Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Double your pleasure...

A laundry room in the master bedroom closet takes shape. New electrical circuits, water lines, drain lines. HVAC vents relocated. Totally insulated for sound. The only thing remaining is the drywall and baseboards, and a dryer vent line to go through the gaping hole I drilled through the floor, into the basement and out the west foundation.

The students and the faculty are excited to have a laundry room on the main floor. The Headmistress and I are allowing them to bask in their delusions for the time being. That will make it all the more satisfying when I finish the room and we break the news that the new laundry room is OFF-LIMITS to the students and the faculty. Ha! Its the small victories that bring such pleasure.

The only question now is, will two full laundry rooms be sufficient to support the mountain of laundry the Academy produces each day? hm... doubtful. Perhaps a full laundry in every room?

Strangely enough, and most unfortunately, completion of the laundry room is on the critical path of the Academy's Christmas tree. This is due to the rather large washer and dryer that currently occupy the floorspace where the tree is to go, and the fact that there is no other place to store them.

Maybe if I drag this project out long enough, I won't have to put up a tree this year? Let's float that one and check the reaction of the Headmistress (and Uncle Myron). Fasten your seatbelts...

Wanted: Large Refrigerator

This is the artwork produced in one day by the Academy's Art Department. The following advertisement was placed in the local newspaper.

Wanted: Large refrigerator, 12 feet tall, 10 feet wide, standard depth. Must accept magnets. Pre-stocked with India Pale Ale is a preference.

Things I Like...

One of the things I REALLY like - timed circuits. Feel the love, people, 'cuz this stuff makes life so, so, simple.

One of the benefits of a whole-house rewire is getting the opportunity to plan out every switch, every circuit. And we designed three timed circuits for the Academy - one dedicated to the pool filter pump, and two dedicated to timed lighting.

Pool Filter
This circuit controls the, well, pool filter. It shuts off pretty much all night, which allows for water circulation during the hot, daylight hours, and conserves energy at night.

Low-Voltage Lighting
This circuit controls all the landscape lighting in the East and West campuses. This consists of staked walkway lighting, staked up-spots, and suspended down-spots. I set the timer, and forget it.

Line-Voltage Lighting
This circuit controls all the spotlights on the campus, and the entryway sconces. Some are switched, some are not. This allows me to switch certain sconces and spotlights off when I want. Some are also on motion-sensors. The sensors stay off during the day, and come on with the timer, at night. And some are on a dual-motion sensor - this means they come on at half-wattage when the timer activates, and then come on full-wattage when the sensor detects motion. You gotta love that.

My life is so much easier now. I only wish I'd spent some more time designing the timer unit into a subpanel, so that I could run ALL that stuff off one timer, rather than three. Then, they'd all be precisely coordinated, and when the power went out, I'd only have to reset one timer. Live and learn.

Things in my backyard...

This is a lousy picture, but I couldn't find a good way to approach this herd of deer without scaring them off. There were seven of them lying around the leaf pile in the back yard. As I approached, they bolted up and ran - two kept going, and five stopped to check things out.

And this is the growing mountain of construction debris that will sit and rot until Spring, when I can get a rolloff dumpster into the back yard to clear it out. The kids have been building forts among the twisted pile of scrap studs and paneling with rusty nails. We're livin' on the edge, baby.

Waves of Reality Against my Hull

The headmaster got precious little sleep last night. So many things to think about. During the day, the chaos at the Academy has a numbing effect on the brain. After cutting through the fog of another day, the mind wants to dock and run amok in port.

hm, I feel a strange urge to use maritime metaphors this morning.

Anyway, occasionally here at the Academy we announce a "School in Bed" day. On these days, which are precious few, we will lie in bed reading, discussing, and reviewing.

Can you guess which kind of school day we're having this morning?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Third (and ½) Pit from the Sun

We declared tonight "Faculty Night" and set up camp in the courtyard of the West Campus. The idea was that all adult staff would sit 'round the fire pit with libations of choice, while the students relaxed quietly in their quarters.

I am pleased to report that the students all cooperated beautifully..... NOT!

They came to the door at least 500 times, with silly questions like "How do you clean up a gasoline spill?" and "What is fire made of?". All designed, no doubt, to get us to come back inside. I wasn't biting. One after another the questions came, like a pajama parade. To the point that I had to spray the door hinges with some WD40 to stop the squeaking. They simply couldn't stand us being outside, and them being inside. At one point, a female student began appearing at the door with only a shirt on, trying to shock us into shutting the party down. Sorry honey, I've seen all the Girls Gone Wild videos."

So, at precisely 29 minutes into "Faculty Night", and only one day into our "Holiday Shopping Season", we officially kicked off Christmas by offering one of the gifts as a bribe - a brand new "Justice League" DVD was unwrapped and spun up on the dormitory television.

That worked for 10 minutes. Giving in, finally, one of the faculty went inside to keep the students in line while the Headmistress and the Headmaster continued their vigil 'round the campfire, drinking all the more heavily.

I can't wait for "Student Night". Revenge is sweet....

The photo of the firepit was taken from directly above, and a photo of the 5-day, waxing quarter-moon (courtesy John French, Planetarium Production Coordinator, Michigan State University) was superimposed.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chords and Gourds

On this Thanksgiving Eve, with the smells of pumpkin pie emanating from the cafeteria, the headmaster is thankful for much. Especially the Madeleine Peyroux CD that came in the mail today. The Academy's music director added to the entertainment of the first spin by strumming along with some improvised chords and licks.

If you look real closely, you can see the headmaster's Raccoon Gun sitting against the wall in the corner. Yee haw.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hey, Boid...

I used to love the Far Side cartoons that featured the occasional bird. The situations were hilarious. In one of my favorites, a woman reads on a park bench, while her baby lies bundled in a stoller several feet away. Wide-eyed with expectation, the baby boy stares back at two birds having a conversation over him. One says to the other: "Its still hungry, and I've been stuffing worms into it all morning."

I love birds, and I love kids, so I guess that's what makes this particular cartoon special to me. Here at the Academy, there is certainly no shortage of kids, or of birds. Or of squirrels feasting off the handouts of the former, and pillaging the outdoor pantry of the latter - no matter how many times I scare them away, they're back at the feeders within minutes.

Each of the students at the Academy is required to keep a birding journal. They are quite thin just now, but we plan to focus on them a bit more as the weather gets colder and the birds are more visible. We made our own journal template, which includes date, location, time, weather conditions, size, color, beak, behavior, elapsed time, identification, and field notes. We have several copies of the Peterson Field Guide "Birds of Eastern and Central North America", and its companion two-CD set "Birding by Ear". The students use the field guide to identify their bird, then use the CD set to make notes about the bird's call and song. I'm surprised how much they've learned about birds, with just a couple of sessions.

Today the students observed an American Goldfinch and a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. The former was simply feeding at the sunflower seed tower, and the latter was observed taking sunflower seeds, one at a time, and sticking them into a hole it had pecked into the bark of an oak tree. We obtained a ladder from the maintenance department, and climbed up to peek. It had quite a collection going in there - behavior that I had never before seen in a bird.

Here is the list of birds that frequent the west campus. I love them all, but the Gray Catbird is my favorite - they love to perch, hidden from sight, and watch me work. I love their songs. To me, they're almost like pets.

Mourning Dove
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Pileated Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Norther Flicker
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Tufted Titmouse
Black-Capped Chickadee
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
American Robin
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Blue Jay
Black-and-White Warbler
Eastern Towhee
American Goldfinch
House Finch
White-Throated Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Dark-Eyed Junco
Red-Winged Blackbird
European Starling

Monday, November 20, 2006

Macro Deco-nomics

I need to check myself into the Rosalynn Carter Clinic for remodeling and redecorating addicts. I just don't know how to simply live with a house. I feel the need to change everything. And I mean, everything. Sometimes twice.

I modified every square inch of our last property, from floor to ceiling, end to end. I built the kitchen from scratch, including cabinets and countertops, replacing every appliance. I replaced the furnace the A/C, the water heater. I rewired the entire house, replacing aluminum with copper. Every outlet, every switch, every fixture was new. Every hinge and doorknob. Every room received the same molding treatment, with crown, fluted casings, rosettes, custom plinths, window sills, and custom door capitals. I replaced the roof, the siding. All upstairs bedrooms received the same cherry hardwood floor. All downstairs rooms received the same wide maple plank flooring. Every doorway was outfitted with a solid pine, 6-panel door and nickel hardware. Travertine tile in all baths. All new imported bath fixtures. The list goes on and on. The house sold in one day, but to tell the truth, I'm lucky if I broke even.

So now, here at the Academy, we've got twice the property. When I look around at what needs to be done, I am completely overwhelmed. I think I've taken on more than I can handle. The list seems endless. It doesn't help that most of the construction around here appears to have been completed by Larry, Moe and Curly. The good news is, the kitchen cabinets in this house are good to go - nothing required except maybe refinishing the doors at some point. The other good news is.... well, I guess there really is no other good news.

Anyway, because I'm a glutton for punishment, I decided to break it down so it was more granular - more raw, stark, imposing. Its just the sort of thing I like to do for fun. I figured that I'd at least be able to see how much I'd accomplished in the year that we've been here. I've been slowly accumulating the list in a spread sheet, so it was easy to convert everything over to inches.

So here is my list of things to do to the house, expressed in terms of inches (linear, squared, cubed), and showing what has been completed thus far. I'd have done centimeters, except the Academy hasn't adopted international standards yet. I found that by breaking it down this way, I could easily determine that I am about 16.5 percent finished with the work. At this rate, I should complete the remodel in about 7 years.

However, it is important to bear in mind that this list does not include the roof, which requires some major reconfiguration and reshingling; the siding, which must be completely replaced and reflashed; the driveway, which must be repaved; the perimeter fence, which must be rebuilt from scratch; the swimming pool, which requires approximately $30k in repairs; the hot tub we want to put in; the rear covered porch, which must be torn down and rebuilt, including a new slab; the rear patio, which requires the slate to be delaminated and preserved, and the slab to be demolished and repoured; the pool deck which requires the same (not included in the $30k repair bill); or the barn, which we have envisioned as a quaint English-style garden cottage (take a wild guess at THAT number).

The list also doesn't include the outdoor lighting scheme, all on timers, that's already 50% completed. And it doesn't account for the daily jobs that keep me from accomplishing much - like cleaning the pool and the gutters, raking the endless leaves, mowing the lawn, tending the myriad trees, bushes and flower beds, schooling the students, etc. etc.

So, as you can see, the Academy's endowment is quickly shrinking, along with the headmaster's resolve.

Hardwood Flooring188,513
Carpet83,937 sq. in.23,409
Tile303,696 sq. in.12,096 sq. in.
Refinish Hardwood79,273 sq. in.0 sq. in.
Walls - Build427,06 sq. in.54,528 sq. in.
Walls - Paint966,480 sq. in.58,752 sq. in.
Insulation391,680 sq. in.138,240 sq. in.
Ceiling - Build241,058 sq. in.23,409 sq. in.
Ceiling, Paint383,067 sq. in.23,409 sq. in.
Casing11,786 linear in.554 linear in.
Custom Capitals1,278 linear in.0 linear in.
Baseboards8,546 linear in.612 linear in.
Rosettes198 sq. in.72 sq. in.
Custom Plinths2,580 sq. in.60 sq. in.
Crown Molding10,066 linear in.612 linear in.
Exterior Doors, New 14,760 sq. in.2,952 sq. in.
Interior Doors, New51,660 sq. in.2,460 sq. in.
Thresholds1,120 linear in.30 linear in.
Window Sills1,352 linear in.192 linear in.
Custom Cabinets857,088 cu. in.0 cu. in.
Stone Countertops15,240 sq. in.0 sq. in.
Appliances258,541 cu. in.211,561 cu. in.
Windows, New65,808 sq. in.0 sq. in.
Copper Wire, 6, 10, 12 and 14 awg38,700 lin. in.38,250 lin. in.
Breakers, New695 amps695 amps
Skylights, New5,760 sq. in.0 sq. in.
Stone Fireplace Surround10,752 sq. in.0 sq. in.
Closet Configuration1,357,056 cu. in.255,744 cu. in.
Coaxial Cable4,800 linear in.4,800 linear in.
Ethernet Cable300 linear in.300 linear in.
Custom Soffits132,768 cu. in.44,784 cu. in.
Ductwork960 cu. in.320 cu. in.
Gas Line, New3,600 linear in.3,600 linear in.
Smoke Detectors, Interconnected32
Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Interconnected22
Light Fixtures, Permanent12646
Smart Dimmers4130
Wall Switches129
Wall Outlets9292
Ceiling Fans72
Exhaust Fans41
Toilet Fixtures42
Shower fixures30
Sink Fixtures52
Door Hardware (handle, hinge set)263

A full life, a lasting legacy

Another of several entries I began the weekend of November 4.

Some people live life so large, you feel subdued by their presence, like a small flame starved for oxygen. Barbara was one of those people. Except that you never felt that way in her presence - she was a joy to be around, so full of energy, so positive, so supportive. If you were a small flame, you felt large when you were with her, because you fed off her energy. It was after you had spent time with her, and then failed to resist the temptation to compare your own life with hers, that you could feel subdued.

It was a very difficult task to dismantle her apartment. Thank God I didn't have to undertake it personally - it was difficult enough just to see it. Having spent years in the handcrafted furniture business, her place was decorated in a way that mirrored her personality. I remember going in there just days after her death - hesitant at first, I was surprised by how comforting it felt to be there, as though the apartment had become her incarnation. It felt like a visit with Barbara herself.

I admire my sisters for their strength and skill in dismantling it all in orderly fashion. By the time the rest of the family arrived, everything was packed and segregated, according to recipient.

How difficult it has been to accept Barbara's possessions. If I had the money, I'd have kept the apartment's lease indefinitely, and left the contents intact. Then, whenever we wanted to visit Barbara, we could just go there and sit for a while. How comforting that would have been. I look at her things in my house and I think how strange it seems, until I reflect that she'd have wanted me to have them. She'd have wanted us all to enjoy the things she cherished. And that brings some comfort. After all, it is her love, her strength, her determination and her courage that live on in my heart and in my mind - the possessions are simply subtle reminders to treasure that legacy.

When you spend your life opening doors for others, yours shall never close.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blue Hills Hike

This is one of several blog entries that I'd begun the weekend of November 4th.

When you inspire others through love and positive energy, you live forever in their hearts; and thus is the face of mankind forever altered, and infinitely improved.

My sister Barbara never did anything without doing it well. Whether it was shopping for groceries, or building a furniture business, it was undertaken with the same determination to do it the best way possible.

She loved to hike - it was possibly her favorite thing in the world. And for Bostonians, that means you are intimately familiar with the Blue Hills Reservation. The location derives its name from early European settlers who, while sailing the coast, noted the bluish hue in the hills just southwest of Boston. In fact, the name Massachusetts comes from the native occupants of the hills, who called themselves Massachusett, meaning "People of the great hills". The hills themselves aren't huge - the tallest is 635 feet - but they are pocked with steep, craggy climbs that can challenge even seasoned hikers. Barbara loved to lure friends and family into hikes there, then challenge them with races to the top, followed by races back down. Taken at a fast pace, the ascent is trying - your thighs will burn and you'll soon be sucking air. But truthfully, its the descent that can kill you.

It was only natural that we'd arrange a memorial hike for family and friends there. We started at Houghton Pond, gathering in the crisp morning air to exchange hugs and hot chocolate. We began with some ad-hoc speeches, memories and testimonials, conducted 'round a circle in a small overlook. A stiff, cold breeze from the pond made us draw ever closer, and I began to wonder if I'd made a mistake by wearing hiking shorts - by the end, I was shivering almost uncontrollably.

From there, our entourage snaked along Hillside Street, making our way to the head of the Skyline Loop Trail. I ran the first several hundred feet of the trail before I had to stop for breath. I could almost hear Barbara teasing me as she blazed past and ran ahead.

Once at the top, we had to wait nearly an hour for stragglers to catch up. It was a good time to take some photos and watch people interact. It was while taking photos that I noticed the blue backpack sitting on a rock, overlooking the group. It was Barbara's day pack. Suddenly, I was struck by the realization that Barbara's urn was in that backpack. It was one of those hyper-lucent moments when something that had been hazy and distant in your mind instantly crystalizes into sharp focus: she is gone.

The second moment, for me, came after everyone had finally gathered. Through the dense fog of my thoughts, I heard some words, and finally the urn was taken from the backpack. What a gorgeous piece, hand carved of exotic wood. The urn was opened and, one by one, the contents were sifted into waiting hands, to be distributed among the pines and brambles along the trail's peak. That clear moment hit me like a rail-splitter, and I nearly collapsed with emotion. I don't recall much of what happened after that, except that at some point after the ashes had been distributed, I decided I had to leave. I bolted headlong down the trail, raw emotion flowing from my eyes like a wellspring. I think I passed some hikers at one point - I must have been a sight. I don't know how long I ran before I determined I was lost. Finally, I collapsed on a rock, exhausted, and just stared up at the gorgeous blue sky, watching the clouds pass overhead.

When I'd finally traced my way back to the peak, everyone was still there. I stepped off the trail to skirt the gathering, located the cairn that marked our trail and commenced running again. I ran the entire length of the trail, back to the head, and then another half mile to the parking lot.

I am not a runner, by any stretch of the imagination. But I never felt winded. I suppose it was my way of saying goodbye, and it was Barbara's way of helping me do it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Heaven, streaming in 0's and 1's

I am a lousy critic. In 2003 I went on a film binge, watching more than 150 movies. I reviewed approximately 80 of them, and trust me, no film critics fretted over their jobs. I know nothing about film, and even less about music. So I'm leary of writing music reviews.

Of course, that won't stop me.

The other night, I was sitting in the Academy's computer lab, working on some very important.. computer things. In the background, as is always the case, I had the FIOS music channel tuned to the 24-hour jazz station. Suddenly... a voice floated through the room, and like the scent of honeysuckle on a summer day, grabbed my attention and awakened all my senses. At first I thought it was Billie Holiday, but then the arrangement struck me as too intimate. Who IS that?, I wondered. It was Madeleine Peyroux.

Its partly her voice, but mostly her delivery that gets your attention. The voice is imperfect. She doesn't hit every note. She seems to be feeling her way through the notes, trying, at times, to find them. But her delivery is naked poetry - you could strip the words away and it wouldn't matter. However, take the time to really listen to the words, and you will be rewarded. Its almost more than the senses can bear.

Ok, so I'm a sucker for understated blues, especially from a female perspective. I admit it. And she definitely has her roots in the blues - Atlanta, Georgia blues, with a French infusion, owing to nine years growing up in Paris. In fact, on most songs, she strums a Django Reinhardt-ish rhythm from first note to last. And as French influences go, so goes jazz - layered into the mix with the occasional muted trumpet or saxophone solo, and with phrasing that accents dissonant, unresolved chords.

She wraps herself around a song like a harem cloth, and you can actually feel the gauzy texture of her voice. With her phrasing, each song becomes a walk down a tree-lined country road, shoes in hand. Or maybe its a cobblestone street in Paris. Both work equally as well. You can close your eyes and feel it.

Make no mistake, she doesn't have the pipes. That's why the production is studio-intimate. Its like she's singing to you over coffee at the kitchen table. But she's got phrasing to rival Billie Holiday, and that's no exaggeration. She owns every song.

And in two days, Gods of Amazon willing, I will own her CD.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Turn left in t-h-r-e-e seconds...

I love road maps. Adventure lies in the imperfect interpretation of their perfect detail; you can find a thousand routes to a single destination. And that's what I dislike about GPS. Its so inflexible and uncreative. Its an algorhythm. Give it a destination, and it will analyze gobs of data against a set of parameters and determine the ideal route. But, according to whose ideal? Sure, the Jersey Turnpike gets me there faster, but I'd rather take a hot poker in my eye. Where are the curves? Where's the scenery? Where are the great local eateries?

This is how I feel about Calvert, except its worse - I don't even know where I'm going. I've got explicit GPS directions, but where we'll end up is anybody's guess. I'm not teaching my kids anymore, Calvert is teaching them. Just so I can get that rubber stamp: "You've done well, Jim. You have met our standards. You have been assimilated. Welcome to the club."


See, I really don't care about those standards. Is that wrong?

Here's what I think is missing from homeschooling - a clear destination. There are all kinds of materials out there to direct you to some destination, but there is nothing that truly defines what the destination is. They give you all the maps, but they never tell you where you're going. Its like someone programming your car's GPS system, and then handing you the keys. You follow the instructions, but you don't know where its leading you... Ooh, that sounds adventurous, come to think of it - I've got to get GPS so I can try that. Ok, so maybe its not quite like that. But it seems that even tools that try to outline the destination seem to get all balled up in the directions. Goals, milestones - call them what you want, but they are sorely lacking.

So here's what I'd love to do. Create the goals. Develop a guideline for homeschooling parents who want to know where their kid should be at various milestones. "By the end of second grade, your well-developed child should be able to:"

c... etc

Could it be that simple? If I had that guideline, I could turn the GPS off, and take the scenic route. It'd be a lot more fun, and eventually I'd meet back up with all those folks taking the Jersey Turnpike.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Church-goin' fool...

I am devout, in my own strange way, but I avoid the church as one might seek to avoid the Bubonic Plague. I don't shrink from Divine judgement - its judgement from imperfect mortals such as myself that gives me heartburn.

Notwithstanding, this morning for the first time in 10-15 years I went to church. The headmistress has been wanting to find one since taking the helm at the Academy, and for some reason, we picked this cold and rainy morning to venture forth. The church is only blocks from the Academy, and it was the first service since construction began nearly a year ago. I was drawn in by, of all things, the aesthetic of its post-and-beam architecture. Certainly not the most noble of motivations, but hey, it got me into the pew, drinkin' the kool-aid. It felt as though I'd never left. Looking around at the congregation, so neatly dressed and sporting their behavioral "Sunday best", I couldn't help but wonder why all these seemingly perfect people had come to church today. Presumably to save me.

So I admit I'm not a big fan of the church - any church. And let me just say that I KNOW its all me, that my cynical distaste for the church is just another sharp flaw in an overflowing quiver. I know that most of the people there are sincere, and that they derive mutual benefit from the weekly fellowship. Maybe its my Catholic upbringing, or maybe I just don't like hypocritical, judgemental preaching, of the holier-than-thou variety. Yeah, I remember getting lots of that.

I can't say that today's experience has greatly improved my outlook. But churches sure are lovely. Maybe if I just keep going for the aesthetic stimulation, I will eventually drink enough kool-aid to be transformed. Now that would be dialectic poetry.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One man's treasure...

A glazed ceramic cornucopia. Much to my mother's dismay, this was my dad's prized possession. He brought it back from the Caribbean and displayed it proudly in the "library" of their Florida home, as though it were an original Remington.

This might have been the end of the story, except that cold New England nights had saddled my dad with seven kids. Four wicked, scheming, twisted daughters, and three fine sons. Trust me, that cornucopia had it coming the day it arrived.

It started innocently enough. Some of the daughters, on a visit, decided the cornucopia would look good in the bird bath, which my dad cleaned faithfully each morning. Ultimately, it was his reaction that got things going - he was pissed. Let the games begin.

Over the years, the cornucopia managed to find its way onto the toilet, onto the roof, into the car, over to the neighbor's, into the clothes dryer, just to name a few places. On each visit, the previous prank would have to be outdone, and on each visit, it was. I'm not sure if my dad's reaction was intended to stop the pranks, or to keep them going. At any rate, whatever the intention, it certainly kept them going.

When my dad passed in 1992, the daughters claimed the cornucopia as a symbol of their torment - er, his memory. Since then, it has passed from one to the other, as a sort of gift. Each time a sister visits another, the cornucopia is snuck into the host house, and stowed in an inconspicuous place, to be discovered at some later time. The last person to have it was Barbara.

This weekend I drove to Boston to attend a memorial hike for Barbara, and to help clean out her apartment. She had recently purchased a new washer and dryer, and I had loaded them into my truck to take back home with me - a very difficult thing to do, but that's another blog, entirely.

When I arrived home and unloaded the washer and dryer, I found the cornucopia inside the dryer. Touché, sisters. Let the games begin.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Place Marker...

So much to write about - the trip to Boston, the memorial service on the Blue Hills trail, the packing of Barbara's apartment. No time for it now, unfortunately.

Busy is good right now. Yes, busy... must keep busy...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Belly v. Butt

The headmaster sincerely wishes the endowment supported male-only enrollment. Unfortunately that's not the case, so we have to cope with a student body that's squarely co-ed. And the co-ed situation brings with it certain issues.

Yesterday, two students were caught playing "doctor". One of the students was overheard telling the other that babies are delivered "through the butt". The other student argued that they are delivered "through the belly". A small fight ensued, whereby the headmaster had to intervene. "Look kids, everyone knows that babies are delivered through the left nostril". Whereby the headmistress got involved. Doesn't anyone value humor anymore?

I pulled the young male student aside and gave him a good talking-to. But I chose not to focus on the issues of child birth, 'cuz, you know, that conversation always leads to the conception conversation, which sends me running for the man-fridge. So I focused instead on the issue of effective debate. I told him it was important to pick his battles - that every argument didn't have to be fought and won. I stressed the importance of winning, but only when it mattered. Sometimes, I told him, you need to recognize that the battle is unimportant, and walk away.

He seemed impressed. Then he went around the corner, and was overheard saying "See, I told you it was the belly."