Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jeff Tweedy

Rolling Stone Magazine August 27, 2015
While I was in Europe this summer, the Czech Republic to be precise, we were staying in an apartment on the top floor of one the buildings that circle the old square in Prague. It was an exceptionally hot summer there this year, not unlike the time that I visited this magical city 20 years before. Because we were at the top, the apartment was stifling hot. The owners had set up a portable air conditioning unit and said to run it to keep some of the heat out. The lofted space seemed to attract every ray of the long summer day as the unit didn't put a dent in its intensity.

But the apartment did have WIFI. And when sleep evaded me, I scrolled through my IPhone, which worked anywhere there was WIFI, and found a present in my inbox: Wilco's new album. I love me a Wilco album. I have been traveling with a notebook computer as well. And though it can be a frustrating machine with a small keyboard, I was able to download my free copy of 'Stars Wars.' And in that heat, in the garrett above the square, we listened to the whole album.  And I have been listening to it every since. It is one of my favorites.

But what was so sweet about it is the fact that it was free. And didn't I predict that once U2 gifted their latest album to all ITunes users, someone would follow suit. And that the bugs in the system of free distribution would be ironed out, and everyone would be happy with the gift. That's a lot of 'ands.' I didn't hear anyone complain about getting a free Wilco album. I think that U2 took all of the punches for that one. And, here I go again with the ands, is okay. Someone has to go first. Leap into the unknown. And experience what a fickle and critical audience can become when they get something that they don't want even when it is free.

I them both. And both have made me immeasurably happy.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lessons of the Game

Rolling Stone September 10, 2015
Ah, the NFL season. It's a great way to begin the school year and move into the colder months. Since I am back at school, I've had a lot to think about. Last year, for lack of better words, sucked, and this summer was particularly charmed. The universe seemed to know that I needed a good one to recover from the bad school year.

Back at school in what will be a transitional year for me. I am teaching a different grade level, moving on from some school-wide responsibilities and going toward others. Transitions can be tough. And I want to learn how to manage it without fear.

I was talking to a friend of mine after the first day of teacher back to school business, and he asked me how it was going. I told him that I had decided that if I didn't have anything good to say about my job, I wouldn't say anything. He asked, 'so what was good?' I replied, 'I don't have much to say.' And I left it at that. Before, I might have gone into a 15 minute soliloquy about this and that and the other thing. But to what end? Complaining about ... well, anything, isn't really very productive or satisfying. I know that the next time that he asks me this, I will be able to say something good. Not after the first day, no. The re-entry was brutal, but as time moves, so will I.

And then I read Rolling Stone's NFL issue. I had the mind to just flip through and look at the pictures, but I got caught up in reading about Andrew Luck, Dez Bryant, and Russell Wilson. I love to read about how athletes, especially elite ones, think. I was particularly interested in Russell Wilson. One of my new responsibilities at school this year is Athletic Director. I have watched Russell Wilson speak before, and the thing that I always noticed is his 'Go Hawks' whenever he steps off of the podium. I decided to copy him, so in all of my correspondence, I end with 'Go Eagles.' We are the one of the most rinky dink sports school around, but we can puff ourselves up and learn to live the whole sport experience. Team, pride, and spirit are essential skills that athletics can teach. You don't have to win to learn that.

In the Russell Wilson article, I found exactly what I had thought is how I am going to approach the school year. I watched the Super Bowl, of course, and I rooted the Seahawks because of Wilson. I saw the fumble at the goal line with seconds left and the Hawks' exquisite loss to the New England Patriots. In the article, it is clear that it has become the question that is posed to Wilson, 'what happened?' He typically responds, 'I don't know.' And why not leave it at that. It can be analyzed and explained  until it becomes the only thing that happened in the game. In a career. But not Wilson. Like many professional athletes, Moawad has a motivation coach, Trevor Moawad. In the article, it said: "Wilson and Moawad didn't spend the off-season rehashing the interception; instead, they spent hours watching video medleys of Wilson's best plays. "A lot of people catastrophize things and fall off the mountaintop," Moawad says, "Russell doesn't."

A lot of people catastrophize things and fall off the mountaintop. That is it exactly. He and I are thinking the same thing. Yeah, I'm only going to watch, or talk about, the best plays this year. There's nothing to say about the fumble.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

End of Summer

I have been on an hiatus of sorts in what has been a busy summer. I have the luxury of many weeks off, and this summer was spent well traveling, spending time with my favorite people, and doing only a little work here and there. This post will be simple ... I need to get back into the groove of regular musings, so I will only post some of the snapshots of my most recent jaunt to the West.

A ride through the redwoods in Northern California on the skunk train.
A flight of California reds on an old Pullman car chugging through Napa Valley in California.

A gorgeous display on the foggy coast of Northern California in Fort Bragg.

I love trees. And the redwoods are spectacular.
Made it up to Seattle and couldn't resist driving by Kurt Cobaine's last residence.