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April 2009 Archives

April 1, 2009

Heading North This Month

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I cashed in some mileage points on my credit card for a nearly-free round trip ticket to Reykjavik at the end of April during the school's long weekend break. It may be economically advantageous to visit a somewhat bankrupt Iceland about now, as there should be a favorable exchange rates and bargains aplenty. I'll have only three full days in the country, but look forward to exploring this ancient Viking land.

April 3, 2009

Springtime In Paris

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After years of threatening to do so, this May I actually will be going to Paris to see the middle weekend of the French Open. I cashed in some more points from my credit card--I have a huge backlog I've accumulated over many years--and I hope to spend an enjoyable three days in the City of Lights.

April 2, 2009

Clowning Around At The Opera House

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Just finished watching a double bill at the Met: Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, two century-old operatic meditations on love gone wrong. Tonight's ticket was the last of my 2009-2010 subscription. I now have to decide what shows I want to see in next year's season and whether I want to take the plunge for Wagner's "Ring" cycle in 2010--a big commitment of treasure and time!

April 3, 2009

Updated Travel Plans

I locked in my airfare to London in August and subsequently updated my travel map page with projected spring and summer destinations.

April 4, 2009

A Taste Of The Bard, Eh?

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I booked a round-trip flight to Toronto in June for a weekend at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario and also reserved tickets to see Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Chekhov's Three Sisters. Should be a pleasant early-summer getaway.

April 5, 2009

My Shakespeare Project

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As I may have mentioned in this space before, I am in the middle of a quest to see all of William Shakespeare's plays performed. I am roughly halfway through the list at this point, so I have identified a trio of works I haven't seen staged yet that I can catch while I am in England this August: between Shakespeare's Globe (pictured above) and the RSC in Stratford, I plan to catch As You Like It, Troilus & Cressida, and The Winter's Tale.

Expanding The GH Repertoire

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I am now able to perform on guitar, bass, drums or vocals on Guitar Hero: World Tour on my PS3 and getting better at each. Tonight four of us ran through some numbers and are working our way through all the set lists slowly but surely.

April 6, 2009

Czech It Out

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This August I will have a few days between when my commitments in England end and my return flight to New York. I've been ruminating where I should spend this time and today I decided I am going to Prague. I was in Czechoslovakia when it was still one country, but really have only been in Slovakia--driving through it for a day and then spending a night in Bratislava. And that was nearly twenty years ago! So a taste of Prague will be a splendid way to wrap up my summer travels.

The American Blackfriars

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For a measly $10 and 25,000 United Airlines mileage points, I got a round trip ticket to Charlottesville, Virginia for summer school's long weekend in mid-July. My plan is to make the short drive through the Shenandoah Valley and spend two nights in Staunton at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, right next door to Blackfriars Theater, home to the American Shakespeare Company. My program at UVa last June was centered around the ASC playhouse and this July I'll get to see Much Ado About Nothing, The Merry Wives Of Windsor, and Titus Andronicus. I also plan to visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello while in the area, which I haven't been to since I was a boy.

April 7, 2009

Trying Out Some New Sticks

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I got to play-test some of the racquets HEAD will be releasing in the next few months: the update to the Radical line and the new Speed frames. The Speed Pro, with a thinner beam, had a particularly nice feel from all around the court.

April 8, 2009

The Times They Are A-Changin'

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It dawned on me today that the cultural references I make with my classes and with team are increasingly greeted with blank stares. How is it that today's kids don't know who Captain Kirk is but know all the words to songs from Mulan?

April 9, 2009

Sweet Piece Of Luggage

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My friends at HEAD hooked me up with this spiffy backpack, which is great for lugging around my MacBook, a couple of books, and various and sundry other things. It's very useful now that the weather is allowing me to zip around town on the scooter more and more.

April 8, 2009

A Weekly Trip To The Island

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Wednesday nights mean appointment television for me, as Lost is producing some of its best episodes ever at this point in the story arc. We've come a long way since "the Others" were a ominous and unseen presence and "the hatch" was a similarly mysterious focal point. Ben's encounter beneath the temple with hieroglyphics (was that the Egyptian god Anubis?), the smoke monster, and his (dead?) "daughter" Alex tonight were all pretty engaging.

April 10, 2009

Tennis On The Dirt

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I booked three days worth of tickets at Roland Garros (that's French Open tennis) for the last weekend in May: Friday I'll be in the second stadium, Court Suzanne Lenglen, and I have grounds passes for Saturday and Sunday, but I think I'll track down a show court ticket for at least one of those days either online or from the scalpers.

April 12, 2009

A Little Easter Humor

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Happy Easter, everyone!

April 11, 2009

One In The Win Column

Spent about five hours on the indoor courts of the Johnson Athletic Center, as Choate blanked Exeter in boys' varsity tennis. It finally seems as though the team is finding its form after a shaky start. Our doubles is improving--though we dropped the #1 pro-set--but we still have a lot to work on. Two mid-week matches coming up next week.

April 12, 2009

Settling Up With Uncle Sam

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I am heading off campus for the next three days to serve on an evaluation team at a peer school. This means I need to put some time in today and tonight to wrap up the paperwork for my income tax returns, as I won't be returning home until the afternoon of April 15. Not a pleasant chore!

April 13, 2009

Monte Carlo

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My favorite pro tennis tournament that I have never been to (yet) is underway in Monte Carlo this week. I had the chance to spend a weekend there a year ago during the school's spring long weekend break and never got my act together to make it happen. Maybe next year . . . ?

St. Paul's School

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I am spending three days on the campus of St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire--the place I started my prep school teaching career years ago. I am here as part of a visiting evaluation team to review the school's athletic department. It's kind of fun to be able to take a break from my routine and poke around a similar school for a while.

April 14, 2009

The New Hampshire Capitol

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Concord is the seat of the State of New Hampshire. While visiting St. Paul's, I am staying downtown at the Holiday Inn, right across from the State Capitol. When I taught in the Law and Government program at SPS, we enjoyed frequent field trips to see the state legislature in action and visit other working parts of the government. On one such trip to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, we had an enjoyable session with one of its judges, David Souter, who has since been elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Souter clearly enjoyed interacting with students and led a lively and thoughtful discussion.

April 17, 2009

Locked Out

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For reasons unclear to me, my Facebook account suddenly was disabled this morning. Maybe I communicate so often on it, my messages are considered SPAM?

April 16, 2009

Federer's Woes Continue

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After playing in the final (and losing to Nadal each time) at Monte Carlo the last few years, Roger Federer was ushered out of the tournament in the third round by his compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka. Newlywed Roger took a wild card to compete just last week and it doesn't look like he'll be the force on clay he's been in recent seasons. It's amazing that this five-time Wimbledon champ has also been the second-best player in the world on clay, too, and surely would have won a couple of Roland Garros crowns if Rafa Nadal had not been around. I wonder if he'll get his mojo back in Rome or Hamburg in the weeks ahead.

April 17, 2009

Breakfast In Monte Carlo

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Well, metaphorically, anyway . . . Tennis Channel is offering live coverage of the Monte Carlo tournament which comes on early in the morning here on the East Coast of North America. I watched Novak Djokovic assemble a three-set win over Fernando Verdasco this morning.

April 15, 2009

Finishing Up At SPS

The evaluation team I am part of is now wrapping up its visit to St. Paul's School. This has been a wonderful experience of collegiality. We all feel that the adults and students at SPS were wonderful hosts. And reviewing the athletic program at a peer school gives me a good opportunity to re-examine what we do at Choate and why. Add to that the nostalgia value for me personally of returning to the place where I discovered my vocation and this has been a very good week.

April 18, 2009

Tough Semifinal

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Rafa Nadal led Andy Murray 6-2, 5-2, before the Scot dialed in his game and started crafting points and drilling winners to force a second-set tiebreak. But Nadal showed why he hasn't lost a set in this event since 2006, summoning a flurry of winners himself in the critical tiebreak. Murray has to feel good about his best-ever clay court showing this week and about pushing the king of clay so hard. Nadal next faces world #3 Novak Djokovic in the final tomorrow.

Life Without Facebook

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Soon it will be 48 hours since the Facebook folks disabled my account (by mistake, I presume). In order to have my situation reviewed, I needed to send an e-mail from the e-mail address associated with my login. But since that is a Williams College alumni address that is configured for receiving but not sending e-mail, this was impossible. (I had to use that address when I registered because I was an early adopter of Facebook back when you needed a college e-mail address to join.) So my account is still in limbo.

April 19, 2009

A Lecture At The JFK Library

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I am getting ready to head up to Beantown to lead a "lecture tour" this afternoon at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library for a group of 30 or so from Choate's Boston Alumni Club. I'm not particularly equipped to give a very knowledgeable tour of the JFK Library, but I am informed by my handlers that I should be ready to lend my "interpretive expertise" to the experience! I suppose I can say a few meaningful things about Choate's most famous graduate, but I will cross my fingers that the questions won't expose my inadequacies.

April 18, 2009

Connecting My Cameras Wirelessly

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Since neither of my Canons--my 10D SLR or my PowerShot--have a GPS chip, I picked up an Eye-Fi SD card which, in addition to storing my photos inside the camera, is WiFi-enabled to geotag each shot and upload photos to my iMac automatically when it's within range of my home wireless network. The geotagging means photos automatically get sorted in the "Places" feature in iPhoto '09. (I also got a Compact Flash adapter to use the Eye-Fi in the 10D.) Apparently it can also send pics home and to online photo sharing services from anywhere in the world. I configured the Eye-Fi and tried it out tonight and it works like a charm.

April 20, 2009

Design Fun

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Spent some time using Adobe Fireworks to create a logo with circular text--a task which is pretty complex, it turns out. But I stumbled across a useful tutorial online and it worked out pretty well.

April 19, 2009

Five Straight

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Earlier today, Rafael Nadal held off Novak Djokovic to claim his fifth consecutive crown at the Monte Carlo ATP event. Though the Serb won the second set with some impressive play--the first set Nadal dropped here since the 2006 final--the world #1 showed why he sits atop the game in the final set: given the slightest opening in the early going, he was able to convert a quick break and go on to steamroll Djokovic 6-1.

April 21, 2009

This Will Hold A Lot Of Racquets!

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Got a shipment of new gear from HEAD today, including the Tour Team Monstercombi bag, which is HUUUGE. Since it has backpack straps, this will be good for toting around my tennis gear while riding the Zuma.

April 22, 2009

Greatest Match Ever?

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Just got my latest fix from Amazon today: the newly released A Terrible Splendor, an account of the 1937 Davis Cup semifinal showdown between American Don Budge and German Gottfried von Cramm, played on Wimbledon's Centre Court and set against the backdrop of rising Nazi power. Looks like a good read about a match billed by the author as "the greatest ever." Next week, I'll be getting another new book, Strokes Of Genius by Sports Illustrated scribe L. Jon Wertheim, in which he unwinds the 2008 Gentlemen's Singles Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as "the greatest ever." I'll be interested to see which book makes the more compelling case.

April 23, 2009

Viking Holiday

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I'm about to drive to Kennedy Airport to catch a night flight to Reykjavik, where I will spend the school long weekend break. I'll be back in touch on the other side!

April 24, 2009

First Impressions Of Iceland

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I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted to on the five-hour Icelandair red-eye flight to Keflavik airport. I arrived at around 6:30 a.m. local time, caught a shuttle bus to my hotel, and had to wait a few hours to check in, but the hotel let me get some breakfast at the buffet and snooze a bit in the reception lounge.

The airport terminal, named after Leif Ericsson, looked new and had what I consider to be a Scandanavian design aesthetic: spare, spacious, and clean, with lots of soft wood finishes. It seems like an awfully big place to handle so few flights per day. There was a security line to clear--first time I recall going through that after getting off a plane!--but the locals were wonderfully pleasant (and fluent in English) and I was processed through passport control with hardly a glance.

The ride into Reykjavik from the airport was 30-45 minutes and offered a good sense of the landscape here: bleak and barren, but still beautiful. It's been said that Iceland and Greenland ought to swap names, and I could see green everywhere here, but it's a deep, mossy green, not at all like the lush kelly green on the fields of Ireland, this country's closest neighbor to the east. The volcanic formations do create the effect of a moonscape all around. And despite the gulf stream keeping the Iceland climate milder than its name suggests, it is colder here than back home (about forty degrees so, if the promise of temperatures in the 80s in Connecticut comes to pass). It's very windy, too, and the snow-capped mountains across the harbor create a sense of cold--which is not something I usually welcome in late April!

April 22, 2009

Indoor Tennis

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For the second day in a row, the boys' varsity tennis team played an interscholastic match indoors on the three fast courts of the Johnson Athletic Center. While it's very helpful to get these matches in on the scheduled date--as opposed to finding a make-up date in an already very busy May--these indoor affairs tend to take a long time. Yesterday's tilt went the better part of five hours and today's, a fairly one-sided affair, was pushing four.

The photo above we thought was funny, with the player's last names on the back of the warm-ups suggesting what could pass for a law firm as easily as a tennis team!

April 25, 2009

The Golden Circle

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I rented a car in Reykjavik today and drove what is known as The Golden Circle, a popular route for visitors to Iceland, consisting of the waterfalls at Gullfoss, the geothermal wonders of Geysir, and the physical beautiful and historically significant ├×ingvellir, seat of the oldest parliamentary government in the world.

State Of Play, American Style

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Iceland gets a pretty steady dose of American cinema, so tonight I caught one of the latest Hollywood releases, State Of Play, paying only a little more than $4, given the advantageous exchange rate that now exists. This film is a reworked version of a British television mini-series from a few years back, one I own on DVD. It has some pretty impressive star power assembled: Oscar winners Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Helen Mirren, along with Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, and Jeff Daniels. Of course, I had forgotten the twists of the BBC version, so this felt pretty fresh. Not an earth-shakingly good movie--I probably shouldn't use such language here on the North Atlantic Ridge, one of the planet's major fault lines!--but a decent night's entertainment.

April 24, 2009

The Search For Intelligent Life

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Picked up an issue of Intelligent Life, published by The Economist, for the second time in two months; I also got an issue in England in March. I don't think we get this magazine back in the States. It's sort of an upscale style and culture publication, something like Monocle, and it's pretty good. Maybe I will subscribe (as if I need to receive any more magazines!).

April 23, 2009

No Checked Baggage

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I've been aspiring to do this for some time: limit my luggage to just one piece of carry-on for trips less than a week long. I have done this for my winter long weekend getways to Florida to visit my folks, but this is the first international trip I've been able to pull it off. The trick is to depend on the hotel to provide shampoo and conditioner, take just one razor cartridge, which can always be replaced cheaply if confiscated, buy toothpaste locally, and minimize changes of clothes. I still am taking more than I should: two books, instead of one; two seasons worth of DVDs, instead of one; and more magazines than I will be able to digest in three days. And I can't seem to part with my MacBook and the portable DVD player. But everything fits into one backpack and this is progress!

April 22, 2009

Clip Show

Usually I am disappointed when one of my favorite series airs a "clip show"--a compilation drawn from past broadcasts with no new material, usually done to pad a season's run of episodes with minimal budgetary impact. But I found tonight's Lost a helpful refresher focusing on the story of "the Oceanic Six." Of course, I will be looking to the season's last batch of fresh Lost episodes starting next Wednesday!

April 26, 2009

The Mystery Logo

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Today I am wearing one of my favorite shirts, pictured above. I figured it was an appropriate Scandanavian sort of logo for this part of the world. It's amazing to me that most people are puzzled by the symbol. It's actually the logo associated with Bjorn Borg at the height of his career and adorned his Fila clothing line and Bancroft racquets (which he used only in North America before his Donnay contract was extended worldwide around 1980.

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The Blue Lagoon

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No this entry isn't about that cheesy Brooke Shields/Christopher Atkins castaway movie from the early 1980s. On my way to Keflavik Airport I spent a couple of hours at the Blue Lagoon, a spa of sorts with mineral-rich geothermal waters that are a striking shade of milky light blue. In addition to soaking in the lagoon, one is encouraged to cover one's face with white silica mud to cleanse the skin. The mix of heat, minerals, and unique algae species are all supposed to be really good for the skin. I'm not sure about that, but it was definitely a relaxing end to my time in Iceland.

The visuals were striking, too: the mossy volcanic rocks formed a craggy rim around the edge of the lagoon itself. The strange color of the water was capped by a steamy mist blowing across the lagoon. Under a a cloudy sky, all of these features made the place look positively otherworldly. I felt as if I were on the set of a science fiction movie, or perhaps in a Wagnerian opera.

Back Home In Time For Spring

On my way into Wallingford tonight, it seemed as if spring just bloomed in the three days since I've been gone: the trees seem to be covered with leaves and blossoms all of a sudden. Maybe the 80+ degrees Connecticut had over the weekend kicked the season into high gear?

Shocker: Nadal Wins On Clay

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At only 22 years of age, Rafa Nadal is already in the position of winning five consecutive times in some of the major European tournaments on clay: Monte Carlo last week and Barcelona this week. He doesn't have the same streak in Rome--the next stop on the tour--where he was upset a year ago, though he did win there in 2005, 2006, and 2007. And of course Nadal will be gunning for a fifth straight French Open title a month from now.

April 27, 2009

Waking Up In Rome

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No, my flight from Iceland didn't deposit me in Italy last night. But this morning, and every morning this week, Tennis Channel is featuring live coverage from Il Foro Italico of the Rome Masters event (what used to be called the Italian Open). Now if only Comcast would add the HD version of Tennis Channel, I'd REALLY be happy.

Still In Facebook Limbo

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I got a message last Saturday that my Facebook account had been restored with an apology for any inconvenience I had suffered, but I still can't login because I am told my account has been disabled. This is damned frustrating. It's been ten days now.

April 28, 2009

Ten Days Until We Boldly Go

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I am looking forward to the forthcoming reboot of Star Trek at the hands of J.J. Abrams, the brains behind Alias and Lost. Early reviews have been very positive. The movie comes out May 8.

April 29, 2009

Another Greatest Match Ever?

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For the second time in a week, a book arrived in my mail promising to dissect "the greatest tennis match ever," this time focusing on 2008's Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal. This relatively slim volume, by Sports Illustrated scribe L. Jon Wertheim, looks like a quick but promising read.

April 26, 2009

Summer Arrives Early?

While I was trekking to northern climes across the sea, temperatures soared close to 90┬░F back here in Connecticut. So it's time to open the bedroom windows (though not yet time to fire up the air conditioner).

April 30, 2009

My Paris Adventure Awaits

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Four weeks from tonight I'll be on a flight to Paris for three days at the French Open--a surgical strike of a getaway before returning to Connecticut for the last week of school! Since Tennis Channel offers wall-to-wall coverage of the European clay court circuit each spring, the last week or two I've been able to catch a fair amount of action. Consequently my appetite to see some tennis on the terre battue in person at the end of May has been whetted.

Two Rushes

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A friend of mine--the biggest Rush fan I know (a fan of the band, that is, not the windbag)--sent me this design from a T-shirt, which is brilliant.

About April 2009

This page contains all entries posted to As Far As You Know in April 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

May 2009 is the next archive.

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