Current events -- 10/30/07

"Current events"


Remember in school when you had to be able to talk about some current events news item?

My 9th grade social studies teacher demanded that we each had some current event to discuss each day. Pope Pius XII was in very poor health and many students discovered that all they had to do was to say that their current events news item was that Pope Pius continued to be in grave condition... day after day, no need to read a newspaper or listen to news broadcasts... until the teacher finally banned all reports of papal health status.

Of course, as a kid I was a general pain in the posterior and a professional nonconformist, so I never took that easy way out... nor did I slack off and attempt to claim that my selected news item had already been presented by someone else. I always had a unique news item, generally selected from some small story buried deep within that day's New York Herald Tribune, something so obscure and off-the-wall that nobody else would have it. (And the teacher had learned that I was always armed with the newspaper to so I could backup what I was saying.)

Parenthetical digression: we had a choice of two newspapers available in school at special discounted education rates -- the Herald Tribune and the New York Times. I picked the Herald Tribune because that was the Sunday paper we got at home because it had Sunday comics and the Times did not). When I was little we used to get the New York Daily News on Sundays as well. I was annoyed when we stopped getting it because I liked getting two different color comics sections. The Daily News was (and still is) a tabloid newspaper, with the usual tabloid reputation for sensationalism, especially when compared with the more serious and intellectual broadsheet papers like the Times and Herald Tribune).When I was in high school and began sometimes to pick up the Daily News and bring it home, my mother would get annoyed with me. When I finally asked her why this annoyed her she told me that they had stopped getting the Daily News on Sundays because they didn't want to expose my brother and me to trashy tabloid journalism and here I was buying it anyway. Actually, I mostly just bought it for its selection of daily comics, more than twice as many as our local paper carried (the Kingston Daily Freeman). Okay, end of digression.

Now, where was I? Just free associating. I didn't intend to write an entry about newspapers or papal health updates... I had set out to write about why I haven't written anything lately and the title I selected -- "Current events" -- sent me off on a wandering mental path.

Part of not having time to write journal entries came from the workload of taking two courses at RISD (the Digital Design course I'm taking on Thursday nights and the Saturday morning landscape architecture course Nancy and I were taking on Saturday mornings). Fortunately, the Saturday class is now finished. It was a very interesting course, but it made me feel as if I had one too many things to juggle. Some of the blame also lies on the Boston Red Sox. I'm not much into watching sports on TV (except when a major tennis tournament has captured Nancy's attention) but I'm afraid I did get hooked into watching parts of the American League championship series between Boston and Cleveland... and then, after the Red Sox came from behind to win that series, I ended up watching a lot of the World Series. (Good thing Boston swept the series in four games straight.)

And I keep finding other interesting stuff to do. Last Wednesday night I went to a presentation by a local architect on some proposals for making South Kingstown a more Green community. His ideas ranged from turning a dangerous intersection in the heart of Wakefield into a large roundabout, to inserting a tree-lined median strip along the streets leading to that intersection, to building environmentally friendly buildings in the surrounding commercial area, including solar panels on rooftops. There was another meeting on Thursday, which I had to miss due to my RISD class, and then one last night (dealing with this architect's proposal for putting an elevated monorail -- picture the one in downtown Sydney -- along the median on Route 1 between Westerly and Wakefield) that I had planned to attend but I was just too busy with work and cooking dinner (and we ended up able to have a real family dinner since both kids were home at the same time, a very unusual event these days) and work on a paper that is due this Thursday. Okay, so a South County Monorail may be a bit of a stretch, but his ideas about Green design and stopping sprawl from ruining our town do have merit. Some of us who were at last week's meeting discussed forming a group to go to a Town Council meeting to push for consideration of some of these ideas.

Saturday was a really good day. It was the final meeting of the landscape design for the front yard course (which was a very interesting class and also a source of really good ideas and information). We stopped at the RISD store because I was considering buying Adobe Flash because I am learning a little bit about using it in my Thursday class and I would like to do a bit more with it (and yes, it used to be called Macromedia Flash, but Adobe recently bought them). Unfortunately, they didn't have Flash as standalone software, just as part of a package of Adobe software -- all of which I think would be interesting to explore, but the price of the package was more than I wanted to spend (even at the special discounted education price) for things I didn't really need to have. Then, on our way back to the car, Nancy suggested that we stop at the RISD Art Museum. In all the while we've lived in Rhode Island, we've never been to the RISD museum. We'd see an item in the newspaper about some special exhibit and we'd say Oh, we should drive up to Providence and check that out -- but somehow we had never managed to actually get there. So, here we were, walking right past it, sure, let's check it out.


They have got a fantastic collection, so much larger than I had ever expected. They have works by Manet, Delacroix, Monet, CÚzanne, Rodin, Matisse, Homer, Cassatt, Sargent, and much more, a really impressive collection. We expect to return again and again now that we know.

After returning home for a cup (or two) of coffee, we then picked up Nancy's Mom and went to the movies to catch the 5:30 p.m. showing of Dan in Real Life -- which we found to be very enjoyable -- and then went out for dinner.

So -- those were my current events.

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