« June 2009 | Main | August 2009 »

July 2009 Archives

July 3, 2009

Working For The Weekend


Congrats to Andy Roddick for his huge semifinal win over Andy Murray at Wimbledon. Props to coach Larry Stefanki, who clearly has his charge playing his best-ever tennis. Will it be good enough to derail Roger Federer on Sunday? There's a chance, though it'd be hard to see the Swiss as anything other than the favorite.

Final Day At Yale


I am about to head into my last Shakespeare class at Yale at the end of a five-week term. It's been a treat to come down here 4-6 times a week during the past month or so. I started in the last days of the school year at Choate and am wrapping up a week into summer school, so the bookends have been a bit hectic for me, but this course was well worth the time, effort, and expense.

July 2, 2009

Still Discovering Cool iPhone Features


Since I listen to lectures and podcasts on my iPod and iPhone quite a bit, I was delighted to find the speed controls that appear when I listed to an audiobook file, allowing me to control the playback rate. And my favorite feature is the ability to replay the last 30 seconds with the click of an onscreen button.

July 1, 2009

Shakespeare's Roman Plays

This week I read two plays by the Bard that I had not yet been exposed to in any form: Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus. These are great dramas, right up there with the more famous tragedies Shakespeare produced.

July 3, 2009

Sarah Quits


Sarah Palin resigned from the governorship of Alaska today, no doubt to better position herself for a run at national office in 2012 or beyond. Finshing her term could only have complicated Palin's ambitions: she has been increasingly unpopular in "The Last Frontier" lately and it's been tricky for her to balance her obligations to the state with her desire to cultivate a following among GOP true believers in the lower 48. We haven't heard the last from Caribou Barbie, I'm sure!

July 4, 2009

Happy 233rd, America!


Slam #11 For Serena


How can Serena Williams hold three of the four Grand Slam crowns and not be ranked #1 in the world? The WTA Tour better get its act together!

July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!


Hope all my friends to the north enjoy their national holiday.

July 5, 2009

What A Match!


In a well-played battle that was capped by a 16-14 marathon fifth set in today's Wimbledon final, Roger Federer endured everything Andy Roddick could throw at him to claim his record fifteenth Slam singles crown. I have never seen the American play better, repeatedly serving his way out of trouble and using his improved backhand to craft improbable winners. I was pulling for Andy; he has worked hard to raise his game to a new level and surely deserves to have more than one major to his credit at this point in his career--and no doubt would have a handful at least, but for the fact that Federer and Nadal play in the same era.

It looked like Andy was crushed after the match. It's understandable: he served with a 5-2 lead in the second-set tiebreak and choked on a sitter backhand volley at 6-5 in the same 'breaker to allow Federer back into the match. And yet, Roddick dug deep, never losing serve, and breaking the Swiss star to take the fourth set. Federer erased two break points early in the fifth before the war of attrition unfolded past the six-all mark. In the clutch, Roger served superbly, firing aces seemingly at will in the late going. I could see Andy starting to struggle a bit, missing first serves and getting pushed to deuce games. You give a player like Federer enough chances and he will capitalize.

Though I was disappointed Roddick lost, it was pretty cool to see Roger extend his very impressive record of consistency in the majors. And having Borg, Laver, and Sampras there to greet him back in the clubhouse after the trophy presentation was a truly awesome sight.

I thought with Nadal out of action this year, this tournament would be a lot less interesting. Rafa was missed, but there was no shortage of excitement, especially in today's final.

Breakfast At Wimbledon


I've been watching the Wimbledon men's final--sorry, that's the Gentlemen's Singles championship--telecasts on NBC since the late 1970s. The match used to be played on a Saturday and the network started to broadcast it live in 1979. That's when my clear memories of seeing these matches begin. I'm pretty sure I saw some of the Connors/Borg battles before that, but the Tanner match--in which Borg on his fourth straight--is very clear in my mind. The men moved to Sunday play and the women's final subsequently got the "Breakfast At Wimbledon" live treatment on Saturdays.

I can remember seeing specific matches in particular places over the years: the graceful Bjorn Borg battling John McEnroe on a small black-and-white television at my cousin's house in East Hampton, CT; watching in the residence of a senior member of the English Department at St. Paul's School when Becker won his first title as a 17-year-old; the Cash/Lendl final in my apartment at Phillips Academy; seeing Agassi's breakthrough 1992 win on my tiny portable TV in Billings, Montana; and finding a common room on the Stanford campus with a television and a crowd to enjoy last year's epic Nadal victory.

It's a great tradition.

Surfing Through The Twitterverse


Yesterday I installed TweetDeck on a couple of my Macs and on the iPhone, having been convinced by an article in the New York Times the other day that this is a better platform for managing tweets than the traditional web interface. Lots of tweets during today's tennis match, and I can see why the standalone application has its adherents.

Free Burma


The artist Shepard Fairey--the man behind the Obama "HOPE" graphics--has released a striking image of Aung San Suu Kyi, the imprisoned leader of Burma, whom the country's ruling military junta has held under house arrest for years now and who is currently on trial for supposedly breaking the terms of her captivity (when an American activist broke into her house one evening earlier this year). For more information, click here.

July 6, 2009

360° Tour Takes Off


Last week, the first leg of the new U2 tour kicked off in Barcelona. I am looking forward to catching up with the tour in London next month!

Waiting For A Court

I went to the Hunt Tennis Center to hit some balls at 6:30 tonight and found that all 14 courts there were occupied. So for the first time in years, I actually had to wait to get on a tennis court. This sort of thing happened all the time when I was a kid, when the number of players regularly exceeded the available courts. Now I could have pulled rank over the townspeople tonight on my home courts in my capacity as (a) a Choate faculty member; (b) the long-time head tennis coach here; or (c) the school's Director of Athletics, but I didn't want to be that guy. So I was patient and before too long enjoyed a pleasant hit and then a set of doubles, finishing just as darkness descended on a beautiful summer night.

July 7, 2009

BBC's Complete Shakespeare


Today I purchased the 37-disc collection of the complete canon of Shakespeare plays produced for BBC television in the late '70s through the mid-'80s. I've seen excerpts from this series in class during my recent course on The Bard's histories and tragedies, and some of them are quite good. Many feature some of the biggest names in British acting (including John Gielgud, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Stewart, Alan Rickman, John Cleese, Jonathan Pryce, Richard Griffiths, Ben Kingsley, Nicol Williamson, and David Warner, to name just a few).

Unfortunately, the full set is hard to get in America. There are several sets of five-DVD packages that sell for about $140 (though you can find them for under $100 on Amazon if you look hard enough) but the majority of the plays--including some of the best productions of the bunch--are not on the market at all. On the other hand, you can get the complete set from Amazon if you have the means to watch Region 2 coded DVDs. The U.S. Amazon site sells the complete package for a little more than $160, but I went through the Amazon U.K. site and got the same set from the same merchant for under $140, including international shipping (go figure). The U.K. site also now converts the currency automatically such that the prices show up and my payment is processed in U.S. dollars, which is awfully convenient.

In order to watch these discs, I also purchased a region-free Philips DVD player for under $60, which is supposed to upgrade the image quality to 1080p, which should look good on my HD Samsung 52" screen. So even including the technology purchase, this was a far cheaper way to get all 37 Shakespeare plays on disc than it would have cost me to get just the 15 of them available in the U.S. market on Region 1 DVDs!

I do own a handful of other British DVDs, which only work on Region 2 players. My solution was to switch the setting on an old iBook laptop to Region 2--Macs let you change the regional code setting up to five times before it's locked for good--but that meant I could only watch those discs (mostly British TV series) on a computer screen. So now I will be able to watch DVDs from anywhere in the world on my home theater system. Ah, progress!

July 9, 2009

Matinee In Space


I wanted to see Star Trek on the big screen one more time before it disappeared from theaters. I saw it opening night weeks back, but found the film playing in Hartford at 2:15 in the afternoon. This movie was better than I remembered it (and I liked it a lot when it came out). I broke into a broad smile a handful of times during the screening. I was struck at how well crafted the entire thing was: the plot, the little character details, the visuals, the music, and everything came together very well.

July 10, 2009



Saw an afternoon showing of Bruno with a couple of 2009 Choate grads. My review: meh. Some very funny moments and some painfully awkward ones as well. The humor at times was a little over the top, and I am not particularly prudish about this sort of thing. I guess the movie was supposed to push buttons, and it will clearly do that!

July 11, 2009

Pericles On The Hudson


I am surprised Pericles--which is rarely performed in America--is not one of Shakespeare's more popular plays. There's a lot to like it it. The show I saw tonight over in New York State was very entertaining, with good humorous bits, some effective use of music and dancing, and tight pacing.

July 8, 2009

Car Rental Complications

I am trying to do something that should be pretty simple: rent a car for 24 hours in a major university town in England this August. I finish my program at the University of Cambridge on the morning of August 15. I am seeing The Winter's Tale in Stratford in the early afternoon and then catching the U2 concert at Wembley Stadium that night. The only practical way to get to the various places I need to go is by car. I planned to drop it off back in Cambridge on Sunday morning and then take the train into London, where I will spend the night before flying to Prague. But because Hertz in Cambridge is closed on Sunday, I can't drop the vehicle off there, so I will have to drive it into London and drop it off there and pay an exorbitant charge. The whole shebang will set me back something like £100. Hopefully because it's Sunday I won't get screwed over with the congestion charge in central London on top of that.

July 9, 2009

To Kindle Or Not To Kindle?


Amazon just dropped the price of the Kindle 2 by $60, so I am a little more tempted now to drop some cash on one. I am really on the fence, though, about the Kindle. In some ways, the Kindle DX, with its bigger screen, is appealing too, but it's awfully pricey. And I have always had an attachment to the physicality of conventional books. I like the process of building my own library over the years. But I'll admit that because I am so reluctant to part with books, my apartment is a bit overrun by so many volumes, so getting new books in digital form--even if just sometimes--would help a lot on that front. Moreover, it would be awfully convenient to travel with just the Kindle rather than a small stack of books.

I need to ruminate some more about this.

July 10, 2009

Overlooking The Hudson River

This is the view of the Hudson river that will form the backdrop to tonight's performance at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. That's West Point across the river and--if you can make it out--the Bear Mountain Bridge in the distance.

July 12, 2009

New TV Shows On iTunes


One of the clever things television networks have been doing of late is providing their new offerings as free iTunes downloads. With my Apple TV, I can easily download the first episode of a series (in high def usually) to see if it looks worthwhile. I did this today with Warehouse 13 (pictured above)--which was entertaining in an "X-Files meets the storage room fromthe ending of Raiders Of The Lost Ark" kind of way. And I caught the pilots of Glee (kind of interesting) and NYC Prep (hard to get to excited about people who seem to want to come across as loathsome).

July 13, 2009

Going Digital


Took the plunge and ordered the Kindle 2 this morning. The price drop pushed me over the edge. As did the prospect of carrying a much lighter load during my upcoming travels (Virginia this weekend, DC all of next week, a trip to Europe at the end of this month, and a West Coast swing in late August).

July 14, 2009

Microsoft Office On Windows


Tried to use Excel on a Windows XP machine this morning and they have so overhauled Microsoft Office on this platform that I can hardly use the most routine functions with this counter-intuitive "ribbon" layout. For example, I'd love to know how to insert cut cells; I couldn't find an appropriate menu command anywhere.

Care Package For The Courts


The HEAD folks were nice enough to hook me up with the new Speed Pro frame today after I took to this stick when I hit with it in early April. Look forward to seeing what I can do with it on the courts.

Speech & Debate


Caught the play Speech & Debate in Hartford this evening. It's about a trio of high school misfits in Salem, Oregon and their coming to grips with scandal and personal secrets. Pretty funny and provocative.

July 15, 2009

Harry Potter #6 On Celluloid


Just got in from the midnight showing of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. The film versions of these characters continue to develop nicely. It's clear the movie takes some shortcuts in plot exposition, which is helpful as the flick is already a bit too long. As always, the visuals are extraordinary. Hardly the best movie of the year, but a solid thumbs up.

July 14, 2009

Gasping For Air


Well, "gasping" sounds a little too melodramatic, but as someone who routinely travels all over with a laptop in tow, I've been contemplating the MacBook Air for a while now. The fact that my employer facilitates the purchase of technology by enabling me to pay it off interest-free over twelve months made it a lot easier for me to finally buy the computer this evening. Not only did I get the educational discount on the machine, but I got a free iPod Touch (which I hardly need; maybe I'll sell it?) and Canon printer thrown into the deal!

July 15, 2009

The Kindle 2 Arrives


My new toy from Amazon arrived this morning in custom packaging that looks pretty spiffy. The Kindle 2 is very easy to set up and while it's plugged into my iMac for its initial charging, I already downloaded two books I already own in traditional form: Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All and David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Both books are sizable tomes I am reading this summer and it will be a relief to not have to lug the texts around in my upcoming travels.

Prepping The New Laptop


Spent time today getting the new MacBook Air loaded with Office 2008, iWork '09, Adobe Creative Suite, Notebook, OmniFocus, and my other frequently used applications. I also synced my data via MobileMe to get my contacts and bookmarks the same as what's on my other Macs and my iPhone. I am having a bit of trouble getting calendars to sync so far, though.

July 16, 2009

Subscriptions On The Kindle

I am sampling a trio of periodical subscriptions on the new Kindle: a daily, a weekly, and a monthly. I have a 14-day free trial on each one before a modest subscription fee kicks in, so I'll see how I like this. I already get "hard copies" of Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, but I now am also getting the digital version of The International Herald Tribune delivered daily (some of its contents will be the same as what I read in the The New York Times, which also arrives on newsprint on my doorstep each morning). I don't know if I'll warm up to reading these publications this way, as I like the physicality of newspapers and magazines, but maybe this old dog can learn a few new tricks?

July 14, 2009

Bastille Day 2009


Happy Bastille Day to my French friends! I had an incredible three days in Paris some weeks back and look forward to returning to France sometime soon.

July 17, 2009

Packing Light

I am heading to Virginia for a three days and two nights, flying on United to Washington and then to Charlottesville. I plan to check no bags, of course, but my challenge is to see just how little I can take with me. Having the Kindle and the MacBook Air should help lighten my load.

July 16, 2009



I don't usually buy tickets to a movie theater a week and a half in advance for a cinema that's two hours away, but I want to catch the National Theatre's version of Phèdre starring Helen Mirren. It's an HD telecast of the NT's production adapted by Ted Hughes and directed by Nicholas Hytner. The play was filmed during a live performance on June 25.

July 19, 2009

Another Hamlet


Just booked a ticket to the Broadway transfer of the critically acclaimed London production of Hamlet with Jude Law in the title role. I'll see this show in October.

July 16, 2009

Waiting For Watchmen


A director's cut edition of Watchmen is being released on DVD and Blu-Ray next week, but I'm holding out for the real director's cut that will incorporate "Tales Of The Black Freighter" in addition to the additional footage added to this release. The fully loaded version is expected toward the end of the year.

July 17, 2009

Like Captain Janeway, I Guess

Today was a first. My flight from Hartford to Washington-Dulles was captained by a female pilot. Not a big deal, really, but as she spoke over the PA system it dawned on me that in the dozens and dozens of flights I've taken all over the world, I couldn't recall ever having a woman fly the plane before.

40 Years Ago


The anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is getting a lot of press coverage this week. One of my very earliest childhood memories is watching the moon landing at my grandparents' house in Philadelphia. The adults in my family clearly thought this was something of a big deal, as it left an impression on me.

Back In Charlottesville

Had a nice time in Charlottesville tonight--once my delayed flight got here, anyway. I connected with a 2005 Choate alum (and recent UVa grad too) for an enjoyable dinner and a few drinks on "the corner" just off the university campus. It was absolutely pouring for a while here on an otherwise pleasant summer night.

3G Free Zone

I drove over to Staunton from Charlottesville. Neither of these places has 3G coverage on the AT&T network. I guess I'm not all that surprised that Staunton, nestled in the Shenandoah valley, doesn't merit such coverage, but you'd think Charlottesville would receive the superior wireless network band. Now that my iPhone is on the Edge network when out of Wi-Fi range, I am reminded how much slower my first-generation iPhone was before I upgraded last month.

July 18, 2009

Sweet Spot In Kindle Pricing


I had pre-ordered the forthcoming book The Defector, the next in the Gabriel Allon series of spy novels from Daniel Silva, but since it would come out next Tuesday during my week in D.C., I thought I'd have it downloaded to the Kindle so I could dig into it right away. So I cancelled my order for the hard copy. The problem is right now the e-book costs just a dollar less than the traditional format--almost $15. My hope is that the price will drop to $9.99 when the book is released and I will download it then.

And That's The Way It Is


R.I.P. Walter Cronkite. This man WAS television news in my household when I was a kid. I can't remember the television in our home being tuned to anything else in the dinner hour. The obits all seem to agree his style was avuncular, and that's just the word. Back then CBS News was the leading light in broadcast journalism--the house that Murrow built--and Cronkite its high priest. Polls determined he was the most trusted man in America and he was a pillar of stability for the country through troubled times (i.e. assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate).

The Morning Report


I've received three issues of the International Herald Tribune on my Kindle now, and I must admit reading a paper this way is growing on me. I can't imagine not being able to spread out with the various sections of, say, the Sunday New York Times. And missing the ads is not entirely a positive thing (one discovers upcoming concerts and shows, new books, and such that way, after all). But for about 25¢ an issue, electronic delivery is a cheap way to get the IHT. And it will be MUCH cheaper than what I'd have to pay for an issue at the newsstand when I am in Europe next month. (Though because Amazon's Whispernet doesn't work outside the U.S., I'll have to sync the Kindle with my laptop each morning over an Internet connection in order to download the latest edition.)

Blackfriars I: Much Ado


After being introduced to the American Shakespeare Center last summer during my program at UVa, I returned to the Blackfriars Playhouse this year to catch a trio of Shakespeare productions. This first of these, a matinee of Much Ado About Nothing, was an enjoyable romp. The philosophy of this company is "we do it with the lights on," which means the indoor theater lighting replicates what existed in Jacobean times, when the actors could see the audience, rather than having a lighted stage and a darkened house. So there is lots of interplay with playgoers seated near the stage (and no one is very far from it in this venue!). The ASC this incorporates a lot of improvisational bits, which are especially effective in the comedies.

Blackfriars II: Merry Wives


The Merry Wives Of Windsor has been described as the Shakespearean equivalent of a situation comedy. In it we see Sir John Falstaff of the Henry IV plays as the comic centerpiece of the action. Some critics dismiss the Falstaff of this work as having nothing to do with the magnificent creation inhabiting the taverns of Eastcheap in the history plays. That seems a bit snobbish to me. This is certainly another angle on Falstaff. As one observer noted, the Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II is arguably not the same man we saw onscreen in its antecedent film. At any rate, there was much merriment indeed, especially in the antics of Master Ford and Doctor Caius, who milked their roles for laughs.



iTunes dropped the prices on Seasons 1 and 2 of the Dr. Who spinoff Torchwood by about 33%, so I purchased the HD versions, which will be good to watch back home on the Samsung flat screen. I can also take them with me to England.

July 16, 2009

Starting In The Mailroom

Met a 2004 Choate alum for dinner tonight. He just finished at Harvard and landed a job in L.A. with one of the major talent agencies. He will literally be starting in the mailroom: there's a cliché if I ever heard one. But apparently, this is how it's done. He hopes within a few months to become someone's assistant, and then to climb the ladder from there.

July 17, 2009

An Enticing Magazine Cover


I'm an Entertainment Weekly subscriber, but the magazine usually arrives on Friday afternoons and it hadn't appeared when I left campus for the airport. Seeing this cover on the newsstand, I had to buy another copy to read on the plane. Some good previews of next weekend's Comic-Con within.

July 19, 2009

Blackfriars III: Titus Andronicus

The third of the three ASC Shakespeare plays I saw this weekend was the "hook" that brought me down to Virginia this weekend. Titus Andronicus is not performed very often, so I jumped on the chance to see it done at one of my favorite theaters by one of my favorite acting companies. Clearly this is not a show for the squeamish, as there is plenty of gore as well as psychological horror on display on stage. This has a reputation as being one of The Bard's worst plays, but when done well--and it was today--it was pretty gripping stuff. The bad guys here are about as bad as they get in Shakespeare--even Iago and Edmund and the Macbeths are (somewhat) more sympathetic. But the "heroes" don't get off lightly either. Glad I made the trip down from Connecticut for this.

Cinderella Story?


59-year-old Tom Watson nearly had his storybook ending, coming tantalizingly close to a sixth British Open title. I was following the end of the tournament and the leaders were heading for a playoff after 18 as I was heading into the theater. It's intermission now, and I've learned Watson's bid for late-career glory fell just short. But it's still a Cinderella story: this guy at nearly 60 was a factor contending for this major title all four days. Bravo!

Kindle Screen Savers

kindle screen saver.jpg

One of the cool features of the Kindle is the variety of portraits of writers (and occasionally other book-related graphics) that appear whenever I turn off the power. I don't know how many there are, but I haven't yet noticed the same one twice.

July 20, 2009

Settling Into Georgetown

I am spending the week in Washington, DC with the J.F.K. Institute program. We survived the long drive down to the capital today, suffering though the usual congestion in the Bronx on I-95, though the trip was otherwise uneventful. (I did enjoy building up to the appearance of "the Emerald City"--the Mormon temple on the Beltway, as I do every year I take kids to DC.) Since I transferred a few shows to my laptop, I will unwind with a little entertainment before catching some shut-eye.

July 21, 2009

Plugging In


Since the Georgetown University dorms don't have wireless, I remember to pack an Ethernet cord for this trip. What I forgot, however--mostly because I live in a wireless world at Choate--was the USB-to-Ethernet adapter the MacBook Air needs to connect to the Internet. So I had to make a trip to Arlington, VA to pick one up at the Apple Store (for $29--highway robbery!). But now I'll have an extra one to leave in my bag.

Capitol Hill


Our group of thirteen students and three adults spent most of the day on Capitol Hill after a morning visit to a prominent lobbying firm. The new Capitol Visitors Center is impressive; nice to see the finished product after looking at that huge hole in the ground on the East Front for years. The highlight of the day was a 15-minute or so meeting with the Speaker of the House; Nancy Pelosi met with us on the Speaker's Balcony--arguably one of the best views in the District!

July 22, 2009

Great Night For A Ball Game!


I got to see the (relatively) new Nationals Park tonight as the local NL franchise hosted the Mets. It was a beautiful night for a game and I enjoyed the company of a quartet or recent Choate alums: an two '05s, an '06, and an '08--all cross country and Mem House vets.

The Old Boy Network

Today's appointments for the Kennedy Institute's D.C. session happened to involve a handful of former students: two veterans of the Kennedy Institute and a trio of Choate "winter school" grads all doing great things in either government service or related work in the private sector. (Two of them also taught with me in the K.I. summer program, too.) As a teacher, it's very rewarding to see those I once knew as eager 15-year-olds now positioned as seasoned veterans in prominent roles in the nation's capital. One of them is chief-of-staff for a Representative, another a staff director and counsel for a major House Homeland Security subcommittee, one more working on government relations for Google, and yet another developing a career as a lobbyist after a half-dozen years as a Senate aide.

July 23, 2009

Google's Ever-Changing Logo


Google occasionally alters its corporate logo on the main page of its search website in recognition of holidays, special events, and such. Today we get the logo rendered with DC Comics heroes in honor of Comic-Con's 40th anniversary. Nice touch!

Strawberry Swing


The video for Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing" is a wonderfully inventive piece of visual magic and very much worth a look.

Google Voice


I found out today I received my official invitation to activate Google Voice. So I now have a new number (which cost me nothing) that I can use to route calls to my iPhone, work phone, or home phone or just to collect VoiceMail messages (and even have them sent to me in transcribed text format as e-mails). And I can customize the response depending on who is calling me.

I now have to figure out my strategy for sharing this new number: who gets it and on what basis.

If you want to more about Google Voice, you read about it and can watch a short video and request an invitation.

The Old Fashioned Format


As I blogged last week, I was planning to wait for the new Gabriel Allon spy novel The Defector, by Daniel Silva, to drop in price in its Kindle format. But the Georgetown Barnes & Noble had the hardback for 20% off and signed by the author, so I went with the traditional edition.

July 24, 2009

MacSpeech Dictate Upgrade


Upon my arrival home, the MacSpeech Dictate upgrade was waiting in a stack of mail. I wasn't sure going to 1.5 (rather than what presumably would be a more comprehensive jump up in a 2.0 edition) warranted the cost of the new version, but this is an invaluable application for me and supposedly this has much-improved accuracy.

A New Foofbag


Also in this week's pile of mail was the Foofbag I ordered for my new MacBook Air. It's a custom-made sleeve, produced in Australia, in whatever fabric I choose from among some interesting options. I got a Foofbag in bright blue corduroy for my G4 iBook a few years back, as well as a couple of Foofpods (for iPods and my Palm Treo) in Irish tweeds. This time around I opted for the Nishikigoi fabric, a black Japanese cotton with traditional koi (ornamental 'brocaded' carp) motif. It also has a sherpa fleece inner lining. Check out the Foof goods.

July 25, 2009

Mulder and Scully


I watched The X-Files: I Want To Believe--the 2008 theatrical release reuniting the TV show's principals--on the DVR tonight. Good to see Mulder and Scully back in action, and there was good support from Billy Connolly and Amanda Peet, but not much spark to this movie. I remember when I got hooked on the early seasons, watching them on VHS rentals 10-12 years ago during summer school (thanks, Doug Yates, for that). The mythology was seductive, but ultimately became frustrating and the show was a pale version of its earliest seasons by the end.

A Cover For My Kindle


The leather cover for my Kindle 2 arrived from Amazon today. It will keep the device safer and it looks pretty classy, too. The "binding" part of the cover latches onto little slots on the left side of the Kindle and there are little straps to keep the right corners in place.

July 26, 2009

The NT's Phèdre Telecast


The Coolidge Corner Theatre is a terrific little independent not-for-profit cinema in Brookline. It showed the HD transmission of the National Theatre's staging of Phèdre. The production was terrific, with a wonderful set conveying the stark aridity of Greece, its bright sun, and blue sea. And the acting was even better, highlighted by Helen Mirren's turn as the title character. The place was pretty full, mostly with an older crown (playgoers in general tend to be an older demographic). I liked the concept of the play being broadcast live (though this particular show was recorded), as the camera provides an intimacy not possible sitting in the actual theater. And it was perfectly suited to this particular play.

Two Gents


I returned from Boston via Rhode Island so I could see the outdoor production of Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of his earliest comedies, in a park in Waverly. It was drizzling during the early scenes in the show and the audience numbered only a few dozen, with perhaps about 25 hearty souls staying through the end of the play. The rain petered out about a half hour into the production and I'm glad I toughed it out.

July 27, 2009

Backup Made Easy


My new Time Capsule arrived today from Amazon (interesting that it's cheaper to buy an item like this from Amazon.com than directly from Apple; Amazon's price beat the education price from the Apple Store, plus there's no sales tax, as there would be if I ordered from the Apple Store). I got the 1-terabyte version, which will enable me to use Mac OS X's Time Machine software to back up my 750GB hard drive on my iMac as well as the data on a laptop or two! Plus it is capable of serving as a dual-band wireless router, simultaneously using both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, allowing all the devices on a home network to use the most efficient band automatically.

July 26, 2009

Boston and Cambridge

I have some time to kill this afternoon before I head to Rhode Island for tonight's play. I drove around Boston for a while before parking off J.F.K. Street in Cambridge. When I taught at Andover I used to spend a lot of time here; it was just over 20 minutes away, after all. Even when I moved to Connecticut I would come to Boston far more than New York. That's no longer true, but I do love coming up to Beantown and wish I did so more regularly.

July 27, 2009

The Hurt Locker


Stopped in Hartford to see The Hurt Locker on the way home from my parents' house. This has gotten good reviews and my expectations were probably a bit too high, but it's a suspenseful flick that feels truly grounded in the reality of the war in Iraq around five years ago.

Life And Death In Bon Temps


Just watched this week's installment of True Blood on the DVR. This season is getting really freaky--in a good way--right about now. Some pretty twisted stuff is happening back home while Sookie and Bill are off in Dallas. This episode ends with a couple of good cliffhangers!

July 28, 2009

Tom Tomorrow Strikes Again

This week's weekly dose of wisdom from Tom Tomorrow is brilliant:

July 29, 2009

Antony and Cleopatra


I traveled a little ways across the Pennsylvania border, a drive of just over three hours, to see a production of Antony and Cleopatra staged by the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. This was a particularly strong show, with a terrific cast--the two title characters were especially effective--and fine production values. The play itself was heavily edited, with about a third of some 3600 lines eliminated from the staged action, but this helped maintain a brisk sense of pacing and streamlined the plot without losing too much detail.


Got my first haircut in many, many months. I feel like a new man!

July 28, 2009

Might Be My Geekiest Purchase Ever


Amazon delivered today the Blu-ray edition of Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series (no, not the cheesy 1970s Star Wars ripoff, but the ultra-cool post-9/11 reimagined version!). This set is supposedly loaded with tons of extras. Wish I only had time to dive into this before jetting off to England this Friday.

July 30, 2009

Typical Technology Timing


Of course the week after I buy a Time Capsule, Apple significantly drops the price of the 1-terabyte unit and introduces a model at the old price point with double the storage capacity. Fortunately I haven't even unwrapped this particular unit yet, so I am going to return it to Amazon and get a replacement at a much better price.

My other worry on this front is the possibility Apple will release some sexy new tablet device in September--a rumor in wide circulation on the 'Net and in the press right now. An article I read today referred to such a product as a potential "Kindle killer"--not exactly what I want to hear as the proud owner of a still relatively-new Kindle 2!

In January 1998 I was very excited to own a Newton MessagePad 2100. I bought it just weeks before Steve Jobs killed the product and Apple abandoned all further development.

I suppose one can't worry about timing technology purchases, but you don't want to be the last one to adopt a product just before it becomes obsolete!

July 31, 2009

Heroic Effort

In the last 24 hours, I finished grading chores on two sets of final exams and two sets of papers (thankfully sharing the labors with teaching interns) and also wrote evaluations of the interns as well as most of the 26 teacher comments I need to submit before flying off to England tonight. A handful of errands are still ahead of me today, chief among them packing for the trip!

I just said good-bye to the Kennedy Institute kids, whom I shall miss.

In Which Our Hero Meets Some Adversity

Things got complicated this afternoon. As I was packing, a fierce electrical storm ended up cutting all power in Memorial House. I had clothes in the dryer (that I planned to take on my trip) and I had to fumble around in near-darkness for the final stages of packing. Not fun. And it forced me to leave for the airport about 30 minutes later than I had planned.

Felled trees, steady rain, and congested Friday traffic combined to make the trip from Wallingford to Kennedy Airport pretty brutal. So brutal, in fact, that I arrived in the terminal about 20 minutes before my flight was due to take off. I knew as I was stuck in traffic that missing my flight was a growing possibility, but I hoped departures would be delayed due to the weather. No such luck in my case. So I have a seat on the 11:30 flight (I was due to fly out on the 9:15) but American Airlines charged me $250 for the change! Outrageous, but I think it's because I booked this with mileage points, if memory serves, so it's in a weird class of tickets. But at least I will get to London early tomorrow!

About July 2009

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

June 2009 is the previous archive.

August 2009 is the next archive.

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

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.