Monthly Archives: January 2009


I am writing this post on my Acer netbook, a Christmas present from Dean.  

What a cool toy!  Small and tidy, it is just over two pounds, but it does everything I need a computer to do. It has an almost full size keyboard, ust right for my small hands.   Definitely preferable to my plan-b, which had been to blog from my iPod touch  I have spent time today setting it up and learning how to use it so that I can take i t on my  trip to  document the journey.

The two functions that I am most interested in are blogging and video chat.   It will work great for blogging.  One thing I really like about it is that it has a universal card slot–so I can transfer pictures from my camera to the computer direct from my xD card.  Today I practiced uploading the pictures to flickr.

This picture of Ori is one of my favorites.


My other must-have application  is video chat.  I am spoiled with the ease and performance of iChat, and am converting with reluctance.  I plan to try out both Skype and Google’s video chat.  I’ll report back.



A couple of months ago I bought a plane ticket to San Diego.   One way.
Recently,  I paid the balance due on my Southern Tier tour.
Yesterday,  I made arrangements to “freeze” my gym membership for March and April.
Tomorrow I am taking my bike to Cycle Loft so that they can take it apart and pack it for mailing.
The countdown calendar now reads 33 days.
This is real.

A family of Duke fans

I spent my undergraduate years at Duke University, and I imprinted on the Blue Devils.  The summer before I was to start Duke a friend of mine from Atlanta who was a year ahead of me invited me to join him for the first home game of the year.  We went, and I was hooked.  In those days the Devils weren’t nearly as good as they are now.  Nevertheless, the student body was endlessly enthusiastic.   While we didn’t have to camp in tents for days in order to get tickets, kville-3the student section was always packed.  We might lose, but we never were out-cheered.


Duke is currently ranked as the top team in the nation.  There are a number of excellent teams (some of which are in our own conference) that could easily contest that honor.  But tonight Duke will take the floor as the favorite against an excellent Wake Forest team (itself ranked #1 only a week ago.)

How is my family going to work to assure that the Devils come out on top?    Matthew will be online, ready to IM at commercials and video chat at the half.  He’ll be wearing his Duke slippers, slippersand a DUKE shirt.   img_7399Lindsay and Casey will be at a sports bar, since they don’t have TV.  Ditto Alex, although his partisanship has to be kept a little under wraps, since he lives in North Carolina and he may encounter Wake fans.  Or UNC fans.  Their motto is “anyone but Duke.”  I’ll be wearing my Duke earrings, earrings1my Duke t-shirt, and my Duke socks.

And the little guys will get into the act too.



Really expensive socks

Today I bought a new pair of socks.  I paid more for these socks than I have ever paid for socks in my life.  I paid more than I usually pay for shoes.  They are not ordinary socks.  They are Gore Bike Wear Alaska socks.

The web site makes irresistible promises about these socks, like: “No more Popsicle toes!”  How could I resist.  I HATE having popsicle toes.  And, having suffered frostbite thirty years ago, I frequently get popsicle toes.   As if the elimination of popsicle toes wasn’t enough, the description goes on to say:  “These socks will have you worry free while keeping you warm and dry.”

I think that socks that can keep you worry free are worth every penny I paid for them.  At least I hope so.

Personal trainer

When I joined the gym last November, clublogoI was a bit at a loss as to what to do with all of the weight machines.  I understood that I needed to do some upper body conditioning in addition to working on my “bicycle muscles,” but I am not very good at reading the “simple” diagrams on the machines that explain how each one works.  I also had no idea how to put together a workout designed to meet the specific goals that I have.  And frankly, I doubted my ability to push myself hard enough to really get the benefit from a weights workout.

So I signed up for eight sessions with a personal trainer.

Once a week I go to the gym and turn myself over to Nina for an hour.  At our first session, she recorded my vital statistics and calculated my fitness level.   She is well-organized and keeps very careful records each week of what I  do, and how I do.  She is extremely knowledgeable, very supportive, and a no-nonsense taskmaster.  She imagines me doing things that I would never have considered, and then I actually do them.   Whenever I think that 10 repetitions sounds about right, she wants me to do 12.   She distracts me with amiable conversation and never asks me questions when it is obvious that I am breathing hard.  When I arrive for my session at the end of a stressful day, she adds some stretching exercises and makes me laugh.  I now know basically how to use all of the weights at the gym, but I’ve realized that I’m not ready to give up my time with Nina.  As a gift to myslef,  I’m going to keep coming to see her until I leave on my trip.

How teenagers view copyright

I know I have mentioned in previous posts the fact that working at a boarding school is not a one-hat job.  Yesterday, I took 18 members of the Andover debate team, the Philomathean Society, to Loomis Chafee for a multi-school tournament sponsored by the Debate Association of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS.)  The students in both the Advanced and Novice divisions considered the resolution:

Resolved: that the United States Government should legalize the electronic duplication and transfer of copyrighted media for non-commercial use.

The tournament consisted of three rounds, during which teams of two debaters took the position of the Affirmative or Negative for the first two rounds, and then took the opposite position for the final round.  I like that format (called “switch-sides” because it keeps them honest.  They have to prepare both sides of the debate.)  Since I have been considering copyright issues during my sabbatical, I was very interested in how well the students would debate the complexities of the resolution.  Because coaches serve as judges, I heard all three rounds.  It was eye-opening.

The best round was the one in which the affirmative team defined the term “copyrighted media” as restricted to music.  In other words, their case supported the elimination of all copyright protection of music, with attendant file sharing over peer to peer networks.  The kids made excellent arguments regarding the extent to which the status quo is broken.  Billions of illegal free downloads are occurring each month.  There is little or no acknowledgment of music copyright, particularly among members of their age group.   One debater likened the situation to prohibition.  It seemed like a good idea, but it failed.  So alcohol was legalized, and taxed, and a lot of problems were eliminated.  (They’d like to see iTunes take over the free download business, because there is danger of viruses on many of the popular P2P sites.)

There is clear evidence that a new business model is needed–one in which users will be able to get what they want, easily and inexpensively (or freely.)  The students believe that the Google model of free service, with the revenue coming from ads, could work.  They contend that artists would not suffer;  rather, they would benefit from wider exposure to their work and would make money from concerts and merchandise.

The most interesting thing to me was the fact that the action called for in this resolution seemed so logical and obvious to all of them.  Even when the debate included other media. (They were totally clueless about the catastrophic impact on print publication of this change.)  I think that those of us who care about copyright need to support creative new business models in hopes that we influence the behavior of this group of kids who have grown up with P2P.  I doubt that anything that we do will be completely successful with this cohort, though.  Maybe what we really should be doing is planning a massive education program aimed at much younger kids.  By high school, it may be too late to change this entrenched behavior.

The phantom of the faucet

They don’t teach you everything you need to know in library school. For example, I never imagined that I’d be responsible, as library director, for a 60,000 square foot facility with “quirks.”

One of the more puzzling of our facilities issues is the inexplicable never-ending automatic-shut-off faucet located in the women’s rest room. The faucets are supposed to turn on when hands are waved beneath them, dispensing an appropriate amount of water before shutting down. For reasons that even the consulting plumbers have not been able to figure out, one of the faucets is over eager, turning on in response to someone walking by, and even (this is one of our theories) turning on in response to sun coming in through the window.

We have been told that there is no way to exorcise the ghost, and that the only solution is to replace all of the faucets with the old fashioned kind, that you actually have to turn on and off. I am not quite ready to go there, but it certainly is disappointing that we are wasting water, particularly during the Green Cup Challenge.