Communications Blackout

For the last sixteen weeks we have had intermittent contact with our eldest daughter on her study-abroad semester in Uganda. We have been content with the occasional email, Facebook status update, wall post, or message, a text here and there, and a few computer to mobile Skype sessions.

Loss of SignalAfter completing her formal study-abroad program our eldest went with a few of her friends from SIT:Uganda and spent a few days on the beach in Mombasa. Sitting on the beach, reading, and sipping piña coladas sounds fine enough, I guess. But now we have to endure the communications blackout of her being in transit.

Instead of taking the bus from Mombasa to Nairobi (saving her eight hours of travel, and us eight more hours of anxiety) we booked a flight on Kenya Airways through KLM. She was already booked on KLM from Nairobi to Amsterdam anyway so it seemed like a good fit. What we hadn’t counted on was the inability to communicate. Final reminders about flight numbers, confirmation numbers, etc. It might have been easier had she not been without a computer, too, courtesy of some asshat in an Internet café in Kampala swiping her little sister’s netbook and dropping it in a puddle.

So for now we’re taking things on faith, reading the re-entry guide from SIT (PDF). And refreshing the screen on the KLM and Flightstats web sites. Tomorrow we hope for the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things unseen.


My Brain… Hurts!

If you’re like me and lead a fairly sedentary life despite the best of intentions, you know what it’s like after you get some unaccustomed exercise. A day or two later and your muscles are complaining because of the hike up (and, even more so, down) the mountain, raking leaves, or what have you. After another day or two of sitting at a desk, in front of a TV, or behind the wheel, it’s back to normal – until the next time.

"Shh! I'm studying"My brain’s been feeling this way a little bit lately. For some time I have been reading about and going to the occasional conference session on performance measurement and performance management. Pardon me a.) for being late to the game, b.) stating the obvious, and/or c.) boring you to tears, but the application of various kinds of performance measurement and performance management has become more and more important in local government (and, consequently, in what I do) over the last twenty or thirty years. Not long ago I received an email from the Collins Center for Public Management at UMass Boston about an online course and I thought it was time to take a more serious, organized approach to learning more.

Unaccustomed exercise? Oh, yeah.


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Over the holidays I was complaining to one of our daughters (ten points if you can tell me what building they’re standing in front of)

that Rhapsody had turned its back on me. After waxing so, um, rhapsodic, about it only a year ago the twenty-five free plays a month have dwindled to… let me see… ummm, none.  Okay, I know a big part of the Internet is about making money, but I was really not happy to have my listening (and exploring) habits crimped by Rhapsody’s profit motive – though you can still get a fourteen day free trial.

Fortunately, not all is lost.  As our youngest (L) enlightened me, there are other sites where music is still available for (at least for now) an indefinite time, for free.  In particular, she turned me on to Grooveshark, a music sharing, streaming, and recommendation site.

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With Heart and Voice

Richard GladwellFor about thirty-five years Richard Gladwell hosted “With Heart and Voice” on public radio.  I was a regular listener for fewer than ten years until Maine Public Radio mucked around with the schedule.  During my years as a regular listener Richard was a welcome companion on Sunday nights, sharing his seemingly endless collection of choral and organ music while I listened and wrote in my journal.  Feeling somewhat adrift over the last few years I have been reaching out, and back, to those things that seemed to keep me most anchored, including “With Heart and Voice.”  It wasn’t until last week, looking around for one of those anchors, that I discovered that Richard had been diagnosed with brain cancer earlier in 2009 and died only a few weeks ago, on October 15.

While “With Heart and Voice” often followed the liturgical calendar it was not, and is not, a religious program.  Regardless, it would be impossible to deny the role of the church in the creation of what is, in my estimation at least, some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring music ever written.  Of course, this presupposes that you find choral and organ music appealing, but I am glad to have enjoyed the music – and the words – Richard Gladwell shared with his listeners for so long, and that I have come to hear so much more of that music.  Every time I listen to “Trumpet Tune in D” by David Johnson I will expect it to be followed by a familiar voice.  If you’re not familiar, you can hear WXXI‘s tribute here.