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April 22, 2000

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I am amazingly tired today. That's rough, because I'm at work, waiting for the next four hours to see if anyone wants to stop in and talk to me about the tech office. That's Parent's Weekend for you.

I don't know why I'm so painfully tired, though. Last night I was abed about eleven, getting eight plus hours of sleep before the alarm went off. I should be bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning, when instead I feel like the cold grip of death is on me, waiting to plunge me into a morning-time Hell.

Such lovely imagery. Aren't you glad I'm updating today?

The Weblog seems to be a hit. Stats are up considerably since it was introduced, and it's already the second-most accessed page on the site for the month (after the "current" entry on the Journal). Which, since it's updated several times a day, makes a kind of sense I suppose. Maybe that's the reason for Blogger's popularity. Improve your hit-count today with new Weblog! Now with the miracle ingredient Frauduline!

The downside of weblogs is what they do to journals. Yet another Journaller, Gary, is letting his Journal pass into this good night. He's tired of doing it, which is a perfectly good reason to stop, but he's also talking about coming back and weblogging after he recharges. Which is great, because it means he'll write. But it's also sad, because a weblog and a journal are two very different things, or so I'm learning after weblogging for a week that I also consistently journaled in. (Are either "journal" or "weblog" supposed to be used as verbs? Do I care?) Weblogging is immediate. At least, mine is. It can be totally banal or somewhat interesting or deeply intuitive, depending entirely on the mood I'm in when I write it. And it's easy.

Journalling is more complex. More ritualized, almost. I have to do it from a specific workstation. I have to do it in a program dedicated to it. Spellchecking is far more important. So's the format of the total entry. Journalling is essay-writing, for all intents and purposes. Or monologue. Constructing a careful whole, then sending it all at once.

As a result, weblogs tend to be "reports from the field," while the journal becomes editorial. And that's fine. I like doing both of them for different reasons. One attractive thing about my weblog is I don't feel as pressured to make it consistent. Which is why I threw haiku into it yesterday. I was in a mood to write haiku, so I wrote haiku. It's as simple as that.

Now, the weblog can be exactly the same as a journal. Post an entry or two a day at the most, all longer rather than shorter, and you have a journal, just one without the coding and design needed for a journal. Build a template and then write, write, write. But generally they come out quite differently. And that's appropriate too. They're a different medium. If a journal is a collection of essays, a weblog is a series of notecards. If a journal is a thoughtful journey through a man's life and thoughts, a weblog is a mosaic of that which occurs to you. In a way, it's the difference between writing something out longhand and word processing. You can reach the same end, but one route is a lot faster and in ways the other is more satisfying.

In any case, I intend to continue treating the weblog and the journal as two separate projects, each worthy. They're both a part of Annotations, of course, but everything I do is part of Annotations. But where the journal is Some Days in the Life, the weblog is In The Raw. I should work up custom graphics for it or something.

Parent's Weekend is a big deal at the Academy. These are the Boarding School equivalent of "parent's night," and they only happen a couple of times a year. This is a chance for all of the parents of Brewster students to come in, meet with teachers, see their student in his natural environment (the Lacrosse field). And it's a chance for Brewster to hear what parents have to say, collect parents into groups where they learn what their similarities and differences are, and then hit them up for money.

The presentation I dashed off to last night was one such thing. Not a fundraiser, per se, but an opportunity to reinforce the need for fundraising and their support. In Public Radio terms, last night was one of the thirty second spots thanking contributors for their support. It wasn't pledge week.

And it's good to thank people for their support. We need it. Everything the Academy's doing (and we are not for profit, remember -- and none too wealthy) needs funding and support to make it all happen. You can't change the world on good intentions and long nights alone.

Still, I'm not fully comfortable in fundraising situations. Especially when I wasn't really sure that's what it was. I'm an okay "glad-hander," but there are lots better out there. And it was catered, but there wasn't food I could eat there. They grilled me up some custom pasta, but when it finished it was time to present, and I got maybe four bites of it down total. I was hungry when I got home.

Still, it went all right, and what I learned more than anything else is how enthusiastic most parents are about Brewster Academy and what we're doing. There's a lot of pride in having a Brewster Student for a kid, apparently. And that's gratifying. When I see that, I feel like maybe -- just maybe -- what I do makes a difference to people out there.

I never had that feeling when I worked for Kinko's. Go fig.

A conversation with a parent, yesterday:

"You're Mr. Burns?"

"Yes. Oh, you're [classified - call him Ippy]'s father."

"I am, yes. It's good to meet you. You know, Ippy says good things about you, and I can see why now."

"Why, thank you very much."

"I mean, you can write!"

"Excuse me?"

"On Ippy's grade sheet? Your paragraph shows a real understanding of the English language. I really appreciate that."

"Oh... well thank you...."

"I mean, it's just so nice when you technical types know how to write, is all. Anyway, I'll talk to you later."

"Um... sure. Thanks."

Today it's raining again. It is not, however, the joyous rain of yesterday. This rain is cold and miserable, occasionally tending towards freezing rain. My assumption is it's meant to give a survey of New England Springtime to parents. A beautiful night two nights ago, followed by a pleasant rain yesterday, followed by miserable cold today.

We're being pretty philosophical about the rain. Which itself is New England as well. We're at our most pithy when we can't go outdoors without catching cold.

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