In Which The Delinquent Blogger Returns
Okay, I hereby resolve to get back to my blogging routine, which has fallen by the wayside in recent weeks.
Okay, I hereby resolve to get back to my blogging routine, which has fallen by the wayside in recent weeks.
I was without a computer in my office for a couple days last week when our IT department upgraded my machine to the Leopard OS. Yesterday, the laptop locked me out when I rebooted after a software update, so I am again without the machine until at least Monday, as the techies try to fix the problem. My time in the office tends to feel very unproductive when I am without e-mail, the web, etc.
I spent this evening at Symphony Hall in Boston for an evening of Haydn works. The Handel and Haydn Society performed Symphony No. 44 (“Trauer”) and the “Harmoniemesse” Mass. It was an excellent program.
Jackson Browne was in town tonight with his solo acoustic show. He played without a set list, preferring to perform whatever song from his extensive catalogue he felt like tackling--or, as was the case much of the night, keeping the fans happy by fulfilling their requests. It was a very entertaining night, capped by "The Load-Out/Stay," which I never expected to hear. Browne's voice still sounds pretty wonderful, even at 59 (!) years old.
I was notified today that I have been awarded a Coe Fellowship by the history department at Stanford University. So I will be spending a couple of weeks in the Bay Area this summer.
The bad news is I had back-to-back athletic director meetings tonight: the Founders League ADs met from 5pm until 7, followed by the Western New England group--a session that wrapped up about 9:30. The good news is that both of these meetings were here at Choate, which meant I missed just the tail end of tennis practice and could cruise right down the hill to get home at the end of the night.
Having the Leopard OS installed on my MacBook as well as on two iMacs at home enables me to make better use of iCal and my Apple Mail accounts, as the .Mac syncing capability facilitates the same information on my screen at home now following me to work (and vice-versa). iCal neatly syncs to my iPhone as well. If only I could get the "tasks" list to do the same . . .
I took part in the first of a two-part session on e-mail management offered by the school's IT director this morning. This was a productive primer on handling the barrage of electronic communication may of us face every day. The principle (from David Allen's Getting Things Done) of getting one's "In Box" to empty once a day is an admirable goal, but one I'll have to work hard to implement. I routinely have a couple thousand messages in my account, since I frequently refer to past correspondence. But if I can set up the proper filing system in place and set up some "smart mailboxes" with automatic filing rules, my life online might become a lot more productive. A good goal for early summer, when flood of daily messages slows to a trickle.
Today is the finest day of the year thus far in Connecticut: sunny, with temperatures above 70 degrees. Figures it's the afternoon I have to miss practice to attend another meeting of Founders League ADs and heads of school. I'd rather be on the tennis court today!
The fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica is underway. Tonight I watched the second episode of the new batch of episodes currently airing on Sci-Fi Channel and this is one show that consistently delivers. The second half of this season, with the final slate of episodes, probably won't surface until 2009, but the series is clearly moving toward closure.
Let it not be said that I do not introduce my young charges to all that is great in our civilization: here is the Choate tennis team earlier today at the one and only--not counting the other one down the street, that is--Blink's FryDoe in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. This culinary treat followed a dip in the frigid North Atlantic Ocean.
I saw Leatherheads tonight. No great shakes, but perfectly entertaining little flick. I enjoy George Clooney in most anything, and he is joined by Renée Zellweger and John Krasinksi (from The Office) in this football comedy set in 1925.
So I signed up for Twitter this weekend, though I am not sure this is really for me.
The premise of "twittering" is that one fires off brief updates to the service throughout the day, letting anyone who cares know exactly what one is up to. The technology now neatly ties into Facebook, updating one's "status" on the profile page. I can also update the right column of this blog page automatically with a bit of coding supplied by Twitter that fits neatly into my CSS layout. And of course I can "twitter" remotely from the iPhone.
I suppose it's presumptuous to assume that there are people with any degree of interest in the minutiae of my daily comings and goings. And I have just a bit of paranoia about the potential for "Big Brother" misuse of technology that makes it so easy for me to be tracked.
But I am gonna try this, at least for a few days.
The band Foreigner is coming to the Choate campus in the middle of May to play a gig in our athletic center on Reunion Weekend. I guess I'd have been a lot more excited about this particular group when I was in ninth grade, but I imagine I'll still want to check it out when the time comes (especially as I have all the keys to the building!).
Tonight I signed up for a Shakespeare Seminar at the University of Virginia, to be held the last week in June. I will be staying in a room on "the Lawn" of Thomas Jefferson's "Academical Village," the original heart of the campus.
The actual program centers around three performances of The Bard's works--King Lear, Twelfth Night, and Measure For Measure--along with discussions, lectures, and workshops with cast and crew at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia.
In a fit of optimism, I opened my bedroom window during the stretch of warm weather we had last week in order to get some fresh air into my apartment; it's been open ever since. I woke up this morning freezing! I may have to close the window again, though we are expecting some nice very weather the rest of the week.
In addition to enrolling in the Shakespeare Seminar I discussed in my last post, yesterday I also booked two tickets to August performances at the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London--King Lear and The Merry Wives Of Windsor.
This morning I was on the phone to the box office at the RSC in Stratford in a futile attempt to land a ticket for Hamlet starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart. Seems like I am months too late for this hot ticket. I will hunt for a spare seat on the Internet and check with ticket agencies, but I may be out of luck. I may see The Taming Of The Shrew in Stratford instead the night before my program in Oxford begins in August.
Closer to home, I also am pursuing a ticket for this spring's Broadway run of Macbeth, also featuring Patrick Stewart.
I scored a ticket to Macbeth in New York next Thursday.
It took me about 45 minutes tonight to complete my federal and Connecticut income tax forms. As I was preparing to drive down to the New Haven post office to mail them (because it was well past closing time at most local post offices) I realized I had no stamps. It's so rare that I actually use stamps anymore. Virtually all my bills I pay electronically. E-mail has usurped the personal letter for the most part. And anything work related gets metered in our mailroom. So I had to bum a couple of stamps from a friend to get my envelopes into the hands of the USPS. Finishing this chore always brings such a sweet feeling of relief. (And Uncle Sam owes me about $600!)
One of the ringtones I recently purchased on the iTunes Store--"Speed Of Sound" by Coldplay--refused to sync with my iPhone. When I would sync the device, I was told the song file was not authorized on my computer--which I knew wasn't true, as it was a non-DRM iTunes Plus file. The solution presented itself after a Google search: all I had to do was play the ringtone file on my computer and the authorization would be confirmed. I did that and the file synced right up to the iPhone. Voila!
Maybe ten or so years ago, Apple ran a series of advertisements with the tagline "What's On Your PowerBook?" (Click here to see a bigger version of the ad above and here to see more ads like this one.)
About eighteen months ago I blogged about the contents of my iBook. So it's now time for an updated snapshot of some of the things I am lugging around with me on my MacBook:
"Ricky Gervais Show" and "Grammar Girl" podcasts
schedules for my week at the University of Virginia in June and my week at Oxford University in August
PDF of Henry Stimson's 1947 Harper's essay defending the use of the atomic bomb
plans for new artificial turf fields at Choate
assorted lectures downloaded from iTunesU
syllabus for HI411: Constitutional Law
Delicious Library containing catalogue of my books, CDs, and DVDs
reading list for my fellowship at Stanford University this July
"30 Rock" episodes transferred from ReplayTV to my Mac via DVArchive
adidas shirt, short, and warm-up sizes for Choate Tennis players
photos from team trip to Bermuda to post on Facebook
Adobe Creative Suite 3
invoice for new squash scoreboards
Audio Hijack Pro
Work ’08 with a Keynote presentation for a recent faculty meeting
Circus Ponies Notebook with collections of text and image clippings
college recommendations for the Class of 2008
FileMakerPro 9 to access interscholastic athletic schedule database
notes on King Lear
iLife ’08 with Garage Band podcasts for the current Choate Tennis season
Microsoft Office 2008 For Mac
raw digital video from 2006 South African safari (still) in need of editing in iMovie
season 2 of Extras AVI files
Omni Outliner Professional
evaluations of coaches
documentation for purchased theater tickets to Macbeth on Broadway next week and plays I will see in London and Stratford in August
Parallels to run Windows tournament software
my Great American Novel in progress
With weather in the 70s and 80s the past couple of days and half the school attending a cookout on Mem Field tonight, it certainly feels like spring!
I've updated my travel map for 2008:
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Here is a bigger version of the map.
Nearly five months into the 2008 season, Roger Federer has won his first tournament, a clay-court event in Estoril, Portugal. This week brings the first clay-court Masters Series event of the year, the Monte Carlo Open.
Because I pay nearly every one of my bills on one credit card, I have amassed hundreds of thousands of points over the years--points that I can cash in for virtually free travel. Thus, in booking a round-trip ticket between Boston and London for August, I paid just $22 (and surrendered 60,000 points) rather than forking over $1,035!
Today I ordered a Flip Video Ultra camera. For about $130, this ultra-portable video camera has a built-in 2GB capacity to store 60 minutes of footage as well as a USB connector to make transfer to a computer a snap. This won't replace the MiniDV camcorder I use, but it will be useful while traveling and good to keep in a bag in case of a sudden whim to record something.
The much-awaited Pennsylvania Democratic primary is at hand, and the day could be a turning point in the 2008 presidential campaign. Senator Clinton could be knocked out of the race altogether by a surprise Obama win (or even by a very strong second-place showing). More likely is a comfortable but not decisive Clinton win, which will probably prolong this battle for the nomination. A blowout for Clinton--unlikely but not impossible--could reshuffle the deck considerably, but barring any unforeseen developments between now and the summer, I think Obama retains the upper hand in this campaign.
Much to my surprise, I was just cast for a walk-on cameo in one of the performances of the school's spring musical, No No Nanette, at the end of the term. It's been many years since I was on stage in a theatrical capacity. I did act in a couple student-directed scenes here at Choate some years back, but the last time I was in an actual play was over two decades ago. So this should be fun.
Details to come when I know more.
This week the men's tennis tour is in Monte Carlo. I spent some time this morning watching Federer and Nadal win their first matches in the event. The former was lucky to advance, down 2-5 in the third set, while the Spaniard rolled through Mario Ancic pretty comfortably. Novak Djokovic advanced, so the trio atop the game right now are on a collision course for the weekend.
I actually had ambitions to travel to Monte Carlo for the weekend, as the school begins a Long Weekend break after classes on Thursday. This is one event I've always dreamed of attending. I figured I could have seen play on Friday and Saturday (and possibly on Sunday) and it looked like I could get travel virtually for free and secure a reasonably priced place to stay in the principality. But I waited too long to pull the trigger on these plans and the air travel logistics would have been tricky in any case. One of these years, I will get over there, though.
The other two European clay court tournaments I want to visit are Rome and Paris. I may cash in some mileage points and get to Roland Garros next month, but I need to decide in the next day or so if I am going to take this plunge. And I think I need to find a way to get to Monte Carlo and Rome in the next few years.
Just got a ticket to see Sheryl Crow and James Blunt at the Tweeter Center in Massachusetts this summer.
Spotted on Route 22 in Pawling, NY this afternoon!
"As Far As You Know" is 4 years old today!
I added a widget below and to the right that will indicate where visitors to this page hail from. (Don't worry--you'll still be anonymous!)
Not only could I get into the parking garage connected to Union Station in New Haven this afternoon, but the very first parking space inside the structure was open! It seems like years since I've been able to park this close to the train station.
The production of Macbeth finished just a few minutes before 11:00 and I made it across Manhattan on foot to Grand Central Terminal with time to spare before my 11:22 train to New Haven.
The show itself was cleverly staged, with technological elements that added to a chaotic assault on the senses designed to accompany the violent aspects of the story itself. The three witches--the "weird sisters"--were thoughtfully redeployed throughout the play as nurses, servants, kitchen helpers to dramatic effect. And the strong cast, led by a superb Patrick Stewart in the title role, made it a most effective presentation.
If only I had acted on my plan late in the winter and lined up this trip I had planned to Monte Carlo! Here is the line-up of featured matches I would be watching on the Côte d'Azur right now:
Andreev (RUS) vs  Davydenko (RUS)
 Federer (SUI) vs  Nalbandian (ARG)
 Ferrer (ESP) vs  Nadal (ESP)
 Djokovic (SRB) vs Querrey (USA)
Note that the top six seeds are all still alive in the event.
I've decided I like Twitter. A number of people--both here on campus and in cyberspace--have commented on my microblogs. And it's already proven to been a useful way to connect with people. So for the time being, I will keep twittering.
My expectations for The Forbidden Kingdom were considerably low, so I actually found the movie enjoyable, even if the plot and dialogue were laughable and/or entirely predictable in places. This Jackie Chan/Jet Li martial arts flick had some especially nice scenery in addition to the usually entertaining fight choreography.
My regular readers may think I'm obsessed with this tennis tournament in Monte Carlo this week, but I really am kicking myself for not getting over there for the weekend. I doubt the ATP schedule will so neatly align this event with spring Long Weekend break at school in future years, so 2008 might have been my best shot at this. And the match-ups I would have seen yesterday and today! The semifinals in Monaco this afternoon are #4-ranked Davydenko vs. #2 Nadal and then #1 Federer against #3 Djokovic. Thank goodness for the live coverage on Tennis Channel.
I know of all the problems in the world, this one is hardly earth-shattering, but it really annoys me when I get my Entertainment Weekly--which usually arrives in Friday afternoon's mail--at the beginning of the following week.
I'm taking advantage of the down time during this Long Weekend break to catch up on recorded TV shows: Smallville, The Office, 30 Rock, and Lost from Thursday night and Battlestar Galactica and Real Time from Friday. I have a backlog of other shows still waiting for my attention--most of the last season of Nip/Tuck, last summer's Mad Men, and the last few episodes of Friday Night Lights--but they will have to wait.
The past couple of days, I've been listening to Pandora, an Internet radio website that allows the user to pick a particular artist or song in order to get a stream of similarly styled content delivered to the computer via the Web. Pretty interesting to play around with.
In another classic final, Spaniard Rafael Nadal held off top-ranked Roger Federer 7-5, 7-5 to win the Monte Carlo tournament for a fourth consecutive year. The Swiss player showed signs that new coach Jose Higueras may be helping him face the challenge of Nadal on the dirt strategically, but one wonders if the psychological advantage the younger player seems to have is too much for Roger to overcome on this surface. Federer blew commanding positions in each set, breaking to lead 4-3 in the first and then going up 4-0 in the second before too many errors let Nadal back into a war of attrition; on this court at least, that's the sort of fight Federer can't win.
We're getting some oveedue and much-needed rain today. Great for our fields, of course, but a monkey-wrench for our scheduled tennis this afternoon.
I just downloaded the free single "Violet Hill" from the forthcoming new album by Coldplay. The song is okay; hopefully the album, "Viva La Vida Or Death And His Friends," will match the band's best earlier efforts. The new CD is due in June.
The Choate tennis team dropped its first match of the 2008 season this afternoon: a 3-4 decision in a contest that we could have won. The teams I coach tend not to lose all that often--which is a good thing, because I REALLY don't like to lose.
Upon returning home from an away match, I discovered a message from the headmaster on my VoiceMail about a school holiday tomorrow. I was tipped off in advance in my capacity as the athletic director. The holiday hasn't been announced yet, but I expect it will be any minute now, and pandemonium will ensue in the dorms.