Monday, August 11, 2003

Dhaka Disasters

Day five at the Aga Khan School began badly, got worse rapidly. The email addresses we needed set up on the Intranet were unsurprisingly not when we arrived at 8:30, the Microsoft Outlook walkthrough necessary to use that email went too slow for words and didn’t work anyway, and then, when we finally got driv ers hand-loaded on the eight Eudora-based computers ready to add to the bunch, Outlook became buggy as Dhaka in the winter months.

But the biggest problem was the monsoon rain falling by nine thirty, which in turn caused the server to crash, which in turn made the above moot. No email sent was received after the first few minutes, and our attempt at a hands-on activity, developed late last night in response to high demand via our daily evaluation forms, finally went bust about 11:30.

To be fair, the real problem here was a temporary and rash error of judgment on our part, to wit, our willingness to change things so drastically based on feedback; as I later explained to both Henry and Azra, the whole reason we’re here is to broaden the minds and possibility-spectra of our foreign compatriot teachers, and that assumes that we know what’s best for the workshop form and function. It shouldn’t matter if teachers think they want more skills training; we know, as professionals, that awareness and curricular consideration need to come before skills. I think we just got carried away in our earnest desire to make everyone happy, and forgot that our jobs assume that we, not our workshop participants, khow best to build a platform from which one can integrate technology into one’s teaching with aplomb and application. Now we know better. Chose not to read today’s evaluation forms in fear of further stupidity, although my co-leaders seemed relatively happy with what they read themselves.

On the bright side, this afternoon’s demonstration on forums and message boards was extraordinarily well-received, even if I managed to half-electrocute myself on a 220 current unplugging the laptop at the end of the workday. I feel badly for Azra, though – the morning’s activity set was her first leadership role so far, and not much went right.

We stopped on the drive back from AKS so George could show us the new site for the K-12 school they’ll be moving to once building begins and then is completed. Like much of Dhaka, the land is what George calls “reclaimed” – several months ago, it was all underwater riverbank, and the “beach” flanks the site, at least for now. A bit farther down the new crushed-brick path (there is no gravel in this delta country) we got to watch further reclamation in progress, an ingenious phenomenon in which barges are loaded with silt and sand from upriver within millimeters of the boatrim, trucked upstream; the sludge is then forced through hand-wrenched iron pipes constantly being rebuilt by poverty-stricken locals, and the water rushes away, leaving the silt behind as a solid foundation for the terraformed.

Tonight’s shopping expedition with Azra netted a few high-quality-but-cheap button-downs, flowers for an Azra surely in need of some good cheering up, some crazy-named snackfood from a tiny supermarket. We even bought some crazy socks for Henry, although the bright spotted shirt we had hoped could go with it was far too small for his deceptively muscular frame. After a quick and by-now process-knowledgeable curriculum brainstorm/planning session, I ordered the same lambchop and prawn supper as the night before, and then feel off to blog and sleep, once again exhausted. Tomorrow is another day, but does it have to come so soon?

posted by boyhowdy | 2:07 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Deconstructing Dhaka: Day 4

An early start this morning, the first of the Teaching with Information and Communication Technologies Workshop. George arrived at the hotel by 7:30 with vehicles and drivers. A coffee and a hurry-up later the group of by-now eight international workshop participants – two Indians, two Tajikistans, two Kurdistans, a Kenyan and a Pakistani, all Aga Khan school teachers in their own countries – drove off in the van. Henry, Azra, George and myself followed in George’s car with driver Ibrahim behind the wheel as always. After a relatively uneventful drive down the main airport road, by which I mean we hit no one but came within a hairs breadth of both mad-dash pedestrians and pre-scraped-up busses carrying the usual overload of morning commuters, we arrived at the school to earn our paychecks.

Henry led the morning session , a period of introduction and brainstorm about the benefits of and obstacles to technology integration, so well we ended an hour early, leaving me happy but ultimately exhausted and hoarse in filling the next several hours with mostly-lecture on the subject of terminology, most specifically the way in which the language and mental constructs we use to discuss and teach technology affect the ways in which students and selves develop habits of use.

Although far fewer international travelers ultimately came to Dhaka for the program, even with the late arrival of two recently-deplaned Tanzanians during a seriously spicy take-out lunch of Chinese food in an upstairs classroom, George had padded the workshop back up past the original cap of fifty with what must have been his entire teaching staff – the library was filled, the acoustics terrible, the air conditioning barely helpful. Post-workshop feedback seemed generally positive but suggested less lecture, and language barriers seem to be a subtle but insidious difficulty; Azra and I were already talking about how to make tomorrow more hands-on by the time we arrived back at the hotel by 4:00.

Azra and I joined this afternoon by Noureddine and Patricia for our afternoon constitutional. The four of us got very lost but remained confident, and once we recaptured our bearings, spent about a half an hour in the cybercafe of yesterday’s search. Left Patricia behind and Nourreddine went back alone; I found a nice men’s clothing store for later purchases and then, still on our feet, Azra bought me a cappuccino and fries in the half-American New Yorker Café, a surprisingly diner-like place with a Bangladeshi twist.

Emerged into an unexpected rain too heavy to walk back in, the water washing the gritty skies clean onto our heads and shirts and hands. We huddled under a shopping plaza outpost and discussed colonialism while we watched college students smoke across the street, and went back for much-needed showers. You know you’re in a foreign land where you need to take a shower to wash the rain off.

A hair-dryer and a frantic hour redesigning tomorrow’s communications technology curriculum and it was time for dinner again. Tonight’s meal was nothing special, but the lamb chops and prawn salad were solid and just unfamiliar enough to be interesting. Couldn’t keep my eyes open after three cups of served-with-hot-milk coffee, though, so Henry and Azra generously gave me the night off to sleep and blog while they went off to divide our band of merry teachers, now fifty strong, into subject-specific pairs and quadrates. I think dehydration’s the biggest culprit – I drink as much as I can, but the sweat just pours out of me here. Funny how most of the others seem fine with it – must be a cultural thing, or an unfortunate symptom of the long thick hair I ultimately decided not to chop off before arriving.

More tomorrow, assuming sleep tonight. ‘till then…

posted by boyhowdy | 1:45 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Day Three In Dhaka: A Retroactive Itinerary.

8:30: Breakfast. Three tiny cups of coffee with hot milk (about half of my usual 20 ounce morning ritual), roasted potatoes, runny scrambled eggs. Once again I avoid the strange sausages and curries on the buffet line. Once again Henry is the last to arrive, although he looks the most conscious and coherent for it.

9:30: Travel to the Aga Khan school. George arrives in the school van to bring us to the school for a morning of lab-checking and furniture moving. He advises seatbelts, but the van has none.

10:00 – 12:00: Prep work at the school. The computer teacher slash school IT tech helps us set our laptops up on the Internet and the LAN, each of which has its own IP address and Ethernet cable – which means we cannot be on both at once, a situation none of us anticipated. Also unanticipated: there will be fifty teachers attending our workshop rather than the expected 35; at least two of the teachers will not arrive until midway through our first day; only two lab computers can be connected to the Internet. Luckily, all computers can communicate through the local network at once. Azra and I decide to use NetMeeting rather than AIM to teach chat, although without the ability to connect our students to the ‘net in groups, it looks like teaching email and forum use will have to be lecture-oriented and theory-heavy.

12:00: Travel with George back to the Hotel to pick up Patricia, who has just arrived from Kenya sans luggage.

12:30 – 5:30: Adventures with George:
  • Lunch at the Canadian Club, a walled-in-the-midst-of-chaos country-club haven for the 75 Canadian ex-pats who live in and around Dhaka. Burgers, fries, and perhaps the only beers in all of Dhaka in a beautiful courtyard overlooking the pool, tennis courts, and children’s play area. The two-acre oasis is essentially empty save for “Bernie,” a television-watching fellow who turns out to be the director of one of the largest shoe companies in all of Asia and Africa.
  • Pants shopping for Henry, who packed only shorts despite clear indication in every guidebook that shorts just “aren’t worn” in this conservative country, at an upscale and heavily-guarded men’s store not far from the hotel. Henry decides on two pairs of linen pants which we then rush to a tailor for emergency hemming. I proudly restrain myself from buying everything in the store despite the fact that these beautiful high-end clothes are just my kind of duds, and really do cost less than a quarter of what they’d cost at home.
  • High-end women’s clothing stores for local garb for Patricia, although Azra and I decide to do our shopping later, possibly at somewhere less artsy. George and I make fun of the clothing styles and colors while the women shop and Henry meanders – I think his ADD may be even worse than mine.
  • A supermarket, as hotel mini-bar water is getting pricey and fast. George buys 5 kilos of green lemons for about half a dollar; his house boy, he says, makes the best lemonade. Henry, a bottomless pit when it comes to eating, buys coke and a huge bag of roasted chick peas he later describes, after eating the entire bag over the course of an afternoon, as bland and hardly worth it. Azra buys cookies and a bag of Lays potato chips, made in America but costing about three times more than the local Stop and Shop at home. Patricia, new to the group, buys water and a few light snacks. I take pictures of weird fruit: custard apples, lumpy mangoes, sugar cane bundles and other unknowns and unfamiliars. Then I get scolded for taking pictures, which are not allowed. George, smiling, happily scolds back – if you can’t take photos, where’s the sign? – ultimately cowing the meek store employees into a vague and impotent frustration. I’m liking George more and more.
  • One of Bernie’s shoe stores – Patricia needs sandals, too. Shoes as cheap as clothes, relatively speaking, and much better made. Thanks, Bernie.
  • A mixed high-end mall of identical pearl necklace shops, art galleries, bakeries, and 80-year-old brass ship’s artifacts rescued from decommissioned British sailing vessels, now sporting a bright polished sheen. Nothing purchased; this leg of the trip being mostly a way of killing time while Henry is driven to the tailors to pick up his already-hemmed linen pants.

5:30 – 7:00 Wandering with Azra. Still unclear how, but it seems every time we walk from the hotel to the main street nearby we come out on a different block of the same main street. This time, we manage to find a mall whose second floor was teeming with tiny one-room internet cafes, all blessedly air-conditioned. The difference in speed between them is astounding – the first place we try, a brand new place with a grand opening offer too good to pass up is clean and cool, but our free 30 minute “trial” nets us barely an email message apiece; the next place down the line, however, offers a broadband connection strong enough for me to show Azra the blog, whereupon we immediately decide to incorporate them back into the workshop somehow after dropping them weeks ago out of time concerns. More sari shopping afterwards – the wedding saris are especially beautiful, although 10 thousand taka seems a bit steep for a spousal birthday present, no matter how nice Darcie might look in that deep red color.

7:00: Phone home – eventually. The phone system here is a bit inconsistent, as the lines overseas are always busy; it takes over half an hour to get Darcie on the other line for a happy birthday call. Call eminently worth it, even at 230 taka – about 4 dollars – a minute. Willow says “hi” and “bye bye!” Darcie says “I love you.” All is well with the world, if a bit teary-eyed when I hang up the phone.

8:00: Italian buffet with Azra and Henry. Finally, something familiar! Well, almost familiar: the mutton lasagna is excellent nonetheless.

9:00 – 10:30: Last-minute curriculum review with Henry and Azra. Tiredness abounds. We joke about sending Henry out for pizza while Azra and I work tomorrow night on our next-day curriculum. After three days of intense work together, pizza is funny.

11:00: Blog, looking forward to exhausted sleep.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:04 PM | 0 comments

Interlude 2: In The Cybercafe

Much happened so far today but we're in a cybercafe and don't want to spend too much time here with Azra waiting.

DID want to say Happy Birthday to Darcie because I love her very much and there's a distinct possibility that I will never figure out how the darn phones work in this country. I'll say it again and again, surely, but early and often is always the best policy, eh?

More later. Hoorah for air conditioned cybercafes!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:37 AM | 0 comments

Friday, August 08, 2003

Dhaka Details: Day 2

After an excellent breakfast of French toast and hash browns in the hotel restaurant, the three of us – Henry, Azra, and myself -- went off for a morning constitutional, nominally to find a Cybercafe for our students’ use on the fast-moving main street a couple of blocks over from the hotel, mostly just to get out of the hotel and into the sweltering air.

The neighborhood immediately surrounding the Royal Park Residence is what passes for suburbs in Dhaka: apartment buildings on each corner and the equally gated-and-guarded balconied residences along each block provide a stark contrast to the poverty on the streets themselves. Brightly colored rickshaws and drab-skirted beggars abound; each block we traveled, a single rickshaw trailed us silently, hoping for a quick twenty-taka fare from Americans too foreign, surely, to know better how little to pay.

Just past the Swiss embassy this relatively quiet suburban neighborhood ends abruptly at Kamal Ataturk Avenue, a bright and teeming strip of life dividing one suburb from another just like it. Dodging baby taxis, we crossed the avenue at an entirely functionless crosswalk in our initially fruitless search. Finally, a security guard at a local shopping center eagerly left his post to show us to the other side of the block, where two cybercafe signs faced each other across the otherwise quiet packed-dirt street.

The first café we tried, a dark wooden door marked only by a tiny paper sign, was closed, probably because Friday is traditionally a day of no work in this predominantly Muslim country. But if this morning’s experience is any indication, what passes for cybercafes in Dhaka is as much unlike an American Internet café as Henry, a bald 6-foot-tall white American with a North Carolinan accent, is unlike the average local Bangladeshi. The small room at the end of a residential apartment corridor was dark and partitioned into six or eight tiny cubicles, each surely containing a computer; we didn’t see the cubicles, but once the two men who seemed to run the place managed to find an interpreter nearby, learned that the connection speed there was 32 kb/sec, that they were open from ten to ten every day, and that internet use costs one tenth there what it does here at the hotel – about 80 cents an hour, as compared to the eight dollars-an-hour I’m working off here and now.

Henry banged his head on the low iron hole-in-the-gate on the way out of the courtyard, although he ducked in time. In his defense, the bar marking the top of such gates are only about five feet off the ground. In my own defense, I didn’t laugh as hard as I could have.

Back at the hotel, after Henry and I changed out of our drenched-through shirts we spent most of the afternoon in a small glass-walled conference room just outside Azra’s hotel room, revamping the curriculum in anticipation of the hartal the opposition party has called for next Saturday. I won’t bore you with the details; if folks are interested in the curriculum once we’re finished, I’ll post a link to it -- but working collaboratively is surprisingly enjoyable work, and Azra and I think much alike about teaching with technology.

After a nice walk in the slightly-cooler night air with Azra while Henry went off to find the hotel’s rooftop fitness room, she and I supped at the Sri Lankan buffet in the hotel restaurant, supposedly a specialty of the house. I’d say we enjoyed it, but it was a bit spicy for my tastes. The soup was good, though – a nice basic cream of tomato with a hint of garlic – and the desserts were excellent, sweet and nutty: I’d mention their names for future reference but have no idea what any of them were called or made out of. Henry joined us near the end of the meal for an interesting conversation about the history, function, and potential value and drawbacks of diversity/ethics curricula in America, a concept entirely foreign to Azra and, apparently, the entire non-western world. It’s funny what you find yourself chatting about when talking with teachers.

On my way upstairs just now we found Malik, an official at the Aga Khan office in Town only too eager to introduce us to four teachers recently arrived from Tajikistan, the first of our small band of international learners to arrive at the hotel. After the usual round of friendly handshakes and hellos the ensuing conversation, which I repeat in it’s entirety as best as I can remember, says all it needs to about the world I am only now coming to understand:

Me: Welcome! How long did it take to get here?
Them: One week.
Me (unsure I’ve understood correctly, as I have a poor ear for accents): A week?
Them: Well, there’s only one flight out of Tajikistan each week. We’ve had to go to Islamabad, and then wait in Karachi…

And I thought I was tired.

More surprises to follow tomorrow, surely; we’re back at the school to go over some technical details in the morning, and will start the workshop itself on Sunday. For now, pictures, as requested by my mother-in-law, followed by a glossary:

Today’s Glossary:

Taka: Bangladeshi dollars. At today’s exchange rate, 56 taka equal one dollar. Twenty taka is about four times what it should cost to travel the city equivalent of four blocks.

Kamal Ataturk: According to Azra, a native Pakistani, Ataturk is renowned throughout the Muslim world for having brought Turkey, where he once ruled, into modernity.

Baby Taxi: A small dark-green three-wheeled motorized vehicle for carrying passengers assumed to be the dominant source of Dhaka’s smog. Seats two and a driver.

Hartal: A general dawn-to-dusk strike, often accompanied by violent riots throughout the country, called by the opposition party on the yearly anniversary of the death of their leader’s son almost thirty years ago. Travelers are advised to stay in their hotels for the duration.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:57 PM | 0 comments

Interlude, Day 1

From last night’s email to Darcie:

Henry and Azra and I went over to the Aga Khan School this afternoon at about 2:00 to see the lab and other teaching spaces. George, the principal, is from Ontario and looks it; he’s a nice and casually well-organized guy who runs the school almost single-handedly through sheer presence, kind of a modern version of an old British colonial in his India element. The kids all wear green and khaki uniforms and say “good afternoon, sir” to him as they pass, and he knows all their names and faces; they’ll be on break for the next week while their teachers learn from us, so it was especially nice to see the place teeming with happily almost-vacationing students playing chess and soccer and making speeches on the subject of their school.

School is taught entirely in English; it’s weird to see the scholastically ubiquitous 81/2 x 11 posters advertising clubs and candy sales in such an unfamiliar environment. But it’s not much like NMH, or even Oak Grove or Academy, for that matter. The school looks like nothing I’ve seen before – everything is open on the sides to the air, so it’s more like a crumbling, slightly yellowed concrete parking lot than a school. And, as with everywhere else we’ve been so far – the airport, the hotel – the entrance to the school is gated and carefully guarded by silent men in uniforms carrying assault weapons. Even the safest neighborhoods here hire guards for their best buildings; it seems like middle-class status is marked by the same sort of staffing once endemic to the colonial mindset – personal drivers, building guards, and “assistants” abound, and the school even employs a guy to do nothing more than sit around and wait until someone needs him to make copies.

Wish I had thought to bring my camera – I hadn’t realized this would be the only time we’d see the school with kids in it. I did take a few hotel room and from-the-balcony shots a while back, though, so at least we’ve got that covered.

Over a very-late lunch in the hotel after being driven back by Ibrahim, George’s driver, through the maniac streets, the three of us began work on the curriculum we’ve been hired for, and then the others went off to nap while I tried to keep my eyes open by smoking cigarettes on the hotel room private patio. I can see an Egyptian hairless cat in the apartment across the way from there, and an occasional glimpse of a dachshund in the one above; they’re not Zellie and Jacob, but they’ll do for a reminder of what I have waiting for me at home.

The sun shone for much of today through scattered clouds, so I guess this monsoon thing is a bunch of hype. Good thing I packed the sunglasses, even if they’re currently covered with exploded DEET along with most of my books.

I’ve been up for 48 hours straight and I’m a little loopy, but no one seems to notice, so I guess that’s good.

I’m meeting Henry and Azra for supper at 8:30 (it’s seven thirty now); I’m not hungry, but I should eat before I crash out completely. But now I better go – the internet time here’s pretty expensive. Give Willow big kisses for me and think of me often; I’ll call on your birthday, but will probably be too busy between now and then for much contact.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:50 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Downloads From Dhaka

Day 1.

The flight from London to Dhaka compresses the night into a few hours of restless neck-straining sleep before the light begins to dawn a thin, shockingly bright orange strip between cloud layers. As we push down towards Zia International Airport the skies clear unexpectedly, revealing a delta not unlike the Mississippi. Only moments before we land does silt become land, only now beginning to glow with a few early risers. It is 5:30 in the morning, 7:30 the night before a half a world away back home, and Henry and I have slept perhaps three fitful hours each in the past forty.

There is but one small truck hauling suitcases back and forth from plane to baggage belt. After the first few loads bring in hard, black, mostly unclaimed suitcases (which later turn out to belong to the air hosts and hostesses), a man lifts the rubber strips hanging over the hole where the luggage emerges; he peers inside, yelling anxiously in a language I have never heard before.

It takes two hours to get out of the airport. As we leave behind the sparse, almost pre-perestroika rust and high-ceilinged halls, the heat hits us like an oven door opening. The small pick-up area is bordered by high gates, faces pressed against them six or seven deep, simply watching; inside the gates, a few privileged hotel runners pester us for dollars, of which I have none. At first impression, it’s a lot like Wonka’s factory: no one goes in the gates, and no one comes out. Except Wonka didn’t have the searing heat and dense humidity, nor the khaki-dressed men walking around with mismatched automatic rifles, that Dhaka’s airport brings us.

We find our driver, and eventually persuade him to drive us to the hotel now and come back later for Azra, our third workshop leader, who plans to arrive in another hour or three from Pakistan, her home. The ride through the streets is but a few miles, but the culture is evident and typically, shockingly third-world: lanes mean nothing, throngs teem by the roadsides and sprint among the traffic for no apparent reason. Women pass by with hundreds of pounds of roots on their heads. Shantytowns and shacks can be seen leading out on crosspaths to the pavement. A brightly decorated abandoned bus, it’s front caved in from a collision, blocks half the road.

The turn into the suburbs is a surprise, mostly because the first block in seems to be a single uncoordinated checkpoint; the driver does not stop and is not questioned by the automatic-toting men who sit casually along the street. Once in the neighborhood, the houses and apartment buildings seem empty but well-kept, shuttered behind high walls. Our hotel looms out of nowhere, and suddenly our bags are being carried inside, we’re checking in, a tray is offered with iced orange juice to sip while we hand over our passports.

The rooms – adjacent “superior singles” where our students will be staying in rooms half the size -- are large and western, air-conditioned, well-kept. The terrace outside overlooks an outdoor pool which seems too shallow for diving but long enough for laps. After locking our documents and cash in the room safes, Henry and I head downstairs for the room-inclusive breakfast buffet, an odd hybrid of the familiar (toast, scrambled eggs) and the clearly native (mutton curry, soy noodles,and chicken sausages). There is coffee, thank god, and the milk comes hot in a cream pitcher.

And now I write after unpacking and a shower while Henry sleeps and Azra surely moves towards us. We’ll meet at noon or so and begin replanning the nine day workshop now that we can see each other in person, and later this afternoon we’ll visit the school lab where we’ll be working– George, the principal, will send a driver when we call – which will surely prompt a whole new curricular redesign in the context of the space. I’m tired as all hell, but the laptop works and charges on the power supply here in the hotel; the staff seems friendly and eager to please; the hotel and all but phone calls and alcohol (if we could find any in this 90% muslim country; the mini-bar has only soda, and a non-alcoholic beer). Things look promising from here. And so the adventure begins.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:00 AM | 0 comments

Monday, August 04, 2003

Monday Mosh
(If you're new or have forgotten the rules, click here.)

After a week or two of camping and confusion, the Monday Mosh is back with a vengance!

What song did you mosh to?
Postcards From Mexico, by Girlyman. Also Rose, from the same album. Man, I love these guys.

What did you step on or bump into? (bonus points for breakage!)
Danced with the baby today rather than step on or bump into her. We did end up crushing underfoot a bunch of Shredded Wheat left over from her breakfast, though -- which surely breaks the bank, bonus-points-wise.

Why did you stop?
Two words: Poopy Diaper.

Remember to post your own Monday Mosh on your blog if you've got one, and in the comments below! Happy moshing!

posted by boyhowdy | 10:31 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, August 03, 2003

...And Counting

Not doing much these days 'cept stressing about Dhaka. We did take a few hours off today to go up to Brattleboro and visit with Darcie's parents, and see her brother and his girlfriend, who were in town helping Darcie's father strip and revarnish his new boat; we went into town to see Virginia at Mocha Joes, too, but a parade for Korean War vets was impending, and she was too busy caffeinating the masses to chat. Took another few off this evening for a cookout with other faculty and their families, nominally a send-off for the Sheideggers, who are off next week for a year-long Fulbright fellowship in Turkey.

Mostly, though, I've just been sweating the small stuff. I've read the eco-friendly Lonely Planet guidebook several times, most notable for being the only guidebook on Bangladesh in the English language, and checked out Virtual Tourist on the subject of Dhaka, which mostly just confirms the LP folks. In my spare time, I worry about losing my functionality due to bad drinking water or smog (according to the Lonely Planet guidebook, one can expect burning eyes, rasping lungs, and a sore throat within a few hours after arrival in the capital city, but no one says what happens after a few days, or weeks, and it worries me). I found the web site for the Royal Park Residence, the hotel where most of the participants and co-leaders will be staying, and it seems nice, if a bit suburban -- smog notwithstanding, I prefer to be in the thick of things, I think.

And I've been sweating the technology, too. The potential for disaster is immense -- our institute subject (Teaching and Communicating with Technology) sort of begs network access, working computers, and all the trimmings; I've planned redundantly, putting all the materials I think I'll need on both CD, disk, and laptop, but we'll still need netowkr access much of the time, and the network there is supposed to be pretty iffy. Then there's data projection -- without which, we end up just talking at people for nine days, which plumb sucks and no bones about it. In about an hour I hope to finally speak to George, the principal of the school that's hosting us, to confirm whether they have a data projector for us to use; if not, I'll have to lug a bulky projector halfway around the world, since the "good ones" here at school are all installed in classroom ceilings. I would have spoken with him earlier, but I couldn't remember which way daylight savings time worked, and was afraid to call and accidentally wake him up.

Expect a good Monday Mosh tomorrow -- yeah, I know we're long overdue -- and then maybe a little something Tuesday before I leave. After that there's no guarantee I can blog, but I'll do what I can. 'til then...

posted by boyhowdy | 10:02 PM | 0 comments

Friday, August 01, 2003

It's A Date

In case you hadn't heard, I'll be in Bangladesh for a few weeks starting next Tuesday. I return on the evening of August 18th after a twenty-four hour journey home via Heathrow, and get back on a plane at 4 the following morning for the Alaskan Cruise with my siblings and parents.

The 18th, of course, is my anniversary. August ninth, Darcie's birthday, I'll be missing altogether. And, of course, I'll miss her -- this is the longest we'll have been away from each other after dating for thirteen years.

So this afternoon at four, beard trimmed and Teaching with Technology Institute module outlines posted to my coleaders for critique, Darcie's parents came by to watch the baby, and we went off to see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen down at the mall across the road from UMass Amherst. There's not much to say about the film save that it was quite possibly the the worst movie I've ever seen, with an almost incoherent sense of plot, some fake-as-all-heck special effects (check out the first close up body shot of Mr. Hyde, the first strong man with styrofoam arms), and a bunch of just dumb inconsistencies (Like a cruise ship in the canals of venice. Get real, Nemo.). The theater, which had come highly recommended, made up for the difference: comfortable high-backed seats, soft classical lighting along velvet walls, and an especially large screen, anomalous for what is otherwise a sparse and seedy mall, three dollar stores and a collectables shoppe.

Dinner afterwards in another well-recommended place, the Lord Jeffrey Inn in Amherst itself. No disappointments here, though: the room, set around a crackling hearthfire, was otherwise dark and romantic, furnished with old books and a minimum of faded mallard decoys upon old bureaus. And the food was excellent: gorgonzola and pancetta cream sauce over spinach linguine and under steak tips for me, pecan-encrusted chicken and spinach greens for Darcie, and a plate-swap midway eagerly and mutually agreed upon.

It was a good date, with a lover and an old friend, the kind you wish you could have more often no matter how often they come. Good enough, even, to make me wish I wasn't going anywhere, after all. And moreso when we got home to see the baby smile at us, and hold her arms out to us both.

God, I'll miss you, girls.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:38 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Totally Hot

Like, I totally think we set fire to the school dump today, dude.

Right, so there were these things, you know, all the accumulated junk of five years -- broken flowerpots, snow shovels with broken handles, the Christmas tree, a cracked glass vase and an old moldy school bench -- still sitting beind the fence of a ten-foot-square "backyard" behind the dorm apartment we just left behind. They had been there a while, and people were gonna want to move in, and the school wanted us to move them really soon, even though when we moved in five years ago the backyard was still filled with some other guy's trash, mostly rusty little-girl pinkbikes in a variety of sizes, and we had to get rid of it.

So we (that's Darcie and I) borrowed a school truck with no rear view mirror and no readout to tell you what gear you were in and asked the couple downstairs and their six year old kid to watch ours for a few minutes while we tossed all the junk in the flatbed and drove it all down to the school dump -- all, that is, except for the saggy wooden garden bench we dropped off under the tree across the way from the new place on the way over.

We'd never been to the school dump -- didn't know they had one, I mean -- but past the lower sports fields, down one paddock and through the second gate sure enough a pile of computer parts and face-down television sets at the corner turned into wide dump-piles: woodscraps, tree limbs, doorless washers. At the threequarters mark of what was obviously becoming a circle through the dump a raised ramp of road dead ended in the sky directly at the upper lips of a pair of mostly-full dumpsters, each construction site size, five times longer than wide, and we drove up it, and heaved our stuff on the top.

We went back to get the baby, now happily eating dirt and rocks by the tennis court entrance while someone else's Retriever snuffled the tennis ball at her feet. While Darcie put her in the car I drove the truck down to the back of the work control shopbuilding where it had to be returned.

Now what you have to understand is this: our school is on a hill by the side of the Connecticut river, and the back of the work control building is pretty much the only place where you can see even the barest tips of the dump-piles over the trees surrounding them. Everywhere else there's a ridge in the way. So it's a sure coincidence that right in front of me as I parked the truck the wrong way in to avoid the security vehicle in the middle of the lot was a huge paired spout-set of flame to the treetops rising from pretty much where the dumpsters should be, and a plume of smoke half a mile high besides. Darcie saw it too. And the fire trucks filling their hoses at the hydrant right next to us there in the lot were pretty hard to miss.

And we had just been there -- weren't we the last ones there? And we don't think we did anything, but there was an awful lot of wood and paint stuff and insulating fiber in those dumsters, and it was under a lot of pressure, what with the dumpsters being so tall and filled with heavy junk, and I guess we threw stuff in them pretty hard, and maybe it rubbed some of that old flammable stuff together the wrong way or something.

What was weird was really the unreality of the fire coming out of nowhere, I think. The dump wasn't on fire then -- you'd remember if the place was on fire, I mean, it's the kind of thing you'd notice pretty much no matter what, right? But then, all of a sudden it was.


I hope they got it out -- the boathouse isn't that far away down there, and they just got a new boat.

I also wrote three four-page outlines today, each one a different half-day teaching module for the trip to Bangladesh. Yay me.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:54 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Baby You're Never Far Enough Away

Buy this CD or I will kill this hamster.

This song by alt-folk (and out-folk) newcomers Girlyman has been stuck in my head since Falcon Ridge. Also a powerful cover of Harrison's My Sweet Lord and the homoerotic Rose of the same album. Their harmonies are so tight there's no room to sing along, but I've been doing it anyway.

Girlyman's coming through our area tomorrow and friday night, and I might just go, and skip the Great Waters Folk Festival altogether. If you don't live in my area, you'll have to wait to see them. But luckily, you can download Postcards From Mexico (the song in question) here (or here if you prefer Real Audio), and more music here. Get with the Girlyman program!

posted by boyhowdy | 10:18 PM | 0 comments

Pacing The Cage

Spent the day slowly-but-surely gearing up some initial inertia for some by-Friday curriculum-writing, which mostly meant a few hours in the faculty computer resource room on the LAN printing anything I thought might come in handy over the next few intensive days, a bit of email catch-up, and a spot of message board reconstruction.

Perusing and evaluating such materials tends to refocus the mind on the task at hand; by the time I arrived home with a thick handfull of papers and powerpoint printouts to find Darcie and Willow gone off to Brattleboro for a dip in South Pond the mind was brimming with ideas and outlines, each of which begged for paper and pen. The way my mind works -- and I have trained it well to do so exquisitely -- the brain will continue to simmer all night; by morning turning notes into narrative will be as natural as that first cup of coffee, and equally necessary to my mental health.

It's a (subjectively) highly successful formula, one which minimizes waste and maximizes quality in the production of any sort of paper, presentation, or indeed any extended linear communication. Given a month for an assignment, I have learned that my best can be found in toying with ideas for the first three weeks until the thesis, the goal, and the needed steps to get there become clear; from there, merely steeping myself in materials and keeping the ideas fluid until they naturally drop into their proper place like that last from-mess-to-finished rubik's cube twist, is the easy part. It's natural. It's fun. It looks like procrastination, but it isn't -- starting earlier results in a loss of focus over time, and produces only fragments for me. It does not break but merely internalizes the traditionally taught process of brainstorm and draft, and it works only if one can visualize, instantly, both forest and trees in an extended argument or process.

I like to think of this as the lighter, brighter side of ADHD. If one learns to watch one's own mind, the eight-track-simultaneous "curse" of the ADHD brain -- most often seen as problematic in that few ever learn how to manage so much information flow and environmental junk at once -- can be harnessed as what to others looks like "intuition" but is in actuality the ability to carefully fill each track with complimentary sub-ideas of the same process or piece-at-hand. The well-practiced mind, furthermore, can then "see" the relationships between each thread, and use it deliberately.

Or at least that's what it feels like. Hey, ask Shaw -- for a short while, I held the record at Marlboro College for netting the highest score ever on my writing pre-exam at orientation. I'm not bragging -- I have no sense that I'm a superhero -- it's just what I can do, and I'm proud because, for a long time, my brain was incomprehensible to me, my behavior erratic and inexplicable. It wasn't until I had a whole and holistic metaphor for the mind making the metaphor -- a meta concept if ever there was one -- that I managed to make sense to anyone, or to myself. And I didn't get that without much support (thanks, Darcie), and a very, very prolonged period of what can only be called adolescence into my mid twenties.

Okay, now that I've psyched myself up...I'm off to work. Is this how others think, I wonder?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:39 PM | 0 comments

Uh Oh

The Weather In Dhaka, Bangladesh

Via the constantly updated Guess they're serious about this monsoon thing, eh?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:16 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

To Do

Get beard trimmed.

Fill anti-malaria 'scrip.

Get batteries for Palm.

Check mapquest for weather in Dhaka over the next three weeks.

Launder and iron short sleeved button down shirts.

Install needed software on loaner laptop: Photoshop, Premiere, PhotoDeluxe, Inspiration, MS Office 2k Ed., hardware drivers for camera, printer, Palm,

Gather and organize Teaching With Technology materials, presentations, bookmarks, outlines and tests.

Leaning heavily on extant scavenge-able presentations and curricula originally developed for / delivered to other groups long beforehand, develop Teaching with Technology materials, presentations, outlines and tests for the following half-day modules:
- Terms, Models and Metaphors of Technology and Learning
- Writing Digitally
- Assessing Digital Learning
- The Computer As Brainstorming Tool
- Collaborative Knowledge Sharing Online and Off

Contact Margaret re: missing full day module on Searching and Researching Online.

Figure out if I'm doing the wrong modules.

Spend lots of time with family.

Videotape self reading bedtime stories for Willow to watch every night while I'm gone.

Be grateful for the opportunity to go at all.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:34 PM | 0 comments

What I Did On My Summer Blogcation

A week ago in the midst of what we in the technical field like to call a "kablooey" -- see below and then back father still to track the recent almost-demise and eventual ressurection of Not All Who Wander Are Lost -- I stopped blogging. There wasn't much point, really -- the good folks at blogger were understandably slow in helping a barely-paying customer with a violently unusual problem, but in the meantime, I was locked out of my primary blogspace and then rather quickly lost the password for a gifted second: I had nowhere to publish, and plenty to do.

Sorry. Really. I missed you all, and it's good to be back.

There's no real way to do justice to over a week of whirlwind summer in a single backblog (definition: any blog entry which tries to recapture a series of events just on the verge of mental overripeness, often resulting in a long boring entry which no one really ever reads), and not much point besides. But the highlights are pretty bright, so let's recap, shall we?

Saturday, June 19th, the Green River Festival in nearby Greenfield, MA. Discoveries that day include sparse funk band Inner Orchestra, Kris Delmhorst, who I came back to for a workshop set after being wowed by her early slot on the mainstage, and the joy of Patty Griffin in live performance (I've loved her forever but never made a show before); rediscoveries included They Might Be Giants, who always put on a great show, and Amelia, a beloved ex-student who also appeared the following weekend at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Rekindled my love of kettle corn and Burnt Sugar and Cream ice cream from the traveling Herrell's double decker ice cream bus.

But Green River was just a warmup for the summer's main event. Sunday, June 20th found us packing up the camper, dropping off the dog and picking up Virginia at the in-laws, errand-running. We left early the next morning, stopping at diners and roadside stores to keep the baby happy and our nicotene cravings fulfilled. And from Monday to Monday? The four of us -- yours truly, the now-one Willow, fond wife Darcie, her sister Virginia -- lived neo-nomadically out of blue tarps and screentents, campers and cars, in the damp green air of a horsefield in Hillsdale, New York, where every year the hordes descend for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, and we are there to greet them, and dwell among them, and listen as they sing.

Condensing Falcon Ridge into anything resembling a readable blogentry is impossible -- I live a year in one week each summer. We set the camper up against a creekbed and a road, next to Dave and then Virginia, right where we had been two years ago, but from there the narrative thread goes awry; it is not enough to say For three days we camped and worked as the festival slowly came to almost-life around us; for four days afterwards the festival raged as we rode the wave partially underground, like woodland elves on other faraway fields., and the blog format is antithetical to you had to be there or anysuch. The best one can say is that, in this time as in all timeless times, a week passed, the community around us grew and waned as a constant.

But I suppose to some extent life fell into three overlapping but identifiable categories: Work, Music, and, above and between it all, Leisure.

Work at a festival like this is lower than everyfest average, about 20 hours total, for which you get free admission and camping, free albeit meager and meat-free rations, undying friendship, and the best camping spots. Darcie painted festival signs in the shade of the central staff tent, including one which said "Baby Zone" and another which said "Today is Wednesday" and then later "Today is NOT Wednesday" and then by Friday "Today is (still) NOT Wednesday / please see the festival information tent for further temporal/spatial reference" which we hung outside our camping area. I checked in volunteers in the bigger tent out by the parking lot as they arrived and then, later, checked in the performers for a few hours each festival day, shaking Richard Shindell's hand, being introduced to Dar Williams' husband Mike (Mark?), watching the night rain with the members of We're About Nine, and putting wristbands on all of them. Dave, our Falcon Ridge Buddy -- we know him only from there, and see him never otherwise, but camp and spend all our time with him there every year -- stood security watch at the vegetarian-only staff meal tent entrance. Virginia watched the baby.

The Music at this year's fest began slow, with not much worth seeing Thursday but a late-night Patty Larkin (I got her some water later in the staff tent) and Richard Thompson, who was dressed exactly like a mime but was so much louder he brought his own stage amps and speakers. But over the next few days the rich diversity of two stages and a dance stage captured me, as it always does. Highlights included the discovery of last year's Emerging Artist Showcase winners Girlyman, a homophillic trio of powerful harmony, song structure, production and energy whose live performance and whose new album I cannot recommend any higher; also Richard Shindell, who I've seen before only peripherally but was much more impressed with. DaVinci's Notebook and Eddie From Ohio were as always rocking and hilarious; Railroad Earth and Vassar Clements bluegrassed the heck out of some jam band music (or vice versa), Dar, Kaplansky, and fest-fave John Gorka were predictably pleasant. Tuesday when the line was drawn between camp and stage seating we had pitched the fifth tent up along the line from stage, a freak miracle of timing which allowed us to closely watch the music that followed from the comfort of our own sun-and-rain-blocker without having to wait for three hours behind a rope for the 9:30 daily mainstage rush; it was the closest I'd been to Greg Brown since I shook his hand at the last festival we attended together, and nice to be able to drink beer at the otherwise dry festival under the shady screen. Virginia even got me to the dance tent late late late one night, where I managed to spin through a fifteen minute contra without bashing her into more than a dozen people.

And Leisure? Dave and Ginny and I spend hours together a day, sometimes wandering the grounds making friends with the food vendors, mostly just sitting around at the main path-side tentsite and watching the world eventually walk by. It was a bit like holding court; people would walk into our domain, and would instigate speech or not, and some of them sat, and some just said "hi," but all smiled, and were appreciative, and approvingly and jealously watched the baby walk among us always smiling, not like those other sometimes-grumpy otherkids we sometimes heard late at night from a few tents over, loud in the songcircle nights. Willow was a joy and a marvel, and we bought her a kazoo which she buzzed on while she danced and waved at the music. My parents, active and eager cajun and contra dancers for whom Falcon Ridge is large-scale but otherwise a bit minor-league, I suspect, took us all out to really-nice dinners twice and watched the baby when we needed naps and sat and watched the music with us sometimes when they weren't dancing. I found some beloved ex-student working in the Burrito Booth, wore a new denim hat, slept little, was happy.

We stayed overnight on Monday the 27th and packed up in the morning with a teary goodbye to Dave for another 51 weeks, and went to get Willow a passport in Keene today, and that doesn't even get to the heart of things, but it's late here and probably there; I think now we've caught up and can go forward, that it's time to get back on the pony and ride like the wind. Much of the next two weeks are inherently, powerfully blogworthy -- a trip to Bangladesh, another to Alaska via Vancouver; the start of a new job and a new school year; a new autumn. Any or each of these might cause another blogout/blackout, to be sure -- I know of no network access outside of the school where we'll work in Dhaka, and suspect not much will be available on the waters of Alaska as we cruise. But each is surely worth waiting for in it's own right, and, well, thanks for coming, y'all, and for waiting longer.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:19 PM | 0 comments

Monday, July 28, 2003

Back From The Grave But Still Pretty Tired

Okay, let's start with a big hand for Christine, who very patiently lurked around my blogger account until she found "a mapping problem" between my blog and the blogspot blogserver and called some engineer to fix it.

Now let's admit that we're looking at a dial-up in slo-mo after a seven-day stretch of living outdoors, in what is otherwise a broad, hilly green ridge of a farm.

And, to be fair, we should point out that the plan last night was to stay up and drink all the left-over beer because it was too much trouble to pack it again in the morning, and that I passed out pretty damn quick at about eleven.

Then we might go ahead and acknowledge that, hey, it's just nice to use porcelain again. And drink water from a tap. And sleep in a real bed. Near an air conditioner.

There. That wasn't so hard, was it. I hereby declare this blog open for business after a three week hiatus and a temporary relocation: The blog is back on-line but barely; I'll be back tomorrow with all the juicy details.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:53 PM | 0 comments

Friday, July 18, 2003


posted by boyhowdy | 1:53 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Still No Cure For Hairy Palms

First the carcinogenic irony kicked into high gear with the possibility that cell phones might cure cancer. Now, from Reuters via fark comes an inevitability: Scientists Discover Frequent Masturbation Lowers Risk Of Prostate Cancer. On your mark, get set...

1. Makes me wish I was a doctor. Imagine trying to fill that prescription!

2. You too may live to hear the phrase "If only he had masturbated more when he was young..."

3. Two words: Health Class: "Now, class, today we're going to learn about the joys of masturbation.

4. The Fundamentalist Christian Coalition must now figure out how to spin NOT having prostate cancer as divine retribution. Yeah, good luck with that one, guys.

5. I hate to say it, but I'm suddenly no longer jealous of women for having to do those breast self-exams all the time. This is even better.

That was too easy, and I'm sure there's more, so c'mon and add your own by leaving a comment below. Then, just like they do it on Fark: Rinse. Repeat. Wipe hands on pants.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:28 PM | 1 comments

Admit One

On the car radio this morning The River is heavily promoting the Green River Festival, touting tickets available through the festival website .

The website says that, although online ticketing is now over in order to ensure that tickets get to purchasers before the festival comes and goes, pre-festival tickets can still be purchased at three stores in the area.

We had other errands to do downtown waiting until something else came up, and it had stopped raining, so we loaded into the car with the camper in tow, as one of the errands involved getting some guy to realign the propane spout and regulator on the camper grill, and the guy on the phone had just said oh, bring the camper like it was no big deal.

I like errands. I spent ten minutes marvelling at the vast breadth of possibilities and the resultant implied array of possible carpentry needs in the nail and screw aisle (no dirty jokes, please) while Darcie shopped for yogurt with the baby, bought the last two day-old ham and cheese croissants in the Greenfield Coop, found a tiny watch battery for my suddenly-defunct carbiner watch in a jewelry store and semi-secretly checked out a few birthday presents for Darcie (August 9th, when I'm in Bangladesh, so the present better be GOOD if you know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink, checked out a minor car accident on the way back to meet darcie and Willow in cafe Kokos, where I sat in a rocking chair and drank a cold latte quickly while the baby got impatient.

And then, finally, there we are at the World's Eye bookstore. Darcie's in the back with Willow looking at the board books (well, Willow's really just pulling 'em off the shelves without opening them, but everyone's happy). I go up to the counter:

Me: Do you still have tickets for the Green River Festival?
Woman At Counter: It costs $30 for Friday night and all day Saturday, or $40 for just Saturday.
Me: Okay, I need...wait, what?
Woman: Most people just buy the two-day one. You could give away the Friday ticket.
Me: *stunned* Um, okay. Two.

The day you realize that the world doesn't need to make sense is the day you are free to enjoy the universe. Today was especially enjoyable -- pressureless but vaguely deliberate, timeless yet somehow a day where those few nagging things all get accomplished at once. Saturday promises to be exquisite. And, although I wasn't planning on it, I might go Friday night anyway -- after all, even though it's a Zydeco eve, an odd teaser for the fullday/nextday Folk and AltRock line-up (Patty Griffin! They Might Be Giants! Slaid Cleaves!), it is, weirdly, more than free. Anyone up for a concert? They're so eager for an audience, they're paying people to come.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:18 PM | 0 comments

One Week To Falcon Ridge!

Barabara wrote yesterday, asking for scheduling input for our volunteer gig checking in the performers, press, and volunteers (it's a great gig -- five hours a day nets you free camping, festival entry, and food all weekend). Then Davey, our festival buddy ('cause you should never go in without a buddy), emailed with pix of his cute new Favorite Niece. Complete performer/stage schedule was finally posted today.

It's beginning to look a lot like festival time, and I feel fine.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:27 AM | 0 comments

14:59 And Counting

The final word on Blair Hornstine comes to us today from the Harvard Crimson. Poor brat's under siege: Harvard's rescinded their offer of admission, citing her recent newspaper plagiarism, and the Moorstown school district where she won and then failed to deliver valedictory honors is "investigating the integrity of Hornstine’s academic coursework" in preparation for further "discussions." She'll get no sympathy here, just a firm desire to put this story to rest and get this whining selfish prig out of the news already. Sorry, Blair: your fifteen minutes are up.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:26 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Willow's One

There'd be a picture of a birthday cake here, but on the dial-up it takes too long to download the pix, so just pretend there's a cake in this spot, okay? Thanks.

Late into the night and up again at nine to make this house into a home or by God die trying. From the last few hallway-lining boxes to shelves, walls, and cabinets went books, pictures, clocks and knick-knacks; I spent most of the evening, for example, in the bedroom, deciding what clothes to fold and which to store in red plastic bins, and most of the morning on kitchen minutia while Darcie hung and rehung pictures.

Finished by noon, with time to spare I went out in search of candles, sponges, a tablecloth. The latter took five stores to find, so I treated myself to a stuffed dog and cat for the baby, and a card with a dog and a cat on it -- guess what her favorite animals are? The balloons, red, blue and yellow, and a couple of those mylar stars that say "Happy Birthday," poked the back of my head as I drove, blocking the rear view; I almost killed some old lady merging onto the highway on the way back.

The festivities began late, as is their familial wont; Ginny arrived just before four, starting the flood that would fill our newly minted home. Matt and Alicia had to work, as did Darcie's brother Josh, but that just left us enough room at the table for the rest of the immediates: my siblings and parents, darcie's parents and sister -- and us, of course, and the guest of honor, the girl with the reddish blond hair only now growing in long enough to cover her scalp, the suddenly walking one year old Willow Myla. My girl.

For most of Willow's life, she's been the center of attention much of the time. But birthdays are special, and not even deliberately so: from the moment everyone showed up, something happened, and Willow was suddenly the eye of the storm -- no mean feat for a small tempest herself.

From the moment she met each one at the door, buzzing merrily on her new dimestore kazoo, she loved it, and so did we. She danced to the Muppet Show theme song on cue, walked from grandma to grandma and back again, threw rasperries at the air purifier all the way across the room at supper. She loved the play piano the Jesse and his girlfriend Jasmine brought especially, dancing and singing in perfect pitch; I'm sure we can all grow to love the four classical and four nursery rhyme songs it plays, at least for long enough to matter.

Willow went to bed early, and minor small talk and reminiscence centered mostly on international travel memories -- Bangladesh ilooming on everyone's mind. It was wonderful to see everyone even if they were somehow a bit less there for ME this time than usual.

But I remember, one year ago today, what life was like the moment the hole I discovered I had had in me all my life without knowing suddenly filled. And I know Willow isn't the only miracle that made today and all its promise fulfilled. So, when everyone had gone, I thought a while, and cleaned the dishes, and lay down next to Darcie in front of the TV, and thanked her for Willow -- for helping her reach this godwilling first of many, making her the good-natured genuine, generous child she is. I remember, you know -- I remember that Darcie is the life of us all here in this new home, the key, the lynchpin. I am thankful for Willow, who fills my heart -- but I am thankful also, and some days more, for the wife and mother whose love has made us whole, a family.

May I always remember to honor she who gave birth and gives life to my daughter on her birthday, and on every day. Happy Birth-Day, Darcie. I love you, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:22 PM | 0 comments

Sitting Here In Limbo

Well, let's start with thanks to EricJ of Webraw who moved us a bit in an attempt to get the blog at least somewhere for a while. Yay, Eric!

I'm obviously a bit backlogged on blogposts -- there wasn't much point in blogging when no one could see the blog (when a blog falls in the forest...). And there's much to tell -- from Saturday's long excursion down to Connecticut for boat show, steam train and steamboat ride just ten miles up from the mouth of the old Connecticut River, the same river that passes between our two school campuses, albeit 200 miles upstream, to the preparations for Willows birthday celebration this afternoon. In between in no particular order: shopping at the white trash supermarket, unpacking and more unpacking, a visit from Virginia and new friend Ryan (or is it Brian?), meeting the new Associate Head of NMH as he moves in with his family just down the street from our new apartment, and a late morning/early afternoon spent in Brattleboro, complete with free-with-the-family-discount coffee at Mocha Joes, a delicious brunch at an outdoor cafe down the street net to a big old hole where once a bridge spanned a tributary into that selfsame Connecticut, and, for some odd reason, clowns and a mime wandering the streets completely in character.

Of course, the most blog-relevant news is the saga of trying to get back on blogspot, which is turning into a very odd and ultimately entertaining mess. At one point I even tried sending a help request to, which brought an actual response from the infamous EV himself, telling me that I needed to write such problems in, as it "really is the best way" -- despite the fact that I have a help message in that same space from six months ago that has yet to be answered. I even know what the problem is -- I seem to have messed up the password between blogger and blogspot, and, due to a server refresh here at school, have lost the password I need to get back to FTP access for publishing at the old space. It would take five minutes tops for an admin at blogger to check on my password and send it out -- or even to just change it to a nullset, so I could get back on to change it myself. But alas -- we're here instead, and again, at least we're somewhere, which is better than nowhere...

Ah, I love chaos.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:00 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Testing again

Are you out there? Can you hear this? I'm blogging, I swear!

posted by boyhowdy | 10:24 AM | 0 comments

Testing But Not Expecting Much

posted by boyhowdy | 1:04 AM | 0 comments
coming soon
now listening