Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Three Cheers For Media Studies!

Hooray for David Gauntlett, who is a professor of -- get this -- Media and Audiences, hooray for theory.org, which I used last term to teach marxist and feminist thought, and hooray for EdTechUK for pointing to a verycool newly webbed project Gauntlett did with schoolchildren and native media, and thereby helping me rediscover theory.org, in all its playful and theoretical splendor.

Because without all of that, there would never have been a Random Course Generator in my life today. And if there had never been a Random Course Generator, not only would there have been much less laughter, I'd also never have created a course which
...will explore the semiology of postmodern media and its influence upon public concerns about gun fights in films by means of torturous over-analysis, and guesswork. Some carefully trained postgraduates will be stylish and, if they manage to complete this module, students will be slightly arrogant.
The module is worth 20 credits and is assessed by an Olympic decathlon event. Is it wrong to wish I could teach it?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:57 PM | 0 comments


All The Memes Are Dead

Most of them, anyway. Maybe that's a good thing.

But if you care about writing for writing's sake, just as the generative writing exercise ("write a poem about luncheon meat") has its important place in the pantheon, it's important to have a good meme around. Memes are vital tools for those days when the brain is totally overwhelmed and cannot blog consciously. Like a word association game, played well and thoroughly, the answers tap into the psyche. Like a poem, once in a while, sometimes the answers are miracles.

So. My brain is full of the worst of work and ailments. It's all been blogged before; I have not looked at anything with a different eye. Anyone got a meme?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:27 PM | 0 comments


Not Counting Airports

Joining the meme late, now that a better app has been designed for showing one's wanderings, here's my international travels...


create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide


...and my national sojurns:


create your own personalized map of the USA
or write about it on the open travel guide



Alas, a localized, airplane-dependent wanderer am I. If airport visits were legit, then I'd get to add Ohio, Texas, and a few others, but that hardly seems sporting; similarly, if fetal visits counted, there'd be more of Europe in there, but it doesn't seem a relinquishment of my pro-choice status to only plot directly experienced countries and states. I know New England's woods and byways like the palm of my hand, though, and how few of us can say that?

Thanks to Alex for reminding me about this one.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:16 PM | 0 comments

Monday, April 26, 2004

The Real Radioland

A lazy day in the rain with the baby and spouse, still dogsitting up in Brattleboro, lest the St. Bernard go insane with loneliness and start chewing the wooden frames off the windowpane glass again. I left the girls up North after a diner's earlybird supper out, high-backed benches and steak and eggs surrounded by old folks and third watchers, and headed home for a long quiet bachelor evening, but I guess I'm out of practice: two bored and mental-brownout hours in front of The Sixth Sense on network TV, a single beer, and here I am again in the studio for another week's radio show.

As always, here's tonight's playlist. The Erin McKeown goes out to Sushi: someday I'll tape the damn thing and send you a copy.


Tributary 4/26/04

Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Steve Reily and the Mamou Playboys -- Mama Told Papa
Phish -- Wolfman's Brother
Kool and the Gang -- Funky Stuff
They Might Be Giants -- Birdhouse In Your Soul
Erin McKeown -- Born To Hum
Girlyman -- Postcards From Mexico
Cesaria Evora -- Sangue De Beirona
Robert Randolph and the Family Band -- Ted's Jam
Sarah Harmer -- Almost
Patty Griffin -- Love Throw Me A Line
Marc Cohn -- Don't Talk To Her At Night
Gillian Welch -- Revelator
Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem -- Big Black Bird
Eddie From Ohio -- Good At That
Robbie Fulks -- Never Could
Shawn Colvin -- Say A Little Prayer
Moxy Fruvous -- Horseshoes
Ron Sexsmith -- My Girlfriend's Pretty
String Cheese Incident -- Take Five
Slaid Cleaves -- One Good Year
Stevie Ray Vaughan -- Chitlins Con Carne
The Vines -- I'm Only Sleeping
Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Bli-Blip


You've been listening to Tributary, your ten-to-midnight Monday night show, here on WNMH 91.5 F.M., serving Northfield, Gill, Keene, Brattleboro -- and you.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:06 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, April 25, 2004

All In The Family

With the students gone on a long parents weekend, and a dining hall brunch with Darcie's extended family now past, Sunday finds me in a rare moment of quiet amidst a weekend of familial visits and obligations. Here's what's been happening, and should happen:

Yesterday up to Brattleboro for a visit with the in-laws; baby's auntie Alicia and her long-time fiance Matt drove in from lower Connecticut for the weekend. Had pulled pork and corn bread at the local pit, finally open for the long warm season; returned to the house. The baby blew soap bubbles and got sand in her cuffs.

Darcie's mother was concerned about our winter-bald tires, so while Alicia stayed up for some solo time with her parents, Matt and I dropped Willow and Darcie off at the house for a nap and headed down to BJs for a quick tire change.

Afterwards, a Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem concert at Indoor Action, a local air-supported, astro-turfed cavern with surprisingly good acoustics. The baby danced and chased the other neighborhood kids and seemed perfectly happy long past her bedtime. Microbrew beer on blankets on the fake lawn made me long for the summerfolk festival scene; luckily, it's not so far away after all.

Home, after late night ice cream and Iron Chef; Alicia and Matt stayed over with their pug, Bruno. Farm this morning, where Matt took plenty of pix of the kid and the cow, and bought a half gallon of student-produced syrup, a half-year's worth of pancake topping.

Then back to the house quick: Darcie's parents again, now on their way to an overnight Cape Cod vacation, and the addition of Darcie's bother Josh and his long-timer Clay. Brunch, and some quality time with the baby on the swingset while the others ate: I'm happy to report that my little girl is happily sliding down the big slide by herself at 21 months, though she seems to prefer throwing rocks on the plastic to actually riding it.

And now the sun streams in the open windows on the breeze like a bottle genie, opening my heart to Spring. The great outdoors calls: get thee behind me, blog! Back tomorrow, then: we're at Darcie's parent's house overnight dogsitting the St. Bernard; with a little luck, I'll be able to stave off my allergies for a good long time.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:27 PM | 0 comments


Bologna Sonnet
because once I discovered that my site was the number one google result for "sonnet about bologna sandwiches," I couldn't resist the challenge to write a sonnet about bologna sandwiches

White bread, of course, and individually wrapped
pasteurized cheese. Mustard, if you like.
The meat of the matter, once tight
in its shiny deli casing (O Bologna!),

sliced thick and weighed in flesh-pink stacks,
home in a rustling bag, maybe fried
until it curls, and the center rises,
heaven in a sandwich: O bologna

best eaten with chips and drunk with milk!
Plaything of children everywhere; first-named;
poor stepchild of bacon; a wurst gone fat:
of grease and gristle you are born, bologna!

Your porch swing memories will always swim
before me when I pass you up for turkey ham.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:34 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Our PC Schools, part 512½: From Bad To Worse

Not content with banning pink, a middle school in North Carolina bans all solid t-shirts, and posts security guards at entrances to confiscate shirts from those who don't comply.

Notably, in both cases school officials suspected that the solid colors were gang membership fashion, but in neither case did anybody actually ask any kids, gang members, or clothing sales professionals before making policy based on this stupid projections. And thus the countdown begins: which school will be the first to move right from strip-searching to outlawing clothes altogether?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:30 PM | 0 comments

Friday, April 23, 2004

Hit Me With Your Best Shot
or, Wanderers Not Clear On The Concept

  • lost josh

  • peacoat prep school

  • statistic+people+tunisi

  • spirit that bends leg toys

  • Give me a mosh Buddy icon

  • "summer - boys" - quotations

  • pix of all kinds of car in nigeria

  • artsy updated women's clothing

  • L L Cool J commercial gatorade video

  • voice immodulation is a real problem

  • pictures of tuxedos for prom ages 13 to 14 in juneau

  • Poem Cappuccino With knowledge of death and drinking it slowly

  • what was the answer to the bonus puzzle on thursday april 22's wheel of fortune (unsurprisingly, I'm the only hit for this dumbass query string)


  • Incidentally poetic list courtesy of 48 hours worth of surfers most in need of a tutorial. Meanwhile, I need an editor, or some people just need a spellchecker.

    On the other hand, it totally rocks that I'm the first google result for sonnets about bologna sandwiches, even if I haven't written any yet.

    posted by boyhowdy | 8:15 PM | 0 comments


    Herland Days
    For five or ten years they worked together, growing stronger and wiser and more and more mutually attached, and then the miracle happened -- one of these young women bore a child. Of course they all thought there must be a man somewhere, but none was found.
    -- Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Fatherless mouse born; parthenogenesis comes to mammal kingdom. Your dog wants another dog just like her. (a la Fark)

    Better start impressing the girls, men: we're about to become biologically superfluous. There's a utopia out there, and if we don't act now, we're not going to be in it.

    posted by boyhowdy | 7:55 PM | 0 comments

    Thursday, April 22, 2004

    Mashed Banana, Mashed Banana*
    *the blog entry title only a parent could love -- or recognize!

    Manicotti. Corn. Plain pasta. A frozen banana, pulled off its stick and pulped but hardly eaten. Red Gatorade for rehydration; syrup peaches for desert.

    It's hard to forget the red Gatorade. Or the peaches.

    The rash started just above her diaper line two nights ago -- the day it suddenly hit ninety. We thought it was heat stroke at first.

    Then it spread to her thighs, and up her belly. Thanks to the graphic wonders of the misinformation superhighway, by last night we thought the now-heavy anger blotched across her tiny legs and body was rubella.

    This afternoon, the doctor said that as long as there didn't appear to be itchiness or bruiding, the rash was likely viral, and would have to run its course unassisted. Had there been any other viral symptoms -- fever, or loose stool? We allowed as how there was a few more slightly looser poops than usual today, and left the office feeling reassured.

    She didn't start spewing until after her bath. For a while there, it was a like a neverending slasher movie: just when we thought she'd thrown it all up, she'd prove us wrong with a belch and a vengance.

    For the last hour and a half, she's been clutching her stomach and groaning tummy hurts. Darcie rocked her by the window, and fed her ice chips, and stroked her brow. Later, she fell asleep on her mother's breast listening to Julie Andrew sing to Kermit on the television, and staring at me.

    When it comes out, it's red, of course. Red, and everywhere bright with yellow cling peaches.

    How dare her illness be beautiful, and simultaneously so heartbreaking. How dare her body betray us, make us helpless. It's so disempowering to want so much to take on her discomfort.

    posted by boyhowdy | 7:39 PM | 0 comments


    Our Friend Nuclear Power

    According to CNN, the nuclear power plant less than 15 miles from here seems to have misplaced some radioactive fuel rod pieces which

    a) would be fatal to anyone who came in contact with them, and
    b) could be used by terrorists to construct so-called dirty bombs that would spread deadly radiation with conventional explosives.

    Eep. Happy Earth Day, everybloggy.

    posted by boyhowdy | 12:02 AM | 0 comments

    Wednesday, April 21, 2004

    31 Flavors And Then Some, Redux


    vs.


    Whip out your calendars, folks: it's time for everyone's favorite annual event, the National Competitive Ice Cream Giveaway!

    Just like last year, both Ben and Jerry's and Baskin Robbins have announced that they'll be giving away free kiddie-sized cones or cups to anyone who walks in to their chains next week. Best of all, they're doing this on consecutive days, so hit your favorite Ben and Jerry's location for a free scoop on Tuesday the 27th, and then hop on over to Baskin Robbins on Wednesday the 28th for a second helping.

    (Oh yeah, and they're both using the giveaways to raise social consciousness about something: Ben and Jerry's wants you to register to vote, and they're also giving away some cool mac stuff; Baskin Robbins is trying to get you to support literacy in little kids. But who cares, really, about politics or literacy? Damn the disenfranchised -- let them eat ice cream!)

    posted by boyhowdy | 7:22 PM | 0 comments


    Silent But Deadly

    For those not otherwise connected to the world of adolescent education, today is the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) Day of Silence, a student-led day of action where those who support making anti-LGBT bias unacceptable in schools take a day-long vow of silence to recognize and protest the discrimination and harassment -- in effect, the silencing -- experienced by LGBT students and their allies.

    And what does the Day of Silence look like here, at the boarding school? Though numerically-speaking few kids participate, it does seem a bit quieter out there. The campus teems with sunlight and small pods of students sitting and staring at each other. In the distance, non-participating jock-types yell happily from the Lacrosse field, and never the twain shall meet.

    Somehow, this doesn't seem like what GLSEN had in mind.

    I should admit I have mixed feelings about this now-yearly phenomenon. On the plus side, I think the fundamental concept is sound: silence is an especially powerful way to make a statement of support, and the choice of silence to raise awareness about the silencing of others has a semiotic elegance which appeals to my media literate mind. This is, I suppose, especially true in the context of school. Silence in a space in which class participation is often considered one of the signs of greatness is more powerful than it might be in other spaces; absence of language is more obvious here than, say, silence on the subway, or in line at McDonalds, might turn out to be.

    But on the other hand, in that context, silence is an academic disaster. The modern contructivist mode demands participatory, student-owned classroom experience; the refusal to participate is a neat turn-around, I suppose, but it gives the class back to the teacher, forcing us to lecture where before we would have pushed and prodded. The Day of Silence may be an interesting footnote at the beginning of class, but once the moment of recognition passes, the students remain silent, electing to trade that moment for period after period of passivity, and I'm not convinced that unintended consequence doesn't set the stage for more loss than gain.

    Of course, in a worst case scenario, both teacher and students decide to be silent, and what was once a class turns into an exercise in awareness that drags out far longer than necessary. What, do we all sit at our desks with our heads down for an hour and a half? Some teachers here who would otherwise decide to be silent themselves have decided to show movies all day, making the silence of their students invisible -- that, alone, says all it needs to about the potential pitfalls of the silent protest in the classroom context. Others have decided to cancel class, which, obviously, keeps the silence from being heard or seen at all, and thus makes the Day of Silence counterproductive -- for what good is a day of silence if it's spent in your dorm room, playing video games?

    While this might seem like a win for the GLSEN crowd, then, I think the net result of this movement can at worst be to pit the anti-hate self against the academic self, exacerbating the already-frustrating and artificial divide between learning-mode and social-mode which, ironically, blogs and other social networking software have begun to break down. Maybe the point here is merely that silence only works when the world is loud around you, and waiting for you to speak. Once a culture begins to accept your cause, though, silence only keeps us from talking about why we're silent.

    Or maybe the quietude is the result of the manure mix that was spread across the campus greenery yesterday; I know feces is supposed to make the best fertilizer, but most of us are afraid to open our mouths and breath it all in.

    Anyway, something sure stinks around here.

    posted by boyhowdy | 2:05 PM | 0 comments

    Monday, April 19, 2004

    In Studio and On Location

    Now that the radio station finally got a live 'net connection in the studio, I can blog livetime instead of having to stay up past one playlistblogging from paperscraps after I return home. Thanks to the WNMH board of directors for netting me an extra hour of sleep; after three conferences in four days, and a grand total of 16 hours of driving to get there and back and there-and-back-again, I really need it.

    Especially given the 90 degree heat and buffeting winds today on the drive back South from the wilds of Vermont. Who makes this weather, anyway? It's sweltering down here in the basement of Stone Hall. The bugs pour in the open window like a plague. The moving air stops and starts. Soon, the rains will come.


    Tributary 4/19/04

    Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
    Cake -- Manah Manah
    The Gourds -- El Paso
    Barenaked Ladies -- Grade 9
    Oysterhead -- Oz Is Ever Floating
    Manu Chao -- Me Gustas Tu
    The Allman Brothers -- Jessica
    Acoustic Syndicate -- Crazy Town
    Ani Difranco -- As Is
    Joss Stone -- Fell In Love With A Boy
    Oysterband w/ Chumbawumba -- This Is The Voice
    Primus -- Welcome To This World
    Keller Williams -- Best Feeling
    Chris Smither -- Rock and Roll Doctor
    The Del McCoury Band -- Rain and Snow
    Negativland -- Yellow, Black and Rectangular
    Little Feat -- Dixie Chicken
    Ominous Seapods -- No Time Like The Present
    The Cash Brothers -- Nebraska
    Sarah Harmer -- Uniform Grey
    Shelby Lynne -- The Seeker
    Shawn Colvin -- Rocking


    Remember: you've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5 fm, serving Northfield, Gill, Keene and Brattleboro. Sleep tight, folks. Keep cool if you can.

    posted by boyhowdy | 10:25 PM | 0 comments


    And I Was There
    Incestuous Blogging About BloggerCon


    A quick egosurf on technorati shows two new (and complimentary) mentions of yours truly in the blogosphere. I'm glad Daniel thought so highly of me, and especially proud of this A-lister mention, even though it's buried in a heck of a long post about the Journalism conference. Thanks, also, to the eminently cool Jeff Sharlet for a) being so nice about my contribution immediately following his in that same session, and b) being so self-flagellent and un-A-list-ish about this, which (I promise, Jeff) will get no more mention here at NAWWAL.

    I'm damn proud of my two mentions, really. Not sure if that's sad or what. Notably, a similar technorati-check for, say, BloggerCon host Dave Winer only reinforces the truth of Shirky's Power Law -- a topic, incidentally, heavily featured at today's excellent NERCOMP workshop in Middlebury, about which I intend to blog more later tonight. And, as if we needed more proof I'm no A-lister, I didn't even make the Liloia list.

    [UPDATE 6:19 p.m.: though it doesn't seem to have hit technorati, Velveteen Rabbi also mentions my contribution to the Religion session. See, Jeff -- we really did get a lot out of all your hard work and coordination.

    Also, I'm in the crowd in a few photoblogs, most notably just about dead center in the first six or seven pix here, thanks to Dan Bricklin. Can you spot me? Hint: I'm wearing a maroon mock turtleneck, and I have really long hair.]

    [UPDATE 7:36 p.m.: Though I'm not on it yet, thanks to the aforementioned Liloia list, I've found Jack and a few others mentioning my comment at the Journalism session as well, a notation in the midst of some otherwise-anonymous-comments and A-list namedrops which serves the ego most happily.]

    posted by boyhowdy | 6:14 PM | 0 comments

    Sunday, April 18, 2004

    Oh, For Blog's Sake

    In case it wasn't really, really clear from the way I presented it, I'd like to point out to Jeff Sharlet and others that I was stimulated, excited, energized, and just generally happy with EVERY session, EVERY interaction, and even the brainstorming-in-the-car aftermath of BloggerCon. I just decided that the notes I took on the sessions themselves were content-based enough that posting them would be a hundred times redundant, what with the same gontent going up on other blogs live during the 'con, so instead I decided to track and then later blog about some trivia-laden nuts-and-bolts social and institutional observations about the conference itself, not the content of the sessions.

    Given that, any list item in the below entry is in no way intended as a commentary on the value or lack thereof of any particular session or interaction (with the exception of one cool blogtitle, and two subjectively interesting statements I was especially taken with).

    If you are Jeff or you have been sent here via him somehow, please look here before vilifying me. As someone posited in the Blogging in Academia session (like the Religion session, a highly stimulating session where I blogged no ConStats but took a whole slew of personal notes): If I'm going to get called out for something I put in my blog, I want to make sure it's something I'm willing to put my reputation on the line for. And this unfortunate misunderstanding isn't it.

    Any questions?

    posted by boyhowdy | 11:49 PM | 0 comments


    Night Villanelle


    The baby scats herself to sleep
    Between two pillows in our bed,
    While outside, tiny peepers peep

    Along with her, a rhythmic beep,
    A one-note chorus, words unsaid:
    The baby scats herself to sleep.

    The darkness here is broad and deep;
    To chase away the midnight dread
    Outside, the tiny peepers peep

    loud through the window by the heap
    of dirty clothes and bathrobe red.
    The baby scats herself to sleep

    And snuggles with a tiny sheep
    with ballet slippers, warm and fed
    while outside tiny peepers peep

    And while she waits for daddy's creep,
    Tucked close into mama's head:
    The baby scats herself to sleep;
    Outside, the tiny peepers peep.

    posted by boyhowdy | 2:03 PM | 0 comments


    After The Con

    Bloggercon was as wonderful and stimulating as yesterday's conference was boring. Figuring the bloggiverse doesn't really need more than a hundred subjective recaps of the same damn conference, I logged the day on paper in list form. Though exhausted, my lower back throbbing from a day in and out of the ergonomically worst classrooms I've ever experienced, here's the stats while they're still fresh:

    National Anthem / Intro Session
    Dave Winer
    Pound 200


    # Candidates for Song of Bloggercon: 7
    1. Brandy You're A Fine Girl

    2. Charlie on the MTA

    3. Meet the Mets

    4. Take Me Out to the Ballgame

    5. Yankees Suck

    6. Purple Haze

    7. Wipeout (drum solo only)

    # Songs actually sung: 2 (Take Me Out to the Ballgame, The Star Spangled Banner)

    # Songs accompanied by accordian: 1 1/2

    # EFF hats: 2

    # Hats: 3

    # Program change announcements by Dave Winer: 3
    1. Intro session moved to Pound 200, but you knew that already.

    2. Session on Personal TV Networks replaced by session on Multimedia and Blogging due to moderator illness.

    3. New John Perry Barlow session added, assuming John Perry Barlow shows up.

    Gender Ratio, expressed as Males to Females: 3:2

    Participants wifi blogging during the intro session: 40%


    What is Journalism?
    Jay Rosen
    Pound 201


    # Items lited on the blackboard at the beginning of the session: 5
    1. The Two Tribes

    2. Blogging --> Journalism

    3. Journalism --> Blogging

    4. Bloggers and Journalists interacting

    5. What do we want?

    # Windows open on projected windows desktop: 4
    1. IRC chat (for virtual participants)

    2. MSN Search with preview (for finding relevant sites quickly)

    3. Ever-changing IE window (for showing the blog of whomever is speaking or, occasionally, the site that is the subject of discussion at a given moment)

    4. Unknown

    # Live webcasts: 1

    # Chat participants also physically in the room: 2

    # People raising their hands at any given time: 5

    Best definition of journalism: "Making the world clear in a way people care about"


    Librarians
    Jessica Baumgart
    Pound 202


    # Session attendees: 35

    # Librarians: 22

    # Librarians who blog for their libraries: 2

    Best idea of the session: adding librarians to class blogs

    Blogs mentioned as examples:
    Lunch Break

    Lunchlist:
    • Christine, a.k.a. the marvelous Sushiesque

    • Sally, Harvard Law Manuscript Librarian

    • Austen, kiddie talent handler

    • Another of Christine's friends whose name I can't remember

    • Bernhard the Swissblogger

    • Me

    Tip left by confused but generous group after giving up on trying to split the check evenly: 22%


    Blogging in Academia
    Michael Watkins
    Pound 202


    # list-type things noted: 0

    Blogs mentioned as examples: Minutes spent discussing Blogs in education and teaching with four other edubloggers after the session: 11


    Religion
    Jeff Sharlet
    Pound 201


    Time I stopped writing this stuff down: 3:04

    # Minutes early session ended: about 30


    Extraneous Stats

    # Rules cited: 2
    1. No metadiscussion

    2. No advertising


    # Movies cited: 1
    1. Gangs of New York


    Coolest blogtitle: Velveteen Rabbi

    # Business cards distributed: 9

    # Business cards received: 5

    # Friends made: Many

    Cost of parking ticket: $15

    posted by boyhowdy | 1:04 AM | 0 comments

    Friday, April 16, 2004

    If It's Friday, This Must Be Connecticut

    Two hours on the road this morning, including rush hour through Hartford, have taken me to this year's New England Association of Independent School Librarians Conference at Choate, a stately and formal prep school full of green grass quads and tall white and brick buildings that dwarf its dress-shirt students. The whole place is a bit intimidating; it doesn't help that all around me at this morning's meet-and-greet the conversations invariably turned to where you got your library degree. Bummer that Informatics didn't really exist six years ago when I got my MAT in Teaching with Internet Technologies.

    I've snuck away from what the conference schedule describes as Luncheon with a talk by Jeffrey Schiff, Professor of Art History at Wesleyan University, introducing his installation, The Library Project, to sit among the project itself and blog on a wifi machine in the school library. From what I can tell, I'm not missing much: the "project" appears to be little more than a couple of glass cases with numbers in them, a reinterpretation of Borges' Library of Babel. This afternoon's sessions on New Electronic Media, which to librarians appears to mean purchasable databases, hold no more promise, but I'm obliged to attend, as the folks back at the homestead asked me to attend on their behalf while they stayed and ran the library without us.

    This morning's sessions were excellent, though: a paired set, collectively described as Librarians, Superheroes, Wonder Woman, and Graphic Novels, and set in the rich new science center auditorium, a space of comfy chairs and hardwood which I covet for our own school like I've never coveted before. I've got voluminious notes on both excellent lectures -- first, Wesleyan Psych Prof Jill Morowski's The Psychology of Wonder Woman, and afterwards SUNY Buffalo Development Librarian Michael Lavin's heavily graphics-driven presentation on Building a Graphics Novels Collection in the School Library -- and hope to have more to say when I'm not in a rush, in the hot window sun, surrounded by students in collared shirts and khakis all waiting for a crack at the wireless laptop.

    Ironically, NEAISL is the first of three conferences I'll be attending in a New England marathon over the next four days, and the only one not about blogging. Even more ironically, it seems likely that this will be the only on-site blog entry I'll be able to produce: tomorrow's BloggerCon is too close to home to justify sticking around at the wifi session at the conference's close, especially given that tomorrow night's the first of two shiva-sitting nights at my parent's house just one town over from Cambridge, and I have no illusions that three straight one-hour sessions at NERCOMP -- on blogging, wikis, and RSS -- will provide much time to conferenceblog. Rest assured, though, you'll be hearing from me by Tuesday.

    posted by boyhowdy | 2:07 PM | 0 comments

    Thursday, April 15, 2004

    Memespotting

    Found in Vanessa's weblog digest , which I discovered backlinking from my reinvigorate hit-tracker. Via Nick, who got it from normblog, who got it from Anne, who got it from Crescat Sententia...

    Anyway, here's the deal.
    1. Grab the nearest book.
    2. Open the book to page 23.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
    Of course, memes never work right for me. In this case, I find myself in the midst of a list at the top of Steve Martin's Pure Drivel, wondering if lists count. Allowing that bullets are still sentences if they end in a period would net us the following entry:
    • "7:22 A.M.: Kitten leaps, stops, darts left, stops abruptly, climbs wall, clings for two seconds, falls on head, darts right for no apparent reason." (From Mars Probe Finds Kittens)
    My alternate book, yet another collection of essays, is slightly more help. Equally close at hand is David Rakoff's Fraud, where page 23 finds us post-anecdotal in the midst of an essay entitled Arise, Ye Wretched of the Earth. Sentence five? "I would not lose my virginity that summer to any of the girls from the group." Now that's more like it!

    Also, now I want a weblog digest.

    posted by boyhowdy | 9:50 PM | 0 comments


    Because McMarketing Vetoed "Nag Meals"



    Would You Like McGuilt With That?


    In keeping with the post-Atkins PC universe, McDonalds has just announced their new adult Happy Meals, featuring salad, bottled water, pedometer and a little bit of advice: Walk more. Ready, set...

    1. Is it possible for a fast food company to remake their image so drastically?
    2. How long would it take, really, for the idea of healthy living to be synonymous with McDonalds?
    3. Is this coming too late to matter? What makes McDonalds think they can actually steal tummies from the Subway next door?
    4. What's happy about salads, water, and advice?

    Also, just so we won't covet our kid's lunches, in June [McDonalds] will roll out healthier choices in its Happy Meals for kids nationwide, such as the option to substitute apple slices and juice for fries and a soft drink.

    Seriously, though, there's no worry that McD's is truly selling out:
    Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, credited McDonald's with taking "some small steps in the right direction" Thursday but said they don't go nearly far enough.

    "If McDonald's wanted to improve the public's health, in addition to providing the salads and bottled water, it could stop using partially hydrogenated oils in its fries, which contain trans fats and are a powerful promoter of heart disease," he said. "They also could lower the fat content of their burgers, use lowfat cheese, provide more baked food instead of fried food and lower the sodium content of their foods."
    Exactly. Here's hoping the trend towards providing all choices for all people busts McDonalds, Microsoft, and the rest of them long before the fiberburger ever rears its ugly, inevitable, tasteless head. Viva la carbs!

    posted by boyhowdy | 7:29 PM | 0 comments

    Wednesday, April 14, 2004

    Under De/con/struction

    A day off for quick D and C surgery with Darcie, a nap with the baby, and that new Jim Carrey movie at the mall cinema, the one with the big comfy chairs and all the leg room; this, a mysterious urge to write a decent Vilanelle, and a procrastination-potential pile plentiful enough to push and postpone in desperation all rational thought, and what am I doing?

    Figuring out how to get my delicious tinyblog to roll over into the links list below like a well-trained puppy, in hopes of providing a sidebar contantly updating all viewers on the websites I save and crave.

    Please excuse our appearance while we work together to make NAWWAL your blog-on-the-go / the place to be / the bee's knees / all that and a side of chips. Because I know your life just wasn't complete without knowing what I bookmarked today.

    posted by boyhowdy | 10:12 PM | 0 comments

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    Health Update

    Arthritic knees, a souveneir of an orthroscopic surgery and drainage back when I ran full-tilt into a marble turnstile while responding to an emergency radio call at the Museum of Science, Boston. Knotted neck from an adult lifetime of overlong horsemane hair -- a mane which pulls out headaches from my scalp in the humidity, and after showers or rain. Bad back, both the traditional spine-base swell of twinged fire that worsens with the flu and fevers, and a second surely unrelated shining steel muscle cramp just above my kidneys for no reason at all. Chronic athlete's foot (don't ask). Low limbic awareness, a.k.a. a tendency towards bashing one's limbs and bits into walls and when rounding corners. Blocked eustacian tubes. I live in a constant state of mild discomfort, and doesn't everybody?

    But where a return of last year's shingles would have been restricted to a band of skin and nerve tissue, the new rash, a sure product of stress, has spread everywhere. A wide red-scratched "V" just under my left shirtcuff; on the right side of my neck, and the shoulder below; inside both knees, right where I can rub them together for relief when I am walking: each new viral garden pushed up from the skin in clusters like the garden daffodils, growing over days and hours from pink bumps with white-dot dots like distant showcapped fleshmountains.

    I am very itchy.

    Does anyone have any sudafed, or cortizone cream?

    posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 0 comments


    Subjectively Reverse Anthropology
    The White Man as Other, and isn't it about time?

    Given the continuing digital divide, the odds are excellent that you, too, are a Qallunaat, making you a perfect subject for this new academic field in which Inuit study "white folks."

    Kudos and thank-the-source to oldmedia alternative news aggregator Utne, one of the few champions of the culturally relativistic which gets it right without getting it PC, for finding and sharing.

    posted by boyhowdy | 8:54 AM | 0 comments


    Broadcast Therapy

    Each Monday night after the girls are asleep I drive over the bridge to the other campus where, after a quickstop at Mim's Market for the last of the day's French Roast, I carry what can only be described as a backbreaking buttload of CDs down the dark stairs to the radio station.

    There, in the basement of an otherwise empty classroom building, I spin the music, ever-searching for the perfect segue and mood. And I read bedtime stories on the hour and the half hour, just because it feels good to do so. Tonight, in honor of my grandfather's passage, I read a trio of father poems, including Donald Justice's Men at Forty:
    Men at forty
    Learn to close softly
    The doors to rooms they will not be
    Coming back to...
    And between the songs and stories, I talk. A lot.

    Because, for me, talking into the air is a kind of catharsis.

    Out in the wide swath of antenna-reach people read by their radios, or sit perhaps silently in their own houses, with their own spouses. On the interstate in the middle of a long haul a trucker listens in until the signal begins to scratch and fade up past Brattleboro. Though this unconnected audience is for the most part theoretical, a mental projection, a trick of my own solipsism, it is my reason for being.

    It's a lot like blogging, I think.

    And, like blogging, I even got a comment tonight, a secret sharer whose voice crackled in the ozone, and called to read a poem her father had written once for his father.
    At rest on a stair landing,
    They feel it
    Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
    Though the swell is gentle.

    And deep in mirrors
    They rediscover
    The face of the boy as he practices tying
    His father's tie there in secret

    And the face of that father,
    Still warm with the mystery of lather...

    On the way back over the bridge tonight after hail and rain, the fog flooded over the pavement, hiding it beneath the headlight glare, as if I had achieved the epiphanies of the air, and dwelled in cloud.

    Tonight's playlist:


    Tributary 4/12/04

    Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
    Trey Anastasio -- Cayman Review
    Beck -- Devil's Haircut
    Wild Cherry -- Play That Funky Music
    They Might Be Giants -- Cowtown
    Marcia Ball -- Down The Road
    Settie -- Riding In My Car
    Trout Fishing In America -- Happy That You're Here
    Jazz Is Dead -- Scarlet Begonias
    Gillian Welch -- I Want To Sing That Rock And Roll
    Eddie From Ohio -- Quick
    Dan Hicks -- Meet Me At The Corner
    Sam Phillips -- I Need Love
    Sarah McLachlan -- Dear God
    Galactic -- Tiger Roll
    Erin McKeown -- Slung-lo
    Norah Jones -- Sunrise
    Marc Cohn -- Mama's In The Moon
    Indigo Girls -- Romeo and Juliet
    The Waifs -- London Still
    Marianne Faithful -- Love and Money
    Girlyman -- David
    Barenaked Ladies -- Light Up My Room
    Ware River Club -- I Love Her, She Loves Me
    Keller Williams -- Anyhow, Anyway
    Nenes -- No Woman No Cry
    Slaid Cleaves -- This Morning I Was Born Again


    You've been listening to Tributary, your Monday night ten to midnight show here on WNMH 91.5. Where the music sometimes stops. But it's worth it.
    ...They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
    Something is filling them, something

    That is like the twilight sound
    Of the crickets, immense,
    Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
    Behind their mortgaged houses.

    posted by boyhowdy | 12:41 AM | 0 comments

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    A Blog About Nothing

    My parents read my blog. My wife reads my blog. The people I work with -- and for -- read my blog. If you're a random stranger reading this blog right now, then you may be in the majority objectively-speaking, but you're not going to get the thoughts buzzing around madly like bees behind my eyes, the ones currently keeping me awake at night, stinging my dreams.

    Mostly, that's because I'm a foot-in-mouth idiot.

    Every once in a while, the things I need to rant and rail about are all so much about how stupid I am with the people I love and care about (and the ones I hate but have to be nice to) that they just can't go here, lest the blog become just one more stupid thing I do to the people I love (and hate but have to work for and play nice with).

    Most people have their own name associated with their blog, it turns out. But most people don't put their foot in their mouth as often as I do. So here's the Seinfeldian summary -- it's about nothing, I swear:

    I am angry and powerless.
    I am depressed and leaning towards addiction as a coping mechanism.
    I am short with others, and the feedback cycle makes me more prone to be stupid and hurtful.
    I am feeling locked in to my life.
    I have lost my confidence.
    Oh, and my shingles are back with a vengance.

    Sometimes wanderers are lost. Sometimes they can't even clarify their direction, even -- especially -- when their boss has asked them to write it down in one page less, surely in order to nitpick their vocational urges to death.

    And finally, cryptically: The problem with becoming the man she thought I was is that I can't leave without feeling like I've let her down, too. And I owe her too much to ever do that. So I guess we'll just stay. Hoorah for me: at least I own my misery.

    posted by boyhowdy | 5:06 PM | 0 comments

    Saturday, April 10, 2004

    Thinking Summer

    The following artists are confirmed as of 01 April 2004: Airdance, Aoife O'Donovan and Crooked Still, Brave Combo, Charivari, Carla Ulbrich, Debbie Davies Band, disappear fear, Eddie From Ohio, Eliza Gilkyson, Ellis Paul, Erin McKeown, George Wurzbach, Greg Brown, Inner Visions, Jeffrey Foucault, John Gorka, Lowen & Navarro, Lucy Kaplansky, Nerissa & Katryna Nields, Richard Shindell, Richie Havens, Sloan Wainwright Band, Terence Martin, The Storycrafters, The Walker Family Band, Tracy Grammer, Vance Gilbert, and more to be announced soon!

    Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, here we come!

    posted by boyhowdy | 2:15 PM | 0 comments


    Banned Children's Books

    Bookbanning takes a memetic turn this week, flaring up after a long dormant period (hey, sounds like my shingles, which have also made a comeback this week). As a follow-up to our mutually blogged discussion about King & King -- a book which I've just ordered for my own school library in a fit of anti-PC pique -- kiddielit celebrant Jeffrey of Safe as Bunnies has found us:

    1. A woman less than 100 miles from here who wants to ban James and the Giant Peach from her local library because one character calls another "an idiot."

    2. An editorial discussion about Judy Blume's appropriateness for 12 year olds.

    So nice to find someone similarly minded. Jeffrey will surely join the blogroll, or at least the tinyblog, as soon as I go rescue the baby from her post-nap crying jag.

    posted by boyhowdy | 1:53 PM | 0 comments


    Social Networking Through Compliments

    Finally dug up that old email invite from Barbara (I'd link to her here, but she's currently blogless) and joined Orkut last night in a fit of weekend-beginning anti-work. Seems like fun, and just stimulating enough to feel light and easy. And it's still pretty small, despite recent mass media attention; as with the early MUDs and MOOs, the poulation is still a bit on the geek-heavy side (check out the average community member's picture for all the evidence you'll need on that one) but that's a plus as far as I'm concerned.

    How freeing to do something bleeding edge and social for no better reason than someone nice asked you in, only to find folks you love and respect already there, eager to compliment you. Why not join in, and become one of us!

    posted by boyhowdy | 11:31 AM | 0 comments

    Friday, April 09, 2004

    Funeral Blues

    Jewish burial law says that the body should be in the ground 24 hours after death, but if we ever wanted proof that Judaism was traditionally about the community more than it was about the self, we need merely note that major holidays (and there are many) supercede burial as it does other personal events and celebrations familial and subjuctive, from Bar Mitzvahs to Weddings, moving and abbreviating the funeral rite strangely across to proximate calendar days.

    Which is how we found ourselves in the car at eight in the morning on a workday, under a suddenly sunny sky, four days after grandpa passed away in his sleep, anxious about traffic on the Merritt Parkway on our way to the Long Island cemetary where, half a century ago, my grandparents bought narrow burial plots as part of a package deal with everyone else in their apartment complex. Happily, the densest of it cleared around noon, just over the Throg's Neck Bridge (I just like saying Throg's Neck, and what the heck is a Throg?); there was even time for a quick change at the hotel before meeting up with the thirty or so family mourners attending -- which, in this post-Holocaust family shrubbery, works out to over half of my relatives overall, a substantive turnout for a kind of patriarch, or at least the gentle man married to beloved Gramma, the predeceased matriarch almost undisputed -- at the gravesite parking lot.

    The proximity of passover also meant an abbreviated service. The grounds staff carried the pine box in on a frame; the same rabbi my mother had as a child, the man who buried her mother and married her first cousin's children, spoke the bare minimum of prayer; some brothers and children and grandchildren spoke; we wept. The sky grew grey, and the wind whipped cold as if it had never been Spring before. We lined up to throw dirt on the casket, our final burden of love, and left in small groups when we were able, back to the hotel for a light lunch and family time.

    My grandfather's death was in many ways a blessing. His body had long betrayed him, locking him inside: in death, he was finally free of the heavy bonds of late-stage Parkinsons. He'd been sick so long, and on morphine for a while, the rest and release will surely have been a relief. But though Willow understood that he was sick, and that we had gathered to be sad together, she will not remember him, any more than I remember my own last remaining great grandparents. My mother will forever be an orphan. And I'm getting older, too.

    posted by boyhowdy | 7:45 PM | 0 comments

    Thursday, April 08, 2004

    The Three Minute Porn Flick
    Wal-Mart and Kmart, two of the nation's biggest retailers, are planning to sell a new DVD player that includes a technology that has riled Hollywood -- a controversial program that can automatically skip sexual content, graphically violent scenes and language deemed offensive...[more]
    Of course it doesn't say who gets to decide what counts as offensive, but I'll bet it's not going to me OR you. All morality filters are not built alike, but they are built on a common inherently-flawed premise: that a small group of people, who just happen to be able to make and sell a technology, who are not you, can and should determine where lines of morality get drawn for a culture, or at least a buying community, of which you are a part. By definition, and to a one, I find the filter-as-product worthy of suspicion, maybe even scorn.

    Alternate titles for today's blogentry include Warning: This Program has Been Edited For Narrow Minds, Filters Suck, Who Watches The Watchers? and "New DVD Player Won't Play Anything Made After 1952"(thanks, Fark).

    posted by boyhowdy | 12:30 AM | 0 comments

    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    In Passing

    I've been trying to put aside the hectic stress of life for a number of days, but time grows short, and the eulogy won't come.

    It's not that I don't have something to say. Grandpa was quiet, but there's a lot of him in me, some in Willow, more in my mother. He taught me about Sinatra, and the hidden pleasures of disco. I've carried his army dog tag in my wallet for a day and a half. And somewhere, I know he and my grandmother are dancing again, close and smiling, like they are in the picture we took on our last visit to Florida.

    And now there's just no time at all, really. We leave in eight hours for the Long Island cemetary, and though it's a long way, I don't think I'll be able to write anything in the car.

    I'll try, I guess. I want to write something, even if I know my motives for doing so are murky, and have much to do with proving to myself and my family that I care enough to make something sound just right, and, too, about making up for our necessary absence from his wife's funeral two years ago, less than 24 hours before our child came into the world.

    I'm worried the right words will come to me too late, and bring a forever of regret when they finally come.

    I know you can't rush the heart, neither to grief nor to love. But I loved him, and want so much and so deeply to have the words already in my head. He was an everything, one of many, and he deserves the attention that I wish with all my heart to give him, the time that work and seder have stolen from us.

    I wish just this once the heart could push the heart itself to pour forth. I wish the world was run by hearts, and not by timetables. I wish I wasn't about to fail him, the only time I really had something that I could give, even if it could never have been enough.

    I wish we all could live forever. I wish sickness never came to those we love. I wish I had the words I want at my fingertips.

    I wish my heart could speak.

    posted by boyhowdy | 11:29 PM | 0 comments

    Tuesday, April 06, 2004

    Cover Your Ears, It's Tributary

    It's shaping up to be a pretty intense week-and-a. Lots of in-class instruction and Information Commons service hours at work; Passover tonight and we're hosting a big ol' kiddie seder for the community wee ones (and parents) tomorrow at the still-messy apartment. Three conferences in one weekend on the near horizon. Darcie's miscarriage never finished, and we've tried everything else, so after six weeks of everything else we're planning the D & C for early next week. And Grandpa passed away in his sleep early this morning. Funeral's down in Long Island on Thursday.

    What else can you do but play music and sing? Doing the radio show is a meditative act, anyway, though invisibly out loud; similarly, recreating the sonic universe each week is a potent empowerment exercise. This week's playlist follows, with an all-covers theme just to keep things interesting.


    Tributary 4/6/04

    Riding In My Car (NRBQ) -- Settie
    Senses Working Overtime (XTC) -- Spacehog
    Bertha (Grateful Dead) -- Los Lobos
    I Wanna Be Like You (Disney's Jungle Book) -- Los Lobos
    Personal Jesus (NIN) -- Johnny Cash
    Oh Me (Meat Puppets) -- Nirvana
    Ramblin' Fever (Merle Haggard) -- The Biscuit Boys
    My Flying Saucer (Woody Guthrie) -- Billy Bragg w/ Wilco
    All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) -- Tom Landa and the Paperboys
    Old Man Of The Mountain (Cab Calloway) -- Skavoovie and the Epitones
    Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull) -- Primus
    Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix) -- The Bobs
    Kiss (Prince) -- Richard Thompson
    Born To Be Wild (Steppenwolf) -- Timbuk 3
    I'm Looking Through You (Lennon/McCartney) -- The Wallflowers
    Helter Skelter (Lennon/McCartney) -- The Bobs
    You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (Lennon/McCartney) -- Eddie Vedder
    I Will (Lennon/McCartney) -- Alison Krauss
    Oh Darling (Lennon/McCartney) -- Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
    My Sweet Lord (George Harrison) -- Girlyman
    Things We Said Today (Lennon/McCartney) -- Salamander Crossing
    Golden Slumbers (Lennon/McCartney) -- Ben Folds
    Bemsha Swing/ Lively Up Yourself (Theloneous Monk / Bob Marley) -- Medeski Martin & Wood
    9 to 5 (Dolly Parton) -- Alison Krauss
    Spit On A Stranger (Pavement) -- Nickel Creek
    The Coconut Song (Harry Nillsen) -- Fred Schneider
    Magnet (NRBQ) -- Yo La Tengo
    Brain Damage (Pink Floyd) -- Nikki Boyer
    RESPECT (Otis Redding) -- Vox One



    You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5, serving Northfield, Gill, Keene, Brattleboro -- and you -- each week with a little of this, a little of that, some Funk, some Folk, some Jazz and Jambands, from Blues to Bluegrass and everything in between. Goodnight...

    posted by boyhowdy | 12:55 AM | 0 comments




    He lived through the wars as an engineer
    army-taught, working on radar
    but when I knew him he was past all that,
    fixing televisions in his workshops and,
    later, in the garage in Florida
    until he got too sick and people started saying
    VCRs were cheaper to replace than fix.

    When I knew him, he was home a lot more.

    The Grampa I knew was gentle and mellow,
    generous, polite, a man at peace.
    He smelled of a pipe and his cheek was bristly.
    We ate pancakes and read the sunday funnies
    and yelled electronic green waves into his oscilloscope.

    He was already older than I could imagine.

    There are pictures of us on rides at Coney Island,
    8-tracks somewhere with our voices loud
    back before he lost his speech, and I gained my own.

    I don't remember these things.
    I accept pictures as evidence of a longer past
    than that experienced.

    But I remember once, when I was small
    he got on the train to see us off
    and the train started moving
    and he just smiled and said
    "I'll get off at the next stop."

    posted by boyhowdy | 12:42 AM | 0 comments

    Monday, April 05, 2004

    Monday Mosh (Still) No More

    As I'm still getting plenty of hits from memewatch sites like Pariah's, I thought I'd be a pal and repost the bulk of this message from the first week of March.

    The Monday Mosh meme has been cancelled due to lack of participation...

    As before, though the blogmeme is gone, we here at Not All Who Wander Are Lost continue to advocate for moshes, thrashes, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-in-the-car trances, and other private moments of (re)focus and reclamation in the midst of the daily throng. Especially on Mondays.

    Those who are in need of dancing are still, and evermoreso, encouraged to look deep within themselves and find their own mosh, whatever form it may take.

    posted by boyhowdy | 8:47 AM | 0 comments

    Sunday, April 04, 2004

    Political Correctness Wins Out Again



    "I've never cared much for princesses..."


    The book made national news two weeks ago when a single set of concerned parents called the school to demand a response when their daughter brought the book home. Now a North Carolina school has decided that King & King will be "locked up," and from now on "be available only to adults in [the] elementary school's library."

    It goes without saying, but it should be said: that one set of parents could make such a difference in a school's worth of children's lives is a condemnation of us all. It's not enough to stand by and click our tongues. If the total breadth of loving sexuality is to be truly normalized in society, then we cannot let the PC-mongers win. Tolerance is a halfway mark; what we're really going for is our due privacy in private, aren't we?

    In this case, if love is to be love, and all sexualities equally natural and precious, then we cannot also go about pretending that heterosexual relationships should or could be any more or less threatening or explicit than homosexual relationships without being hypocritical. Period.

    I'd give this book to my child, and gladly. But more, I want her to be able to pick it up as easily as any other book, goddam it. How dare you marginalize both my daughter's potential and my right to let her take it on herself?

    Want to help? Buy this book, or advance order the even more highly recommended but not yet released Jack and Jim, and donate them to your local library now.

    posted by boyhowdy | 3:28 AM | 0 comments

    Saturday, April 03, 2004

    Your Tuition Dollars At Work

    I've just spent four hours sitting in the dorm solarium surfing the digiverse (and wishing I had my IE bookmarks with me) for what works out to about $3.25 an hour, and that's before tax-and-benefits (let's see, a teacher's salary divided by a 65 hour workweek...yeah, that's about right). I guess if you're going to do nothing, getting paid accordingly is only fair, though.

    Saturday duty gets pretty boring, especially when all the good open houses and parties are on the other campus. I washed some button-down shirts in the faculty washer, a serious benefit since the school won't pay to pipe the water in (and waste out) of our own third-floor afterthought of an apartment off campus, and nobody noticed when I snuck out for a mess 'o wings at the snack bar. A few of my charges have been swearing loudly at the Duke/UConn game in the next room for the last hour or so, but it's been otherwise dead.

    Soon the kids will start streaming in, flush with hormones and ready to sign in for the evening, while I scan their faces ineffectually, searching for the usual indicators of inebriation I never seem to find: red eyes, slurred speech, and general stupidity. Then one more hour and I can go home to a nice empty house -- Darcie's housesitting with the baby up in Brattleboro while her parents attend a wedding in upstate NY. Added bonus: she took the dog with her. Hoorah for a night without the usual blurry post-midnight dogwalk. It's the little things that make the world beautiful.

    posted by boyhowdy | 11:05 PM | 0 comments


    Technology, Self Definition and Reminiscence:
    C-changes in the Potential For Cultural Memory


    Because my grandfather is dying, and because I am a cybersociologist and cannot help it, in the car on the way back from Boston yesterday morning I got to thinking about an irony of modernity.

    Here we are amidst a constantly accelerating fast-paced forgettable life, googling our way through a fleeting universe of 22 minute sitcoms and rapid remote channel changing. Our attention spans grow short. We live for the moment, the blogentry, the now. We learn to pastiche where once we practiced memorization, to organize and network where we once practiced storage.

    Yet as our subjective sense of time grows ever more fragmented and esoteric, our cultural artifacts grow permanent. They pile up around us, like the overstuffed linen closet in my parent's house, the one that contains nothing but rows and rows of shoeboxes filled with 50 years of photographs. The glut's getting worse: the ability to store things small, in bits and bytes; the growing breadth of media available for archiving, and the move beyond the analog and physical -- and hence corruptible -- storage mechanism: all these changes and more speak to a new potential for stuff, even while the world grows disposable.

    Take for example the eternality of the video recording. Its historical novelty speaks eons about the nuance of change: I will be always alive at ten and twelve and thirty on the screen, this generation's realspace, forever young for my children and theirs. But my grandfather's immortality is both less perfect and more tenuous. Though in grainy half-ageburned film long since transferred to VHS he will forever wave, silent, his black and white hand from behind my tiny mother on a half-blurred swingset, mostly, the bulk of his life predates the ubiquity of the handheld recorder. There are no films of his own childhood, as there are few pictures, and even these are tiny and overexposed, hardly believable. Those scant silent forevers notwithstanding, when he passes (and it will be any day now) he will be old forever on this newfangled thing we call video.

    Of course, without tools, and behind them, memory is still memory. It underlies our mnemonics and artifacts, which is to say merely that there is still some deliberate choice involved in what our memories are, and what we make of them. But memory is an imperfect place, subject to last rite recency; it is a place where image and moment rule. Simultaneous among fainter memories of pancakes and Coney Island kiddie rides, my grandfather will forever be here on his deathbed in the dim light and hum of a hospice home, sunken teeth and half-opened Parkinsonian eyes, the rabbi meditating before him.

    In so many ways, the past is always at the mercy of the frantic present. The long term is always too big and broad not to be subject to filter and selection by the short. But when one looks at the technological supports we use for memory -- the photo of me and grandpa at Coney Island which created the false memory I have of being there at three years old, and, looking farther back to places where I cannot have been, the backyard barbecue swings of a 1959 I never saw and never will yet still own as if I had been there -- one can see evidence of the ways in which, say, 1959 becomes subject to deconstruction and pastiche.

    And this raises several questions, not least among them the real question of not just legitimacy but, more deeply, of the effect that this might have on what we remember, and how, and why. Disassociating the images of our past from the past, making all history ever-present, brings with it a new sort of ancestral ownership, one somehow simultaneously new and primitive. As a race, those born in the digital age have come to terms with that which our illusory primitve who runs from the camera could not. We embrace the way our souls have been captured by our knowledge-creation and knowledge sharing tools.

    My grandfather may be dying, but he will remain eternally with us. He may be forever old, but he is nonetheless the first of a new breed of ancestor, one always present. Here in the millenium world the forever-on screen gods in our living room reconstitute our ancestors eternally, manufacturing our pasts as present, our elders as ourselves.

    posted by boyhowdy | 1:54 PM | 0 comments


    We Are All Poets, or Explanations For Icelander Belief In Elves Which, Considering The Isolation Americans Experienced In The Me Deacde Of The Seventies, And The Resultant Oversensitive Social Postmodernism Of The Eighties And Nineties, Might Also Explain Why We Create Cybercommunities

    "Icelanders were frequently all alone in the wilderness, with no blossom-heavy branches concealing countless magical fairies. The spaces yawn open, wide, and disconnected. And it is our nature to connect, to create for ourselves a fully formed community where none exists. We are hardwired for it. As Theseus says:
    The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
    Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
    And, as imagination bodies forth
    The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
    Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
    A local habitation and a name."
    [From Hidden People, in David Rakoff's marvelous essay collection Fraud.]

    posted by boyhowdy | 12:38 PM | 0 comments

    Friday, April 02, 2004

    Placeholder

    Apologies for the long hiatus 'tween entries -- I was called away to Boston overnight for the last rites of a dying grandfather, and since then my life's been a mell of a hess.

    I'll replace this post with another more detailed muse upon life and loss in a day or so, but I gotta get the ol' head together first. Thanks for bearing with me, folks.

    posted by boyhowdy | 7:35 PM | 0 comments

    Tuesday, March 30, 2004

    Our PC Schools, Part 512: Seeing Pink

    Overreacting to an increase in pink clothes among the student body, school district bans pink clothes "out of concerns that the color has become associated with gang activity." Banned clothing list includes shoelaces. PC fashion policewoman and assistant superintendent quoted as saying "Girls and boys are supposed to avoid wearing pink." Also quoted as admitting that "there is no evidence of gang activity." Turns out pink is just "in" this year.

    At the other end of the PC spectrum, this teacher didn't violate school policy in killing two baby rabbits in front of her high school class. Apparently, it is "acceptable veterinary practice" to "euthanize" (or "dismember") baby rabbits with a shovel. Especially if they're covered in ants. Who knew?

    posted by boyhowdy | 9:57 PM | 0 comments


    Change In The Digicult Landscape

    Newsmap, a representation of realtime news popularity across the net, provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe. This cooltool uses a modified treemap to visually reflect the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator, with dimensions that make an elegant, intuitive sense: color to represent news type, shading to represent novelty, and headline width to represent popularity. Edward Tufte would be proud.

    n other digicult news, this week's New Yorker features a cartoon (sadly, unavailable online) in which a cartoon man confronts a harried cartoon worker amidst a myriad of cartoon cellphone doodads: Do you have one of those phones you can talk to people on?

    posted by boyhowdy | 9:33 PM | 0 comments


    New Blog Subtitle

    When I jumped off, I had a bucket full of thoughts
    When I first jumped off, I held that bucket in my hand
    Ideas that would take me all around the world
    I stood and watched the smoke behind the mountains curl
    It took me a long time to get back on the train


    Comments appreciated. Full lyric here.

    posted by boyhowdy | 10:42 AM | 0 comments


    I Have A Radio Show

    Monday nights at ten o'clock I head on over to the other campus to sit in a basement talking to myself.

    That I am often overheard by dozens of students, and god knows how many random rural listeners from as far as thirty miles away, is a bonus. It's just a dinky high school station, but it's powered by the strongest transmitter we know of among our peers in the prep school world.

    I love it, and I'm damn good. I read bedtime stories on the half-hour and the hour -- tonight, selections from the old seventies classic Free To Be...You And Me. I hold "guess the famous back-up singer" contests and give away a week's worth of free snack bar coffee to the winners out of my own pocket. And I post the playlist here every week.

    Here's tonight's.

    Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
    Manu Chao -- Me Gustas Tu
    Los Lobos -- Kiko and the Lavender Moon
    Norah Jones -- Sunrise
    Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Subway Joe
    Jack Johnson -- Rodeo Clowns
    Michael Franti and Spearhead -- Everyone Deserves Music
    Sarah Harmer -- Basement Apartment
    Oysterband -- Street Of Dreams
    Phish -- Back on the Train
    Lucy Kaplansky -- Cowboy Singer
    Alison Brown -- Dalai Camel
    Nickel Creek -- Spit on a Stranger
    Yo Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin -- Ave Maria (Gounod/Bach)
    Keller Williams -- Kidney in a Cooler
    The Jayhawks -- Save It for a Rainy Day
    Eddie From Ohio -- Monotony
    Norah Jones -- Creepin' In
    Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem -- Baby Took a Limo to Memphis
    Take 6 -- Gold Mine
    Lucy Kaplansky -- The Red Thread
    Erin McKeown -- Slung-lo
    Slaid Cleaves -- Lydia
    Sarah McLachlan -- Blackbird
    Patty Griffin -- Poor Man's House
    Susan Werner -- Courting The Muse
    James Taylor -- Walking My Baby Back Home


    You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5, serving Northfield, Gill, Keene, Brattleboro -- and you -- each week with a little of this, a little of that, some Funk, some Folk, some Jazz and Jambands, from Blues to Bluegrass and everything in between. Have a nice night, y'all.

    posted by boyhowdy | 12:48 AM | 0 comments


    In A, After Midnight

    Past the Episcopalian church driving back
    from the radio station cars leave their brights on
    until they have almost already passed. Town
    mostly sleeps, her houses dark except for one room
    facing the street. The moon
    is a halved onion behind the trees. Geese
    call under the bridge. Peepers answer.

    Things get more definite closer to home.
    The baby will be sleeping with her feet on my pillow.
    The police car idles behind the turnoff
    to the river, and the cornfield.
    Over the sound of the road on the wheels
    the jazzgirl on the radio sings Jolene, Jolene
    in A after midnight.

    posted by boyhowdy | 12:20 AM | 0 comments

    Monday, March 29, 2004

    Recovering A Lost Garden


    For 45 minutes Saturday and then today after work in the warm clear sunlight I've been raking, down to the cool black dirt, there across the street where in the Fall Chuck mowed the old reeds down, pausing only to chug pink lemon Gatorade, and wave as this season's new-chosen varsity teams jog their last heavyfoot mile past.

    We were hoping for grass, though the big oak's shadow sundials across the whole plot over the course of the day.

    What we found was a garden.

    Under the old leaf-fall Spring's surprises crowd the earth with a vengance after their frozen slumber. The first few daffodils have just begun poking through last year's leaves in clumps for half the yard length; that, and something not quite daffodils which we unearthed near the treeline perimeter. The shoots grow in clumps three or four feet out from that line, straight and yellow-tipped; their bright colors make them easy to avoid but they slip through the rake tines if you miss a few. There's something green and vinelike growing new leaves in so thick a cover, it didn't matter to lose so many to the rake.

    The leaves are heavy, though dry, but the rakefulls gathered acorn weight as I pulled a winter's remainders across the field towards a patch of tall spiny overgrowth we've arbitrarily decided to treat as the other side of the garden. Where the original garden ended and began we cannot say; not even Pam, who's lived here the longest, remembers who planted it, or when, or how long it lasted. The edges we've defined will be big enough, and hold our three-plus-dog-and-cat safe, far enough from the road, and with room to spare.

    Near the end Darcie and the baby came home with groceries, and left me with the baby while she went to cook the couscous. Raking became precarious with the baby always underfoot, but we unearthed a blue plastic sand shovel half her height for her to help; she spent the next ten babbling about her good work, and the tunnels she was making in the leaves. By the time her mother called out the window for us to come in, the shadows growing, the sunset gold and red against the hills, I barely had the energy to carry her the two flights up.

    Looking out the window in the pale dark light, at the patch where last year reclaimed wilderness spread, I can see the mulch spaces, the swingset, the tire swing on the oak's lowest limb, in the mind's eye ready to take shape. I'm halfway done, but despite a half-moon darkness means another shift will have to wait, until tomorrow or the next day. My fingernails are grubby and my shoulder aches, but it's a good ache, like a runner's high. Who knew finding a garden under all that mess would be so rewarding, and so long before the flowers bloomed?

    posted by boyhowdy | 7:21 PM | 0 comments
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