaization of how little of what's on television is actually programming -- most adolescents have no idea that there is only about eighteen minutes of actual program for every half hour of commercial television, and it startles them while setting us up for an engaging discussion about whether there is really any difference, in terms of commercial relevance, between the commercials and the program itself (there is a difference in teqhnique, certainly, most obviously in pacing and narrative structure, but this is more a function of genre than of commercial relevance).

But tonight the war was on tv, and I was on duty. If my class' experience was anything like the kids in the house, what they watched -- voluntarily and silently and seriously, making me proud to be their teacher and mentor -- was war, and in war, all the usual rules of television are suspended. The war footage, Bush's speech and its subsequent commentary, even the somber nature of the commericals themselves don't serve the commercial mindset in the same way, although an argument can be made that they do serve it in some way.

I'm looking forward to class, in a new way, a rejuvenating way, and it feels good. Kinda slimygood, since it's a kind of academic war profiteering to be so pleased to be able to have the war walk us through our study of mass media in the first two weeks of the course, before we turn to more intimate and interpersonal media as speech and academic writing. But if last Fall's course, which had the same coincidence with the 9/11 bombing, is any indication, we'll run out of time before we run out of things to see and say, and the students' personal attachment to their subject will be heightened in ways that teachers only dream about.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:46 PM | 0 comments

First Things First

To catch up: Monday, after a peaceful visit to the mud-filled fields of cows and horses at the NMH school farm and a quick stopover in the sugarhouse to commiserate with the ordained-minister head of farm program about what, until this morning, was a pretty weak sap-collecting season -- too much warmth at night and not enough in the mornings can do that to a maple's veins, you see -- and a quick trip into town for hot wings at our favorite bar, it was radio show time once again. As I believe the phrase pro-peace to be far more inclusive than the inherently-angry anti-war, Monday night saw yet another Very Special Tributary, filled with some anti-war songs, albeit not the usual anthems, and a plethora of songs promoting harmony of all types. Of course, my amazon order finally came through, so I also had eight new CDs since the last time we did the show before Spring Break; by preference and aural/psychological necessity, these were showcased as well.

Ginny and I also read bedtime stories on the hour and the half hour, as is our weekly wont; in keeping with the anti-conflict theme, I managed to pick up a copy of Ferdinand (for those who've forgotten, Ferdinand is a peaceful bull, who would rather sit and smell the flowers than fight, but when he gets stung by a bee he flips out and gets chosen to be the star of the local bullfight...wherein he promptly sits in the middle of the ring and sniffs deeply, enjoying the flowers the Senoritas throw at him), and read Dr. Seuss' story of the North and South-going Zax, and a cute little satire of the 3 little pigs in which the pigs are sandinistas and the wolf the evil capitalist oppressor.

The evening's win-free-coffee-for-a-week-from-the-snack-bar contest was to identify which band originally performed the Johnny Cash song below, but since no one answered it, I'll leave it as an exercise for the blogreader. If you know the answer, I'll donate a buck to your favorite pay-pal-taking cause. Seriously. (First taker only; I'm not made of money.) The replacement contest we came up with was to identify any of the previous bands which Jorma Kaukonen was in; I was thinking of Hot Tuna, but the radio station's technical director called and correctly identified that before that, he was in Jefferson Airplane, so I gave it to him.

Set list follows. New songs in my collection are starred. All are excellent.

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
*Eddie From Ohio -- Stupid American
*Brooks Williams -- Mother Earth
Dixie Chicks -- Travelling Soldier
Mark Erelli -- Compass and Companion
*Dolly Parton -- Shine
*Johnny Cash -- Personal Jesus
*Trey Anastasio -- Cayman Review
*Jorma Kaukonen -- Big River Blues
*Mo' Horizons -- Hit The Road Jack
*Keller Williams -- Anyhow, Anyway
*Brooks Williams -- May You Never
Norah Jones -- Cold Cold Heart
Dar Williams -- This Is Pompeii
Indigo Girls -- Let It Be Me
The Harshed Mellows -- US Blues
Jonatha Brooke -- War
Leandra Peak -- Wash My Eyes
Deb Talan -- Two Points
Patricia Maertens -- Comfortably Numb
*Brooks Williams -- She Loves Me (when I try)
David Wilcox -- Heart Shaped Medallion

posted by boyhowdy | 11:34 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Tech Note

I was getting some odd Java error message from blogger for a while, and now it's really, really late.

So stay tuned, folks. Tributary, the best little radio show in Northfield, MA, was back with a vengance this evening, and I'll tell you all about it -- and about our afternoon visit to show willow the muddy cows and horses -- once work is over, in about 15 hours from...mark.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:26 AM | 0 comments

Monday, March 17, 2003

Quote Of The War

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots. [Thomas Jefferson]

I am hereby coming out reluctantly and only marginally in favor of war, mostly because I believe the Iraqi people cannot even ask us for the help they want of us.

And because the anti-war camp has, as I tried to explain to Virginia this evening, not been practicing peace, especially ANSWER, primary organizer of the protests and avidly anti-Israel, as well as avidly interested in bludgeoning us with strong-arm, manipulative tactics to garner support for their cause.

And because I am scared for my daughter. I decided tonight, listening to Bush and, after him, Howard Zinn on PBS, that I would go to Iraq today, stand in the desert, bare myself to gunfire from reluctant gun-toting men, be a soldier if it would keep my daughter and her world safe.

Heinlein, in Starship Troopers, says that the moral difference between the soldier and the civilian lies in the field of civic virtue. A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not.

I stand resolved. The body politic, which I define not as a nation or country, but as a free world, doesn't feel safe, not from inside. I'm ready to sacrifice my own life, if I have to, to make it so, and I must believe that humanity, on the whole, feels the same way, Iraqi and American, no matter the nationality. I must believe, in other words, that we are all willing to die, if we need to, so that the children of all our races can live in harmony when the dust has settled. I've lived long enough and cannot live in protesting paranoia anymore. My daughter deserves no less.

An older, wiser head said this a different way:

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

Here's hoping the Iraqi people, God bless their souls, have read their Thomas Paine. No matter what happens in the coming days, if the Iraqis -- a people who fight in an army they don't want to be in at all, a people whose aid has been systematically usurped by Saddam for his own military paranoia -- end up free, it won't be free, and probably won't be cheap. But I remain hopeful that their lot will be better, in short term and long, after Saddam is removed. Period.

And if the Iraqis are finally free, no matter what the regime change, no matter what the cost? If they get their aid, and no longer suffer in the shadow of their despotic leader, and the rest of the world STILL thinks we were the bad guys here? In the words of atomic-bomb physicist Richard Feynman, What do you care what other people think? It's enough to do the right thing. And no matter what you think about haste or waste, war or peace, I think freeing an entire people is always the right thing.

Preemptively, yes, I do understand the reasons why many of my readers and peers are opposed to this war, and why less but not none are opposed to all armed conflict. I've missed nothing. I understand the issues. I am mostly still on the fence. But I am for freedom, and as long as one Iraqi is not free, my heart is not free. And as long as my daughter and I live in fear, we are not at peace. If there is a way to hasten peace, then, reluctantly, I am beginning to be for it.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:06 PM | 0 comments

Bush Speaks!

After a long, mostly-boring Professional Development Day on the eve of the student's arrival for an impending Spring term:

a. We're watching students arriving from Asia, carriers of that scary new virus, worried about the baby catching something new and so-far untreatable.
b. We're watching Bush declare war.

I'd ask what this world is coming to, but I think I know. Bring it on, apocalypse!

Stay tuned for a radio show report after midnight tonight. We're gonna read pro-peace/anti-conflict bedtime stories, including Ferdinand the Bull. See you then!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:00 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Blogtitle of the Day

Today's BtOTD is awarded to I Want To Hug Kafka. Here's what the author has to say about it:

FRANZ KAFKA was a Czech Jew who became a major German writer and mercifully died before the Nazis could get him. His works are miserably depressing and really fun to read, even though they're translated. (Not for everyone, unless you dig tortured souls.) He can be pretty funny as well and his first published article was about airplanes.

I like Kafka. He's nifty. He's sad. He's a person that needs hugging.


posted by boyhowdy | 11:43 PM | 0 comments

Lies! All Lies!

Oh dear God. I'm Green. At least, according to Quizilla's newest quiz Which political sterotype are you?

Green: You believe that small economic units
should control the goods, and that the
government should be permissive of
"victimless crimes," respectful of
civil liberties and very strict towards big
business. You also believe in either a
socialist tax structure or more power to local
communities. You think that environmental
policies should be written into law. Your
historical role model is Ralf Nader.

And here I thought I was a fiscally conservative, socially libertarian secular humanist. Serves me right for taking one of those stupid five-question quizzes.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:20 PM | 0 comments

NY Jewish Sect Declares Fried God "Delicious!"

Okay, not really. But they do claim that the hebrew-speaking fish was a sign of impending apocolypse. From today's edition of The Observer:

According to two fish-cutters at the New Square Fish Market, the carp was about to be slaughtered and made into gefilte fish for Sabbath dinner when it suddenly began shouting apocalyptic warnings in Hebrew

Sect, the Skver Hassidim, a group of about 7k outside of Manhattan, have declared the 20lb carp was a mystical visitation.

But here's my favorite part of the story: The animated carp commanded Rosen to pray and study the Torah. Rosen tried to kill the fish but injured himself. It was finally butchered by Nivelo and sold.

If a fish started talking to you, would you kill it and sell it? Maybe Rosen was an atheist or something, or maybe he was just one of those people who wants to kill what he doesn't understand (and by my estimation that's pretty much everyone but me and you, and I'm not so sure about you). But hey. Some people. Geez.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:20 PM | 0 comments

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
coming soon
now listening