Monday, September 29, 2003

Monday Mosh
It's a meme, folks. That means YOU do it too, and then let us all know about it in the comments, okay?


What song did you mosh to?
Taj Mahal's version of The Banana Boat Song, off one of my daughter's CDs. She just learned to sing "Day-o" over the weekend, and it's been stuck in my head for days.

What did you step on or bump into (bonus points for breakage)?
Stepped on some dirty socks, since I have a typically-male tendency to peel 'em off at the computer and leave 'em rolled up underneath. Luckily, Darcie's going to clean up a bit this morning so I can have advising meetings at the house for once this afternoon -- they boys don't know it yet, but we're gonna get a whole mess of take-out Chinese food.

Why did you stop?
Take your pick: it was time for work; I needed coffee more; moshing quietly while your family is still asleep in the next room doesn't have the same zip to it.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:12 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, September 28, 2003

A Life In Lost Records

AC/DC, Back In Black. Purchased new-or-practically-so all the way back in the early eighties for "You Shook Me All Night Long" but beloved for "Hells Bells" and title track "Back in Black," this was the fourth album I ever bought (after Thriller, Survivor's Eye Of The Tiger, and a used soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever) and the only one I'd still listen to from my late elementary school years if I still had it. I was too young to understand most of the subject matter or the angst it supposedly spoke to in a slightly older generation, and the early hard rock movement hadn't yet hit the suburbs, but I remember the beat was incredible, the volume exquisite. This one's been lost to the ages; I must have left it behind in one of my early moves, if it lasted that long.

Dream Warriors, And Now, The Legacy Begins. Picked this one up on cassette from my younger brother in my senior year in high school, back when our musical tastes converged just for a moment. Not sure where it went to, but haven't seen it years, which is a cryin' shame; lost a vinyl copy of De La Soul hiphop classic 3 Feet High...And Rising somewhere along the way, too, but managed to pick up a fine rerelease at a mall discount rack a few years ago. Dream Warriors are harder to find, though "Wash Your Face In My Sink" remains one of the funkiest/silliest tracks in early hip-hop, A Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebum" and just about all of 3 Feet... notwithstanding.

Robert Palmer, Don't Explain. This eclectic all-coversong extra-long CD features songs running the gamut from Marvin Gaye to Mel Torme to Little Feat, all in a variety of styles from smooth jazz to latin to typically Palmeresque pop. I'm pretty sure we sold this disk for much-needed cash in the early nineties, back when we were living in squalor in the Allston-Brighton twentysomething slums near Boston University and Boston College; parting with it surely wasn't worth the half an order of pork chops and fries it probably got us from the Greek greasy-spoon on the corner.

U2, Achtung Baby. The first CD I experienced in a cardboard fold-out case instead of a plastic jewel case, I actually got this one in trade from Darcie in the early stages of our Bard College courtship; in return, I presented her with my double-warm, double-thick Calvin Klein terrycloth bathrobe, ownership of which somehow has reverted to me in the intervening years. Quite possibly my favorite U2 album and the only one I ever owned on CD, though I still own a few older and rarely-played disks of theirs (Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree) on vinyl. I think we sold this for cash around the same time as Don't Explain. It probably brought in more money.

Hole, Live Through This; Sublime, Sublime; Matchbox 20, Matchbox 20. This trio of harder stuff was stolen from the NMH Media Center near the end of my first year here, back when I was running the entire department myself out of one space while a paraprofessional and a part-timer ran the other, larger space on the other campus. It's too bad, too -- Matchbox 20's subsequent album was better, but there are certainly days when I could really use a dose of Hole's raucous "Doll Parts" or Sublime's funky almost-reggae "Santeria."

Dave Matthews Band, Remember Two Things. Purchased used back when DMB was neither frat rallying call nor post-Dead summer-band-to-follow -- the trouble with selling CDs is that you get so much better value trading 'em in for more, and there you are surrounded by music while making the decision -- Dave's first album, recorded mostly-live, had one of those 3D images on the front where you have to cross your eyes just right to see the image. Not sure where this one went.

Feel free to buy me any or all of these. Also, if anyone has ever heard of a Bugs Bunny record from the mid-seventies about Bugs taking a rocket to the moon, let me know. I fell asleep to that record every night when I was but a wee tyke.

posted by boyhowdy | 5:38 PM | 0 comments

Friday, September 26, 2003

Road Trip!



Dude, I just found out the USA is hosting this year's World Beard and Moustache Championships!
...notable contestants include Ted Sedman, President of London’s Handlebar Club, who was once mentioned in the Guinness Book as having Britain’s longest moustache, and Bruce Roe, the first and only American ever to win a trophy at the World Beard and Moustache Championships...Organizers hope for a large turnout of bearded and moustached Americans to compete against the dominant German team.

Wanna go? We could stop in Reno on the way, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:04 PM | 0 comments


Getting Better All The Time



Hmm. Does the dark collar call too much attention to my missing head?


Yes, folks, the rumor's true: in the last 48 a few development have brough a more general cheer. The solipsistic universe is on the upswing; the "interesting times" of the ancient chinese curse wanes. Even the loss of Plympton and Palmer in one day couldn't shake my mobility today. Life, in a nutshell:

Figuring it was better to be tired and working at it than bumming around the couch, snuck out to surprisingly isolated Mt. Holyoke College for a cheap Girlyman student-center crowd on a Thursday at a student-center concert last night. Left late and got lost on the way; stopped to ask directions at a 24/7 gas plaza that turned out to be less than two miles away from college, but they didn't know where it was.

Arrived finally at a dark and almost deserted campus; parked, found student center with about 60 women in it all staring at me. Forgot that Mt. H is a girl's college; I was literally the only male in the whole place. Man, talk about a clean men's room.

The show was awesome and not-so-badly attended given the scenario: Thursday evening, small college, nearing quarterfinals, girls at UMass events. Much of their single album and many covers, which you know I love: an old Jefferson Airplane tune, Paul Simon, Billy Bragg, a "Free Falling" singalong with mine the only basso, solo in the third row, comfortable in my age and sexuality.

Today even better. Darcie made bacon and eggs, potatoes and coffee, and Willow helped, and sent me on my way with smiles. Noodling and class prep all morning in the otherwise-silent library with but one substitute coworker and her two small and happy children and no one else, all librarians being on a retreat for the day. Darcie and Willow joined me at noon for a few hours of shared work in a light sprinkle of kids: no one goes to the library on Friday afternoon at a boarding school, not when there's on-campus games against rival Deerfield.

Taught comic books as medium this afternoon in Media Literacy class by passing out previously purchased comix and asking kids to read them and then define the medium, genre, and technology. Using American Splendor collection and Speigelman's Maus, discussed difference between graphic novel and comic book (serialization and hard/softcover, mostly) and major point of similarity (technique of cartoon-esque narrative graphics-with-text, text presented in same four modes of thought balloon, voice balloon, narrative box and sound effect).

Ginny at the house with tiny black kitten when I arrived; after an hour of watching the baby chase the cat stalking the dog, the four of us went out to Bella Notte, the probably-mafioso spot on the hill overlooking just about everything around here. The fried mozzerella was excellent as always, and the veal francese divine. Even polished off the side ziti -- the marinara sauce there just the sweetest, best tasting thing in just the right context. More expensive than we could afford, any of us, but worth it at twice the price for the cheerfulness factor alone. And it was so good to see Ginny, even if she had to rush off afterwards with the cat.

Now home, post-bath and baby-nursing, with babbling in the near distant dark, thinking, blogging, basking in even a small return to sanity. In the corners of the eyes and brain I'm hearing about more affection-starved, blocked-out dads, including some guys I know respect. Back hurts less in that funny way it has of feeling better after you didn't realize it was hurting at all.

Not bad at all, really.


[UPDATE 10:42 p.m. Brother-in-law, his long-time girlfriend, and their friend Rachel stopped by this evening for an hour or so. Josh and Clay are always wonderful company, and Rachel and I have that jovial same-spirit, deep-and-light thought, friends-instantly spark between us, but the baby really stole the show. Willow was amazing, bright and interesting and hilarious, just generally adorable: spinning around until she had to carefully lie down and flail, feeding me straight lines, crowing at the butt-half of the blocks that make animal noises when you put them against each other with the right picture showing. I love her so much. Heck, I'm practially happy. ]

posted by boyhowdy | 7:50 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Living The No-Win Existence

Still pretty depressed. Not much solution or even movement on the things that were going wrong in the last few days. I'll try to keep the kvetching short so the malady stays contained:

In the professional arena, though from the outside and in terms of what I hate to but am supposed to call "service" the new Information Commons program and its companion service MICA (Multimedia Info Commons Assistance) seem to be a great success, the rut is deep and I cannot rise above it. With no budget for this new program, I can't even get IT to spand a moment talking to me, let alone put the spaces I work in on the LAN; had to actually leave my post for an hour on Tuesday to help a student with work on her laptop. Supervisors seem to feel I am demanding and inappropriate when I ask them for assistance or try to run a precedence-setting moment by them on-the-spot in order to cover my back, when I know if I hadn't checked in, they'd call me on it later.

Also, I still have no office due to tension between myself and my now-mostly-invisible supervisors about why I need one. Seems to me the need for storage and a place to make and recieve phone calls which cannot be overheard is intuitively obvious, now that I've missed several important messages and their corresponding moments of possibility. Am I doomed to wander the earth, hold meeting not-for-public-overhearing in public spaces surrepititiously, work out of my car? It's not a status thing, I swear. I have six desks and no walls or drawers; after six years and finally an adminisrative position and mandate you'd think someone would recognize the need to give me a space in which I can do administrative work without having to stand cautiously, awkwardly between visitors and my computer screen.

I take to counting the office spaces of others covetously. The instructional librarians work at the reference desk, have a classroom for each pair of them to use, and have huge and walled offices. A woman who only works in my department half time shares my job title, has three computer labs with new computers, two large offices and a classroom for her language teaching, and every time I stop by a staff technician is tweaking her space. I asked him once if he might be stopping by to help me get network connectivity for the IC and MICA spaces; not only did he not directly answer the question, he also didn't realize that we had a program at all. The head of the IT technical services staff stopped by the library yesterday, told me I was third of four things on his list for that space and that day, helped with three library issues, and then diappeared and never returned.

I don't blame any of them. That doesn't make it hurt less.

On the personal front the baby chases the cat around the house trying to kiss it, looks for the dog to snuggle with first thing in the morning, calls for mame every three seconds when we try to play together, won't sit for stories or playtime, walks away without acknowledgement. I get to deal with poop in the tub and get neither physical affection or attention. She'd rather cry alone than with me. The global glut-source we call 'net says this is typical, but casual water-testing shows that, at least within the forest-walls of this multigenerational boarding school, I am alone in my experience, so Darcie's suggestion that I form a fatherhood support group becomes moot when no one else has issues to share. It makes it worse to find affection from other people's children in dining halls and in-house staff meetings. I love my daughter; it isn't fair to either of us for me to covet her in-community peers instead.

Tired, too, after hours upon hours of working too hard and sleeping too little, too many 8-4 days and late nights of duty and house staff meetings and radio shows, with time for blogging now only in the morning when I'm covering a media center which, dead silent when all students and teachers are in class, needs no coverage. Meanwhile, we close during lunch and turn people away.

I don't blame her, or Darcie. It doesn't make it hurt less.

Last night I walked the dog, half asleep in untucked shirt, and passed the house in the darkness before I realized I was going home. The skies were clear; the moon had set, and the Pleides; though the baby kicks me in the night between us in our too-small bed and I am dreamless, I sleep alone.

I'm starting to blame myself.

Maybe it's time for therapy after all.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:50 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Blog

It started pouring, sheets upon sheets and hail-hard, the moment I pulled up to the Northfield Library this morning. I was late -- the kid had woken with my alarm, which slowed things down a bit -- and now I was damp as well.

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

The milk in my morning coffee was sour. I HATE sour milk.

We couldn't print to the printer in the media center because it wasn't configured properly by IT, but we had been locked out of the settings, and I HATE being locked out of the settings on my own equipment.

My hair is all wet and heavy, and it makes my neck hurt and my brain fog up.

The newpapers came late, I accidentally sat on a half-eaten apple when I went to lunch, and I can't get anyone to take my requests to PLEASE hook up my desks for network and power seriously. And it's only one o'clock; I've still got Info Commons duty all afternoon, a meeting at 4, and a dorm staff meeting tonight. It's going to be another fourteen hour day, with another to follow tomorrow, and I only got five hours of sleep last night.

And outside it rains and rains.

The squeak of my hardrubber shoes like a homophonic flock of ducks echo in the freshly waxed, typically scholastic linoleum when I walk through the empty hallways during class blocks. It's about the only thing that's gone right today. Maybe no one will come to the Info Commons desk, and in a couple of minutes I can go outside and get my shoes wet again.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:11 PM | 0 comments


A River Runs Through It

For a long time, perhaps as much as five years now, I've been the late-night Monday night on the most powerful high school radio station in the country. I'm not the only teacher who's ever had a show on this primarily student-run station, but mostly the other nights the preprogrammed auto-feed fills the air after ten o'clock and the end of study hall; although the students can't do the ten-to-midnight run -- they're due in dorms no later than 10:30, and to bed by twelve themselves -- most adults are too tired, too diurnal by nature to stay up so late when they've got an 8:00 class the next morning, papers to grade, spouses and children with which to renew aquaintance.

I, on the other hand, have a child that sleeps by eight, and a wife who goes in at ten. I love the excuse to mix the music, letting jams bump up against jazz, blugrass mingle amongst the blues, folk flow into funk so smoothly, like aural butter -- a mix not unlike that of my own favorite local commerical radio station The River. That, and I love to talk to the ether, the imagined ear, the night.

Darcie's much-younger sister used to join me for my weekly shout-out -- used to, but then this summer she finally moved out of her parent's house; now, though she does come up this far or almost so a few times a week for school herself, she can't afford the gas mileage from Northampton. Virginia was a mostly silent partner, content to do homework and just sit and chat while the music played, but I miss her. Without her, there's moments of boredom sprinkled in the mix.

But the boredom is sparse yet. I remain excited by my vast CD collection, and the chance to serve it up to myself with others eavesdropping. I revel in the on-campus-event PSA. I continue to trust that the community is not so childhood-lost to be well-served by the odd bedtime story on the hour and the half-hour -- tonight, selections from the Maurice Sendak Nutshell Library, straight from my daughter's top book shelf.

As always, tonight's Tributary, like all a little eclectic, a little electric, a bit funky and full of a subjective finest, follows; as always, the first to correctly identify the original artists of all starred cover songs merits a $5 amazon.com gift certificate.


Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Little Feat -- Dixie Chicken
Bonnie Raitt -- Under The Falling Sky
*Stevie Ray Vaughn -- Wham
Ben Harper -- Mama's Got A Girlfriend Now
Dan Hicks -- Meet Me On The Corner
*Los Lobos -- That Train Don't Stop Here Anymore
Robert Randolph -- Ted's Jam
Acoustic Syndicate -- Pumpkin and Daisy
The Gourds -- El Paso
Slaid Cleaves -- Key Chain
*Reeltime Travelers -- Swing Low
*Alison Krauss -- Don't Know Why
*Merl Saunders -- Sugaree
**Medeski, Martin and Wood -- Bemsha Swing/Lively Up Yourself
(two covers in one!)
James Taylor -- Jelly Man Kelly
Girlyman -- The Shape I Found You In
David Gray -- The Other Side
Susan Werner -- Courting The Muse
*Be Good Tanyas -- Waiting Around To Die
*Laura Love -- Come As You Are
Moxy Fruvous -- Horseshoes
*Gillian Welch -- Make Me Down A Pallet On Your Floor

posted by boyhowdy | 1:24 AM | 0 comments

Monday, September 22, 2003

"Nearly" Developments In Education

The noose of political correctness that clutches at the neck of global education got a little tighter today when Brit examiners were told they may no longer mark answers incorrect or give fail grades.

See, the guidelines for marking key national-level exams sent out by the Government Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to this year's exam-markers included the instruction that exam answers should be marked as either 'creditworthy' or 'not creditworthy', rather than correct or incorrect. Similarly, the GQCA -- which sounds more like a California-only issue of Gentlemen's Quarterly, doesn't it? -- recommend that the current F grade, for 'fail', should be replaced with an N grade, for 'nearly'.

Happily, the article pre-empts my concern with a quote from my-kind-of-guy Nick Seaton, the chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, [who] described the changes as "political correctness gone stark raving bonkers". Couldn't have said it better myself, Nick-o.

Thanks to Fark for passing the link along , of course.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:24 PM | 0 comments


Monday Mosh

As always, newbies are invited to check out memerules and raison d'meme before playing.


What song did you mosh to?
DJ Harry remix of Wake Up, originally by String Cheese Incident. Full of jammy trance goodness!

What did you step on/bump into? (bonus points for breakage)
Stepped on gas pedal, as today's mosh was in the car on the way to work. Bumped into nothing, thankfully. Disappointment at loss of potential bonus points cancelled out by preservation of insurance points status quo.

Why did you stop?
Arrived at work; turned off car; music, strangely, went away. But it lingers in my head even now...doo...doo do doo...do dooo do doooo...

posted by boyhowdy | 12:10 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Weekenders

Has it really been since Thursday? My apologies, please.

In my defense, I've been on duty all weekend, and then there was that graffiti incident here at school which has turned the contained universe that is NMH into a diversity-fest.

In fact, I'm on duty now, and just had a discussion with the Dean of Student Life about said incident.

Of course, the school's official policy is that such incidents don't go public until the institution makes it so, for obvious and mostly-agreed-with reasons...but in order to relay the subjective, the objective needs out, I suppose. So here's the summary:

Thursday morning kids found the phrase "all niggers must die" written on the school bus stop. It was painted over quickly -- many students didn't even hear about it until after announcements about our school response had begun to flood the bulletin board system here. But by later that evening, after a day of Dean-level meetings, an entire response structure was in place. It included:

- a vent-session and support meeting for Black students hosted by the top administrators

- a letter to the community about values from the Associate Head of School

- a Friday afternoon meeting for all and any students who wanted to hear more about the school's response to this event, and who wanted to get more involved in the process of healing, which I required my Media Literacy students to go to instead of class and take notes (what is graffiti as a medium and how does it affect communities? what is a meeting, and how is it like/unlike a class? how can you be a medium for the school in its quest to support students after a racist threat?), and

- a Monday afternoon all-school meeting, for which I just saw the outline today -- a real shame, as they want to do the impossible with technology and I needed to call the Deans to let them know their plan was a bust (in short, they wanted to do a LONG powerpoint-supported thing in daylight, using old and faded pictures which wouldn't project well anyway, in a space which was build for bright light before electricity came to the school, and which thus has no window coverings and would be too bright to show even decent images with a projector during daylight hours). Not sure what's going to happen here, but whatever it is, it's not my problem and I'm determined to make sure it doesn't look like my fault.

There's a part of me that knows this whole response "package" is overkill -- that too strong a reaction to this only serves to put the community into panic mode; that it can cause a deeper rift than might otherwise have appeared; that it rewards the kid who wrote the damned phrase and lets other subversives know that graffiti is a great way to stop the entire institution in its tracks. But more of me knows that, to be true to ourselves and our student life curriculum, we can't not seize the teachable moment; can't not give real support and face-time to students both black and otherwise who might genuinely feel fearful at such a time; can't not spend real time after such an incident strengthening our resolve that "it shouldn't happen here."

Still, I wish we could just do what we do, and get on with it. We're busy enough here as it is without having to try to fold in a whole new layer of it all.

In the midst of the madness we did manage to sneak out as a family for a few hours this morning: saw Ginny at Mocha Joes, bought sale shirts and grey slacks and a yellow tie at the Van Heusen outlet sale, and it was cool to randomly bump into Shaw (of blogcomments fame) at the Farmer's Market in Brattleboro. Tomorrow we're up early to go to the Big E, so stay tuned for all the madness and mayhem the world's only five-state state fair can bring.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:51 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Missing Links

Finally put two and two together in my head late last night in the kind of epiphany that startles you awake at two in the morning: now that my-and-Shaw's alma mater Marlboro College, in its infinite wisdom and universally true budget stress, has taken all my old collegiate work-and-play off-line, many of my links (see sidebar to right) no longer go anywhere. Inaccessible work, for the moment, includes my undergrad thesis, an ancient "about me" homepage (the second "me"), and my life's poetic works.

If I could only get Blogger's ftp access to work, the links would be up and running, but what do you expect for a measly five bucks a month. At least we're still ad-free. Plus, now that Blogger's about to fold most of their previously pay-only extras into the standard free service, they've got a special right now: free blogger hoodies for Pro-payers who never cancelled their account. I can't wear hoodies, what with the long hair lumping up int he hood and all, but it's the thought that counts, so thanks, blogger.

Also missing, though promised: pix of Bangladesh, Vancouver, and Alaska. Dial-up makes it so hard to justify the time spent on such thing; next week I should have some down time on the LAN with the laptop in front of me, though, so I'll get 'em up, I swear.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:34 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Other People's Memes

I. What's On your bedroom wall Right Now?

Slightly pink paint. A finally-framed print of Klimt's The Kiss. Our wedding contract. A couple of squashed-in-flight insects, mostly mosquitoes. To be fair, half of our bedroom "wall" is actually a slanted ceiling, so there's not much room on that side for wallstuff...but even so, there's far more negative space than positive stuff. Guess I'm a minimalist, eh?


II. Wednesday Whatevers

1. If you had your way, when would you sleep until?
Tuesday.

2. What's your dream job?
You're looking at it -- I am, after all, at work right now!

3. Where was your favorite hiding spot as a kid?
The bottom shelf of the linen closet. I'm an anti-claustrauphobic (in addition to beeing spellling-chaleleenged), and could have stayed happily curled up in a ball in the dark for hours, back and sides pressed up against towels, wall, and slatted door.


III. Weigh-in Wednesdays

Serving sizes vary so much from label to label. What food has a serving size that really surprises you, or what food really challenges you to stick with it's serving size?

a. Kraft Mac and Cheese. Did you know there's supposedly more than one serving in each one of those boxes? Yeah, me too.

b. Big Gulps. Who could possibly want to consider a 64 oz. soda a "single serving?"

posted by boyhowdy | 1:26 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Day

Awoke, surely, though one tends to remember only being awake suddenly, as if poofed into existence.

Plugged in iron while brushing teeth. Filled and turned on coffee perculator while rejecting shirts, ties. Ironed shirt while coffee perked. Drank coffee while finding keys. Kissed girls while leaving.

Did stuff: called Deb Holman to cancel a room reservation, unsuccessfully researched a Bravo Channel series on The Reality Of Reality TV (since I'm teaching a course on reality TV next term), had coffee, wrote and sent a schoolwide announcement for MICA (Multimedia Information Commons Assistance).

Lunch with Darcie and Willow by surprise.

More stuff, mostly MICA: Two small groups of stduents came for advice on how to turn their research into a good PowerPoint presentation or, rather, a live presentation with PowerPoint. No students looking for instruction on how to put comments in blogs, which means there'll be twenty kids coming to see me on Thursday afternoon.

Came home. Traded day-stories with Darcie.

Left again; shopping for things in huge quantities at BJ's Warehouse. Friendly's for supper -- Willow can say ice cream; does so 100 times.

Home again. The first three pages of several books with Willow the ADHD-in-training mini-me. Sleep, slowly, for Willow, then for Darcie. Dog walk in quiet neighborhood under the stars and the faint milk-stain of the Milky Way, inside the sound of a thousand crickets.

In and around it all: the death of an advisee's grandmother; the phone call requesting help with "the four blinking lights on the front of my computer;" regaining my daughter's trust and kisses.

An ordinary day.

I wish they all came like this.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:48 PM | 0 comments


Trust The Onion

God Grants John Ritter's Wish To Meet Johnny Cash.

'nuff said.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:29 PM | 0 comments


Rooster


"Rooster"


It wasn't the majestic bird itself but the idea of it which followed me all morning. The seed, planted by the peripheral eye on the announcement of its escape on the school electronic bulletin board system. Anecdotes of an awakening (early) and morning chase (unsuccessful) from the Associate Dean of Academics, proud rooster's owner and caretaker, as we settled into our meeting. The evidential crow from the trees behind said Dean's house while my advising group sat under open library windows and filled out time management forms.

A spectrum of belief -- untrustworthy online source; second-hand recitation; sensual evidence -- produced from nary a sight: the rooster never showed himself to me. He may be in those woods still. Reassuring, that.

Not sure if the deadleaf toads in the roads on the way back from tonight's no-caller radio show were a more sinister sign, but the combination of amphib and fowl bodes no good; the basilisk lurks in my future, perhaps.

As always, tonight's playlist follows, with bedtime story breaks in parens; as always, I will give an amazon.com gift certificate to the first to correctly identify the original performing artists of the starred songs below, all covers. Really. Why doesn't anyone ever believe me?


Tributary Playlist: 9/15/03

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Trey Anastasio -- Cayman Review
Oysterhead -- Oz Is Ever Floating
Ween -- Bananas and Blow
Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Blood Red Sky
They Might Be Giants -- The World's Address
* Spacehog -- Senses Working Overtime
* Guster -- I've Got To Be Clean

(Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day)

* Girlyman -- My Sweet Lord
Lisa Loeb -- I Do
Erin McKeown -- Born To Hum
* Johnny Cash -- In My Life
* The Wallflowers -- I'm Looking Through You
Barenaked Ladies -- The Kind Of Bedside Manor

(The Giving Tree)

Salamander Crossing -- You Trip Me Up
Bruce Cockburn -- Mango
Girlyman -- Hey Rose
Indigo Girls -- Galileo
Brooks Williams -- Yellow Hummingbird
Habib Koite -- Batoumambe

(Goodnight Moon)

* Be Good Tanyas -- House of New Orleans
Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss -- I'll Fly Away
Patty Griffin -- Fly
St Germaine -- whatever the last song on their better album is
* Gone Phishin' -- Fast Enough For You
* Suzanne Vega -- Stay Awake

posted by boyhowdy | 12:42 AM | 0 comments

Monday, September 15, 2003

Monday Mosh

Good morning, and welcome to my meme!


What song did you mosh to?
You Never Get What You Want, by Patty Griffin. Just woke up with it in my head, I guess.

What did you step on/bump into? (Bonus points for breakage)
Nothin' but net today. Almost spilled my coffee all over my too-thin white button down, but managed to lean forward and get it on my shoes instead.

Why did you stop?
Had to go to work! Got Media Center coverage from 8-10 this morning, a meeting with the Dean of Curriculum at 11 to discuss what seems to be a comprehensive, integrated 9th grade media and technology curriculum, at full saturation now that we've added two more components -- a single day on stereotype reformation in times of terrorist crisis for the 9th grade History program and a two-per-term electronic portfolio requirement. Also coming up today: some PowerPoint planning with some 9th graders at noon in the library, advising at 1:00, and a Student Life Curriculum in the dormitory from 2-4.

Oh, and radio show tonight, too -- stay tuned for Tributary!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:42 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Best Guess News

Having a dial-up isn't fun, but the wait while pages load does spark the ol' creative juices. In my quest to maximize the power of my 28.8, I've taken to reading CNN for the headlines only, taking as truth nothing but my best guess at the unread story behind each headline. Making it all up is certainly less time consuming, and it seems to be working fine -- or, at any rate, I don't feel any dumber or less informed than I used to.

For posterity's sake, I herein share the fruit of such practice, all gleaned from today's CNN.com. As a caveat, though it should go without saying, what follows is probably not true; the author cannot be held responsible for lucky guesses, accidental half-truths, or psychic powers as-yet-discovered.


Real CNN Headline: Sister of Venus and Serena Williams killed

My Best Guess: Williams, 35, never made the splash her sisters did, though certainly not for lack of trying. "She just didn't have it in her to be a tennis star, what with that club foot" sobbed father "Moon Unit" Williams to reporters yesterday. "It's just a shame we didn't figure it out before we destroyed her mind with experimental steroids trying to psyche her up." Ms. Williams is survived by her sisters, her parents, two Nike campaigns and and several gazillion dollars.


Headline: Swedes reject euro as murder hunt goes on

Best Guess: Coins proclaim innocence, and polls show 90% of Swedes believe euro is innocent, but police remain open to the possibility that euro may be bribing officials, noting suspicion raised by "too many alibis from too many countries."


Headline: Madonna launches children's book

Best Guess: In an interview with the divine Miss Madonna herself, we learn that a) Madonna's still got it, b) Madonna has stopped shaving her pits, making us wonder where we put that old issue of Playboy with the black and white photos of Madonna before she was famous, and c) Madonna says she has found a balance between motherhood and her chameleonlike performance style but is clearly deluding herself. Book is believed to be the first children's book with a centerfold.


Headline Are shuttle flights worth the human risk?

Best Guess: No.


Headline: Nintendo game works as videophone

Best Guess: Nintendo systems selling like hotcakes in Japan. Aunt Sharon looks suspiciously like Princess Toadstool.


Headline: Clinton comes out against recall

Best Guess: "Alzheimers is the best refuge of the ex-president," argues Clinton in a speech before the United Money Launderers 428 in upstate New York yesterday. "Just look at Reagan -- since 1994, not one reporter or historian has asked him to account for the gaps in his presidential record. It's as if Iran-Contra never happened."




Got more? Don't be shy -- you don't need a slow modem speed to play! Get some CNN.com headlines, make up your own Best Guess News, and post on your own blog or in the comments below -- just a couple of players and we've got a meme!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:06 PM | 0 comments


This Is News?


BenLo in (slightly) happier times


Not that we should actually care, but Hollywood celebrity couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez have split up, at least temporarily, after postponing their wedding over a media frenzy, People magazine reported on Sunday.

What I find interesting here, actually, is CNN.com's phrasing. Read literally, it's not the split that's being reported; it's the People magazine article. Since when did publication of an article become news? I know this sort of syntax is increasingly common, but that doesn't make it journalism.

Meanwhile, as long as we're talking about J Lo and Affleck, so is Newsweek. This week's Periscope section includes both a blip on J Lo's overexposure, and a neat little sidebar about a new play based on the early careers of Bostonian Ben and his best friend Matt in which both roles are played by women and the Good Will Hunting script literally falls from the sky. Matt & Ben is "the hottest play in New York." Both articles contain hardly-veiled digs at J Lo/Affleck. Can you say "bandwagon?"

posted by boyhowdy | 3:23 PM | 0 comments


Rainy Day Blog

Rain this morning. Last night the scent of cheap incense hung heavy in the impending air, something sweet and slightly musky; today in the too-late mad-dash downstairs to close the car windows the air was water and steel, and if you were a storm this is how you would feel, echoes Girlyman.

Back upstairs again it was my turn to wake with the baby; we played and watched an old Muppet Show episode on tape, starring Vincent Price and featuring several Beatles songs sung by Muppet monsters and ghosts until mamai, mamai and we went to wake Darcie for a family shower and a few minutes on the dining room floor, the baby between us, looking through a photo book Darcie's mother made us one Christmas out of pictures of the dog.

By eleven the windshield wipers were hardly needed on our way to the dining hall for burnt-sausage patty community brunch, and now the rain moves on, leaving its stillness behind for a moment, the earth waking beneath it: the fog lies still and heavy across the land; the crows and chirrups call to each other across the thick air. Darcie and Willow nap in the big bed. I've finally finished the report on my trip to Bangladesh, a move which leaves me unburdened of looming projects for the moment. In celebration and beneath it all crickets sing , rubbing dew off their wings, stirring the air clean from the bottom up. For a single moment, the world sighs.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:39 PM | 0 comments

Friday, September 12, 2003

It's All Mine, I Tell You

It takes a while to get to the blogroll on a dial-up. Here's what's new elseblog:

Item: Way back on Wednesday, Alex Halavais wrote of an article in today’s NY Times ... [that] indicates that 38% of undergraduates cut and pasted parts of their work from the internet in the last year. That’s up from 10% three years ago. Scary. [n.b.: In appreciation of Alex' fine work, I copied-and-pasted most of the last three sentences directly from his blog into mine.]

Item: It's Tricky to rock a rhyme to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...it's Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)
It's Tricky to rock a rhyme to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...Tr tr tr tricky (Tricky) Trrrrrrrrrrricky

Okay, so I really got Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This, just like mrs_fezziwig. But only because there wasn't a Howard Jones song on the Which 80's Song Fits You list -- c'mon, quizilla, where's Howard Jones?

Item: Via Webraw, a Shock and Awe story purporting to debunk snopes for "making up" a story about binLaden relatives being flown out of the USA on George Bush's personal say-so two days after 9/11 despite the national no-fly zone at that time, and erroneously attributing it to Michael Moore. To be fair, snopes does seem to be eating humble pie, and rightfully so, for attributing all or even most of the runor-mill's worst-case-scenario broadly incorrect version of the story to Moore.

But Moore is no saint, and doesn't deserve our pity here, despite what SandA says. Because Shock and Awe, in order to show how Snopes was in the wrong, ends up having to assert that Moore's original statement on the daily show which seemed to relate to the being-debunked rumor is "a correct statement" as long as "...you changed "out of the USA" to "an undisclosed, secure location."

Sorry, Moorites -- not this time, either. This is exactly the kind of mental gymnastics that makes Moore so deserving of our scorn. There's a HUGE difference between flying within the USA and flying out of the USA (and with George Bush's personal involvement, yet!) during such tense, wartime moments. Time to face the truth: your hero is fast and furious with detail, making him an unreliable witness and a poor journalist. At his worst, like back when in Bowling for Columbine he "bent" the videography and edited carefully to make it look like banks were trading guns for cash with no waiting period (not true), he bends reality so far he makes shit up and then claims it's "basically true." He's managed to drag Tom Tomorrow, who used to be (sometimes) smarter than that, onto the bandwagon, too -- please, will somebody'd stop Moore before the entire world goes machiavellian and vague-minded? Doesn't precision count for anything anymore?

In addition: Hilatron goes to Lansdowne Street, one of my own old adolescent haunts, to party in Fenway's shadow; Ms. Bumptious has an Office Space-y day; total redesign at I Want To Hug Kafka has a turtle that makes me happy.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:14 PM | 0 comments


John Gone; Cash Cashed Out


Poor John never knew what hit him...



John Ritter died today on the set of his half-decent new television show, of a hole in the aorta he didn't know he had. One hopes that he'll be remembered for his more-recent role in Slingblade, and that excellent turn as Sigourney Weaver's warmly eccentric anti-father husband in last year's Sundance favorite Tadpole. But despite a recent glimmering of (who'da thunk it) real talent in his late middle age, it seems inevitable that his legacy will never make it out from the shadow of That Seventies Show (no, the other one, with Joyce DeWitt and Barney Fife).

And that's a shame, really, because in the end, John Ritter was seriously underrated.

Ritter's recently evolved almost-seriousness suited him, and suited us. Once he outgrew the melodrama, his characters were realistic and engaging, cheerful and almost-self-convincingly mature on the surface, but childlike, impish around the eyes. The beard mellowed him, masking him in just the right amount of adulthood to take on the paternal role. Poor guy; after decades of suckiness, he was just coming into his own on the big screen.

But, even putting his recent seriousness aside, we should work hard to remember Ritter for what he occasionally did best. His comedy -- at which Ritter made his career and never looked back until late middle age -- wasn't always overdone; when he got it right, it was right. His turn in the now-obscure direct-from-broadway minimalist play-within-a-play Noises Off, shows a comic actor with the impeccable timing and self-awareness to hold his own and parry wit with a stellar cast of surrounding comedic genius, including Christopher Reeve, that girl from Airplane who looks like the girl that married Tom Hanks but isn't, and Michael Caine. And although the rest of the movie is worthless, that "glow in the dark condom swordfight scene" in Skin Deep (1989) is a defining moment in nobrow comedy, one for which, according to this chud.com review, the movie is still banned in Korea and most of Scandinavia.

Even though he'll largely be remembered as the not-after-all-gay chef sharing digs with the down-to-earth brunette and the typical blonde, I guess the legacy could have been a heck of lot worse, though. Remember Problem Child? That "sucked into the TV" movie with two kids and Pam Dawber? Not to mention that Three's Company spinoff, and that horrible six-hour made-for-TV miniseries of Stephen King's It with Harry Anderson and a bunch of other never-heard-of-agains.

Sorrowfully, though, it's a sure thing he wont't be remembered for his best work. And this is no unusual phenomenon in the world of fame: serious actors are remembered for their successes, and comedic actors are remembered for thier ilures. But the world in its own way is just, or at least consistent. It is no small comfort to remember that long after Rushmore's a long-forgotten entry in cinematic history books, Bill Murray will be spending his days living out the painful burden that is Peter Venkman, while Williams' Garp will have been forgotten for his Doubtfire. It should go without saying that The Cable Guy will become a cult favorite, although it remains to be seen if there is more to Carrey than Truman.

* * *

Johnny Cash died today too, at 72, just a few months after second (third?) wife June Carter. He'll probably be remembered for his best work, but to be honest, his more recent forays into the modern pop music catalog totally transformed what had been entirely excellent songs and made them even more excellent; one also hopes that they, too, will rightfully linger in the popular imagination, 'cause how can you not love Johnny Cash reinterpreting Depeche Mode and Bono, in ways only he can?

Of course, what with Warren Zevon's death Monday, there's your belly-up trifecta for the week. RIP, guys. Hope there's decent beer, wherever you end up.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:15 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Daddy

Willow calls me Daddy. She also calls Darcie Daddy, sometimes, and my parents -- pretty much all her other close relatives except Ginny. Though she seems more tentative when she's not talking about me, much of the time, it's pretty clear that daddy means "family."

So many things have names now: apples, cows, toes. We're far beyond nouns; there are words for walking and eating and nursing and getting a diaper, one color (green, although, it's hard to tell on this one; the word may merely refer to all things that are crayons or make marks on paper), several toys, open, closed, up, down. We walk walk or run run run down the hallway depending on mood, and on whether it's time to tire ourselves out at the end of the day. The softest bedtime bunny I got her before she was even born gets hugs and hop hop hop with a p so sparse it hardly registers.

Daddy was one of her first words, before mamai (mama) and doe (door), not long after dawgh (dog) and mao (cat) and oh (water -- who knew babies spoke french?). It's a common word even today, according to Darcie; when the phone rings, Willow says Daddy?.

What hurts is that I can't trust that she's asking for me.

We had such grand plans for sharing the bedtime ritual: baths together, Beatles instrumentals, Goodnight Moon in Daddy's lap. But the best laid plans fell flat over weeks when she was more distracted by two than one, long months of late work and heavy stress, a summer in Bangladesh, half a world away. I'm gone all day, and Darcie is not.

There are times, more and more, when I worry that it's too late; surely every father does. She won't kiss me, or hug; she cries only for mama, squirming out of my grasp when I catch her in play. I get a couple hours a day, tired when I've come home; they're good hours, better than last year or the year before, clear of work in my mind, but most days, they just whet the appetite and frustrate the soul.

Maybe I'm selfish. I love this precious kid with all my heart, but somehow, until tonight, I thought parenthood would be more rewarding.

But she only had to say I Love You once, unprompted, for me to know she meant it.

Thanks, baby. Daddy loves you, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:27 PM | 0 comments


How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Job

Monday I spent all morning teaching two paired sets of freshman Humanities classes -- 30 kids each -- to present with PowerPoint. No, I don't teach software anymore; with each group we got a whole glorious hour to explore best practice, and think about the best ways to establish relationships between subject, slide show, audience, and presenter.

Tuesday I met with the Director of Health Education and planned out six days of media literacy into the brand new, thirty day, all-required 9th grade health curriculum. A whole day on critical viewing, a day on violence, and several days on body image and relatiosnhip protrayal, among other things; I can't wait to be asked to teach the class so the other course teachers can learn how to take on those csubjects themselves in subsequent terms.

Today I spent the morning teaching blogging to two smaller classes of ninth grade Algebra/Physics students -- not just how, but why. Blogger and enetation for comments; inserting pictures and manipulating font; journaling for math and science class and how it can support learning and idea-sharing. As an added bonus, Carlos, the new math teacher, got all excited about both standardizing blogging across all 9th grade math/sci classes, and even suggested having the course teachers keep a group blog, too, for parents and other outsiders to check in.

Heck, my primarily job function this year was to find the best technologies and the best place for them-- in bureaucraspeak, formalizing and institutionalizing the 9th grade academic technology curriculum and its delivery, including integration into our core freshman classes. Looks like I've got my trifecta: Blogs in Alg/Physics, PowerPoint with Fresman Humanities, and Media Literacy in the 9th grade Health curriculum -- and it's perfect. And, as a total bonus, each subject and tool, and the discussion we have in each class about what kind of communication each tool/subject makes possible and best supports, directly addresses the 9th grade program's fundamental focus (Who am I? What is my world? What is my place in it?) Now all I need is the documentation and case studies.

* * *

In other medialiteracy news, spent the afternoon teaching media literacy to this year's crop of Peer Educators. We started with a discussion of how our understanding of Sept. 11 is informed and flavored by the ways in which we experienced that horrible day and it's aftermath, used that discussion as a way to evoke the basic health and wellness issues -- body image, violence, substance use and abuse, popularity and social status, race, gender -- which Peer Eds might be able to support, and then walked them through a pretty standard 40 minute curriculum cobbled straight from last year's major course in media literacy, which centers around an old Rosie O'Donnel instructional tape called Taking Charge of Your TV" of the same title.

And to think I was worried that I'd be stuck at a desk all year.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:44 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Air

Went into the studio tonight without telling a soul, just to feel myself out on the radio. No callers, no co-host -- now that Virginia's moved down the road a piece to Northampton -- and quite possibly no listeners, unless someone out there was spinning the dial in our tiny school-radio-station radius. But it felt good to be back.

In the long summer hiatus I picked up a few new CDs, and rediscovered some old ones; playing them tonight was a good way to get back into my own music, too, after too long driving a car with no CD player and, before that, an even longer summer series half a world away from the bulk of my life's soundtrack, a collection fast approaching the 500 mark.

Tonight's annotated playlist follows. As always, cover songs are starred, and I'll give a free amazon.com gift card to the first person who can identify the original performing artists of each cover song. Seriously.


Tributary Log: September 8, 2003

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
>>>our theme song, and did you know that Bob Dorough is most famous in the pop culture world for writing and performing the bulk of the original Schoolhouse Rock TV shorts?

*The Rembrants -- Making Plans for Nigel
Habib Koite -- Cigarette Abana
Jorma Kaukonen -- Big River Blues
Erin McKeown -- Hum
Biscuit Boys -- Coming Into LA
Chris Smither -- Thanks To You

>>>I've had this CD since I was a kid; it was autographed by Smither at a show my father took me to. Johnny D's in Somerville MA; I think it was my first time in a real bar. Good times.


-- bedtime story break: The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown --

Trey Anastasio -- Cajun Review
Keller Williams -- Anyhow Anyway
Gillian Welch -- Look At Miss Ohio
Girlyman -- Hey Rose

>>>You have to hear this group. Trust me.

The Waifs -- London Still


-- bedtime story break: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein --

*Dolly Parton -- Shine
*Johnny Cash -- Personal Jesus

>>>The first "real" non-club concert I ever went to was James Taylor, but the second real concert I went to was Depeche Mode. Happily, I remember none of it.

*Nikki Boyer -- Brain Damage
Warren Zevon -- Don't Let Us Get Sick
>>>Except he did. Warren Zevon died today after a long battle with untreatable lung cancer. He was 58, just a year or two older than my father; I went to college with his daughter, in fact. I'll never listen to Werewolves Of London the same way. Don't Let Us Get Sick is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking songs ever recorded live in a radio station.

*Patty Griffin -- Take It Down
* Girlyman -- My Sweet Lord

>>>God, is this a beautiful song.


-- bedtime story break: Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, recited from memory --

*Nenes -- No Woman No Cry
Eddie From Ohio -- Good At That
Bare Naked Ladies -- Light Up My Room
*Tom Landry and the Paperboys -- All Along The Watchtower
*Norah Jones -- Cold, Cold Heart

>>>Sadly, few people know this is a cover. Did you?

*Sarah McLachlan -- Blackbird



From folk to funk, jazz to jambands, blues to bluegrass and back again: you're listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on 91.5 WNMH, serving Northfield, Gill, Bratteboro, Keene -- and you.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:57 AM | 0 comments

Monday, September 08, 2003

Monday Mosh: Back With A Vengance!

You remember the rules: Dance around with impunity; answer three simple unchanging questions; post answers here and/or in your own blog; feel good about memedropping. Okay, let's Mosh!


What song did you mosh to?

Restless Wind, a live cut off The String Cheese Incident's Extra Cheese, Volume II disk that came free with the SCI DVD. Just a funky feel-good ten-minute long song.

What did you bump into or step on? (Bonus points for breakage)

Nothin' this week 'cept the world's largest bug, and that was deliberate. It did break, though, so 50 bonus points for me, yay!

Why did you stop?

Had to go wipe bug off my shoe so I didn't smear it into the carpet.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:31 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Convocation today, the usual pomp and circumstance. I'm a big fan of ritual -- not merely, as religion teacher and newly-ordained minister Ted suggested during the pre-event milling-around, for love of ritual itself, but most especially because I find the potential for interesting chaos to be heightened significantly when so many people have so much stake in such an ordered program. Ceremonies such as these are often arenas where small mistakes make big waves: the instantaneous visibility of persona and pride on a full community scale prime the pump, as it were, for moments to become, in-an-instant, part of a community memory.

On that scale, today was a bit disappointing. Other than a few easily-rectified program sequencing errors from the head of school, school songs went smoothly, the orchestra and chorus performing at a near-professional level, and everyone actually waited for the last row of seniors to get up for their recession before storming the exits, as requested. Lucky for Loki-lovers, there's plenty of ceremony in prep school life; surely, the next event will better serve my impish nature.

Subjectively speaking, the most striking aspect of this annual formal opening of the school year was the Senior class, who in formal clothes marched in slow procession past the faculty gauntlet to sit front and center, where they were easily visible from our own seats in the balcony. I remember teaching most members of this class, and they seem too young to be seniors -- indeed, despite their stiff shirts and spring dresses, and in most cases a few more inches of height or bustline, these could be the same raw prep school recruits I taught and mentored four falls ago. It's as if their movement in time has been an illusion; as if, for me, they will always be freshmen. I must be getting old, or at least settling in.


Blogwatch

New from Reed College freshman Will Henderson, a recent NMH and Media Literacy alum: lifebeat: rhapsodies of a young college boy. The blog comes to us courtesy of the MT-served Reedie Journals service, which I covet thoroughly, and if Will's student papers and projects last year are any indication, it -- the blog, not the service, though the sentiment surely applies there as well -- promises to be coherent, creative, and perceptive.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:30 PM | 0 comments


Fairgrounds, Fouled Grounds

Last Wednesday between media center coverage and dorm duty the three of us -- spouse, child, and self -- went into nearby micropolis Greenfield for a quick family supper at local fave People's Pint and, upon leaving, serendipitously emerged onto Main Street just as the annual Greenfield County Fair kick-off parade began their slow plod through the thinly lined streets. Here, umbrella-ed despite a sudden downpour just moments too late in its beginning to cause a parade cancellation, was the best of local half-rural life: shaky old-men's marching bands, preadolescent cheerleading squads, car-bound small-town mayors, dumpy girls dressed as Holsteins waving from the back of hay-lined tractors. It made a fitting end to a meal at the People's Pint, famed for IPAs, farmer's sausage quesadillas and thick grilled steak burritos, and other small-batch brews and fine and hearty foods made with local and oft-organic materials.

Having seen the parade, it would have been a shame to miss the fair itself; further, we had high hopes that Willow might enjoy it more than last year, back when she was just a tiny summer baby, a fleshy peanut asleep in a stroller. This morning being the only coinciding ole in our schedule, we woke not-too-late, headed out to the free roadside parking, and made it into the park just after ten.

Fairgrounds are funny things: in most communities, their purpose is spent in a single summer weekend. The rest of the time, they just sit there, unnoticed and unseen off the main roadways, the only reminder of their presence several small green streetsigns pointing the way into their small suburban cover neighborhoods. Today the park was still only half-full or less by noon, and the light crowd led to a light spirit as we wandered through barns filled with prize winning flower arrangements, apples, and quilts; petting farm stations and cattle pens; half the midway; a huge farm equipment showcase, and seventeen fresh-cut fries and cotton candy booths all aglow like Christmas. Willow liked the duck and rabbit showcases best, a half-lit and stinky spot where she clucked back at the chickens so endearingly I later won her a stuffed one at a water-pistol booth just to hear her cackle to it in the car on the way home.

And home was calling quickly, an unfortunate truth of boarding school life on the first weekend of the year. No racing pigs, no second lunch, no tractor pulls to come kept us around, though I wish we'd thought to buy tickets for tomorrow's crash-up derby before they sold out, as it turns out Chuck, the otherwise conservative English teacher downstairs from us runs a car in the derby every year. Instead, we left by 1:00 to get back to the dorm, long before the fair's weekend cornerstone, the eight o'clock performance of local hero Travis Ledoyt, "the best young Elvis in the business" -- and came back here so I could get to work.

Today was Community Service Day at NMH, a by-now annual first-saturday event which plants the right seeds for student works later on in the year and beyond, but which in the moment feels like one of those "good idea at the time" curricula in which little gets accomplished and even that's hardly community service. After a 45 minute discussion defining terms (What is our sphere of influence? How do they need help? How can we help?) and another 45 in the chapel being lectured to by do-gooders from alumni to current students, a few guys from the dorm and I decided to wander out into the 3400 acres here and pick up trash along the trails -- mostly because it seemed like real work, made all the more satisfying by the fact that all around us other groups were walking others' dogs, babysitting faculty kids, planting flowers outside their dorms, and, suspiciously, making banners depicting their community service project ideas. In an hour we found and kept enough glass alcohol bottles (remnants from last-year's illicit student woods-parties) to make my back hurt carrying my share, enjoying each other's company despite initial unfamiliarity, took it back, weighed it in our hands, felt proud of ourselves and each other, and called it a day.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:36 AM | 0 comments

Friday, September 05, 2003

Noting Blogger's Blogs Of Note

Over at Blogger, it seems the ever-ubiquitous "they" are finally updating the "Blogs of Note" section, and on a daily basis, too. BON, Blogger's very own blogroll, lives, of course, in the lower left of the Blogger home page, and by definition all blogs listed come highly recommended by folks who should know.

Comment 1: After months of glancing over at the same old MBA admissions blog listing, it's about time.

Comment 2: If anyone has any suggestions as to how someone like little 'ol boyhowdy might end up on that 'roll, don't hold 'em back -- I ain't ashamed to have the extra hits. Think maybe over-linking to Blogger might help?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:26 AM | 0 comments


In Other Technology News...

Molly reports via email that some random guy in Vancouver was using my AIM handle (boyhowdy25) without even realizing it; she chatted him up a bit, but they seem to have figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't "me" even though, by AIM standards, it was "me." Seems I must have accidentally logged on to AIM without disabling the "remember this loging on this computer" and the "auto-login" functions while on an Internet Cafe workstation outside the Vancouver Westin Grand, and now whenever someone sits down at that computer and boots it up, they've logged on to my AIM account. How odd to think that somewhere in the universe at a public, well-utilized terminal a quarter of a world away, a series of random individuals are masquerading as me without even knowing it -- and there's nothing I can do about it if I want to keep the buddyname, 'cept wait and hope someone else makes the same mistake I did sometime soon, in the process deleting my settings permanently from said workstation.

The reason I logged on AIM, of course, was to see if anyone I knew was out there -- if you remember (c.f. about three entries down), I was pretty homesick by then, a weary world traveller. Interestingly enough, the one person I ended up chatting with at that time was Bitsy, who was in my Media Literacy class the term before I met Molly as a student in the same class. Small world.

Also in the techmeme I'm having today: I've decided to live with the practically-ancient PalmIIIx as an extension brain for at least this term, despite increasing decrepitude, as all I really want of my PDA is a calendar, a phone book, and a memo pad, and the Palm isn't so old it doesn't interface cleanly with Centrinity's First Class calendaring software; Zack has a new webcam, but I'm not going to give out the address yet so Molly and he can have some "privacy;" my new job responsibilities brought me to real sessions on over twelve different computers school-wide just today.

Pictures from recent vacation coming soon, I promise. It's just that, of those twelve computers, none was my own laptop, though I carted it around all day in the back seat of the big powder blue boat in hopes of beginning the pic-work.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:11 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Bugs

As before, there'd be a picture here if I wasn't on a 28.8 dialup -- ideally something like a close-up of a mosquito, its long needlenose sunk deep into a landscape of magnified skin. But alas, it is not to be, so back to the bugs.


The NMH network, for example, is full of 'em. I couldn't blog last night because the firewall was down with the virtual flu; computer bugs of all sorts clog our mailboxes and our wires, corrupting hard drives and stifling proper OS functioning. Public computers shut themselves off after fifteen minutes. Our servers groan and flicker. I guess that's what you get when 800 new computers suddenly plug into your network all-at-once to begin the incestuous gabfest that only a new school year can bring, but this year's been a thousand times worse than previous years, partially because the incidence of viruses running around the Internet right now is at a pretty steep peak -- it even made last week's Newsweek.

And then there's the fleas on the dog. We only noticed them yesterday, bathed 'em off quickly, but I still ended up with a bite or two somehow; the cat didn't seem to have any, but just thinking about fleas makes me itch with the phantoms of a thousand fevered fleadreams. And why is it every time we leave the dog with Virginia it gets fleas? So many theories on this one -- does she have fleas? Is she taking our dog to slum with the great unwashed of the canine kingdom? -- but perhaps we'll never know. (Sure, we could just ask, but where's the fun in that?)

Of course, the reason the house is full of bugs -- like that orange-beige moth currently shadowboxing over by the uglier of two black lamps -- is that the solution to the problem "how will the cat get out when we live on the third floor" has turned out to be a brick in the downstairs door, plus a slight ajar-ness to the apartment door at the top of the two wooden flights up; when the cat wants to come home, he just nudges the apartment door open, and all these flying critters -- moths, mosquitoes, more -- that have just been hanging out downstairs by the entryway light come seeping in like rain through a poorly plastered ceiling.

Oh wait, it wasn't a moth. It was a big-ass stick-like thing, body just a bit thicker than one of those huge female mosquotoes, or are those the males? I can never remember.

Tonight, my first night of post-dorm-residence dorm duty was even infested. Sure enough, the new boys seem like a calm and focused group this year, but, as is generally the case, over half are new; how should they know that propping all the outside doors open with wooden wedges and ping-pong paddles lets in summer's leftover mosquitoes, bred in the nearby pond, looking for a slightly warmer night and a hearty bedtime snack?

But man, was it good, almost centering, to drive away and come home at the end of a verylong day. I never realized, I guess, how living so close to the kids kept me just a little bit buggy without even realizing it. It sure is good to be me right now, no matter how fleabitten or ragged.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:32 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Brick Wall At The End Of The Tunnel

The extended vacation -- see previous blogentries for context if you're just joining in -- allowed me to miss much of the slow build that is the typical beginning of the prep school year. By the time I arrived here Saturday afternoon, just in time to meet a few new and nervous advisee's parents and scarf a few chewy oatmeal cookies in the dorm lounge with my dorm faculty peers, the first faculty meeting had long passed, my dorm's staff had planned out several orientation events in anticipation of the days ahead, and my department had met twice without me.

Students, too, our charges and vocation, had begun to arrive, buzzing and eager, in the days before my own arrival. Student Leaders, Peer Educators, and International Student Ambassadors were the first to come, that they might be trained in their respective peer-duties; then, with their guidance, new students, including an entire new class of freshman, began to settle into their dorms and social groups. By Saturday, too, early sports camp students had already spent days out on the field recovering their old skills and, for many of them, testing new summer-matured bodies. By the time I arrived, the vast majority of students were already here.

Missing the slow build means that, subjectively speaking, this year's fall semester here at Northfield Mount Hermon School has begun with the shock of jumping into frigid water. Though classes don't start until Wednesday, today returning students, the last to arrive every year, registered and began to settle in. Now the gang's all here; now the fun really begins. Suddenly the place is raucous, the plans others have made for me vague and hard to find, and I am needed everywhere.

Where less than 48 hours ago I was in summer mode full-tilt, listing the things I did for work since I awoke this morning to an early alarm would take an entire page and bore the heck out of my entire readership; I didn't get home until a few moment until eleven, after a long, dull discussion in the dorm about rules and expectations for the year.

The whole darn juggling act should settle down soon, I suppose, but, man, right now I really need a vacation.

To top it all off, the baby got badly cat-scratched at a friend's apartment today, and screamed for hours tonight when we tried retraining her to sleep in the crib after two weeks in bed with us aboard ship.

On the bright side...it's raining outside, and the road below is cool and shiny in the quiet light of the single streetlamp. It's so nice to be out of the dorm, far away from the students, to come home from work and leave work so far behind; I think I could get used to this.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:29 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Home

Storybook fingernail moon, larger than life over an orange horizon at dusk. Blackened hills; the electric hum of a thousand crickets and tinyfrogs; the smell of mown hay in otherwise-clean air. Murmurs in the darkness. Fluttering wings on porchlights.

Silent stairs. Darkened hallways, familiar slanted eaves-walls. Tinydog hiding in the crook at the back of her bent knees on the futon couch. Bare feet against rough carpet. Softlit corners.

The past receding, fading into that same horizon like the setting sun. The future shelved, hidden from the self. The present soft and gentle, yet heavy, a thick down comforter. It no longer matters how I got here -- this blog is no travelogue, and shouldn't be. What matters is that I'm here.


God – if you’re here, too, despite the skepticism of those (like me) who grasp desperately at logic all their lives – I know I don’t thank you enough, or think of you much when I am not in need; don’t keep your commandments; don’t praise your name:

I cursed you this morning when the car battery was dead after three weeks in my parent’s driveway;

I called for you too late when my daughter fell off the top of the luggage cart;

I cried for you in despair driving away from the dorm, looking ahead into the days before me, trying to figure out how to be in three places at once for the next nine months, and none of them in my own apartment, on the carpet with my daughter, at the table with my wife.

But here, in the peace of this home, my daughter and wife, my dog and cat, my silence, I remember you, perhaps not quite too late: Thanks, God, for this fleeting moment, and for those other moments; thank you for those moments you will bring. It is more than I deserve; It will have to be enough; It is enough: Thank you, O God, for these blessings before me; it is the home, the peace, I have always wanted…but did not know how to build on my own.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:11 PM | 0 comments
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