Monday, May 30, 2005

This Is The End 

It's not in my job description, and it screws up my sleep schedule something awful. But of all the things I mind leaving behind, Tributary, my weekly radio show, may be at the top of the list.

In some ways, the show has been the only constant through our seven years at NMH. I've never taught a class as long, or worked in the same office, or under the same supervision. In seven years, we've moved three times, brought two children into the community, totalled or traded three cars, never kept the same friends.

The show has changed too, of course. Three theme songs, two titles, a co-host come and gone. In the last year alone, we've gone live on the web, and the move to iTunes and iPods has meant an end to all those years of carrying CDs and vinyl around in my trunk.

But I still remember that first winter night in the station as if it were yesterday. And I still depend on that single latenight slot to clear my head for another week.

Sure, I'll key into the studio a couple more times before we're forced out of the community housing. And if we're still in the area next year, I have a standing offer to continue the show, albeit to a community half-full of strangers.

But tonight is the last night I can picture, with confidence, the dorm life that surrounds me. The faces of every caller brought to life in my mind unbidden. The reason for my joy, the recipients of my love.

It won't be the same without the students listening. And it wouldn't be, if I didn't consider them all family.

A final show, then -- wistful, wanting, full of phone calls and laughter. Unplanned and bittersweet, like so much of my life these days. And over far, far too soon.

Tributary 5/30/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Michael Franti & Spearhead -- Everyone Deserves Music
Keb' Mo' -- Love Train
Cake -- Palm Of Your Hand
Beck -- Devil's Haircut
Ryan Adams -- Starting To Hurt
Guster -- Two Points For Honesty

Keller Williams -- Vacate
They Might Be Giants -- They'll Need A Crane
Badly Drawn Boy -- Once Around The Block
Manu Chao -- Me Gustas Tu
Rusted Root -- Send Me On My Way
Tom Landa & The Paperboys -- All Along The Watchtower

Alison Brown Quartet -- The Inspector
The Mavericks -- Dance The Night Away
The Gourds -- El Paso
Nickel Creek -- Spit On A Stranger
Ani DiFranco -- Loom
Mary Gauthier -- Good-bye
Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch -- I'll Fly Away
Jeffrey Foucault -- Mayfly

Tony Furtado Band -- I Ain't Got No Home
Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer -- Gentle Soldier Of My Soul
Mindy Smith -- One Moment More
James Taylor -- That Lonesome Road
Amos Lee -- Arms Of A Woman
Dixie Chicks -- Let Him Fly
Elizabeth Mitchell -- You Are My Sunshine

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH. The show may be gone, but the music will always live in my heart.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:08 PM | 2 comments

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Everything Must Go 

A pre-emptive major artifact divestiture occured today in the boyhowdy household as we all treked down the hill for the school's yearly multi-family yard sale. Set-up began at 6:30 with the masterstroke import of the camper, which provided no small amount of shade and babyhaven throughout the long steady stream of weekend bargain-hunters and prospective fleamarket resellers; selling continued until 1:30 as previously agreed-upon by the ever image-conscious school.

Cassia got a one-sided sunburn from her sling exposure, and Willow played happily under the watchful eye of her six-year-old friend Riley for most of the morning, leaving Darcie and I free to focus on softsell. Got compliments all day for my humorous yet direct and presonalized approach to buyers. Funny how much selling goods is like selling ideas. Funny how much I missed it.

Total haul wasn't heavy -- just over a hundred bucks for a mixed bag of unpriceable objects, random household sundries, hundreds of pounds of perfectly good clothes and almost two of four full boxes of tattered paperbacks. But given that we're going to have to pay to move and store whatever went unsold, every quarter meant another hundred pages less to carry on our backs.

Of course, supper out at Friendly's afterwards and a quick trip for groceries in anticipation of my advisee barbecue made the day a zero-sum game in toto. But it was nice to be among 26 families we know and mostly love, allied in common cause, out in the sun after weeks of clouds and rain. Next stop Goodwill, and a rental storage unit for the majority of our remaining worldly possessions -- who could wander under that kind of weight?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:27 PM | 18 comments

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Today is Thursday 

Rain and more rain, enough to cause the vitamin-D equivalent of scurvy. The driver's side windshield wiper on my car flew off days ago; now I can only drive at a 45 degree angle, head hovering over the passenger seat. Left turns are a bitch.

Exit interview yesterday. Managed to present my job history and ongoing concerns with coherence in just under an hour. Nice to get it all off my chest after years of being told I wasn't allowed to complain, but it worries me that I made the interviewer cry. Is that normal?

Extended family life is a disaster, so of course I feel guilt for feeling like I can't handle it in my current state. (For more on my current state, read any entry from the last four months.) I'd say more, but there's some things just not meant for blogging.

One sign that you've accepted that you'll never teach again is when you finally get a decent job lead from the placement agency after two weeks of dead silence and your first response is "what's the use?" Three days later, and I'm still trying to get my heart into another cover letter. Maybe the heart does have limits, after all.

Yesterday's fortune cookie: Although it feels like a roller coaster now, life will calm down. Of course, dead is calmed down. But I gave it wallet prominence anyway. Your future is as boundless as the lofty heaven was just turning out to be too depressingly wrong.

Today's bonus question: Can you name three contexts in which the following conversation could ever occur?
But I thought we were going to another store after lunch!

Yes, but that was when you were wearing pants.
Additional Willowisms for the week include the following response to Willow, why are you spitting?
But I was trying to make the world disappear.
Know how you feel, kid. If I thought it would work, I'd be spitting up a storm.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:22 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Are you me? Here's a test: read the following paragraph, and monitor your response:
A report in the medical journal Psychopathology notes that psychotic delusions increasingly concern the internet, suggesting high-technology can fulfill the role of malign 'magical' forces often experienced in psychosis.
a) If you had to stop reading to sound out the word "psychopathology," you are not me at all.

b) If you started but had trouble finishing the paragraph, you are hardly me.

c) If you were mildly interested, you are marginally like me.

d) If you though this was neat, but did not click on the link, you are probably very interesting, but only somewhat like me.

e) If you clicked on the link, you are starting to show signs of me, and may want to contact a medical professional.

f) If reading this article immediately made you think about cyberelves, then what you see in the mirror looks a lot like me. (But gee, aren't we handsome?)

g) If you started hopping around the library grinning like a madman, saying "this explains everything!" and only then clicked on the link to read the actual research, then please give me my brain back, because I need it to apply for this part-time job in the learning skills program.

Thank you for playing. Please come again!

posted by boyhowdy | 3:23 PM | 4 comments

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Those Who Can't...Don't Get Hired? 

Long day with more sadness and disappointment. Though most of it falls in the "not for blog" category, the hardest news is that the last few job applications out there are coming back empty, and the sites and placement agencies seem to have run dry for the season.

I would have swallowed my pride, got certified, and taught someone else's stupid state-mandated teach-to-the-test curriculum, but I still maintain that the tension between good teaching -- itself a kind of truth-spreading -- and lying to students and self that this was good education would have been untenable, soul-destroying.

But what if the inability to accept such self-delusion is at the root of my problem after all? Others have no problem lying...
Why do we lie so readily? The answer: because it works. The Homo sapiens who are best able to lie have an edge over their counterparts in a relentless struggle for the reproductive success that drives the engine of evolution. As humans, we must fit into a close-knit social system to succeed, yet our primary aim is still to look out for ourselves above all others. Lying helps. And lying to ourselves--a talent built into our brains--helps us accept our fraudulent behavior.

Does this article from Scientific American Mind explain why I'm having trouble finding work, two weeks before we move off into the unknown? Even cover letters and job interviews require aspects of this "part of the vast tapestry of human deceit," from lying "by omission and through the subtleties of spin" to the dishonesty of appearance representation and overfriendly smiles.

If only I didn't lose my coherence when trying to disguise myself; if only my stomach didn't tighten up; if only someone wanted me for who I am. The acceptance of self-delusion must be built better into some brains than others.

Or maybe I'm just lying to myself.

via boingboing, of course

posted by boyhowdy | 3:45 PM | 1 comments

Monday, May 23, 2005

Penultimate Radio 

Rain again. Back before I sliced the ponytail, I thought the headaches came from the weight of extra humidity in my hair on days pregnant with rain. Since they've cointinued, I'm forced to conclude that my head just doesn't like the change in barometric pressure. Maybe it's the sinuses.

Or maybe it's the weight of the world, worse every day as the school year sprints to a stop.

Seems like the questions about our unknown future come more frequently these days, as everyone begins to ask everyone where they're off to. Too many earnest, well-intentioned thoughts about the future when we have none, not yet. Too many awkward conversation-enders. It hurts the heart to rub it sore a hundred times a day.

Not much to say about a penultimate tributary after a six and a half year run. Wish the technology had been working well enough to support a smooth show, I suppose -- feel free to ignore the oddness of the first half hour set in the playlist below --but what can you do. Even a bad show is a wonderous thing, a heartbreak, a bittersweet recharge.

Tributary 5/23/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
One Star Hotel -- Frustrated And Free
Milton Mapes -- In The Corner Where It All Began
Calexico -- Alone Again Or
Beatles -- Eleanor Rigby
Tara Angell -- Untrue
Alana Davis -- Free

Los Lonely Boys -- Heaven
The Biscuit Boys -- White Habit
White Cherry -- Play That Funky Music
Eddie From Ohio -- Quick
Lucy Kaplansky -- Turn The Lights Back On
Peter Mulvey -- Shirt

Aimee Mann -- Ghost World
Evan Dando -- The Ballad of El Goodo
Pierre Umiliani -- Mah Na Mah Na
Jim White -- Alabama Chrome
Tim O'Brien -- Everything Is Broken
Ray LaMontagne -- Jolene
Wilco -- The Late Greats
Cake -- The End Of The Movie

Bela Fleck -- Adagio Sostenuto (Moonlight Sonata)
Bobby McFerrin and Yo Yo Ma -- Flight of the Bumblebee
Ryan Adams -- Desire
Nina Gordon -- One More Night
Dolly Parton -- The Beautiful Lie
Crooked Still -- Lonesome Road
Negativland -- Over The Hiccups
Brooks Williams -- She Loves Me (When I Try)
David Wilcox -- The Kid

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH 91.5. Thanks especially to my invisible, half-imagined listeners. I'll miss you most of all.

I suppose it goes without saying that regular listeners and newcomers alike should expect some sort of angrysad theme of unresolved home-leaving next week.

Until then, enjoy the music in your head. And dance like no one's watching, of course.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:08 PM | 0 comments

On Fairness 

In a major back room, eleventh-hour, unanimous move by our Faculty Academic Committee last week, Instant Messaging and "inappropriate internet sites" will be blocked during study hall next year, and TV will be prohibited in houses without soundproof lounges.

Happily, many of my earlier concerns about process seem to have been irrelevant or unfounded. Though I continue to maintain that attention should be paid to the recent research of Stephen Johnson and others, two hours of time for school study, rather than brain exercise, seems perfectly legitimate; this is, after all, a formal learning institution, so restriction of informal learning during a study period is fine by me.

Unhappily, however, I think we're about to shoot ourselves in the foot with this one.

My concerns about the computer bans revolve around issues of scope and implementation. While I see no real academic use of Instant Messenger during our two-hour schoolwide study period, the wording of the ban makes it difficult to imagine allowing in-house chat on our First Class system, despite the fact that such chat is quite often used by students as a quick check medium for homework assignment and study notes.

Similarly, though I am especially glad to see no comprehensive ban on the Internet during study hall (now that would really be a shot in the foot), the vague and subjective term "inappropriate" has no place in a rulebook. The category of content which any faculty member might understand to fit that term could both pre-empt creative use of research and lead to a slippery slope that would indeed be relevant to my previous concerns about Internet use. In reality, knowing our faculty, many would choose to ignore the regulation rather than be forced to take on the content police facemask.

Much more, though, a compromise on the TV issue based on accidents of dorm construction after students have already selected their houses for next year is just plain unfair. TV during study hall has long been one of very few allowable privileges for Seniors in good academic standing; had students known going into room draw that lounge soundproofing would determine whether or not they were eligible for this privilege, I believe some students might have chosen different dorms.

Surely, part of our responsibility as educators is to help students understand that the world just isn't fair. But inside a community, developing expectations of fairness where it is possible is one of the things that we can do, and should do, and too often fail to do, when working with our young charges.

The result will seem arbitrary to students, and many will complain; more than the loss of TV, though, will be the loss of credibility we face when trying to suggest to students that we are trying to help construct an environment for and with them which will best serve their needs. It will affect, in some small but significant way, all our future dealing with them. It just isn't worth it.

Such erosion is anathema to community. Community is more important than television. I say, take TV from them all in the name of fairness, or suffer the consequences.

Note: lest anyone think I am acting against the school by going public with this information, let me point out that committee minutes are public for faculty and staff, and that a student representative to the student life committee was present at the meeting. Thus, it is my belief that students and faculty all have access to this information, whether they realize it or not. If I am incorrect about this, someone should correct me, and I'll withdraw or amend as necessary.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:20 PM | 3 comments

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ego-Boosts In Passing 

Full moon after a week of rain
shining through the clouds again.

College is out for the summer, so my favorite ex-students are starting to sweep through. Some remain only spotted-on-campus rumors (if I really was the coolest teacher, Amy, why didn't you come find me?), but many take the time to call ahead and stay for supper, as social justic major Shane did tonight. Great to see so many familiar glowing faces; better, of course, to hear them thank me for their inevitably iconoclastic, untraditional life-paths. After all, if we're not in this teaching thing for the ego, what the heck are we getting paid so little for?

The prep school calendar keep staggering along for another few weeks, but we're clearly winding down: underclass prize assembly tonight, Senior skip day tomorrow. We got a sneak peek at the yearbook tonight, due to Darcie's otherwise impotent advisorship; I was proud to see that my deliberate absence as proofreader has had the expected results. My favorite major error: an entire page of low res images captioned with Lorem Ipsum greeking. See what happens when you won't pay me a piddling 200 bucks for a year's worth of perfect proofing?

Trifecta: Willow has a new phrase, straight from daddy's lips. That's so cool! And it is, in spades.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:51 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Sorry I didn't write yesterday. Three in-house interviews bracketing this well-attended workshop for Vermont public school teachers on blogging in the K12 classroom kind of kicked my ass.

Had Michelle and Peter and their adorable one-year over for supper Thursday, and old students Molly and Ramon last night. Darcie remarked it was almost like we have an actual social life.

Fellow rightsized faculty peer Michelle still hasn't found work for next year, but Peter's music career keeps growing, and he's got several half-time offers to teach music in Vermont schools on his way towards full certification. They've got a sweet house up there, too. Looks like they'll survive.

Slept in today. By two o'clock I was finally house-crazy enough to demand an excursion, reason be damned. The main branch of the library closes at two, so we headed from there to the pet store for a new retractable leash (warning: amputation hazard) and a play sessions with the bunnies and rats. Spent a while in the fish room ogling tetras and mollies, since we've promised Willow a fish once we get a new house, but she seemed especially taken with the ferret.

A call to our local branch led us to a new library in Turner's Falls, where they just happened to be having a kid's fair. Free hot dogs and a bunch of new books and videos should keep us going for another week's worth of late nights on couch and porch. Topped ourselves off from there with bacon cheeseburgers at the Wagon Wheel Drive-in; headed home full and ready for the usual prolonged bedtime ritual: bath, stories, toothbrushing, song and snuggle. Darcie was watching X-Men 2 when I finally emerged from under the sleeping two year old; lucky the last half hour is the best of it.

Small pleasures: I can wake up fully caffeinated tomorrow. I'd been drinking Irish Breakfast tea for a few -- no small compromise for a 72-oz.-a-day man -- only to discover late this afternoon that Darcie bought some on Thursday when it ran out. Yes, I know, it was right there. But who looks for coffee if there isn't any? I bet if she drank the stuff, she'd have mentioned it.

And I'll need it. Maybe it was the books, or the weight of the Willow as we peered over the French King bridge, but my back's been spasming up and down for hours. After years of separation, pain from the bone spur stripping out my shoulder muscles and the back-to-leg sharpness of the herniated disk finally merged into one continuous pain, or so it feels.

Realized this evening that I haven't applied for a job in over a week. The school year ends in two. We've got to be out of the house in five. Wanderers, for sure. But where we're going, I cannot say.

It rained off and on all day: dark clouds in bands across the sky, alternating with sun.

I looked and looked for the rainbow, but it never came.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:09 PM | 19 comments

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Newly Noted: Agenda, Inc. 

American Brandstand tracks the incidence of brands and products in the Billboard top 20 singles chart. Though there's nothing out for 2005 just yet, white papers from the two years previous reveal that brand mention is an exclusive province of Hip Hop, that Pepsi beats out Coke by a serious margin in the top of the pops, and that Cadillacs are still eminently hot.
While American Brandstand never claimed to be a scientific measurement of brands, it has emerged as a strong barometer of the role of brands among an influential group of aspirational consumers. The brands that emerge as winners are those that are relevant in a crucial taste-shaping area.
Part of a growing field of topical-but-overlapping infoglut megafilters (c.f. boingboing, We Make Money Not Art), Brandstand producers Agenda, Inc -- a pop culture brand strategy agency based in San Francisco -- also track daily popcult in the news-ether through a bloglike live feed that's best experienced hot and fresh. How come I'm always the last to find this stuff?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:04 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Great Design, Ominous Pedagogy 

Ooh, it's time for my soaps. Quick, honey, run in place!

The Square-eyes shoe is fitted with a unique insole that records the amount of exercise a child does and converts it into television watching time.

One button hidden in the insole records the amount of steps taken by the child over the course of the day and another button transmits this information to a base station connected to the TV.

Once the time earned runs out, the TV automatically switches itself off.

"It will raise awareness among the family of their sedentary lifestyle and bring about a change in behaviour for the whole family," said Paul Turnock, design director of Brunel's School of Engineering and Design.

Though the overt implications seem like good childrearing -- more exercise, less TV -- the idea of passivity as a reward for anything makes me very, very nervous. Certainly, the "change in behavior" we're looking for in our own parenting is not perception of television as a commodity of such high value that we must earn it -- especially through behavior that should, itself, be its own reward.

Square-eyes, by design student Gillian Swan of the UK's Brunel University, will be showcased alongside other work of her peers at the University's School of Engineering and Design show next week. Thanks to new daily read We Make Money, Not Art for this and many, many other recent wonders from the interface of art, commerce, infoculture, and mind.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:04 PM | 1 comments

The Return Of The Son Of Randomalia 

Too frazzled these days for linearity. The back is mostly better, though the stomachfuzz and brainbuzz come and go like butterflies. Mostly, though, as graduation grows close, the jobless, homeless future begins to weigh heavy on my mind, corrupting deepthought. I dream of falling, of interviews gone awry and community ever-receeding.

Speaking of butterflies, the reason I couldn't find my family yesterday when I stopped off home midafternoon was that my mother took them all to the butterfly museum. I keep forgetting to bring the digicam to work, or you'd be looking at a great shot of Willow holding an orangewing, that priceless expression of barely contained glee on her face. And an equally great shot of a wide-eyed Cassia looking up in wonderment.

And speaking of Willow's face, she's got a big horrible blotch between her already heavy brows from yesterday's run-in with a hardthrown frisbee, so nothing cute pixwise for the next few days.

She was better at the library today, though: not ideal, still more excited and excitable than her peers, but less so. Maybe it's because we left Mommy and Cassia sleeping at home this time around. Maybe it was just the luck of the draw, or the absence of the granola bar in this morning's delayed wake-up ritual.

In more egoistic news, I'm applying for an ESL position here at school. Never taught ESL, but I've taught language skills to so many age groups, worked with our ESL classes for research and presentation projects and mass media units, lived and advised with ESL kids and, most importantly, have a background in exactly those subjects (American Studies, Cultural Studies, Writing, Anthropology) which the course uses as content-drivers. Of course, my competition is two current ESL teachers, so we're not holding our breath. But what else have I got?

So mostly I spend my time spinning the kids in my arms at home, trying to centrifuge the heartache out. And as the iPod spins at home and latenight in my ears, I'm starting to collect an entire playlist of songs about leaving for the last radio show of the school year. Expect heavy last-gasp promotion in a few weeks, quite probably titled "Just a Song Before I Go."

Wonder if I'll be able to blog regularly where I'm going? Won't know until we get there, I suppose. It's going to be a long summer trying to keep up from the camper, at any rate.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:34 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Chilling And Illing 

Woke up stiff and restless -- a sure and familiar sign of impending viral attack. From traveller's bowel to spinal discomfort, of the inevitable symptoms which would land me on the couch by eleven the worst was a sort of secondary, cumulative brainbuzz brought on by an inability to simply sit with the other symptoms. It's like ADD with a vengance, or that last hippityhop hour coming down off an acid trip after too many cigarettes and far too much coffee while the sun rises over a wide New York river.

I managed to fake consciousness for a quick advising meeting on the other campus, but it took all I had to stay sane for even that long. By two, I was back legup on the loveseat while Darcie's mom played Cooties on the carpet with the kid.

With a babysitter in-house and an old gift certificate burning a hole in the sideboard, what else could we do with me but hot foot it down to the hot tubs? A nice long weightless soak in the rock garden, hardwood and paper windows in the late afternoon, Terrapin Station piped in through halfhidden speakers, and sure enough the sweatlodge approach worked wonders for an hour or four, got me through a dining hall supper with little but slight brainmelt and the sweats.

Lost it again in the middle of a darkroom bedtime with Willow, though. Thank the gods and goddesses for a flexible spouse willing to handle a one-time-only double-child bedtime in our queensized family cosleeper. And thanks, too, for comfy office chairs that spin and twirl, so I can jam in my seat while the iPod spins an unusually hotwired jamheavy playlist, disease raging through me, the stressbrain, the feverbrain everburning.

Tributary 5/16/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Michael Franti and Spearhead -- We Won't Stop
Phish -- Down With Disease
Oysterhead -- Owner Of The World
XTC -- Making Plans For Nigel
Juliana Hatfield -- OK OK
Keller Williams -- Vacate
moe. -- She Sends Me

storybreak: selections from winnie-the-pooh

Beck -- Hotwax
Ware River Club -- Generations
Jill Sobule -- I Kissed A Girl
Alison Brown Quartet -- The Inspector
The Decemberists -- Engine Driver
Dar Williams -- As Cool As I Am
Stevie Wonder -- Sir Duke

poembreak: the invaders (milne)

Grateful Dead -- Eyes Of The World
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones -- New South Africa
John Mayer -- Message In A Bottle
Woody Allen -- The Police
Shawn Colvin -- Every Little Thing (He) Does Is Magic
John Hiatt -- What Do We Do Now

storybreak: selections from winnie-the-pooh

Slaid Cleaves -- Bring It On
Deb Talan -- Tell Your Story Walking
David Wilcox -- Rusty Old American Dream
The Bobs -- Helter Skelter
Patty Griffin -- Top Of The World
Daniel Lanois -- Shine
Jeffrey Foucault -- My Kind Of Heaven
James Taylor -- You Can Close Your Eyes
Elizabeth Mitchell & Daniel Littleton -- You Are My Sunshine

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH. Thanks to all who call and listen, especially my beloved mystery mistress from up North.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:01 PM | 0 comments

Monday, May 16, 2005

Listen To Meeeeeee... 

Don't forget to tune in to Tributary, your abfab ten to midnight (EST) Monday night radio show.

From funk to folk, from jazz to jambands, from blues to bluegrass, and everything in between. Listen to bedtime stories on the half hour and the hour; win a week's worth of coffee in our nightly coversong contest. Requests considered via comments or live at (413) 498-0114.

Live stream here. Last week's show here. Be there.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:29 PM | 0 comments

Ongoing Irony In Education 

An open memo to the prep school administration

So the executive committee and the academic committee are concerned about students playing videogames, using the internet for "non-academic purposes," and watching/listening to programming of all sorts during study hall. You've asked for data to explore how much Internet use is occuring during study hall, and the way you've asked for it seems -- to me, mind you -- to pre-emptively include some base judgement on that data about which of it is academic in nature.

But watch out for the easy blame-the-technology solution. Before you fall into the trap so many of us have before, consider:

Did anyone check the research to determine if such activities are actually detrimental to "our" kind of learning? Is there a way to know whether this sort of behavior is actually interfering with homework? Is there a way to know whether it is serving some students positively while serving others negatively? Will you be able to tell if the data you collect reflects the only activity students are engaged in, or whether it is but one layer of a multitasking environment that includes simultanous active homework and study? Is it possible that such data will actually be a reflection of too little homework assigned, and not enough leisure brain-rest time given to our students -- that we're about to blame the technology instead of ourselves for what turns out to be not at all a problem in the first place?

Some words of caution, folks: think empirically. The plural of anecdote is not data. Observation is not a demonstration of causality. Before you act, make sure you read the recent assumption-challenging work of Stephen Johnson (Like this. And this.)

And, most importantly, beware the power of role modeling. It's always temtping to blame the technology -- it's shiny, distracting, and can't fight back. But human problems demand human solutions. Limiting behavior in service to an academic ideal when little or no causality between that behvaior and the ideal can be demonstrated is more transparent than you know. Unless you're sure...don't do it.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:16 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Cheap Dates 

A fairly successful dry run for good parenting under unemployment today. Morning housecleaning and tantrums take their emotional toll, but they don't hit the pocketbook. Better, though, was an afternoon jam-packed with local freebies offered by pretty much every community, if you know where to look.

First, a very special storytelling event at the Northfield library, the usual stories, snack, and project heavily overshadowed by a parking lot full of municipal vehicles open to the kiddie public. Willow and I had a blast climbing in and around the fire truck, but the ambulance was by far her favorite.

Next stop, the Creamie, where we satisfied her sugarlust with a sampler cone piled high with sunny yellow sprinkles.

From there we headed out to Gill and the Songline Emu Farm, a local spot we've been intending to go for months. The woman running the place was nice enough to suggest a free self-guided quickie-tour rather than the official $3 thirty minute run, both to save her voice and to not overwhelm the little one with too much technical information. Got to see and stroke two day-old chicks the size of peewee footballs, run with the month-olds up and down the fence, and marvel at the throatcalling elders ready for harvest; collected plenty of double feathers; learned that emu eggs are forest green and hard and brittle as December ice.

The emu farm was right next to the town boat dock, so Willow and I wandered the rocky beachside, watched boat trailers pull in and out in the warm late-Spring sun, and ended up throwing rocks into the widest lakelike stretch of the Connecticut River while Darcie sat in the car with a sleeping Cassia.

Back home, the boys at the dorm next door played Dead tunes surprisingly well into the night as the light faded. Willow and I listened out her window until she felt sleepy and I felt nostalgic for summer festivaling. Getting her to sleep was a breeze.

Total cost, not counting gas: 50 cents for the sampler cone, another buck for Darcie's kiddie cone, and $2.60 for a shared chocolate malt. Not bad for a day with so many new experiences, I felt like a kid again myself.

Oh, yeah, and I guess someone bought the sausages we cooked up for breakfast. Pity the free lunch (and dinner) goes the moment we leave boarding school life behind.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:03 PM | 15 comments

Friday, May 13, 2005

Old School Educational Technology 

Yes, it's actually called The Teacher and Overhead Projection

Ahh...I love a good triple pun. Can you believe the library's getting rid of this book?

posted by boyhowdy | 3:16 PM | 2 comments


It should go without saying, but...
  • This is my life. If you have problems with it, get your own.

  • Similarly, everything I write is IMHO. That's just how blogs are. Get over it.

  • When I write a blogentry, especially one about an ongoing part of my life -- my childhood, for example, or my daughters -- the opinions and emotions expressed in that entry in no way represent the sum total of my feelings for or about the subject of that entry. Not even at that given moment.

  • I'm a social libertarian. Though I reserve the right to deconstruct and criticize specific and clearly defined ideas and opinions by exploring inconsistencies and factual errors internal and external, this blog is in no way intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, a critique of you, your lifestyle, your belief system, or your parenting style.

  • Comments are there to be used. Use them to add your own opinion or commentary, to make corrections where relevant, or to offer different viewpoints and interesting follow-up. Don't use them for trolling or bloggerbaiting. And don't go to my supervisors if you have a problem with something I said if you haven't gone to me first. Who knows, maybe it's you.

  • If you do not want me to write about you, say so. If you would like me to limit what I say about you in any way, say so. This goes double for family members and close friends -- though I try to portray you all in the most positive and accurate light, I'm not out to be hurtful or vindictive, and sometimes you just want some part of your life off the table. That's fine, but I can't do it if I don't know. So tell me.

  • This is my blog. I write it for me, with you listening. I am happy to provide clarification where requested, and happier still to offer amends and public apologies for getting facts wrong. However, I would encourage you to take ownership of any hurt which you may experience as a result of misunderstanding me, my words, my intent, or any of the above points.

  • All writing, design, and other content not specifically attributed in this blog is my intellectual property. Link to me with impunity, quote judiciously and appropriately, represent it as your own at your own peril. If you think you're planning on using it for commercial purposes or otherwise spreading it around wholesale, ask and ye shall receive.

There. That should about cover it. Can we move on now?

posted by boyhowdy | 1:59 PM | 5 comments

Thursday, May 12, 2005



Late Spring, hard frost:
we covered the strawberries
in darkness.

The planets were out.
Something had been howling

Look I said in the darkness
(I knew she was sleeping

Step out of the porch light
into the shadow of the tree
and disappear.


If (says Dewey)
the key to happiness is
to find out what one is fitted to
and secure an oppurtunity to do it
perhaps discovering fitness
but losing the locus for application
is a busted lock.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:36 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Spriggan Experiment: Book Writing On A Street Performer's Economic Model 

Now that he's hit the infolit pipeline (via BoingBoing, for one) for his experiment in alternative publishing, there's no need to remain sheepish about my love of Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar series. Granhted, like many such series, the first few books are the best, but Watt-Evans at his mostly-best is still a damn sight better than most quick-read fantasy writers, and his continued focus on the lives of ordinary people transformed by extraordinary events holds true and strong throughout the eight books produced so far.

So what's the deal with the next book? Well, it's being held hostage in the author's mind. The premise is simple: send Watt-Evans cash, and he'll keep cranking out the chapters until the book is finished.

Watt-Evans turned to this unique experiment, partially inspired by the Street Performer's Protocol, when publishers weren't interested in advancing him the dough to keep working on the series; if the $100 per chapter method works and The Spriggan Mirror actually gets published, those who donate will get free book goodness in return. (Of course, if publishers still aren't interested, you still get to read the book, and you also get that warm fuzzy feeling.)

Check out the rough drafts of chapters 1-4 and get hooked yourself. And if anyone has an extra copy of The Spell of the Black Dagger, please consider lending it out -- it's out of print, and my copy went missing years ago.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:59 PM | 0 comments

Like Father, Like Daughter 

Wednesday mornings we hit the tiny local library for storytime. Penney the library lady reads books and leads the kids in song while they sip their juiceboxes and eat cheddar goldfish from tiny paper cups. Afterwards they'll sit in their halfpint chairs at low tables and glue cutouts to white paper with runny gluesticks.

This week's theme is trains. Train books follow train songs; colorful paper locomotives and cabooses to paste down with sticky fingers.

For the second week in a row, in the absence of any stronger voices among the toddlers, Willow's overenthusiastic demand for "The wheels on the bus" causes an offtopic song.

But it's a good week, all things considered: once she's collected all the cutouts in reach, leaving the rest of the table bereft of locomotives, Willow manages to keep her hands on her own paste and cutouts.

I only see some of this, of course. Darcie and I trade off with Willow these days; sometime between the last song and the second paste-down, I get to take off for my own weekly browse-and-borrow downstairs among the short stacks of the tiny local lendinghouse.

But it's hard to miss her even then. Of the dozen moms and midgets, Willow's voice is the only one that carries to the stacks a floor below.

Willow loves library days, and I do too. I've always been a reader, and though I prefer book ownership to lending, my work in libraries and our recent financial difficulties have brought me around to an almost-equal love of borrowed words. I like the idea of being totally surrounded by books, and I like the smell and feel of small libraries, too, the musty shine of wan windowlight on plastic hardcovers.

And I need to get plenty of books when we visit, because I'm an insomniac reader, turning pages two-a-minute or faster, mostly on the porch afterhours with cigarette and stars while the family sleeps. Used to be I'd spend some of that latenight time blogging and otherwise screenreading, but with no network service in our temporary home and an ever-impending need to lend a hand with latenight diapers, I'm averaging a book a night.

Willow can't read yet, of course. But she's bound to be a reader like her dad. An obviously ADD kid long overdue for a venue to hyperfocus; an imaginative kid ready for fully immersive otherworlds; an overly bright and inquisitive kid who wants to understand everything; a lover of stories and books, and simultaneously an overactive participant in all that she does, she demands her own pace in all things -- a set of tendencies that will surely lead her to her own mastery of text and love of language.

In so many venues, of course, these tendencies have disastrous consequences. The need to lead causes no end of social stress, alienating her peers, pulling her towards older kids who soon leave her behind. The overactivity confuses and exhausts other children. The overfocus on the self, moreso than other kids her age, makes kids feel left out merely for playing. Eventually, they go away.

Some of this is just what it's like to be two going on four, of course. But Willow's not like the other kids, and it shows. Even today you could see it coming: the way she stood and sang lustily, coaxing and showing off to the other, quieter kids as they sat and sang softly on their parent's laps; the way she stood and wiggled in front of the books as they were read, answering every question first, closing the other, more patient and reticent kids out while demanding the most of Penney's attention.

I know these behaviors. They were mine, once. I, too, was a friend of the olders, more mascot than peer, long into high school. I, too, was a frustrated leader, always wondering where my followers had gone. I, too, was the brightest when no one knew it, the kid at the front of the class who couldn't help but show off, even as I hated myself for perpetuating my loserhood while I blurted out the right answer.

I fear for her, projecting my own relative anonymity and social pariah-hood as a kid, my lack of social graces, the always-longing for the recognition of the popular kids. I hate myself for being no less able to arm her for the future she may face than I was able to protect myself. The paradox, of course, remains: if I knew a way to turn her from my hurtful social existence, I'd have fixed me, long ago. And if I had, of course, I wouldn't be the me I am today, and there's be no her at all.

Yes, she'll find books soon enough. She'll need to, after all. Just like her daddy.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:07 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Blog Entry 

Anecdote, current event, or cut-and-paste infosnack with a kernel of universal truth.

Revelation & restatement of that truth.

A deeper analysis of the truth and its ramifications.

A more personal suggestion of bias in resolving those ramifications. (May include acknowledgement of other and opposing opinions and observations.)

Something pithy which simultaneously opens up the topic and recaptures the original anecdote/event/infobit.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:20 PM | 3 comments

Monday, May 09, 2005

So Much To Say 

The moon. The stars. The night. The radio.

Let's let the music speak for us tonight.

Playlist follows.

Tributary 5/9/05

(Intro: Toots and the Maytals w/ Ryan Adams -- Time Tough)
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals -- Diamonds On The Inside
Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Oysterhead -- Oz Is Ever Floating
Oasis vs. Green Day -- Boulevard of Broken Songs
Goldfinger -- Superman
Jane's Addiction -- Ripple

storybreak: the carrot seed

Brian Setzer & The Tomcats -- Secret Agent Man
They Might Be Giants -- Cowtown
Barenaked Ladies -- Chimpanzee
The Biscuit Boys -- Coming Into LA
Laura Love -- Come As You Are
Keb' Mo' & Bonnie Raitt -- Just Like You
Lou Barlow -- Home
Keller Williams -- Bounty Hunter

storybreak: mama, do you love me?

Salamander Crossing -- Passion Train
Richard Shindell -- Waist Deep In The Big Muddy
Cry, Cry, Cry -- Fall On Me
Stanford University Marching Band -- Golgi Apparatus
Susan Werner -- All Of The Above
Phish -- Back on the Train

storybreak: guess how much I love you

Lori McKenna -- What's One More Time
Paul Simon -- Senorita With A Necklace Of Tears
Ernie & Aaron Neville -- I Don't Want To Live On The Moon
Emo Phillips (random routine)
Nick Drake -- Pink Moon
Simon and Garfunkel -- America
Mindy Smith -- Come To Jesus
CSNY -- Find The Cost Of Freedom
(Outro: Herbie Hancock -- All Apologies)

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight Monday night show here on WNMH.

Tributary: where the music always comes first.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:05 PM | 0 comments

Randomalia: Too Much Bread, No Circus 

Cassia's naming ceremony went off without a hitch, though the behind-the-scened work necessary to design and implement the event -- componded by a total two-year-old meltdown morning -- left us all exhausted. Nice to see family and friends in such a complimentary setting. Nicer to see them in a social setting where it would be totally inappropriate to dwell on the incredible shrinking window of employment, residency, and solvency the family finds itself in.

By last night the crowd had moved on, leaving us with random leftovers -- mostly bags of bread and cookies, since the good stuff went to other family members leftover bags -- and a few nice cards and gifts. Oh, and the world's largest flower arrangement on the kitchen table.

Realized today I'm not blogging as consistently. Mostly, this is because the vast majority of my waking hours are plod-ahead hours, nothing novel or blogworthy. Too much of my life is full of diapering and jobsearch fiddlystuff which has little prospect of going anywhere.

Spoke with the prep school placement rep on the phone on Friday. She suggested a tech job at a day school school in Wisconsin. Not a good sign, as she knows I'm hoping for a boarding position teaching English or History in New England.

Have taken to circling ads for teaching jobs in the Boston Globe, but most require certification.

Am considering calling the director of admissions and offering myself to her for a year just to keep the house and health insurance. Would it be worth it if it meant being on the road all year, and not being able to work with the kids anymore?

The circus is in town this evening, but Willow's just getting over a cold, and Cassia came down with it last night, which kept us all up. Still, in happier times, we'd have gone anyway. Makes me sad to realize that the weight of the world is starting to trickle down to the kids. I had hoped to spare them, but I guess that was too much to hope for. It's not like we won't be living in the camper in in-law's backyards in a month, anyway, so why pretend it's all okay when it isn't? Maybe it'll make them tougher or something.

Radio show tonight, which always cheers me up a bit. Stop by if you can, eh? Ten to midnight (EST). I'll try to keep things upbeat, if I can.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:18 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Busy Busy Busy 

Newbaby's naming ceremony is tomorrow, and the entire family has a head cold, so we've been scurrying around in the rain like congested fieldmice trying to get things ready for yet another big day.

More blogging later, I promise -- possibly even tonight, while I'm babysitting for the folksinger next door so he can play a show with our good friend Noel.

In the meantime, those with MS Office are invited to check out the invitation (in PowerPoint) and program (in Publisher) for Cassia Jade's naming ceremony. The invite even has some previously unposted pix. Enjoy the cuties!

posted by boyhowdy | 4:23 PM | 25 comments

Thursday, May 05, 2005

May 6 Is International No Pants Day! 


Thought I'd let y'all know early this year so that you wouldn't get caught with your

Remember, kids, school rules trump pop cultural silliness. But, as the website says, if your school and/or work says no to no pants, there's nothing to stop you from having a killer party afterwards.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:49 PM | 2 comments

Our Willow, In Song 

Out of the blue, fellow Marlboro-ite Nora writes:
Anyway, tonight I was poking around on your blog, and I clicked on one year ago and then I think I clicked on another embedded link and then I stumbled on the entry in which you detailed the origins of Willow's name. And here's the funny thing: I think I know that tree. I grew up in and around Boston, and when I dropped out of Marlboro (a common pastime, apparently), I moved home and worked for a year in the office of a musician who lived in Somerville. And she had a song about this amazing willow tree that you could see from the bike path near the Davis Square T. She called the tree 'Belinda,' but from your description, I'm fairly sure its the same one. As I recall, there weren't many trees like it. It really is a lovely tree.
Woah. I'm fairly sure it's the same one, too -- there weren't many Willows in the neighborhood, and the placement description is dead-on. So check out the first two minutes of a song about our daughter's namesake tree written and performed by Nora's ex-employer, jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant!

How wonderfully random to get such mnemonic joy out of the blue. Thanks to Nora for sending along this beautiful tribute to a natural wonder that seems to have touched many lives. She may be Belinda in the song, but she'll always be Bertha to us.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:32 PM | 3 comments

Best. Security Office Report. Ever. 

A large white pet turkey, named "BeeBee" may have wandered onto the Northfield Campus. If this turkey is sighted, please contact the owners and they will come and get their pet.

No comment.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:21 PM | 0 comments


Got another employment rejection this morning -- the school in question doesn't have housing for a family of four. We'll add that to "we need someone who can coach," "the teacher decided not to leave after all," "we decided to suck your brain dry during the interview process and use it to arm an in-house interim candidate," and the ubiquitous "we had many qualified candidates" as my least favorite phrases in the English language.

Batting average so far: 0 for 23. Two schools still holding my application materials, and an average of one new opportunity a week coming my way. Six weeks left in the school year, eight until we get kicked out of our school housing, and twelve weeks until my severance pay runs out. Is it any wonder I'm not holding my breath?

In addition, I learned this week that no one even notices if I go to work or not. That skipping work does not result in a "service gap" isn't really a surprise, since mostly I spend four hours a day sitting in the information commons blogging and checking email, and writing jobsearch cover letters. But I guess I expected that some of my coworkers would have noticed.

Meanwhile, I've started getting all sorts of requests from teachers for instruction and classroom partnering in the mornings. But I'm not supposed to do that, because someone decided my half-time paternity leave is better spent sitting in the information commons at a time of day when most students aren't thinking about classes or homework...and when the ones who aren't hanging out playing frisbee are in organized sports, anyway.

Look. I am an extraordinarily multitalented teacher. I can teach -- have taught -- pretty much every subject (except languages) for any age, including metateaching for teachers looking to improve their teaching. I have taught in informal and formal environments, museums and schools. I'm more qualified to teach English, History, Communications, and Technology Education in engaging and student-centered ways than 99% of the candidates out there.

I want to teach. I like to teach. I like to teach ninth graders.

I'm an expert in getting kids to think, in helping them become independent learners who love to learn, and in helping them attain the cruicial epiphanies that make their whole world come crashing together.

And I want to live with them, in a dorm. Because I firmly believe, after seven stable years in the same damn boarding school environment, that students learn best (and teachers teach best) when school isn't something you walk away from after seven hours each day.

Instead, I spend four hours a day sitting at a desk fiddling with my brain, sending infinite amounts of text out into the anonymous and unforgiving ether, while my wife struggles with a terrible two and a tiny infant in a home that, to be honest, we should be packing up right about now.

There's nothing I hate more than a pointless existence.

Please help make my life purposeful.

Hire me. Now, if possible.

Or call my supervisors and tell them that I was right when I told them, going into the paternity leave, that I was needed in the mornings, which would then give me follow-up work to do in the afternoons.

Or, if not, let me go home, damnit, so I can enjoy the last weeks with my newly-expanded family in the intimate privacy of our temporary home.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:36 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What If Orwell Wasn't Wrong, Just Premature? 

Though Postmanites like myself know that Orwellian worldviews needn't come true in order for intellect, diversity and tolerance to dissipate under the weight of censorship -- because, as Huxley reminds us, the masses reject such stuff voluntarily -- it seems some governments can't wait for the masses to fool themselves.

Case in point: Over-broad language in a recently introduced Alabama bill would not only ban gay authors and books with gay characters as the bill intends, but would cause the censorship of pretty much any text which made even the most oblique reference to behavioral practices currently illegal in Alabama.

Potentially "lost" content, according to law-and-politics blog Legal Fiction, would include all historical reference to McCarthyism (Roy Cohn was a homosexual), "all articles and magazine stories about the Abu Ghraib torture," and every issue of the Congressional Record (because congressman Barney Frank outed himself years ago). Not to mention every Elton John album ever recorded.

Not sure how to recognize cases like this when they pass your radar? Here's a hint: if you ever hear some adult claim to be passing laws "for the protection of children," run screaming in the other direction as fast as you possibly can. The moment the law tries to pre-empt parental choice, we all lose.

There's a class issue here, too. Law can't easily take books from my home, but they have a clearer mandate when we're talking about publically funded cultural information access points, like libraries. [Yes, the author of the bill has exepted public libraries, though only under pressure. But some of the poorest small towns in this world only have school libraries, which means school libraries must function as public libraries.] If this law passes, only rich folks in Alabama will be able to have access to some of the most important texts in Western culture, from Sappho to Tennessee Williams.

How horrifying to realize that Orwell may have been right after all. How much more terrifying to realize that it might happen in my own lifetime.

[UPDATE 10:25 pm: Thanks to advisee and all-around genius boy Jeremy who found the editor's note appended to the original article, to wit: "When the time for the vote in the legislature came there were not enough state legislators present for the vote, so the measure died automatically." In other words: this "bill" may have merely been one legislator's personal ratings grab. Doesn't mitigate my concern completely, though. Not as long as there remain legislator out there who believes this tripe is worth bringing up, even if its just to bring in the votes.]

posted by boyhowdy | 4:17 PM | 0 comments

Who Knew? 

According to yet another cool google graphic, May 3 is National Teacher Day.

Here's an apple. Pass it on to a teacher you love. Hint, hint.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:35 AM | 1 comments

I'm Forever Chasing Rainbows 

Comfortably numb before noon, and for all the wrong reasons. I am sipping an iced latte, unsatisfied, watching the precocious two-year-old pick at my favorite kind of croissant. My mouth tastes faintly of dentist's office: burnt enamel, overbite ink. The novacaine will wear off soon enough, but until then, the thick black forest ham and gooey cheese look enough like mangled tongue and mucus to keep me away.

Hours later, in the car with the family on the way to the grocery store. Rain falls in fat drops on the windshield. But we're driving towards a clear sky, and the sun is about to peek under the cloudlayer.

Rainbow conditions, I think.

Do you see a rainbow, I ask my wife, fully knowing that she'll get carsick if she looks back for long.

And then I see it, behind us, in the trees.

I yank the wheel at the next bare patch of ground and rush the kid out of her seat. Plop her on my shoulders. Point. Wait.

Because there's nothing like a child's first rainbow.

Except maybe giving it to her, there in an open field with the car door still open, your late afternoon shadow forever pointing towards its topmost point.

This week's playlist follows.

Tributary 5/2/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Trey Anastasio -- Cayman Review
Lucinda Williams -- Get Right With God
English Beat -- Mirror in the Bathroom
Ween -- Bananas and Blow (live)
Steve Earle -- Shadowlands
Ramones -- Spiderman
Cake -- No Phone

storybreak: alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

The Mavericks -- Dance The Night Away
Dan Hicks w/ Elvis Costello -- Meet Me On The Corner
Toots and the Maytals w/ Willie Nelson -- Still Is Still Moving To Me
Some weird megaphone-esque German cover of Oops I Did It Again I found on BoingBoing, you really have to hear this.
Indigo Girls -- Get Out The Map
John Mayer -- My Stupid Mouth

storybreak: green eggs and ham

Michael Franti -- Yes I Will (acoustic)
Olu Dara -- Your Lips
Johnny Cash -- Personal Jesus
The Band -- Rag Mama Rag
Mosquitoes -- Boombox
Nirvana -- Polly

storybreak: where the wild things are

Ryan Adams -- Desire
Ani Difranco -- Studying Stones
Marc Cohn -- Mama's In The Moon
Ray Lamontagne -- Jolene
Patty Griffin -- Take It Down
Willie Nelson -- Always On My Mind (live w/ Johnny Cash)
Simon & Garfunkel -- American Tune (live)
The Grascals -- Viva Las Vegas

You've been listening to Tributary, your ten to midnight show on WNMH Northfield, MA. Tributary: from the airwaves to the stream, it's all about flow.

Missed the show again? Sign up here to recieve a weekly reminder.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:01 AM | 0 comments

Monday, May 02, 2005

Bacon Bandaids, Tipping Off Time Travelers 

1. Fat-free cutcovers. Because Archie McPhee always kicks kitsch up a notch. Best if worn, not eaten.

2. MIT holds time traveler's convention in the hopes that some will actually show. Wanna help? Plant details about convention information in oral and print culture, and be sure to include latitude/longitude info in case the problem of time travel isn't solved "until long after MIT has faded into oblivion. Biggest news here, of course, is that MIT is willing to accept that it may not exist forever, at least in the same location. It's worthy of mention when a big brandname admits to its impermanence.

Both links via Boingboing. Wonderful things, indeed.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:34 PM | 0 comments

Familial Art 

Calling all New Yorkers! My brother, an up and coming artist in the NYC scene, will be featured in yet another gallery show this coming weekend. In his own words:
I'm going to be part of an interesting and fun event that Parker's Box is putting on from May 6th-8th. It's a twist on the idea of an art fair -- artists will be there to represent galleries, instead of vice versa, with projects that play on in the format of the art fair booth. The roster of participants looks solid, and the whole event sounds like it will be a sort of an art carnival, spread over three gallery spaces plus the sidewalk.

Artists will be manning their own booths during the show, so I'll be there for the duration. Come visit me! I'm presenting a fragment of a very large work in progress, titled Meta Burden, which will itself serve as my booth area. I'll also be selling "souvenirs" of Meta Burden -- miniature reproductions of parts of the piece, each a unique work in itself, for cheap.
Official details, directions, and a list of artists and galleries represented here. The opening takes place on Friday, May 6th, from 6-10pm; gallery hours for Saturday and Sunday will be 1-7pm. Check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:44 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, May 01, 2005

May Day, 2005 

This morning, small neighborhood children
have left a Spring bouquet -- jonquils, bluets,
a short branch of forsythia in one-sided bloom,
tiny whitelavender violets,
a single tulip like an easter egg --
wrapped in a construction paper cone
on our doorstep.

We put them in glass, borrow water
from the daffodills from grandma's garden
picked yesterday, still ripe and yellow.

Later, I go outside to watch the clouds clear.
When I step back in the house
Willow is still arranging flowers
in three glasses on the bookcase
but the flowers have lost their heads
while I was away.

Willow arranges stems, beautiful
and yellow-headed among scattered petals,
drops of yesterday's water
clinging to her arms like rain.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:47 PM | 0 comments


There are ants in the house, mostly in the kitchen, where sticky countertops and floors reflect our hectic two-child life. An afternoon wiping them dead with wet paper towels is unsatisfactorily temporary, like routing an endless army from a single battlefield: ten minutes, an hour, the next morning under the coffeepot tiny black particles stagger among spilled grounds. We've even vacuumed them up. Relentless, they return, popping around cabinet doors, chair legs, dirty mugs beside the sink.

These ants come in two distinct types. The first, a tiny ubiquitous breed that scatter in all directions like so many tiny sunspots along the linoleum, seem to be coming through the heating vent, though of course old wooden houses like ours are riddled with tiny warp-and-woof floorslat crevices, gaping cracks where doors rot away from their moulding. Then there are their larger cousins who, though less populous, seem to have infested the pantry cabinets; it is these sumo ants who scurry across the sink fearless while the dishwater water runs.

The ants, too, are a metaphor for everything. They way they've infiltrated the house. The way they come back day after day. The way they scurry to and fro, reclaiming spaces we thought were ours. As our time here grows short, the twofold darkness comes in at the corners: the jobsearch begins to close fruitless; the unsupportable family grows, demands, becomes rich and full even as the unthinkable future flows headlong in our direction, dark as molasses, shiny as polished stones, as inevitable as an army.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:35 PM | 0 comments
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