Monday, February 28, 2005

Anywhere But "Ear" 

Snowing again. Little flakes spin pinlike, creep through windows left open to air out the cigarette smoke. They're talking about as much as a foot, though with final exams in the air we're looking at some sort of creative delay, not a fullblown cancellation. And of course, that assumes a heck of a lot more to come overnight than the thin frozen mist that falls past the window of this basement studio as I type.

A night of non-local music tonight on Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night radio show. In honor of our web listeners, because Dad just handed me some duplicates of a few great old Oxford American Southern Music Samplers, and because I never realized how rich the local scene is until I tried counting the locals on the playlists for the past few weeks.

Tonight, and tonight only, we did not play any They Might Be Giants, Guster, Dar Williams, Mark Erelli, Juliana Hatfield, Evan Dando, Rani Arbo or Salamander Crossing, Phish, or other music from within a hundred mile radius of the good old basement soundboard. Nope. Nothing local at all. No Boston, no Northampton.

With one exception. Can you spot it? None of my listeners could. Shame, really -- they could have won a week's worth of free drinks for the call.

Playlist follows, as always. In addition to a holy host of great and diverse southern fried genre-busting, look, especially, for short sets of music from down under and from the frozen north, and a few hidden gems from other parts, too.

Tributary 2/28/05: Anywhere But Here

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -- Billy The Kid
Badly Drawn Boy -- Once Around The Block
Barenaked Ladies -- Life, In A Nutshell
Ani Difranco -- Recoil
Ben Folds Five -- Tom & Mary
The Late Greats -- Wilco

Poem: Drum, by Philip Levine

Eels -- Blinking Lights (for me)
Ramblin' Jack Elliot -- Don't Think Twice, It's Alright
Olu Dara -- Your Lips
Fiona Apple -- Extraordinary Machine
Crowded House -- It's Only Natural
The Bats -- Trouble In This Town
The Waifs -- London Still

Poem: Gospel, by Philip Levine

The Mavericks -- Dance The Night Away
The Del McCoury Band -- 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
The Gourds -- El Paso
Sonic Youth -- Unmade Bed
Gilberto Gil -- Waiting In Vain

Poem: On 52nd Street, by Philip Levine

Keller Williams -- Freaker By The Sepaker
String Cheese Incident -- Drifting
Ryan Adams -- You Will Always Be The Same
Sarah McLachlan -- Ice Cream
The Be Good Tanyas -- Rain And Snow
The Duhks -- Giuliano's Tune, Something, Eleanor Day's #2
Will Kimbrough -- Goodnight Moon

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH, where the music never stops.

What never?

Well, hardly ever.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:41 PM | 4 comments

Listen, You! 

Just 90 short minutes until this week's edition of Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show on WNMH 91.5, serving the wild intersection of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts...and YOU. From funk to folk, from jazz to jambands, from blues to bluegrass, and everything in between. Bedtime stories on the hour and the half hour are a weekly treat not to be missed.

Webbers welcome! Click here for the live stream!

Tributary usually features a bunch of folks from 'round our own parts -- we're big fans of the rich local music scene here (if by "here" we mean "including Northampton and Boston"). Locals and once-locals from Dar Williams and Peter Mulvey to Rani Arbo and Mark Erelli hit the playlists almost every week; most weeks, we're known to slip in some Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando, too.

But tonight, for a change, we'll feature artists from "anywhere but here" -- regional music from everywhere in America and around the world. This will include, but by no means be limited to, a featured set of music from the American South, courtesy of the now-defunct Oxford American yearly sampler series, via my father -- and we're not just talkin' county, nosiree bob!

So listen to the buzz: drop everything and tune in!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:13 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Not A Poem Yet 

Something a bit unusual, even for me, since the library is having this poetry contest (theme: change), and I don't know if I want to write something new or submit something already filed and finished.

So: The following isn't even a draft yet, just some garbled poemnotes, the product of less than five minutes tinkering and a half an epiphany outside while smoking the day's penultimate cigarette. It probably needs a third image, and a form; maybe a big idea, more clear than clarity, anyway.

But in the absence of a writer's group, I'm looking for some critique and commentary, anything from "this might work" to "I like this line especially" to "this isn't a poem, but maybe you could find a place for this image in a poem about something else."

I'll give public props to the authors of any usable commentary. Heck, if you're a poet, I'll link to your work, too. Fair enough? Okay, then. Here's the stuff:

Things used to be so much clearer.
Like the moon which was once the thing that rose
bigger on the horizon than it was over the trees.
The thing that followed me home.

Until the psych professor made it malleable
by pointing out how it got smaller again
when you stood out on a cold night
and looked at it upsidedown, so the horizon
became the sky, and no one knew why.

Or stealing. It used to be
that if you said "you stole my heart" you meant
you have it, and I want it back,
but maybe with you around it.

Now we don't steal hearts so much
as download them illegally. The pictures I take
of the moon with my new digital camera
come out blurry. Neither you nor the moon
fit in my window, my heart, my pocket.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:27 PM | 1 comments

Tan, Rested, And Ready To Go 

Well, not tan. And my back is killing me from the drive to-and-from Boston over the last fortyeight.

But hoorah for my parents, who last night put the wife and I up in a luxury hotel suite overnight and took care of the two year old for us. Just so we could have a night to ourselves, the first in over two years, before the new baby comes and the crying suddenly comes in stereo.

And they did all this on the eve of their own trip to Israel, no less.

So, for the quiet night with chocolate mousse in front of the tube, the solo dip in the hotel pool, some other stuff which would be inappropriate to mention here (yes, you can do that in the 8th month, thank you very much), the latesleep and the hotel breakfast buffet: Thanks, Mom and Dad. It was just what we needed.

And despite our first-time parent anxiety, Willow took it all like a trouper. Slept like a baby, and gleefully so, by all reports. We called from the hotel this morning and asked her if she wanted to come by for a dip in the pool, and were told that's okay, you can stay there for another four or five days. We came home anyway, validated, knowing we could do it again -- which is a good thing, since she'll need to stay with others in April when her sibling arrives.

In other news: the prep school placement agency called -- seems "a number of schools" have expressed interest in me, so it looks like yours truly is off to the "meet market" in Philly on Thursday and Friday. Hooray!

Of course, one is a number, too...and I'm sure to have some down time. Suggestions for reading material which will be engaging and signal prospective employers that I'm just the guy they're looking for would be greatly appreciated.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:23 PM | 0 comments

Friday, February 25, 2005

Say No To Buffalo 

Emailed the school in Buffalo today and passed along my regrets that we'll be withdrawing our candidacy, though the offer sure was sweet. I think I would have missed lecturing and presentation, the heart and soul of my pedagogy, in the five-kid-per-classroom dyslexic environment, no matter how rewarding the intimacy would be. That, and after finally looking at a map to figure out where the hell Buffalo is, we've decided it's just too far away from family.

Felt weird to turn down the only serious lead I've got right now. Harder, too, knowing that they were willing to pay more than most, and put us in a house upon arrival. But we're not just looking for any job, after all. The more I move on, the clearer the vision gets. I've got my list of criteria, and I'm not going to settle for anything under 80%.

In other moving-on news, some friends stopped by to take a look at our house this afternoon. "I wish you weren't leaving," they said. Me, too," I said. I danced with their kid and ours, moderating play while the grown ups toured the nooks and crannies.

Priorities, man. I'll take teaching the two year olds to share over a kick in the heart any day. It's easier, though, if you don't think about the fact that some administrator is making you take your kid away from all her friends in June.

Coming soon: Two weeks vacation starts next Thursday, followed by a last term before leaving, spent half-time and full-pay, thanks to paternity leave. Oh, and God willing, the new baby arrives April 18th.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:46 PM | 20 comments

Seizing The Virtual Teachable Moment 

Having had quite enough of watching poor literacy and adolescent mindsets make a total hash of their online discussion folder while no other teacher in the school seizes the teaching opportunity, after years of tidbit-here, one-line there niggling at the edges of guiding the conversation in General Student Discussion, our school's intranet free-for-all space, I finally decided to step up as de facto teacher for the virtual space as classroom today.

Below, the cut-and-paste that marks my formal acceptance of the virtual gauntlet, including the exchange that, for me, was the ultimate last straw.

Student A on Thursday, February 24, 2005 at 6:20 PM -0500 wrote:
What if, say, political discussion was banned in GSD... forever. What would you all do with your time instead?

To which Student B writes:
Ok you complain about how you don't like political discussions, so don't read them. This isn't complicated, no one is forcing you to read. If you don't like it don't read it, or start a new thread. But don't complain about how you don't like it, its more annoying than the discussions that you complain about.
My response:
Interesting. I hope A and B don't mind being a teaching example for a moment.

What you see above is a prime example of how things get so out of hand so often on SWIS. One person says something, without explaining his context or reasons for saying so...and then another, "hearing" that text played out in his own head, ascribes context and tone TO that something BASED ON HIS OWN UNDERSTANDING of why or how HE would have said that something....and then goes on to confront the original author for a tone, context, or reason for writing which may be entirely imagined by that respondent.

Of course, then we all make the same mistake, and jump in quick with the same silliness. This makes us all defensive, and confused.

In this case, I myself am making assumptions about Student B's reasons for writing -- although I believe his tone makes those assumptions pretty obvious. However, I am writing because I want to point out that Student A did not in any way suggest what Student B is saying he did. Student A didn't say "Political discussion should be banned," or even "political discussion in GSD is annoying," or "it is annoying that GSD often devolves so quickly when we're discussing politics..." (In this case, in fact, I can see someone writing exactly what Student A did merely in response to how much TIME people seem to be spending on political discussion when they should by rights have far too much homework to do.)

B instead used A as a straw man. He took away Student A's ability to let his question speak for himself, and made it imposible for someone not to write in and say "hyy, wait a minute," as I am doing now.

And we all do it.

I'm doing it now.

So don't think I'm singling out Student B, here.

One of the things that has always fascinated me about virtual and digital communication is the way in which we accept e-speech as equivalent to actual speech, though one in which tonality is replaced by textography...despite the fact that text is not the same kind of carrier of tone as normal speech is. In other words, it is endemic to the medium that we develop habits like the ones which Student B both decries AND exemplifies...and which Student A may or may not have been thinking of when he wrote his perfectly innocent, theoretical question.

Unless, of course, we teach ourselves new habits.

Which is what I am advocating for by writing this.

I mentioned a day or two ago that it was long past time to begin spending my political capital now that I'm due to leave at the end of the year.

Welcome to the new me, kids. If you learn anything at all, I win. Here's hoping that another teacher will be willing to pick up the glove when I'm gone.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:52 AM | 4 comments

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

They Call It Mellow Cello 

But this is something else entirely.

They say the cello is the musical instrument that most closely parallels the sound of the male human voice, which explains why I like a capella music and cello music equally and verymuch. [The oboe is supposedly the female equivalent, but that's neither here nor there, and anyway, how many people are big fans of oboe music?] One needs only listen to the classical cuts of Yo Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin: Hush to know the aural power I describe herein.

So I was already a fan of cellist extraordinaire Rushad Eggleston from his work with neo-bluegrass-slash-folk group Crooked Still after seeing them at Falcon Ridge Folk Festivalthis summer, and later at local folk underground The Iron Horse.

But then I rediscovered him while mp3blogging tonight, and my celloworld blew apart.

First off, in addition to his work with Crooked Still, Rushad turns out to be an under-25 prodigy, nominated for a grammy for his work with American stringband supergroup Fiddlers 4 while still at Berklee. This, alone, would have been pretty damn cool.

What totally distracted me from an otherwise promising session of mp3blogging, though, was tonight's discovery of the indescribably odd Wild Band of Snee, a Rushad vehicle which...well, geez. Maybe you'd better take a listen to a few tracks before we go any farther. Without any further ado, I bring you Rushad's Wild Band of Snee:
Go ahead and download. It's okay. I'll wait here.

Got it? What IS that? At times kiddie-pop-esque but somehow improvisationally weird? Makes They Might Be Giants look mainstream? Dr. Seuss for the ears?

Well, what the heck would you call it? Rushad's site is as silly as the music, and no help at all to the would-be blogpromotion; after a long equally-odd description of a storybook land, the clearest description offered tells us:
The Wild Band of Snee does a mixture of sneaky melodic instrumental and vocal music, as well as some fast rhythmical poetry and other weirdnesses. They are fun. YOU should see them!

Indeed. We should. So if anyone out there is planning on being in Boston for Club Passim's Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration at the Boston Children's Museum, let me know. My new favorite oddband performing at my favorite kidmuseum, at an event sponsored by my favorite childhood folk club in honor of my favorite sillystoryguy... music to my ears, man. Hey, anyone else thinking road trip?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:55 PM | 0 comments

Turns Out It Was Just Me 

Thanks to those who expressed their empathy after yesterday's post. After a supper with Dad down at the Del Ray in Northampton tonight, I think it was just the blues.

Well, that, and Hunter S. Thompson and Sandra Dee, too many hours and not enough appreciation, worries about the jobsearch, frustration at being left out of the 17% raise finally given to the teachers after I've been made moot, frustration about being left out of the subsequent discussion between faculty and staff wondering if this will end up being a diversion and divisiveness tactic in the midst of important change, the kid is sick, my back is killing me after two days in her bed while she lies clogged in mine... oh, and they forgot to take our trash today -- I had to put it back in the basement.

Okay, I'm under some pressure these days.

But no worries. I've started flipping off the school as I pass by in the dark. Impotent, I know, but it makes me feel much better.

And thanks for the suggestion, Anne, but no, I'm not going to switch fields. I'm a damn good teacher, and I'd hate myself forever if I wasted that. I can make a goddamn difference with what I know, and no one else understands it enough yet for me to leave it to them.

I'm here for the kids and teachers. So help me, no matter what happens in the next months, I've got capital to spend, and I'm going to leave this place better than I found it, by God, because that's what I can do, that's what I should do, and -- institutional politics notwithstanding -- that's no less than what this world deserves.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:24 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Despair In The Air 

Too much of my work today forced me to confront the fact that this school has no idea what I do here.

Two instructional sessions with classes -- one on how to present, and the other on how to present with powerpoint -- with each teacher wondering why the heck I won't be here next year, since no one ever asked them to teach HOW to teach to students.

Mandate work on the Professional development Committee, which is exploring literacies that faculty need to develop, and includes Technology literacy on the list -- despite the fact that I'm the only one here who teaches and directs that curriculum, or even knows what the heck that means.

Library postings renewing our vision, which includes those selfsame literacies.

Work on the webpage for Ed Tech, which won't exist next year, but for some reason we'll keep all that stuff on the web talking about our program and commitment.

The kids online can't understand that Creationsim isn't a theory like Evolution is a theory, and are discussing how to make sure that students are given "options" for "belief" in one or the other.

Someone said today that the reason I was cut was that no other prep school in our "league" has someone who does what I do. Bodes well for finding work with them, eh?

Some days, I just want to knock on the door to the head of school, and ask him whether he really cares about kids at all. The world is getting more silly around me as I grow in it, isn't it. Talk about Sysyphus.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:39 PM | 1 comments

Monday, February 21, 2005

Lend Me Your Ears 

Light fluffy snow four inches deep and still falling when we emerged this morning for work. Took the family car, a dark blue Camry, because it fits in the garage -- my usual beast, a 1995 powder-blue Grand Marquis grandparentmobile, is a doublewide. Good thing, too -- the roads were tense, plowscraped shiny and treacherous; it was certainly safer to have the anti-lock brakes at my booted feet.

At the library, spent an hour prepping for an instructional session with an Environmental Science class just starting the development phase of a 30 minute research presentation -- it was to have been my job to teach them how to teach, since I'm the meta-teacher extraordinaire. But alas, two minutes before classtime, the word spread through the halls like an avalance: classes had been cancelled for the rest of the day, and I shuffled off home for a snug afternoon with the terrible two and her overly pregnant mommy.

Funny how stress stacks up like that. It took me all day to wind down. Took the snow all day, too.

On a more mundane note, the call-ins seem to have increased a dozenfold since my weekly Monday-night-ten-to-midnight radioshow Tributary hit the web via live stream. I'm not complaining, though it takes a bit of the meditative fun out of the show to have to scramble so much between phone, mic, sound board and iTunes-driven computer. Tonight's win-a-week's-worth-of-free-snack-bar-coffee contest netted six callers in less than a minute, despite a pretty tough question (I played "Viva Las Vegas" and asked listeners to guess who the song was dedicated to).

Anyway. As usual, playlist follows. I'll try to post a few mp3s later, but figure there's less urgency now that folks can listen from the web. Thanks for listening, if you did -- and if you didn't, don't forget to tune in next Monday from 10 to Midnight for your weekly dose of...

Tributary 2/21/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Phish -- Wolfman's Brother
Michael Franti & Spearhead -- Everyone Deserves Music
Toots & The Maytals w/ Willie Nelson -- Still Is Still Moving To Me
Manu Chao -- J'ai Besoin de la Lune
They Might Be Giants -- Ana Ng
Guster -- Airport Song

Shivaree -- Goodnight Moon
Ryan Adams -- Chin Up, Cheer Up
Tish Hinojosa -- Hey Little Love
Josh Ritter -- Me & Jiggs
Dar Williams -- Teenagers, Kick Our Butts
Mark Erelli -- Troubador Blues
Raffi -- Baby Beluga

Ladysmith Black Mambazo w/ Des'ree -- Ain't No Sunshine
Rusted Root -- Send Me On My Way
Ben Harper -- Steal My Kisses
The Grascals w/ Dolly Parton -- Viva Las Vegas
The Biscuit Boys -- Agent Vegas
Elton John -- Ego

Mose Allison -- Monsters of the Id
Tim O'Brien -- Subterranean Homesick Blues
Woody Allen -- The Moose
Joni Mitchell -- Help Me
Yo La Tengo -- Magnet
Sarah McLachlan -- Blackbird
Patty Griffin -- Let Him Fly
Nick Drake -- Pink Moon

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight show here on WNMH. We may serve the world, but we're local at heart.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:46 PM | 0 comments

Turn On Your Radio...Right Now! 

Just in case you're in the habit of stopping by every ten seconds...In just a few minutes I'm beginning tonight's broadcast of Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show right here.

Feel free to phone in a request any time until midnight (EST) -- the station number is (413) 498-3915.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:39 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Bad Day For Creationists 

Now that BoingBoing has picked up the story, expect webwide kudos today for the New York Times, who most ingeniously "shreds" the fallacy of intelligent design by showing how "incompetent and foolish" most biological design turns out to be:
In mammals, for instance, the recurrent laryngeal nerve does not go directly from the cranium to the larynx, the way any competent engineer would have arranged it. Instead, it extends down the neck to the chest, loops around a lung ligament and then runs back up the neck to the larynx. In a giraffe, that means a 20-foot length of nerve where 1 foot would have done. If this is evidence of design, it would seem to be of the unintelligent variety.

Such disregard for economy can be found throughout the natural order. Perhaps 99 percent of the species that have existed have died out. Darwinism has no problem with this, because random variation will inevitably produce both fit and unfit individuals. But what sort of designer would have fashioned creatures so out of sync with their environments that they were doomed to extinction?

The gravest imperfections in nature, though, are moral ones. Consider how humans and other animals are intermittently tortured by pain throughout their lives, especially near the end. Our pain mechanism may have been designed to serve as a warning signal to protect our bodies from damage, but in the majority of diseases -- cancer, for instance, or coronary thrombosis -- the signal comes too late to do much good, and the horrible suffering that ensues is completely useless.
Gotta love the resultant belief dichotomy: either God is the world's dumbest, cruelest engineer, or maybe that Darwin guy really had something...

posted by boyhowdy | 11:30 PM | 2 comments

Saturday, February 19, 2005

"Neutral Spanish" Not American Spanish 

Today's mediawatch brings us this nifty article about the new policy at Telemundo requiring that its telvision personalities adopt and adapt to de-regionalized and unaccented spanish, a.k.a. "neutral spanish:"

The new policy at the Spanish-language network [is] aimed at increasing viewership in the lucrative Hispanic American market, where there as many accents as there are Spanish-speaking countries. Which would seem to be why some idiot at the AP titled the article "American Spanish? Telemundo coaches "neutral" accents."

I have problems with that title. Telemundo claims economic forces only -- and it is true, indeed, that more Americans residents, regardless of language, feed the cash cow that is television. But the clear titular implication here by the AP is that "Telemundo Spanish" is somehow "americanized" spanish...which would, of course, carry additional implications that today's news is just one more aspect of the Americanization of everything, which is of course, for most people, A Bad Thing.

But how is this sort of Spanish any less SPANISH Spanish -- which is spoken in many different dialects and accents throughout the world -- than the "unaccented english" that American newscasters have been required to speak in for decades in order to get on the air nationally? It is practically coincidental that America is the geographical locus for of multiglot Spanish; in reality, the cable-and-satellite world which carries Telemundo to the four corners of the earth would need to do this anyway to be able to claim their global market.

I'd suggest that there's nothing inherently "Americanized" or "American" about the idea of de-regionalizing language in order to reach the broadest possible population of that language's speakers....and that regardless of what county that language's speakers are being reached IN, de-regionalism of a language -- even to reach polyregional populations such as Hispanic Americans -- does not make that language somehow more like that, more related to, or appropriately deserving of any connection whatsoever to a different country with a different language.

The sources in the article seem to agree, notably...with the exception of one American specialist sought out by the AP who makes the usual noise about American imperialism, and misses the point entirely. But the very fact that their specialist here is American makes her seriously suspect. Note that the AP -- which reported on this story FROM New York -- looked locally, instead of looking to people in those countries who they claim are being affected BY American imperialism, to find someone willing to make their subtle title-driven case that much stronger.

To me, this only underscores the usual concern that uberliberal concerns about Western-driven globalism may be not just self-perpetuating, but self-projected as well. And, as we have learned, such projection/protection of "oh, the poor others" ultimately perpetuates otherness, disempowers others to speak up for themselves, and is anathema to true diversity and intercultural respect.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:20 PM | 9 comments

Really, Seriously Sick 

Managed to maximize my energy for Friday's full morning of interviews at a prep school which will not be named despite a coldstopped brainbuzz that kept me up all night. Crashed at home as the drugs began to wear off, but mostyl that just meant hours upon hours of bored chairstaring while the nose ran and ran and never got any farther from my face, more's the pity.

Now it's been almost 72 hours since I slept. I lie in bed at odd hours day and night and close my eyes, but what seems like hours waiting turns out to be a timeskewed minute or two when I open them again. The nose is chapped and stopped, but the big problem now is the sleeploss: how well could I possibly get if I'm doomed to stay awake forever?

My wife thinks I'm a goon for trying to sleep with my head down where my feet should have been for a while this afternoon. I guess I figured the change might do some good. Reportedly, I was babbling about skiing for a while during all this. Can't recall, though.

Getting delirious? No thanks, I already have some. More later, or maybe sooner. Wheeeeee!

posted by boyhowdy | 2:58 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Help Me Make It Through The Night" Singer Doesn't 

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Full obit for country singer, proud Apache, and Grammy winner Jewel "Sammi" Smith, who joined the "Outlaw Movement" with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings 6 years after her first hit in 1967, available here.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:32 PM | 0 comments

Kids 1, Pharmacist 0 

Warning: may be ineffective.

Got one of those killer colds this morning: stuffy head, faucetflow sinuses, and a brainfog that just won't quit. Ordinarily, this is bad enough news. This time around, however, I'm looking at my first full day of interviews at a prospective prep school tomorrow, and I'm not thinking I'd hire a coke-sniffing red-and-sore-nosed mouthbreather who sneezed and sniffled through seven consecutive interview sessions.

Given the scenario the supermarket pharmacist suggested Tylenol Cold Nighttime with Cool Burst, a little blue 4-drug cocktail in pill form, so I did a test run this afternoon. No dice. The antihistemines kept me awake as promised, but the brainfog didn't go away. Chattering a mile a minute while unable to keep track of what I'm saying is no improvement. Plus, it didn't hit the drip at all. Pretty disappointing at roughly $1 a dose.

So there I was, a half-conscious sniffler despairing behind my library proctor desk, when some students walked in. "Oh, that cold? Here, take our Halls strawberry, and some tiger balm..."

I'm not better. May just have to live with brainfog, and the occasional sneeze and clog. But I can breathe through my nose again, the drip's already fading to something manageable, and that tingly feeling beats sore undernostril any day. My pockets are full of secondhand over-the-counter selfmeds, and it didn't cost me a dime. Damn, I'm going to miss this place.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:11 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

In My Other Bloglife... 

I spend one afternoon a week writing Search Tips for the Northfield Mount Hermon School Library blog The Reading Room.

Feel free to pass along the link...especially if, like me, your site gets hundreds of hits a day from people who could really use some help with Google.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:44 PM | 0 comments

I Know What Love Is 

The green plastic toboggan was so perfect for two-year-old Willow and I that, when we moved, we brought it with us, adding it to the communal recreational pile out by the after school play area.

Now the borrowed sled is in the middle of the half-melted skating pond, too far to reach with even the longest broomsticks. And the sled's owner, three year old ex-neighbor Jack, is coming over for lunch today.

Which is how I find myself barefooted in New England winter, pants rolled up to my knees, wading shin-deep in surface meltwater, the submerged ice bowing ominous under my numb, white feet. While my daughter watches from the porch, laughing.

Yes, I know what love is. Now run and get Daddy his slippers, quick.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:55 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Half-Baked Pedagogical Thought Of The Day 

If our whole American way of life is a great war of ideas, and librarians are the arms dealers selling weapons to both sides (James W. Quinn), it is frustrating -- for school librarians, at least -- that the National Education Association spends membership dues on non-educational political causes at all...and especially sad that it does not do so impartially.

Did you know 97% of the National Education Association's politically spent dollars go to liberal and Democratic causes, from the Democratic National Committee to special interest groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), People for the American Way, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Human Rights Campaign Fund, and many others? (Source)

How can we claim to help students make their own conclusions about what they believe if we continue to allow moral standpoints and radical beliefs to proliferate throughout our pedagogy? As an educator, if it weren't for the moral issues clouding their own mandate (which themselves seem ironically contradictory to the rest of their materials), I'd join the Conservative Educator's Caucus today just for their strong belief that the National Education Association
...not support or politically align with organizations whose mission is not primarily education related or organizations that do not represent the compensation interests of teachers...

Instead, though I'm not going to go so far as avid libertarian realist John Perry Barlow did in switching his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat merely to pick the lesser of two mandated moral agendas despite increased commodification of such agendas within the neo-liberal Democratic universe, I guess I'll just continue to vote party, not politician, and then carp from afar at the corrupt political game.

Why must moral issues be part of political positioning, anyway? Unless it hurts you directly, leave me my rights, and get out of my bedroom, damnit. And don't spend my public school teachers' dues on the erosion of those rights, either. Not when there's so many cash-poor educational and teacher-support initiatives out there.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:38 PM | 0 comments

Walking On Air 

Fat flakes at dusk on the way to the People's Pint for halfpints with the half pint. Icy conditions as I sped back home to get the CDs from the other car's trunk when the radio station computer wouldn't work right. Rain, now, on top of the ice: a spatter at the window beind the studio autofeed.

Though by the end of the show the local kids had begun to swamp me with last-minute Valentine's shout-outs to their honeys (and, in a few cases, to fellow Varsity Hockey team players, with sniggering homophobic undertones), despite weather and technology working against me, once I acclimatized to alternating between songs direct from iPod and, in turn, the CD player, the much-anticipated inaugural internet simulcast of Tributary went off fairly smoothly, all things considered.

Heck, who am I kidding. IM with Shaw and Molly while they listened to my show from the opposite ends of New England was the biggest thrill I've had in weeks. Getting over a dozen calls -- an unheard-of number for our tiny rural school station -- was a thrill and a half, too.

But I've got my first "informal information session" at a prospective employer's school tomorrow morning, and my back is killing me. The short drive home, uphill through the rain and slush, isn't going to help, either. Hope no one minds if I cut tonight's post-show blog a bit shorter than usual.

So, for what it's worth: Playlist follows, in half hour blocks as always, separated (in the show itself) by soft readings of Pablo Neruda love sonnets, a tip of the hat to Valentine's Day. Mp3s will be posted tomorrow. Until then:

Tributary 1/14/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Dar Williams -- Are You Out There
Toots and the Maytals -- Sweet And Dandy
Stevie Wonder -- Love's In Need Of Love Today
Sarah Harmer -- Almost

Juliana Hatfield -- Live On Tomorrow
Chris Ardoin and Double Clutchin' -- Your Love Keeps Lifting Me (Higher and Higher)
Donna The Buffalo -- Positive Friction
Bob Dorough -- Too Much Coffee Man
Bree Sharp -- The Boys Of Summer
Keb' Mo' -- Love Train

Wilco -- Theologians
Alison Brown -- The Inspector
Bill Cosby -- Uppers and Downers [today's 70s PSA -- ed.]
Girlyman -- Hey Rose
Barry White -- Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe
Crooked Still -- Orphan Girl

Gilberto Gil -- Three Little Birds
Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem -- Comes Love
John Mayer -- Daughters
Brooks Williams -- She Loves Me
Thievery Corporation -- Samba Tranquille
David Wilcox -- Missing You
Ware River Club -- I Love Her, She Loves Me
Nenes -- No Woman, No Cry

Hope all who "clicked in" enjoyed the show. Tune in next week, when Boyhowdy says...You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH...serving Northfield, Gill, Keene, Brattleboro...and, finally, the world.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:11 AM | 0 comments

Monday, February 14, 2005

Beating A Dead Radio Show 

I can't tell you how excited I am that my radio show on WNMH is about to go live via the Internet. Oh, wait. Apparently, I can. So:

Remember to set yourself a popup reminder for the first ever worldwide stream of Tributary, your Monday night ten to midnight (EST) show here on WNMH 91.5 fm, now serving Northfield, Gill, Keene, Brattleboro, and the world.

Tributary features music from funk to folk, from jazz to jambands, from blues to bluegrass and everything in between -- this week we're sure to play some love songs (and maybe some anti-love songs) in honor of Valentine's Day. We read bedtime stories on the hour and the half hour. And you get to hear my voice!

Tributary: it'll make you glad your radio computer works.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:26 AM | 2 comments

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Finally, Camouflage That Actually Works 

...but only if your tent is in a cowfield.

Yeah, I'm one of those people who thinks camouflage is hilarious. Like we really can't see you there, smoking a butt against that brick well, just because you're wearing that olive green pants you bought from the army navy store.

Parisian-award-winning silkscreened tent alert via BoingBoing, which somewhat redeems them from preferring The Onion's somewhat typical fare Faux Love Coupons to the hilarity of Project Manager Leaves Suicide PowerPoint Presentation. Oh, you mean everyone else isn't a mass media geek?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:50 PM | 0 comments

Just A Reminder... 

If you haven't done so already, now is the time to bookmark this you can tune in from ten to midnight EST Monday night and listen to my radio show.

Not sure it's worth it? Take a peek at some free downloads and a full playlist from last week's show -- as good an example as any.

Also: I take requests! Got any?

posted by boyhowdy | 3:44 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Almost slept three hours last night, I was so worried I'd oversleep and miss the Massachusetts Driver Retraining Program Attidudinal Dyamics of Driving Course for the second time in as many weekends.

Almost posted my first audioblog today -- eight pre-sunrise minutes from the hour drive down to Springfield, where the daylong course is held, noting such things as the pinkstreak skycolor and the irony of driving to a class on how to drive. Seems, however, that the wind, while selectively filtered live ear-to-brain, is nonetheless disastrous to the 8-bit clarity of the iPod voice recorder. Windscreen hack, anyone?

Almost lost my license there for a minute, but the class wasn't so bad. An energetic, self-absorbed shopaholic latina teacher and some pretty unique and commiserative fellow students made up for the boring stupidity of subject. Bonus: 40 cops doing a retraining in classrooms adjacent to our gang of petty criminals and court-ordered attendees. We all ate lunch together, gleefully aware of the irony of cops and robbers on an otherwise deserted American International College campus.

Almost managed to skip the temptation of an email check for an afternoon nap on the way back, since I knew the kid and spouse would be up at the in-laws for a while yet. Instead, let my tired ass get dragged into an hour long defense of how the school was handling the theft of a student's iPod. I can see he'd be frustrated with "keep your door locked means even when you go to the shower," even after the third theft in a year from the same kid, but what part of "I refuse to accept the police state it would take to catch even most thievery on campus" seems unclear to you?

Back home, almost managed a flawless all-daddy bedtime, the first by kid request rather than by default in mommy's absence. From the moment she walked in the door she was mine to de-coat; we moved seamlessly from supper to bath, through bottle and story, toothbrushing and the last of the amoxicillin. (I'm especially proud of how I handled the pee in our shared bath.) Almost, that is, until the second windowsill bump-on-the-ear hit before the tears had stopped from the first one. Daddy may be good for bedtimes, but any two-year-old in pain needs only mommy.

And, finally, almost lost 3800 iPod tunes this evening before I figured out how to use the 'pod itself as a recursive library source -- a move made necessary by an IT crackdown on the type of rogue school accounts I tend to use for things like late-night in-office blogging and backup.

Oh, and almost didn't post this tonight...but we're off to sweep out the last of the old deserted apartment, followed by Sunday dining hall brunch and the school dance concert tomorrow. I figured I'd better get this down before I lost it. Heck, I almost did anyway.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:24 PM | 34 comments

Friday, February 11, 2005

Blogger Finally Gets It...Mostly 

The no-brainer you've all been waiting for.

Three cheers to Blogger (wow, never thought I'd say that) for a long-overdue overhaul of their comments infrastructure. Newly competitive options include a pop-up post option, the allowance of basic html tags, and a much cleaner display in the default setting. In addition, where until last week Blogger was uberproprietary, causing some folks to go so far as to create blogger accounts solely to comment without anonymity, cross-platform compliance now appears to be truly supported.

Those who turned to HaloScan out of frustration or sheer necessity are welcome to return to the fold, or not, as desired. Either way, this is not your older brother's blogger.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:43 PM | 1 comments

The Universe Speaks Through Children 

Mysterious messages from the subconscious? No, I'm not talking about blogmeme My Little Golden Book About ZOGG. Rather, after a night and day of surely stress-induced backpain, the tiny calendar sticker that Willow planted on my coatsleeve this morning as I walked out the door shows a headless, armless, naked back with white spine visible. The caption? Chiropractor.

Couldn't have been deliberate on her part -- sure she's abnormally bright, but no two year old could have made that connection. No, out of a hundred mostly holiday-oriented labels, that particular sticker just...came up, ominously. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.

UPDATE 3:35 pm: Calendar As Culture

Home for lunch to discover the wee one had stickered her indoor universe with the rest of the calendar stickers. Interestingly, upon further examination, it becomes clear that the rest of the stickers were not merely holiday oriented, but comprehensive to a fault.

The hidden messages are more ominous than before. Taken as a set, a dubious lifestyle emerges:
  • There are 8 "hair/nails appointment" stickers, but only four say "flowers."

  • 4 stickers for "pet care," but only one "Vet."

  • As many auto service stickers as Doctor's visits and prescription pick-ups combined.

  • 4 stickers for "special worship" show hands clasped in clearly Christian prayer.

  • 2 plumber/electrician stickers, and 2 "furnace/AC maintenance" stickers.

They're all over the house. The kitchen stool says "hunting season." A jail-like school, door laden with huge padlock, proudly proclaims "no school" from atop my slippers; 7 more sprinkle the nearby stairs.

Overall, then, in the universe of the calendar sticker, self trumps service, style trumps substance, and comfort trumps obligation. Catholicism reigns, as does the accessorization of the greenlawned suburban homeowner. Though there are four stickers for "volunteering," the world of middle-class commercial culture overwhelms; mass media messages fill a home once known for its lack of network and television access.

Whose life this is I think I know, but it sure as heck ain't ours.

Next time, the free calendar stays at the florists.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:14 AM | 18 comments

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Radio, Radio!  

Amazing news, indeed: after 6 years of local radio broadcast, this coming Monday will mark the first live internet broadcast of Tributary, your ten to midnight (EST) Monday night show here on WNMH!

Use this link to listen to Tributary!

Tune in this and every Monday night from 10:00 to Midnight for a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and everything in between.

Musical styles run from funk to folk, jazz to jambands, blues to bluegrass and everything in between. Check out last week's show for some ear-whetting mp3s and a decent sense of our genre-bashing playlist format.

In addition to the music, regular features include bedtime stories on the hour and the half, the "anecdotal weather" at 10:45, and a weekly phone-in contest! (Long-distance callers welcome!)

Thanks to Wes and all the rest of the staff at WNMH for finally making my dreams of worldwide aural domination a real possibility. Ooooh, I'm so excited I could sing!

Got a musical request for our inaugural stream? A favorite bedtime story for me to read? Just drop me a comment below!

posted by boyhowdy | 8:01 PM | 0 comments

Vague References And Frustration 

Protecting the privacy of prospective employers is turning out to be a constant source of tension for the uberblogger.

For one thing, as we enter the employment turnaround phase of prep school life on a universal scale, so much of my daily activity and thought these days is devoted to the jobsearch that keeping it off the screen means a significant drop in blogfodder -- and, since I'm not interested in posting mere trivia, a consquent drop in blogentries.

Too, subjectively speaking, since one key purpose of the blog is to record for future self and posterity, holding back the ups and downs means accepting a loss in rememberance. Years from now, will I look back on these months of uncertainty and find them hazy and unrecoverable by comparison?

It's a shame, really. I'm bursting with news.

But there's only so much to say about one's vague hopes and projected fears without allowing specificity. And though there's really nothing holding me back but my own commitment to balance truth and respect, the delicacy of the process itself -- coupled with those few but famous incidences of A-lister jobloss -- seems a clear indicator towards caution.

Those close and interested might send along an email, wherein I could be convinced to send choice tidbits both wonderful and terrifying, pessimistic what-ifs and gleeful dreams.

The rest of you will just have to accept the public me, and be grateful for the brainwaves. The rights of others in this world will not be trampled. Especially not those who might hire little ol' me.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:16 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A Fair Shake For The Fair Sex? 

It's National Girls and Women in Sports Day, an annual celebration chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to honor female athletic achievement and recognize the importance of sports and fitness participation for all girls and women.

Unfortunately, most folks could care less. Women's participation in interscholastic sports has made major strides since Title IX was signed into law thirty years ago, but alums still complain about losing Football funding to "girl games." We're still a long way from the equality that Title IX proclaims as both ideal and necessity.

For example: it is a no-brainer that where attendance goes, true support follows. And game attendance -- the biggest and most obvious indicator of community support -- remains comprehensively imbalanced in all but the most progressive communities. And though nominally most schools are giving equal dollars to boys and girls sports programs, as mandated by Title IX law, finances are a slippery slope which don't always indicate genuine support. Do the girls get the best court or rink times? Do they get the same promotion in pep rallies and newspaper promotion? Not here. Probably not there, either.

Even those who should be at the forefront of the race to create and nurture true equal opportunity in sports aren't doing their job. For example, see your local school system: male athletic directors across the world today should be stepping forward, but instead, in far too many cases, they've charged their female assistant coaches with doing the dirty work of promotion. (If your local school system is getting this right, by the way, make sure you offer your vocal and voluminious support.)

In honor of this very important but sadly still underappreciated aspect of culture, later tonight I hope to post a thought piece submitted by Shane, a coworker and Girl's Hockey Coach. Stay tuned!

[Update 11:12 p.m.

Shane writes:

February 7th thru 13th is National Women in Sports week and to celebrate this the NMH GVIH put on possibly their best showing yet, taking on the larger and more skilled Kingswood Oxford team today in McCollum arena. A hard fought game saw the NMH squad fall by the score of 3:0 but that in no way measured the effort and hard work put in by every member of our team.
Sadly, this contest and the performance of our female athletes went almost totally un-noticed by the NMH community in general. Aside from a few parents and the loyal Boy’s Varsity Ice Hockey team (IMHO the classiest group of athletes I’ve seen around this campus) there was no one there to witness the truly honorable effort. Perhaps the students and faculty were at the BB courts and Swimming Pools cheering on our other female athletes. Do those venues actually hold 750 plus bodies? My personal thanks go out to all those who did witness the GVIH teams effort today, cheered when thay made the plays, booed the officials when they made a bad call (or two), high fived the girls as they left the ice between periods and simply made todays game special for every one involved. For those who were not there, you missed a good game, and a good opportunity to support both your school and Women in Sports. Take heart though – check this week in sports [ed: an on-campus schedule system for athletics]. NMH has more contests Friday and Saturday for you to cheer. ]

posted by boyhowdy | 1:38 PM | 2 comments

Monday, February 07, 2005

It's The Magic Number 

Another week, another live-from-the-basement broadcast of tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5 fm. Yeah, most of you can't hear it, though we hope to change that pretty soon -- but that's why I've started posting 3 or more mp3s every week, hot off the playlist.

And speaking of three, to get ready: I got such a great response last week starting the show with a theme (3 calls in the first three songs!) that I decided to run another theme for the first half hour tonight. See if you can guess what it is.

Oh, I know this isn't my usual poetic playlist lead-in. Apologies for those who might miss the prose, but I've been jobshopping almost full-time all week, in addition to my usual more-than-fulltime frenetic vocational activity, and I'm feeling a bit disinclined towards the creative. So...

Playlist follows. Enjoy the free music!

Tributary 2/7/05

De La Soul -- Magic Number mp3!
Jack Johnson -- The 3 R's
The Waifs -- Three Down
John Mayer -- 3x5
Indigo Girls -- Three Hits
The Selector -- Three Minute Hero
Bela Fleck -- Three Part Invention No. 15

Los Lonely Boys -- Heaven
Johnny Cash -- Won't Back Down
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -- Billy The Kid
Ray LaMontagne -- Trouble mp3!
Billy Bragg & Wilco -- Stetson Kennedy mp3!
Ryan Adams -- Desire

Kid Lightning and Nina Gordon -- One More Night
Phish -- Dinner and a Movie
Negativland -- Yellow Black and Rectangular
*The Grascals w/ Dolly Parton -- Viva Las Vegas mp3!
Patty Griffin -- You Never Get What You Want
Willie Nelson -- Time After Time
**Shivaree -- Goodnight Moon mp3!

The Residents -- This Is A Man's World mp3!
Mindy Smith -- It's Amazing
Jeffrey Foucault -- Mayfly
Peter Mulvey -- Shirt
Randy Newman -- Short People
Marc Cohn -- Mama's In The Moon
James Taylor -- You Can Close Your Eyes

You've been listening to tributary, a weekly live radio show serving the Brattleboro (VT), Keene (NH), and Greenfield (MA) region. Mp3s are provided solely for preview and promotional purposes, and as such will be removed next week -- so get 'em while they're hot!

And now, some guilt-assuaging credit where credit is due:

*Thanks to Craig of mp3 blog extraordinaire songs:illinois for turning me on to The Grascals...and for making the mp3 available in the first place. Get yer butt over to Craig's place for one more Grascals tune, and stick around for a holy host of wonderfully eclectic music, with new songs posted often enough to burst a 20 gig iPod.

**Similarly, thanks to Womenfolk, the song blog dedicated to Women in music, for introducing me to Shivaree and passing Goodnight Moon along long before I started hearing it on that other local radio station. Womenfolk posts weekly, but every one's a gem and a half. For example, today's post offers up four new and varied coversongs, and you know how much I like covers...

Sadly, though I'm trying to become a more organized guy these days -- and you better believe trying to successfully jobsearch helps the process -- several other mp3s above, and posted in past weeks, were taken from mp3 blogs now misplaced. If you believe you deserve credit and trackbacks, please let me know!

posted by boyhowdy | 9:24 PM | 2 comments

Sunday, February 06, 2005

One Day Left... 

To download this week's plethora of mp3s! Stay tuned for another playlist-with-downloads of Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday radio show here on WNMH 91.5 fm, to be posted tomorrow night at midnight. From funk to folk, from jazz to jambands, from blues to bluegrass, and everything in between...

posted by boyhowdy | 4:46 PM | 0 comments

Revisiting Students and Free Speech (Again, As Pulled From Comments) 

Is there a term for "a piece written in or as a comment to a blog entry which is then formalized and posted top-tier, as a new blog-entry revisiting the original topic?" Well, there should be. Until then, today's title will have to do.

Matt responds to my own thoughts on BoingBoing's response to an AP story addressing recent data on the changing perception of First Amendment issues among high school students. Says Matt:

And yet 83% of kids polled think people should be able to express unpopular views, as opposed to nearly a hundred percent of their teachers and principals. This is really horrifying to me. What the hell is going on with my generation?

As a conservative, I have an answer to this, but it's not one people like to hear. Especially teachers.

What I believe is changing is that schools, and the culture at large, are actually educating kids to believe that there are indeed some kinds of views which are not at all acceptable to express -- regardless of whether students happen to hold those views or not. I think we're not making a clear distinction between school-based acceptability and generall, legally-protected allowance of expression for these ideas. Further, I believe that most, if not all, of this change springs from the way we handle the diversity/multicultural curriculum, whether we're talking about an explicit curriculum or merely just the standards for acceptability held by the culture and passed along to the rising generation through its primary socializing tools a) the mass media, and b) schools.

For example, students in most schools I know of are being told through curriculum and socialization activities that it is no longer acceptable to believe that homosexuality is "wrong," or that there are some genuine differences in how people of different cultures and races are, or that words from "queer" to "nigger" to "chick" can occasionally be used deliberately within group contexts in powerful and positive ways. I am reasonably confident that at least some of the 17% of students who seem to be saying that it is not acceptable to hold unpopular views may be thinking of such "unpolitically correct" views, and the fact that many of their own schools even go so far as to discipline or censure students for expression of such views, when answering the question.

And we're the ones who taught them that such views were not okay to hold in general, because we told them that they themselves could not hold those views merely by showing them that those views were, according to the school and the culture, "wrong" -- and then acting to change the way they thought via a kind of forced moral education.

What we're looking at in these statistics, then, is the sad result of the commodification and institutionalization of the new liberal agenda. The fact that academia is generally liberal in their beliefs about how the world should work -- by definition, most academics believe in freedom of ideas -- is ironic here, as the very commodification of even the most liberal agenda is still, ultimately, a move towards conservation of those ideas (i.e. it is conservative).

Unfortunately, as the statistics show, teachers and principals are entirely unaware that their diversity curriculum has shifted to an underlying position that it is not at all allowable or "legal" to believe in, let alone express, some unpopular ideas. Not surprising, I suppose: most liberals are not actually ACLU "fight to the death for your right to express it" liberals, but position-liberals, in my own experience. Even though many of them claim to be both.

That's the true trade-off of trying to teach in a world which supports both diversity and true freedom of speech and thought, it turns out. Tolerance never had these problems -- it is perfectly consistent to believe one thing immoral but also believe that it is socially inacceptable (i.e. not tolerated) to push an agenda which makes such subjective "immorality" wrong to practice in social and/or private spaces. But one cannot transcend tolerance, supplanting it with mandatory celebration, without pushing an agenda which contains a clear implication that it is not acceptable to believe in, and thus absolutely vital to hide personal belief of, the traditional tenets of the neoconservative.

At heart, I think, we can see the recent split in the country at large as related to this particular issue. All schools have moved beyond tolerance, and dangerously so...but different local school systems and cultures use different lists of what is inacceptable, making it impossible to have true dialogue between factions in the US.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:58 PM | 2 comments

Oh Dear God, No... 

Just found a typo in an already-sent letter of interest. Any suggestions? Is there anything I can do about it other than cringe, moan, and curse my outcast state?

In other news, after a wonderful father-daughter adventure while Mommy set up for the big semi-formal -- our usual trip to the butterfly museum, followed by our equally-usual trip to the toy store for tidbits and trinkets -- I got to spend some time tonight dealing with a 2 year old who had actually vomited herself awake in the middle of the night.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:58 AM | 0 comments

Friday, February 04, 2005

Was It Something I Said? 

Starting to get a weird vibe from some teachers and administrators at the school. Nothing overt, and surely not deliberate snubbing. But now that the rightsizing is old news -- now that the time for kind regrets and ego-boosting has come and gone -- it just doesn't seem like the same people want to sit with me in the cafeteria.

And they certainly aren't comfortable asking me to do my job. Ironically, this has left me plenty of badly needed jobsearch hours during the workday; I've beguns sending out letters of intent, putting my best effort forward, and it feels wonderful. But it remains indescribably weird to sit in the middle of the library all morning and toy with my cover letters while coworkers pass, avoiding eyecontact.

At first I thought it was mututal discomfort, some survivor's guilt coupled with a growing apart. But today on our "rightsizer's support group" (a newly created listserv for those of us who've been asked to clean out our classrooms come June) a soon-to-be ex-peer hit the nail on the head:
I think the sorting out of people who are leaving and those who are staying has created two different group identities. We are communicating about how we feel and what we're doing while they are talking about housing and scheduling. We are worried about financial survival while they are assured of a salary for at least one more year. I think I have pulled away from the people who are still employed and some of them have pulled back slightly as well.

I have decided not to participate in any activities which involve planning for or discussion of the future of the School. I am also being self-protective in choosing what events I will attend. I feel disconnected from the School. It's as if one person has declared the end of a relationship, but both are compelled to live together in the same house for an extended period of time. My response is that I'm staying out of the house as much as possible and, when I am in it, I am focused on what is nourishing - in this case, my classes.

That said, recognition of the problem isn't a solution for me. Unlike my astute peer quoted above, much of my job is teacher partnerships, macro and micro, in classroom and out. Most of my impact on students happens in other people's classrooms. If I'm going to still do anything at all around here other than twiddle my thumbs and hang out hoping -- in order for me to "teach my classes" -- people must be able to swallow their pride and approach me when they need me.

I'm human, but I'm also a teacher. I can't stop being one now just because someone made a bad call about what program the kids will need next year. Sure, like the author of the above, I've begun to drop my planning committee memberships, but I'll be damned if I'm going to creep out of here. This is still a school, and I can't help but assume the kids are suffering for our pop-pscych bifurcation.

For their sake, if no one else's, I'm hanging on to my draft notes for an open letter to the faculty. Just in case things get worse.

If I'm going down, I'm going down as me.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:52 PM | 18 comments

(Birth)Day of the Dead 

Funny...he doesn't look zombish...

Horrormaster George Romero turns 65 today. Play a cheesy dirge in his honor if you get a chance.

Once upon a time we could have inserted a joke about retirement here, but with the widening gap between the start of AARP benefits (50) and the actual average retirement age, maybe we better let dead dogs lie.

Bonus points:
  1. Romero played an uncredited FBI agent in Silence of the Lambs.

  2. Romero has made commercials for US Steel, Rockwell, Heinz and Calgon. I toyed with "George Romero, take me away!" as a title for this entry, but it seemed too obscure.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:26 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Credit Where Credit Is Due 

Even though it's only one item in The Onion's satirical list of projects Google is working on for 2005, I hereby declare that the GoogleHouse was in fact the 2003 brainchild of University of Buffalo School Of Informatics prof Barbara M.

Okay, technically, The Onion's talking about a Google apartment, not a house. But Barbara, who is unfortunately blogless and thus unlinkable at the moment, even used the same examples ("...will let users search for shoes, wallet, and keys") when first explaining the idea to me.

Admittedly, this in no way disrupts the on-target hilarity of such other faux future Googleplans as "Build world-class headquartoogles" and "finally getting around to making backup disks of everything." I just wanted to make sure the three people who read this blog know who to thank for "teh funnay". Barbara, if you're out there, know that I've got your back.

In other Onion news this week, the AV Club has gone all green and fugly. Wassup with that? Kudos on the new AV content, including a game reviews section and, in an inaugural vein, geeknifty interviews with early gaming pioneers Wright and Warshaw, but it shouldn't hurt so much to enjoy it.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:10 AM | 1 comments

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Randomalia, Part Eleventeen 

Not much news on the vocational front since yesterday, but after a day tasking out the organizational nuts and bolts of the search process -- transcript retrieval, school website research, and other listmaking, mostly -- I'm feeling pretty positive for a guy who's had just one phone call. Call it false optimism if you like, just don't say so to my face; I'm in happy denial land right now.

Speaking of the search: Molly, if you're out there, call Hebron for me and put in a good word, will you? They've already got my resume.

Two days after the move and the place is starting to look like someone's house, if not yet a home. Our life slowly re-emerges from cardboard; our house overfloweth with stuff. Any minute now the cat will finally figure out how to sneak outside and we'll get to meet the neighbors firsthand.

Item: my daughter can "read" you an entire story after one telling. She even picks up on trope and idiom. Be prompt about turning the pages, or else.

I don't remember 30 weeks pregnant being so big -- maybe it's different the second time around? Sure, the baby kicks back when sung to, but it's getting harder to hug the human incubator I call "honey."

Two fortunes in the restaurant cookie tonight, both poignantly true:
  1. You are a bundle of energy, always on the go.
  2. You find beauty in ordinary things. Do not lose this ability.
I've decided that the single trait that brings blogger success is the ability to write in a terse and oracular vernacular. Okay, maybe that's not true; maybe I just aspire to be an oracular, terse blogger, verbosity be damned. But it sounds good, doesn't it?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:34 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Vocational Update 

Fielded my first phone call from a prospective employer today. Seemed promising: very small class size, committed faculty, decent benefits, and the possibility of out-of-dorm housing upon arrival, not to mention the obvious benefit of being back in the classroom again, making a direct difference, communications potential-wise, in some bright young minds.

You'll have to take my word for it, as in order to protect confidentiality -- some of these positions are not posted publically, and only go through the agencies -- I'm not going to be posting links.

I think I might have even managed to keep my foot out of my mouth for the duration of the conversation. I hope. Is it a bad sign when you only realize you were talking to the headmaster after you hang up the phone? Anyway, am looking forward to a visit to Buffalo, so I'm hoping they call back.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:38 PM | 1 comments

Big Bother: Is A Lack Of Civics Education Undermining The Digital Revolution? 

From BoingBoing's Directory of Wonderful Things today comes this redirect to an AP article called "Freedom of What?, which summarizes a study that reveals that far too many US high school students don't seem to understand the meaning of free speech, aren't taught about the First Amendment, or simply don't care:
...When told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories...

Three in four students said flag burning is illegal...

About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet.

As an educator, I 'm fascinated by several aspects of this issue.
  1. This dovetails with and confirms my own recent concerns that civics is, problematically, a dead issue in modern curricula.

  2. This seems to be consistent with more general observed truths about student mis-perception of government, most significantly that teens tend to set the government up as a straw man, an easy-to-dismiss but hard-to-solve Big Brother, to a much greater extent than is true, and even in places where it isn't. The results suggest, for example, that even while they flaunt current intellectual property laws, students may see the government (and not intellectual property developers and owners) as actively censoring the universe, and as the "them" to our "us".

  3. But note how many students believe that the 1st amendment goes too far. What's going on here?

Trying to reconcile this over-ascription of speech-stifling power to Big Government with the belief that the government should protect speech less may not be as contradictory as it first appears.

For example, we might posit that the rising generation of students is, on average, ultimately accepting of the false powers they simultanously ascribe to the government.

In other words, [some] US students may publically rail against the false powers they ascribe to government, but long-term internalization of such a projection may result in acceptance of those false powers, which would churn out a generation of impotent conservatives (who, due to their total lack of civics understanding, may be more conservative in the end than they claim to be when asked about their politics).

One situational definition of "culture" -- that which is known but is not taught -- may come into play here. It is a truism of Media Literacy, for example, that developing minds internalize messages without considering their stakes when such messages are delivered, exclusively, on a subtextual level. Certainly, if civics has become an intuitive process, the results shown herein are realistic, albeit unfortunate.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:00 PM | 2 comments
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