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November 2008 Archives

November 1, 2008

An Amusing Lawn Sign


November 2, 2008

Another Championship Season


As a coach, it's pretty satisfying to see one's team rise to the big occasion. In a season that included a few frustrating close losses--due perhaps more to illness and injuries than anything else--it was a treat to see Choate Cross Country summon winning performances in the JV (thirteenth straight win in this meet) and varsity (ninth of last twelve) races in the League championship.

November 3, 2008

Tomorrow's Game Plan

1. Get up.
2. Breakfast at Abbott's
3. Vote.
4. Community lunch.
5. Teach PS550 classes.
6. Athletics staff meeting.
7. Cross country coaching.
8. Meet with girls' squash captain and co-coach.
10. Eat dinner.
11. Go to Goodyears for Election Night Party.
12. Await good news.

November 4, 2008

Big Day For Political Junkies


This is it: the culmination of two years of campaigning for the White House. Of course, there are lots of seats up for grabs in the Senate, the House, the governorships, and local races. Get out and vote!

Yes I Did

Just voted across town at a local elementary school. No wait. Paper ballots for the first time in my Connecticut voting experience. And lest there be any doubt how I cast my vote, here's a hint:

November 5, 2008

This Says It Better Than I Could


November 6, 2008

'Tis The Season


Just saw my first Christmas-themed commercial of the year. A Campbell's Soup ad. A bit early, no?

November 7, 2008

Off To The Emerald Isle


My parents arrived in Ireland this morning for a two-week tour of the auld sod and Scotland with a church group. Not sure I'd choose to be there in November, given my druthers, but I'm a bit envious of their trip nonetheless.

November 8, 2008

Clutch Time

Here's my rather crazy schedule for the weekend:

12:20 - teach PS550 class
1:15 - teach PS550 class
2:15 - prepare team meditation and collate letters from CC alums
3:30 - final cross country practice of the season
4:00 - team meditation session (source material: "The Carpet Crawlers" by Genesis and Tennyson's "Ulysses")
4:30 - read letters from CC alums at team meeting
6:00 - deliver welcoming remarks, Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
7:00 - serve as master of ceremonies, Deerfield Day Pep Rally
9:00 - Deerfield Day Bonfire

6:30 - check playability of athletic fields
8:15 - team breakfast
9:00 - deliver lecture to alumni on 2008 election and teaching politics at Choate
10:00 - make the rounds to Deerfield Day sub-varsity games
11:00 - team bus departs for cross country meet
12:00 - arrive at Avon Old Farms, warm up for races
1:30 - New England Championships varsity race
3:00 - New England Championships JV race
4:30 - New England Championships award ceremony
5:45 - team bus back to Choate
7:00 - team dinner at Iron Chef Hibachi
9:00 - prepare meet statistics and e-mail summary

10:45 - depart for Simsbury
12:00 - preside at meeting of New England prep school squash coaches
3:00 - drive to New Haven train station
4:00 - train to Grand Central
7:30 - Chip Kidd/Neil Gaiman event at 92nd Street Y

Whew! I should sleep well Sunday night at whatever late hour I get home!

November 9, 2008

Squash Scoring


At the meeting of the New England Interscholastic Squash Association earlier this afternoon, the boys' and girls' team coaches agreed to change our scoring system to point-a-rally games to 11 points to reflect the coming change in World Squash Federation and U.S. Squash tournament formats. We'll be a little ahead of the curve in the New England prep schools, but that has been typical of our Association, which also led the way in the shift from hardball to softball play.

Chip Kidd and Neil Gaiman


Just spent most of the evening in Manhattan at the 92nd Street Y for an event in which designer Chip Kidd interviewed author Neil Gaiman. I've been a fan of the work of both gentlemen, so this was a treat. The pair signed books--Kidd's Bat-Manga and Gaiman's The Graveyard Book--for me afterwards and I had a pleasant chat with each, as well.

November 10, 2008

So Much For Free Time

Since we are starting winter sports on Wednesday and I have a Founders League meeting on tap for tomorrow, this afternoon was to be my only free afternoon while school is in session until the last week of May 2009. But this slot just got filled with a committee meeting, so there goes my only unscheduled afternoon time of the year!

November 11, 2008

An Oversized Book Arrives


Amazon delivered the fourth and final volume of the Absolute Sandman series today. Having met Neil Gaiman just the other night, I am looking forward to immersing myself in his magnum opus once more. I originally read the ten trade paperbacks collections of Sandman some years back, but these deluxe slipcase volumes beckon me to re-read the saga; they are awfully pretty, with oversized artwork that has been re-colored using contemporary computer technology. Like DVD releases, they also contain all sorts of beghind-the-scenes "extras."

November 12, 2008

Catching Up With 007


The last few nights I've caught up on the most recent Bond film, Casino Royale. I saw the first Daniel Craig outing when it was initially released in theaters, but I wanted to see it again on DVD in preparation for the weekend arrival of Quantum Of Solace.

November 13, 2008

Hitting The Road

I am up in Massachusetts the next two days. Reebok International is hosting the NEPSAC Executive Board meeting this afternoon, a dinner tonight, and the Annual Meeting tomorrow morning. In addition to today's Board activity, tomorrow I am co-hosting a panel session for new athletic directors and then presenting an award--sort of a "lifetime achievement" recognition--to my colleague Tom Yankus. Then I have to hurry back to campus for girls' varsity squash practice.

November 14, 2008

James Bond Returns


Took a mid-bus full of Choaties tonight to see Quantum Of Solace, the latest entry in the 007 franchise. Clearly the series is moving away from a lot of the trademarks of the Bond I grew up with: the gadgets, the tricked-up cars, the double entendre dialogue, etc. This film felt more like one of Jason Bourne's adventures: a grittier character piece with the usual exotic backdrops. The plot of this movie didn't really hold together, but there was enough decent action to make it worthwhile. Good, but not great. And not as sure-footed as Casino Royale.

November 15, 2008

A Hazardous Profession?

So I've made the move to the girls' side of the squash program this winter, coaching the varsity squad. No doubt the players are talented and hard-hitting, though I've noticed the girls take MUCH bigger swings to generate their pace. While drilling on court this afternoon, I got clocked in the face by a backswing. Fortunately, the goggles caught then brunt of the impact--good thing I was wearing them!--but it did shake me up a bit. I'll be a little more wary of these big swings in the future.

November 16, 2008

The Quest For Organizational Perfection


In my continuing search for the Holy Grail of organizational tools, I am trying out OmniFocus on my Macs and iPhone. It's been a source of frustration that iCal syncs so well with the calendar on my iPhone, but it does not sync tasks associated with each calendar. So I am giving this GTD-based approach a spin.

November 17, 2008

Stardate: May 8, 2009


I saw this trailer at the Bond flick the other night, and it looks damned good!

November 18, 2008

Back On Two Wheels Again


I picked up my new Yamaha Zuma today in Cheshire and drove it back to campus through the chilly afternoon air. WIth a 125cc motor, it runs quieter and has a lot more zip than my old 50cc model: I used to get up to about 40mph heading down a steep hill and I was able to go faster than that while climbing uphill on the new one. Now I'll have to get a motorcycle license, however. And since it's easier to go faster, it probably would be prudent to purchase a helmet.

November 19, 2008

A Strange Kind Of Wednesday

Most Wednesdays during the school year are game days, with a lot of activity getting teams on buses and welcoming visiting squads and officials and such. Not today. We are ending a week of winter sport try-outs/practices now and though the Athletic Center is busy with training sessions, the facility schedule is spread out such that it seems eerily quiet for a Wednesday afternoon.

November 20, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

We went from fall to winter in no time flat. The temperatures this week are suddenly down to the 20s and 30s. Brrrr!

November 21, 2008

A Funny Website

I was in New Haven earlier tonight and came across an interesting looking book while browsing in one of the Broadway shops: Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide To The Unique Taste Of Millions. Turns out the book is basically a packaged version of blog entries by this guy Christian Lander. His work is amusing; here are some choice excerpts from entry #40 about Apple products:

Apple products tell the world you are creative and unique. They are an exclusive product line only used by every white college student, designer, writer, English teacher, and hipster on the planet.

. . .

It is also important that white people are reminded of their creativity, and remember you need a Mac to creatively check email, creatively check websites, and creatively watch DVDs on planes.

White people also need iPods, iPhones, Apple TV, AirPort Express stations, and anything else that Apple will produce. Because you need to express your uniqueness by purchasing everything that a publicly traded company produces.

Catching Up With Smallville


A quiet night in Memorial House, as it's exam study mode for all the kids and I am not on duty this weekend (which is a nice change of pace). I enjoyed a couple of quiet hours "nesting" tonight, clearing off a backlog of recorded programs from my DVR. I watched a couple of episodes from the current season of Smallville, a show I've followed only sporadically over the years. This is season 8 (!) for young Clark Kent, who is now well past high school age. Most of the original cast (Clark's earth parents, Lana Lang, Lex and Lionel Luthor, Pete Ross) is long gone and the show is pretty much set in Metropolis now (which sorta begs the question about the title "Smallville"). As I recall, in the first season or two, Metropolis was a city a few hours away from the little Kansas town where Clark grew up--though most other incarnations of Superman in the comics and on film and television place Metropolis far from the midwest, about where one would find New York City, in fact--but now it seems Smallville is treated like a suburb of the city, as characters appear in locations in both places back and forth with relative ease.

November 22, 2008



Just saw the Tony-winning Boeing-Boeing this afternoon. It's a very funny play, with a strong cast headlined by Christine Baranski and Mark Rylance (who won the Best Actor Tony for the part). I was in the third row center, a great vantage point from which to enjoy the antics. I'd recommend this to anyone, particularly while Rylance is in it. He reprised his role from the West End run of the play last year.

Instructions For Life

I was just looking at the emergency instructions graphic on the Times Square Shuttle here in New York and reminded of the riff on it that I posted here in June of 2007:

This is the source.

If Patti LuPone Doesn't Show Up . . .


. . . then neither do I.

Usually when I go to Broadway, I try to catch two shows in a single day. It's just a better investment of time and travel resources. After the Boeing-Boeing matinee, I was supposed to see the 8 p.m. performance of Gypsy. But when I arrived at the theater early to pick up my reserved ticket, there were signs indicating Patti LuPone's understudy would be filling in tonight. Since LuPone is pretty much the only reason I wanted to see this--the show itself and its songs don't do anything for me--I took the refund instead and will try to reschedule. It looked like there was a pile of refunded tickets there at the Will Call window, so the house might have more than its share of empty seats tonight!

I was lucky to catch an express 7:04 train back to Connecticut (first stop was Westport--woohoo!) and get home before 9 p.m.

November 23, 2008

J - E - T - S


Watched the Jets take down the heretofore undefeated Titans this afternoon and the Favre-led team looked most impressive.

November 24, 2008

Digital Delivery


The New Yorker is now publishing a digital edition that arrives on my computer screen each Monday. As a subscriber, I get free access to this service, which presents the pages of the magazine (including ads) in large, easy-to-read format. Since I usually get my copy delivered mid-week, this is a nice way to get a sneak peek at the contents of a week's issue.

iPhone 2.2


The latest upgrade to the iPhone software is growing on me. I downloaded it on Friday when it was release and was able to put the enhanced Maps feature (with Google street view) to good use in Manhattan on Saturday. I really like the public transportation routing information--a practical alternative to the driving directions. And downloading podcasts without having to sync with the Mac is a great addition, too.

And since I'm on the subject of technological progress, the Google Mobile iPhone app with voice recognition is just awesome!

November 25, 2008

A Break In The Action

The last exams of the term were given at school this morning, so I am more or less on break for the next week. That doesn't mean there is nothing to do, however; it will be a busy break. All of our term-end reports must be written and filed, and I also need to polish the syllabus for my Modern Japan survey for the winter trimester. Add to that some family time on Thanksgiving, and three productions in the city--two plays and one opera--all of which should be enjoyable. And there are all sorts of work-related and personal projects that will need some attention in the next seven days, too. But I will have the advantage of mostly unscheduled expanses of time for a little while, which is a pleasant change of pace.

November 26, 2008

A Faustian Bargain


I've just gotten home from the city, having seen Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust at the Met. For some reason it started late (9 p.m.) and I had to take a taxi to Grand Central in order to make the 12:22 back to New Haven. The production itself has been garnering rave reviews for its stunning visuals, and I can understand why, as the wall of video screens and the software that facilitated interactivity between the singers and the projected images made for quite the spectacle.

Perhaps It Really IS A Circle Of Hell

I had the pleasure (?) of spending some time in the offices of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles this afternoon. Though the DMV is certainly an easy target, I came away frustrated by the relatively arbitrary and officious nature of the bureaucracy there.

Because my new Zuma scooter has a 125cc engine, I am required to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license, but Connecticut requires me to first obtain a motorcycle permit before I can schedule a testing date. I arrived at the DMV about 3:00 p.m. and queued at the information desk, where I was given a form to fill out and told to wait on line #5. I spent nearly a half-hour in line #5--fortunately with the latest issue of The New Yorker in hand to pass the time--but when I finally got to the desk, I was told I was too late to take the permit test because my application wasn't time-stamped. I asked how and when it would have been stamped, and was told an inspector stamps the papers of everyone waiting in line at 3:30. I explained that I have been waiting in line since just after 3:00 and that no one came around to stamp anyone's papers. But the woman at the desk didn't seem to believe me and told me she couldn't help me and I'd have to come back Friday. At this point I became a bit more insistent--not nasty, but firm: I reiterated that I could not have possibly gotten to the head of a line with 12-15 people in in the last ten minutes and that she could ask anyone else standing in line if someone had come around to stamp papers at 3:30. With a sigh of exasperation, the clerk disappeared around back with my paperwork. A few minutes later she came out prepared to help me--I guess she ran my name through the computer in the interim--but then told me that getting a motorcycle permit now would do me no good, since there were no license testing dates for the rest of the calendar year. She explained one had to take the licensing test within 60 days of the permit being issued, but all permits would expire on December 31. Moreover, no motorcycle testing would be offered until April. Having spent some time on the DMV website, I was astounded to hear this, since there was no indication online that the testing was limited to certain dates. But since I had no apparent recourse, I left with a smile, knowing I'd have to go through this whole process again at the end of the winter.


Oh, Those Nutty Aussies!

This is just too funny. It's the complete e-mail conversation that Adelaide man David Thorne claims he had with a utility company chasing payment of an overdue bill:

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.19pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Our records indicate that your account is overdue by the amount of $233.95. If you have already made this payment please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Wednesday 8 Oct 2008 12.37pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
I do not have any money so am sending you this drawing I did of a spider instead. I value the drawing at $233.95 so trust that this settles the matter.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.07am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Overdue account

Dear David,
Thankyou for contacting us. Unfortunately we are unable to accept drawings as payment and your account remains in arrears of $233.95. Please contact us within the next 7 days to confirm payment has been applied to your account and is no longer outstanding.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 10.32am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,
Can I have my drawing of a spider back then please.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.42am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear David,
You emailed the drawing to me. Do you want me to email it back to you?

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 11.56am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account

Dear Jane,

Yes please.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Thursday 9 Oct 2008 12.14pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Overdue account


From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 09.22am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Whose spider is that?

Dear Jane, Are you sure this drawing of a spider is the one I sent you? This spider only has seven legs and I do not feel I would have made such an elementary mistake when I drew it.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.03am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David, Yes it is the same drawing. I copied and pasted it from the email you sent me on the 8th. David your account is still overdue by the amount of $233.95. Please make this payment as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.05am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Automated Out of Office Response

Thankyou for contacting me. I am currently away on leave, traveling through time and will be returning last week.

Regards, David.

From: David Thorne
Date: Friday 10 Oct 2008 11.08am
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Hello, I am back and have read through your emails and accept that despite missing a leg, that drawing of a spider may indeed be the one I sent you. I realise with hindsight that it is possible you rejected the drawing of a spider due to this obvious limb ommission but did not point it out in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings. As such, I am sending you a revised drawing with the correct number of legs as full payment for any amount outstanding. I trust this will bring the matter to a conclusion.

Regards, David.


From: Jane Gilles
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 2.51pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

Dear David, As I have stated, we do not accept drawings in lei of money for accounts outstanding. We accept cheque, bank cheque, money order or cash. Please make a payment this week to avoid incurring any additional fees.

Yours sincerely, Jane Gilles

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 13 Oct 2008 3.17pm
To: Jane Gilles
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?

I understand and will definately make a payment this week if I remember. As you have not accepted my second drawing as payment, please return the drawing to me as soon as possible. It was silly of me to assume I could provide you with something of completely no value whatsoever, waste your time and then attach such a large amount to it.

Regards, David.

From: Jane Gilles
Date: Tuesday 14 Oct 2008 11.18am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Whose spider is that?


This is the source.

November 27, 2008

Tennis In 1977


Tonight I am enjoying a classic match between Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors on Tennis Channel, from the Pepsi Grand Slam Challenge--a special four-player event staged in Florida in the late 1970s. The network is replaying matches from this ebent all week; this is the 1977 final. I may well have seen this when it originally aired on CBS; I'd have been in 7th grade at the time. Usually matches played with the older racquet technology look like slow motion nowadays, but this one holds up pretty well; you still get a good sense of Connors' pace and Borg's athleticism. This is fun to watch.

November 28, 2008

Entourage On Demand


For some reason, I didn't record this fall's new Entouage episodes to my DVR, so I am taking advantage of Comcast On Demand to finish off this batch. It gives me a way to break up the more mundane tasks on my plate this weekend: the last bit of grading, report writing, and tidying up in the office and at home.

My Black Friday Indulgence


Well, I made my contribution to the recovery of our economy with some Black Friday shopping. Amazon slashed the DVD sets of The Shield to $16, roughly 20 bucks cheaper than the usual discounted price. I couldn't resist that, so I ordered the first six seasons. I've actually never seen an episode of this series--which just wrapped up its final episodes--but I have heard great things about it. Who knows when I'll have the time to watch all of these DVDs, though!

November 29, 2008

Always Time For A Good Suspense Novel


It's not exactly challenging literature, but David Baldacci's latest entry in The Camel Club series of thrillers, Divine Justice, is a worthy distraction when I should be finishing my end-of-term reports. This page turner is just the sort of diversion that will leave me some much-needed deadline pressure come the end of the weekend. But the reports themselves aren't due until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, so I really have plenty of time.

November 30, 2008

Sitting Pretty In The Garden

I am at Madison Square Garden right now with Christophe Lirola, watching the Rangers play from pretty sweet seats in the second row right behind the goal. Here is the iPhone view from this vantage point:

The Seagull


Just caught the critically lauded production of The Seagull on Broadway this afternoon. The show stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Peter Sarsgaard, and Mackenzie Crook in the Chekov classic. This play is serious stuff--far from the much lighter farcical fare like Boeing-Boeing I saw here the weekend before. The star-studded cast pulled it off admirably.

About November 2008

This page contains all entries posted to As Far As You Know in November 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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