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

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Parenthood As Vocation

Human jungle gym, and horsie. Mentor, challenger, guide. Entertainer. Champion. Where others wonder if she's ready, I ask and trust, and she delivers; together, we impress the hell out of the people around us. That she is gentle and generous and bright as a nova makes it easy, but today it's not about who she is, but what I can be for her. Because today I realize: As if all my life had prepared me for it, I have a knack for being a daddy.

There something wonderful about such a realization. The stress and self-doubt I felt in and around the birth, when the wee one was but a fragile body, and I a clumsy untrustworthy oaf sure to juggle-and-drop her, has faded, and been replaced by a blooming recognition that this is what I was born for. The confidence is joy. The love returned is rapture, earned or otherwise: it doesn't matter much, like it did last year, whether she reciprocates, and how, now that I know that this is what I'm here for.

But there's something horrible, too. No job or task I've ever set for myself has ever been successful, not wholly; finally realizing why doesn't mitigate the awkwardness of a prolonged and dark adolescence, or the half-mad half-sad plague of an unsatisfied young adulthood. And knowing this, so sudden and yet so right, darkens the future as it darkens the past. No job I ever have will truly be vocational again; at best, one might say that my tendency towards (and love of) culturewatching, my skill in teaching, my joy in coaxing growth in others outside the blood are but happy side effects, partial aptitudes.

And daddyhood desn't pay cash, or keep your kids in clothes and diapers and, later, cars and college. Worse, since someone does after all have to bring home the proverbial bacon, I remain doomed to leave each morning and return late each afternoon, my child in someone else's care, just to ensure that we have an overhead roof, the clothes on our back, the fullbelly provisions.

That I love and trust the woman who I leave that child with each day is important, but it's not the same. I covet her life, still, and I think I always will; I am Daddy; god help me; hear me roar.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:00 PM | 0 comments

Friday, March 26, 2004

Smarter Heads Than I...

As a pre-posted follow-up to my notation below that blogs evolved into what we know them as now from a sort of annotated links list, Alex discusses/has been discussing the way blogs have come to be defined across a full spectrum of collaborative web publishing as a technology and a practice:
...as blogging has grown as a phenomenon, it has become clear that part of what makes a weblog is whether and in what ways it is linked to other weblogs. ... This focus on the aggregate nature of weblogs begins to indicate that blogs are more than simply a genre of web content, they represent a social practice. Restricting the definition to purely a description of the web sites generated is difficult because it misses so much. The only seemingly vital element of weblogging is a public forum (the World Wide Web) in which bloggers are able to associate and self-assemble into groups. The attraction to weblogging has less to do with the software involved and more to do with the kinds of social groups that emerge from interactions among weblogs and their authors. These practices provide for serendipitous, unstructured learning, as differing perspectives and discourses come into contact with one another.
I'm looking forward to the rest of this multi-part post, Alex.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:08 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Back When The World Was Black And White

Today is the 50th anniversary of the color television. Sometime next year: the 50th anniversary of don't sit so close, you'll hurt your eyes.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:47 PM | 0 comments

We Regret To Announce

Five in-no-particular reasons why there will be no blog entry today here at Not All Who Wander Are Lost:

1. I'm all blogged out after doing intensive instructional sessions about blogging with a) the Video as Art class, who will be using their group blog to post and comment on film reviews throughout the term, and b) the two teachers leading the new ESL Tapestry trip across the country this term, who will use their group blog to post student journals and pix from the road. [note: both blogs are currently empty, and the latter may be subject to some design-play over the next few weeks before the kids hit the road, so don't forget to come back to check on their progress!]

2. I seem to have pinched a nerve just under my kidneys, and it hurts like hell to sit, stand, move, or otherwise exist. No luck with usual cure-all Alleve, either. What the heck does my body have against me, anyway?

3. Since I started using my delicious tinyblog as a remaindered links repository, it just doesn't seem useful to re-blog the same stuff here. Future plans here include the possibility of syndicating that delicious linkslist in the sidebar, but though I can find plenty of sites showing how to syndicate your own site, I can't find any good teach-yourself-RSS resources that will show me what code to use to integrate a syndication into a blog sidebar. Proactively speaking, I think, it seems like a noble pursuit to first figure out a better balance between blogging here and blogging there, rather than collapse 'em in too quick, so maybe the code-bother is a hidden blessing. Worth noting, too, that the first blogs were more like that than this; someone got from there to here, so we can assume it can be done, and organically so. The subjective question at hand, in a nutshell: what is the role of the popcult reflection when you've sidebarred your links?

4. Utterly exhausted from supervising the dancing of, at final tally, seven kids under the age of five in a corner of the dining hall while the rest of the quote-grown-ups-end-quote planned for this year's big idea: the wee-one passover seder, a concept with the potential to be either really awesome or just a terrible horrible no good very bad day for all. Happily, Darcie reports that the other parents seemed pretty impressed with my kidcare, specifically that fine balance between play and watchfulness. It's good to know that, if I can't find a job in my field next year, I can always go back to teaching preschool, and love it.

5. I suck. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:19 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Dad Loves His Work

Snow overnight but a beautiful spring melt morning and a near-perfect clarity by noon. The meadows were robin-filled on the way to work; the wide river under the bridge was thick and spotted with layover geese. Sun and sparkle and meeting after meeting: things accomplished and good impressions made all day.

It's good to be back, and good, too, to not be teaching any major classes this term, though it was wonderful while it lasted. I've a lot on my proverbial plate and it's stuff I'm hungry for: building the department web page; joining the library leadership team at last; planning and pushing for a schoolwide curriculum in virtual citizenship, directed as faculty as much as the students, so that we might meet in the middle, and evolve, quietly, towards our cultural reality. I'm building group blogs for classes right and left, made a great impression on two deans in less than an hour, and have more instructional classes lined up in the next weeks than I did all last term. So few folks have stepped forward for the upcoming faculty governance elections that I seem to be a shoo-in for reelection, and a subsequent reelection to the committee chairship.

Farm with Willow and Darcie between work and a shake-and-bake dining hall supper. The calf, tied outside the padture fence, lows back at her mother in a deep new tenor. A barn cat rubbed its scarred cheek against my leg before I even heard it mew. The horses bucked at us from behind their wooden slats and startled the baby into short-lived tears, but even manure on my coat and scarf from Willow's babyshoes couldn't spoil the mood.

A week's laundry while the let-lagged Korean kids slept through study hall; later, while I read a tinyprint Sherlock Holmes collection at the duty desk, the house director found more pot and beer bottles in some kid's room than either of us had ever seen in one place. South Park was new and I watched it with the kids, deconstructing out loud to keep it vocational, before sending them off to their rooms for bedprep by eleven.

The slivermoon set by the time I emerged from duty, but the night remained warm enough to walk the dog in my shirtsleeves. In the distant treeline, coyotes barked in mating frenzies. Ten more weeks to summer vacation. Looks like it's gonna be a good stretch for a while.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 0 comments

Monday, March 22, 2004


I just realized something really odd. Tomorrow's the first day of classes for the new term, and we haven't finalized this term's coverage schedule. I'm supposed to go to work tomorrow, but I'm not sure where I have to go. I've got six desks strewn throughout the school, and I'm not even sure which campus I'm supposed to be on.

I don't know where work is anymore. Is there such thing as a professional identity crisis?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:32 PM | 0 comments

It's Called a Book

I'm reading it. This girl wrote it.

Some afternoons a person just wants to rent Die Hard,
close the curtains, and have Cheerios for lunch.

- California as an Island, The Partly Cloudy Patriot

Ah, reading. I've had one of those burning cold-headaches all day, and the screen was beginning to hurt my eyes.

Thank god Sarah Vowell can see into my head; better still that this McSweeneys and This American Life alum looks like she writes: with clarity, stark language, and a wry sense of the nobrow. Highly recommended.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:36 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 21, 2004


My shoulder hurts, and it gets worse when I type or lift heavy things. Bad news: torn roator cuff? Good news: worker's comp rocks by all accounts.

Also, I have a cold.

My laptop, on the other hand, has a new fun habit: the Ctrl key goes on and off intermittently. Sometimes it's so fast and furious, I have to hit Caps Lock every five characters just to nget the darn thing to stop sending my emails before they're done. Makes for a nice short blogentry, if nothing else.

Hook up a video camera to your television for endless toddler fun: Look, Daddy! Willow in the teevee! She spent 45 minutes yesterday showing the telvision her puppets, one by one, and trying to stay in center frame despite a comprehensive inability to understand the reverse mirroring effect.

In other child news, it's vindicating to go to someone else's house and watch their kid, who cannot share but shoves, spend the afternoon in a kitchen time out while your own child hums happily to herself on the floor at your feet.

We had Darcie's brother and his girlfriend at our house for a medium-rare roast supper tonight, and treated Darcie's sister Ginny and her boyfriend two days ago down at Darcie's favorite newly-located italian restaurant in Northampton. It feels good to feed the family, though depressing to think that we're the rich and stable ones, with me teaching and darcie pretty much out of unemployment in the next week or so.

Have you checked out my remaindered links tinyblog yet?

The final schoolyear trimester starts tomorrow with a bang, also known in educational circles as "a professional day of prolonged boredom while the kids arrive on busses outside our stuffy auditorium." The stress begins in three...two...one...

posted by boyhowdy | 10:15 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, March 20, 2004

The iPod Winamp Shuffle

An meme making the rounds a few months ago asked participants to hit shuffle on their iPod and blog the first ten songs that came up, no matter how embarassing. I've got no iPod, and no reason to listen to music by headphone, but today's at-lunch Winamp session with Willow brought up a prototypical list; here, without further ado, are today's random twelve:

1. Rusted Root -- Send Me On My Way
2. Keller Williams -- Wishing I had You (live)
3. Ren & Stimpy -- Log
4. Sarah McLachlan -- Angel
5. Mark Erelli -- The Only Way (live)
6. Deb Talan -- Two Points (live)
7. Phish -- Sample In A Jar (live)
8. Wayfaring Strangers -- High On A Mountain
9. Acoustic Syndicate -- Crazy Town (live)
10. Howard Jones -- What Is Love (live and unplugged)
11. Donna The Buffalo -- If You Only Could (live)
12. String Cheese Incident -- The Harder They Come (live)

Not a bad random sampling out of a 40 hour playlist, actually. Fringe jambands, bluegrass, folk, pop culture, and a token cheesy eighties song just about covers the range, though if we let it go on long enough you'd surely see some Fugazi, Nirvana, and De La Soul start creeping in. And all 2.5 gigs of it are legally owned. The RIAA's got nothin' on me, man.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:57 PM | 0 comments

Friday, March 19, 2004

Words For Snow

Snow slow past the picture window
in bright angled rays of sunbeam dust motes.

Snow in big flakes, swirling as if underwater
and in glass, a snowglobe
recently set down.

Snow on your shoulders like dandruff,
melting in your hair unnoticed
while we kiss like lovers
in the woods, at twilight.

Snow that falls back home
while you are on vacation.

Snow that falls on funerals.

Heavy snow
like the kind that falls in places like Omaha.

Icicle snow. Sparkle snow. Tongue snow.

Snow already fallen
making ghosts of the trees
one morning in March.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:19 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 18, 2004

How We May Blog

The MIT Media Lab Blog Survey results, as summarized by verycool bloggerbrit Vanessa. Note to self: memorize MIT stats for Harvard-based BloggerCon2 next month, or eveyone will know you're just a poseur.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:52 PM | 0 comments

Cite Unseen

It seems my amateur work cataloguing meaning in and of the bloggiverse has not gone unnoticed. Recent post Blog, In A Nutshell and an older thought piece about the developing mental and sensual habits of the blogger were cited in Pedabloggy, a communications and media courseblog from Australia. Wonder if they're hiring downunder?

posted by boyhowdy | 5:07 PM | 0 comments

Del.icio.us Dish

I'm beginning to love del.icio.us. It functions as a kind of personalized popdex, and has some wonderfully simple but effective semantics (in a real environment, we'd just say it is ergonomically sound, and I'm starting to think we should). Plus, my Internet Explorer Favorites list was getting unweildy.

I'm also beginning to use it as a kind of shortcomment blog. While I code a tinyblog permalink for the sidebar, check out these two recent finds:

1. Parents angered by book about gay princes. Child brings book home from school library. Horrified parents decide to keep the book until they are assured it won't be circulated, thus wresting/declaring de facto veto power over the entire school for any single concerned person. End result sure to be Puritan Totalitarianism or, worse, Self-Righteous Anarchy.

School librarian says she hasn't read the book yet.

2. SimpleBits | SimpleQuiz is...well...damn. Just...the end all be all of semantic socio-communal negotiation and resolution, set up as a quiz about html semantics. It's newfiction, a hypertext blognovel, the groupmind producing poetry. Can't believe I never hit it before.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:44 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Think Globally, Search Locally

Google brings a local spin to a medium more typically understood to be turning the universal into the local; The new algorithmic formulas will allow Google to display more local information in response to search requests that include a ZIP code or a city's name, which will (incidentally, of course), broaden Google's advertiser base to include small and local businesses.

It's tempting to see this as a mere yellow pages duplication, another example of a technology that solves a problem no one had in the first place. But as with any subsumption into the digivoid, something useful lurks. In this case, the ability to draw any sized circle -- geographical, ideological, informational, what-have-you -- around your idea only brings us one step closer to the intuitive ideal, the true knowledge net.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:12 PM | 0 comments

Time Keeps On Slipping
Four Days In Boston

Before it's gone in the mindhaze of spring break's final countdown days, a recap of the otherwise-unblogged Boston trip, in shortform:

  • Left home at 9:30 to drop off dog at in-laws in Brattleboro.

  • Swung back home at 10:30 sans dog to pick up daughter (20 months) and spouse (none of your damn business).
  • Arrived at parents house in Newton, Massachusetts around noon.

  • Lunch with parents, sister at new dim sum place in Newton Center.

  • Willow naps, relaxation all around.

  • Trip into town to visit indoor fountains at father's office building and adjacent mall. What can I say -- the kid loves them.

  • Takeout pulled pork and ribs while my parents go out.

  • Quiet evening at home

  • Sleep relatively late.

  • Date with Darcie: brunch, used babyclothes shopping, and a pleasant visit to the Harvard Natural History and Anthropology museums. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad take the baby to a farm.

  • Naps all around.

  • Brazillian food rocks.

  • Quiet evening, etc.

  • Children's Museum, first with just us, and later joined by my parents from their respective workplaces. Clam chowder and lobster roll following in The Barking Crab.

  • Naps, of course. I think I sat on the hardwood living room floor and listened to my father's CDs.

  • Italian food at a tiny local gourmet kind of place, with parents, wife-and, and Darcie's brother, who lives and works nearby until his lease runs out in May. It was going to be Sushi, but hardly anything's open on Mondays. I know why that is -- most people and most restaurants need a day off after the weekend rush -- but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

  • Oh, and a random guy came up to me as we were leaving the restaurant and complimented me on my parenting. The word he used was fabulous. Take that, doubt and un-self-confidence!
And yesterday we left early to avoid the snow, but not before spending a couple of hours with Willow in the overcorded and overpriced New England Horticultural Society Flower and Landscaping Show or something pretentious like that. Nice garden displays, but seventeen bucks for an hour's worth of glacial crowds and a few interesting uses of driftwood and floating concrete patios is a bit much.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:58 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A Life In Residence: Childhood

Being “home” – the grey double-split house in Newton, Massachusetts, where my parents still live – used to make me feel ten years younger, eradicating my life-since, and residual adolescent angst and rebellion kicks in inside the bodyengine at odd moments – but its less and less each year, and hardly at all, really, these last few. Some of that’s cause the place has changed up a bit, what with all the kids grown and gone. There’s new fences outside, and encroaching neighbors. My old room is now my mother’s office, and we stay in a newly furnished guest bedroom that once was my brother’s.

And thinking about the way it isn’t home anymore makes me think of how it got to be, and how I got to here.

I was born January 14, 1973, in Dekalb County Hospital just outside Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t remember it, but there are pictures. Like the one of me on the bed with a Time magazine, Nixon on the cover.

When I was still preverbal, my father got a job at Hale and Dorr, a large corporate law firm in Boston which would ultimately see him to Senior Partnership. We moved to a downstairs houseshare of flat stone and white siding in Belmont, Massachusetts that I also don’t remember. I know what it looked like on the outside because, for years, my parents would point it out as we drove by.

But the place was too small for our family as it grew. After my brother was born, we moved to a typical suburban house on a typical suburban street just down the block and across a reservoir from the local high school. Once when my father was out with the only car, a dirt brown station wagon, my mother accidentally closed the heavy wooden front door on my littlest finger, shearing it off entirely except for a scrap of fingerprint pad, and we had to take a taxi to the hospital while a policeman watched my baby brother. The photos which fill, shoebox by shoebox, what was once my parent’s downstairs linen closet tell stories of neighborhood kids running in packs like dogs on a safe street, poking their heads out of raked leaf mountains, grinning gleefully.

Near the end of second grade we moved again, this time to Newton, one of those more upscale suburbs most notable for having, supposedly, the highest concentration of Psychologists/psychiatrists in the country. I got to ride in the moving truck on the way over, and walk to public school instead of bring driven to Belmont Country Day.

The first year after we moved in they built another half-again on the house, right out towards the garage: three bedrooms and a kitchen upstairs. My brother and I shared a bedroom with a whistling, wonderfully spooky plastic-covered hole in the wall where the door used to be before they started building and an old full-sized pinball machine in the corner which we mostly used to win bubble gum from our babysitters.

When they finally finished carpeting, we moved into the lower half of the addition, three floors away from my parents – my sister moving down from a crib to her own bed and bedroom just like ours.

Unless you count summer camp bunks and that one summer when I lived in the BU dorms for their summer theater institute, I lived for the next ten years in a half-underground room with five unequal walls, sharing it occasionally with suicidal fish and pygmy hamsters, and increasingly with more books than shelves. The room was too dry and hot in winter and summer – sun and electric heat alike would trap in the underground air, and bake your lip until it split. The windowsills were flush against the ground level; once, I woke up in the middle of the night and found a raccoon’s eyes glinting just on the other side of the glass.

I loved that room. It was the farthest room in the house from everything else, and it had a basement entrance right outside the door. Though painted and scraped, my blood is still spattered on its walls.

We just got back from four days in Boston. This was the first visit, I think, where I didn’t even open the door.

Coming soon: A Life in Residence: The Transient Years

posted by boyhowdy | 9:58 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Gone Fishing

Once we drop the dog off at the in-laws' house up in Brattleboro, we're off to Boston until Tuesday. Plans include visits to the Children's Museum, lunches with each parent in turn, a trip to the annual flower show at the Boston World Trade Center and maybe even a stop in backstage at the Boston Museum of Science, where I once worked. Expect a post, or a postcard.

[UPDATE Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 7:29 p.m. We made it back at almost 3:00 this afternoon, the drive mesmerizing and, in the end, a bit slippery in what one hopes to be the last snowstorm of this year's winter come fluffering down from the sky. Four inches so far and the promise of as much as a foot to come by midday tomorrow. Man, it's good to be home.

But the slipandslide snow of the last few miles was more an omen of hardship than we might have expected. Darcie started the big end stage of her prolonged miscarriage soon after and stopped being able to function beyond moaning in the bathtub, so I've been too baby-busy to blog until just now, when the baby actually conked out on my arm in the dark after just three songs -- and this from a child who has only fallen asleep with me-and-only-me once in her life, and that at about nine months. Supper and, hopefully, a prolonged catch-up blog to follow in the next twelve to 24; stay tuned for everything from family and feasts to the Massachusetts flower exposition and the Children's Museum. It should be worth the wait. ]

posted by boyhowdy | 8:23 AM | 0 comments

Friday, March 12, 2004

If I Only Had A Brain

Brains4Zombies.com: a content-limited one trick pony well worth the laugh anyway. Calling all zombies!

posted by boyhowdy | 10:56 PM | 0 comments

Great Wall Not So Great After All

Prompted by a bit of myth-dispelling from China's first cosmonaut, who spilled the beans upon his return from a day in space last year, China announced this week that they're finally going to excise the age-old myth from the nation's textbooks, admitting to little kids who don't know any better that they've been lying to them all along, and no, the infamous Great Wall is not, after all, visible from space. Given that the wall is both the same color as its surroundings and only a few yards wide, whereas the average Beijing skyscraper is shiny, twice as large, and lit up like a christmas tree at night, one has to wonder if kids might have been able to figure this out on their own. Still, in an age of intelligent design curricula, it's nice to hear about a case of the scientific method trumping propaganda.

Chinese textbooks are expected to continue propogating other cultural myths, however, including the myth that the United States is an unholy sinkhole of moral decay populated solely by drive-by rap artists, imperialistic dogs, and prostitutes. Well, you can't change a totalitarian, mind-controlling regime in a day. (Oh, wait -- that's not a myth...)

Interestingly, in citing the Web site for the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration as confirmation, CNN points out that many other manmade objects can be seen from space without magnification. Bet you can't name just one.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:43 PM | 0 comments

Better Than An Aggreggator, More Powerful Than Popdex...

Who needs remaindered links lists or an updated home-computer-based favorites list when you've got personal aggregator delicious? As an added bonus, delicious' main page is an easily skimmable list of all postings happening in the past few hours, with increasingly darker grey highlighting over those most popular...and community-wide lists-by-subject on the right hand side. Neat stuff. Thanks to ex-student Alex for the tip.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:45 PM | 0 comments

The Slow Rebirth

Snow today in fat light lamb-white flakes that spun sideways in the faintest wind. Looking out the window causes a slight dizziness, like watching too-fast clouds on a green hill in summer. It's a bit like being inside a spun snow globe.

It's been an under construction Spring, more gradual than I can remember. The weather goes from fifty to twenty and back again overnight; the bare bud-impending trees along the meadow ridge strip, dress ghostlike in snow, and strip again by nightfall like a bevy of little girls in a dress-up house. I stay up late but not until three; I sleep late, but not after eleven. Instead of awaking to silence, as in years past, I rise to a treasure hunt each day, to find the morning's new daughter at play.

Out of practice after six years of dining hall provisioning we shop almost every day, and struggle to develop the dishwashing habit. We ponder outings but, other than the trip down to the Mt. Holyoke Carousel and adjacent children's museum last weekend, back when grading still weighed heavy on the brain, we mostly stay in and around, watching the world alternate from snow to sun and back again. We plan for Boston tomorrow through Tuesday, but playfully, knowing that overplanning makes it work, preferring play and spur of the moment-ness, a lack of direction.

Not sure if the way we shuttered ourselves into the rush week of finals to weather the miscarriage has affected the subjective nature of time, if the egoshift from waiting to waiting-no-more has been a c-change, however temporary, provoking a new substance, a different foundation for this year's zen-like vacation state. It might just be Willow's personhood rearing itself, making this, for the first true time, a vacation of three of us, not just two and "the baby." Behind me as I write I can hear her in the bed as she fades towards her nap, singing made-up songs about her new Wiggles balloon, now calling for daddy to change her diaper. Be right back.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:25 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Before The Ax Falls

And because, having driftshifted nocturnal as vacation stretches out before me, I've got some time on my hands after the baby and her mother go to bed at eight, I've been working on my resume.

So have these guys, but it's just not my style to lie so "convincingly." If you're going to put in all that work, why not do something resume-worthy in the first place?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:58 PM | 0 comments


The dog smells mice in the walls and the meadow. The late snows obscure the moon all weekend. It is warm today, and sunny. It will snow again tonight.

Tenses fail in the timelessness of a spring break malaise of days.

All day we thought it was Wednesday. Darcie's mother came while the baby was sleeping. We edited yearbook proofs in the office until suppertime. There's nothing new on television, or it's all new and I don't understand it.

Yesterday I took pictures of Willow dancing around the living room, swinging her softfooted pajamas like a partner, skip to my lou my darling. This morning we kneeled in the warm sun by the window and wiggled our shadows at each other, peeled fallen birdseed and ate the tiny sweetmeats inside. She rides around the house on my shoulders sitting stiff like a totem.

Ah, happy tranquility. And maybe Boston on Saturday, whenever that is.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:54 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Memes Again

Because Wednesday is memeday!

1. Wednesday Whatevers

What is the most useless thing ever invented?
Decaf coffee.

Press CTRL+V and we'll see what interesting thing comes up.
Progress report leftovers:
Despite a strong academic skill-set and a deep interest in the work of the course, strong emotions sometimes get away from her, which, at worst, results in an unfortunate tendency to get so interested in a personal response to the topic that she forgets to analyze questions from the theoretical perspective asked for in the paper assignment.

What do you think society will achieve before your death?
I wish it was flying cars, but the cynic in me says we're more likely on the soylent green track (and, hey, speak of the devil). I am looking forward to the googlehouse, though. (Hey, house, what's mom's cell phone number? Where's my keys?)

2. What's On the back seat of your car Right Now?
  • A cardboard box filled with random work-related papers, unopened mail, a video tape of Straight Plan For The Gay Man, and -- I think -- a half a bag of Baby Ruth bars

  • The larger of two dollies

  • Board books by the dozens

  • Pretzel crumbs and sunflower seeds

  • One magenta mitten

  • The baby seat

3. Newcomer meme HomeWork asks:

Do you use environmentally-friendly cleaning products, or are you a "Bleach the Earth; bleach it white!" kind of cleaner? Somewhere in between?

I'm more a "what the hell is cleaning?" kind of person...but when it comes time to do it, I don't use the organic stuff, as I find it hardly ever actually causes cleanliness. I use the least caustic thing we can get that works, and don't scour or bleach unless I really have to, because hey, there's a baby in the house, and I've got a low tolerance for chemicals.

But I do prefer more natural stuff for my body. Burt's Bees, anyone?

4. And they're playing with "if you could" this week over at the slightly-less-new Wednesday Mind Hump:

1. If you could live your life as a cartoon character, which one would it be & why?
Still thinking about this one. It would be nice to fly, but then, I always wanted to be the Flash.

2. If you could be invisible for 24 hours how would you spend those hours?
Ah, who am I kidding -- I'd probably spend the whole day watching television through my butt.

3. If you could call a much younger you on the phone, what would you tell you?
Trust me, it won't really make your palms hairy.

4. If you were one of the Seven Dwarves what would your name be? (excluding the original names of Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Happy, Bashful, Grumpy and Doc)
Dorky? Or maybe Squishy.

5. If you came with a warning label that was clearly displayed at all times, what would it say?
Warning: Keep away from children.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:13 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Doggerel Days

I'm writing you this blog to say
I won't be blogging here today

because I waited far too long
to mark my student papers wrong

and then forgot when they were due
so stayed up grading long past two

and woke up with my back in knots
at six, and washed the coffee pot,

and dove right back into their pages
and read and wrote and read for ages

and finished grading right on time
(just five hours past the noon deadline)

which means -- hoorah! Spring Break is here!
Now where'd I put that case of beer?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:15 PM | 0 comments

How News Travels On The Internet

Blogcentric*, but broad, deep, and chock full of socsci geeky goodness nonetheless. Heck, the subsequent trackback comments are deep reading.

Metabonus: now that Fark has picked this one up, the blog entry in question becomes, reflexively and/or recursively, "news," and its explanation of how information travels becomes a test of its own explanation of how information travels. Since bloggers love more than anything to talk about bloggers and blogging, the model should run at an accelerated rate. God, I love this stuff.

*Relegating all non-blog grapevining of "news" -- including email and IM -- to the status of "dark matter" is a bit extreme. Hey, bloggers, most humans still pass along email to spread the word. And what's with the lack of a direct news link between email and journalists? Don't news stories get broken both ways?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:36 AM | 0 comments

Monday, March 08, 2004

Monday Mosh No More

The Monday Mosh meme has been cancelled due to lack of participation. Kudos and thanks go out to Shaw, Barbara, Molly, Gregory, Sarah, Guitar Angel, and all others who ever moshed. Also thanks to pariah, Morgaine leFaye, and the folks at Globe of Blogs for sending so many prospective moshers our way, even if few ever stayed to mosh.

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 of you in need of a meme-for-monday might try Otto's Monday Madness.

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

posted by boyhowdy | 10:41 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 07, 2004

It's A Meta, Meta, Meta, Meta World
Now with new redundancy!

The UK-based Awards Awards, recognizing excellence in award-giving. Award categories include organizer of the year, personality of the year, supplier of the year, sponsor of the year and faux pas of the year.

No, seriously.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:27 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Kiss Me, Son Of God

Once again, The Onion's Jesus looks exactly like me.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:29 PM | 0 comments

Sugar Season

For weeks the trees around this campus have sported their tin buckets. The farm program directors dream of frostcrisp nights and warm days, the best conditions for sweet and prolific sugaring season, even as the nights hover sweet and light in the high thirties. But low-yield year or not, the sap must be harvested, the fires banked, the sugars burned light and reduced.

It takes sixty gallons of sap to make a single gallon of high-grade maple syrup, and our yearly yield can go over a thousand gallons in the best of times: sixty thousand gallons harvested pint by pint from trees across a thousand acres or more, and two weeks to do it in. And the timing works out, as if the school calendar had been written by the earth itself.

This week and the next, with the school closed up for holiday, a dozen or more students choose the outdoors instead of the television in trade for a term off from weekly workjob. They live the lives of maple harvesters under the teachings of the farm director, his assistant, and the alumni veterinarian who calls us now and then. They slog the woods repetitively, crashing in a long-since downsized dorm, trading faculty-made pan suppers for a promise of a gallon later, when the work's been done. Without their manpower, there'd be less syrup, and less syrup means a smaller farm budget in the year ahead. Everybody wins.

On rainy days like this one, though, the water floods the buckets, making sap-collecting both muddy and moot. Down at the barn around noon they arrive and pour out of the farm pickups in fours, dripping and hungry from a wet morning's work. One of them brings in the calf, nervous and in raindrenched coat, and we cling to each other, my daughter and I, and watch as her nose ring, the one that keeps her weaned, is removed for her comfort.

One day, I think every year, I too will learn this trade, as I learned cidering beside the students two Octobers ago; I will learn the meditative love of earth again, and take part in its bounty, for myself and my child.

For now, too young in our respective roles, Willow and her daddy huddle in the barn waiting for a break in the rain, and watch the mother-longing calf in her stall, and scratch her ears, and giggle at her plaintive tenor cry for mama cow, and offer soothing noises in the afternoon, the rain on our heads drumming at the barn roof. And as the students gather and regroup and make plans to disburse for surely thick warm soup, we brave the rain, sprinting for the car, our winter coats and caps soaking through in moments: we come home to her mother, my wife, now finally cramping and abed as her own spring cycle begins anew.

God bless the earth, and the warm air and the rain; bless the cow, and the students in their wet boots and happy work. God bless the chance to begin again, and the blood that must come before we can try. Let the cleansing begin; it's spring again.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:31 PM | 0 comments

Friday, March 05, 2004

The Friday Five
Creativity is for the rich.

What was...

1. ...your first grade teacher's name?

Who remembers? The earliest I can recall is Mrs. Carter in third. If you finished your test early you could weave baskets. I finished early.

2. ...your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?
Smurfs. Or maybe Superfriends, later on.

3. ...the name of your very first best friend?
I hated most of the available friend-possibles through my childhood. But Timmy and I were supposedly very close. I remember something about a closet...

4. ...your favorite breakfast cereal?

5. ...your favorite thing to do after school?
Mmmm...Honeycombs. Or maybe Superfriends, later on.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:46 PM | 0 comments

Why It's Time To Start Writing Poetry Again

Because the windows can be open.
Because the moon rises thick in the fog again
and the deer run in sixes in the meadow.
Because dogs jump their fences
and track mud around the house
after three flights up and a cookie:

It's time. It's the time when
coyotes howl this side of the meadow,
when the springtime moon grows full.
In the still dark evenings with flashlights
we grow and shrink upon the walls
and crackle like paper, alive, entwined,
in shadows like papercut sillhouettes,
in the howl of the coyotes in the meadow.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:29 PM | 0 comments

Dear Diary

Tonight we sat in the dark and played with flashlights and shadows in the great room. Afterwards we turned all the lights on and ate ice cream sundaes squinting in the brightness and left the cherry can out.

Imagine how powerful it must feel to be a twenty month old flashlight-wielder. Imagine the first moment the potential of existence ever truly hit you, that moment in the dark when the lights suddenly blazed, and you realized: with the right tool for the job, you can control the situational existences of the entire solipsistic universe.

Maybe it's time to think about writing poetry again.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:10 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Blog, In A Nutshell
A blog-based presentation on blogging

In the forthcoming Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory, Jill defines weblog, or blog, as a frequently updated website consisting of dated entries arranged in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. Alternately, Ev, the guy who started the Blogger service you're soaking in right now, suggests that the blog concept is about three things: Frequency, Brevity and Personality.

Sounds simple, right? Like a short-and-sweet diary, except online, public, and in reverse. But no single sentence does the broad and increasingly widespread phenomenon justice, nor does it really help us see why this blog thing should mean anything to us. I think the encyclopedia would help us out, so here's most of the rest of what Jill has to say in her definition; for the purposes of fast discussion, I've edited out a few sentences which seemed less-than-urgent for us to consider today:
Typically, weblogs are published by individuals and their style is personal and informal. Weblogs first appeared in the mid-1990s, becoming popular as simple and free publishing tools became available towards the turn of the century. Since anybody with a net connection can publish their own weblog, there is great variety in the quality, content, and ambition of weblogs, and a weblog may have anywhere from a handful to tens of thousands of daily readers...

Examples of the genre exist on a continuum from confessional, online diaries to logs tracking specific topics or activities through links and commentary. Though weblogs are primarily textual, experimentation with sound, images, and videos has resulted in related genres such as photoblogs, videoblogs, and audioblogs

Most weblogs use links generously, allowing readers to follow conversations between weblogs by following links between entries on related topics. Readers may start at any point of a weblog, seeing the most recent entry first, or arriving at an older post via a search engine or a link from another site, often another weblog. Once at a weblog, readers can read on in various orders: chronologically, thematically, by following links between entries or by searching for keywords. Weblogs also generally include a blogroll, which is a list of links to other weblogs the author recommends. Many weblogs allow readers to enter their own comments to individual posts.

The world of blogging is still in flux, but the definition points to several areas of relevance for us. These include, but are by no means limited to:

1. Casual community-member use: Many members of the NMH community have blogs. One blog-maintaining service in particular, livejournal, is used by many of our students to share thoughts on a regular basis; a good number of them are currently keeping a group blog about NMH, in fact.

At stake here, however, is the unfortunate truth that students tend to forget that the mass includes the local; twice in the past two years, I have found it necessary to core team students whose blogs mentioned illicit and potentially dangerous behavior. As I said in a previous entry on this point,
Intellectually, it seems intuitively obvious that if a random stranger can access and read your blog or livejournal, so can the next-door neighbor or friend or ex-girlfriend or even parent, assuming that they are online, or have a friend who might accidentally come across your brainspew and pass the word along. Psychologically, though, it is not obvious, but disquieting.

2. Academic use: The use of blogs as a tool in educational environments is on the rise. In addition to providing a digital generation with a comfortable tool for journaling (itself a common tool for the integration of writing across the NMH curriculum), the web-based nature of the blog offers several new and potentially beneficial twists to the traditional journal, including the everywhere-at-once aspect of webbed materials (you'll never have to collect the journals, and they can still write in them while you're looking at them!), the ability to easily add links and images, and the comments function, which engenders a space for teacher or peer feedback that, unlike the traditional journal, doesn't mar or corrupt the original text, but exists outside of it, preserving its sanctity. Some algebra/physics classes here at NMH are already using blogging successfully (for example, this or this).

There are more issues here than we have time for -- for example, I've recently spent some time asking around the bloggiverse about citation and blogging, and can now state with some cultural authority that blogs are low-stakes by nature, as were journals before them, so the link is considered appropriate citation...but this in turn raises a new set of issues, both wild and wooley and somehow familiar, around how we can help teachers be clearer about their expectations for student work.

Though there is as yet little consensus about the "right" way to use blogs academically, these conversations "out there" have already started. Here is a blog from the Educational Bloggers Network , and a fairly comprehensive lists of blogs and resources about blogging in education, many of which refer to ongoing conferences on the subject. I'll be attending one such conference at Harvard in April, if others want to join me; I found out about it from one of my favorite library/media blogs, which I'll mention again later.

3. Blogs as reference materials: Blogs, almost by definition, offer opinion better than fact, though it is standard practice to link to original sources when responding to it. This "layering" phenomenon in the body of information available to our constituents is not new, but I'd propose it's made both more complex and more interlinked with the introduction of blogs into the mix. Of course, the opinion-based nature of blogs raise the stakes for information and media literacy here, too (hint: a site's bias can often be determined merely by skimming the list of other sites which that blogger recommends, a list known in blogparlance as a blogroll.)

That said, blogs can add value to research in powerful ways. Students looking for fairly immediate opinions on and reactions to a very current issue, or a set of opinions on a specific topic over time, will find blogs a strong tool for the toolbox. A student with time and his/her own blog can even solicit such opinion, or add his or her questions to the growing body of opinion in a blog's comments to see if others respond.

And some awfully famous people have blogs; a student struggling with the work of, say, former head of the American Sociological Association Amitai Etzioni might well find his blog a useful way to understand how his mind works, and a survey of how he categorizes his blog entries and which sources he responds to would additionally lend a new layer of understanding to those reading his work for a class project. Alternately, a student studying ex-presidents might find a visit to Jimmy Carter's blog illuminating. And Dave Barry is read across our senior English curriculum.

(Incidentally, Google purchased blogger, one of the more popular blog services, last year. Do you think this might affect how people blog? How people see blogging as legitimate? How blogs present as resources in google searches?)

4. Blogs as library resources: There are a number of library blogs out there; most interlink, so a few links here can get you on your way to finding those you might want. Some librarians and bibliophiles keep blogs about new developments and thinking in the field, or about library issues in general. Some libraries (like this one) keep blogs for their community, too, as a way of reaching out and staying up to the minute. Here's an article on why you might want to keep a blog for your own library.

Additionally, many blogs mention and critique books and other potential collections acquisitions as a matter of course, and some bloggers even keep track of what they're reading at the moment purely for the edification of their readership; finding a small group of blogs you trust may lead to a whole new layer of collections development.

Of course, blogs are also periodic literature, in their own tiny solipsistic way. In the vastness of the bloggiverse there's some good reading, of a structure all its own. As any good librarian or media specialist should be able to do, I'd be happy to recommend a few good reads upon request.

Any questions? Feel like I missed something? Click on the comments link below to share your thoughts!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:03 PM | 0 comments

Save Ferris

Shaw is ill. Please send sympathy.

More later -- it's the last day of class in our trimester-based block calendar here, and we've been flat-out here for a while.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:29 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Mohammedian Fiat

In a desperate attempt to defy the laws of geography, local ski resort town votes to secede from Vermont, move 25 miles east to New Hampshire to avoid statewide school tax redistribution laws. Good luck moving the mountain, folks.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:30 PM | 0 comments

My Baby She Loves Me

She kisses me full on the lips goodnight, and from the dark asks Daddy for milk please in the bottle and change 'a diaper before bed. She rides around my shoulders in the library waving hi people while her mother submits the final yearbook proofs three buildings away. She talks about the kitten still stuck in the tree all through supper. She sings God bless the moon and god bless me to the moon in the dining hall parking lot, and then stares, amazed, as we come into to the driveway and there it is, the big bright three-quarter moon hung above her own bedroom window, illuminating small white dog, its nose pressed against the window. Moon come to Willow's house! she says, and come wi' me and we're up the stairs.

I've grown relaxed in her presence. The time we spend together is time spent, together. But she still fascinates me from afar, like tonight, singing softly to herself, two walls between us, deep in the dark, with her mama, my other love, in the family bed.

My Willow, become more golden, more precious, more rare than ever since Darcie became un-pregnant this week. But then, it seems everything, from days to dreams, has that effect on how I feel for her.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:43 PM | 0 comments
coming soon
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