Monday, February 27, 2006

Unblogging 

In the past 24 hours I've almostfinished two horrendously long blogposts -- one too personal to post, the other too deliberate, too political, too professionally sensitive, too academically unwieldy to pull together after a long first day back at work.

It was my daughter's first day at school today. She threw up this morning before breakfast, she was so nervous.

At the end of the day, her teacher remarked that she was great. And so smart.

The kid reports that she has a new friend named Katherine. Or Christine. And that they played all morning, and sang songs, and got into a fight, and ate snack, and made a project.

I only know because I was told.

Almostfour summers ago, the night she was born, I stayed up all night by her tiny hospital bed-on-wheels, watching her sleep in the light from the bathroom door.

I used to sneak into her room sometimes to watch her sleep, hair unruly, mouth pushed forward in sleep.

I never watch them sleep anymore.

My students, my parents, even my coworkers once and current have found my alter ego. I self-censor to protect myself, and them, and the mask I wear with each of them. The list of things-I-dare-not-blog has reached a tipping point, leaving little but the tidbit available as fodder even on the best of days.

It's not the same as it once was, doesn't serve the purpose of the true innerlife. I struggle too hard to balance the safe with the sound, end my days unfulfilled.

It bothers me to have lost my comfort zone. I miss the wholeness that I used to have in this palace, miss the holistic worldwatching that brought me here. I hate pushing the muse away when she brings me the unbloggable.

I hate not finishing things.

I'm tired.

Maybe it's time for a separate piece - a new pseudonym, a begin-again.

Maybe it's just time to move on.

Wanders do, you know. Eventually. When we become lost, and need to find our selves again.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:43 PM | 4 comments

Sunday, February 26, 2006

RIP Don Knotts 


Are you there, God? It's me, Barney...

He laid the groundwork for a hundred comedic second fiddles, and his movies made more fun than money, but from Limpet to Chicken to VW Bug sidekick Don Knotts defined the small bumbling man with the heart of gold for more than one media generation. Heck, he even got the girl on occasion.

Comprehensive CNN obit here. Shrine and performance archives here. Legacy everywhere.

Goodnight, Mr. Furley. We'll miss you.


[Update 2/26 7:34 pm: Seems this weekend's Trifecta of Passage includes actor Darren McGavin, best known as the leglamploving father from A Christmas Story, and beloved Hugo-winning bioethical scifi author Octavia Butler, who seems to have died from a fatal concussion after a fall at age 58. There is no hierarchy of death -- all will be missed.]

posted by boyhowdy | 12:25 AM | 1 comments

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blogs For (and by) UnBloggers 

I don't read many A-list blogs, mostly because the metablogs I do frequent (like BoingBoing) bring the most viral of blogfodder to my attention regardless of origin.

But in the last few weeks, several blogs have emerged which I'd read even if I weren't a blogging infoculture metageek -- blogs new and old kept by folks whose names are generally recognizable on a mass culture level outside the world of the blogosphere.

What follows is nothing comprehensive, just a taste of my subjective bestblogs whose authors are known outside the blogosphere for work done before they were bloggers. No A-listers need apply (sorry, Wil).




Brand new blogger Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker essayist and author of Blink and The Tipping Point, whose recent "discovery" of power laws introduced the concept to people who have never heard of Clay Shirky.

Douglas Rushkoff, comic artist, culture watcher, and author of businessbook Get Back In The Box: Innovation From The Inside Out.

William Gibson, greatest living science fiction author (sorry, Cory), father of cyberpunk, and coiner of the term cyberspace.

Humorist Dave Barry, who seems to save real writing for his paid gig, uses his Herald-hosted blog almost exclusively for one-liner pass-alongs of the usual web oddities. Comedians that blog more...um...seriously include "comedian to the indie music generation" Eugene Mirman (with thanks to brother Jesse for introducing me to his work) and caustic politico Margaret Cho.

And I suppose no list of blogs-by-the-famous would be complete without some reference to the dozens upon dozens of blogs kept as road-and-recording journals by musicians, from old hands Pete Townsend and David Byrne to poprockers Barenaked Ladies to chart-topping indie darlings Mountain Goats to new blogger MC Hammer. Yes, that MC Hammer. Don't laugh, he can actually write.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:18 PM | 0 comments

Friday, February 24, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere 

Everyone's talking about this supposedly realistic computer-generated animation of water being poured into a glass, but it looks like mineral oil to me. Maybe if the video was sped up about 20%?

The irony of this week's parade of "floats" as New Orleans celebrates its first post-Katrina Mardi Gras has apparently been lost on everyone but yours truly. Possible the pun center of my brain is more heightened after six months teaching middle school.

Not one but two new commercial water ventures over at Strange New Products this week: an unflavored water chilled-and-distilled from fruit juices and H2Om, a bottled water infused with the healing energies of music and the spoken word apparently targeted towards the dehydrated Yoga practitioner. If you hold your ear up to the bottle, you can hear the soothing strains of Yanni.

In more local H2O news, we left the sink plugged up for the cat while we were away this week, and when we drained the water upon our return, we found that our lovely well water had stained the sink a beautiful patina green. Happily, the kitchen sink has a filter built in, and the cat remains tiger grey.

Also, it's supposed to snow tomorrow. Does 2-4 inches of frozen, fallen ice crystals count for a water post?

Afterthought: The wife reminds me that way back in 1991 when we were just falling in love, the first song we ever sang together was The Water Is Wide (in the otherwise deserted Bard College chapel, natch). I've since heard it covered by everyone from James Taylor to John Gorka to Eva Cassidy to the Indigo Girls, but I'm still looking for the "definitive" one of 203 recorded versions of The Water Is Wide out there. If you have a favorite, let me know; I fully intend to play it at my funeral.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:46 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yo Mama So Disorganized
Posted with parental permission 

So I'm spending the night at my mother's house with Willow while spouse and baby spend the night on Martha's Vineyard (see previous entry).

We're in my mother's bedroom, trying to wind the little one down towards tiredness after a long giraffe-less day at the Franklin Park Zoo, and there, on the floor next to the bed, are two copies of It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized .

Two copies.

For exactly the reason you'd expect.

See, she bought this organizing-principle book a while back, thinking she could really use a book like that. But the moment she got it home she put it down somewhere in the disastrous mess that is her entire house, and promptly forgot she ever bought it.

So she bought a second copy, thinking she could really use a book like that...

I kid because I love, of course. But humor is also in the familiar. And, to be fair, I've inherited her tendency towards total entropic chaos.

My students make fun of me for losing their papers on my classroom desktop.

We actually own a car that should never, ever be locked, because we lost the keys a couple of years back and have never bothered paying someone to core the locks and make a new set.

Like my mother, I used to have an entire room in my home that was totally unusable due to a floor-to-ceiling disaster of papers, books, and other randomalia. We cleaned the room when we needed it for our first child, and, with my goodwife's evergentle assistance, have managed to stave off that particular level of disaster since then.

But it's good to know that, if I ever decide to go the seven-step route towards organizing my life, there's a spare copy of this totally useful book somewhere in my mother's house.

If only she can find it.

In related news: I have a dim recollection that Mom lent me a book on ADD self-management a few years back, but I read a few pages, got distracted, and never finished it. Now I can't find it. Maybe it's in the basement under all those boxes and laundry.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:52 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Soundtrack For A Potential Absence 

We'll be in the Boston area until Friday; not sure if I'll have easy access from there or not.

In the meanwhile, check out this post I put up at Audiography (includes 4 bluegrass covers in mp3 format!). This week's theme is Strings, and the downloadables are getting thick on the ground already.

Or there's always the archives over there on the sidebar.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:29 AM | 0 comments

Monday, February 20, 2006

First Steps 

Plenty to be proud of in the Howdy household this long weekend, and for once, it's not all about yours truly.

First, while her mother and tinysister headed homeward in the other car, the elderkid (age 3 and a half) bravely and successfully accomplished her first ever solo bathroom experience in the Thorne's Marketplace women's room. Because I have neither parental shame nor parental instinct, I took her to the candy shop to celebrate. Net gain: one candy necklace, one package watermelon pop rocks, a small bag of candy legos...and one cheerful child mature enough to pay for her own candy, say please and thank you unprompted to the cashier, and save both poprocks and candyblocks for another day.

Then, tonight, after a day of tentative single-steps from parent to sister and back again, our second showoff (age ten months) decided to take her first (five!) solo steps in the aisle of our local Friendly's restaurant. Something about the sheer mass of cooing spectators, I suspect; like their father before, the kids perform better for a crowd.

To top it all off, the four of us beat entropy today, cleaning house from top to bottom just long enough for a ten minute video walk-through of the new home. No small accomplishment, with two tiny ones and an adult genetic tendency towards floortossing running through both sides of the family. Bonus find: a short series of sledding shots from last year at this time, with then-pregnant wife Darcie holding the camera and narrating, still in the camera.

Today's video will be taken in hand by Darcie and baby across the bay to Martha's Vineyard later this week, where old college pal Dan Aronie lies bedridden by late-stage MS at age 33; later, we'll bring the same video to my similarly age-incapacitated grandfather on our next long school vacation in April.

In the meantime, assuming the cat doesn't destroy the place while we're gone, three days in absentia visiting my parents in Boston will keep the house clean for our return. Here's hoping the kids don't revert to terrible type under grandparent gaze. Either way, first stops upon our return: childproof cabinetry, and a kidproof locking mechanism on the bathroom door.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:17 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Roundup: Updated Sundays 

1. Post Secret. This week's anonymous postcard confessions. Check in throughout the week for emailed reader responses to the sinister, the surreal, and the surprisingly universal.

2. New Yorker Cartoon Caption contest. Your first look at this week's new uncaptioned cartoon, so you can spend all week trying out possible funnylines in your head. Also: vote on the best of three captions from two weeks ago, and see who won the vote for the caption-round last month.

3. "Collaborative music blog" Audiography. Weekly theme gets posted Sunday; visit the mp3-posting livejournal community throughout the week to hit (and download from) the resultant audiomecca.

4. Lots of webcomix and at least one weekly horoscope, apparently.

Know of any other weekly funstuff regularly updated on Sundays? Share the wealth by commenting below!

posted by boyhowdy | 5:56 PM | 2 comments


Heat Interlude 

Turn up the heat, she says over the phone, we can fill the tank after all. Superspouse has run our taxes twice, and is proud to report we'll be getting everything back this year. I knew the kids were deductible, and we always max out the teacher deductions, but who knew you could deduct a household move?

Good thing, too. February, and we're running low on pellets for the stove just as the weather finally turns frigid after a hundred days of spring-like winter weather. The wood furnace rocks, but we've determined that the woodpile is just too far from the bulkhead for practical use, which helps us plan for next year but leaves us facing that long trek across the lawn for the remainder of the cold season.

In the meanwhile, the house hovers at 62, and my hands grow numb typing. It's my own fault, really -- I let the heat die down last night, as the kids were with their mom at the Vermont-in-laws overnight, and I thought the sun would warm the house up once it rose. Not much it can do from behind trees waving in a 15 degree wind, though.

More later, including a full review of the veryhot Joe Val Bluegrass Festival I attended yesterday with Dad. For now, I'm off to the hot tubs with superspouse and her entire family in celebration of sis-in-law Alicia's birthday. Viva la steam in winter!

posted by boyhowdy | 9:39 AM | 0 comments

Friday, February 17, 2006

Well, that explains everything... 

Thanks to The Cruel Offender, I finally figured out why no one's reading my blog.

Turns out I'm just not a naked chick with something to say. So reassuring that it's not the overly mediageeky posts after all.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:59 PM | 3 comments

Thursday, February 16, 2006

E-texts: Future Perfect, or Inherently Marginal? 

E-textbooks aren't selling, says CNN, which posits both an eventual acceleration in sales and cites surprise that the digital generation isn't as digital as folks thought they were.

But I wonder if those who expect "comfort" to grow are underestimating the subconsciously developing instincts of the digital generation. I mean, I'm only half digital, but I found the e-version of Cory Doctorow's Eastern Standard Tribe so inacessible that I made it to the library within the first ten pages to continue the job.

Quoted anecdotals in CNN's most recent foray into this broad issue cite the limitations of ownership in digital texts, such as the current inability to easily highlight, which will eventually shift as our mindtools evolve, though it may never be as comfortable or permanent as the true joy of bookhacking with pencil and pagefold.

But the paperesque strategies of ownership are not all there is to ownership; the truths of screenreading are not the truths of paperreading.

The conceit of e-speech as short-and-sweet, is constantly reinforced, and seems anathema to the idealized use of textbooks. And we know that from a primarily holistic perspective (as opposed to a practice-and-habit perspective), which would include everything from sensory psychology to workplace ergonomics, the screenread results in less and slower absorption, which means screen-writing mandates shorter paragraphs. And shorter paragraphs seem anathema to the very premise of textbook, by which I mean they are not likely to be typically best-serving of the typographic needs of the field-specific textbook, which aches to be written, read, and treated as deep and detailed.

Profs can try to assign these texts all they want, I suspect; bookstore managers are free to stock what they will, and suggest to CNN that it is a matter of time before students move towards the e-book (though they should have by now, if they were going to). But students who really grok digital may continue to resist. The medium is the message, after all: after years growing digital, our habits of mind and our sensory truths may out the digital textbook as a fluke for the few, a type for the practitioner, rather than a true medium for the learned whether cybercitizen or luddite.

McLuhanists would posit, of course, that the digital scholar would not only write to, but eventually study, that which best befits the cybertext. But Neil Postman always knew we could only reach our full potential in the best sort of literate, wordsmithed scholarship through the word-as-it-is, not the word-of-the-screen. Paper may yet be vital to our study of the universe.

It may not, of course. McLuhan and Postman have been ever-right before, but I suppose the true nature of the C-Change is that it contains all possibility, can only be proven in hindsight. In the meantime, while we wait for time to tell, let us end here, lest the screenwrite -- like our paragraphs herein -- run too long for our topic at hand.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:51 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Listen. 

MetaMp3Blogging: So You Don't Have To

Best musicblog aggregator, period: The Hype Machine. My mp3 bloglist overfloweth; at this rate, the iPod will hit the full 60 gigs by March.

Best musicblog concept: writer's week @ Moistworks (now in its second week). Jonathan Lethem's doublepost regarding fowlsongs makes me want to cry.

Best Valentine's mix: Trees Lounge. A dozen or more close seconds over at Hype, though -- taken altogether, they provide a comprehensive spectrum of love (and antilove) in all its guises.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:31 PM | 0 comments


Beneath Our Valentine Moon 



Cette fois que tu m'embrasse, au bout de notre rue
Les lampes de gaz nous allumiere... (Valentine Moon)



The moon is rising, she said, and we bundled the kids up in blankets and scarves, loaded them together on to the runner sled for a haul up to the meadow.

Six months since we settled, and our first under our backyard trees postdusk. The path was unfamiliar, almostdark. Under cover of pinebranch the pristine snow obscured still-unfamiliar roots. Our boots slipped and filled with snow. The sled tipped twice. The infant first faced with snow faced it face first.

And though the slog was strenuous, our feet were light. For there, in the middle of it all, just a hundred yards and a million miles from our own warm stoves and couches, the world opened up all-of-a-wow.

The meadow was a revelation, startlingly open to the night sky. And there on the horizon, bracketed by cloud, rose the moon.

What's that? asked Cassia. Moon, we told her. Pretty moon, she replied, and we agreed.

At my feet Willow laughed, pushed glowsticks into the snow, making doubleyous.

Across a pure sheet of reed-broken white, the meadow glowed in streaks from the treebroken moonlight.

We smiled at each other in the halflight, just long enough to make forever.

And then we disappeared into the dark, separate but together, warm in our hearts, children in our arms.

You can have your flowers, your chocolate, your cards. For Valentine's Day this year my wife brought me the bright moon, the stars, the crisp clear night air; bakyard adventure and the family to share it with.

I love her for it.

I love her for everything.

World willing, she'll be mine forever.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:29 AM | 2 comments

Monday, February 13, 2006

Flamewars Explained 

Slashdot reports on recent research which determines that I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.

(In true Slashdot fashion, the toneless thread then beats it to death, pre-empting most expansion herein.)

No clarity on whether the emoticon counts for much, plus or minus, in the original study. But the coinflip odds for interpretation suggest that tonality is truly absent from purely textual, one-shot e-speech, though surely context and design/typographic cues can make some difference in more real-world cases, especially when we're talking about ongoing dialog or more mediarich examples of textographic communication.

That said, we'll still file this under a phenom common to all human behavior -- that of thinking that we're better at most interpretive tasks than we actually are. Interesting to see hard numbers, though.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:14 AM | 0 comments

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lowered Expectations 

Had so much fun polishing the children's story I'm thinking of writing another one this summer instead of, say, a novel. Or maybe I'll just shop this one around for a while.

Serious consideration given tonight to dropping the formality of my commitment to literary bibliography (but not the commitment itself) a la Some Books in Some Weeks. It's not that I'm not reading the good stuff; it's that the Sunday night stress is getting to me.

Two and a half feet of snow, twenty miles to commute, and I'm just worried about getting out of the driveway tomorrow. At least the garage keeps the cars cleared.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:21 PM | 0 comments


The Boyhowdy Olympics: Indoor Sheepwalking 

Finally got the video, though the camera battery died seven seconds in. We'll have it in the shop this week to get the battery case open; in the meantime, enjoy a short clip of this year's indoor olympics courtesy of YouTube.



Other Olympic events today included "walking in two feet of snowpowder with Willow" and "one-and-a-half man long-distance driveway sledding". Who needs TV when there's snow?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:21 AM | 0 comments


Lazy Sunday; Missed Moments; Winter Again 

Snow overnight: 7 inches since the first dusting long after midnight and it's still falling, white and fluffy as a snowglobe.

Up with the baby at dawn to see: an hour on the floor, while her sister and Mama slept late, set the tone for a snuggly day-to-come of hot chocolate and household laziness.

At ten months she's come alive anew. I tried to catch some video of her "walking", tiny hands clutching the small stuffed sheep on wheels as she pushes herself along, but the battery case of our camera is stuck shut; I gave up before the day could sour.

If you could see it, there'd be chickadees and nuthatches, a few solo junkoes flutter from laden tree to seedfeeder and back again, their light bodies causing avalanches on each branch as they land anew.

In the big picture windows the wind blows sporadic, sending squalls across the window. Each gust blurs out the universe, making our cozy indoor haven more real by comparison.

Here in the home the family slowly comes to morning. As I write, Willow struggles with a fresh pair of feet pajamas; infant Cassia heads up for a nap with Mama, tired after a morning's play and wonder with Daddy. The senses fill beyond the camera capturable: light jazz on the Sunday radio; warm fire in the pellet stove; the sweet sounds of rustling cereal boxes, a household full of tiny female wakewhispers.

Somewhere under these heavy white blankets green shoots are dying. One day, these memories will be all we have.


[Update 9:59 am: Not enough battery for video, but I did manage to squeeze a few pix off before the camera went dead. Click on pix below for larger images and access to the whole underutilized album, courtesy of flickr.

Cassia Jade at ten months
Cassia Jade: ten months old and already a morning person.

How to handle an older sister
How to handle an older sister.

An older shot of the older kid mugging
And an older shot of the older kid.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:54 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Now Watching: You Tube 



How people without TV watch TV.



After a year sans television reception I've discovered You Tube, and it is good addictive. From Family Guy clips to the oddest of homevideos, pre-filtered, commercial-free, and tiny for your viewing enjoyment!

I'd write more, but I'm catching up on a lifetime of Saturday Night Live skits at the moment...

posted by boyhowdy | 9:42 PM | 1 comments


Doctor Teeth 

First dental appointment for the 3 year old today, and what a wonderful pace-setting experience it was: big cheery rooms, a preschool-toned Dental aide who helped Willow handle and explore everything from chair to spitsink before use, just the right toys and games during the breaks, and a thousand compliments on her perfect dentition went a long way towards making us all feel right at home. Even the heavy Barney and Barbie themes in the aftervisit stickers and take-home book -- often a turn-off for us -- were overwhelmed by the genuine heartfelt tone.

If you live near or around the Springfield/Chicopee area and are looking for a kids-only dentist, I highly recommend the family practice of Drs. Quinn and Quinn; not sure which one we saw, but the whole place was just so kidfriendly it hardly matters. Hoorah for a health plan that includes preventative dental for kids under twelve, especially when it's accepted by such a thoughtful practice.

The infant, too, becomes toothier by the day; though she was a bit cranky today after yesterday's polio shot, any day populated by so many two-top, two-bottom wideyed grins is a good one in my book. Just don't stick your fingers in that tiny mouth -- her bite is exclusively reactive right now, but it remains a hundred times worse than her bark.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:02 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Entire Institutions Unclear On The Concept 

Usually I try to respect brands wherever possible, but two egregious examples today seem entirely deserving of public ridicule.


1. Yet another proud "dear community" email from the ex-employer, this time asking me to acknowledge and celebrate a changing of the guard on the same trustees chairship which made the call to consolidate -- and cost me my job. Slightly better than the email which invited me to pay for the priviledge of celebrating that selfsame consolidation just after it happened, but still far beyond the bounds of good taste and good judgment.

Hint to those who would survive in the cutthroat world of the prep school: if you fire rightsize someone, it's generally considered polite to leave them the hell alone, not add their names to your alumni mailings. Keep asking them to celebrate the company that treated them so poorly, on the other hand, and you're liable to end up facing bad blood, bad sportsmanship, and a bad reputation.


2. If I Had 1,000,000 on the instore speakers at the Ocean State Job Lot tonight, a sorry coincidence of parodic commercialist dream and pre-dented reality which lent just the right tough of despair to a meander through the pasteboard dregs of the offbrand world. Still unclear myself on how two otherwise entirely familiar three-letter words combine to mean "cheap stuff other stores couldn't sell."

posted by boyhowdy | 7:26 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

52 Books, No Words 

Updated sidebar this evening: new poemlinks for poems new and naive; recalibrated "coming soon" and "year ago" sections heavy on the personal, the anti-PC. Wander at your leisure; maybe you'll learn something.

Also: a comprehensive removal of the albatross that was the 52 Books in 52 Weeks section. I'm still reading -- am halfway through Doctorow's Eastern Standard Time as we speak -- it's just that blogging about books turned out to be someone else's cuppa. Different parts of the brain or something.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:56 PM | 1 comments


I Know All These People 



Have you tried turning it off and back on again?


Totally formulaic. Terribly unbalanced. Seriously 2 dimensional. The cast is too small for more than caricature; each of the three-plus-one non-extras ends up trying to contain too many stereotypes.

The IT Crowd is the best damn thing on television. And we don't even have one.

Luckily, it's not on American television: it's on Brit telly Channel 4, it's being released via UK-only protected format as it gets shown, and it's already been ripped for international consumption in a variety of formats. Yay, internet.

I'm in too deep to know for sure how much of the hilarity springs from my own geekitude. But from here, two guys, a noob manager, and their upstairs boss manage to pin down the spectrum of corporate IT with slapstick perfection to rival Red Dwarf. The dumb only makes it smarter. Or something like that.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:17 PM | 0 comments


Crash Into Me 

Busy week, at home and at work, so of course I'll be blogging about it instead of working. Insert rueful-yet-smiley emoticon here.

Fairly, I earned some "me time" yesterday. Breezed through my first of two yearly school principal teaching obervations thanks to some great kids and a fun curricular unit (googlemastery, with superbowl trivia as searchsubject), but prep for the day was still serious work.

Now procrastinating: prep for this afternoon, where the yearbook crowd's penultimate meeting before deadline promises to be totally unproductive despite being 22 pages away from readiness. Note to self: If you take on yearbook advisor next year, organize the whole thing differently.

On the home front, three kinds of company to clean for and a tendency to fall asleep in my daughter's bed at the end of our bedtime ritual have exacerbated my lack of preparedness on the above. Waking up late for work, miles from the alarm clock, has become a constant concern.

Also in the way, though worth it: taking cars into the shop this week for brakes and inspection to avoid a much more serious meaning to today's blogtitle. Turns out the recent sluggish performance of the Mercury was due to mice in the engine block, which led to chewholes and flammability all over the wiring.

Long-term solution, if this ever happens to you, is to tape mothballs under the hood, and in the fenders. Not sure how to stop envisioning mice running on little wheels -- a new sort of hybrid -- when I drive, though.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:01 AM | 1 comments

Monday, February 06, 2006

Warm Winter 

Warm winter, fog and early dark:
February, and the ski traffic never showed.
We worry about the plow guy – pricey,
But like all neighbors due his pay.

The wood grows mold under tight blue shroud.
Last year’s grass lies brown and flat like dirt.

Confused shoots push ever-
Hopeful through dry woodchips
In the plow-mangled garden.

Infinite robins spread across the lawn
In packs like Canada geese,
Like Spring, a hundredfold.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:18 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Famous Dead People 



Now including two feminists, one vampire.


Too much symbolic passage in the universe this week, from protofeminists Betty Friedan and Wendy Wasserman to Al Lewis, the ubergroovy politician wannabe who played the vampiric Grandpa on The Munsters. There's more -- Mrs King, the dancer from The Red Shoes, the video artist who coined the term "Electronic Super Highway" and singlehandedly invented video art, for example -- but that pretty much defines the spectrum right there.

Interestingly, the CNN obit on Friedan ref'd above is gorgeously and appropriately detailed, putting Wikipedia's entry to shame; if anyone feels like taking a crack at the entry, a generation of thirdwave feminists would appreciate the crackage. CNN loses points, however, for how quickly her obit fell off the CNN front page, especially as the Lewislink stuck around until this evening.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:36 PM | 0 comments


Blue Danube 

Bussed it into Boston yesterday for a trip to the new Ikea bluebox with Dad, which beat the New Haven store for sheer synchronized commercialistic experience to an overwhelming degree. Careful behavioral management kept us teetering but still in the zone for a good four hours, though. Hints for those who plan to go nordic include zen-centering snackstops both upon arrival and between floors, and competing with fellow travelers to find the goofiest product name -- potential winners this trip included a blue vase named fragil, another vase of clear cubed glass named rektangel, groggy the hipflask, and a kitchen handheld of dubious usevalue called, simply, produkt.

Arrived home in a borrowed Lexus to discover the Crayola stain removal site floating unattended on the laptop and the water rushing upstairs; climbed up to find a startlingly cerulean-streaked three year old splashing proudly after an evening romp dipping marker in the sink and then smearing the startlingly deep and potent result over every inch of her body. We managed to scrub her face down just enough to turn her into a fourteen year old goth, light on yesterday's eyeshadow and pale as a ghost. The blue hairstreak and the arms thick with blueveiny lines complete the look; it's a good thing she's only three feet tall, else strangers would mistake her for a true teen.

Lent Lexus, by the way, will allow us to rotate our own cars through a much needed shopvisit: brakes, overdue inspections, and oil changes for both are on the table. The Grand Marquis, a powder blue couch-on-wheels oldguymobile which once belonged to my Floridian grandparents, will go in tomorrow, with the darker blue familycar to follow in turn. Thanks to Mom for letting us live in luxury for a while.

I was going to post Joni Mitchell's Blue and a cover of I'm Blue by some random german faux-1930s cabaret megaphone guy to transcend the usual topical trifecta, but I seem to have been shut out of any and all past-possible webstorage spaces. The resultant 3 out of four explains the cryptic reference to time signature in today's blogtitle. Quelle horrible. Blue indeed.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:04 PM | 2 comments

Friday, February 03, 2006

Cover Me 

I'm a version freak in a sharing mood.

1. Best coversong blogs: Under The Covers, Copy, Right, Saturdays at Everybody Cares..., and Thursdays over at I Guess I'm Floating.


2. If you love versions in general and a particular original both, mashups provide major music mileage. Best mashup, hands down: Green Day vs. Oasis over at Party Ben. His Fugazi vs. Destiny's Child is pretty solid, too. Still looking for Snoop Dogg vs. Crowded House, if anyone's got it.


3. Over at new find berkeleyplace, Ekko is ponying up a free CD to folks willing to propose a) a coversong for The Exit, and b) the ultimate fantasy cover. My submission: Hole's "Doll Parts" or Ryan Adams "La Cienega Just Smiles" for The Exit, and wouldn't it be totally sweet if Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield slowed down "Don't Let's Start" by They Might Be Giants? Steal my sunshine, if you dare.

4. Various coverfan one-shots, aka Cover Zen. Only at BoingBoing.

5. Afterthought shoutout to those who listened to my coversongs mini-cast on the Blogexplosion chat this evening: The Kidzbop cover of Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams, three covers of Wonderwall (Cat Powers, Ryan Adams, and Paul Anka), the mashup of the two from #2 above, and a Hindu Rodeo skacover of "I'm Only Sleeping". Could it be I've got a radio audience again? Tune in tomorrow night, and we'll see...

posted by boyhowdy | 11:30 PM | 0 comments


Randomalia: Elseblog 

Google says: Did you mean arseblog?


I've been getting 403 errors over at the groupblog, though as a blogadmin I don't see anything obviously wrong. Pity, as things were getting interesting over there. Assuming the link works eventually, feel free to check out my recent paean to driveway ice chipping, blogged to the tune of If I Had A Hammer.


Increasingly proud of my work over at the Teaching with Technology blog I write for my middle school teachers, though last week's entry was made moot by a full-scale Internet outage. This week's topic: Teaching Without a Net, a McLuhanesque, somewhat anti-webquest treatise on remixing materials for the particular needs of your students rather than merely leaning on the vast wide web.


For those who need it: Blogger's helpful advice on What to Do When Your Mom Discovers Your Blog, via search for "blogspot problems." Hi, Mom!


On a more lengthy-yet-topical medialit note: in a matter of months, Blogexplosion's diversified their service far beyond the old traffic exchange model, adding everything from open-voting blogbattles-for-traffic to a multitude of games and lottery-esque point-gathering activities.

The results seem mixed -- for example, while the phenom of renting tiny screenshot-as-link boxes on other blogs seems popular, most net few linkbacks; similarly, replacing the front-page chatbox with a full audio-visual solospace makes for some hilarious late-night sessions watching drunken swedish bloggers sing showtunes, but seems to have reduced active chat participation to a static and miniscule crowd.

But it may be neither the once-removed nature of the newchat, nor the more intimate and in-crowd a/v group therein, to blame. How else to interpret the phrase some members simply hate surfing for credits in the midst of today's email describing two more new products?

Has the day of the traffic exchange passed? Or is this merely another example of deserting a good, basic business model for transparent bells and whistles? Sadly, though causality is not often so obvious, it's beginning to look like the end of blogexplosion either way.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:43 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Wednesday One-Liners Are AKA Randomalia 

Best comfort food: either Stella D'oro sesame breadsticks or country pate and irish cheese on a sesame bagel, & milk in both cases.

Jonathan Safran Foer's second novel was so awesome, I'm reading the first one.

I stole the Wednesday One-Liners thing from Overheard In New York.

I refuse to consider ads in this blog, because I believe that making money off misclicking is evil, and the potential userlink/corporatelink blur is antithetical to Attention Trust member principles.

The world of mp3 blogs is easiest digested via a good aggregator.

If it weren't for ironing, I'd love everything about clothes.

I ate a whole package of breadsticks during the writing of this entry.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:08 PM | 0 comments


Interlude: Between Sleep And Well 

There was a part of me that seems to have genuinely believed that I would never get sick again.

But here I am, just three weeks after quitting smoking, intellect alternately fighting and ignoring what seems to be a relatively functional but seriously affective cold.

Same swollen back keeping me up all night. Same swollen glands pushing at the swallow. The tickle at the back of the throat. The dry cough. And oh, the tired.

I crashed at nine last night, tossed and turned in pain, felt zombified when I awoke this morning in the dark. Made it through the day but lost control of every single one of my classes, a high risk and almost irreversable loss this early in the term. Couchnapped when I got home; up for a speechless supper with head on the table; fell asleep with Willow throughout our bedtime routine of three stories, a soft massage, a hundred counted sheep.

It's like I've got five good hours in me now, instead of the usual fourteen, and I need all eight for school.

I miss having my full self for my family.

I miss trusting my full mind at my disposal.

I miss cigarettes, damnit.

But not so much as yesterday.

And I suppose the sick symptoms were worse when exacerbated by periodic trips to the cold outerworld. And the athsmatic lung ache. And the rawness of the smokefilled maw.

So I got that going for me.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:33 PM | 0 comments

Monday, January 30, 2006

Small Miracles 

A day that starts with a half-awake child pleading for you to stay home, daddy, please don't go to work, I don't want you to go away is both heartbreaking and completely, utterly fulfilling.

The bond had only deepened by lunch with family at the Friendly's flagship, where the fries and burgers are more real, more delicious, more perfectly adjacent to the company store and corporate offices. The sweet old couple at the next table over stared at our snuggly quartet throughout the meal, but in a good way, not a creepy way; they gave us a coupon for two bucks off a kids meal when they left, which made us all feel good.

I'd snuck out to meet the fam after yet another test-run of a local pre-school, this one just down the street from work. It fronts on a strip mall, but Darcie said it was otherwise, finally, a desirable placement for kidWillow: well-run, anti-commercial, grounded and environmentally centered, available two half days a week. Better: there's plenty of spots open. Best: no need to call it until Darcie checks out one last possibility next week.

On my "light schedule" at school I explained programming by hypothesizing, in turn, an electronic toaster, a monkey trained to dance, and a machine which turns fruit into other fruit (but not a machine that turns fruit into the same fruit, because that's a refrigerator, and I already have one of those).

In and around I spent an hour doing the best kind of holistic instruction and guidance with one teacher, another hour solving with creative intuition and handsoff talkthrough five difficult "just-in-time" peer user issues. Lent visible value to several parent/ kid/ teacher meetings. Planned three weeks of lab partnerships, juggled not enough technology to serve far too many wonderful, creative teachers eager to learn from me, and thus make me seem irreplacable. All in plain view, and each one a home run. I hardly minded leaving at 3:45.

Home; the girls happy to see me, the older focused so well for once that we were able to sustain a gentle balloon toss for much of her post-shower hour. Infant Cassia suddently sprouted baby signs, adds vocabulary every day, makes careful choices and communicates her preferences even as they change. She's learned to full-body hug. And her hair is getting redder, instead of fading out to blonde as mine did at her age.

Twenty days and counting since that last puff. Today I went entire minutes without thinking about cigarettes. Realized that saving that new cashmere peacoat until this week means it will never smell of that telltale smoke.

Thank you, oh Lord. For your bounty, and for your strength.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:50 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Book 4 of 52: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 

What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone’s heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone’s hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don’t really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn’t have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war


In order to keep from stressing over my new commitment to literary bar-raising, I'm letting the 52 Books in 52 Weeks come naturally. Other than a penchant to avoid field-specific nonfiction the blase approach seems to be working. Four weeks in, and I just finished book four without even realizing it was on the list.

I did promise myself to blog more about the books themselves, rather than letting them fade into the mass consciousness. But Jonathan Safran Foer's second novel is so gorgeous it leaves me speechless.

If you haven't read this tight multigenerational, temporally untrustworthy tale of language, loss, family and fears, read the first chapter online, and then call your library right this minute to reserve the rest of it. You won't be sorry, and you might even cry.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:59 AM | 1 comments
coming soon
now listening
tinyblog
archives
about
links
blogs
quotes