My ReplayTV does not yet know how to read my mind. I was under the impression that it was programmed to record each new episode of Heroes this season. But apparently I set it to record only the season premiere last week. Thus I do not have tonight's episode ready for my viewing pleasure. Fortunately, NBC is airing it again this weekend!
I look forward to getting a new iMac once the Leopard OS is released later this month (no point to getting it before then and paying separately for the new OS and the updated iLife '08 suite) for it will enable me to re-organize my digital music and photography, which takes up the lion's share of storage space on my various machines. The internal hard drives on my G5 iMac, my G4 iBook, and my MacBook all are near their maximum capacity at this point. What I really need to do is dump some of my pictures; I really only should be keeping a small percentage of what I actually shoot. But to do so, I need to do some consolidation first.
In the midst of the current political mess in Myanmar (Burma), it's heartening to see the inspirational role played by Aung San Suu Kyi, even though she still is being utterly repressed (she has been under house arrest for years) by the ruling junta. Her steadfast leadership stands in marked contrast to the lack of vision we see in so many of our elected officials closer to home!
And one would be remiss in not recognizing the courage of the Buddhist monks and hundreds of ordinary citizens of the country who are risking their lives in standing up for democracy.
I cleaned about half my office today: I cleared the desk of all the detrius that had accumulated in recent months and ensured the couch and two chairs were free of clutter as well. I also got rid of a few boxes that had been lingering for too long. The more challenging second half of this project awaits me this weekend: I need to sort through a mountain of paper, including old magazines, unopened junk mail, and such. Most of it can be trashed, but it will take some time to process. With no meet on Saturday (it's on Sunday instead) and all of our teams away, I'll have some quiet time to tackle this chore.
There's this magazine:
and then there's this one:
So I am thinking about starting up a new publication: New Yorkest.
I ventured into New York City and saw Aida at the Met last night, my first time with this particular opera. It was a tremendous spectacle, with enormous sets evoking ancient Egypt, impressive lighting, and over a hundred bodies (not to mention a few live horses) on stage at one point. This particular Verdi work is a stirring mixture of grand historical epic and intense psychological drama. To my untrained ear, the voices seemed in very fine form. The music was wonderful. A very enjoyable show.
Magic, the new album from Bruce Springsteen, is an energetic collection of tunes. It's the first time The Boss has recorded with The E Street Band since he released The Rising five years ago. I've been listening to the disc all week and it's growing on me.
My only scheduled commitment today was a short team practice (and meditation session--or, as the kids call it, "Neditation" session) at 1:30. The morning was leisurely, like a Saturday morning should be. And nearly all of our teams left for eastern Massachusetts (except for those making the trip tomorrow, like my team) and so the campus feels deserted. I am not on duty in the dorm tonight. So I've got a lot more unscheduled time than I am used to during the school year. No complaints here.
On the way back from our meet at Andover today, I finally broke open the season 1 DVD set of Friday Night Lights and watched the pilot episode. It was amazing. If the rest of the series is as well written as this show was, I will enjoy it immensely.
I've updated my travel map to include scheduled trips through mid-December: Chicago, Washington, and Nashville. The former is a long weekend mini-vacation later this month, I'll be in DC at the end of the month with my American Political Institutions class, and I will be in Nashville in December for the national high school athletic director's annual convention. As soon as my post-Christmas travel arrangements are nailed down, I'll update the map again.
For some unknown reason, I awoke at 5:15 this morning. So I have been in the office since before sunrise, getting things done. It's the best time to work: no one here to distract me, no phones ringing, no email messages dinging!
THe 2007 baseball season officially ended last night, so there will be no more distractions on that front.
Today felt like the first day of fall. I drove up to Worcester, Massachusetts and back for a meeting and saw my first real sweep of colorful foliage. The temperature seemed cooler in the afternoon, with a bit of a bite in the air as the sun went down. And it sure seems like nightfall is coming earlier with each passing day. Perhaps our Indian summer has come to an end?
One usually associates The Economist with a mostly center-right view of politics and government. It was surprising, then, that the recent issue had so many positive (though not exclusively so) things to say about Hilary Clinton's candidacy, as well as a pretty harsh view of the current administration:
Mrs Clinton now exudes an overwhelming air of competence. Mr Bush is widely regarded as one of the most incompetent presidents in American history—a man who rushed blind into Baghdad, who filled his administration with lacklustre cronies, who bungled the handling of Hurricane Katrina and who famously claimed that he could not think of a single mistake he had made. Mrs Clinton is the anti-Bush: a woman who speaks in clear sentences, who has a formidable command of the facts, and who, on health care, is willing to learn from her mistakes.
The most appealing thing about 30 Rock is the chemistry between Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, which suggests a warped Tracy-Hepburn vibe. This is an entertaining show.
Kudos to President Al Gore for sharing a piece of the Nobel Prize for his work in spreading the word about climate change.
Boy, do I love coaching on a day like today! Great fall weather. A spectacular new cross country course. Two worthy rivals in town. Fifty-odd boys, clad in Blue and Gold, determined to do their level best. A quartet of wins over our biggest rivals in two races. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!
The air conditioner in my bedroom window comes out today. It creates an oasis from the heat and humidity from May through September but now it makes me feel like I am sleeping in a meat locker.
I am not watching Heroes tonight, because I need to see the two previous episodes first. I am way behind on a few other shows (such as Weeds and Mad Men) and have at least one missed episode of The Office and 30 Rock in the viewing queue as well. And I am stockpiling second-season episodes of Brothers And Sisters and Friday Night Lights until I finish the Season 1 DVDs of those shows. Thanks goodness for the DVR (though I will have to move a few shows over to a computer hard drive to make room for new recordings).
I drove over to Watertown this morning for a Founders League athletic directors' meeting and had another chance to evaluate the fall foliage while on the road. It appears the very warm weather and infrequent precipitation we've been enjoying the last few months will result in a pretty UN-spectacular array of colors. The hills won't be burning with vibrant reds and golds this autumn. Too bad.
The school hosted reporter Jeffrey Marx as a speaker tonight, to talk about the themes he develops in his book Season Of Life, a short meditation on coaching, masculinity, and values. I got to chat with the author over dinner beforehand with a small group of colleagues, too. Marx delivered a terrific presentation, one which seemed to resonate with the student body (no easy feat, that!). His message was what I have found to be true as I've been part of the teaching and coaching profession for over twenty years now: that true learning is made possible when the relationships between teachers and students, between coaches and athletes, are positive and affirming.
Next month U2 is re-releasing a deluxe version of its landmark album The Joshua Tree, which is now twenty years old. Of course, I will have to get the limited edition, with 2 CDs and a DVD.
Apple has officially announced the release of its latest OS update, Leopard, on October 26. This means I can go ahead and order a new iMac, so I can get Leopard and iLife '08 at no additional cost. I am getting a 750G hard drive on the new machine, which should enable me to do some serious reorganization of media files, documents, and such.
The annual autumnal ritual of meeting the parents of my students during the school's Parents Weekend is a source of stress and anxiety for many of my colleagues. I've never understood this. The arrival of the parents brings a certain energy to the campus. I enjoy meeting the families of the kids I've come to know well; it certainly is helpful to see these folks in action in order to better understand their offspring. So even though it will be a busy few days between now and Saturday, it should be fun.
Though it was probably inevitable--and may even be for the best for the future of the team--it is hard to watch Joe Torre part company with the New York Yankees. He's brought his team to the playoffs every year and has proven singularly adept at managing both the team and his boss, George Steinbrenner--quite a balancing act, as history would suggest! Torre is a classy guy and he will be missed.
Months after the release of the final Harry Potter book, author J.K. Rowling dropped a bombshell last night, revealing that Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay. I don't know if it's possible to "out" a fictional character, but this tidbit is apparently headline news all over the world today! Supposedly, Dumbledore's orientation explains why he was deceived in his youth by Gellert Grindelwald, who became a dark wizard.
This afternoon Choate Cross Country posted as lopsided a pair of wins over a major rival as I can remember in twenty-plus years of coaching. We put all 10 of our runners ahead of the Hotchkiss #1 in the varsity race, and then 15 in front of the Bearcats' JV leader (even with a few of our guys missing). Wow.
Tonight I used for the first time a neat little piece of software that enables me to post pictures on Facebook from within iPhoto, saving me a step or two of effort.
Well, I see why they call it "the Windy City." When my flight from Hartford was landing at O'Hare this morning, it was being rocked all over the place. Other than that, though, the journey was entirely uneventful. After the air miles I've logged in the last two years, I am at the point where I consider a two-hour flight just a short hop. I did get to watch two more episodes of Friday Night Lightson DVD; I am trying to finish off the first season so I can watch the new episodes I have been recording.
I have always liked the clean, airy feel of the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare; it's what an airport should be like: efficient, comfortable, and architecturally dynamic (if only the air traffic were so efficient at O'Hare!). I've been through this place many times, but today was the first chance I've had to go to baggage claim and leave the airport on the ground.
On another topic, I seem to be incapable of truly traveling light--by that I mean no more than one bag, to be stowed in the overhead compartment--even on a two-night trip. It is my fantasy to travel by air such that I ought to be able to throw a few items into a small duffel bag and not bother with checking in any baggage. But I don't seem to be able to give up the use of my own shampoo, toothpaste, etc, which means the checking luggage, due to TSA rules. Moreover, I like taking the laptop AND the portable DVD player AND at least one book AND a few magazines with me on a flight (even though I will probably use no more than one of those diversions). So while I am not lugging around a lot on this trip, I am not as footloose as I thought I could be.
David Nalbandian, whom I photographed from above the Grandstand court at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in August, knocked off the top three players in the world en route to his victory in the Madrid Masters tournament this weekend. He defeated Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer.
I got to explore the city of Chicago today and also catch up with two alums: Dan Schmierer '01 and Emma Ruby-Sachs '00. The weather was windy, but warm. Dan, who is getting his PhD. in economics from the University of Chicago, showed me around Hyde Park and then the Magnificent Mile and we ate on the sidewalk at a nice Italian place in the Loop. (We also had a chance run-in with former Choate faculty member Tim Karpoff, who ran by my rental car while we were stopped at a traffic light on Michigan Avenue--what are the odds of that?!) Later in the evening I connected with Emma in Andersonville--the very cool neighborhood in the north part of the city where she lives--and we went to Hopleaf Bar and sampled the Belgian beers and even some mead (a medieval beverage I've never tried; the fermented honey drink seemed more like a spirit than a cider or ale). A very good day in a city I've quickly become enamored of.
After a leisurely morning, I set out exploring again. I started in Evanston and checked out the impressive Northwestern campus, and then headed south on Lake Shore Drive and parked in an underground garage by Milennium Park in the heart of town. I took an excellent 90-minute architectural tour of the city on a boat on the Chicago River, then visited the Institute of Art, one the world's great museums.
I was intending to head up to the observation deck of the Sears Tower, but the visibility topped out at about five miles, rather than the 30 miles one can take in on a clear day, and so saved myself $13 by not doing that. I stopped by the Lyric Opera (no performance tonight) and rode the El back to the car. Bruce Springsteen is in town at the United Center, but I knew I had no chance of tickets for that concert. I did have another chance run-in with a Choatie on Michigan Avenue (lightning strikes twice) in the afternoon near the Apple store (the layout of which is almost identical to that of my London office, a.k.a. the Regent Street Apple store).
Off to O'Hare to get back to Wallingford before afternoon practice. I loved Chicago. I'll be back!
Thanks to the slow-as-molasses service at the Enterprise car rental place outside O'Hare Airport, I arrived at the departures terminal about 45 minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave Chicago. There was a huge queue for the check-in kiosks, so I asked a United staffer if I could jump the line to make my flight. She informed me that it was too late to check my bag--which meant I would have to dump much of what was in my toiletries bag--but led me up to one of the computers; when I successfully checked in, I found out my flight was delayed, which meant I COULD check my luggage after all. The delayed plane got me into Bradley Airport at 2:40, which meant I made a mad dash to pick up my bag, retrieve my car, and head back to campus to get to my 3:30 practice just a minute or two late. But I made it!
While waiting for my flight at the termnal gate this mornng, I watched CNN's live coverage of the launch of the shuttle Discovery. I can remember as a boy how all the networks would pre-empt regular programming to offer live coverage of the moon shot launches from Florida. Now these are only covered live on CNN. I guess after 119 shuttle launches, this kind of thing is considered routine.
Today I've been listening to the new Eagles song "How Long," an appealing countryish rock tune with the typically tight vocal harmonies we heard so often from this group in the 1970s. Ot's from the forthcoming double album Long Road Out Of Eden, which apparently will be available only at Wal-Mart next week. Check out a preview of it here.
This morning's USA Today ran a cover headline projecting the costs of our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq at $2.4 trillion over a decade. That amounts to $8000 from every man, woman, and child in America. Wow.
Volume 1 of the DVD boxed set collection of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (newly chistenened The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones) arrived from Amazon today, loaded with tons of documentary features to supplement the handful of episodes gathered on the 12 discs. The original series was George Lucas's bid to teach American youth about the early 20th century and this DVD set extends that ambition in a big way.
The above "spider squirrel" is digitally manipulated image, an entry in a scary animals photoshopping contest. Check out more here.
The newest version of Max OSX has arrived . . . Leopard debuted tonight at 6 p.m. I expect to have it in a week or so.
I just ordered a new iMac with a huge 24" screen and it should be blazingly fast. The relevant specs:
2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme
750GB (!) hard drive
8x double-layer SuperDrive
ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory
I also ordered an AirPort Extreme Base Station today to upgrade my home wireless network. This router has Gigabit Ethernet ports and is supposed to be blazing fast and boasts greater range, as it uses the 802.11n standard. And since I already have an AirPort Express which I can redeploy to extend the wireless signal even further, I'll have a much more robust home network set-up.
I hopped on a 10:32 train from New Haven to Grand Central Terminal to catch the New York City Opera production of Carmen. My train arrived at about 12:15, which gave me time for a leisurely stroll up Fifth Avenue and through Central Park to Lincoln Center just in time for the 1:30 curtain.
The Bizet opera contains several very familiar melodies, such as the Prélude (overture), the Toréador Song, and the Habanera:
a theme which will now be in my head for the rest of the week, no doubt.
The production wrapped up about 4:30, so I took the subway back to Grand Central for the 5:07 back to the Elm City so I could return to Mem House just in time for duty at 7:30.
. . . the hay is in the barn." So sang James Taylor. And last night we had our first frost of the season, so no doubt that late autumn is finally with us.
As a tennis coach, I'm a member of the HEAD Advisory Staff and the racquet I play with, the Prestige Mid, is being refreshed again. This sort of upgrade happens about every two years, just to keep consumers coming back for more: the iPrestige yielded place to the LiquidMetal Prestige, which it turn became the FlexPoint Prestige. Now we have the MicroGEL Prestige, available in January 2008. It sure looks pretty!
The Shanghai Limited Edition of my tennis shoe, the adidas Barricade IV. This pic obscures the very cool gold dragon design on the heel and the bottom. I was born in the Year of the Dragon, so this design resonates with me:
I am off to the District of Columbia now through Thursday with my American Political Institutions class. We'll visit the White House and Capitol Hill, among other places.
My new desktop computer has been dispatched from China and apparently had a stopover in Alaska. Should be in Wallingford by the end of the week, when I get back from D.C.
Wow. FedEx is pretty impressive. My new iMac left China on Tuesday morning and arrived on the Choate campus before lunch today. Too bad it will sit in the mailroom for two days before I can pick it up on Friday. (Meanwhile, the AirPort Extreme unit I ordered the same day as the desktop computer is taking over twice as long to get to Connecticut from Tennessee!)
Spent much of the morning in the White House. It's been a few years since I have been inside the building. We did the East Wing/mansion tour and then spent time chatting with a handful of relatively senior staffers. Pretty interesting stuff for the wonkishly inclined. It's still somewhat heady to be in the actual White House for a few hours.
We had lunch at the State Department, followed by back-to-back Asia-related briefings wth some high-ranking Foreign Service officers, the first focused on the Five Party Talks about North Korea, and the second on the recent Burma crisis.
Our last stop of the afternoon was a visit to the city's premier lobbyist/law firm Patton Boggs. We talked to several senior partners there, including former U.S. Senator John Breaux of Louisiana.
Tonight we head to Georgetown for a chat over pizza with Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas.