Sunday, July 10, 2005

Blogging In 

Alex, who is also on the market, points to Bloggers Need Not Apply, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that suggests blogging is inherently problematic to prospective employers in academic, both in tone (potentially) and in fact (always).

I'm not terribly worried about my first meeting with my new Superintendent Monday morning. Anonymity helps, of course. But even if I had not already gone the way of the pseudonymous, like Alex, I tend to believe that I wouldn't want to work for folks who couldn't accept that the great benefits blogging brings me professionally outweigh the potential drawbacks. As the article notes, many of us have learned to blog appropriately, and our records -- and archives -- show that.

Mostly, though, I feel safe because, as a high school instructional technologist, I am usually the only one in the room who can perform and/or understand such a backstory search. As such, I enjoy a kind of protection that Higher Ed folks generally do not: if they could find me here, they wouldn't have needed me there. Thus, though I'm okay if they find me, I assume otherwise: when your job is to bring blogging to the program, potential for discovery and trackability are low.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:57 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Week Of Birthdays 

Living the nomadic life amidst busy people makes for a complicated series of temporary tentstops. Instead of large-scale gatherings of the clans -- our usual mode of familial interaction -- we spend the summer wandering from oasis to oasis, grateful for the support of family and fellow festivalgoers.

Take a gander at the next few weeks: from here, we hit the in-laws for a M-F business week, slip down to a longer week of early volunteering gigs and mule-field camping at second home Falcon Ridge, settle into one house and then another down along the cape with my mother. Three more weeks somewhere currently TBA, and I start work on the 29th of August.

In the midst of all this unowned existence comes my wife's birthday (8/9), our anniversary (8/18)... and, this Friday, firstchild Willow's third birthday.

The in-laws have been great about inviting us into their home, but hosting a major party there is bit more than any of us signed on for. Too, that's the weekend of the Green River Festival, the usual kickoff for our weekly festweek, and this year we gave Dad a ticket for his birthday. And most of Willow's friends live 45 miles away. And most are on vacation elsewhere.

So there was cake and a candle at our dim sum lunch with Mom, and again at the kid-friendly nouveau supperspace. Presents earlier at the hotel: books, tapes, and a promise of more to follow; a midafternoon at the museum of her choice. Plans are for some present-giving and cakestuff up in Brattleboro on the 14th itself. Surely some of bro-in-law Josh's birthday celebration on Saturday will be for her as well.

So, another silver lining. So much mine, from her tantrums and power games and glee in the playspaces of the Children's Museum to her social awareness and fashion sense; so sweet and resilient in the midst of chaos; so deserving, and I managed to give her a week of Birthdays without even trying.

I'd rather have a home somewhere of our own, I suppose, but if it has to be this way, I'm not complaining, and neither is Willow. No shortage of wonder in this wander.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:22 PM | 36 comments

Friday, July 08, 2005

Takin' The Long Way Home 

First, the 1:30 plane out of San Francisco had a bum engine. Five hours, one beer, one cup of truly awful clam chowder, two cigarettes, and two more trips through security later, we're sitting in the same damn gate area with the same damn people when the flight attendant announces that the trouble with the first class cabin may be a security issue.

By the time we arrived at Logan, we had spent 14 hours at the mercy of American Airlines. Then the baggage compartment wouldn't open. (Ever see an entire 737-load of people shake their fists at a loudspeaker?)

So I got to the hotel at six in the morning, was up at nine handing out presents (Did you bring me chocolate kisses like I asked for, daddy?) and cooing with the baby now surprisingly large and lucid after a seventh of her life on the road. Had lunch with an even more groggy Dad in the hotel; househunted online with Darcie all afternoon; Whole Foods countertop supper and services at the synagogue with Mom and the kids until their bedtime had come and gone.

Now it's just after eleven, the girls have been sleeping for hours, and my body still thinks it's supper time. Stupid jet lag.

Yeah, I'm still hoteling it after eleven days. Sharing riverview digs with two small children isn't always easy, but these particular kids rock. Their mom does, too. And, of course, we got no home to go home to. Guess I'll take it.

Ah, who am I kidding? It was worth every minute of it. Home is where the heart is, after all. Had a great time in California with dad and wouldn't have done it any other way. And hey, I got a job to come home to. Dayenu, dayenu. It would have been enough, o Lord.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:57 PM | 1 comments

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Most Important Blog Entry I've Ever Written
or, And Now, The Moment You've All Been Waiting For... 

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with the greatest pleasure and relief that I bring you the following breaking news:

I have accepted a position as Instructional Technology Coordinator at the Wilbraham Middle School.

Yes, that's right, everybloggy. After six months of uncertainty and stress, on the very edge of homelessness and at the eleventh hour of sanity, I have a job.

A great job.

A job that covers all the myriad bases and challenges of my vocation.

A job with wonderful, dedicated coworkers and plenty of room to build a program organic to its environment.

And it's in a region we think of as home, just a half hour from Northampton and within an easy commute from some wonderful rural housing possibilities.

The school-year position will involve coordinating the integration of technology, media and computer literacies into all aspects of teaching and learning at a 7-8 public school with just over 400 students.

From classroom teaching and teacher partnerships to building an information commons and schoolwide service model, this one has it all.

And I couldn't have done it without the support of each and every one of you. Thanks for being there, folks.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to jump up and down in the lobby of the hotel grinning like an idiot.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:15 PM | 17 comments

Impressions Of San Francisco 

California Road Trip with Dad: Day 10

For starters, there's a Gap on the corner of Haight and Ashbery. Sure, the surrounding blocks boast psychadelic storefronts and vintage clothing stores, but the block is otherwise full of faux hippie cache no true hippie could ever afford. And no, the Ben and Jerry's on the opposite corner doesn't make up for it. Overcommodified hippiedom isn't real hippiedom.

The Exploratorium may be an award-winning, world-class museum of science and technology, but on free Wednesdays in July it's packed so full of hyperactive schoolkids it's hard to get at the otherwise stellar exhibit tidbitry. Bonus, though: adjacent to the museum is what appears to be the world's largest pushbutton. In bright orange. On roman pillars, overlooking a pond with painted turtles and huge catfish that let you get up close to take pictures. You can see it from all over the city; Dad says they build it for some world's fair and never took it down.

Lunch and biscotti in North Beach, which is neither North nor a beach. San Francisco's answer to Little Italy seems on the verge of being swallowed whole by Chinatown. Hard to picture the Chinese moving into those great old churchsteeples.

Found a great storefront among the clonestores in Chinatown today which featured more Hello Kitty merch than even the most avid collector could fit in their studio apartment. Total bonus here, too: not one but two unlicensed almost-ran characters, a "Mr. Bear" Winnie the Pooh riding a barrel labeled chingdong and an orange plastic robot that turns into a Rhinocerous and back again labeled -- I kid you not -- Trans Forner. That'll teach me not to bring my camera everywhere, eh?

Dinner at Helmand, yet another Zagat-rated eatery. The restaurant, "an oasis of good taste on Broadway's garish topless strip," features the best Afghani food in a thousand miles. The lamb and yogurt was amazing; the pumpkin divine; the tableside Turkish coffee prep a stellar end to a gourmet's delight of a meal. Can't speak for the neon pornshacks nearby, but they, too, seemed pretty empty for a Wednesday night.

Home tomorrow, a full day of nothing but travel. We start at 10:30 with a rental car return, fly out at 1:30, and, if we're lucky, I'll be in the Newton Mariott with my sleeping wife and kids by midnight. Miss you, girls. Daddy's coming home soon, I promise.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:10 PM | 1 comments

Family Interlude 

My Father's Cousin Kenneth -- whose home we visited way back at the start of this Califonia venture -- is taking his family to Hawaii. Dad's been to Hawaii. The following email exchange ensues:
Kenneth: Do you guys remembers which helicopter company you toured with in Kauai?

Dad: Sorry - just another one of those memories now completely lost. Have a wonderful time.

Kenneth: When we crash, I'll think of u.

They also had an odd back-and-forth a few weeks ago in which Kenneth remarked that having my father come by was like a visit from his favorite rock star. Ah, says Dad, which rock star? Meat Loaf, says Kenneth -- and meets us at the door wearing a Meat Loaf tour shirt when we arrive.

In the car afterwards, we couldn't decide which was more disturbing: that Kenneth might actually own a Meat Loaf shirt, or the prospect that Kenneth had acquired a Meat Loaf shirt just for the joke.

This is our family, says Dad. My family rocks.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:36 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

San Francisco Treats 

California Road Trip with Dad: Day 9

Woke up this morning in the Hotel Rex, a funky Union Square spot "inspired by the San Francisco art and literary salons of the 1920s and 30s" where the elevator is papered with old social registers, the carpeting is exhilarating, and a Jack London quote proclaiming a preference for ashes over dust greets us each day at the end of our hall. Made a very important phone call (more on this once the rest of the details get ironed out), planned the day with Dad over french toast with figs and a hot latte in the hotel lobby restaurant, and hit the town.

Downhill. Then uphill at an unnatural, almost unwalkable angle. Then downhill again to Chinatown for pork buns (yum!) and window shopping. Then uphill on a steep incline to wait for the cable car, on which I subsequently hung like a monkey from the sides, and got so engrossed in conversation with tourists from the likes of Kentucky and Ireland that I almost lost my head to the side of a double-parked van. I'm loving San Francisco, but I'll never underestimate the gentle slopes of our native New England again. How do people do this without killing their calves all day?

Anyhoo. Made it to the tourist traps of Fisherman's Wharf almost two hours early, so after a generally unimpressive shrimp salad at an outdoor fishhouse we hit the much-ballyhooed Musee Mechanique, a wonderful, raucous collection of boardwalk games, animatrons, and pennyplay arcade attractions. Put a quarter (or two) into a slot and marionettes jaw up and down to the tinny sounds of "Sweet Adeline," photos of bathing black-and-white beauties appear for a few seconds, and, in one memorable case, an entire town of pickaninnies and farm animals chew, suckle, hop, dance, play banjo and otherwise wiggle back and forth for a good thirty seconds. Neat stuff, as you can sort-of see on the website; pity there were no postcards available.

Just in time from there to be first on, first off the boat for Alcatraz. If you ever make it to the Rock, see the movie play on four consecutive and simultaneous screens in an odd moment of endless recursion Zen ("75 thousand years ago a glacier formed an island in San Francisco bay..."), take the award-winning audio tour of the tiny prison cellblocks, and don't forget to spend a moment or two in solitary -- but watch out for the seagulls when you wait for the return trip. Some too-loud touring soccer player from Leeds got "tagged" in the back of his tourjacket just a foot or two away from me, thus entertaining his also-raucous friends and (more secretly) the rest of us in line, which just goes to show you how thin the line is between hilarious and "man, now my jacket is ruined and I'm going to smell like rotting fish all day."

Now Dad's relaxing upstairs while I blog in the hotel business center, where ancient and unusable Smith and Corona typewriters and old black-and-white photos of Hammett and London nestle among the flatscreens and laserprinters. Reservations for a late dinner tonight at a Catalonian food restaurant -- Dad's eyes lit up when the concierge mentioned it. Two more nights in the Rex to go; plan for tomorrow includes hippie-kitsch at the Haightwith a sixty percent chance of the Exploratorium.

Plan for the following day is pretty much just get the heck out of here and back to the East Coast, where I'll be arriving past midnight to a sleeping family ensconced in a Boston hotel for the weekend. Can't wait to see my family once again. This morning on the phone Willow seemed much less stressed about my absence, which is, like everything else, both wonderful and really, really hard.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:42 PM | 0 comments

Monday, July 04, 2005

Missing You (And The Festivities, Too) 

California Road Trip With Dad: Day 8

And on the eighth day there was email again, and it was so good to be heading towards cyberspace after three days on the unpopulated coastline we skipped the Mendocino Fourth of July parade and the San Francisco fireworks. Okay, really we just wanted to get an early start on the 180 mile drive. And we didn't want to walk up the hill with the crowds and stand for far too long in the chilly air just to see the sky explode, because who needs more exploding when the waves have been exploding around us for so many days now?

Nice supper at Zingari, though; Wild Boar osso bucco really hit the spot. And we did stop at Muir Woods National Park on the way into SanFran to hug redwoods, as promised. Damn, those things are huge: wide and deep and endlessly tall. And they really are red, a deep cedar inside and out. Meta alert, if you ever go: in the state park gift shop they sell tiny trees carved out of local fallen giants. Coolfactor: if you're limber enough, you can crawl inside a hollowed out trunk and get a hug from a redwood, too.

Called home from the parking lot and checked in with the wife and kid. Willow had little to say save are you still on your trip? Talking with me on the phone reminds her that I'm gone, so I keep it short. Darcie says she's been talking about being sad that I'm gone, now wants only me at her birthday party the weekend after we return. Other than a few ultimately unproductive overnights for interviews in the Spring, I've not been away from her overnight since she was a year old. It's not the same.

Back home at the hotel the mailbox was full of spousal send-alongs from the other coast: Willowisms (I don't want that [picture], I want my real Daddy!), photos (Darcie and the baby resting; Willow making jam with Grandma; Cassia grinning for the camera), and a lovely note from the ever-supportive and wonderful Darcie too personal to recap here in the bloggiverse, complete with an anecdote about some folks (hi, folks!) Darcie met at church who seem to have been dedicated listeners all those radioland years now sadly behind me. They have little tykes, too; Darcie suggested dinner with them when I return and I'm all for it.

Dad and I spend much of our time talking about the family, now. I want to and I don't, if you know what I mean, but it turns out to be one of the many, many wonderful things we have in common, and I guess if you have to miss the ones you love, it's best to do so with someone you love.

But late at night when the city sleeps I take out the picture of my three girls and send kisses into the air, just like I promised I would. In the morning, they come down gentle in Vermont, settle on their soft cheeks like breezes. I just know it.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 1 comments

Backblogs From The Road 

California Road Trip with Dad: Days 6 and 7

No net access for the past few days, but I blogged on the laptop and have pasted in below. New content about today/tomorrow sometime in the next few hours once we've settled in our SanFran digs. Wish you were here...

Saturday, 7/2: Inverness

Morning in Inverness: fresh self-ground coffee on the hunting lodge deck as the fog burns off towards the coast. The blackberries off the railing are ripe and just out of reach; blue-crested birds call shimmery through the trees. The cove shines bright with sun between the branches.

Yesterday was a whirlwind of wildlife and coastal vistas. We saw seals basking on surf rocks in Monterrey, passed within a foot or two of a single unhorned deer just inside Point Reyes National Seashore. The otters at the aquarium in the morning rolled and splashed with blue bathtoys set in ice; jellyfish spun cilliated in their tanks like tiny seafaring robotics.

Sure, we stopped for gas a couple of times, drove through San Francisco access roads to see the line of carefully escorted cars lined up to head down precarious Lombard on this busy Fourth of July weekend Saturday, fought mist and traffic over the Golden Gate. A few precarious miles past the bridge we hit Stinson Beach, a long once-deserted stretch of sand Dad used to wander solo on his business trips to San Francisco, to find it teeming with determined picnic families and surfers packing up after a day of waves despite the heavy fog-chilled air.

But these were the passthroughs. Just one day past the midpoint of our roadtrip, and we seem to have achieved a harmony with the world we travel. In return, the world rewards us with wonder.

Last night we drove the windy, steep single lanes of Inverness North to sit three hours plus in the main dining room of the Minka, infamous for its prix fixe menu; ate local leek and sorrel soup, deer chop, rabbit sausage in a carrot reduction, crab legs, lemon sorbet, fresh figs and cheeses all made, picked, or caught within fifteen miles of here. Even the dessert chocolates and mint ice cream were homemade.

Though there is no network access here in the wooded hills above Inverness, I am reminded that my first big blog entry covered a similarly local-made meal, palate sorbet and all. Before the fall, the second child, the trip to the other side of the country like the other side of the world. Back then, the charm was in the details: waitresses, menu, tablemates, experience. Now, a hundred hundred miles away, a thousand thousand years from that self, I find that some suppers defy description, some moments defy analysis.

Now a hummingbird sips from some California tree nectar nearby in the otherwise unpopulated air. From our perch called The Perch we can see no houses, no people, no roads. We’ll pack, hit the winding coast for Mendocino by nightfall, with three nights in San Francisco to follow: move on, not now, but soon enough. But if I have learned anything here, been reminded or grown into myself in three years and thirty, it is this:

Wander in style, and the universe takes care of you. As it should, if you let it.

Sunday, 7/3: Mendocino

Another evening, another stunning vista. Tonight we’re in Mendocino, watching the sun set over a beautiful inlet from faded wooden chairs on our respective ranch-fenced porches. Raggedwing hawks fly by at eye level; tall waves crash endlessly into and around rocky crags that rise from the surf like icebergs. Far below, the day’s last denizens squint into the sun’s last rays on sparsely populated beaches, pack up their day’s encampments.

No one lives on these rocky coasts and steep cliffsides, really. We’ve passed more cows than people over our four hundred mile jaunt up the switchbacks. In New England these coasts would be dense with tiny houses jostling for the smallest view. Here, though, the hills grow green and brown and sparse like the potato farms of Ireland.

Some of this is state park land, to be sure. But the caustic backbend roads belie another truth: the coastline between LA and San Francisco must be seen as inaccessible, somehow. Even the visitors don’t bother to sit on the rocks – most take photos from the road, where a hundred miles of dirt pullovers beckon amateur photographers. Fourth of July weekend, and though the parking lots are full, they only hold a couple dozen vacationers at most.

Which only proves to me, again, the validity of my own sense of where home is. I’m a smalltown guy, now, thanks to years of travel and adaptation with a smalltown Vermont girl. The joys of tinylife appeal to me – small stores, friendly people, slowpaced life.

So I revel in lastgasp hippie jewelry and hempstuff as we drive through Point Reyes Station. I celebrate coming out of the redwood forests and streamside meanders to the half-deserted town of Boonville to find the perfect espresso milkshake in what must surely be the world’s only dobro-and-banjo-themed ice cream shop. I look for the work of local artists, close the small boutiques of seaside Mendocino. And standing, alone and in the fog, on the beach in the morning, watching the waves tower over me and crash at my feet, I smile, and thank the God I believe in on those better days for those better days, and for these better places.

But moments aren’t home: the seaside world here is too expensive, too remote, too sporadic to feel like more than a place to visit. Thanks – a thousand thanks – to Dad for planning out a California road trip that skips most of the dense suburban spaces inland, and appeals to my better half; thanks a thousand times more, Dad, for the ongoing company, the deep conversation, the time for growing together. Thanks to Darcie, though, for giving me a sense of place far away from here, on the other side of the country.

Dear Darcie, there’s cows here; the hawks circle overhead; grass turns brown in the hot sun. The world is real here in ways we never expected; there is authenticity where I wander. But it’s not the same. No matter where I am, I’ll always love the tinytowns of New England most of all. I miss you, honey. Can’t wait to be home.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:48 PM | 0 comments

Friday, July 01, 2005

Up The Canyons 

California Road Trip with Dad: Day 5

Hearst Castle this morning, the biggest darn house in the most inaccessible place ever. If you haven't been, you should, if only to come to the startling nobrow realization that Hearst's collecting of ancient artifacts and famous visitors is fundamentally no different from the autograph-seeking tendencies of the screeming adolescents seen days ago along the BET red carpet barriers. Through this marble threshold passed Michelangelo and Popes, Gable and Flynn, indeed. Class is so arbitrary.

Followed our tour with a long gorgeous drive up the precarious and switchback-laden Pacific coastline. Stopped a couple of times to take pictures, most notably at a beautiful state park walkway overlooking a 28-foot waterfall onto a pristine beach somewhere before Carmel, but the whole thing started seeming dreamy and undescribable after a while. Mostly we just gawked and drove and listened to some old NPR interviews (Terri Gross vs. a host of comedians) on CD. Man, this Cali coast is something else. Can't figure out why it's so sparsely populated.

Great late lunch at Nepenthe, a hilltop spot miles from anything else famous for the hippie lifestyle and an unfortunately clouded view; forgot to get gas again and had to pay over three bucks a gallon in the middle of Big Sur nowhere, but serendipity granted us a decent funky gift shop alongside, so all was worth it after all.

Checked in by six at another one-night-stand in Monterey, a small shopspot full of marinas and bars. Passed high waves on great beaches, which I hope to actually set foot on tomorrow before we head back up the coast, on our way to a decent gourmet supper; discovered heaven in Key Lime Mojitos with fresh mint and lime juice. Cheesy pop-blues and drinks at a decent bar in honor of the recent passage of Luther Vandross; off to blog and bed in the raw wood four-posters of the Hotel Pacific.

Early morning phone call back home today, but Darcie wasn't home, and talk with almost-three Willow, while satisfying in its own right, only led her to an increasingly distressing realization that Daddy was far away and not coming home for a while. It's nice to be missed, I suppose, but hard to have to cut things short to make things easier for her. Miss you too, kid. I'll try again tomorrow before we hit the infamous Monterey Aquarium down along the tourist traps of Cannery Row.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 30 comments

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Journey Continues 

California Road Trip with Dad: Day 4

Checked out of our post West Holloywood digs today after a late sleep-in, and hit the road for a long haul up the coast -- 240 miles from LA to the midcoast via a holy host of smalltowns, oceanfront views, and small black cattle grazing on the dry brown hills, all to an alternating soundtrack of short stories on CD and the Jamband channel on the well-equippped rental car's satellite radio service.

Hunger hit around Santa Barbara, so we headed downtown for a shared tamale lunch at a funky mexican spot and a short walkabout among the pseudo-south-of-the-border shops before getting back on the road. Left on fumes without realizing it; gassed up in tiny Buellton (home of split pea soup, according to the billboards) after an endless nail-biting miles of state parkland; flew through Santa Monica's artificial suburbia-sans-city, and hit the tiny tourist town of Cambria in time for a suite check-in, a quick clothing change, and a gourmet halibut-and-mushroom-marsalla supper at local Zagat fave Robin's.

The Cali coast is an alien place if you're used to the Eastern seaboard's coastal density. Where New England's shores show the strain of three hundered years of goods shipped by ship, here, miles upon miles of sparsely populated beachfront property reflects a history of post-industrialism settlement, electric cross-country transport and the large-scale land grabs of rich miners and cattle barons.

Today's most striking moments, though, were weather-related. Clouds lined the distant seascape horizon all day like a second sea; the bright clear sun alternated with low and chilly cloudcover for the last hundred miles up the coast as if there were two entirely different kinds of California, off and on, minute by minute. Most stunning: driving into some random sunlit valley as the low linear clouds poured over the nearby rocky hills like fogfingers on Mars, a wave of doom blotting over the sun as we came closer. Never wished more for the ability to photograph panoramas by vehicle, or the ability to describe landscape like a painter.

Heast Castle at 10:30 tomorrow -- no possibility of second chances if we miss our long-scheduled tourtime, so we're off to bed early. If Monterrey has 'net access, too, I'll report in again tomorrow.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:58 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

La La Land 

California Road Trip With Dad: Day 3

Universal Studios today. No rides, of course -- two bad backs do not a thrillseeking couple make -- but the studio tour was pretty cool, the on-site shows entertaining, and the cycle of brand reinforcement throughout the park even tighter than the Disney experience. The crowds were relatively light, given the midweek timeframe, and we managed to see everything we wanted to just in time to hit rush hour traffic on our way back to our West Hollywood digs.

I'm continually interested by the lack of walls between "the industry" and the rest of the universe out here. LA bursts at the seams with street names and townships intimately familiar to even the most casual member of mass culture; everyone's neighbor works in the industry in one way or another.

Today's studio tour, for example, crept several times past a day's filming of Crossing Jordan, hit houses recognizable from sitcoms and film, and ended with a drive through the disaster set for the Cruise/Robbins vehicle War of the Worlds which was released today (which means I've seen part of that movie before you, even if you hit it on opening day).

Those of us not used to the phenom laugh when we hear about Hollywood wannabes passing screenplays through actor's hairdesser's cousins, but the truth is, I guess, that the rich and famous are just everyday people here, likely to pop up anywhere -- they really do have hairdressers who chat with them, and so I suppose passing your life's work to them that way is just another normality here. Just like in the movies.

Tonight over huge (and hugely expensive) dinner steaks at the Palm Dad pointed out that most of the people around us were famous, but I couldn't really identify anyone obvious, and I think we both knew it wasn't enough of a big deal to rubberneck. We've come a long way from our first-day jokes about shopping at the supermarket of the stars. Guess we've been in LA just long enough. Tomorrow we head North towards Hearst Castle and the great beaches of the Pacific coast, with redwood hugging to follow.

Disclaimer for friends of my father who are following our exploits via this blog: all blogfodder and subsequent blogging here are the product of my own impressions and, as such, any extrapolation of my father's impressions, activities, or other behavior during this road trip should be taken with a fairly substantive block of sodium chloride. But you knew that already, eh? Oh, and by the way, though we found this phenomenon of temporary second-tier observership -- call it companion-blogging, or second-hand companion observation -- a bit creepy at first, overall, it's pretty neat from a social networking geek perspective.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:23 PM | 0 comments

I Love LA 

California Road Trip with Dad: Day 2

A visit to the tourist traps of Hollywood turned into an accidental brush with fame today when Dad and I crashed the BET Awards rehearsal. If I had any clue about modern mass culture I'd probably have some great names to drop. As it is, all I can say is that the rapper on stage five feet away from us was decent, the screaming hordes outside the barriers were hilarious and teeny-bopperish, and the red carpet at the Kodak Theater is as lush and vivid as it looks on television.

Wouldn't have happened, of course, if we had been one of the young 'uns trying desperately to catch a glimpse of the black and famous. Instead, there we were, lost in the mall, merely looking for a way down to the streetside stars on Hollywood Boulevard, stymied at every turn by blockades and security checkpoints, when a security guard with a twinkle in his eye -- correctly tagging us as the whitest of white tourists -- decided that, rather than giving us directions, he'd have a little fun.

"You see that red carpet down there? Just cut under this rope and head down the red carpet. You can't miss the street. Hey, you can even tell your friends you walked down the red carpet."

And there we were, as if invisible, walking with the press and publicists past security guards and silent shutdown storefronts on the main drag, until we passed a final clipboard-holding man who never gave us a second glance and ended up among a dozen or so members of some random entourage, staring at the stage while the hordes pushed at the barriers from either side and a dozen other black and famous ignored us from just a few inches away.

We gawked for a minute, amazed at the wonder of it all; turned, decided not to press our luck by promenading down the carpeted street past the barriers and screaming teenagers, found instead a gap in the gates behind the stage, headed out towards the street.

Grummans Chinese Theater was good, too -- costumed characters, century-old handprints, the infamous lions by the entrance. But somehow, after our brush with the real Hollywood, Whoopie Goldberg's dread-print in the concrete didn't seem as impressive as we expected it to.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:32 AM | 1 comments

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In The City Of Angels 

California Road Trip with Dad: Day 1

First morning in LA, yet another part of the world both like and totally unlike everything this wanderer has experienced. Just back from a full breakfast by the pool and Stevie Wonder's son; had a few minutes to blog before heading out to Ventura via the Chinese Theater to see a whole side of my father's family I've never met.

We're a long way from yesterday. Leaving Vermont at sunup to beat Boston rush hour I got stopped twice on my way out by cows crossing the road, but voyage to the airport solo -- and then with Dad -- was otherwise uneventful. Had no idea it took 6 hours to fly across the country. Thank god for nicotine gum.

LAX by midafternoon, picked up the rental car, headed out past glitterati cars and Rodeo Drive to West Hollywood and Le Montrose Hotel, a wood-paneled hotspot currently under renovation but still famous as a popular meet-and-greet for musicians and their agents. Fireplace in the suite and a hot tub on the rooftop; a grand vista of palm trees, smog, and cliffside ranch mansions just like in the movies.

Drove down to Santa Monica Pier for my first look at the Pacific waves and to ogle the boardwalk in the setting sun. Vagrants mix with the Hilton-esque blonde and tan under the psychedelic ferris wheel; the smell of fried food rises over the traffic and saltspray. Fine Italian dining on the patio at Il Fornaio, a Zagat-rated spot just off-pier, and back to the airport to trade the car in for another that didn't hurt Dad's back as much.

What with the early morning start and the time change, by the time we got back off the rental lot I had been up for 20 hours, was getting pretty loopy. Crashed back at the hotel by eleven. Up refreshed at 7:30. Maybe I'll be a morning person here.

Two more nights here in the city of angels and we're on our way up the coast. Thanks to those who have already written in with SF suggestions -- keep 'em coming, folks!

posted by boyhowdy | 12:53 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Just A Note Before I Go 

In town at Dad-in-law's office checking email and blog for one last time before tomorrow's early morning lift-off to California. Nice to be in the air-conditioning on another ninetynine degree day, even if the ethernet connection here is a bit slower than I'm used to. Rumor has it LA is hot but San Fran is not, so it's back to the house quick to pack sweaters and sundries, spend a lazy afternoon with the wife and kids I'll miss so much.

Very excited, by the way, about this road trip with Dad. We both need it, and each other; Dad is wonderful, serious, hilarious and intellectual company, with similar musical tastes (reminder to self: get yet another iTrip). Biggest problem I foresee is that we both prefer to drive, not ride. Guess we'll have to learn to share -- they say it's never too late.

I'll be blogging on the fly when and where I can over the next couple of weeks. Those with advice for a newbie spending three days in the San Fran area, please speak up; I'll surely have time to check in before that final leg of the trip.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:16 AM | 4 comments

Saturday, June 25, 2005

And So My Wandering Began 

Back today to sweep, scavenge, and scrape the last vestiges of our existence from school and home. The empty wood floors echo my footsteps; the house no longer seems like ours to leave behind. So be it, I guess. A couple more hours work and I'll lock the keys inside, walk away easy and light.

The office is easier: even if I get a job -- and there are still a few veryexciting prospects in the works -- I'll not need the bulk of current deskclutter. Two boxes, a quick dump into the already overflowing storage unit, a pocket full of data disks, and voila, seven years of heart-and-soul world-changing becomes just another piece of my history. (It's okay, though. A generation of students and teachers left with the most important product of all those change-agency years long ago, bless 'em.)

And the present? Looks like Brattleboro will serve me well, for the time being. The fam goes to bed by 9:30, leaving this night-owl to wander the downtown streets, prowl bars full of acquaintences and old college chums. As with any sort of homecoming, surely, the wandering garners thoughful perspective of the road not taken: last night's funk band bass player, once a couch-crashing friend, still lives in a borrowed trailer less than ten miles from the college.

But family will come first, for a while -- all we have right now is each other, after all. The winding, rural road we have chosen has dial-up, and the road itself offers little for the cyberagent ill-equipped for public wireless. So sporadic blogaccess

See you in the fast lane, folks. Here's hoping we'll come down safely, however long the adventure lasts. Check in from time to time, will you?

posted by boyhowdy | 1:14 PM | 7 comments

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Life In Storage 

Everything we own -- minus the important stuff, of course: too many clothes, two cars and a camper, the family itself -- now resides indefinitely in a 10 x 20 storage unit. And it only took two grueling days of packing and cleaning and heavy lifting; three trips in the U-Haul; hard sleep in the camper last night and again tonight: it's a miracle my back works at all.

We'll be bringing the short-term stuff with us, mostly. It's hard to wander light when you're living the life nomadic with two small children.

But we'll have to pack the remaining bring-along fast, for the last day has come and gone. Tomorrow brings official homelessness as our little band of four becomes true wanderers. We start our journey at the in-laws. They have dial-up.

Driving through the campus tonight on my usual late-night trip to the info commons, it occurs to me that this is my last night here after seven years on-campus. Funny how it feels like home. Goodbye, NMH. I'll miss your carefully manicured rolling hills. See pretty much every blogentry from January on for more moving and poignant farewell fodder; after 48 hours of muscle movement, I just don't have the pith in me tonight.

Sorry, by the way, for what appears to be a straight week of self-centered three-paragraphers. What else can I say but moving is tiring, moving from somewhere to nowhere kills the soul, spending day after day preparing to move leaves little room for the usual web and culture surfing that produces infoglut gem passalongs and medialit culture rants. Dial-up or no, I hope to be back on my blogfeet pretty soon.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:24 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Different Season 

Two interviews in two days after two months of total drought. A double-sized paycheck -- I knew I worked reunion for a reason. A boxed-up life, almost.

In bed last night Willow had an epiphany: If you build a house with NO chimney, then the wolf can't blow it down. He can't come in! Meanwhile, 9-weeker Cassia teeters on the cusp of self-awareness, has learned to suck her thumb but keeps startling herself: Hey, this tastes great...wait a minute, I can FEEL that!

Maybe it's the full moon, a huge blood-orange lantern in tonight's otherwise-clear sky. Maybe it's just officially Summer. Whatever it is, it feels organic and good. Bring it on, universe.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:34 PM | 0 comments

Monday, June 20, 2005

Time Keeps On Slipping: An Era Ends 

So it's about ten forty five and I'm sitting on the porch with the headphones on, smoking a cigarette at the full bright moon, taking a break from the laundry-and-pack, humming along to some random live cover of Video Killed the Radio Star by Ben Folds when all of a sudden the homunculus wakes up.

Radio show.

I forgot to do the radio show.

Damn summer mode.

Kinda fitting, though, to run a seat-of-the-pants pirate show for the final curtain. No one's listening, the house is a mess, and I forgot to bring that awsome mix CD Rachel made me, but hey, I'm here, playing my angsty, anxious heart out, and the feed's up on eleven.

Playlist for the last ever tributary, the longest running show in the 25-year history of WNMH, follows. No prose or poetry, just a last gasp of illicit tuneage in the dark. Keep an eye open for slightly sappy situational relevance (esp. in the lyrics) but don't expect cohesion. Now we just have to clean the office and pick up the U-Haul, and we're outta here, folks.

Last Ever Tributary 6/20/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Biscuit Boys -- Ramblin' Fever
Beck -- Hell Yeah
Cake -- I Will Survive
Digable Planets -- Rebirth Of Slick
Galactic -- Coolin' Off
Kris Delmhorst -- Little Wings
Aimee Mann -- Ghost World
Indigo Girls -- Galileo
Evan Dando -- Pancho and Lefty
Lucy Kaplansky -- It Ain't Me Babe
Richard Shindell -- So Says The Whipporwill
Tony Furtado Band -- I Ain't Got No Home
Ani DiFranco -- Angry Anymore
Wilco -- Hummingbird
Keller Williams -- Anyhow, Anyway
Patty Griffin -- Take It Down
Nick Drake -- Pink Moon
Biscuit Boys -- Ramblin' Fever (reprise)

From Funk to Folk, from Jazz to Jambands, from Blues to Bluegrass and everything in between: Long live Tributary. As long as there are archives, a hundred Monday evenings are forever accessible. As long as there is memory, may each playlist, each song, each show ricochet around my brain. You are...a radio star...

posted by boyhowdy | 10:46 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Down To The Wire 

My back's bad again, which puts a serious crimp in packing plans. And I've got a cold coming in from Willow via preschool. Total deja vu.

But our stuff spread pretty far in our five-month house. I've got an interview in Boston Tuesday, the U-Haul cometh Wednesday, Friday brings homelessness. So other than a wonderful breakfast-as-supper and a morning jaunt up to the in-laws, I spent much of father's day hauling boxes and cranking out the laundry in spite of the pain, or to spite it. Because you can't put your life in storage unless you box it up first -- it's the law or something.

Between backbreaking bend-and-press, though, I sat on the porch and read about West Coast eateries, redwood forests, and how to get tickets for major network television tapings. California, here we come! Ten-day itinerary for the road trip with Dad has us travelling up the coast from LA to a decent bit beyond San Fran; if you've been, feel free to pass along suggestions.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:50 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Details, Details 

Boiled my resume down to two pages at the suggestion of the ex-husband of one of my father's dance partners (a "long-time prep school administrator"). New, lean fighting machine resume 2.0 blows old, flabby four-pager out of the water. Now, if I only had somewhere to send it.

In other nuts-and-bolts news, I've added the entirety of our future-as-we-know-it to the sidebar ("coming soon"). Two things, here:
  1. The nomadic lifestyle we embark upon includes but tenuous access to the blog, even in the best of times. They're still laying cable down the dirt road to the in-laws; California might not provide daily hotelnet access: new entries may become a scarce commodity as of this Friday and continuing indefinitely. Living on batteries in a field for Falcon Ridge week will, as always (2003, 2004), create blogsilence.

  2. Note that even the most basic of plans (geographical location, job) fizzle out there in the middle of August. I suppose if we were really out of hope we'd have made clearer contingency plans. Instead, here I am, pulling an all-nighter with my personal statement; God willing, some school will hire me, and we'll have a new neighborhood to settle into come September.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:59 PM | 16 comments

Friday, June 17, 2005


...because the unbloggable life continues.

Proof that Uncyclopedia Is Good For Something: the world's most comprehensive listing of "you have two cows" jokes. (See also Uncyclopedia: The Anti-Wiki).

Proof That Wikipedia Is Good For Something: An MD in the Canary Islands announces he will use Wikipedia's entry on Avian Flu as the central clearinghouse for breaking information on the virus, collecting and publishing info on pandemic prevention, mitigation and recovery. (See also: boyhowdy's wikiwatch)

Thus we see how the transformational fluidity of the wiki makes for not just up-to-date, but creates a mediaspace which truly is the best possible place for emergent, vital facts about an everchanging world in a global data-economy. Or cow jokes. Or something.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:42 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Best Spam Copy Ever 

Good evening all We are made for larger ends than Earth can encompass. Oh, let us be true to our exalted destiny.,

Great men are always of a nature originally melancholy.,

If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship we must love friends for their sake rather than our own.,

All great ideas are controversial, or have been at one time.,

Other things may change us
Spam: the internet's fortune cookie. Thanks, "Alessandro".

posted by boyhowdy | 10:57 PM | 3 comments

So Much Change, So Few Words 

Days, now, since my life has become subsumed by the unbloggable: jobsearch minutia, other people's secrets, overfamiliar tasks. Faced with penning mere, potentially vague, allusory blogentries, I stay home where it's netless, search the wantads, talk to family, watch the baby, report little.

Heat broke at 94 degrees two days ago at sunset. Now it rains all night, hovering in the fifties. Pollen washed from the air makes my feet itch like crazy. My back stiffened up in the chill; packing up the house knocked it out.

Willow built a house out of cardboard boxes in the hallway and said "aren't I being so cute, Daddy?" She started school on Tuesday, and has already stopped reporting on her days. No word on how she got the shiner under her eye, but we're guessing it's the girl next door. How weird to feel a part of her slip away overnight: my daughter has a secret life, and now she always will.

Yesterday, on the advice of several Superintendents, I formally applied to the DOE for a teaching certificate. Maybe I'll get a job for Father's Day.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:56 PM | 0 comments

Quick, Cheap, and Used 

Last Minute Auction provides a new way to hunt for great bargains on eBay by searching for auctions which meet the strict and simple criteria: 1. The auction ends in 1 hour. 2. The price is 1 dollar or less.

Weird stuff, though unless you're a fan of sewing patterns, much of it is hardly worth the shipping. (There are a few long shots, like a 99-cent guitar just waiting for a more realistic first bid, which I suppose might go for a token.) This vintage walgreens dental floss is cool, though:

File under Science-Medical

Via Random Good Stuff.

[UPDATE 6/17 1:49 am: Bought a pack of glowsticks in bulk for the cost of shipping; bid for two more. Willow will love 'em, and I can sell most of 'em for beer money during the festivals. Score!]

posted by boyhowdy | 11:46 AM | 4 comments

Monday, June 13, 2005

If You Can't Stand The Heat 

Day four of swampy, unseasonable heat and humidity up here in the Connecticut Valley, and no end in sight. Days become listless, sleep a restless impossibility. Shirts cling, soaked and spotted. The day burns like Nawlins in July.

Tomorrow's weather report calls for a high of 93, 99% humidity, and a nightime low of 78.

On the bright side, the baby loves being naked.

On the other hand, her older sister seems to share my contact allergy to pollen and grass under such weather conditions.

Coming into the studio tonight after a long day picking at unattractive job propects was like descending into a sauna. Pushing through the fog to get here was like driving underwater. The very night air smells of mildew.

Funky playlist follows in the usual half-hour increments. Sorry to those who tried to call in the first hour. Turns out the phone works better if it's hung up properly. Hey, at least I finally figured out what that beeping noise was.

Tributary 6/13/05

Skavoovie and the Epitones -- Fat Soul
Cake -- Wheels
Oysterhead -- Rubberneck Lions
Keller Williams -- Vacate
Jason Faulkner -- Both Sides Now
Calexico -- Alone Again Or

Michael Franti and Spearhead -- Everyone Deserves Music
Chris Ardoin & Double Clutchin' -- Your Love Keeps Liftin' Me (Higher and Higher)
Sam Phillips -- All Night
Guster -- Barrel of a Gun
Donna the Buffalo -- Rhythm of the Universe
The Shins -- New Slang
Toots and the Maytals w/ Trey Anastasio -- Sweet and Dandy
Jack Johnson -- The 3 Rs

moe. -- She Sends Me
Patty Griffin -- Change
They Might Be Giants -- Nightgown of the Sullen Moon
David Grey -- Caroline
Destiny's Child vs. Stevie Wonder -- Bootystition
Aberfeldy -- Love Is an Arrow
Marianne Faithful -- Love & Money
Los Lobos -- Never Take The Place Of You

Yo La Tengo -- Magnet
Acoustic Syndicate -- Rainbow Rollercoaster
Maroon 5 -- Pure Imagination
Grateful Dead -- Eyes of the World
Sarah Harmer -- Uniform Grey
Salamander Crossing -- Down in the Milltown

You've been listening to tributary, your ten to midnight monday night show here on WNMH. Don't forget to come back next week -- two weeks, and the music will fade forever.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:59 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, June 12, 2005

All Summer In A Day (Or Two) 

Coming off the best kind of three-day bender this evening -- a little rewarding yet mellow work, a little beer on the balcony with old friends, a little more work and a too-late evening swatting mosquitoes in the midst of a raging party, trading partners throughout, feeling like the eye of a storm and loving it.

A constant buzz and an unseasonable humidity made this year's Reunion weekend a smash kick-off to a summer mode traditionally only fully realized during our week volunteering at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. A precarious wrong-turn road trip up Putney Mountain in the weekend's borrowed van followed by a marina-side supper afterwards with great friend Michelle and her equally-great one-year Zinnia only promised to sustain the blossom of summerhood.

In any other year, such an early onset would be welcomed. But there is so much unknown this year: no job, no home, no savings; no severance beyond August, no plans beyond July. Job-but-not-vocation employment possibilities flash by in the paper, arrive in the mail, grow stale on my desk. I hear from the grapevine that my cover letters have been too long, too wordy, too intimidating.

Gone fishin? Or fish or cut bait? Regenerate, or attack? Halfhearted, or broken-hearted?

Willow couldn't sleep tonight because the neighborhood kids were being too loud chasing fireflies in the community gardens behind the house. Says Willow:

My old friend Max poured my bubbles in his truck and I was sad. Sometimes when a kid does something I don't like I have to hit them -- I have to! I don't like my old friends. I want to find my new friends and not play with my old friends anymore.

And so we lay there for a while side by side in the drowned-out darkness, listening to the life we love screaming in the yard outside, ever receding. She tried to sing along to Kenny Loggins for a while, I tried to stop crying. Neither of us were successful.

Eventually, she slept.

Daddy will find us another neighborhood, kid. Promise. I just need a little time, that's all. And you can be my luck, okay?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:05 PM | 0 comments


Having a blast this weekend working and hanging out with this year's reunion folks -- from the class of 2000 (my second year here) and the 1995 grads who have crashed their parties all weekend to the raucous zeal only a class of recently retired 50th reunion grads could maintain.

So much fun, in fact, I'm not really ready to stare at a screen for a while.

Does the fact that I'm writing this at 1:30 in the morning suggest anything? Cover me, guys. I'm going back in.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:28 AM | 1 comments
coming soon
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