Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Just for the sake of clarification

Really, there's nothing wrong with gifts that aren't from the registry. The odd part is when it is something that IS on the registry and the gift giver elects to give a different version.

And I think that's legitimately odd.

The process of compiling the gift registry was something I thought about writing about for a while because it does have the odd quirk and difficulty. In the end I decided that it was the sort of problem one really ought to like to have ("I just can't figure out what I want for presents!") and leave the thought unwritten.

The guests are not even in the least a burden. The biggest burden has been vendors who don't seem to have anything to contribute, and maybe some unusually difficult family. Repeatedly we've been talking to someone we've hired and been hoping they would help us solve a problem and been amazed at the real lack of lateral thinking. They've got the way they've always done it and that's about it, and if your situation is outside those parameters they want you to solve it even though they're the ones that do it for a living. I really didn't encounter that much with the vendors I typically dealt with in my project manager days, and its certainly not all of these vendors. Today we actually met with a winner or two. Yet it does seem to happen over and over in this particular niche - like they know you'll wear down and agree if they keep leaving it to you.

All things being equal they are probably correct; doesn't make it any more right or less frustrating.

Also there is an emerging odd class of guests who apparently do not respond to mail, email, or phone contacts. People you'd really like to include in your decision making who are apparently trapped under something heavy.

Its tough to know what to do about them.

Obviously all the people getting married want the event, with the friends, to have the celebration. Some of the bumps in the road are rather more formidable or ridiculous than they really ought to have to be - that's all.

I gather that's just the cost of doing business.

And now, I must go recharge for the the equivalent of the second of what looks like four 14 hour production meetings - an amount of energy I don't believe I have ever been required to devote to any show of any scope.

It'll be worth it though.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Details, details

Have I mentioned before that if this wedding were somebody else's it would have been planned ages ago? As a professional project manager I look at this process and keep wondering why it is so hard. In a prior job incarnation I think the file for this gig would hardly have registered on my desk at all. As far as elements, its not a real big job. It is an out of town gig - that makes it a little more complicated. But really, on scope alone, this is hardly even a mainstage.

The rub is that we're invested. And not only are we invested, but there are a bunch of directly involved parties that are invested. You lose those great planning proverbs:

It'll be dark, they'll be drinking!

and

If they're looking at that, there's something really wrong with the show.

Its those little escape hatches that separate our realization of theatre designs from planning our own wedding. Also, that designer or director you bitch about to your friends at the bar on a show, on your wedding, that person is very likely a parent, or an inlaw, or your best friend.

It makes a difference. This is what turns what would be a run of the mill production in your professional life into the Democratic National Convention.

I actually think being able to see that difference makes it even harder. Every time you get stressed over some small detail you know in the back of your mind that in the grand scheme its really nothing. But you don't have the luxury of the grand scheme - not until the day of. And here is what is likely another difference between planning a gig and planning your own wedding. With a gig, when the day comes, its all for someone else. Usually by then you're on to the next job. Not so with your wedding. That day is for you, and all that prep and angsting pays off for you, not for someone else. Hopefully that will make it worth all the stress.

And then of course, the wedding isn't really about the day, but the life to come. Really that's the grand scheme. And that's a level you can appreciate.

Guest Blogger

Wedding Woes

Getting married is really hard...if I have another day like today, I might have an aneurysm...i've made so many decisions in the last few months that had you asked me in the beginning, I would have said I didn't care about, but it turns out I did...how much would you spend to have a close friend come to your wedding?...if people in theatre ever got wind of much money people in weddings made, we could take over their industry in an hour...too many little crafty projects will ruin any day...even if you know its best not to leave everything to the last minute it seems to happen anyway..."looking you best" is ridiculously expensive and a full time job...is it ok to be mad at someone who is inconveniently sick?...even if you knew certain people weren't coming, its still depressing to get the RSVP... other people's family dynamics are always a mystery...people who seem incredibly successful and smart have trouble following simple instructions when it comes to personal tasks...HOW DOES HE COME UP WITH SO MANY??...the four weeks feel like they are going to be the most stressful weeks of my life...I can't believe we're going away again tomorrow...craft stores have entire "wedding" sections filled with some of the most hideous junk I have ever seen...squares is a dirty word in our house now... tiny chickens don't have very much meat on them...why, if you're going over to visit a friend, would you make your significant other sit in the car and wait till you were done?...why do people buy wedding presents off the registry... How do you end one of these things?..

Friday, May 27, 2005

Thank You

for being statesmen first and politicians second.

There are no Bad Ideas salutes the "Gang of 14"

Bob Nelson (D) Nebraska
Mike DeWine (R) Ohio
Joe Lieberman (D) Connecticut
Susan Collins (R) Maine
Mark Pryor (D) Arkansas
Lindsey Grahm (R) South Carolina
Robert Byrd (D) West Virginia
Lincoln Chafee (R) Rhode Island
Mary Landrieu (D) Louisiana
John McCain (R) Arizona
Ken Salazar (D) Colorado
John Warner (R) Virginia
Daniel Inouye (D) Hawaii
Olympia Snowe (R) Maine

A while back I talked about letting your senators know that the way forward was compromise, not grandstanding. It's a bummer my senators are not on this list, but a good thing that the list exists in the first place. I don't live where I can vote for any of these people, but if I did they'd have earned my vote this week.

Let's hope its the beginning of a new trend toward compromise instead of a one time thing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Vegas Baby!!!

Still no time for the long story. Here's another Reader's Digest version...

Marisa and I had what we thought was a pretty crappy plane trip. We got in, rented our car, and went HERE! to have lunch HERE!

After lunch we went HERE!and checked in. A minute or two to get situated, and we went to hang out HERE! We cooked for a little while, and then went back to the room for a nap before going to dinner HERE! This time Marisa made sure she got to try everything. After dinner we drove around a little, did some grocery shopping, and crashed in our bed.

The next day we picked up Shawn at the airport and then went for what we thought would be breakfast HERE! But after our first plate they turned the thing over to lunch and we felt obliged to just keep right on eating. Then back to the pool for more skin cooking. Another trip to the airport to pick up Mitch and we all took a walk HERE! to see the new casino on our way to dinner HERE! We all had way way too much meat for dinner and decided that the rest of the evening would be best spent back HERE! doing a little gaming and waiting for April.

Saturday we all got up and had breakfast HERE! although April had a burger so I guess maybe it wasn't breakfast. Then once again to the pool for our final body toasting exercise. When we were all more than a little pink we went to have lunch HERE! where we found out that Shawn is a little squeamish around Ferengi. April bought a Tribble in the gift shop. Then we did a little gambling HERE!

We went back to change for dinner. We ate HERE! which turned out to be very cool. Mitch, Marisa, and I all had tasting menus which featured all the "Iron Chef" ingredients: foie gras, truffles, and caviar. Very, very good. The evening's entertainment was HERE! which we booked through these guys! We had a private room, bathroom, and three hours of open bar. It started out crowded, but thinned out and got much better as the night went along. We all got ROCKED. The old people went home just after 2:30 and the young people partied with new Canadian friends, getting to bed sometime before 6:00am.

On the last day we all got up and packed, checked out, and went to breakfast HERE! Which for what must have been the fifth time on the trip was just WAY TOO MUCH FOOD! We finished up, took a group photo, and said goodbye to April and Mitch.

The remaining revellers drove off for some quiet time HERE! I had never been there when it was so green. We saw a bunny, but no tortoise :-(. After that we wandered around a little and wound up HERE! and we decided to go to the movies. We saw THIS! which is another post all together. For dinner we sat on the patio HERE! and had a few beers. Then off to return the rental, the airport to say goodbyes, and home.

A fun time was had by all.

10,000

The hitmap passed ten thousand hits today. That's mind-boggling. Thanks to everyone who checks in.

Back On the Air

For whatever its worth.

I feel like I owe some kind of mega-post on my days away but I don't have it in me right now. Suffice it to say we had a great time, got sunburned, intoxicated - a couple times, stuffed with good food, and even won just a tiny bit of money.

I'll post a more verbose review/explanation once I get up to speed again. Between all the posts I've missed reading and the 88 non-spam emails I returned to I have a lot of catching up to do.

And I'm on my way out of town again in just a couple days.

Interesting enough, without any kind of online component for several days my life did not fall apart or come to a grinding halt. Work at the SOD didn't fall apart (although I did get one call on my cell). So I guess maybe I could work some kind of plan for internet moderation into my life.

We returned to happy, healthy kittens, and to only one Crate & Barrel box slowly dissolving in the rain (although the UPS guy gets a few points for putting it behind the house even though that is why the person looking after things actually missed it - oh well, the best laid plans and all that).

I think all things being equal I could have stayed in Vegas for another month or so before I got tired of it. Unfortunately the money would run out long before then. Still its nice to come home from a trip having fully enjoyed it. Different from most of the business traveling I've been doing of late.

Off to unpack.

Monday, May 23, 2005

49% Complete

Home

Got to love the red eye.

And now, a brief nap.

(I think we left up, maybe close to even. But definitely not in the hole. Woohoo!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Brief Hiatus

At the possible risk of losing my entire readership, such as it is, I am going to TRY to leave the blogosphere for a few days.

Wish me luck!

Ellipses

A day off ought to be a day off... There really is no limit to the number of crazy schemes... Watching the United States Senate can be very depressing... No matter how specific the instructions, someone will think of something you didn't... I am not really looking forward to spring FCEs... The wedding planning is really coming down to the wire... Nothing ever happens on LOST... The Plaxo update is really slowing down... Pittsburgh really didn't have a spring this year... Once again, kittens are sharp... Carbs are evil, but tasty... Why won't they let you wear jeans and sneakers into a club?.. That first 3000 miles went pretty fast... Entertainment is expensive... Do your neighbors get mad when you turn of your wireless?.. The grass sure grows fast this time of year... The Cubs are in town, woohoo!.. Once a Cub fan, always a Cub fan... I am not really all that excited about the Sith... Still not quite done grading Spring of '05... It's hard to be both an advocate and a facilitator... What is up with Bravo and West Wing?.. I now have 136 messages in my "to do" folder, I think maybe I will change the name to "to do later"... I am fairly officially off the payroll... I wonder when the CPU draft is... There's an "&", really...

46% Complete

Day off?

Its occurred to me that I may be incapable of taking a day off. Today was supposed to be a day off. I still worked a couple of hours. At one point I turned what was supposed to be a leisurely walk with my fiance into a currcular brainstorming session. That can't be good.

I've got a weekend vacation coming up. How will I get any vacation if I am still working in my head? What is the magic combination to turn the work thing off?

The year may be over, but I still have quite a list. Would that I had the gift to just set the list aside until the end of August. In the end that would likely work out worse for me. Letting these things go means that when things get going again I am that much further behind.

But consider this: In a scenario where the list really never gets any shorter, does it matter if I fall behind? I'm always behind. There's always stress from being behind. Wouldn't it just make more sense to just chuck everything and get a proper recharge and then start once again at the insurmountable list clear headed and energized?

Already for this summer - on top of the wedding and all it's ramifications - I've taken a job to pay the rent, and expanded it to a supervisory position so that I could help other people pay their rent, I've taken on at least some marketing projects, a search committee, and mentoring of a production. That stuff will all worm in front of whatever course development I am supposed to be doing, as well as any option administration I might have got to - and of course all of that is well in front of any professional development I might have found time to do.

I swear some days I just think I should chuck it and go to the beach. I have a full time gig, why does it keep me busier than stock?

Well, one more day with work this week and then I am going to try to take a long long weekend to relax.

What are the odds?

44% Complete

Monday, May 16, 2005

Run Plaxo update contacts wizard

Yesterday I told my addressbook to update itself. It sent a handy dandy email to every person in my book with a little note from me and a direct link to their contact information in my book. Tonight I checked in and saw this message:

Your address book is 39% up-to-date.

I figured end of the academic year was a good time to do some addressbook housekeeping. So I added the graduating seniors and 3rd years, and added to that whatever addresses I had from a year of conferences and correspondence and then punched the update button.

My friend Brian from undergrad was the son of an Air Force officer. At the time there was this real cool station at NORAD he told me about where a guy could press a button and a bank of lights would go out. At the same moment lights would go out in missile silos all over the country and then within seconds operators in those silos would press a button and the light at NORAD would come on again. They used it as a readiness drill.

The update contacts function on this program reminds me of that. I send out a message and then everyone in the book responds to the message in real time. Certainly the fate of every citizen in North America is not at stake, but it is nice to see the messages come in anyway.

Actually the first thing that happens is several dead addresses bounce. But right on the heels of that, someone sitting at their desk looking for something to do to waste a moment answers, the management page posts a message and updates the percent complete overall.

In a really geeky, homebound way it is kind of exciting.

The last time around I never got higher than 84% complete. People don't answer, or the message is filtered out as spam, or they are some kind of Plaxophobes, or it turns out to be incompatible with their software - last time there was a lot of difficulty with people who were on a Mac platform. Still, I sit eagerly anticipating 100% complete. That would be so cool.

I guess it is the little things.

Commencement 2005

So, that's all she wrote on academic '04-'05. Today our brand spankin new graduates got their sheepskins from the head of our school and marched boldly off into their future (or perhaps dashed off to find work before their graduation loan deferments run out).

We of course wish them all the best of luck.

Commencement is probably the very definition of bittersweet for college professors. On the one hand you are excited for your students who have successfully completed the program. On the other you are sitting there knowing that these people in whom you have made such a large investment are probably not going to see you again anytime soon, and certainly without the frequency to which you have become accustomed. It really is a glass half full kind of day.

The mechanics of students moving on with their lives is I think one of the hardest things about teaching. Over the years I have become good friends with many of my students, and really I do miss them every day. I wonder if this gets easier the longer you teach or if teachers that are in it for the long haul develop some other kind of defense mechanism.

There are other things that are bittersweet about graduation day. Although as an instructor you have been a principle part of the education, your role is really only supporting on this day. This is a family occasion, and a last time for students to see each other. In many ways the faculty and staff have had their time, and on this day are really only there to observe the students living in the other part of their lives, the part that has been in the background during class. Today the teachers move to the background.

Little things too, which parents are introduced, photos you are asked to be in, if your are asked to lunch. All a last gesture from one student or another to cap their time. In some ways it is a shame that such a big day should have to happen at the end of the program, as there are certain to be students that because of some project or some grade are not in the best mindset regarding their instructors just at the finish line. As if the entire experience is somehow dwarfed in the last two or three weeks.

Still the year ends, the summer beckons, and then there will be another academic year. And we do it all again. So I guess it is an overall happy time, even with the tinge it gets from being "the end" for some. Certainly that theme that must play itself out in thousands of commencement addresses is true: for while it is and end to this cycle, it is only but a beginning to another, and another.

Good luck to all this year's graduates. Our best wishes for you in whatever your pursuits.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

We have a winner

Its not a googlewhack, but according to the referral list on my counter if you were to search "insert phallus" on Google right now this site is the first hit.

Thank you Dr. Chemers.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

All David Honor Roll

Spring grades are in. These people distinguished themselves in my little world:

Mr. Harris
Ms. Semler

Ms. Bartlett
Mr. Grathwohl
Mr. Koch
Ms. Lipson

Congratulations to all. Excellent work. Have a great summer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

How do you staff 15 shows...

...with 7 people?

PTMStudent: might I ask if there has been any decisions made regarding the shop setup for next semester?
DBoevers: all hail crazy scheme
PTMStudent: hallelujah
DBoevers: not sure I know another way to staff 15 shows with 7 people
PTMStudent: only 7?
DBoevers: its a crazy scheme, thats for sure
PTMStudent: hehe
DBoevers: no TDs
DBoevers: no ATDs
DBoevers: no Master Carps
DBoevers: just a crazy, crazy scheme
PTMStudent: might I ask for more details?
PTMStudent: and I can swear it will stay between us, if need be
DBoevers: I'm not sure a balanced mind will be able to comprehend the details of the crazy scheme
PTMStudent: lol
PTMStudent: well, you guys should know by now, I am far from balanced
DBoevers: the gist of the crazy scheme is this:
DBoevers: there are 15 shows
DBoevers: and 7 people
DBoevers: thats it
DBoevers: sort of a semi autonomous collective
PTMStudent: ack, borg-esque?
DBoevers: and I think everyone will go to every production meeting
DBoevers: just to make them more cozy
PTMStudent: lol
DBoevers: and then they can ask a question and we can all answer in unison
PTMStudent: lol
DBoevers: redesigning is futile
DBoevers: budgetting is futile
DBoevers: you will be assimilated
DBoevers: maybe it is kinda borg-like
DBoevers: to that end I have already started assimilating drones
PTMStudent: well, in this situation, might it be an option to asign shows with similar scopes to certain people
PTMStudent: i.e.: Have one group that is solely responsible for handling senior thesis
DBoevers: whats with you and all the assigning
DBoevers: its a crazy scheme
PTMStudent: that way they can try and incorporate them all together, and share things that might be commonly used
DBoevers: there's no assigning
PTMStudent: because with all 7 on it together, you might run into too many cooks in the kitchen
DBoevers: well thats what the other 12 people are for
DBoevers: or maybe that will just make it more confusing
PTMStudent: 12 more people? where'd they come from?
DBoevers: I assimilated them
PTMStudent: oh, well...are they paying tuition?
DBoevers: they are
DBoevers: its all pretty devious
DBoevers: or perhaps just plain crazy
DBoevers: hence
DBoevers: crazy scheme
PTMStudent: so how come these 12 are not included in the 7 td counts?
DBoevers: because there are no TDs
DBoevers: titles, assignments - what kind of lunatic are you?
PTMStudent: oh, 12 new first year grads? is that what you're refering to?
PTMStudent: lol
DBoevers: um no
PTMStudent: I guess I just missed something along the way
DBoevers: I believe there are no grad1s in the crazy scheme
PTMStudent: :-DBoevers: it should be posted in a day or two
DBoevers: Mr. Holcomb is trying to make sense of it
DBoevers: he too has a thing for titles & assignments
PTMStudent: lol
DBoevers: plus like spreadsheet cells
DBoevers: and rule one of the crazy scheme is that it is not bounded by spreadsheet cells


All hail the Crazy Sceme:

Let me know if you figure it out. I certainly haven't.

Time's Running Out

From those fine folks at the Pittsburgh Summer Ultimate League:

Summer league registration will close in only 3 DAYS (62 hours). Don't be left out!
As of this morning, about 68% of the summer league playing community has registered.

The clock is ticking! Don't be left behind!

Commissioners will have no sympathy for late registrants that put off registration until it is TOO LATE!

Register now to enjoy the best summer league Pittsburgh has seen yet!


Click here to register:


http://www.pittsburgh-ultimate.org/cgi-bin/league/index.pl?league=summer05;data=registration


--Dara, Susie, and Michael

If you are in town you should play. It's cool.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Spring Crits, day four - Thesis

Last day, job seeking 3rd Year Grads...

Ms. Santamassino:
"An Examination and Comparison of LORT and Broadway Technical Production Models"

Back from readers, revising, congrats.

Mr. Hales:
"Dorian - A Production Technology and Management Project Thesis"

Out to readers, revising, congrats.

Ms. Broughton:
"Protection or Censorship: Are the Arts and Entertainment Industry in Danger of Censorship in the Current American Political Climate?"

Back from readers, revising, congrats.

Ms. Baillie:
"Theatre in Pittsburgh: The Role of the Non-Union Freelance Laborer"

Back from readers, revising, congrats.

Overheard today:

You may not have hit the nail on the head, but you certainly hit the table pretty hard.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Spring Crits, day three

Morning session, intrepid Juniors...

Mr. Davis

"...budgets need work...kept looking for the trashcan...don't treat sophomores like sophomores..."

Mr. Groeneveld

"...fell off the map a little...not a paperwork person..."

Ms. Cohen

"...haven't critted for a while...like the paperwork more than the drawings...really excited about stage management..."

Ms. Buckser

"...applied skills I wasn't sure I had...taking on communications concepts...took this semester to relax..."

Ms. Ikeda

really got jobbed by the photographer..."was dreading physics...learned a lot of school rules...just make it up..."

Morning (right, not) shoe winner:

Caitlin
(although I almost dq'd these for being a repeat of Emily - have to check)

Afternoon session, job seeking seniors...

Ms. Wells

off to LA to hopefully do SM type work for TV.

Ms. Gable

off to LA to do informational videos.

Ms. Kinch

off to LA to seek her fortune.

Afternoon shoe winner:

Stephanie

(although Kristen's were very nice)

There were no good analogies today, but there was a nice euphamism:

"communicating that way"=whining

Also overheard today (talking about me):

"how does he know that?"
"he knows everything."


Nice.

Day 2 Update

I added more to the comments on the day 2 post.

It is worth noting that in most cases these are poorly paraphrased recounting of things said by the critee and are not my opinions or evaluations. That kind of stuff I can't really put here (the all David honor roll set aside).

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Clarification

For anyone who was confused by the all too brief appearance of a student and a giant penis on my site. It was, in fact, homework.

From the assigning Prof:

The object in question, professor B, is in fact a Dionysian phallus-maypole, and it is more on the order of eight feet tall. Five of the students had the assignment to recreate a bacchanal, and this was a set piece they created to do their ecstatic dancing, sacred trance-performance, and dithyrambic hymn-chanting around. Ah, gimme that old-time religion! Who says history can't be [insert phallus joke here]?

Shame on you that thought I was some kind of dirty person.

Here's an expurgated photo for those of you who may have missed it (my likeness used to protect potentially embarrassed students - and likely to horrify others in general).

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Cat Fountain

Today I finally broke down and bought one.


For quite some time now I thought it would be a nice idea to have a recirculating source of water for the kittens. Up to now the problem was that the only one at the pet store was more than $50 and that seemed too steep a price to pay.

Today though we found one for almost half that, just a little more than the bulk waterers without recirculation and this seemed like a good time to stop growing algae in the cats water. That's the problem with the jug water thingys - can't get into the to clean them. So once somethin's growin' in there, you're pretty much SOL.

This one is a lot more aetheticly pleasing than the one I'd been looking at anyway, and I think it holds more water. The one complication is that for the little "dome" thing to work right the fountain must be totally level.

We also saw a really cute little kitten at the same store, but were able to restrain ourselves as our household already has more cats than people.

Now we just have to see if the cats will use it.

The MAN

I got a call from THE MAN. Made me change the last entry. Always gettin held down by the man.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Spring Crits, day two

Grad1s and Sophomores

This year we have no grad1s :-(
Next year we will have grad1s :-)
Next year we will have no grad2s :-(

Our intrepid sophomores:

Mr. Grathwohl...

"...CAD Wow!... Welding was awesome!...don't like woking with people..."

Ms. Fellin...

"...happier... really learned alot...glad to be done with lighting..."

Mr. Jentzen...

...is stilltrying to do everything... did alot last week... liked the hands on...

Mr. Schwartz...

...is an office TD... is not going to be a doormat...

Ms. Lipson...

...is voluntarily leaving us for greener pastures. :-(... doesn't want theatre as a job..."rigging is the best course ever! except for Kevin's..."

Ms. Stone...

...loved the whole Rep thing... worked on the tension grid in spite of herself...

Ms. Burford...

...is having an affair with excel... loves Chicago... likes to organize chaos...

Mr. Torska...

...can really dress for success... likes to "have at it with metal..."

Mr. Harris...

...has decided it's all about priorities.

Ms. Lynn...

...design, PTM, who knows what the future will bring (except more rolls).

Ms. Culver...

...finally posted things like I have been assigning them... loves excell and CAD...needs to put the knife down at 3am...

Today's analogy:

You're working too hard, like your foots all the way down on the gas, but in a low gear.

It is worth noting that today Anne said "fuck" more than once, and also that I did not fall asleep like yesterday.

Winning shoes:

Sasha.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Spring Crits, day one

First day, Grad2s and Frosh.

Shannon is the lone PTM student of the day:



She had a very stylish critboard with all classes represented and a little bit of carnival roller coaster thrown in for good measure. I totally forgot to take pithy notes to publish here.

The day's best shoes were Emily's:



although I think Anne would have given the award to Susan.

I've decided that keeping track of crits analogies might be a good activity. I remember one time I said that to be successful in theatre you really had to love what you are doing. I was saying this to someone that was really unhappy and they responded that almost nobody in their class liked what they were doing either which led me to explain:

You have to love this business like it was your little sister. Some days you just want to smack her, but you couldn't live without her.

Today's best analogy belonged to Anne who told one student that his work was like a big dog, dragging him from place to place. Congrats Anne.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blog fame? Infamy?

Last week I had two interesting blog experiences, if there is such a thing.

The first is something I am quite used to in spheres more pedestrian than the blogosphere. I made a comment on the jill/txt site with a little dry David humor. The next person sort of missed it entirely and wanted to know why Americans have to make everything about George Bush. For a little while I was honestly afraid of what this person I had never met actually thought of me. I was even more upset that I had fouled a blog I like with a little David flamewar (three posts, I know, hardly constitutes a flamewar but you get the idea). I was reminded of another blogger I haven't met who told me they actually had to switch off the comments so that they could keep some interloper from ruining their site. I hope I didn't do that. All appears to be water under the bridge, but I have to say my comment urge has been stifled some.

The next thing that happened was even weirder.

I was looking through the referrer links on my counter and saw one from a site that clearly wasn't a blog, but was a site I had never even heard of. Following the link I found not just a link to my site, but an entire posting crossposted on their site. It is here, most of the way down the page. The entry is slugged "If this were an idea."

In some small way I guess I became a bio-diesel pundit. Who'd-a-thunk it? Think I can count that as an article published when I revise my CV?

Its nice to be noticed.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Waiting

A couple of people have asked over the last day or two if things are slowing down any now that classes are over. Truth is that the last couple of days have been fairly slow, but by no means are the last two days a good predictor of what is to come. More than slowing down, or wrapping up, that last day or two has absolutely been the calm before the storm - you know, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Friday I was waiting for the crush of late and revised assignments to come in. And then Monday I was waiting for the balance of the authorized late submittals to come in. I was really quite surprised that nobody tried to turn in more work today. I guess slowly but surely people are getting the point. It always seemed unfair that people that kept up didn't get much of a bonus over people that simply recovered. The days of that posture are coming to an inevitable end though, and I believe that that's a good thing for all.

Today I am waiting again. Today's wait is for instructors to turn in grades for the semester. I amalgamate all the grades into a report for a meeting we have tomorrow. At least I am putting the waiting time to good use - reading PTM thesis projects while we wait for other faculty to return from the West Coast.

Tomorrow the waiting will end for this phase. There's a full day of culminating meetings and then Semester Reviews begin. Thank you sir may I have another.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Payin' the cost to be the boss

The other day I said "the leader of the free world" had been on television. Since then I've been thinking if perhaps that designation was no longer proper.

When do you think the President of the United States became "the leader of the free world?" Certainly this really can't be from before World War II. People talk about Churchill and Roosevelt in the same way. Often it sounds like Churchill was the bigger wheel. So it must be a cold war thing. The United States did lead the world's free nations during the cold war. So that makes sense.

Does that means that the gig ended with the end of the Cold War?

I think that Reagan clearly fit the bill. He was the leader of the free world. George HW Bush even fits the bill a little. There was a genuine coalition for Gulf War I even if it wasn't the commies that we were fighting. Clinton is a little less clear, but even in his case it did seem like we were moving with a World mandate behind us. Actions in the Balkans, in Somalia, there still seemed to be a consensus in world opinion to back up the effort.

But I also think the luster was fading off the title through that period. Personally I think some of it has to do with the demonizing we saw coming from the Congress and from American media through that phase. My memory isn't a good record here because I haven't been a keen government observer all my life, and in the grand scheme I haven't lived very long, but what I noticed is that the discourse during the Clinton administration became more mean spirited, less respectful of the title even if they didn't respect the man. I guess the rest of the world picked up on that.

George W Bush really doesn't carry the title. Not militarily, not economically, not philosophically. The deep divide in American politics plays itself out on the world stage. I think it is likely that the number of international citizens that might have looked to the President of the United States for leadership in the present is lower than it had been in the past. "You forgot about Poland!" pretty much sums it up.

I wonder who is the leader of the free world now? Is it important that one person wear that hat clearly? Is it worth more compromise at home to provide more of a consensus if it means regaining the mantle of world respect and leadership? Certainly would seem so to me. But what do I know, I build flats for a living.

You know its not that I'm saying that the President of the United States can't be the Leader of the Free World, or even that George W Bush can't. It's just that it feels like we got used to it like both titles came together. If we want to be in that position again, there's some rehabilitation that will need to be done first.