Saturday, June 28, 2003

In Memorium

We're literally on our way out the door for a two-day on Long Island, where, in keeping with Jewish practice, eleven months after her burial, my grandmother Martha's gravestone unveiling takes place on Sunday afternoon, thus marking the official end of the mourning period for her passage. Tomorrow will be only my second visit to a gravesite for more than picnic and grave-rubbings; the first was Darcie's maternal grandmother's funeral, several years ago in a small ceremony outside Montreal.

It's different, somehow, when it's someone I knew all my life.

I missed the funeral last year -- missed it very much, in fact -- because Willow's birth was literally moments away, but in my stead I sent along the following Eulogy, which my brother graciously agreed to share with those loved ones assembled.

When I was very, very young, about 3 and a half, Grandma Fanny – my last living great grandmother -- passed away. Some of you here today knew her. I don’t remember her at all.

But I know about her. I know what her recipes tasted like through my mother’s cooking. I know her face from the photos that my mother and her parents collected and hung in the houses of my childhood. And I know her through her grandchildren and her children, who loved her, and who tell me about her so that I may love her in and through them.

I have always been interested in the cultures, families, and history which formed me. When, in March of my senior year in high school, I came to Florida to stay with Martha and Jerry, I was nominally there for vacation. But really, I was trying to find myself though our shared histories. I was a mess – a typically adolescent life-shattering mess – and I wanted to know more about Mom, and her mom, and this family, in the hopes of understanding myself better.

Boy did Grandma come through. From this haphazard but comprehensive archivist, I got a tour of photo albums and sketched a family tree, now mostly committed to memory. And stories – oh, so many stories. I listened for hours, asking questions, watching her hands move in the same way that mom’s hands move when she talks. I came home with a Brooklyn accent, I listened and learned so much that week.

In the years since, every time I saw Grandma, she gave me more pictures or mementoes. The first time Darcie and I came down to stay together, she sent me home with a whole album of pictures – of her childhood, of mine, of my mothers’. More recently, when we came down to Florida the last time to help them move up north, I had to talk her out of giving me too much of her mementoes and family artifacts just to make packing easier.

I owe Grandma so much. I owe her thanks for accepting Darcie readily when first introduced – “such a beautiful girl,” she called her – and never asking if she were Jewish. I owe her for bringing humor into my life inadvertently, whenever she came into my own house, went right to the fridge, and started offering me my own food. I owe her for helping to teach me the joys of family, and the joys of knowing everything one can about everything there is to know. She was a generous, vibrant, tough old lady who lived life on her own terms, opinionated and strong, a fighter, a model for much of who I ultimately chose to embrace and become as an adult. And I know this is true for many of us here today.

Now families grow and move on; that’s just life. As most of you know, our first child is due July 15th. We don’t know if it is a boy or a girl, but her middle name will be Myla; his middle name will be Miles. It is an honor to be able to name this child after Martha in this way.

I very much wanted Grandma to meet this child. I wanted her to tell me what a beautiful boy or girl. I wanted my child to know the generous and tireless woman I knew. I wanted him or her to find themselves one day presented with far too much food and urged to eat.

I have been blessed by this family in so many ways. Knowing all of one’s grandparents isn’t something that everyone can claim. My wife, for example, has already lost three of her own grandparents. But I know them all through her. As Darcie reminds me in my grief, Martha will always be with us, and my child will know her as I knew my great grandmothers and Darcie’s parent’s parents: through photographs and recipes; through anecdotes; through my own behavioral quirks, through the occasional oy or other Yiddish-ism. Martha will live through all of us, and live to be a vibrant character in my child’s history and identity. And as I have loved Fanny through – and in – my own parents and grandparents, so with all of your help will my child love Martha. It’s the least I can do for this tough old lady, in thanks for the most she could do – and did do, and, through all of you, will continue to do – for me and the rest of her family. Thanks, Grandma.

The unveiling may mark the end of mourning in a spiritual sense, but there is no law to govern the love I have for my Grandma, and the ache I feel when I realize she is no longer with us. I miss Martha every day, and am proud to share in her legacy. If you would, please think of me Sunday as I say goodbye one final time, be-suited in the hot sun. And if a glass is handy, raise it to fine old gal.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:51 AM | 1 comments

Friday, June 27, 2003

Irony Alert

Maternity retailer fires district manager for pregnancy after firing district mananger's boss for refusing to fire underling. Chain defends itself by claiming to be "uniquely sensitive to the needs of expectant mothers;" resultant lawsuit suggests unique sensitivity includes giving pregnant employees "look of horror" when encountering them in the workplace.

Link goes to short-version CNN article; original was in yesterday's Boston Globe.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:24 PM | 0 comments

File Under Memes

Friday Five. Now with italics!

1. How are you planning to spend the summer?

Lets see...two weeks moving, finally, into a school apartment out of the dorm after five years...a week volunteering at Facon Ridge Folk Festival (Darcie does sign painting; I do performer check-in)...a couple more festivals in there; see sidebar to the right for more coming attractions...leading a ten-day workshop in Teaching with Technology in Dhaka, Bangladesh in the first weeks of August, and then a week-long Alaskan cruise with my side of the family in that last week before school starts up again and it's goodbye, summer!

Also plenty of evenings at the local drive-in. And much time in green green grass with wife and baby.

2. What was your first summer job?

I worked at a Steve's ice cream in Newton, Mass until I got fired for opening all the soda twelve-packs in the walk-in looking for free CDs. It wouldn't have been so bad, except the boss/owner tried to move 'em and soda went everywhere.

That same summer I also drove a flower delivery van a couple hours a day, but the vases kept tipping over.

3. If you could go anywhere this summer, where would you go?

Antarctica. Damn, it's hot.

Seriously, I'd probably go to more folk festivals.

4. What was your worst vacation ever?

True wanderers and adventurers don't have worst vacations -- I've found that those without expectation are never truly disappointed, or unhappy for long. Even those trips with my parents when I was a sulky teenager with naught but younger siblings to hang with -- Mexico one year, Israel and Egypt the next -- had their charm; it's just that I really only appreciated that charm when I was alone, and solo time is scarce when families travel.

5. What was your best vacation ever?

Darcie and I went to Holland a couple of years before we had Willow -- castles, museums, the whole deal. Stayed the second week in this darling bed and breakfast in the Jordaan; wrote my entire master's thesis over espresso while Darcie slept each night. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:07 PM | 0 comments

Hot Hot Hot

Woke far too early in a pop-up camper with the heat bearing down upon it; Willow and Darcie and Grandma Patty were on their way to Walmart, but I wasn't coherent enough to go anywhere yet. Breakfast with an equally tired Virginia instead.

I was going to work on some backlogged quick-edit video projects left over from the schoolyear but the shingles doesn't like the heat -- my shoulder's got a nasty stiff twinge; hives seem imminent. I'm rereading Susan Cooper's Over Sea, Under Stone, an old childhood favorite which Darcie left by the bedside, and trying to keep my mind off my body, but nowhere is comfy, really. The house isn't much cooler than the shade.

The three generations just returned with an inflatable baby pool and other sundries to report that it's 98 downtown and 87 in the shade here. Maybe we'll go up to South Pond again; the baby had a blast yesterday until her unsuccessful attempt to breathe with her mouth underwater. C'mon, rain!

posted by boyhowdy | 11:36 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Too Hot, Baby

98 degrees

Over ninety today. Sticky. The house is airless like a desert cave, but no cooler than the sun. The baby and I have matching heat rashes -- hers on her chest (chicken pox?) and mine on the tops of my feet where the leather straps of my sandals rub against my hairy blond hobbit-like tufts. I've sweated through two t-shirts in the two hours since I arose.

We've had enough. I woke to find the camper already half-collapsed; now that the camper's packed and hitched to the Camry, we're off to live in Darcie's parent's side yard for a few days until the rain comes. It's supposed to be three degrees cooler in Brattleboro, and South Pond, even farther up the mountain, is sure to be cooler still: Darcie's family has a community membership, and there's always room on the Ames Hill community beach.

Can you believe next week we're moving to an attic apartment? If we need something to do over the next day or so -- and we surely will, as living with a Saint Bernard isn't easy for me, and I like my space -- you'll find us air conditioner shopping in a happily cooled superstore. We can't really afford it, but such comfort is priceless when you live in the attic. We've been told it gets in the hundreds up there for most of July and August, so the race is on to cool the place before we move in.

Don't know when I'll be back, but blogging is theoretically possible from there, so you never know. In the meanwhile, stay cool, folks.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:55 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Meme And Meme Again

Had a ball last time I memeblogged from What's On...Right Now?; as I just finished cleaning up kitchen and bathroom a bit before the heat got to me, this week's question seemed as good as any:

What's On your bathroom/sink countertop Right Now?

Wait, let me check.

Okay, from left (bathtub's edge) to right (toiletside):
  • Squat wicker basket full of lotions of various types (skin, suntan, massage, anti-itch); also contains several broken hair ties, two plastic boxes floss, an extra bottle of Clairol Herbal Essences conditioner, and one small purple rubber massage ball for use in the bath.

  • Arm and Hammer Extra-strength Toothpaste tube, almost empty. Cap missing.

  • small blue plastic hospital bowl, usually left under dripping bath faucet as watering dish for dog.

  • Three toothbrushes in green plastic cup.

  • Sink.

  • Little dutch boy ceramic soap set. Mystery liquid (soap?) in liquid soap dispenser. Burt's Bees baby shampoo bar and broken hair tie in flat soap dish.

  • Store brand rubbing alcohol.

  • Mouthwash.

  • Hardwood hairbrush (needs cleaning).

  • Burt's Bees Bay Rum aftershave.

  • Economy size aerosol Right Guard (cap missing due to tendency for baby to use it as a bath boat).

  • Games magazine, most puzzles half-completed. Pen.

  • Half-roll institutional-grade toilet paper (for emergencies).

posted by boyhowdy | 2:51 PM | 0 comments

Naked Time!

My daughter Willow, at almost one year old, has learned to take her clothes off. One minute she was in her playpen wearing overalls and a diaper; the next she was jumping up and down completely nude, laughing hysterically.

I'm so proud.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:33 AM | 0 comments

Of Mud and Muggles: A Three Day Recap

It's been a weird few days, with events too entangled to blog cleanly about, but I didn't want to leave everyone hanging. Here's the rundown; feel free to skim.

Picked up Virginia at Mocha Joe's on Saturday night; her red Saab seriously dead, she's been expecting a new one from the Saab guy in Brattleboro any day now for a week or three. She was closing solo; I wiped tables and swept floors while she cashed out and shut down behind the counter. Home after midnight; up late listening to the rain on the roof and watching Al TV on VH1 until 2:00.

Two hours sleep and up at the crack of dawn for the long Sunday morning drive to Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Successful in our coffee and McMuffin quest only after the third off-exit try for a pitstop; turns out most McDonalds don't open until 6:30. More rain. Despite mapquest directions and an atlas page highlighted (hi-lit?) the night before, managed to get sidetracked, a bit too close to Ossining on some pretty narrow residential Routes, in the last few miles, but righted ourselves quickly.

Past train station and down a mile-long entry road into Croton State Park, where the girls at the entrance said "the park doesn't open until ten; you can't come in." We turned around, went back a mile for coffee, came right back in, parked surreptitiously along the vendor parking right by the vendor gate, and drank coffee while we watched people get turned away at the gate, turn around, and disappear. Half an hour later, first in line for tickets as the gates opened, we traded tickets for purple bracelets at the gate and walked right in.

The grounds were a wreck from a hard day of rain and foot traffic the day before. Ducks swam in marshes and shallow ponds that had once been stage access roads; everywhere volunteers with shovels spread rough mulch over the muddiest paths to no avail. Though most said that at least one main stage would likely be closed down and acts cancelled, put our pillows in white drawstring garbage bags out on in the still-otherwise-empty rain-drenched lawns anyway.

Crowds were low at the Clearwater festival this year as it rained on and off and on again. Oldtimey Reeltime Travelers and a reggae band at the Rainbow stage; funk/fusion banjo band Tony Trischka on the finally opened Hudson River Stage; The Mammals under the dance tent in drizzle; Dreadlock bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart back at the Rainbow stage now complete with assholes with really tall chairs right in front of us; We're About Nine when Marshall Crenshaw didn't show; NRBQ a grand finale. Dancing in the mud, toes squirting ooze up as high as the knees. Pulled Pork and fresh fried chips and espresso; a tree of life pendant for Darcie; a pair of hippie dresses for the baby. We left, exhausted, before the festival prematurely ended at park police orders due to the total destruction of the grounds underfoot, beating the traffic, driving home in the kind of fog that only comes from a 48 hour day.

Drove Ginny home late Monday morning with Darcie and the baby; had eggs benedict and coffee at a decent diner in Brattleboro before spending a quiet afternoon close to home. When the heat began to turn unbearable by midafternoon we walked down to overgrown pond Shadow Lake here on campus, and Darcie in her new maroon suit dipped the baby in up to her chest until she turned just the tiniest bit blue. The dog chased invisible fish. I sat on a log by the short beach and watched other people's kids look for snappers.

Weekly community barbecue by the Cottage Row dorms, our first of the year. We thought it might be cancelled after a freak driving rain a half hour beforehand, but after a while folks showed up, five or six damilies with two or three kids each in tow, all with their own meat and potato salad to share. The grills ran out of propane so a few folks volunteered to take all the food away and cook it somewhere. Result: cold burgers but good company, if still a bit not-our-crowd.

Did I mention we're moving to a new apartment, out of dorm? 'Course not; we just called it. Darcie and I spent hours last night making the call, a long discussion, and it's not perfect -- eaves, attic, and two flights of stairs; no laundry or yard -- but it's out of dorm and Darcie and Willow need more space and less high school students next year, I think. More as this develops; we'll be moving for the next few weeks.

Today needs only a sentence: breakfast sandwiches with a nice random woman with twins sharing the couch and high chairs at Cafe Koko late this morning after a late start, and then sat and read Harry Potter all day today after finding on supermarket shelves, playing with the almost-walking baby in between chapters. Just finished an hour or so ago. No spoilers here; read it, and then we'll talk, okay?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:57 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Do Not Disturb Any Further

Am reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which, after all the release night hooplah, was on sale in the supermarket.

More later. It is very engrossing.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:24 PM | 0 comments

Monday, June 23, 2003

Monday Mosh

After a week off -- who knew it was Monday? -- the Monday Mosh meme is back with a vengance!

What song did you mosh to?
Eddie From Ohio's Eddie's Concubine, with the headphones on so as not to wake the baby. I know most people think a southern folk rock quartet a bit odd to mosh to, but this song felt just right -- it's got the perfect beat for thrashing around, it's over five minutes long, and after yesterday's rainyday trip to the Clearwater Folk Festival and Revival, I'm all excited to see EFO at Falcon Ridge next month.

What did you step on/bump into? (bonus points for breakage)
Stepped on my own feet a couple of times -- these new sandals are kinda heavy, and the shoe-crust left over from the muddy grounds at Croton State Park doesn't help their flexibility. Nothing broken, but dried Hudson River-side dirt all over the floor.

Why did you stop?
Moshing quietly is much more exhausting than moshing loudly. With the headphones on I couldn't be sure I was quiet enough, so today's mosh was, truly, only a token. Plus my legs hurt from so much dancing yesterday.

Post your own Monday Mosh in your blog with a link in the comments below, or just post 'em right in the comments instead like Shaw and David already did; the questions are easy and ever unchanging, but the premise remains: on Mondays, we all need a little dancin'.

(For those keeping track, I'll post a full review of Clearwater later today.)

posted by boyhowdy | 1:10 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, June 22, 2003

End Of An Error

Now-defunct Funky Fries:
cinnamon, sour cream, chocolate, blue.

Woah. There were chocolate fries, and I missed them? Dude, that totally sucks.

Some interesting tidbits about other famous food flops in the same article. Two words: Garlic Cake.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:08 AM | 0 comments

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Snoop's Televizzle Shizzle

Yeah, Snoop's got a new comedy series on MTV, and CNN overdoes it defending his acting creds:

The cable network [MTV] first approached the 31-year-old with the idea of a show about two years ago, impressed by the rapper's popularity and longevity.

Snoop made his debut more than a decade ago on hits like "Nothin' But a G Thang" with Dr. Dre, and is still a mainstay on the network, with hits like the current "Beautiful." He's also been in several movies, including "Training Day," "The Wash," "Baby Boy" and "Bones." He's made guest appearances on TV comedies and even helped popularize new words like "F'shizzle," which in rap-Latin means "for sure."

1. Rap-Latin? Seems to me the potential for this word to be little more than thinly veiled racism is off the charts, especially as pig-latin, rap-latin's namesake, is the end-all-be-all of triviality. Remember Ebonics, and let Snoop speak for himself: when asked about his initial feelings about doing a skit comedy show, Snoop is quoted as saying "I wasn't never really tripping on doing no TV show..."

2. That Snoop only changed his mind when offered complete creative control may be the third sign of the apocalypse (the Olsen twins turning seventeen being signs one and two). If David Hasselhoff runs for congress, duck and cover.

3. Snoop is only a year older than I am. I feel old.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:31 AM | 0 comments

Friday, June 20, 2003

Iron Horse

    It's Grand, or so I'm told.

The trick about the Iron Horse is that although the doors open at 5:45 for a 7:00 show, there's really only about 30 good seats in the 200-seat house.

You're particular about such things, so you get to Northampton at 4:30, and park right in front while you can. If there's no line yet -- and usually there isn't, not until 5:00 or so -- you can walk over to Faces and check out that t-shirt that says Not All Who Wander Are Lost, and then go down to the Raven bookstore and browse the cybersociology books but buy yet another copy of Heinlein's Time Enough For Love. You people-watch -- there's nothing quite like Northampton sidewalk traffic; you think about coffee but don't get any.

When you get back there's a small family in front of you and, soon, a couple behind you, and then the line gets long behind you but you don't notice it at all. You can hear the soundcheck muddy through the glass, see the drummer's blackshirted back through the cracks in the "coming soon" broadsheets.

When the doors open you sit at a table two back from stageside, you back to the wall. It's the same table you sat at the last time you came down to the Iron Horse, almost a year ago -- too long. You order a small Pale Ale, and, later, a small order of BBQ wings.

You wait for your father.

Your father is coming from Boston; he'll miss the opening act. Erin McKeown will bring a drummer and second guitarist; together, they'll play an uneven set, at times beautiful beyond belief, at times muddy like the sound through the glass from outside. Your father will buy you the new CD on the way out; the two of you will have espresso together upstairs at Haymarket before the long ride home. You'll drive home in silence -- in thought, and, anyway, there's no CD player in the powder blue Grand Marquis you inherited from your mother's parents.

But now you wait and watch the people trickle in two by two behind the hostess, and test the waters of your soul, and find contentment. You attain a kind of nirvana, still in the middle of the music and the crowds and the chaos. And as nirvanas go, there is none so grand, really, as waiting for your father in such circumstances, nor so precious.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:36 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Heavy Petting

The farm used to be part of a psychiatric institution.

Met up with Darcie's mom this afternoon at the Brattleboro Retreat Petting Farm; she'd gone with her kindergarteners in the last weeks of school and thought it would be perfect for the baby. Willow was amazed by the newborn Holstein calf, bored about the emu, interested in the chickens and bunnies, the pigs and llamas, thrilled with the half-grown chicks that we held up to her. She said moo to the cows and deedle deedle deedle to the chickens and E-I-E-I-O to everything and meow when she saw the cat. The big yelling ewe with her young twins scared the shit out of her. She loved sitting in a silo half-buried in feed corn more than anything, though.

I was happy, too. Happy with the tiny goats that greeted us at the gate, happy about the black-green emu eggshells, happy to hold a baby duck once again. Happy to bury my daughter in dusty feed corn, and to run my hands under and through it, feeling it's cool weight. Having tinylife in my hands was once a daily part of my life, back during that Fellowship at the Boston Museum of Science; I hadn't remembered how much I missed it. And the best part is, I got to leave with the cutest baby animal there, the one who calls me Daddy.

Late lunch at the Top O' The Hill Grill on the way home afterwards; I had them put cole slaw in my pulled pork wrap and it was good.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:46 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Not About The Travel Clinic

Instead of blogging about my visit to the travel clinic I'm going to spend some time this evening thinking about ways to focus my schoolwide academic technology and information literacy mandate for next year.

So you won't get to hear about the vaccine that was lost in the mailroom, the casual hour-long visit with sole clinic staff Mary Jo, the long list of psychoses which can accompany the malaria meds I'll be taking, the waiting room that led Escher-like into a second smaller waiting room, the tiny bathroom-sized clinic itself tucked into a corner of an entirely different department inside what is surely the only large medical center complex with valet parking North of New York City.

Sorry, but when the ADHD brain calls, it cannot - should not - be ignored.

I did buy some decent sandals on the cheap on the way home, though.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:29 PM | 0 comments

You Heard It Here First

The Blair Hornstein onslaught continues to drive up the hitcounter; Newsweek today weighs in on the story with a two-page Blair Hornstein spread including, finally, a picture. The article seems to be sympathetic to her side of the story, presenting her as a victim of anti-handicapped sensibility, but it isn't open to the possibility that Blair's original sin was suing for sole valedictorianship when she could have just shared the honor, cheapening the honor and the school in the process. Overall, Newsweek adds nothing more to the debate than he-said she-said evidence, circumstantial at best. Disappointing.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:26 AM | 0 comments

The Wrong Tickets; London Anyway

Realized today while looking at tickets for Bangladesh that the tickets were in the name of the other American Ed Tech Worshop coordinator. A quick email exchange confirmed that we had each others' tickets, and surely could exchange them at the gate. But wouldn't it be awful if one of us forgot, and the other guy couldn't go?

Also discovered a six hour midday layover at Heathrow on the way over. Never been to England -- any suggestions?


Today Is My Day In random and otherwise unconnected news, I was looking for a "Tuesday" icon for yesterday's blogentry and googled myself right into discovering Toothpaste For Dinner. Tiny little drawings that make you laugh loud enough to wake the baby -- how can you go wrong?

posted by boyhowdy | 1:20 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I Think It's Tuesday

You know how sometimes you have the entire day off, and you take your watch off and go hiking somewhere away from civilization, you come to a point where your brain idly mutters "What time is it, I wonder?" and then you realize it doesn't matter what time it is, and you grin uncontrolably?

I've been temporally free today. I have this vage sense of JuneJuly as the next four weeks or so and a distant image of myself getting on a plane for Bangladesh. There's a festival this weekend I might go to; I have made no arrangements, but it all worked out fine last year. I know that tomorrow I have to be on the clock -- I have a 1:00 innoculation appointment at the travel clinic -- but "tomorrow" isn't a day of the week, so it doesn't interrupt anything.

The tiny brainbuzz that is "what time is it?" starts the moment I set the alarm for tomorrow. Happily, time stretches infinitely Zen between now and that invisible then.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:34 PM | 0 comments

Monday, June 16, 2003

Grill Trouble

Next time, I'm getting this.

Got a right-handed grill for the camper for Father's Day, by which I mean, the spigot thingie which controls the flow of propane into the grill itself comes out the right side. Turns out our camper takes a left-handed grill, 'cause when we hung it in its rack on the outside camper wall, the hose came out way on the left -- it couldn't reach the element.

We tried to fix it, Ginny and I. It's an ittie bitty thing, really just a metal shell over the thin heating element that extends from the problematic spigot into the base of the grill. We took it apart and reversed the whole internal mechanism, forgetting that the spigot would now face away from the camper, and still not reach the hose. We removed the metal housing for the regulating mechanism and turned the whole regulator thing upside-down to make the nozzle point the right way, but then you had to lie under the grill to turn the heat down.

We even tried to read the directions, but all the paperwork in the box was a single sheet with a diagram of the outside of the grill and a list of parts. Parts not visible in the diagram were starred. Most parts were starred.

A google search for the grill model number got no hits, and a search for "propane camper grill" was fruitless. But the logo said "ASC Industries, Inc Shaping The Future," and it listed a URL.

The horror that is the flash-version ASC Industries website cannot be described.

The HTML version had twice as much information. Problem was, although the iconography assured us that we were at the right place, it was all useless to us, because ASC doesn't make grills. You know you're in trouble when you realize that the company whose name is on the single sheet of paper that came with your grill doesn't make grills.

ASC, Inc. is, in fact a leading supplier of stainless steel fittings, tubing, and "Ascent: the next generation of baggage door handles". The most complex thing they carry is a bent metal pipe used for making stair railings in campers.

There is no mention of grills on their site; indeed, no mention of propane or other fuels in any way. There is, however, a picture. It would seem that Ascent operates entirely out of a teal ranch house alongside an entirely empty parking lot in twilight.

Anyone out there with a left-handed grill want to trade?

posted by boyhowdy | 9:36 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Chaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh (gasp) Aaaaaaaaaarge!

Fall down go boom!

Yeah, Bush fell off a Segway. Big bonus this time, though -- according to the BBC report on Dubya's fall, the machine's creator, Dean Kamen, wants to see US Special Forces troops eventually ride Segways into battle. Don't those things top out at, like, 4 mph?

posted by boyhowdy | 8:45 PM | 0 comments

All The Blair Hornstein That's Fit To Print

This site has been getting a lot of hits from search engines with keywords like "Blair Hornstein" and "valedictorian" and "Blair Hornstein" in the last few days. In the interest of serving the public demand for ever-more Blair Hornstein, here's my most recent Blair Hornstein blogentry, and here's an earlier one from the day Blair Hornstein's plagiarism hit the news. Both entries contain links to the original Blair Hornstein news items.

I've also been getting hits for "darcie crossdressing video" again. You folks are on your own.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:26 PM | 0 comments

My Father: A Legacy

A father’s legacy is a wondrous thing; I think I notice it more now that I am a father, too. But I don’t own father’s day. I still think of it as something between my father and me. So while the baby naps with her mother I put on some of the Father’s Day CDs my father sent me this week, and spent some time thinking about the things my father and I have between us.

When I listen to music sometimes everything comes together just right and I am in the music and it is in me. Also, I can recognize almost any singer’s voice on the radio before the DJ tells us who is singing.

My father used to play this game called “do YOU have the tickets?” Usually, he was just stalling for time while he checked to make sure he had them, but once when we were going to a baseball game he didn’t have them, and we had to go back. I remember they were on his dresser, right where he left them. I do that all the time.

You can learn a lot from a guy with a six foot long closet. I like clothes, and I know how to make them look good. I know color, for example, and I know not to iron directly on silk. It’s less an issue of knowing men’s fashion, and more like knowing what looks good on you, in the context of a deep appreciation for the social settings in which an outfit is appropriate, and what message it sends. I guess most guys learn how to dress from their fathers, but what I'm saying is, when I get dressed, I feel like I'm doing it right.

My father is the perfect host. I think there’s a connection there between the way he wears his clothes and the way he wears a party, but if there is, it’s indescribable. Still, any social comfort I have comes from him.

Sometimes when one of my father’s old friends meets me for the first time, or for the first time in a very long time, they say how much I look like him when he was my age, and we sort of grin, and don’t know what else to say, because what do you say when people say that? But it feels really good anyway.

When my daughter was born, I started a list of things I wanted to do with her. Here’s the list:

· Take her deep sea fishing. Wake her up before it’s light with no previous warning; leave note for Darcie. Make pb&j sandwiches to eat in the car.
· Go to a Baseball game. Get there early to see batting practice. Eat too much.
· Spend the night on our backs in a field watching a meteor shower.
· Go to the airport to watch planes take off.
· Set up a camera so we can see ourselves live on TV. Do a news show; tape it and send it to grandparents.
· Teach her to sing lead. Harmonize.
· Take her to her first real concert.
· Take her to Falcon Ridge and Winterhawk.
· On her birthday, have her plan a full day. Take her anywhere she wants.
· Go to the Museum of Science in Boston. See the chicks hatch. See a live animal demonstration and a lightning show. Play with bubbles, water, blocks and other stuff. Don’t forget to bring earplugs for everyone.
· Imax movie.
· Planetarium.
· Aquarium, especially penguins and hands-on starfish.
· Beach at low tide; tide pools.
· Tour of McDonalds
· Tour of a farm.
· Go to Grandma Martha’s gravesite. Tell her about Martha.
· Show her how to track her own genealogy. Make a family tree.
· Show her that if you cut a worm in half, it turns into two worms.
· Plant a garden. Grow tomatoes, beans, and carrots. Make a salad.
· Take her to New York City. Show her ground zero. Show her how alive NYC is.
· Take the train somewhere. Get a sleeper car. Live, moving, just to show her it can be done.
· Teach her that not all who wander are lost.
· Drive South in late May; watch it go from winter to spring as we go south. On the drive back, watch it turn back into Winter.
· Make banana bread.
· Make dinner for Mommy.
· Be generous.
· Teach generosity.

It’s a great list, but I can’t take credit for most of it. With a few exceptions, it’s just a list of things my father used to do with me when I was little. Sometimes when I look at this list it’s a little intimidating to imagine myself forging anything better in my own style. Most of the time I’m just really, really grateful.

I hope my own father will keep us company on some of these outings. Yet even if he can’t make it sometimes, somehow, no matter what we do together, I know that my own father will be with us. As he is somehow always with me, watching out for me, watching over me. Thanks, Dad. I love you, too.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:57 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, June 14, 2003


...let's go out to the lobby and have ourselves a treat!

They do it all on the radio now, 88.1 FM, lowest on the dial on a three-block frequency. You can keep the windows closed, so the bugs stay out, and the cigarette the guy in the car next to you is smoking doesn't leak in. The windshield and the rear window fog up, but you can run the air a bit to fix it.

And it's not paved, like it is in the movies. You pull into your chosen space atop a tiny ridge that runs like a single rainbow color -- not any rainbow stripe like blue, maybe, or indigo, but green, because it's all green except where the line for the burger stand begins, a bit of tar in the middle of nowhere leading into the hot yellow heat lamps, the nacho-and-fries temptation, next week's movie posters, and Iris, the cashier who just graduated.

The old tin squawkbox stands are there, but they merely mark the parking spaces. The speakers that used to dangle from window to pole by telephone wire have long since been ripped off. If you get out of your car during the movie, you can't hear the dialogue so good.

The Northfield Drive-In is one of the last fifty drive-ins in the country, and it is one of the great perks of my existence. Technically, it isn't in Northfield, or at least not entirely -- calling for showtimes is a state-to-state call from our home 6 miles away; according to the squat stone state line marker beside us as we waited in line to pay your seven per, the screen is actually split almost perfectly down the middle between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

For seven bucks a person you get a double feature, weekends early in the season, every night but Monday after the public schools finally get out; triple features on long weekends and all the people-watching you can stand while you wait for God to turn the lights down and the projectionist to begin his first reel. Before-and-after they show authentic fifties-era "Intermission" advertisements for products that still exist and can be purchased in their lovely snack bar, like the slightly phallic Dilly Pickles, and Pic, the original burning coil bug repellent, as sold to us by dying cartoon mosquitoes with high-pitched voices. The wooden wall of whitewash that serves as screen obscures the sunset and reflects headlights far too easily but in the right time of summer the moon rises stage right about midway through the first feature.

Tonight we saw Bruce Almighty. It was light and cute, a solid vehicle for all involved but certainly nothing Oscar-worthy; Steve Carell was an added bonus. We ate sandwiches with brie and ham and thin apple slices that Darcie packed and treated ourselves to fries and sodas from Iris. The baby watched for a while but squiggled for most of it all, but she's cute too, and we love her, and we're adjusting.

We left before The Italian Job, the song over the credits fading into static as we drove home into the full bright moon, the baby finally asleep. Can't wait for Finding Nemo. Oh, and the Hulk, next week. Hooray for summer, at last.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:43 PM | 1 comments

The Pace Of Summer

Slept 'till noon. Okay, so I had to be up at 4:00 a.m. when the baby threw up, but it seems like that was a one-shot, thank goodness.

Chinese food for lunch in a mostly-deserted restaurant: Mee Fun and Dumplings, Egg Drop Soup and steamed chicken-and-broccoli for the baby. We've decided Willow has had chicken pox for days, even though her spots are mild; infants, they say, carry much of their mothers' immunity, and who are we to argue with the everpresent universe of advice? And no infants were present, so we didn't worry about contagion.

Stopped by the farm on the way home to giggle at the crowd of horses; tossed clover to the chickens and newly shorn sheep. We weren't going to see the cows, as they were off in another field, but Willow kept crying and saying "moo" -- how can you resist?

They're napping now, and I'm thinking postprandially myself. The sky is heavy with potential rain, so maybe the drive-in will wait for next weekend, eh? No rush.

I've been reading some other blogs. Everyone seems to have something to say. I got nothin' -- and I worked hard all year for it, too. But tomorrow is a two-fer: My parent's anniversary and Father's Day. It'll be my first, and my father's thirty first. I can't think of a better man to share it all with, so expect a homage to him sometime tomorrow. Also expect me to be very grateful for being a daddy, as I am every day.

Until then, expect, maybe, a nap. Things will happen as they happen, as they should.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:15 PM | 0 comments

Friday, June 13, 2003

McSweeney's Takes On The New FCC Rules

3. Under the auspices of the new FCC provisions, in a market containing at least 11 television stations, 25 radio stations, and two cable companies, the new rulings governing cross-ownership indicate that any one company may choose from the following ownership options: two television stations, two radio stations, and one bodega; one television station, one radio station, and three bodegas; or no radio stations, eight bodegas, and one television station that only airs closed-circuit footage of one of the bodegas...

Hilarious -- and chock full o' Law and Order goodness to boot!

posted by boyhowdy | 6:46 PM | 0 comments

Technical Difficulties

Blogger has decided to change my template -- all text is now squished together top and bottom, and I lose left justification after blockquotes. The archives look awful. I'm trying to fix it, but the new Lo-Fi version of blogger is too clunky to use, and there's no way to override the automatic re-direction to the Lo-Fi version yet. Suggestions welcome -- anyone wanna code-check for me?

Boo, blogger, boo. Maybe it's time after all to consider Movable Type?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:57 PM | 0 comments

More Memes

Really haven't done anything noteworthy this week due to illness, so let's think about photos, courtesy of The Weekly Wrap-Up:

1. Do you like to have your picture taken? Why or why not?

I love to have my picture taken. Once because of the big ego, now because, with a baby in the house, I think about posterity a lot. Oh, who am I's still mostly because of the huge ego.

2. What is your earliest memory of having your picture taken?

Unlike most people (?), I have few early memories of anything. But I do remember posing for pix in that awful light grey tailed tuxedo with the salmon cumberbund and bowtie for the prom. I looked just like a rat in that thing. Ugh.

3. What is the best picture you've ever had taken (or took of yourself)? Why did you pick this photo?

A couple of years ago we bumped into some very nice guys selling jewelry at a street fair, and they invited me up to their rural home for a photo-taking session; not being 100% sure of their motives, I brought my college friend Dan along for the ride (the guys were obviously a gay couple, and Dan's a big ol' gay who was living with us that summer; it all seemed to make sense at the time). We took some beefcake shots in the woods while Dan picked all the fat blueberries he could carry from their cultuvated garden, and a few months later, the beefcake-iest black-and-white "art" pictures ever came in the mail free of charge. They're cheesy and I love 'em, especially the one where I look like Fabio. Maybe I'll post 'em someday.

4. Ladies, under what circumstances would you pose for a "glamour shot"? Gentlemen, would you want your girlfriend/wife to pose for a "glamour shot"? Both: why?

Whatever she wants...I trust my wife, and she's done modeling before. If my wonderful wife wanted to pose for a glamour shot, I'd keep a pic in my wallet.

5. Would you ever pose for nude photos? Why or why not?

If I felt comfortable with the scenario and photographer, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I don't think anyone would want to see them...but I have no body-shame.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:27 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Health Report

Sick after some reheated coffee this morning. Very sick. All the symptoms of flu; also all the possible side effects of the Valtrex I was prescribed for the shingles. For six hours I alternately sat on and bowed to the porcelain goddess. Dizzy and disoriented. Chills and fever. I couldn't keep water down.

What with all the up-and-down, threw my back out by midday. Excruciating pain. Hot bath and hotpad for a late afternoon nap. Had to wait far too long before I was reasonably sure an Aleve would stay down. Still hard to sit up to write, in fact.

Shingles still itchy. Pulled-muscle pain becoming endemic to an entire band of nerves around my right chest below the nipple.

Willow's got two rashy spots. It's getting to the point where we really hope it's chicken pox.

Ate chicken broth and bread successfully about an hour ago. Things are looking up.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:48 PM | 1 comments

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

MetaMeme List

meme n (mëm): A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. From the Greek mimëma, something imitated, from mimeisthai, to imitate.

Looking for a Wednesday blog meme (in blogging, a meme is an idea which is presented or based in one blog but carried along and reacted to in many others) I stumbled across The Meme List at I Am Pariah. Pariah has scoured the bloggiverse and come back with a growing list of over fifty weekday Q and A memes, at least three for every day of the week. They don't list Monday Mosh yet, but I have submitted it; we'll see if Pariah accepts a meme with no home site and a question that doesn't change over time, like most memequestions do.

For now, here's one of the Wednesday memes I like -- it's called What's On ______ Right Now?. Each week it asks us to muse about what's "on" something; this week it asks:

What's on your TV/entertainment center right now?

The answer, of course, is it depends what you mean by "on".

The components are "on" the center, of course: VCR, broken DVD player, radio/amp, CD player, and television each have a shelf. Side shelves hold mismatched CDs and jewel cases, blank VHS tapes ready for the Fall sitcom season, a few notebooks, the best of the vinyl. The top shelf of the black, angular corner-based mediastation flanks Boston speakers against a decent turntable.

But there are also those things "on" this infrastructure, too. The turntable serves more often as a base for a black lamp that didn't fit anywhere else but is never used, the speakers are adorned with Willow Tree figurines of anonymous fathers and mothers and their porcelain children, and a gilt mask Darcie's sister brought back from Italy shines under the brim of the lamp.

And then there's "on" as opposed to "turned off." Of these objects and components, some are still "on" in the sense that they are plugged in, powered up, ready to go. The CD player's actually going; it's muted, but it's on and spinning disks. I think it's still playing The Waifs, so technically, they're on, too.

And Darcie's on the couch watching movies; The Big Kahuna's on. So the TV is on, and the VCR, too. Danny DeVito's on right now, and Kevin Spacey, on bar stools in a hotel bar, waiting on a client. There's a smile on Spacey's face; I can see it, because my eyes are on the screen, there in the corner on the tv/entertainment center.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:13 PM | 0 comments

Sour Grapes From Plagiarist Valedictorian

First Blair Hornstein played the disability card, suing her school district successfully for the right to be sole valedictorian despite having been excused from some courses, like PE, which others had to take.

Then, as noted here last week, she was caught plagiarising in her local paper.

Now her lawyers have contacted her school again -- this time, to announce that Hornstien won't be attending graduation after all. Here's the direct quote from that legal letter:
"The hostile environment at the school has traumatized Blair both physically and emotionally, to the point that she cannot and will not attend the graduation ceremonies," states Jacobs' letter to John B. Comegno II, lawyer for the board..."Please arrange to have the valedictorian award made to her in absentia."

Yes, the cruel, selfish, and self-important Hornstein -- this woman who went to court to sue her community and then lied to them -- feels so "threatened" by both school and community that she's home pouting and won't come out to play. Moreover, it isn't her fault that her piggishness has made her unpopular; it's our inability to be nice about her a) taking away valedictory honors from two other members of the school, and b) using the local paper as a soapbox for her own defense, being caught plagiarising in that dubious column, and then refusing to apologize or even acknowledge that plagiarism is wrong.

So far, Blair has shown us that she can't share, and that she will not take responsibility for her actions. She even, according to the Philly Daily News, is believed to have left town without even facing up to those she's leaving in the legally-mandated lurch.

Would you ever hire this woman for anything?

Some valedictorians never learn.

posted by boyhowdy | 5:38 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Yet More Stupidity In Education

The local headline says it all, really: Rules treat school art as fire hazard; Code also affects teacher postings. Seems the state Board of Fire Prevention Regulations decided that no more than 20% of any classroom walls may be covered with flammable materials, and subsequently "ordered schools to sharply reduce the amount of decorations and other materials they proudly hang up in classrooms and corridors." (Incidentally, the same rule has been in effect in our dormitories for years, due to the overzealous local fire marshall -- a man, we tell students, with the power to condemn our dorm and make us sleep in the gym, which to an adolescent boy is indeed a fate worse than death.)

Predicatably, teachers are calling the order a death knell for student pride in accomplishment, and for visual learning and reinforcement.

They're right, of course, but there's a bigger issue here: schools are significantly less likely to go up at all, and when they do, the consequences are most often less serious than other places. They have fire extinguishers and exits everywhere, and fire alarms conveniently placed. They are legally required to have good sprinkler systems, and, even more importantly, schools are spaces with extraordinarily low potential for sparks or matches. And what other kind of institution or building conducts regular fire drills with all its community members?

Here at NMH we have 3700 acres of forest, 1100 students, almost a hundred buildings. Yet there has been but one major fire in our five years here -- the barn, full of hay in the heat of summer, or a discarded illegal cigarette. In the dorms, kids can't smoke (that's why they do it in the barn); they're not allowed to have matches: one can get put on disciplinary probation for an open flame. We have fire drills three times a year in the middle of the night, but we never have a fire.

Posters in the chem lab may not always be the best idea -- all you really need is a decent elemental table. But let's chill out on the walls, guys. Let the kids have their art, their cursive letters, their dangling kitten posters. Hang in there, kid!

posted by boyhowdy | 7:36 PM | 0 comments

Advice Is A Form Of Love

Stay out of the sun. Stay as cool as possible. Relax. Try not to scratch.

Oh, and take these inch-long pills three times a day, even though they probably won't make a difference.

Try that clear green stuff we used to use when you were a baby. If you need narcotic painkillers, feel free to call the doctor; he said you should.

Speaking of babies, don't get too close to Willow; keep yourself covered around her, and certainly don't hold her against your ribcage where the rash is. Sleep alone. Miss her.

Hooray, summer. Having shingles sucks.

Thanks, though, to Darcie who made the perfect sandwiches for us this afternoon's lawn picnic, to Willow who greets me with my name (daddy) and a grin and outstretched arms when I come home, to mom and dad, who keep calling to empathize with me and offer informed secondhand suggestions from the best doctors they know personally. It's nice to be taken care of, and cared for.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:37 PM | 0 comments

Monday, June 09, 2003

So Much For Summer

Yes, that's right...shingles

Almost a week ago I thought I had a couple of itchy spider bites on my chest under my right nipple.

A couple of days ago the area around those spots started to go numb.

Yesterday I started getting shooting pains in my rib. I thought maybe it was broken or strained, so I called the doctor, who called back a few minutes later and said something you never want to hear a doctor say to you: Come in to the office. Now.

Those little itchy bumps on my chest turn out to be shingles. I seem to be the youngest person ever to get it or something. Hooray.

And, according to the doctor, it just gets worse from here. I'm in for about a month of excruciating pain and itchiness, a set of symptoms which the website, In trying to get caregivers to empathize with their patients and loved ones, describes by asking caregivers to think of the worst pain you ever had, and multiply it many times over...With pain that bad, it is hard to find a comfortable position, whether sitting, lying down, or walking around.

Oh, God.

And guess what? Shingles is really a kind of herpes outbreak, except the virus in question is the chicken pox virus you have left over in you from your own childhood (you learn so much at the doctor's office, don't you?). Yes, that's right -- shingles comes from chicken pox; if you've never had chicken pox, you can't get shingles. People who have never had chicken pox can GET chicken pox from shingles outbreaks, and, at almost eleven months, Willow's never had it. We were going to schedule her for her chicken pox vaccine while I went to see the doctor, but it looks like we won't need the shots, thanks, because this afternoon, the baby broke out in itchy bumps.

I hate myself right now, and I can't imagine the pain of struggling to help her understand why she's itching. Heck, she can't even understand the word "no" yet.

I'm so sorry, baby.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:48 PM | 3 comments

Monday Mosh

Today's mosh accomplished from a movable chair, baby bouncing on my knee. I think I bruised a rib lifting televisions over the weekend.

What song did you mosh to?
Thing Called Love -- Bonnie Raitt.

What did you step on/bump into? (bonus points for breakage)
Rolled the chair wheel over my own foot; bumped the back of the baby's head against my own forehead. Better, I think, not to break anything else -- my rib hurts enough.

Why did you stop?
Pain: nature's way of saying "cut that out."

And remember, kiddies: moshing is good for your spiritual health -- everyone needs a good dance-around on a Monday! Don't forget to post your own mosh in the comments below!

posted by boyhowdy | 12:30 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Not Much Here

Reunion is over, and the campus is suddenly, postapocalyptically quiet. The baby's got a yeast infection itch; I carried her naked-bottomed down to the farm with Darcie and Virginia this afternoon after a sleeplate start to see the recently sheared sheep, feed clover to cows, and chase and catch a pair of identical chickens escaped from their chickenwire cage. The poppies were out in full gaudiness along the lavender patch, orange and purple in the late afternoon summerhaze.

With dining halls closed for months we took Virginia to the Peoples' Pint for pulled pork burritos, homemade sausage quesadillas, and a chocolate souffle a la mode to die for. A parade had just finished in Greenfield, lending a festive air: white-vested morris dancers at the next table over jingled in time to the faint bar radio music as we ate, and a woman dressed up as a bellydancing djinn swished and tinkled in and out the door.

Few tasks remain before the summer mind takes back its worked-over body. There will be a few conference calls, a bit of light curriculum writing, some steelwoolgathering for the Bangladesh trip -- also a visa application to prepare and send, a trip to the doctor for serious shots. But the now-voluminious maple leaves beckon me with shade in the warm days, and a pair of newly google-found folk festivals pique my interest -- Great Waters, surprisingly close by in Wolfeboro, NH, and a zydeco/jamband festival called Great Blue Heron; brownie points will be granted anyone who can comment on either. The camper is cool, and the air sings with birds in the morning. Hoorah, once again, for summer; let the good times, as it were, roll.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:40 PM | 1 comments

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Kudos To Reuters

For the best newspaper lead ever:
Cuba's first ephemeral art festival lasted barely an hour and a half, until the butter paintings and ice sculptures began to melt, the children ate the cupcakes hung from a tree and the grand piano went up in flames.

Kudos to piano arsonists, too: Top festival honors for the best exhibit of transitory art went to Jeanette Chavez, a 22-year-old art student who poured gasoline on a wooden piano structure and set fire to it while minimalist piano music blared from speakers. She won a night out at Havana's famed Tropicana cabaret, which doesn't seem worth the cost of the piano, but I guess that's not the point.

Although some exhibits were less ephemeral than others, the festival requires no clean-up, as "the works will stay here until they disappear," according to event organizer and director of Havana's Experimental Centre for the Visual Arts Mayrelis Peraza. The smell of rotting butter should dissipate eventually.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:36 PM | 0 comments

I Once Was Spent But Now I'm Found

Last week I was pretty much spent; regular readers may remember some long lags between blogentries, some serious incoherence as I tried to wind up the school year with a kindling-spark of sanity (new visitors -- welcome, new visitors! -- feel free to scroll down to catch up on recent trials and tributaries). But I've never felt lighter, now it's practically summer. Here's how it got that way.

Spent the weekend setting up and troubleshooting overheads, clip-on mics, data projectors, and slide projectors all over the two campuses for this year's NMH Alumni reunion, including a slew of convention-like workshops on topics from ADHD and urban sprawl to alternative energy and scrapbook making. I missed the Dogfish Head Brewery tasting (the owner's an alum), and wasted an hour singlehandedly lugging a TV from one campus to the other and precariously into the bowels of a dorm only to find that someone had, after all, brought in their own TV. But I can't complain: only two bulbs blew all weekend, the alums are all happy to be back and all want to hear me talk about me, the food's been great, and there's beer everywhere.

Except for a few moments of late-afternoon family time in the pop-up camper, now set up in the driveway under the Maple tree, spent the afternoon in a borrowed shirt in the rain. Back and forth, back and forth. Sometimes when it's foggy and drizzly on one campus it pours on the other; today it was just torrential everywhere.

Spent the last hour in the zone with my daughter, in and around the crib while Darcie read in bed and smiled. Willow kept sneaking up on her mother to say "hi." When mama responded, the baby would jump up and down and squeal with delight.

Spent the past few minutes glowing and grinning like only a daddy can, spooned against the baby's back as she nursed herself to sleep.

Ahhh...Summer. Wet, warm, relaxing hot-bath summer. It's about time.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:23 PM | 0 comments

Friday, June 06, 2003

Irony Alert

Education Department pulls web-based summer reading list, compiled from elementary and middle school specialists from Atlanta, Georgia, public schools, due to misspellings, misidentifications, an absence of books "reflective of a diverse population" in the canon, and a lack of books from the past decade.

More than 40,000 students in the Atlanta school district are participating in the department's "No Child Left Behind" reading program this summer.

Apparently, children born in the past ten years need not apply.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:42 AM | 0 comments

Re: Hi!

I did not name this site after a Tolkien poem from LOTR. It is cool that you think the movie is cool, and thanks for the email, but I'm the kind of person who reserves his obsessions for family and time well spent, not fictional universes. Myself, I think the sentiment of "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" is deeper and more relevant outside of that context. For me, the phrase originated with a bumper sticker, and it rings true: wandering, a la Dirk Gently's Zen method of navigating, works for me; it is my mode d'etre.

While we're on the subject, I didn't name my daughter after a Buffy The Vampire character, either. I might admit to having a tiny crush on the girl who plays Willow in Buffy the vampire slayer, but that's just because I have a thing for elfin girls with reddish hair. We like tree names; already have Rowan and Juniper on reserve for subsequent kids.

Truth is, in both cases, it was only after it was too late that I found out about these pop culture connections -- I didn't know "the band camp girl from American Pie" was even on the show until after Willow was born; I learned about the LOTR origin of that favorite bumper sticker from an email much like the one I received today, the one entitled "hi!" that began, all too specifically, "I love LotR and I think it's totally cool that you are using a line from the Riddle of Aragorn."

In both cases, it was the comments of others which led me to realize that these connections even existed. I realized much too late the high geek quotient of either association. Can one be a geek only in one's Freudian subconscious?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:47 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Reaping What You Sow:
File Under Plagiarism

Remember that high school student whose mother never taught her to share? You know, the one with the immune deficiency who successfully sued her school for the right to be recognized as sole valedictorian -- despite already being one of three valedictorians? The one who gained her high GPA points by not having to take courses required for non-disabled students, such as gym?

Well, now that she's been caught plagiarising, admitting that she did not properly attribute information in three articles and two essays she wrote for the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, here comes with the dubious news that "nearly 1400 people," some who ominously "say they are associated with the university," have already signed a petition asking Harvard to rescind their offer of enrollment for next year. Seems they were afraid that she'd sue for the right to be the only student there. Geoff Mulvihill, "Associated Press Writer," reports:
Blair L. Hornstine, 18, explained her actions in a column published in the newspaper Tuesday, but she did not apologize. "I am not a professional journalist. I was a 17-year-old with no experience in writing newspaper articles," she wrote. "Upon reflection, I am now cognizant that proper citation allows scholars of the future to constantly re-evaluate and re-examine academic works."
This is an interesting definition of why we cite. It's innovative, I suppose. But it's also very wrong. Notably, Hornstine's definition is consistent with the egoism which led to her suit in the first place -- in avoiding the issue of tying one's work into the web of ideas by referring specifically to those ideas, instead focusing on what citation does for a single text; it is an approach purely consistent with her self-centered history in the press. One cannot help but wonder at an eighteen year old who can write better than, say, Geoff Mulvihill, but does not know what proper citation is for, and cannot understand that it is at least as much for the present as it is for the future.

Bonus: The story which contains the above quote ("...but did not apologize") has as its headline "Valedictorian apologizes for failing to attribute in columns. Oops.

Bonus, Too: The piece is generally slipshod. Grammar errors abound, and that headline/quote mismatch is just embarassing. Reporting that "some" people who signed a petition say they are associated with the university isn't concrete enough to be news. How did this article get by the Newsday editorial crew? Mulvihill should be ashamed; where does he think he is, Fox News?

posted by boyhowdy | 11:27 PM | 0 comments

Thursday Three: For The Unmotivated Blogger

Who was the last person to give you a present?
Graduation leads to grateful students. Yesterday's mail included two of this year's senior t-shirts for Darcie and me, given by class parents and real-parents-to-be Jim and Marianne "with thanks for all your help with this year's senior class", and a small box with a whistle that, when filled, blows bubbles, and a marbled Carnegie Mellon mug, both from Chantelle, who's off to CM partially because of the stellar letter of recommendation I wrote her.

Who was the last person you gave a present to?
Um...last week I gave all four of my returning advisees copies of next year's NMH book in common, Ella Minnow Pea. If you haven't read it, you should, especially if you're a linguaphile; it's a nice light summer read with a wry and intelligent humor.

What is your favourite present that you received?
At the moment, the pop-up camper; we're dropping the car off today to have a hitch installed. Unless Willow counts as a present. Are children presents? How about spouses?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:45 AM | 0 comments

Well, Which Is it?

Grad Student publishes paper on plagiarism, paper plagiarised from published paper on plagiarism. Plagiariser claims the plagiarism was unintentional and blames the problem on deadline pressure.

Most of the second-to-last sentence came from here; thanks to for passing this one on.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:21 AM | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Counterpoint Fragments: The Machine In The Ghost

Of course, maybe we don't talk about the ghost in the machine anymore because the machines are in us -- not yet literally, but psychologically so, at least. If so, are we ghosts? Are they? Do we merely inhabit our body-machines, or do they merely inhibit us?

Damn Alex for making me muse cyberpunkish. What *wouldn't* you transplant? Are you worried this might be a Turing test?

posted by boyhowdy | 10:52 PM | 0 comments

The Ghost In The Machine

A true science of life must let infinity in, and never lose sight of it...throughout the ages, the great innovators in the history of science had always been aware of the transparency of phenomena towards a different order of reality, of the ubiquitous presence of the ghost in the machine -- even such a simple machine as a magnetic compass or a Leyden jar.
-- Arthur Koestler

De doo doo doo, de da da da.
-- The Police

My daughter Willow, at age 10 months, has become a person overnight. She totters deliberately on the tips of our fingers from the kitchen to the ottoman and back again, slowly lowering herself into a sitting position to pick up a fallen magnetic poetry letter or Cheerio. Her speech has become proactive; she says e-i-e-i-o before she turns to go look for the Old MacDonald book where once she said dog only when we pointed at the dog and said What's that? What's that? over her head like giant parrots. From this until-now reactive ball of bawling diaper rashes and adorable-ness, humanity springs.

By profession, I evoke. My job is to make apparent the technological bias of the tool and the psychological/cultural default habits of the tool-weilder, and in doing so to lay a foundation of and for deliberation and thoughtfulness where once there was a vague and hazy understanding of how meaning springs from the combination of thought and assisted, communicative action. Essentially, I teach others to recognize the ghost in the machine, with a focus not on leyden jars and petri dishes but with the tools with which we describe, and in doing so define, our cultural discourse. But to be deliberate in this way is to know the ghost within ourselves, and thus, my job is also, in some ways, to be that ghost, to be something between a real-world Microsoft Word paperclip icon and a personal awareness guru of a peculiarly proactive Zen variety, always urging others to find the spark within them.

Seeing Willow grow fills me like a spring river, but it also makes me sad -- soon, too soon, she will walk across the room without my fingertips to hold her, and soon again she will learn to walk out of these rooms we share. I am reminded of the limitations of my job, my life, my being, something which I have known for all my life but only recently come to accept: others may help us learn to see our ghost-selves, our selves-to-become, for what they are, but what we choose to do with our spark -- how we reflect it outwards, to whom, and with what purpose -- becomes and is forever our own.

But there is a list I keep of what one day we can do together: baseball games and river tubing and walking from one town to another -- all the really important things. One day we will accomplish it all, and together, we will find her spark. And then, one day, she will become herself, and fly away.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:45 PM | 0 comments


Bleah. I hate grading papers with a passion otherwise reserved for the common senseless and the knee-jerk politically correct. If there's one thing wonderful about my new job , it's that I never have to grade another paper; now all I have to do is pare the job title down enough for it to fit on a business card, and it'll be perfect.

Okay, enough procrastination; I've got an early morning call coming in from Bangladesh tomorrow to finalize the outline for the academic technology training I'm doing over there this August. For more things-to-come, see the new (well, slightly modified) sidebar links -- don't you think the archives look much better?

posted by boyhowdy | 12:04 AM | 0 comments

Monday, June 02, 2003

Hey, Rube!

Monday Mosh!

Thanks to Mandarindesign for the cheesy effect.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:04 PM | 0 comments

And Then, Today, We Bought A Pop Up Camping Trailer

The Rockwood 1640LTD

Just walked right in and bought one. The deposit made it ours; a trip to the Insurance folks and then the DMV for plates made it real. Now all we need is a hitch and we can drive it away. We're thinking Friday, maybe.

The Rockwood 1640LTD folds up to 8' long and 3' feet high for easy travel, but spread out it runs 17 feet, roomy, curtained and fun, with a propane stove, propane furnace and and a propane 'fridge; we paid a couple hundred extra for a screenporch addition, but everything else was part of the asking price. The technology is ingenious: The dinette turns down into a third bed with ease, the canvas frame is surprisingly sturdy yet terribly light. Putting it together is like playing Transformers all over again, except on a grown-up scale and with a single easy-to-crank mechanism to save the back a bit. Pix to follow next week when we get it home.

Thanks to Mom and Dad for the early Anniversary present which made this purchase possible. Can't wait for Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.

[UPDATE 6/4/03 10:58 p.m.: Found pix of a Rockwood 1640ltd from 1999; it looks essentially the same as this year's model.]

posted by boyhowdy | 9:36 PM | 1 comments

Pomp And Circumstance

Oh yeah -- Graduation was Sunday, and it went off without a hitch -- if by "without a hitch" one means "a long vague day punctuated by moments of chaos and panic." Mostly the morning was memorable. Some highlights:

9:20 a.m. After breaking an hour into eight-minute sleepsegments with the snooze alarm, wake up with faint memory of Darcie leaving with the baby to go usher at commencement.

9:30 a.m.-- 9:50 a.m. Put on shirt; take off shirt; put on deodorant; put on shirt. Iron tie. Put tie on poorly. Iron tie again. Put tie on. Take tie off; iron shirtcollar. Put on shirt, tie, suit, graduation gown, the mortarboard with the mickey mouse ears. Put hood on incorrectly.

10:00 a.m. Go downstairs to look for Sam, a wheelchair-bound advisee who cannot get on or off the bus so needs a ride. Find no Sam. Assume, nervously but ultimately correctly, that Sam must be going over with his mother after spending the night at his Boston-area home 2 hours away.

10:05 a.m. Get into car. Get out of car. Realize that keys are in the front seat of Darcie's car, which is now six miles away and phoneless in the auditorium on the other campus. Rummage through four days worth of pants pockets just to be sure, just to be doing something.

10:15 a.m. Hitch ride with graduating senior from Turkey. Thank God.

10:15 a.m. - 10:25 a.m. Endure Beatles music as we wait in traffic to get dropped off at the auditorium. Reconsider thanks to God.

10:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Graduation.
  • Rain-dampened faculty line-up in cramped green room.

  • Faculty march-in and up the stairs to settle into painful wood 100-year-old pews.

  • Class Orator Rob, the first postgraduate chosen for the honor in quite a while, delivers unmemorable speech -- something about the difference between the rough streets where he used to be and the higher-on-Maslow's-pyramid choices he could make here at NMH.

  • Colin '03 passes the spade -- representing the work program and the commitment to community service. Diana '04 accepts on behalf of the Junior Class

  • Speaker Francis Moore Lappe delivers a speech about choosing hope, not fear. Speech verges on rousing, but never quite climaxes.

  • 400 seniors and postgraduates march slowly across the stage as their names are read. Sam's wheelchair cannot get onto the stage, so everything stops at L while the Headmaster walks majestically off stage and to the floor, where he hands Sam his diploma. Crowd of thousands surges to their feet. Reportedly, Sam is crying, although the stage's edge blocks my view.

  • School Song Jerusalem sung. Seniors cry. Everyone yells the line "bring me my arrows of desire" gleefully, even the normally disapproving faculty.

1:30 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m. Hide in apartment. Out the window kids pack, hug each other while their parents stand around awkwardly, drive off one by one.

3:30 p.m. -- 5:00 p.m. After the last stuffed SUV drives off college-bound into the sunset, walk through the hollow-sounding trash-littered war zones of the dormitory. Fold, pack, and put away for Goodwill several huge boxes of designer clothes, shoes, sporting goods, books and random objects of the accumulated one-year life of a few kids, mostly foreign, who have the cash to burn during the weekly mall trips all year but cannot bring everything back to their country. Find and keep a microfiber winter coat, a brand new Banna Republic raincoat, a few books, a pair of binoculars, a 40 pound weight set for Ginny.

5:30 p.m. Drive away from an empty campus.

6:30 p.m. -- about 8:00 p.m. Too many Pied PIPAs, a grilled steak burrito and a farmer's sausage quesadilla at the People's Pint in Greenfield.

? Haze, blurriness. Television. No noises in the hall at all.

Ahhhhhhhh...Summer. Drunken, drunken summer. The hangover was worth it.

[UPDATE 6/3/03 12:56 a.m.: Seems students leaving great stuff behind is a common phenomenon: Today's Boston Globe marvels at the discarded items at Colby College:
258 pairs of women's pants, 199 T-shirts, 40 winter hats...discarded clothes, food and furniture...scales, clocks, mirrors, lamps, ice skates, bicycle helmets, piggy banks, paperback novels, computer printers, stereo systems, and even a few George Foreman Grills were found in the trash.]

posted by boyhowdy | 8:08 PM | 0 comments

Monday Mosh

Today's Monday Mosh comes to you from an otherwise quiet dorm. The kids are gone for the summer -- it's time to rock this place!

What song did you mosh to?
Paper Thin -- Buddy and Julie Miller (off the brand-new and mostly-excellent It'll Come To You: The Songs of John Hiatt)

What did you step on / bump into (bonus points for breakage)
Bumped into my wife a bit, but isn't that the whole point of moshing?

Why did you stop?
Late for the final faculty meeting of the year on the other campus, to be followed by the annual farewell luncheon: steamers, steak and beer to toast retirees with, an especially large crop of fine old folks this year.

Don't forget to post your own Monday Mosh! Dance around like a maniac, blog your chosen song and experience, and then leave a link to your post in the comments below...or paste 'em right in if you're blogless or just want to share! (See Shaw's moshnotes in the comments for the previous entry if you want a hint on how to get started.)

posted by boyhowdy | 10:36 AM | 0 comments
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