Last week was not a good one for blogging, what with preparations for the New England tennis tournament, Alumni Weekend at Choate, and the general chaos of boarding school life. I'll be better this week.
Last week was not a good one for blogging, what with preparations for the New England tennis tournament, Alumni Weekend at Choate, and the general chaos of boarding school life. I'll be better this week.
The sky is clear and the sun is shining. Hard to sit in front of a computer screen indoors today. A week to go in the school year!
Today is one of my favorite holidays (Thanksgiving is the other one). In part this is because it's traditionally regarded as the beginning of summer. And I have fond memories of the small town parades of my childhood. But I also like what the day represents: we citizens are asked to consider notions of duty, sacrifice, and love of country in an era when such ideas may be out of fashion. (Plus there's no expectation of having to buy gifts!)
In an effort to catch up on my lapsed blogging, what follows is an assortment of quick takes on a variety of topical subjects.
John Edwards: Kerry made what was probably the safest choice for a vice-presidential nominee, but one that I think ultimately will help him in November. Yes, the pollsters will tell us that Edwards may not move any of the swing states into the Kerry column--not even North Carolina, probably--but he represents an articulate, charismatic presence on the ticket that could be reassuring to swing voters in various demographic categories that will be crucial in what should prove to be a close general election. The Tar Heel senator has a fascinating life story, coming from humble origins and facing genuine adversity along the way. Of course the GOP immediately attacked Edwards this morning as lacking the experience for the vice-presidency, what with only six years in the United States Senate. This is laughable, given that the man at the head of the Republican ticket boasted exactly six years experience as governor in a state in which that office held little real political power. Moreover, Bush was more or less a failure at everything he attempted in his life before his political career, in spite of all the advantages conferred by Poppy and his friends. In contrast, Edwards was a self-made millionaire who fought corporate wrong-doing and then distinguished himself in Congress by co-sponsoring sweeping reforms such as the Patients' Bill of Rights.
John McEnroe's talk show: Tomorrow night CNBC debuts a new talk show featuring former "Super-Brat" John McEnroe. As an adolescent tennis fan, I always rooted for Mac's greatest rivals: Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. (Though I never warmed up to Ivan Lendl, so McEnroe occasionally enjoyed my support!) I must admit that I've come around on McEnroe over the years. Maybe he's mellowed; maybe I have. When he started as an announcer on tennis telecasts I found him occasionally amusing but fairly undisciplined as an analyst. Nowadays he's refreshingly insightful, more open-minded (while still refreshingly honest and opinionated), and is capable of substantial slef-deprecating humor. So I am looking forward to seeing what he'll bring to the table as a talk show host. Mac seems to have become something of a polymath, with genuine interests in art, music, politics, sports, etc. He can do no worse in this new role than Dennis Miller, whose show is in the adjoining slot on the cable network; Miller is someone I used to enjoy immensely before his gradual transformation into a right-wing crank (which corresponded fairly precisely with his becoming more or less unfunny).
Spider-Man 2: This film deserves the box office success it has enjoyed the past week. It won't change the world and it not quite perfect, but it's a pretty spiffy summer popcorn flick. Have fun with this one.
Farenheit 9/11: On the other hand, this movie--also a relative box office champ--might, in fact, change the world. Michael Moore's documentary skewers "W" and company pretty effectively. For the most part Moore avoids the heavy-handedness that made me feel sorry for Charlton Heston in Bowling For Columbine. That's not to say there is no point of view here; quite the opposite, the director has conceded. He wears his politics on his sleeve and is unabashed about presenting his opinions on the Bush Administration, the war on terror, the Patriot Act, and the current Iraq misadventure. But for the most part, Moore himself maintains a lower profile in this picture, instead letting the objects of his derision condemn themselves on camera.
Wimbledon 2004: In spite of the seemingly endless rain (that kept me from getting out to the All-England Club while in London during the opening days of the fortnight) this was one of the best Wimbledons in recent memory. Finals weekend was particularly satisfying, with the coming of age of the charming and talented Maria Sharapova in the ladies' championship and the enjoyable and highly competitive Federer/Roddick tilt on Sunday. The sport needs a few more majors with the excitement we saw in SW19 the past two weeks.
Sting in concert: I caught the former Police front man in an outdoor show at Jones Beach last week. He was in exceptionally good voice, sharing the bill with Annie Lennox. I knew it would be a good show when the second song played was one of my Police faves, "Synchronicity II."
Whither Euro 2004? While I was ambling around Paris, Scotland, Ireland, and London in June, I could not escape the football frenzy surrounding the European Cup soccer championship. Every day, there was wall-to-wall coverage in the newspapers and on television. Upon returning to the States, I was struck that highlights of the tournament merited hardly a mention in our papers.
I visited Nara, one of Japan's earliest capitals, and site of Kasuga Taisha--a beautiful Shinto shrine--and Todai-ji, a Buddhist temple housing the Daibatsu (a very famous 53-feet-high bronze statue of Buddha). At the Shinto site, I had my fortune told via omikuji, based on the stick I drew out of a canister, only to find the slip of paper with my fortune on it was labeled "Misfortune." Figuring I'd have better luck with the Buddhists, I tried again later in the day at Todai-ji, but the second slip of paper was headlined (even more harshly) "Bad Luck." Good thing I don't put much stock in that sort of thing, or it might have ruined my day.
I took a break from blogging following all that travel in the final weeks of the summer but with the school year now getting underway, I am ready to resume my normal routine. Tomorrow morning we start classes. I've been coaching for nearly a week now. And there's lots to talk about, especially on the political front. So stay tuned . . .
I know, I know. It's been too long . . . I've been remiss in my posting duties since August. Aside from the general crush of fall term (my teaching load has doubled, cross country season is well underway, getting a new athletic administrator up and running, running NEPSAC, and the generally frenetic pace of life in a boarding school), there have been a lot of distractions. First and foremost, it's been a busy season for a political junkie like me, what with the debates and the wild swings in polling. Then throw in my compulsive need to view all of Season 3 of Alias as quickly as possible, re-discovering Malestrom (the best Mac game), a couple of captivating books, work on various web sites, U.S. Open tennis, Yankees-Red Sox drama, and various and sundry other things, this blog just got crowded out of my daily routine.
But I now pledge to get back on task in these final two weeks of the political campaign. So stay tuned . . .
We few . . . we happy few . . .
The pledge drives that public radio stations run to raise money are SO annoying; waking up to the incessant harangues to call in and give money is NOT a good way to start the day. Fortunately for my sanity the fund-raising drive ends today.
After a busy Parents Weekend at school and a successful cross country outing on the home course, it's now time to enjoy a much-needed long weekend break!
I saw this--in English--as an advertisement outside a bookstore while in Kyoto, Japan and thought it was pretty cool:
Master Zeng said: Every day I examine my character in three respects: am I disloyal in my designs for others, am I untrustworthy in my dealings with friends, have I failed to practice what has been passed on to me?
Okay, after too long a layoff from posting, I will try to resume a regular schedule. Here is the cool link of the day.
It's official: the days are getting longer now (even if it doesn't feel like it yet!).
Merry Christmas, everyone. Okay, I REALLY need to get back to a regular routine of posting to this site. It will be a New Year's resolution, for sure. In the meantime, I will endeavor to assemble a few "Ten Best" lists to send off 2004. Look for these in the course of the next few days.
Anyway, this morning Santa Claus brought me a shelf load of books (and some audio CDs and DVDs), the list of which I am pleased to share with you:
Okay, I've been pretty negligent about updating this site. A busy end of term in February, capped by the organization and execution of both the New England squash tournament and a team tour of Great Britain have kept me pretty flat out since early February. Now I am in Florida with the Choate tennis team and the pace of life is fairly relaxed for the first time in many weeks. So I am back to cyberspace for the first time in a while.
I will be tinkering with the whole web site in the coming days and weeks. Among the upgrade projects on my "to do" list are a new CSS design, some more graphics (I've got a new Canon 20D digital SLR camera heading my way!), and perhaps an RSS dimension as well. So stay tuned . . .
Here's some artwork commemmorating the assassination of Julius Caesar. It seemed to fit the occasion today!
Ay, and 'tis St. Paddy's Day, wouldn't ya know it. Top o' the morning to all ye fellow Hibernians out there. And the rest of ye, don't ye be usin' the day as an excuse f'r any foolishness, now.
My federal and state tax returns were delivered into the hands of the U. S. Postal Service at exactly 11:59 p.m. on the 15th--just making the deadline! The last couple of years I filed an extension request and completed the returns in the summer (usually right before the August deadline, of course), but I figured since my taxes take me no more than 90 minutes or so and I am expecting about $800 in refunds, I might as well get the paperwork in for the April deadline. I got hung up late Friday night finding stamps (in the era of electronic bill payments I almost never post personal mail anymore) and making copies of my returns (I scanned them on my home computer rather than running down to the office for a conventional photocopy), so I had only about 15 minutes left to get the stuff in the mail (in New Haven!) by the time my car left the Choate campus. I confess I hit about 85mph on Interstate 91 on my way down there, but I made it.
This 90+ degree heat this week is wearing me down. I've always had this hard-nosed Yankee resistance to buying an air conditioner, but this may be the summer I break down and do it. At least my bedroom ought to be comfortable enough to sleep in!
School vacations are a welcome opportunity for me to tackle a backlog of books I never seem to have time for in term. I am working my way through two enjoyable reads right now: the fiction book is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, sort of an adult Harry Potter set in England of the early 1800s, and, in the non-fiction category, Tom Friedman's The World Is Flat.
Today is the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer. The only down side I see is that the days will start getting shorter.
I woke up early in Dingle, drove to the Kerry airport (which being so small, was a breeze to get through) and arrived in London Stansted Airport 20 minutes ahead of schedule--a fortuitous event that was more than canceled out by delays of over 90 minutes on the train to the city.
I took in as much of London as I could and also treated myself to two movies: a matinee of Batman Begins, which was pretty good, and a creepy indie flick called Mysterious Skin later at night.
I am writing this in the middle of the opening faculty meeting for summer school, so it's now quite clear that my vacation is over.
For years, I've fought off the urge to buy an air conditioner for my place. I always thought it preferable to "tough it out" and besides, most of my apartment is at the basement level and therefore is much cooler than the rest of the building. I always regarded A/C as an unnecessary luxury. Looks like I am caving in this year, though. At the very least I need to have a bedroom comfortable enough for sleeping when the humidity kicks in. I may get a second unit to make my study upstairs useful in the summer months, too; otherwise I almost never use that room.
Just as Lance Armstrong's yellow "LiveStrong" bands were all the rage last summer, perhaps these dogtags will become a big deal in 2005. It's a cool idea for a worthy cause. Click here to get yours.
Just to illustrate the very mundane things that give me pleasure, I am excited that construction is nearing completion on a new Outback Steakhouse restuaurant on Route 5 in North Haven, less than 10 minutes from my house (I clocked it twice).
"You have no messages in your mailbox."
I NEVER hear that enough! Telephone calls and e-mail messages have slowed to a trickle. I will enjoy a few more weeks of this!
August 8th again already, huh?!
The age of electronic communications--e-mail, cell phones, IM, VoiceMail, etc.--makes it easier to stay in touch. It was cool to receive birthday wishes from a bunch of Choate students past and present through these different channels. So thanks to the following for dropping me a line: Dane Evans '05, John Gelb '05, Frank Hamilton '06, Khalid Itum '98, Eliot Jia '06, Don Liesemer '95, Justin Murphy '05, Austin Ogilvie '05, Josh Rabjohns '93, and Chris Verrillo '05.
I christened the new Outback Steakhouse tonight. It opened yesterday and is less than ten minutes from home, just south of the Wallingford town line on Route 5. Ah, life's little pleasures! (I was almost as happy tonight as when I found an Outback in Tokyo a year ago!)
Congratulations to Williams College for (again) landing in the #1 slot in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings of the best colleges in the country. Of course, while I usually regard such rankings as nonsense, in this case I can confirm the validity of the magazine's conclusion.
I visited my hometown of Bayport, New York for the third time this summer, this time to finish clearing out any childhood possessions I wished to hang on to, for my parents are getting ready to move to a new house in Connecticut in a few weeks. This development is a bit unsettling for me, as that house has always been "home" for me. My folks moved in right before I was born. While it certainly will be nice to have my parents living only thirty minutes away, I'll miss going back to Bayport.
I rejoined Netflix this week when the company made me an offer I couldn't refuse. I was a member a couple of years ago and was paying about $20 a month and basically never watching any of the DVDs. As a result of a pricing war, Netflix offered a special "come back to the fold" fee of only $7.99/month, which wooed me back. Hopefully I'll make better use of the service this time around.
My contribution to battling America's overconsumption of fossil fuels.
I've been fighting a cold since the end of the last week and since now it seems on the wane, I will rededicate myself (again!) to more regular posting.
I actually saw snow flurries today, a little after noon. Unfortunately, it's getting too cold to ride my scooter around much anywhere, which means I am faced with the unpleasant task of putting it away for the winter and all the mysterious mechanical processes that will entail. On a related front, I figured with sub-30 degree temperatures making an appearance, I finally ought to take out the air conditioner from my bedroom window.
The only thing better than getting into a bed with freshly washed sheets is getting into a bed with NEW sheets!
Snow on Thanksgiving morning! A couple of inches already have accumulated here in Wallingford. I'll be kicking in the four-wheel-drive on my way up to South Windsor later this morning for some family time. I'll bet that retailers will be happy that the mood for tomorrow's sales extravaganzas ought to be a bit more holiday-oriented in light of this weather. (By the way, not only would I never dream of going anywhere near a mall tomorrow, I CERTAINLY can't imagine getting up at 5 a.m. to do so!)
I am back. An unplanned hiatus of a couple of weeks behind me, I return to cyberspace. No apologies nor promises to do better; I just was busy with school stuff and then enjoying the holidays and traveling some.
If all goes as planned, this site will be receiving its long-awaited upgrade and visual overhaul within the next week.
Even thought it's a bit of a shock to the system, it really feels great to get back to the routine: to sleep in my own bed, teach my classes, coach my team, and see the familiar Choate faces. I am unusually aware of how all the little details of my life are extremely satisfying. Days like today remind me how much I love what I do.
Scientists say that today is the statistically the most depressing day of the year. I'm not quite sure how they arrived at that conclusion, but when I left home this morning and stepped into a gray, slushy world, I could kinda see where they are coming from.
It's Groundhog Day today--also the setting of one of my favorite movies (hence Bill Murray's pic above)--and supposedly spring is NOT around the corner. But if January is typical of the winter we are having, I can suffer through a few more weeks of 50+ degree weather!
The film Match Point is pretty enjoyable. I saw it this afternoon in the middle of a rainstorm. It didn't really feel like a Woody Allen movie at all. But it was full of interesting ideas, good acting, terrific production values, humor, dramatic tension, and suspense.
I drove down to Fort Lauderdale this morning to check out the exhibition at the city's art museum, "Tutanhkamen and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs." Maybe it was seeing Steve Martin host Saturday Night Live last night, but the whole time I was in the museum, I couldn't get his "King Tut" song (from a late 1970s SNL) out of my head as I meandered around all the antiquities.
I was pleasantly surprise to learn I could find the song as a download on iTunes.
Woke up this morning to a winter wonderland. In most years, I'd be sick of snow by February, but given the mild conditions we've had this year a couple of feet is kind of fun now.
Winter term classes have ended, the squash season wrapped up a few hours ago, and I am ready for spring! I am officially sick of cold weather, snow, and ice. Though there are exams to be given and graded and teacher comments to be written, spring break is tantalizingly close now. If only the weather would go back to what we had in January!
I doubt they will be dyeing the rivers green here in Shanghai as they do in Chicago, but it's St. Patrick's Day nonetheless. My dad always told me that there are two types of people in the world: the Irish and those who want to be Irish. So Happy St. Paddy's Day to all!
I took one of those online quizzes that tells you what type of category your personality is. This one was a superhero quiz. Here is how I did:
You are Superman
You are mild-mannered, good, strong and you love to help others.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz
Superman 75% Spider-Man 70% Iron Man 60% The Flash 60% Catwoman 60% Green Lantern 55% Supergirl 53% Robin 50% Hulk 50% Wonder Woman 38% Batman 35%
Woke up a bit before 4:00 this morning, having crashed around 7:00 last night. A four-hour nap in the afternoon hopefully has reset my biological clock before tomorrow. While the first day of spring was sunny, it was far from warm back here in Wallingford. As terrific as the trip to China was, I did miss the chance to bask in some sunshine this spring break.
Woke up this morning about ten minutes before my 8 a.m. class. As I have getting been up between 3 and 5 in the morning all week before today, I guess it's safe to assume my body is back on Eastern Standard Time.
After a late night in the office putting together a packet of readings for the course I am teaching in South Africa this summer, I woke up late and enjoyed a thoroughly leisurely Sunday in terrific weather. I ate brunch, digested The New York Times on a lounge chair overlooking Mem Field, watched some Day 1 coverage of French Open tennis, made a trip to the waterfall in Rockfall, supped at the annual Mem House barbeque, played a little volleyball, and generally relaxed. Not a bad way to spend a day in late May!
Spent much of the day shuttling back and forth, to the branch of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, to an emissions inspection, and back to the DMV again to get my vehicle registration up to date. After long waits at each stop, my SUV is now legal again! (I was 9 months overdue--ULP!)
The humidity of summer has arrived a bit early, so I was inspired to get out of bed at 1 a.m. last night and haul the air conditioner I bought last summer into my bedroom window. Big difference! I now have an oasis of cool for the months ahead.
Amazon.com offered me a three month free trial of its Amazon Prime membership. It's turned out to be pretty nifty. Basically, I get two-day shipping on most anything I order for free, with no minimum purchase and no need to group items together and wait for all of them to become available. I do find I am more likely to order from Amazon now, since my stuff arrives so quickly (I usually order at least $25 of merchandise at a time and select Super Saver free shipping, but this usually takes much longer to arrive.) The test of how much I like Amazon Prime will be how willing I am to spring for the $79 annual membership once my free trial expires at the end of the summer.
I went to the "Closer To The Master" exhibition at The British Museum last night, which was a display of drawings by Michelangelo over the course of his career. Many of the artist's greatest works in sculpture or paint were the products of studies in ink and paper first. The exhibit was a fascinating window into the career of one of art's all-time masters.
Happy 88th birthday, Nelson Mandela!
It's kind of cool to be in South Africa on this occasion.
I have spent much of the past three days with the kids in the Summer Academy at Cape Town program engaged in community service. I've been working with a group in a colored township known as Mitchell's Plain, on the Cape Flats, in a place called Heaven's Shelter, which serves children and abused women. Much of our time is spent with very young children and helping to improve the meager facilities. It's pretty tough sat the end of the day to leave the eager faces, a couple of whom offer big hugs at departure time. When we arrived this morning, the kids were so excited to see our group get off the bus. It will be hard to leave this place for the last time next week, especially knowing that these kids have had people leaving them throughout their very young lives.
I cannot seem to find the remote control to my DVR--which means I can neither program nor watch anything I have saved on the hard drive. Aarrrggghhhhh!
U.S. News & World Report just released its 2007 rankings of colleges. Once again, Williams College is ranked #1. My alma mater achieved a perfect score of 100, finishing just ahead of some random school in Amherst, Massachusetts.
I had a 2pm court date today. I got busted in May for driving my car with an expired registration. So I pleaded "not guilty," renewed my registration, and brought the paperwork to my hearing today and was out the door (with all charges dropped) ay 2:07.
Since I returned home from Africa earlier this month, I've kept the alarm clock turned off and avoided wearing a watch. That's not to say I haven't been doing any work--I've been in the office most days this month--but I've been able to apportion the hours of the day how I want. The pace has been leisurely. Of course, with school about to start, that's all about to change. I head into New York for a conference the next three days, I'll spend most of Tuesday at the U.S. Open, and then Wednesday marks the start of the school year for me: new faculty orientation begins then and athletic team captains return to campus Thursday night. So the alarm clock will be a regular part of my morning routine starting next week.
I brought my Ford Explorer to the local dealer for the 60,000-mile service the other day. I picked it up this morning, after forking over $1787 for the various work done on the vehicle. Ugh!
I hit the 1,000 mile mark on my Yamaha Zuma scooter today. It's taken me a few days more than a year to get there (though I was away for a month this past summer--prime riding time!).
I am now starting my day in a much better mood, as the local NPR station has completed its recent (and seemingly endless) fall fund-raising drive. Since Morning Edition has been part of my waking ritual for some twenty years now, the obnoxious sounds of people on the radio hectoring me for money is an unpleasant intrusion into that half-asleep/half-awake state I'm in for the better part of an hour beginning at 6:50 a.m.
Today is the feast of St. Crispian (or Crispin), immortalized by William Shakespeare in the timeless "pre-game" speech by the title character before the Battle of Agincourt in Henry V. The holiday is observed annually by Choate Cross Country, as we indulge in a clip of the speech from the 1989 Kenneth Branagh film.
After doing dorm duty on six of the last eight nights, running the Parents Weekend marathon, and spending the morning dealing with the cancellation of all outdoor sports (no final cross country meet on the home course--UN-lucky!), I now begin a Long Weekend break from school, which means no scheduled commitments until my Tuesday afternoon practice and no classes to teach before next Thursday!
Happy Guy Fawkes Day!
Whenever the town of Wallingford first puts up the wreaths and other holiday decorations downtown, I recoil at the assault on my sensibilities. Can't we get Thanksgiving behind us, at least, before ushering in the commercial hard sell?
It's Thanksgiving Day, one of my two favorite holidays (the other being Memorial Day). I drove up to my parents' house in South Windsor to celebrate. Unfortunately, I'm still fighting this bug, which makes the day a lot less enjoyable than it might have been.
For the second morning in a row, I woke up to a dark world. That is, the power went down in my building (and across the Choate campus) overnight, disabling off alarm clocks, lights, computers, etc. I was lucky yesterday in that I awoke briefly a few hours before my scheduled 6:30 a.m. departure for Van Cortlandt Park with some cross country runners; once I realized my alarm clock was down, I programmed the alarm in my Treo to wake me at 6:00. At least this morning, getting up was not a worry. But when power is gone, one quickly is reminded just how much of our daily lives are dependent on electricity. I couldn't work (no computers), read (no lights), watch television, or much else all that easily. Here's hoping the problem has been solved!
It's been a while since I had to sit for an exam. I took a test for the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, which will theoretically make me a "Certified Athletic Administrator," should I pass. I found the 100 multiple choice questions ridiculously easy. There was an unlimited amount of time for people to finish the test, and they expected most to finish within two hours. I completed the "bubble sheet" in less than 45 minutes (and got a few dirty looks as I left the room)!
Time magazine has named me its 2006 Person Of The Year, much to my surprise. It's the first time I've been honored with this recognition, though some might argue it's long overdue.
. . . eventually, anyway!
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. This means for the next six months days will be getting longer. (Of course, I will be in the southern hemisphere in about ten days' time, and the days will be be pretty long but getting shorter while I am there!
I am now working my way through this book, And A Bottle of Rum, which is a fascinating historical overview linking rum and the New World in the last 500 years.
I made it down to the harborside last night to see the two fireworks shows--one at 9 p.m. for the little kids and the big one at midnight. I managed to make my way to the east side of Circular Quay after navigating a sea of humanity (think The Who concert, Cincinnati, 1979) for a spectacular view of the Harbour Bridge pyrotechnics. It's the 75th anniversary of the bridge, thus the diamond-shaped lights in the middle of the structure.
I am 14 hours ahead of the East Coast U.S. time zone, so this was my earliest New Year's celebration ever!
You can buy these "slimline" cans of Coke products all over Sydney. The design is striking, but it's something of a rip-off: these sell for about $2, whereas the "normal" cans go for about $1.50 and have and additional 75ml of soda, thus you are asked to pay more for less!
As a media omnivore, I was happy to find a chain of stores in Bangkok called Bookazine that carry a good selection of international publications. I was able to stock up and get my fix from the International Herald Tribune and USA Today, as well as The Economist, Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker, and Time.
Happy Chinese New Year! Have a great 4704.
Today has been a catch-up day for me, mostly spent in the office. Aside from some errands--a bank run, getting packages from the mailroom--I've been getting everything ready for the weekend's New England squash tournamnent and the seeding meeting tonight.
Apparently my aura is green:
Your Aura is Green
You're very driven, competitive, and even a bit jealous.
However, you seek out balance in your life - and you usually achieve it!
The purpose of your life: inspiring others to be better
Famous greens include: Tony Robbins, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart
Careers for you to try: Guru, CEO, Talk Show Host
Oh, the things I'll do for 15,000 Marriott Rewards points!
This being a time-share resort, the sales staff invited me to an exclusive 90-minute tour and presentation on the benefits of "fractional ownership." Spending this time would earn me the aforementioned points (and my mom would get bonus points, too, as my "referrer").
Anyway, after nearly three-and-a-half hours in which my host was determined to get my signature on a commitment, I finally escaped unscathed. I had to make up all kinds of stories about why this was a really bad time for me to make an investment. Of course, the sentimental sap I am, I actually felt guilty about the salesman not closing then deal.
Since I've been an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time for the past week, I'll keep my watch (and my biological clock) set there so that when Daylight Savings Time kicks in tomorrow night, I'll be there waiting.
I drove all over the area for about thirty minutes, trying in vain to locate a copy of today's The New York Times. Now that I am back in the States for good, I am trying to re-establish my daily newspaper habits (I subscribe to the Times and USA Today at home.) While I did have USA Today waiting at my doorstep this morning here in the resort, you would think the nation's pre-eminent newspaper might be available for purchase somewhere in this county!
Turns out they carry The New York Times in the resort gift shop here at Saddlebrook.
My dad always told me there were two types of people in the world: the Irish and those who want to be Irish. Happy St. Patrick's Day to both!
Well, the sabbatical is over now. This afternoon I head to a faculty professional development workshop, the students return to campus tonight, and then spring term classes are up and running tomorrow morning.
Outsiders that I have tried to explain this "sabbatical leave" concept to seem to conclude it's a fantastic perk that is the same as a long vacation. It's not really. It's true that most of my four-month leave, I've been able to enjoy days in which my time is relatively unstructured, or at least time that I've structured the way I've wanted it. But the broader goal of a sabbatical is really to expand one's horizons. I've tried to accomplish through mostly through travelling to parts of the world I haven't seen before. Hopefully I come back to work refreshed, reivigorated, and perhaps even a better teacher and person than when I left.
Expect infrequent blogging the next couple of weeks as I ease back into my daily routine. I will need time to get caught up on correspondence and projects after four months away. I'll keep up the daily song recommendations, though.
Okay, after a light three weeks, I intend to get back to a daily routine on this blog. Stay tuned!
My schedule today included back-to-back-to-back athletic director meetings with various groups. 2:30 was the Eight Schools Athletic Council, 5:30 was the Founders League, and 7:00 was the Western New England Prep School Athletic Association. By the time I got home at 9:15, I was pretty frazzled. Fortunately, all three sessions were here on the Choate campus, so I didn't have very far to go.
The spring term at school hits the midpoint this week. Summer vacation is not far away!
Like many people, I would identify Saturday morning as my favorite time of the week. The weekend still lies ahead in its entirety and there is an enjoyable sense of leisure at hand. Here are some specific things I like about Saturday mornings:
• an eggs Benedict breakfast down the hill at Abbott and Cassello's
• "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon on NPR
• getting the Sunday inserts (e.g., Arts & Leisure section, the magazine) delivered with the Saturday New York Times
• quiet time in the office to work on projects
This afternoon was spectacular and warm--climbing to the 80 degree mark--and a great chance to take in an array of sports here on the Choate campus. As it's a rare Saturday without a scheduled match for my tennis team, I was able to run a short workout for the squad and then make the rounds wearing my AD hat to all the other activity underway: girls' tennis, baseball, softball, girls' lacrosse, boys' lacrosse, girls' water polo, boys' volleyball.
David Halberstam died this week in a car accident in California. He enjoyed a distinguished career as a journalist and a sportswriter. I admire the versatility with which he alternated his work between "serious" topics and sport; of course, I'd argue he approached the latter with the same seriousness of purpose he brought to all his coverage of politics and culture. I've enjoyed a number of his books, which I've always found well written and provocative.
One personal anecdote came to mind in the wake of his passing: some years ago when I was teaching the Vietnam War elective here at Choate, I included excerpts from The Best And The Brightest, Halberstam's book on the genesis of the war among American politicians, on my syllabus. Well, one day Halberstam was visiting the Choate campus--I think one of his children was an applicant--and the tour guide was one of my students enrolled at that time in The U.S. In Vietnam. The good news was that this student told Mr. Halberstam that he was reading The Best And The Brightest as part of his coursework and found it fascinating. The bad news was that he let on that Halberstam's book had been distributed in (royalty-free) photocopy form! D'oh!
Anyway, we will miss this man of letters and his urbane and humane voice.
I just finished teaching my 11:00 class and now will enjoy Spring Long Weekend until Monday morning!
The nice thing about Spring Long Weekend is the sense of an expansive break. All day, I keep thinking it's Sunday, but then I realize there's ANOTHER day off tomorrow! Sweet.
I drove down to Stamford tonight for dinner with a Choate family and a couple of seniors enjoying the long weekend away from campus. About halfway down the Merritt Parkway, I came upon a grisly accident scene--apparently just after it happened. There were three cars involved: one banged up a little, another that looked like it had been squashed, and a third flipped and largely flattened. As I passed the latter, I saw the upper torso of a woman strapped into her seat, looking pretty lifeless. I am not sure if she was dead or not, but it was a chilling sight. I found myself driving much more deliberately the rest of the trip down and then back up again.
. . . from the company's point of view, at least!
I pay about $10 a month to rent a succession of movies. Not a bad deal: it's convenient, shipping is easy, there is wide selection of DVDs available.
The problem, from my point of view, is that the last disc shipped to me was City Of God, in late December 2006. Now, of course, I have been traveling around the world much of the time since then. But in the five weeks plus since I've been home for spring term, I have yet to watch this movie. So I am paying about $120 a year to rent 2-3 DVDs. They must love me at Netflix Central!
Good to see I am not the only one who can thrive amidst creative clutter!
(By the way, I wish I had the three-screen Mac display array pictured here.)
The last day of the spring term and it was over 90 degrees in Wallingford. In fact, I made the move to install my bedroom air conditioner this afternoon to create a bit of an oasis. It is, after all, Memorial Day weekend--the traditional start of the summer!
I wrote this entry about Memorial Day three years ago in this blog and it seems to capture my feelings about the holiday pretty well:
Today is one of my favorite holidays (Thanksgiving is the other one). In part this is because it's traditionally regarded as the beginning of summer. And I have fond memories of the small town parades of my childhood. But I also like what the day represents: we citizens are asked to consider notions of duty, sacrifice, and love of country in an era when such ideas may be out of fashion. (Plus there's no expectation of having to buy gifts!)
I have fond memories of marching in my hometown Memorial Day parade: with the Little League, with the Boy Scouts, with my high school band. I also remember seeing my grandfather--a World War I veteran--riding in an old-fashioned car with other vets one year.
Some days, you just get out of the blocks early. I crossed off a whole bunch of tasks from my "to do" list in just a few hours this morning. If only it came so easily every day!
Happiness, Content, Joy.
The meanings for the Sun are fairly simple and consistent.
Young, healthy, new, fresh. The brain is working, things that were muddled come clear, everything falls into place, and everything seems to go your way.
The Sun is ruled by the Sun, of course. This is the light that comes after the long dark night, Apollo to the Moon's Diana. A positive card, it promises you your day in the sun. Glory, gain, triumph, pleasure, truth, success. As the moon symbolized inspiration from the unconscious, from dreams, this card symbolizes discoveries made fully consciousness and wide awake. You have an understanding and enjoyment of science and math, beautifully constructed music, carefully reasoned philosophy. It is a card of intellect, clarity of mind, and feelings of youthful energy.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Here is something I ran across that seemed worthy of passing along. This is the source.
The Rules of Renaissancemandom, v3.0
1. Every day, either learn a new skill or hone one you already have.
A progress-free life is extremely depressing, a downward-sloping one suicidally so. Keep the old inner demons at bay by making sure that, in one way or another, you develop, if only a little bit, with each rotation of the Earth.
2. Don’t instinctively say “no” when presented with possible new interests.
The mind of the polymath demands a constant stream of new influences; letting them grow as diverse as possible doesn’t hurt.
3. Know who you admire.
It helps keep you pointed in the right direction to be surrounded by plenty of inspiration. Make sure you know where yours is and, with maximum clarity, why.
4. Be able to entertain ideas without accepting them.
Remember that old Aristotle quote? Even notions that feel wrong are worth thinking about, and getting in the habit helps fight the stifling evil of kneejerk reactions.
5. Be autodidactic, even if you’re in school.
From a quote by Mark Twain. The content and methods of classes, many of us discover too late, never quite seem to align perfectly with what and how the student should ideally learn. Fortunately, academic work can be augmented on your own time.
6. Improve your learning ability.
Because you’ve successfully learned a thing or two in the past doesn’t mean you’re as good as you’re going to get at it. If living well is all about learning a wide variety of knowledge, keeping mindful of how to improve your learning ability will increase the rate that you accrue such goodness.
7. The more sources of fulfillment, the better.
Sure, not putting all your eggs in one basket is a bit of an old saw, but it’s only common sense to draw happiness from multiple sources in the interest of increased stability. Violent mood swings rarely advance the cause.
8. Know what you want to be, but let the world decide if you are.
Few people are as irritating as those who constantly insist that they are something – artist, novelist, philosopher, musician, what have you – when their chief accomplishment in the field is making that very announcement over and over again. If you’re correctly pursuing your goals, everyone else will eventually catch wind without your having to directly inform them.
9. Collect a wide variety of experiences.
Besides the obvious advantages to this, one unintended bonus is that you’ll be supplied you with many amusing dinner table anecdotes.
10. Slow progress beats none at all.
“Great ability develops and reveals itself with each new assignment.” - Baltasar Gracian
11. Never miss the chance to approach what initially seem like troubles as opportunities.
“Every cloud has a silver lining.” “A door isn’t closed without a window being opened.” My favorite is “Honor thy mistake as a hidden intention.” Pick your platitude, but it’s within your abilities to harness for your own benefit what originally appeared to be a reversal.
12. Always have goals.
It’s impossible to gauge whether you’re moving forward if you don’t know where “forward” is. By keeping in mind where the next stage should end, you’ll always be able to tell if you’re making progress.
13. Keep a notebook handy.
You never know when you’ll run across a valuable piece of knowledge. The memory can be trusted with certain hard data, but the more obscure, ephemeral information is easily lost in the shuffle. As standard-size journals can, at times, be a bit unwieldy, I recommend one of those miniature notebooks sold at every bookstore.
For over four decades, musical polymath Brian Eno has kept this habit, likely making him the most rigorous -- or at least best known -- practicioner: “1965: aged 17, Eno buys the first in a series of black notebooks which has continued ever since. They sit in his jacket pocket and contain sketches, ideas, theories, speeches, lists, schemes and schemas. Each book offers a reward for its own return, in pounds, dollars and deutschmarks.”
14. Whatever you’re doing, think.
When reading, for example, a common method is to simply scan the text with the eyes and envision the sound of the words with the mind. However, it’s far from the best way; if you actually think about each idea you come across -- and, if you’re picking the right material, there will usually be at least one per sentence -- you’ll not only have a stronger grip on what you’re reading, but your general analytic skills can benefit as well. Let’s not limit ourselves to the printed word, since this rule is applicable to more or less any carrier or exchange of information: conversation, film, television, anything.
I was treated to dinner in New Haven tonight at my favorite restauarant, Ibiza. Sweet!
This is the source.
A print of this famous 1932 photograph, "Lunchtime Atop A Skyscraper," was right in front of me while I ate dinner tonight. I felt queasy just looking at the print. I could not imagine ever feeling comfortable enough to have a relaxing lunch this high off the ground just sitting on a steel beam above the city.
Today is 7/7/07.
Today means trouble for those who suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia, or fear of Friday the 13th!
Happy Bastille Day!
I just came in from a spell of reading--I am now close to finishing The Amber Spyglass, the third in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy--outdoors on a beautiful summer night. The temperatures lately have been perfect here in Connecticut: warm days, without oppressive humidity, and comfortable nights (good sleeping weather!). I was sitting in an Adirondack chair on the edge of Memorial Field in front of my house and noticing how very quiet the campus was. All the high school kids must have been at the final dance of the summer (they leave tomorrow morning) because hardly anyone was within sight in the course of nearly two hours. The birdsong was my background music, and as the sun set, I was treated to a spectacular canopy of deep blue clouds, pleasantly punctuated by streaks of pink, reflecting far above the sun that had moved below the horizon.
The atmosphere brought back memories of my youth: seemingly endless summer nights at my grandparents' farm in upstate New York, running around with my cousins, watching the fireflies emerge, and generally soaking up a carefree existence. I think this time following sunset may well be my favorite part of the day, at least in this part of the year.
No doubt part of my good mood is psychologically rooted in the sense of being nearly finished with summer school duties. Though I have projects I am working on, the knowledge that the month ahead is largely unscheduled is a great feeling.
Summer evenings can be pretty nice!
I went to one of my favorite local (well, it's 25 minutes away in Branford) restaurants and enjoyed Darbar for the first time since I visited India in the winter. It's probably the case that I measure all Indian cuisine--whether in London or Mumbai--against Darbar's food. I don't know if that's good or bad, but I know that I had a great meal tonight.
After a bit of early evening tennis, I was treated to a boat ride off the Connecticut coast and around the Thimble Islands. My youthful driver thought he'd surprise me with a boating trick and yanked the steering wheel suddenly to turn is into a 360 degree turn, but sitting up front and not expecting this, I went flying out of my seat and crashed my left shoulder into the side of the hull, HARD. So I am a bit banged up right now.
Well, the Choate campus is a film set, anyway--at least this week. A production called College Road Trip has decamped to Wallingford to shoot a few scenes, with dozens of vehicles and trailers and lots of equipment now on campus. The Disney-produced movie stars Raven Symone (whom I have never heard of) and Martin Lawrence. Apparently just a bit of exterior location work is being completed here, but it sure seems like a pretty huge undertaking.
I took off for Manhattan in the late afternoon to meet a group of six others for dinner. The party was spread over four graduation classes from Choate (five, counting 2003 summer school!) and we had a lovely evening over Italian cuisine at Isle of Capri on the Upper East Side. I caught the 12:23 train back to New Haven and am now quite ready to crash!
I got a surprise this morning when I picked up The New York Times on my doorstep. The paper has experienced some shrinkage! Specifically, it's an inch-and-a-half narrower than it was yesterday. Just as USA Today did several years back, the broadsheet moved to a 12-inch-wide standard in order to cut costs, spending less money on newsprint without changing its format. It will look a bit weird to me, though, at least until I get used to it.
August 6 is not a particularly memorable day for most Americans. For Japanese, though, it is the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, the first use of an atomic weapon on a population.
Woke up quite early, what with jet lag and all, but am enjoying some Saturday morning rituals back here in America:
• a ride around town on my scooter
• eggs Benedict at Abbott & Cassello's eatery down the hill
• the Saturday New York Times, with Sunday's inserts
• Scott Simon's "Weekend Edition" show on National Public Radio
Today is rainy and cool. I've noticed since I have returned to Connecticut that the morning air now requires a jacket. Summer seems to be winding down . . .
I had to take time out this afternoon to bring my Ford Explorer in for state-mandated emissions testing. While I generally agree with the principle involved here, it costs $20 for five minutes' work, plus $85 registration renewal for two years. Add in driver's license fees, insurance, routine service and repairs, and the cost of fuel, and it's clear that owning a motor vehicle is not a cheap proposition.
Just got in from a wedding here on the Choate campus. Suzanne Generous tied the knot with Michael Prentice in the Seymour St. John Chapel, and then I reconnected with a host of old friends and other familiar faces during a very enjoyable reception in Hill House. Afterward a few of us visited my friend Chuck to congratulate him on his recent marriage. A very social evening!
I am enjoying a quiet Sunday at my parents' house, knowing that the pace of life back at school will accelerate dramatically this week, as the orientation of new faculty begins and the first waves of students return to campus.
I'd have a lot easier time getting up in the morning if it wasn't for another blasted pledge drive on my local NPR station. Not what I need this early in the school year!
It's raining here in Wallingford. While it's an adventure to spring between buildings in the downpour, our fields and our new cross country course desperately need this water, so it's a welcome change.
As of tonight, it has officially gotten chilly in the evening. Good sleeping weather for sure, but there's little doubt summer is on the wane.
Off to the Western New England Preparatory School Athletic Association meeting. It's the fall meeting for athletic directors in our association, and a sure sign that school is WELL underway at this point.
After repeated entreaties from my mother, I parted company with my "sick flow" (as the kids call it). The last time I had a haircut before this afternoon was in January, in Perth, Australia. I was overdue. Showers will be quicker now.
I am heading out to practice on yet another gorgeous afternoon. We've enjoyed a streak of nearly perfect days: cloudless blue morning skies, comfortably warm daytime temperatures, and pleasantly cool nights.
Though Labor Day Weekend and the start of the school year function as the boundary between summer and fall for me, tomorrow marks the official date of the autumnal equinox, so this is surely the last day of summer!
I cleaned about half my office today: I cleared the desk of all the detrius that had accumulated in recent months and ensured the couch and two chairs were free of clutter as well. I also got rid of a few boxes that had been lingering for too long. The more challenging second half of this project awaits me this weekend: I need to sort through a mountain of paper, including old magazines, unopened junk mail, and such. Most of it can be trashed, but it will take some time to process. With no meet on Saturday (it's on Sunday instead) and all of our teams away, I'll have some quiet time to tackle this chore.
My only scheduled commitment today was a short team practice (and meditation session--or, as the kids call it, "Neditation" session) at 1:30. The morning was leisurely, like a Saturday morning should be. And nearly all of our teams left for eastern Massachusetts (except for those making the trip tomorrow, like my team) and so the campus feels deserted. I am not on duty in the dorm tonight. So I've got a lot more unscheduled time than I am used to during the school year. No complaints here.
For some unknown reason, I awoke at 5:15 this morning. So I have been in the office since before sunrise, getting things done. It's the best time to work: no one here to distract me, no phones ringing, no email messages dinging!
Today felt like the first day of fall. I drove up to Worcester, Massachusetts and back for a meeting and saw my first real sweep of colorful foliage. The temperature seemed cooler in the afternoon, with a bit of a bite in the air as the sun went down. And it sure seems like nightfall is coming earlier with each passing day. Perhaps our Indian summer has come to an end?
The air conditioner in my bedroom window comes out today. It creates an oasis from the heat and humidity from May through September but now it makes me feel like I am sleeping in a meat locker.
I drove over to Watertown this morning for a Founders League athletic directors' meeting and had another chance to evaluate the fall foliage while on the road. It appears the very warm weather and infrequent precipitation we've been enjoying the last few months will result in a pretty UN-spectacular array of colors. The hills won't be burning with vibrant reds and golds this autumn. Too bad.
While waiting for my flight at the termnal gate this mornng, I watched CNN's live coverage of the launch of the shuttle Discovery. I can remember as a boy how all the networks would pre-empt regular programming to offer live coverage of the moon shot launches from Florida. Now these are only covered live on CNN. I guess after 119 shuttle launches, this kind of thing is considered routine.
. . . the hay is in the barn." So sang James Taylor. And last night we had our first frost of the season, so no doubt that late autumn is finally with us.
Here's to all of you who dare to question authority!
Sunday I met with the New England squash coaches.
Tuesday the Founders League heads of school and athletic directors gathered.
Today and tomorrow the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council has its annual meeting; the executive board meets this afternoon (I am a past president) and tomorrow is the general membership session. So I am heading up to Marlborough, Massachusetts overnight.
Thus I just taught my last class of the term, and will move into report-writing mode over the next few days.
This high-definition image of Earth from the moon was taken by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's lunar explorer Kayuga.
After the Choate holiday alumni party I am spending the night in the apartment of an alum in Long Island City, across the East River from Manhattan. On the 24th floor of the building, this place has a wall of windows featuring a panoramic view of the river below and the city in all of its illuminated glory. The visual sweep ranges from the Brooklyn Bridge to the left to the Queensborough (59th Street) Bridge and Randalls Island to the right. And Manhattan sure does look pretty from this vantage point.
I have two meetings in the city in the morning before heading home to Wallingford.
Today is Pearl Harbor Day.
Late this afternoon was the Festival Of Lessons And Carols in the Choate chapel, the traditional nativity program of readings and sacred music, which always puts me into the spirit of the season. [Thanks to Ian Morris and the Choate Photography Club for the above photo.]
Choate always seems to put out a nice spread for special holiday dinners, like tonight's meal before the Holiday Concert. Today was the last day of classes, and students are free to leave campus first thing tomorrow morning. So tonight we feasted on roast beef and ham and all sorts of treats!
Tonight was the athletic department's Christmas party at a local restaurant. Our annual tradition is that everyone buys a $10 grab bag gift and we pass all the presents around as 'Twas The Night Before Christmas is read aloud, with the wrapped packages passed along every time the word "the" comes up. It's a fun time, especially after a couple of pomegranate martinis. This year, the grab bag present I ended up with was one of those oversized universal remotes, which hopefully I can use to replace the four (!) in my living room.
I stopped at one of the local In-N-Out Burger establishments for lunch. As usual, the place was PACKED. Folks back east don't know what they are missing.
I spent a few hours this afternoon at the Las Vegas Hilton at the Star Trek Experience. This attraction added a new show--"Borg Invasion"--since the last time I was here in 1999, a companion piece to the original "Klingon Encounter." The former has some interesting 3D visuals involving the Borg cube and the U.S.S. Voyager. I also did the "Behind The Scenes" tour, which was an intriguing way to kill an hour.
This is, of course, Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.
I arrived at my motel near the Albuquerque airport yesterday mid-afternoon feeling achy and congested and sneezing a lot, so I pretty much spent the past 15 hours in bed. I feel a bit better now as I prepare to head home.
Cameron Mullen asked to be in a blog post, so here's your fifteen minutes of fame, Cam. Enjoy your newfound celebrity.
Happy New Year.
Wow. Someone went to a LOT of trouble to create a hot air balloon based on Darth Vader's helmet. Pretty cool.
It's a hectic time of the year for me. Running the New England prep school squash tournaments--which I am now doing for the 22nd year--pretty much will consume the next three days of my life, so blogging opportunities will be rare.
It's February 29: Superman's birthday, if memory serves.
Having just finished writing the last reports on my advisees, I am officially done with my winter term duties. I'll be mostly around school this week to whittle away at some long-term projects before I head to Bermuda on Sunday, but vacation has arrived!
We've had our first batch of rough weather in our time in Bermuda, with heavy winds and rain this morning. But the clay courts are drying out now and we expect to be back in action before lunchtime later this morning.
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my Irish brethren and sistren out there. As my dad was fond of saying: there are two types of people in the world--the Irish and those who want to be Irish.
Today is the first day of spring!
I've been under the weather since I finished my classes at about 1 p.m. on Friday. After a feeble attempt at lunch, I came home and napped for about two hours, went to tennis practice (where I felt like a zombie), and then crashed at 6 p.m. for 14 straight hours. That seemed to knock out most of the nasty bug I've been fighting, though there were some lingering effects yesterday. This morning I feel worlds better--not yet 100%, but certainly getting back on track.
Okay, I hereby resolve to get back to my blogging routine, which has fallen by the wayside in recent weeks.
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!
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.
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.
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!)
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 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.
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.
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.
The first of May is traditionally a holiday around the world that honors the international labor movement. Perhaps because of the holiday's association with communism, decades ago Congress created a Labor Day holiday in the U.S. in September, to ensure there would minimal overlap between American workers and their international brethren.
Instead of spending most of the day up at Deerfield for a tennis match, the threat of rain canceled the event, so I have an unexpectedly free afternoon!
I spent much of the night at a party at a friend's house and before heading home, I heard for the very first time the expression "an Irish goodbye." Little did I know there is a term that precisely describes something I've become an accomplished practicioner of. Here is the Wikipedia definition:
Irish goodbye is a slang term with its origins in the Irish-American neighborhoods of New York City and Boston. The term refers to the practice of inconspicuously leaving a place where one has gathered with friends (usually for quite some time) without ever formally announcing that one is leaving. Note that an Irish goodbye requires a conscious decision by the person to leave without bidding adieu. It is a decision that reflects the leaver's dislike of making himself the center of attention, an austere disdain for showy and perhaps empty formalities, and the essential existential coldness that lies at the heart of all Irishmen. The Irish goodbye also allows a person to disappear from a function with the utmost expediency without spending extra time on "thank-yous" etc.
Wow. I am revealed!
The gathering of the athletic directors of the Eight Schools (Choate, Deerfield, Andover, Exeter, St. Paul's, Hotchkiss, Lawrenceville, and NMH) took place up at Deerfield today. This meeting has the feel of a council of barons or something like that. It's a good group to meet with, as we share many of the same challenges and issues on each of our campuses. Having coordinated the work of this assemblage for the past decade, I am happily passing the leadership baton on to others, as we created a rotation of each member school taking a turn hosting meetings and acting as point person for the group of colleagues.
I got a few chuckles reading David Brooks' typically insightful New York Times column this morning. A few choice excerpts:
At first, a nerd was a geek with better grades. The word described a high-school or college outcast who was persecuted by the jocks, preps, frat boys and sorority sisters. Nerds had their own heroes (Stan Lee of comic book fame), their own vocations (Dungeons & Dragons), their own religion (supplied by George Lucas and “Star Wars”) and their own skill sets (tech support). But even as “Revenge of the Nerds” was gracing the nation’s movie screens, a different version of nerd-dom was percolating through popular culture. Elvis Costello and The Talking Heads’s David Byrne popularized a cool geek style that’s led to Moby, Weezer, Vampire Weekend and even self-styled “nerdcore” rock and geeksta rappers.
The future historians of the nerd ascendancy will likely note that the great empowerment phase began in the 1980s with the rise of Microsoft and the digital economy. Nerds began making large amounts of money and acquired economic credibility, the seedbed of social prestige. The information revolution produced a parade of highly confident nerd moguls — Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and so on.
Among adults, the words “geek” and “nerd” exchanged status positions. A nerd was still socially tainted, but geekdom acquired its own cool counterculture. A geek possessed a certain passion for specialized knowledge, but also a high degree of cultural awareness and poise that a nerd lacked.
Geeks not only rebelled against jocks, but they distinguished themselves from alienated and self-pitying outsiders who wept with recognition when they read “Catcher in the Rye.” If Holden Caulfield was the sensitive loner from the age of nerd oppression, then Harry Potter was the magical leader in the age of geek empowerment.
But the biggest change was not Silicon Valley itself. Rather, the new technology created a range of mental playgrounds where the new geeks could display their cultural capital. The jock can shine on the football field, but the geeks can display their supple sensibilities and well-modulated emotions on their Facebook pages, blogs, text messages and Twitter feeds. Now there are armies of designers, researchers, media mavens and other cultural producers with a talent for whimsical self-mockery, arcane social references and late-night analysis.
They can visit eclectic sites like Kottke.org and Cool Hunting, experiment with fonts, admire Stewart Brand and Lawrence Lessig and join social-networking communities with ironical names. They’ve created a new definition of what it means to be cool, a definition that leaves out the talents of the jocks, the M.B.A.-types and the less educated. In “The Laws of Cool,” Alan Liu writes: “Cool is a feeling for information.” When someone has that dexterity, you know it.
The news that being a geek is cool has apparently not permeated either junior high schools or the Republican Party. George Bush plays an interesting role in the tale of nerd ascent. With his professed disdain for intellectual things, he’s energized and alienated the entire geek cohort, and with it most college-educated Americans under 30. Newly militant, geeks are more coherent and active than they might otherwise be.
Barack Obama has become the Prince Caspian of the iPhone hordes. They honor him with videos and posters that combine aesthetic mastery with unabashed hero-worship. People in the 1950s used to earnestly debate the role of the intellectual in modern politics. But the Lionel Trilling authority-figure has been displaced by the mass class of blog-writing culture producers.
So, in a relatively short period of time, the social structure has flipped. For as it is written, the last shall be first and the geek shall inherit the earth.
I spent much of the day with my family on Lake Pocotopaug in East Hampton, Connecticut. My sister was on the East Coast for a Brown college reunion so my parents and I assembled at my cousin Helen's house for a laid-back afternoon. On the way over, I passed the Wesleyan campus in Middletown, where traffic was heavy--no doubt because of the college graduation ceremonies featuring Barack Obama as a speaker, filling in for an ailing Ted Kennedy.
I've blogged before about Memorial Day being one of my two favorite holidays (the other being Thanksgiving). The weather feels like an early summer day, and there's a parade lining up just behind my house. I am heading off in a few minutes to run a Field Day post for the school (no classes today) and then enjoy a leisurely afternoon reading, playing some tennis, and attending an all-school picnic.
After a week and a half of delivery mishaps, copies of the New York Times and USA Today were on my doorstep this morning. For some unknown reason, my subscriptions have been screwed up of late. Most of last week, for example, instead of USA Today, I was getting the New York Daily News (not exactly my cup o' tea!). But all is right in the universe of my daily newspaper consumption now.
Now that I think of it, June very well might be my favorite month of the year. School winds down, vacation kicks in, travel opportunities arise, Grand Slam tennis (Roland Garros and Wimbledon) is on display, and the weather is fine. Not a bad time.
Okay, now that the days are getting actually hot, I am breaking down and installing the air conditioner in my bedroom window tonight. For years I though A/C was decadent, but now I revel in a cool night's sleep.
This cover to week's issue of The New Yorker struck me as particularly amusing, as it perfectly captures the contradictions inherent in my own book buying: I have a romantic attachment to good neighborhood bookstores, but the reality is I buy virtually everything I read online from Amazon.
For the second time in four days, I misplaced my wallet for half a day or so. It's a pretty crippling situation, unfortunately, as it more or less limits my ability to purchase anything in person (as opposed to online) and travel off campus. Both times, I was pretty convinced the wallet would turn up somewhere around my apartment. If it were truly lost, it would be a nightmare of credit card cancellations and driver's license replacement. Fortunately, it turned up in a student room down the hall the first time and under some papers that fell off my desk today.
I sort of expected the Choate campus to be desolate this afternoon, as most underclassmen have taken off after Prize Day and SAT testing and seniors are with their families in anticipation of tomorrow's graduation exercises. But I just took the scooter downtown to the bank and the convenience store and it seems like Wallingford is deserted, too. There were hardly any cars on the road. Granted, it's the first 90-plus-degree day of the year, and it is a Saturday. But the lack of the usual bustle in town gave me an eerie feeling, like I was in one of those post-apocalyptic science fiction movies. Either that or there is some big party going on that I wasn't invited to.
I got absolutely drenched by three successive waves of downpours as thunderstorms blanketed the city tonight. I was caught out on the street, and consequently my clothes are soaked through as I am about to head into a three-and-a-half hour show this evening. My clothes wouldn't be much wetter had I jumped into a pool. Not comfortable!
I dropped my Explorer off this morning to have the tires checked and rotated. Would up replacing all four plus getting a wheel bearing fixed and some other gasket rod thingy. I was told all of this was essential, of course. So I just dropped a little over $1300 when I picked up my vehicle. Ugh!
Today is the longest day of the year. Sun worshippers like myself should rejoice!
On the way back to Connecticut from the garden party in Southampton, we came across one of Long Island's better-reviewed wineries and stopped for a tasting. The experience was eerily similar to the scenes in the film Sideways. We certainly had a good time.
When I walking across The Mall in Washington, DC last week, en route to the Holocaust Museum, I saw an exhibit on Bhutan being set up adjacent to the Smithsonian. Today I met with the Bhutanese prince--a 2003 Choate grad who is currently the heir presumptive--who headed Bhutan's delegation to the this festival. Today was his first time back on campus since graduating and he wanted to see some familiar faces.
Tucker Bryan ("HELLO TUCKER") felt left out that I did not mention in this blog that he treated to me to lunch at Half Moon Cafe yesterday when he visited campus, so here is Tucker's fleeting taste of fame.
I took the 12:01 CalTrain from San Francisco, which takes about an hour to get to Palo Alto. It's cheap ($5 or so) and efficient. But the campus shuttles don't run on the weekends here at Stanford, so I had to hoof it for about 30 minutes to the dorm complex where I am staying.
And on my way to the opera earlier this evening, some bad advice from my iPhone's Google Maps routed me to the wrong part of the city on foot, which I had to take a cab to correct.
Bottom line: I'm more than ready to crash (especially given the time differential on the West Coast, my early departure, and a long day of travel).
The group assembled for our Coe Seminar--a total of five teachers from around the country, plus the professor, her hsuband, and a grad student facilitating the seminar--enjoyed a spectacular dinner at Evvia Estiatorio, a Greek restaurant just off campus in Palo Alto. The seafood appetizers--calimari, octopus--were spectacular and the lamb shank I had for my main course was so tender it just about melted off the bone. The white wine from Santorini was quite good, and the Greek red was a good match for the lamb, too. I could get used to dining like this!
Stanford has issued me "visiting scholar" credentials so I can access all the University's resources during my stay here. Pretty cool.
My seminar here at Stanford has a pretty steady diet of daily reading, but I've found the perfect place to spend a few hours each afternoon and evening: the Bender Room on the fifth floor of the Bing Wing, part of the Green Library. This quiet, sparsely populated space has a comfortable mix of tables, study carrells, and comfy couches and reading chairs, along with air conditioning, wireless access, and superb views of the university's main quad and the nearby foothills. It's perfectly quiet. And there's probably not a better place on campus to see the sunset this time of year.
The chart below represents an online personality assessment I completed at PersonalDNA.com. It turns out I am a considerate inventor. (Rolling the cursor over each color in the "personality map" below indicates how I rate in different criteria.)
Here are the descriptions:
Your imagination, self-reliance, openness to new things, and appreciation for utility combine to make you an INVENTOR.
You have the confidence to make your visions into reality, and you are willing to consider many alternatives to get that done.
The full spectrum of possibilities in the world intrigues you—you're not limited by pre-conceived notions of how things should be.
Problem-solving is a specialty of yours, owing to your persistence, curiosity, and understanding of how things work.
Your vision allows you to identify what's missing from a given situation, and your creativity allows you to fill in the gaps.
Your awareness of how things function gives you the ability to come up with new uses for common objects.
It is more interesting for you to pursue excitement than it is to get caught up in a routine.
Although understanding details is not difficult for you, you specialize in seeing the bigger picture and don't get caught up in specifics.
You tend to more proactive than reactive—you don't just wait for things to come to you.
You're not afraid to let your emotions guide you, and you're generally considerate of others' feelings as well.
You do your own thing when it comes to clothing, guided more by practical concerns than by other people's notions of style.
Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.
You trust others, care about them, and are slow to judge them, making you CONSIDERATE.
You value your close relationships very much, and are more likely to spend time in small, tightly-knit groups of friends than in large crowds.
You enjoy exploring the world through observation, quietly watching others.
Relating to others so well, and understanding their emotions, leads you to trust people in general, even though you're somewhat shy and reserved at times.
Your belief that people are generally well-intentioned contributes to your sympathy regarding their problems.
Although you may not vocalize it often, you have an awareness of how society affects individuals, and you understand complex causes of people's behavior.
You like to look at all sides of a situation before making a judgment, particularly when that situation involves important things in other people's lives.
Your close friends know you as a good listener.
Just took part in a 45-minute conference call with the headmaster, business manager, and development director back at school. I think only one of the four of us was actually on campus during the "meeting" (which was about the funding stream for an athletics-related building project we are in the middle of right now). With e-mail and teleconferencing, it's easy to do some aspects of my job--those that I tend to handle in the summer months, certainly--from just about anywhere. I always feel like I've gotten away with something when, for example, I wrote all my winter term teacher and adviser comments in between sessions by the pool in Palm Desert, or when I "attended" an evaluation meeting from my hotel room in Saigon.
I think I've hit the wall on this Comic-Con experience. The first day or so was pretty cool. But the lines to get into the rooms for panels have become intolerable and the novelty of the whole event has worn off. I guess Saturday is the peak day, when attendance is at its highest. I've had enough.
I did catch a great presentation this morning by Dave Gibbons and book designer extraordinaire Chip Kidd about the forthcoming Watching The Watchmen, a behind-the-scenes account of the creation of the graphic novel (or, as we called it in the 1980s, "comics"). I've already got it pre-ordered on Amazon.
I am settled in at Merton College and ready to begin life as an Oxford student, at least for the week.
For this week, at least, I am living in an Old World setting: Merton College was the first to establish its buildings in this medieval university town, and as one passes through its gates, Merton presents itself in a rarefied air of ancient buildings and meticulously maintained gardens and quads.
We take our meals in a grand baronial hall, adorned with stained-glass windows, a vaulted ceiling, and the portraits of various Merton wardens (as the heads of the College have been known for over 600 years) through the ages.
The college chapel is filled with history, as it's as old as Merton College itself.
Ducking through arches and ambling along manicured lawns recalls the monastic roots of such a layout. And it reminds one of English period dramas, as if you are living on the set of Brideshead Revisited.
This morning I got to poke around the original library here at Merton, a facility dating from the 1370s, with manuscripts from as far back as the 9th century.
One of the attractive features of Oxford is the pub tradition. The Bear, which is quite near my lodgings in Merton, is a 13th-century pub that is still around and has got lots of charm. One can imagine following in the footsteps of dons and students over the centuries who warmed themselves in such taverns, unwinding over discussions of politics, literature, philosophy, and politics.
Spent part of this morning poking around Christ Church College here in Oxford. The iconic Tom Quad, pictured above, is at the heart of the College, but oddly enough it's the staircase entrance to the college's impressive hall that may be best known around the world, as it has been featured in the Harry Potter films as a stand-in for Hogwarts in some scenes.
Forbes is offering, as an alternative to the monopoly on college rankings established by U.S. News & World Report, its own hierarchy of the institutions of higher education in America. The magazine claims to use a formula that "ranks 569 undergraduate institutions based on the quality of the education they provide, and how much their students achieve." Unlike the U.S. News approach, this list does not put research universities and liberal arts colleges into separate categories. I'm pleased to see my own alma mater is ensconced among the top five, but surely the surprisingly poor placement of some very highly regarded schools will make this list quite controversial. Here are the top 50 from Forbes with a few others of note included:
1. Princeton University 2. California Institute of Technology 3. Harvard University 4. Swarthmore College 5. Williams College 6. United States Military Academy 7. Amherst College 8. Wellesley College 9. Yale University 10. Columbia University 11. Northwestern University 12. Wabash College 13. Centre College 14. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 15. Bowdoin College 16. United States Air Force Academy 17. Middlebury College 18. University of Chicago 19. Smith College 20. Pomona College 21. Wesleyan University 22. Haverford College 23. Stanford University 24. Hamilton College 25. Sarah Lawrence College 26. Barnard College 27. Brown University 28. Whitman College 29. New College of Florida 30. Brandeis University 31. Vassar College 32. Boston College 33. Bryn Mawr College 34. Kenyon College 35. Franklin and Marshall College 36. United States Naval Academy 37. Colby College 38. Washington and Lee University 39. Westminster College 40. Claremont McKenna College 41. Rice University 42. Cooper Union 43. University of Virginia 44. Colgate University 45. Bates College 46. Knox College 47. DePauw University 48. Tufts University 49. College of William and Mary 50. Hampden-Sydney College 51. Oberlin College 58. Trinity College 60. Connecticut College 61. University of Pennsylvania 66. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 70. Mount Holyoke College 71. Cornell College 73. University of California, Berkeley 74. Colorado College 76. Georgetown University 77. University of Notre Dame 79. College of the Holy Cross 80. Duke University 81. Johns Hopkins University 82. Emory University 84. Dickinson College 86. Bucknell University 92. Skidmore College
Breakfast in my hotel this morning was served on a terrace just steps away from my room. It was Continental style: some ham and cheese on offer, with different types of cereal and breads and a bit of yogurt. In other words, no hot food. What I miss from Oxford is the daily English breakfast served in the Merton College hall, with fried eggs, the British version of bacon (which is more like smoked ham than what we are used to in the states), and sausage as well as ample toast on the side. Generally baked beans and tomato and mushrooms are included in the English breakfast, though I pass on those. Juice and tea were readily available as well. The Continental breakfast just doesn't compare to that.
After my short flight from Zurich I had (unusual) good luck in Heathrow, quickly making my way past the immigration checkpoint, getting my bag off the carousel without a wait, and then clearing customs without a hitch and catching the Piccadilly Line train to the Covent Garden stop and my hotel on The Strand. After a bit of down time to get cleaned up and changed, I had a late dinner with a Choate graduate from the Class of 1994 and seven of his friends and family members from Kuwait. We ate at Aaya, an upscale Japanese restaurant in Soho on Brewer Street, just behind the old Regent Palace hotel where I frequently stayed in London (but the huge 700+ room hotel has been shut down the last couple years). It was a spectacular meal of first-rate Japanese cuisine, and somehow somebody picked up the check for us all on the sly, so it was a real treat. I passed on the chance to go clubbing with the group afterward, knowing I've got an early flight home in the morning.
Shortly after getting back home, I drove down to Stamford to attend a gathering of incoming new Choate students and their parents. it was an altogether pleasant affair--a good chance to meet new families as well as reconnect with some familiar faces--but it does hammer home the reality that the beginning of the school year is just around the corner.
Our pre-season training camp for Choate Cross Country involves two practice sessions a day and lots of down time in between. So in order to keep the guys busy, we have built some traditions around go-kart races and a nighttime miniature golf outing. I'm pleased to report I held my own, with a dominating performance behind the wheel and a second-place result in the mini-golf.
It's sad to learn that one of my favorite writers, David Foster Wallace, was found dead earlier tonight. Wallace wrote the (massive) novel Infinite Jest as well as a number of brilliant essays, characterized by their expansive and often humorous footnotes. The guy was truly a genius as a shaper of prose. One of his best pieces, an analysis of Roger Federer's game, I referenced on this site a couple years ago. Wallace was a junior tennis phenom himself and wrote about the game with great insight and wit. He will be missed.
Today is the first official day of fall. There's a hint of color atop a few of the trees in Wallingford, but it won't be long before my New England environs look like the picture above.
I spent most of today on the campus of St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. My time there was filled with waves of nostalgia, as SPS was where I spent my most formative summer. This was where I started teaching after my junior year in college, the place I discovered what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was 20 years old and experiencing a prep school for the very first time. I was lucky to meet my mentor, work with a terrific group of kids, and given the chance to teach, to coach, to supervise a dormitory--things I've spent a fair bit of my life doing ever since.
So my Yamaha Zuma--which was stolen, stripped, and then recovered in August--is going to cost at least two grand to fix. So I have decided to get a new one. This model, which will arrive next month, is 125cc (the old one was 49cc) which means I'll have to get a motorcycle license. And here is what it will look like:
Okay, I get it. Public radio stations need to raise money. But as one who has been greeted by NPR most mornings since graduating from college, I find the constant haranguing for dollars so tedious. And this last pledge drive for Connecticut Public Radio went on for extra days. Thank goodness it's over.
The tradition of "mischief night," as they seem to call the night before Halloween nowadays (at least around these parts) was never part of the tradition when I was a kid. All the mischief was on Halloween night itself.
This is a good part of the year. It's past the peak of the fall foliage and the first frost has made its appearance. Nights get cold, but days can still be warm. This is truly autumn.
1. Get up.
2. Breakfast at Abbott's
4. Community lunch.
5. Teach PS550 classes.
6. Athletics staff meeting.
7. Cross country coaching.
8. Meet with girls' squash captain and co-coach.
9. AVOID ALL INTERNET SITES ABOUT THE ELECTION, ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH LEAKED EXIT POLLS.
10. Eat dinner.
11. Go to Goodyears for Election Night Party.
12. Await good news.
Just saw my first Christmas-themed commercial of the year. A Campbell's Soup ad. A bit early, no?
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
I just got off the phone with an insurance adjuster and--much to my surprise--it looks like I'll be getting a little more than $1500 as a settlement for my stolen scooter. That's awfully good news!
The above flyer, a scanned version of which I bumped into while surfing the Internet, advertises a poster I got as a kid (it's the smaller poster on the right in this ad). It's mounted on cardboard, and so has survived the ravages of time such that I rescued it when my parents moved out of my childhood home a few years back. It now hangs in my garage. Ah, nostalgia!
Today was a leisurely day: I slept in, which is rare for me. And I didn't do much along the lines of chores, projects, and the like. Every so often, it's nice to not have anything much to do. And today was one of those days.
I went out to a hibachi-style Japanese steakhouse in central Connecticut tonight to celebrate my mom's birthday. My folks seem to like the hibachi meals, but won't really give sushi a try, which I find weird because (a) I always have been a far more picky eater than either of them; and (b) in general they love fish. I, on the other hand, count sushi and sashimi among my favorite foods.
Our first real winter storm of the season has arrived, blanketing New England in snow. The roads are hazardous, but I'm not really going anywhere. I spent most of the day in the athletic center here on campus, playing host to a girls' basketball tournament. I'll be doing the same tomorrow until about 1:30 in the afternoon. Only then will vacation truly begin!
Today marks the winter solstice, which means the fall is officially over--even though it seemed like it ended quite a while ago!--and winter begins. Far more important to me is the fact that for the next six months the days will be getting longer. Ancient cultures used to like solstice fires to give the sun strength, having watched it slowly drop in the sky for months. People believed that solstice rituals were critically important to bringing humanity out of the darkness and cold. Though winter has a way to go, the Northern Hemisphere starts its gradual tilt closer to the sun, and that is worth celebrating.
I ran the below panel a year ago, but given the spirit of the holiday, it seems an appropriate message coming from the OTHER resident of the North Pole who flies through the air:
In Ireland, the day after Christmas is celebrated as St. Stephen's Day. In Britain this is Boxing Day, a holiday with a tradition of generosity. An interesting piece in the Op-Ed section of today's New York Times puts it all in context.
After spending a couple days of Christmas with my family, we are reunited again at my cousin Helen's house on Lake Pocotopaug for an enjoyable Saturday lunch. For some reason it's a little more relaxing getting together without the expected rituals of the holiday itself.
I have rung in the past four years around the world: in Puerto Rico, Rio de Janiero, Sydney, and Santa Fe. And I've been in Times Square twice when the ball dropped. (My favorites from among those? Rio, followed by Sydney--both were WARM!) This year I was on the Choate campus with friends, which was a pleasant change of pace.
At any rate, all the best for a healthy and prosperous 2009!
This is the time of day in the colder months when I am reminded of a stanza from an Emily Dickinson poem:
There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.
Given the beginning of 2009, this snippet of wisdom from Mark Twain seems appropriate:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Playtime is over. This was enjoyable vacation, if not a particularly productive one, but I needed some down time to read, reflect, and relax. I am about to leave New York City on a train to Connecticut and will be back at school early this afternoon, ready for the pitter-patter of little feet all around me once more.
Pretty striking full moon hanging over a snowy winter landscape this evening. Native Americans called this one the Full Wolf Moon.
On the drive up to Worcester for a NEPSAC Executive Board meeting, I played a video lecture on my iPhone: "How To Really Achieve Your Childhood Dreams" by Randy Pausch, a Carnegie-Mellon professor of computer science who delivered these inspirational remarks just after he had been diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer a couple years back. Well worth the time to watch this. The lecture and other good stuff is available on the late professor's website.
Just stepped outdoors for the first time all day a bit before 6 p.m. (I have to take an Inauguration-bound Choate kid to the train station.) The lesson is that if it's a Sunday, it's snowing, my fridge is stocked, and I have a stack of Blu-Ray discs and PS3 games to go with my new Samsung, I really don't have the desire to leave home at all.
I am working my way through the recently published A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art Of Stoic Joy by William Irvine. The book is a cogent condensation of the principles of Stoicism, a philosophy of emotional control and balanced living that emerged from the likes of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus in at the height of the Roman Empire. I recommend this work heartily.
Tomorrow we begin the Year of the Ox in the Chinese calendar. Happy New Year!
Most of the last week the snow and ice have been gone and it's been a bit milder, so I've been able to cruise around campus on my scooter (still with less than 50 miles on the odometer!) and I am happily reacquainted with the rush of wind on my face when traveling on two wheels.
Here is my squash racquet:
And here are my squash shoes:
Put these together with the last two pictures I posted--of my scooter and the tennis shoes I just designed--and I think the theme will be clear. Maybe I have a case of jaundice?
When I returned to campus from an away match across the New York border, the Choate campus was covered by a couple of inches of slush. No real problem in that, except that when I walked from my car to my door, I wiped out and landed flat on my back on a gentle slushy slope. The real damage would have been if someone else had witnessed this, but fortunately I was spared the embarassment.
After a relatively mild week, this morning brought winter back in full force, with the ground covered by a slick film of ice and temperatures fairly biting. Last week's dalliance with warmer weather turned out to be nothing more than a tease.
It's Mardi Gras and up here in New England that means . . . well, nothing actually. One of these days I've gotta get to New Orleans. Or better yet, head down to Rio for Carnival. Maybe for my next sabbatical leave . . . someday.
No classes today, not because we got nearly a foot of snow overnight, but because the term is winding down and we started exams this morning. Since I am not giving an exam this winter, I am comfortably working from home this morning, wrapping up the squash tournament details from this past weekend and tackling some correspondence. Hopefully this storm is winter's last blast. Can't say I mind it, though, as the campus looks awfully pretty and I don't have any need to go outside right now!
Of course, now is not exactly the best time to be a banker, but I just spent a couple hours processing financial stuff in my office and it turns out I'm getting reimbursed to the tune of a couple thousand bucks for all sorts of expenses I've covered up front, including airfare and hotel costs for the U.K. squash tour, an overnight stay as a tournament director for the New England Championships, mileage for athletic director meetings, and athletic gear orders. I'm not complaining, because I get to rack up quite a lot of points on my personal credit card, and I've been able to more or less fly for free to places like Buenos Aires and Moscow by doing so!
It's that special day once more for all of us of Irish descent and for everyone else who wishes they were. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
It's absolutely rejuvenating to spend a week in warmer climes at the end of winter, exercising pretty hard for a few hours each day and enjoying plenty of unstructured time to read, watch DVDs, sunbathe, or do not much of anything! This is restorative for the soul.
I signed up to take a course at Yale this June and July, studying the history and tragedy plays of William Shakespeare a few afternoons a week down in New Haven. This will pretty much eliminate the possibility of the trip to Europe in June that I take most years, though I may try to fit in some long weekend jaunts a little closer to home. I just spent a week in England earlier this month and--if I get my act together in the next few days--plan to be in Paris for a weekend in May for the French Open tennis tournament. Moreover, I plan to be in the U.K. and possibly somewhere on the Continent for a couple weeks in August.
Today I picked up a 2-liter bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry . . . which puzzled me because I thought the Dr. Pepper flavor was sort of a black cherry kind of thing all along. Go figure.
I sent in my paperwork this morning for a Shakespeare program at the University of Cambridge this summer, one which starts just after my Summer Programs commitments at Choate wrap up at the end of July. I am looking forward to spending a couple of weeks in Cambridge in August; I haven't been there since my very first trip to England in 1994.
I know I have ranted about this in this space in the past, but I am majorly bummed whenever Connecticut Public Radio runs one of its on-air pledge drives. I get the importance of fund-raising, but the hectoring tone of the local hosts and the interruption of the normal news stories on Morning Edition--a show I've woken up to most of my entire adult life--really throws off my morning routine. I had to put up with the begging for money down in Florida during the last week of break, and if only I had been lucky enough to have missed the same thing up here.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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).
Yesterday I got the official notification of my acceptance into my program of choice at the University of Cambridge, so I'll be spending some time in England this summer immersed in books amidst some crumbly old buildings. I fished around on Amazon.com earlier today to find the best prices for my course books, though I dread the thought of lugging texts overseas and back! When I was at Stanford in 2008, I ended up shipping a dozen books back home so I wouldn't have to schlep them through Oregon, L.A., and San Diego.
Our group of athletic directors from the Eight Schools Association (Andover, Choate, Deerfield, Exeter, Hotchkiss, Lawrenceville, NMH, and St. Paul's) ate dinner together and met for a couple of hours this evening, working our way through an agenda of business items. But the best part of our time together is the informal time in a local tavern after the official meetings have ended. That's when the free-wheeling discussions about what's going on in our schools are most useful. It's also when we cement our relationships so that we can deal with each other on the basis of trust in the course of our regular interactions.
Our ESAC group is on the campus of Princeton University this morning, meeting with the Princeton athletic director, his assistants, and a few Tigers coaches. We are meeting in the pressroom atop Princeton Stadium. This should be an interesting chance to discuss the recruiting landscape for prep school student-athletes among Ivy League universities.
This week I received the syllabus for the Shakespeare course I am taking for five weeks this June and July down in New Haven. A pretty ambitious schedule awaits: reading ten plays and writing two big papers and eight short ones. The first week and last week of the program will be trickiest for me, as my work at Yale will overlap with the Choate school year winding down in early June and my summer school teaching commitments in early July. So I am planning to get a head start on both my reading and writing.
My two favorite holidays are Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. Though it's not yet the summer solstice, today marks the start of summer in my mind. School is winding down, the weather is pretty spectacular, and there are pleasant distractions aplenty.
Today was pretty much a perfect day: woke up to the French Open, a Memorial Day parade through town, and Field Day events on campus. The afternoon was leisurely, with Mem Field buzzing with softball, frisbee, and sunbathing, followed by the annual Physics Phlotilla--in which students tried to navigate creatively engineered cardboard boats across the Science Center pond. Then an all-school picnic outdoors, capped by a dip in the waterfall for good measure.
Had a bite tonight at Trackside Pizza, a cozy little brick oven pizzeria in Wallingford next to the railroad tracks. Most of the restaurant is an old Philadelphia subway car. The pizza is definitely worth the trip.
My favorite place to get a cheap bite in Paris is the crêperie in the Latin Quarter pictured above. It's on the corner of rue de la Harpe and Boulevard Saint-Germain. Had a delicious ham and cheese crepe for dinner tonight!
Heading down the stairs into the Metro station at Saint-Michel in the heart of the city, I noticed spray paint on the ground:
"Namaste" is a Sanskrit term (नमस्ते) meaning "I greet the divine within you (and within me)." This gave me a pleasantly unexpected moment of pause down in the Parisian subway on a Sunday morning.
With a lightly scheduled week during exam period here at school, it's been a good time for visiting the waterfall about fifteen minutes from campus. One of my favorite late spring activities involves crawling through the cascading water to settle into the natural seats formed in the rocks underneath. You know you are alive when sitting in the middle of a waterfall!
My home phone rang first thing this morning so that Bank of America could verify recent purchases on my VISA credit card. Turns out I was not the one who spent $250 at a Macy's in Houston, Texas. So this card is getting canceled and replaced. Good thing someone is watching out for this sort of fraud.
I am heading down to New Haven four days a week this month for a 1 p.m. class. On Tuesday I got caught in a traffic jam because part of Interstate 91 was closed due to some sort of accident. This meant I had to negotiate the back streets--which were congested with other people trying to do the same--to get to Yale. Then I had to deal with the always problematic situation of parking near York and Broadway. I was ten minutes late for class, and I absolutely hate being tardy for something like this. So today, and for the foreseeable future, I am leaving myself extra travel time in case of unforeseen difficulties like this.
Refueling my rental car before dropping it off at the Pearson Airport here in Toronto, I was reminded how relatively untaxed gasoline is in America. Of course, calculating what one is paying at a Canadian gas station is doubly tricky: in addition to the currency conversion, you have to convert liters to gallons. But I am one of those who believes it will be in our long term best interest as a nation and as a planet to tax gasoline more heavily in the U.S., which will force consumers to adopt more fuel-efficient vehicles and rely more often on public transportation. The economy will be helped by giving the auto industry and mass transit shots in the arm. And obviously anything we do to reduce our collective carbon footprint is extraordinarily helpful at this point.
Apparently there were some ruffled feathers that this corner of cyberspace never mentioned two Class of '08 Choaties whom I met in Paris at the end of last month and who spent a day with me at the French Open. They did treat me to dinner (and I did treat them to breakfast when they had run out of money a couple days later) but I should note that they did foul my hotel bathroom, too. At any rate, Christophe and Tucker now can enjoy a small moment of recognition.
Welcome summer! I always look forward to the longest day of the year. Being here in the States on this occasion this year and last, I am struck how much less daylight we get on the solstice than the British Isles and Scandinavia do--as I've spent a fair number of June evenings there in the past fifteen years.
I have another paper due for my Yale course today, so I spent a couple hours this morning banging out a few pages of critical analysis of Hamlet. (It was a bit tough to get going this morning, since I got back from the city so late last night.) This is the seventh such essay I've written in the last four weeks, so my word-smithing muscles are getting worked back into shape. Writing is like riding a bike, in that you never fully lose your facility in composing prose, but I can sure do it more effectively and more quickly after being back in the habit of regular writing for several weeks now.
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.
Hope all my friends to the north enjoy their national holiday.
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.
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).
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.
Got my first haircut in many, many months. I feel like a new man!
This expression of gratitude is etched into the entrance to Old Court on the "backs" side, recognizing Paul Mellon, who lived here for two years. Mellon was also Choate's greatest benefactor, having endowed the Humanties Building, the Arts Center, and the Science Center, among other major gifts.
I snapped the photo above with my iPhone while walking from dinner to my evening lecture. You can see cows in the field in the foreground. You probably can't make out the River Cam, which divides this field from the tightly cropped lawn in front of King's College Chapel, probably the University's most famous landmark. (Clare College is right next to King's.)
After a full week of classes and lectures (at least four sessions a day, plus seated meals) the weekend has arrived and I am looking forward to a couple of entirely unscheduled days!
Thanks to one of our number who is a member, we got to spend some time this evening at the Cambridge Union Society, the oldest student debating society in the world--a very prestigious organization. The Society has its own building (and bar).
Most aspects of university life are at Cambridge centered around one's college. I sleep and eat in Clare College--the second oldest in the University. Breakfast is informal and served downstairs, cafeteria style, in The Buttery. Dinner, on the other hand, is a formal affair, served by the wait staff in the Great Hall. Tonight we have a fancier-than-usual dinner to mark the end of the program.
It's true that I don't think the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings of the best colleges in the country mean very much at all. It seems ridiculous to try to generate a list that purports to place institutions of higher education in a pecking order. That said, I am not unhappy that my alma mater Williams College finished atop the list for yet another year!
It's set in a little hole-in-the-wall location in a strip mall next to a 7-Eleven, but Sushi Ota has some of the best sushi I've ever had! It's in the Mission Bay section of San Diego and I can't imagine coming back to this city without a stop here.
I know we are just a day or two into the fall, but it has been hot and sticky all day, even into the evening hours. I sure am glad I resisted my impulse to take out the bedroom air conditioner the other day!
I have always been intrigued by these One Day University programs, held around the country with superstar university professors offering a day's worth of lectures. So I enrolled in one in New York City on Sunday, October 4 and signed up for presentations in American Studies, Art, English, Philosophy, Music, and Religion.
Early in the school year, it's something of a cliché in our office to put off a discussion or project until "next week . . . when things settle down to normal." We say this week after week, and I wonder if things ever get to be "normal" around here while school is in session.
I was on the Amazon.com site this morning checking on the status of my Beatles boxed set delivery (ahem . . . still waiting!) and found out I have made 97 orders in the last six months. Holy cow! I know I am an Amazon junkie but I had no idea I gave the site that much business. That number is so high, I think, because I am an Amazon Prime member, which gives me free two-day shipping on virtually anything I order, so I think nothing of placing an order for a single cheap item to save me a trip to the store.
Yesterday I had a sore throat all day. This morning I woke up feeling very dehydrated and congested. I've been fighting off a headache, too. Not fun.
I'm not one to get out of bed late for the most part, but after intermittent sleep on the train from Philadelphia and a 5:15 arrival home, I arose at a sinfully late 10:30 this morning!
There may not be a better place to be than in a New England boarding school this time of year when the weather is good and the foliage is in all its colorful glory.
. . . may be one of these CanAm Spyders. Saw this one parked near the football field on my way from breakfast to the office this morning and had to snap a shot.
The yellow matches the color of my Zuma!
Because I have a Connecticut license to drive "public service" vehicles--i.e., the school's mid-buses and suburbans--I am subject to a regimen of random drug testing to comply with state regulations. Theoretically, once every two years, I am told to report to the campus health center to provide a specimen. But it's a random process, so I had to do this today for the second time in less than six months. Not a big deal, really, but kind of a hassle.
A day full of meetings (starting at 8 a.m.--ugh!) and other work commitments, as people are trying to convene groups and advance various projects before vacation kicks in mid-week.
I am about to start my 71st consecutive season of prep school coaching, so I am not used to getting many free Saturdays during the school year, especially after I became an athletic director in 1996. I just sent our girls' volleyball team up to the New England tournament and now have an unscheduled day ahead of me. (I might have gone up to New Hampshire to see our top-seeded team compete, but I have been on the road the past two days and am still trying to shake an annoying cough.)
This may not be exciting to anyone but me, but new pillows and flannel sheets have arrived in today's mail from Lands' End. I expect to be cozy and warm (and stylish) as the nights get colder this winter.
I remember when this book, 2010, was published. It was the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey and since it was set in the far-distant year of 2010, it seemed to us even more exotically futuristic. Well now 2010 is a month away and it sure doesn't seem as different as it was supposed to be.
Of course totalitarianism didn't arrive on schedule as detailed in 1984, there were no Eugenics Wars in the mid-1990s to produce a Khan Noonien Singh to challenge Captain Kirk centuries later, and Earth's moon didn't leave orbit a decade ago as Space: 1999 led us to believe it would.
I concede there have been technological advances that have changed how we live and I don't have to look very far to find them (my iPhone, the Internet, etc.). But where's my flying car?
Made it into Dallas last night and took a shuttle to the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Convention Center, a mammoth complex right near the airport. I am attending my fourth National Athletic Directors Conference in the past four years (the others were in Anaheim and Nashville). Since I'm only here until first thing Monday morning, and I'll be engaged in a trio of four-hour mini-courses as well as other sessions in that time, plus I don't have a car, it's unlikely I will get out of this place to see anything else in Dallas. So I could well be anywhere in the country right now; the city itself doesn't register in my plans. Of course, there is a slew of restaurants and other diversions here in the convention/hotel complex, so I'll be living in the convention bubble this weekend, I guess.
The online price dropped dramatically, so I am now the proud owner of an Anakin Skywalker blue lightsaber replica!
This afternoon I am missing the Festival Of Lessons And Carols back home at Choate in the Seymour St. John Chapel. This nativity program of readings and sacred music--an academic tradition that started at King's College, Cambridge--always puts me into the spirit of the season.
The Memorial House common room is festively decorated with a fire roaring in the fireplace and plenty of treats for the boys coming back from their final school commitment before break: a concert presentation in the Arts Center. So spirits are high and we had an enjoyable evening. Most of the older kids are accompanying me to the midnight premiere of Avatar 3D later on at the local cineplex, once the third formers are in bed for the night. First thing in the morning, the campus empties out. Many of the kids are taking off before dawn to catch international flights.
Tonight is the longest night of the year, with the arrival of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The good news is that tomorrow the days start getting longer!
I stopped for a routine oil change--I was a bit overdue, and had the time to knock off this errand this afternoon--and ended up spending just over $400 on the Explorer. There were some "essential" services that needed to be performed, of course. Funny how this always happens. Ugh!
I am so glad I invested in new pillows and new flannel sheets a couple of weeks ago. My bed always feels warm when I get in it and I've been experiencing great nights of sleep.
Spent most of today with my extended family: a couple dozen of my cousins from both sides of the family, as well as other relatives and family friends. The occasion was a milestone birthday for my dad, a surprise brunch event that carried over to an "after party" of sorts at my parents' house through the afternoon. A good chance to catch up with folks whom I rarely see nowadays.
I've long had a fantasy of relocating the school somewhere warm just for the winter term. This notion kicks in pretty hard on a day like today, when the high temperature is supposed to hit 33°F. It was bitterly cold walking to breakfast this morning!
It's no accident that the two times I've taken a sabbatical, I took them in the winter term and went to Australia and other antipodal destinations. When I was there in 1998, the temperature in Melbourne climbed to 108°F at one point; you could almost fry an egg on the sidewalk!
Today I went downtown to the barber shop. Since our on-campus barber retired a few years back, I seem to get a haircut about twice a year now. My hair goes from being a bit too long to being way too short. But I guess I am getting my money's worth this way!
The school hosted Dr. Robert Ballard, the world's best-known oceanographer (and a Choate parent), to deliver a slide presentation to the entire community tonight in the Arts Center auditorium and it was a fascinating overview of the scientific exploration of our planet's oceans. This is the sort of science I find riveting. And having grown up by the water, I am always interested in seafaring adventures!
It's the national holiday for the land Down Under. Sort of like Fourth of July for the Aussies. Good on ya!
I've been pretty faithful in putting in 45 minutes a day around the indoor track in the Johnson Athletic Center this past month and have gotten into the habit of playing either some music or lectures from The Teaching Company while racking up the laps. Doing the latter makes me feel especially productive: I am immersed in classical mythology this week while getting my workout done.
I was summoned to report to Superior Court in New Haven at 8 a.m. this morning for jury duty. I was in the first batch of potential jurors brought into a courtroom to begin the voir dire process. The dates of the case next week conflict with my scheduled flight to Florida on Friday, however, and this resulted in my being excused from service. thus I got to head home--through a light snowstorm--at 11 a.m., a far cry from the last time I got as far as the voir dire, when I was at the courthouse past 5 p.m. before being excused.
I am conflicted about the prospect of jury duty. Philosophically, I believe strongly in the principle and I would be curious to take part in the process, but logistically it would pose huge complications to my life, especially in getting my teaching and coaching duties covered. So I was relieved to have been excused this time around.
No classes today. My team has the day off. The athletic office is covered by one of my colleagues. No big plans at all. This meant I got to stay in bed until after noon today. I was awake most of the last few hours, but very much enjoying the chance to veg out a bit for a change!
Now off to the Hart Pool, the Johnson Athletic Center, and the Remsen Arena to see our teams in action this afternoon.
The forecast for a debilitating winter storm wiped out scheduled contests among New England prep schools today, but the fearsome blizzard never quite materialized. So we've lost a good day of competition. While it's a bit messy out there today, we probably could have salvaged some games.
Hope all you Irish and wannabe-Irish (that's everybody, I think) enjoy the day.
The snow is gone, the temperature is in the 60s, and the sun is shining. I took the scooter out of the garage for the first time since November. It started right up and I cruised around campus to inspect the fields, track, and tennis courts for the spring season about to start.
The vernal equinox has arrived!
It's close to 90°F here in Wallingford as the tennis team gears up to play its home opener. This gives new meaning to the expression "unseasonably warm."
The last few days I have been dealing with the hassles of identity theft. Specifically somebody got hold of the number of the primary credit card I use--a MasterCard with the local credit union--and charged who knows what in places like Israel and Maryland. I was alerted to this problem when my card was declined unexpectedly. When I checked recent transactions online, I noticed a handful of charges I knew nothing about. So now the card has been canceled and will be replaced, but I have to reconfigure all the recurring charges that I set to use this account: my cable bill, wireless phone service, newspaper subscriptions, EZPass, SpeedPay, etc. Not fun.
Lots of rain today resulted in the cancellation of the boys' varsity tennis scrimmage against Hopkins School. I am hopeful that April will bring a lot more sunshine.
The last couple of weeks I have missed riding my Zuma around town, which has been painful since spring now has hit full bloom. I stupidly left the key in the ignition and the headlight was on one rainy morning and the battery drained. I was planning to take the battery over to Cheshire to the Yamaha dealer to get it recharged, but when I had my car battery replaced last week, the technician advised me to buy a cheap plug-in recharger. So I picked one up the other day at AutoZone for about ten bucks and hooked it up this morning. After a couple hours charging, the scooter started right up and I am back on two wheels!
Last May in Paris, I picked up an olive green bag--sort of a messenger bag, I guess--at the adidas shop on the Champs-Élysées. It's very useful to throw over my shoulder when cruising around town on the scooter. And I can fit my iPad or MacBook Air in it very comfortably, even though it's pretty small.
So what would one find in it this morning?
With the temperature climbing above 90° again today, I decided to install my bedroom air conditioner for the summer, so my sleep will be nicely removed from the heat and humidity.
Happy Flag Day to everyone back home!
Have a happy and safe Independence Day, fellow Americans.
I stopped at the Apple Store at Westfarms Mall on my way to South Windsor this afternoon (I had to see about a minor repair to my MacBook Air). I was surprised the store was even open on Independence Day, as were most stores in the mall. It wasn't crowded there, of course, but I guess commerce does not take a vacation on one of the year's biggest holidays.
Living in such an exciting town as Wallingford (ha!) it's no surprise that the appearance of a new fast food establishment has created quite a buzz. In this case, it's a bit understandable, because one doesn't find many Sonics in this part of the country and the whole retro "get served in your car" angle is pretty different. So I spent twenty or so minutes waiting in line (in my car, of course) before pulling into one of the berths. Bottom line: the food was hardly worth the wait. I can say I've been there and done that, but no need to hurry back now that the novelty is gone.
I needed to renew my driver's license before leaving for a two-week vacation, so I arrived at the Hamden DMV office about 7:50 this morning, got into the building at 8, and was out the door with new license in hand by 8:15. Pretty sweet!
Forbes has assembled a special report: "America's Best Colleges" and ranked Williams #1 among all universities and colleges in the country. Princeton was ranked #2 and some college called Amherst was #3. Nice!
Once again, a certain college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts sits atop the list in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings. This is the second such kudo for Williams in a week, following the Forbes ranking list (which was different in that it lumped research universities and liberal arts colleges in the same category) that also had Williams at #1. Not that I put much stock in these rankings, but still it's nice . . .
I attended the funeral of a faculty colleague today in the school chapel--understandably a very sad occasion. The silver lining was the chance to reconnect with former students who came back to campus to pay their respects. It's touching to belong to a community like this where the ties that bind are often so strong.
No denying it now. Summer is over. Tomorrow I will spend at the U.S. Open, but after that new faculty orientation kicks in and the first wave of student-athletes arrive. So by Tuesday, I will be in full work mode once more. I plan to come up for air in late November.
Today was my first day in FR100, the beginning French language class here at school. I am sharing a classroom with a room full of Choate students, mostly ninth-graders. Since the languages department here believes in the immersive experience, most of the instruction was conducted in French, so I felt pretty blown away for the first ten minutes or so. But this is going to be fun!
After my team breakfast this morning, I took an Audi Q5 crossover SUV for a test drive and made arrangements to buy a new one the dealer had in stock. I will pick it up on Tuesday.
Since we have an informal long weekend break with no classes scheduled tomorrow, I am escaping into Manhattan for the day. I am in the middle of a One Day University program, sitting through a half-dozen presentations by college professors (and former New York governor Mario Cuomo) on such diverse topics as the U.S. Supreme Court, psychology, creative writing, and Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Pretty fascinating stuff.
In the last couple weeks, I have made my contributions to the global economy: I bought a new desktop computer, an additional monitor, and a new Apple TV unit. I also booked a convention trip to Orlando in mid-December as well as a European vacation the week after Christmas. Oh yeah, and I bought a new car too!
Now back to work to pay for all of this.
I drove over to Watertown this morning for the fall meeting of the Founders League athletic directors and was treated to a splendid array of autumnal colors along the highway. The colors really have been popping the last few days.
December 21 is the winter solstice, which means the Northern Hemisphere experiences its shortest exposure to the sun all year. The good news: the days will be getting longer for the next six months!
Got a text from a 2005 Choate alum tonight that brought a smile to my face. Here is the exchange:
Saw this somewhere on the 'Net and thought it was a good prescription for June, July, and August:
It's one louder.
Today is the Chinese New Year, marking the beginning of the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese Zodiac. I was born in the Year of the Dragon, so hopefully this will be a sign of good things to come in 2012!
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