On hunting the Dog

I was wondering where Greg had gotten to; turns out it’s a Black Dog issue. Glad to see you back, Greg, and don’t apologize for taking time off. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

He also points to a possible source for the Black Dog metaphor: Winston Churchill. I didn’t have any idea that Churchill was depressive, much less that he used this analogy, but I dug deeper and found a book about it:
Churchill’s Black Dog
, by Anthony Storr, a series of essays on the success of creative individuals and their motivations.

Poulson Reed: Virginia Gentleman … and Curate

My old friend and mentor Poulson Reed was my first section leader in the Virginia Glee Club. I credit him with my early vocal realizations about the importance of listening and blending one’s vocal tone with the section around you, as well as just generally showing me that it was possible to enjoy (and participate in!) the hijinx of the Glee Club while still remaining a gentleman.

I had lost touch with Poulson since he graduated, so it was an unexpected joy to see this note from fellow alum Dave Ryan:

On January 18th, Christopher Corr and I had the distinct pleasure of attending Poulson’s ordination and installation as Canon of the St. John’s in the Wilderness Episcopal Cathedral in Denver, CO. It was an amazing and inspirational event, with many in attendance, and angelic choir and orchestral music.

You can see Poulson at his new gig on the cathedral’s staff page. Congrats and Godspeed (or something), Poulson.

Parallel lives

I was sitting in my office one day last week when someone stopped by to ask the way to Building 4. This isn’t uncommon, as our buildings are a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. But something about this guy seemed familiar. I could see he had a contractor badge but not his name. What was it? Joe something.

I hit the company directory and found the answer. There was the name I remembered, apparently now working for McKinsey. And in Redmond.

This was so uncanny. Joe and I had been at Virginia’s Governors School for Science and Math together in the summer of 1989; had gone to the University of Virginia together; and had started work at American Management Systems at the same time. Now, a year and a half after completing his MBA at Michigan, he was in Redmond on a consulting engagement.

Parallel lives. Really parallel: Joe and I never hung out much in college, he was in a different business unit at AMS and spent much of his time in Germany, he did his MBA at a different school a year earlier, and he won’t be in Redmond after next week.

But the final coincidence is that he was at Michigan with my friend and former AMS co-worker and teammate Larry Weyer. If three coincidences are a conspiracy, what are four???

Lunch with the President—updated

So President Casteen came to lunch. A few interesting bits. Apparently the General Assembly continues to cut funding for education, after what Casteen characterized as exceptionally stupid budgetary decisions in the late 1990s (*cough* repeal property tax *cough*). So public funding for Virginia is going from 12% of the budget down to about 7% over the next two years, and tuition, which has been capped in-state at $4,500 a year since about 1995, is going to rise over the next four years to about $7,500 a year. (To which I say, after having paid about four times that a year for my graduate degree, So what???) Anyway, the school is going to continue to work at becoming self-sufficient.

Other stuff of interest: one silver lining with the whole Pep Band/WVA flap may be that it raises interest in why Virginia has no marching band, namely (among other reasons) the lack of emphasis on the performing arts; another residential college is planned, to abut the new basketball stadium (which will also allow rock concerts, apparently. And there will be a new contracted promotional agency, resolving the painful PK German situation once and for all). And there will be another capital campaign to grow the endowment so the school can go completely to self sufficiency. Anyway, other than running into Monica Nixon, that was about it.

RIP, Charles Vandersee

The man who was the dean of the Echols program at Virginia, Charles Vandersee, died of a heart attack on January 2. Vandersee, an English professor, was the dean of the Echols program from 1973 to 1997. Under the program, students had considerable academic freedom to pursue their own courses of study—no major requirement and no required courses.

I wish I had known Dean Vandersee better. I confess that at times I was driven to mild mockery by his donnish demeanor, calling him “DJ Chuckie V (In Full Effect).” I was also less than pleased with the Echols program, primarily because its full social and intellectual benefits seemed reserved for students who lived in the program’s main dorm, Watson (I was a spill-over student and lived the next dorm over). But I always respected him for what he represented: the liberal arts, in the best sense of that phrase. The University is a little poorer for his departure.

Sports fans can’t take a joke, Take 2

Thanks to Gary for bringing this to my attention: apparently West Virginia fans, and the Continental Tire Bowl, can’t take a joke any more than Virginia fans can. Apparently during the bowl (in which Virginia steamrollered West Virginia), the Pep Band did a parody of “The Bachelor” during their halftime show that featured a man choosing between two young women, one of whom “had blue overalls, pigtails, a talent for square dancing and a dream to move to Beverly Hills, Calif.—a reference to ‘The Beverly Hillbillies.’” The firestorm was raised despite the approval of the script prior to the game by bowl officials, who state that the Pep Band won’t be welcome at future Continental Tire Bowls, though they would “be happy to have a Virginia marching band, if they should have one.”

I’m currently experiencing a little déja vù. Someone wake me when this is over.

Two more ’Hoos with Blogs

Greg points to two relatively recent additions to the Blogosphere: Lisa Guernsey and Rob Krupicka. They’re husband and wife and both Virginia alums, but have very different takes on the blog world: Lisa is blogging about search engines and their social meaning, and Rob is blogging about his newly announced candidacy for Alexandria City Council.

What Greg does not mention, probably because he doesn’t read the Reverse Cowgirl’s blog, is that this is the same Lisa Guernsey who kicked up a sh*tstorm recently with her article about women who blog for the New York Times. Lots of people chimed in: the Reverse Cowgirl was particularly vociferous, claiming that her thesis was that “in the blogosphere, male bloggers dominate and women bloggers are oppressed.”

The RC also noted that Lisa appeared to have visited about six blogs before settling on her thesis that the men outnumber (or at least out-shout) the women in the blogosphere. But how would she have found the other sites? If you’re a blogging journalist, you’ll read other blogging journalists, which leads inexorably to Andrew Sullivan and the male-dominated warblogging world. But what if there were some other way to find blogs based on your affiliations? I wonder whether it isn’t time for some sort of registry of Hoos Who Blog.™ I know, I know, we have all these blog indices already, but to the best of my knowledge none of them have alumni affiliations. If Classmates wanted to be cool they’d add a spot for Weblog URL in their online profiles and allow you to search just for fellow bloggers.

Final score: Virginia, 48-22

What a game. After the third quarter, I figured there were no more surprises, but a few last minute rallies by both teams kept the excitement up all the way. Unbelievable running game by Virginia, particularly Wali Lundy, who had 301 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in the game. A first year, thank you very much.

Up early for football

So what could get me out of bed and blogging at 8 AM on a vacation Saturday morning, anyway? Why, the Continental Tire Bowl, of course! The inaugural game features Virginia vs. West Virginia. So far Virginia has scored three touchdowns—one as I was writing these words with an amazing interception and 69-yard run, one on fourth and inches, one on a double pass trick play. Heck of a game so far and well worth the sleepiness.

Thinking about Jefferson

Just finished reading Mr. Jefferson’s University (along with its other virtues, it’s mercifully short). Wills makes the case, which is well known to all aficionados of the history of the University except those who graduated from it, that the buildings of the original Grounds did not spring fully formed from Jefferson’s mind but were substantially influenced by the work of others. In particular, Wills calls out the work of Benjamin Latrobe, the architect of the US Capitol Building, who was said to have provided Jefferson with a folio of elevations for the pavilions of the University. Wills makes the case that, even if the façades were Latrobe’s design, Jefferson’s genius was in the original vision and the adaptation of the architectural ideals of Palladio (and one supposes Latrobe) to the realities of the hillside site.

Reading the book made me homesick. I went back to the Holsinger Archives at Virginia’s library web site for a UVA fix. Nothing like a little hundred-year-old photography to realize the enduring character of Jefferson’s vision.