Archive for April 2003

My battery charger arrived

My battery charger arrived from Atlanta Hobby, though it’s been snowing all day so I won’t be flying anytime too soon. I thought winter was over! Cliff at Atlanta Hobby is still mostly OK in my book even though he didn’t tell me that the charger shipment was going to be delayed by 2 weeks b/c he didn’t have any in stock.

Oh, and for all you lucky ladies out there, yes, I’m available. Wink wink, nudge nudge! Yea whatever.

I woke up so nicely too…

11am: I woke up so nicely too… My parents called. I said “hello” and the first word out of my mother’s voice was a cold disapproving, “Did I wake you up?” “No.” I get that EVERY time they call before noon.

After the call, I went up and put my new Scott Eggert CD into the intercom’s CD player. Three seconds in, I thought how this wasn’t just music to passively listen to while going about my daily thing. I hit Stop then Eject and… nothing happened. The CD player had eaten my new CD! GRRRR! After a few minutes of fiddling with the mechanism, I went to the circuit breaker and power cycled the intercom. Thankfully, the CD came out.

I will NOT let this effect my day.

3pm: I went to Tara and Ross’ NYC wedding reception. They are having three… one each in NY, Dallas and Boston. The wedding itself was in Ireland at Castle Leslie! Her dad told me that he got the idea from Paul McCartney’s grand wedding. :-)

From the reception invitation:

Love is many things–marriage, commitment, chocolate, rice krispies treats, trust, smores, friendship, and brownies. When Tara Abrams married Ross Jacobs, they got all of that and more. Now we want to share some of the chocolate!

I really liked the style of the reception. It was a party at a hipster upper-east-side NYC bar. And yes, there were rice crispy treats, smores and all manner of brownies! At the end, some of us went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant a few blocks away. So Tara’s wedding experience had the best in austerity & permanence -and- a close connection to the people.

My day finished much better than how it started. :-)

A day in the life

A day in the life:

8:30-noon- I babysat Julia. Except for food breaks, we played straight through the morning! I pulled her around the house on a blanket, we played with toys in her room including a Dora LeapPad… she’s still getting the hang of it but starting to enjoy it… I loved playing with it, we told stories to each other with Dora colorforms, watched a couple minutes of Sesame Street and learned how to be a monster, I showed her how to play her flute (Melissa was happy at this.. she kept thinking you had to hum into it like a kazoo), we rode her horses around the house.

noon-2:30- Talked to my sister about her Forensics class, the war in Iraq. Her class was chatting about how terribly slow the war was going. She pointed out to them that it had been a “war” for just two weeks. This is a lightning blitz! In ’91, the US did 100 days of air attacks before walking away. Now we’re on the ground… you think 2 weeks is a long time?!?!

2:30-4:15- Got lunch, oogled over the cable modem I was getting ready to buy at Radio Shack. Then realized that Radio Shack sells Comcast cable modem service and I have Cablevision. Ixnay on the ablecay-odemay. Talked shop with the Radio Shack guys, all the while hoping to get to talk to the cute associate I spoke to last week. She had given me her business card even, but she had a customer in front of her and the phone in her ear the whole time I was there.

4:15-7:30- Went home. Considered how I’ve been waiting 2 1/2 freaking weeks for my battery charger order from Atlanta Hobby and 1 1/2 weeks for my wireless ethernet setup. Considered the Radio Shack guy’s suggestion of going to The Wiz and picking up a Cablevision cable modem setup today…. The Wiz which is closing it’s doors forever (again) in a week or so due to bankruptcy… I read their web site which had those profound words, “all sales final” and ordered cable modem service from Cablevision over the internet instead (Hurray!). Called Cablevision to try and figure out if we want to upgrade, dump, or keep their service comparing it to DirectTV; I got this really nasty rep on the phone. She pissed me off so much that I hung up on her after she put me on hold. I SHOULD have gotten her name and gone to her supervisor but it felt pretty good slamming the phone down. I’m pretty sure that we’ve been double paying for our cable boxes for the last 5 years. Called up MBNA and told them to never send us another frigging credit card application again. Our paper spam problem is almost as bad as my email spam problem (30/day+)! Tried to make the perfect omelet for dinner; made a mediocre omelet for dinner. Moped around the house and watched the last 20 minutes of The Fifth Element on HBO.

7:30- Struck out for a WNTI music concert at Centenary College, starting time, 7:30. I went into the wrong building and wandered through a dorm for about 10 minutes. It brought back a thick fog of fond memories that I could barely make it through. The feel of the building, especially the all-wood doors, brought me fondly back to Smith and Maura. I finally found the concert and listened in for a few minutes. Standard happy-folk fare. Singer-songwriter banter, wires tangled on the stage, those light and speaker stands, an audience that laughed in the right places, the fourth wall in it’s place. Don’t get me wrong, it was probably a really good show but I realized immediately that I wasn’t in the mood for it.

7:50- Struck out for Scott Eggert at Myhelan Cultural Arts Center, starting time 8:00. I walked in at 8:45 :-(. He was in the middle of his concert when I walked in. It all started out a little karmic.. as I approached the front door, I could see that he was just finishing a piece, so I could walk right in and … well not sit because all the seats were full! A totally full house at around 50 folks. He spoke for a few minutes and then played this amazing slice of the universe. Let me explain: He pulled out an Indian keyboard that’s given it’s breath similar to an accordion. I’ve seen these a couple times before and they can make quite a nice sound. Well, he started by playing and holding just two notes. With the accordion action, the chord had sort of a heart-beat feel to it. And then… I don’t even know when he started… maybe right at the start, maybe after a few minutes… he started to make this sound… it was DAMN, I can’t describe it! Ok, now if you’ve ever heard Tuvan throat music sung gently, in person, then you might know what I’m talking about. If not, well, let me try to explain. And I’ve seen the (kickass) movie, Genghis Blues but hearing it in person was a world away from just seeing a movie even! Ok, to describe it, start with that nifty flutter you hear in authentic yodeling, now crank it up 2 octaves (yes, -2- octaves), now it starts making a noise kind of like a fly near your ear, but not buzzing up and down, but the notes jump around in that purely impossible way a supra-alto-soprano yodeler’s voice might. With me so far? Ok, now, put a baritone human voice in way below it, resonating with sympathetic overtones to the super-high buzz and changing when the super high notes change. I’m not explaining this well at all, am I?

Let me instead try to tell you what it was like. First off, I got so lost in the song, I honestly can’t tell you if the song was 5 minutes or 15 minutes long. Honestly. Next, one of my first reactions to the music was to grab the molding of the doorframe behind me because I -knew- that there was a real chance of me falling over if I did one of those sleepy long-blinks that turn into sleep. You know the kind. Like when you’re really tired but have to stay up for something; so you crazily think to yourself that it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you just rested your eyes for 3 seconds during a blink. And then you suddenly realize that you’re head almost fell into your book or your car almost swerved into a tree. Of course, you instantly realize that “slow-blink” was a stupid idea but just 30 seconds later you’re thinking it might be a good idea again. Ok, well his song sent my fully awake mind straight into this mode. If I hadn’t been prepared for this, it really would have freaked me out. But as I knew exactly where I was, wow. I hung on for most of the piece.

After intermission, he introduced his Navajo (? I’m pretty sure he said Navajo) drum circle to us. After a song, and at his urging, I got up and danced. There was just two of us dancing and not much room for any more. So they stopped after the next song and rearranged the chairs so there’d be room for us to dance around the circle. There were about 20 people dancing around! Memories of my long-ago trip to a mid-western … (Navajo?) Indian reservation came back. I remembered sadly agreeing with my dad that we didn’t “get” the dances. They all seemed the same. Sure, the drumming and individual foot-work was a tiny bit different in each, and it was interesting to see that the dancers could apparently take their subtle cues from the drums. We guessed that because the dancers always seemed to be doing the exact same non-descript dance, but all the dances and drumming were still pretty much the same. We -wanted- to get something out of it but just couldn’t find a foothold. So Scott and another gentleman talked about the dancing. He said (and I’m going to miss something from his original) something like, “I was asked why all the dances look pretty much the same, we pretty much just go around and around. So I asked her about how the sun comes up every day in the same boring way.” He said it better. It suddenly struck me that most of the dancing isn’t for show but for meditation. This is similar to how Ewe dance moves force a kind of breath control upon the dancer, putting him into a hyperventilation-induced trance state. The Indian dance isn’t designed for the viewers, it’s for the participants. They likely use only slight variations in the dance steps because the participant can easily change and feel the difference without having to break concentration. So, thinking back to when I was 14 on an Indian reservation, why the heck were we just watching? I can now see why outsiders are reluctantly welcomed to Pow Wows. But I really wish that the tourists like me and my dad all those years ago were given some explanation as to what the heck we are watching. A pamphlet or something. I know that my dad lost a bit of respect for their culture on that day, and I can’t blame him. I can sort of understand that there is a feeling of cultural pride that doesn’t want to give away all the inside secrets, but come on, there’s also the matter of cultural survival. It took me (a pretty progressive guy) over 15 years to figure it out and appreciate the good in it. Most other Americans sadly, but justifiably just write it off.

I wish I could say that we danced until morning, as one drum member suggested we do. At his mention, I shouted hopefully from the audience, “We can make it. We’ve still got snacks leftover!” That brought a good laugh. They played while I danced in the circle for a bit over an hour. Their last song was one “for veterans”. They put several modern references in like WWII, the Korean War and 9/11. Very few danced to that one, but I remembered that the sun still rise and set on those days as well. It felt right.

What an evening!

Don’t forget to Spring Forward at 2am Sunday morning. For some completely unfathomable reason, 2:00-2:59:59am Sunday morning will be preempted. I’ve got to finish my rant about that someday.

Term Paper, Cheese Weasel Day

I presented my big term paper to my psychology class yesterday. From an academic standpoint, I didn’t discuss the subject nearly enough. I didn’t justify and round out my talking points nearly enough. I could have gone on for another 30 pages. But I did the classic college maneuver of getting to the right number of pages and then stopping. So I present to you my 6-7 page report on “Children Watching Television: Using it to Advantage and Reducing it’s Harm”

Don’t let this preamble scare you away from my paper too much… The strategies I outline at the end of the document (in nice, concise, easy to read bullet items) is a pretty good list that every parent should keep next to their television.

At the presentation of my paper, I got things going with a bang by getting everyone excited about the important holiday that falls on April 3rd, Cheese Weasel Day! Of course, I gave out slices of Kraft White Singles (the teacher encouraged us to use hand-outs in our presentation!). Actually, I was introducing most of them to the joys of this holiday since most of them come from backgrounds that don’t normally celebrate the day. . . . . . Ok, most of them thought I was crazy, but it got my presentation off to a light-hearted start, and they all got to eat cheese during my talk.

Here is the Cheese Weasel Day FAQ. No, I didn’t write it. I found it… I don’t recall… somewhere on the net.

Most people probably aren’t aware that today (April 3rd) is Cheese Weasel Day.

Q: What the heck is Cheese Weasel Day?
Every year, on April 3rd, the Cheese Weasel travels the world, spreading good cheer and leaving a bit of cheese under the keyboards of all good little boys and girls in the high-tech industry. Kraft Singles were once the cheese of choice, although as time went by the type of cheese became less important than the spreading of dairy goodness and the types and shapes of cheese given by the Cheese Weasel became varied. This was considered to be a Good Thing, especially considering how often most people look under their keyboards.

Q: You made this up didn’t you?

Nope, I didn’t make this up.

C.W. Day is a holiday that evolved on the Internet, probably sometime in the last fifteen years. The first I heard of it was in 1992, and it’s being celebrated quietly by dozens, dare I say hundreds of software and technical folks around the country as you read this. Hallmark doesn’t make a card, and the American Dairy Association is as yet unaware of it, so it’s probably the least commercial holiday going. Hey, we wanted to add some culture to the company, right? What could be more cultured than cheese? There’s even a Cheese Weasel Song!

The Cheese Weasel Day Song
(Sung to the tune of… well there isn’t one that I know of. C.W. Day predates MP3)

Who Brings the Cheese on April 3rd?
It’s the Cheese Weasel!
He’s not a silly bunny or a reindeer or a bird
He’s the Cheese Weasel!
He’s got a funny little tail and funny buck teeth
and he doesn’t bring fish and he doesn’t bring beef
so you’d better be good if you want to get some cheese
from the Cheese Weasel!!!!!

April Fools: Teaching in Nigeria

I played a pretty good April Fools on my parents. As you know, I’ve been trying to get this education certification thing under my belt. I’m signing up for a master’s program SOMEWHERE to get it squared away. Well, yesterday I mentioned to my mom in passing that I had been looking into international scholarship programs for educators. Of course, that was just to line my folks up for tonight’s mischief! So I got in touch with them and had them both get on the line because I had some news to tell them.

We all talked for a few minutes about this and that. And then I broke it to them. “I’ve been accepted into an international scholarship program! I had been talking to someone at the Board of Ed in Warren County… I even saw the guy today and we’ve got this pretty much squared away! I’m going to be spending 6-12 months in an international student teacher exchange program in Nigeria!” I kept talking it up for a few minutes. All the while, my dad is muttering a forceful, “No. No.” under his breath and I can tell my mom’s head is spinning a bit, she’s trying to get the whole story straight. Finally, I came clean, “And you know what the best part about this whole thing is? April Fools!” :-)

The Most Beautiful Snowstorm

Today we had the most beautiful snowstorm. The flakes were just HUGE. I -have- to find the battery charger for my digital camera!! Well, the flakes were coming down in the shape of wispy tea saucers about an inch across! I imagine they tried forming themselves into giant round clumps but on the way down, they were pushed into this shape, like the heat trail streaking off an Apollo re-entry capsule. With all this going on at eye level, I took a glance up at where they were coming from and.. wow. I could see millions of saucers descending down on me like so many mouse parachutes! The flakes were so large that I could see them coming for two hundred yards above me. Each one was ushered around by the gentle wind to go this way and that as they eased their way down to their safe landing on my back porch. It was something, I’ll tell you that.

Bondville Fair Lawnmower Pull

The photo at the top of this month’s journal is of last summer’s Bondville Fair. It’s a really great, small hometown fair. If I remember correctly, the lawn mower (“small tractor”) pull came after the teamed oxen pull and before the big tractor pull. I’ve got to admit that I like this photo because of the ludicrousness of a small tractor pull. But you know what? I think it’s kind of cool hopping on the tractor that you use twice a week all summer for boring work, doing a couple modifications (lead weights, maybe rip off the muffler, tune it up…) and being on a real race track for a few minutes. It certainly makes for some pretty good mowing daydreams during the rest of the year’s drudgery.

I could wax poetical for a long while more about the Bondville Fair. The sheep sheering, darn good live bluegrass, petting zoo, blue ribbon squash, flower arranging competition, quilt displays, rides, pellet stove booth, the smell of summer, the rich lighting and geography of southern Vermont in summer… the whole thing just fills me up.