Our Last Retro Post (For Now): 10 Years Ago Today, 30-Aug

For the last few weeks, we’ve been observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ve reposted articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they were, bittersweet. We’ll be back to our regular irregular posting after this last retro entry.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Well, no more Retro Posts, folks … we made it successfully past the one-year mark and what a year it’s been. I’ve forgotten lots of things that happened, but I do remember one thing: The trees were still green this time last year!

‘Yesterday:

PosingInFlowersFallColorsDeadAshTree

‘« Our Life in Michigan – Another Sunday in Frisinger Park » More Autumn Colors

‘and one week ago:

HowlingToGoOutKnapweedFallColors

‘« Our Life in Michigan – Lazy Sunday in Frisinger Park » Fall colors already??!!!

‘I suppose that it will be snowing by the middle of October …

‘—Posted by Steve at 12:20:01 | 30-Aug-03’

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 29-Aug, Part 3

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘The first squirrel encounter … and it’s been a year of lots and lots of squirrel encounters!

‘[Yes, it has — I thought I’d had my exposure to the spectrum of squirrels at Stanford. But they’ve got nothing on Midwestern squirrels. Damn. – Frank.]

Poor Bayley

‘Oh, yeah: the beagle had a run-in with a squirrel today. He started howling at something when we were taking a nap this afternoon that we assumed must be the mailperson or a delivery man. Steve went down to investigate and found a squirrel chattering and gesticulating wildly at the poor dog from the other side of the back-patio glass. The rodent was royally pissed that this big, yowling creature was in its territory, and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. Poor Bayley.

‘—Posted by Frank at 23:00:01 | 29-Aug-03’

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 29-Aug, Part 2

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Settling in …

Ann Arbor: Days Seven and Eight

‘After orientation yesterday, I walked home from central campus, all the way down State past the underpass of East Stadium. It’s about a mile and a half, roughly the same distance from Keller and Mountain to my house in Oakland. It was a muggy, hot evening, undergrads were still moving into their dorms and their houses on State, and the atmosphere was carnival-like. I can’t say I loved the walk, but I’m glad I did it and got a physical, visceral feel for my surroundings for maybe the first time.

‘Finally having gotten a few minutes to breathe and catch up on sleep, I went out late today (the first part of the day having been spent fighting a massive headache) with Steve, not to do anything in particular, but to explore. We got cards at the Ann Arbor District Library, which seemed pretty well-stocked and nicely appointed and had a huge-assed translation of Tyndale’s Old Testament on the shelves. (It turned out I’d been maybe two blocks south of the library when I got lost on Wednesday, which for me is just par for the course.)

‘We drove around the north edge of town and Steve showed me some of the other houses and complexes he had looked at when he was here in July. The town is incredibly green, as I have mentioned, and the green seemed lush and spellbinding today. There is litter, occasionally, but when you see it, it is a shock rather than business as usual. The town is also what you would call sprawling, not necessarily in the business and university district, although those are sizeable, but in the environs. We drove over the Huron River and it looked incredibly beautiful. I feel fortunate to be here.

‘This is not Pollyanna talking. I don’t like the way some of the locals drive. And I’m still trying to develop a thick skin about the occasional glares we get when we’re out and about. But I could find things to complain about anywhere we would have moved: South Hadley, Chapel Hill, wherever. So far, Ann Arbor has exceeded my expectations.

‘—Posted by Frank at 23:00:00 | 29-Aug-03’

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 29-Aug, Part 1

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Rethinking things …

Developments

‘Our blog (specifically, my entry about the library-lessness of orientation yesterday) has been linked by librarian.net (which I found out after getting a couple of e-mails from alums of the SI program indicating that my experience with orientation was, shall we say, not unique). I don’t know whether to laugh or pack my bags. No, seriously: thank you, Jessamyn West. I have always loved and respected librarian.net and consider it a privilege to have been linked (and quoted to boot) by you.

‘My remarks yesterday were written at the end of a very hot and exhausting day. I want to say a few things in my own defense, and to make some necessary amendments to what I said yesterday, and then I will shut up on this subject (for now).

‘Number one, the students I have met have been friendly, unpretentious, motivated, highly intelligent, and excited about the project in front of us, which is always good news. Every single one of the students I met in my scavenger hunt yesterday was a pleasure to talk to and to interact with, and like I said, I had a great time with them discovering some of the i er sanctums of central campus. I look forward to working with the students I have met and to meeting many more of them. I also have to admit that I haven’t met as many people as I “should” have. I am what you call an INFP, and that personality profile doesn’t definitionally align itself with a number of the behaviors that social events like orientation are designed to encourage. But I definitely look forward to meeting other students and my professors in less intimidating settings.

‘And, despite my comments yesterday, I absolutely look forward to the work ahead. I know that Michigan is a great school, I know that SI is a great program, and although there are aspects of what I saw in orientation that bothered me, it’s only been two days, for God’s sake, and I could undoubtedly benefit from being less of a critic. There was part of me that would have been more comfortable staying in the Bay Area, sticking with my City of SF job, moving to some leafy quiet neighborhood in San Mateo (maybe in the hills behind Alameda de Las Pulgas), and commuting to San Jose State, where everything would perhaps have been a lot clearer and a lot more straightforward.

‘But where would the fun have been in that? I have no regrets about my decision to move to Ann Arbor, other than, of course, the natural regrets that come with nostalgia and sorely missing friends, loved ones, and loved pets (yes, I’m talking to you, Gracie, Rudy, and Suki!!!).

‘—Posted by Frank at 19:57:24 | 29-Aug-03’

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 28-Aug

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Does he feel the same way?

Orientation: Day Two

‘The second day was quite an experience. The highlight of the day was being put into a group with four other students and being sent on a scavenger hunt across the center of campus to find various clues and answers to questions. It seemed weird at first, but it was actually a good opportunity to get to chat with the others in the group and get to know them a little bit. It was much better than the typical HR exercise of matching people “duck duck goose”-style and expecting them to sit around asking each other contrived questions as a form of barrier-lowering.

‘The rest of the day: went to an activities fair and got to talk to the folks at the LGBT table; had a couple of presentations from the career center and the folks at the “directed field experience” (where you get credits toward graduation for being involved in practical work experience) office; and wandered around for a few minutes at a not-so-hot faculty/student reception.

‘The LGBT table was a big deal. When I went through my undergraduate orientation, my goal was to keep that part of myself as hidden as possible. I succeeded (or so I thought), perhaps too well. That isn’t the case now. I’m not going to trumpet it from the rooftops. I’m not going to hide it either.

‘I guess that’s it. Classes start on Tuesday. I’m enrolled in all but one, which has a waiting list. I have a few days in which to finalize details and in which to get myself steeled for the semester to come. Yikes. If there are a few things I’ve taken away from the past two days, I guess the biggest one is that it is going to be intriguing to try to make it through the first-year Foundations courses, in which all of the students are thrown together and expected to work in groups.

‘My impression, one which may be corrected as time goes on, is that the two categories of School of Information student—the human-computer interaction side and the library/archive side—are very divergent not only in interests but in personality and expectations. The whole library/archive side, to my dismay, does indeed seem to be something that the school is determined to keep in the background. That bothers me. I didn’t hear a word about libraries or archives the whole two days, or why I should be excited about wanting to work in them, except during the almost-obligatory specialization meetings we were corraled into yesterday. Maybe that’s part of the point—the specialization stuff is supposed to come around after you’ve absorbed all of the meta-informational training—but it seemed almost wistful during the scavenger hunt to be wandering around in rare book collections and reading halls, as though these obsolescing arenas, not to mention books, had only the barest and most distant relevance to the School of Information, and then only as amusing clues in an academic parlor game.

‘—Posted by Frank at 21:39:47 | 28-Aug-03’

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 27-Aug, Part 2

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Immersion …

Orientation: Day One

‘Well, Orientation Day One is over and I can report that ….. it’s gonna be a busy two years. They had us all in one big room in Michigan Union to give us the obligatory introductory remarks from gathered faculty and administrators, after we we dispersed to West Hall to have “specialization meetings” tailored to our particular interests.

‘The way the School of Information is divided is that there are the traditional library school specializations, library and information services and archives and record management, alongside more future-tech specializations like HCI (human-computer interaction) and IEMP (information economics, management, and policy).

‘In the large room where we all began, the occupants were about evenly divided among genders. Once we dispersed, though, the disparity was glaring: in the library science group I attended, I counted about 7 men (including myself) in a room of 30.

‘I went over to the room across from this to stop in on the archives session and the number of men was similarly low. The other thing that was glaring (at least to me) was how young everybody was. I saw five or six other people who seemed to be my age or older. Most everyone else I saw was in their early or mid-twenties.

‘I was also apparently overdressed. I wore khaki slacks and one of my short-sleeved shirts, which would have been a perfect combination for my SF office job. Here, I looked out of place. Everyone else was dressed in jeans, if not T-shirts, and shorts were not uncommon. I don’t know what to wear. Shorts and T-shirts make me feel as though I’m trying to look younger than I am. What I wore today made me feel older. So it goes.

‘The curriculum sounds great, though I can’t say I’m too thrilled about the first part of it, which is a series of four “Foundations” courses that all students are required to take (an odd similarity there to the first-year courses that all law students are required to take). Nobody is really giving much detail on what these courses will entail, which concerns me, but they seem to involve a lot of time-intensive group projects. I suppose the purpose of all of this will become clear to me eventually, as promised.

‘The faculty seem energetic and committed, at least the ones who spoke at our pep rally and in our sessions this morning. One of them came in a shawl and draped it over her head to imitate a stern librarian stereotype inculcating the students in the real purpose of information school: to train you to run a quiet library where everyone behaves. This inspired general hilarity (I laughed too, especially after remembering the Archie McPhee Librarian Action Figure “with amazing push-button shushing action” that Steve showed me online the other night). These are the kinds of jokes that make roomsful of librarians laugh, which is a good sign, I think.

‘Most of the students also seemed refreshingly shy and somewhat geeky, which comports with what Scott predicted I would find, and although there seem to be a couple of stuck-up snots among the crop, that would be true in any group. I didn’t have my appointed faculty advisor session until 5.15, which gave me roughly 25 minutes to run down a flight of stairs and get registered for fall term. All of my classes are available, though not on the days or at the times I had hoped they would be. I’ll be taking 13 units, which is a full load, and I’ll probably have to look for a part-time work-study job as well.

‘Like I said, it’s gonna be a busy two years.

‘Still, the whole process is exciting. It’s exhausting, it’s overwhelming, and I have no idea how I’m going to make it through two years of this. But it’s still oddly encouraging (or validating, or something) to hear words like those spoken this morning by the dean of the school, who said that in most professional schools, you have a clear idea of what you’re there for and where you’re going when you get your degree. Here, that won’t be the case, necessarily, because the information profession (if such a phrase can be used) is by definition a malleable and changeable concept; what is a valid career today may be an entirely invalid career tomorrow, there may be entirely new job descriptions two years from now for skills that you are learning now, and that ambiguity is part of what learning about information—and what information itself, along with all of the permutations of what constitutes information and its dissemination—is all about.

‘I’ll write more after tomorrow’s session.

‘—Posted by Frank at 21:36:46 | 27-Aug-03

And here are the photos from Day Fourteen:

SleepingOnTheCouchBackRubHookingUp

‘« Our Move to Michigan – Day Fourteen » All Moved In‘

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 27-Aug, Part 1

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Bear with me as I indulge in some sentimentality …

‘What’s interesting to me about glancing back at the retro posts from last year at this time is how new this all was to me: not just Ann Arbor, although that was certainly a big part of it, but the whole adventure, from going back to grad school at a time in life when most of my undergraduate cohorts have all had two or three kids and become partners at their law firms or vice-presidents of marketing or seat-of-the-pants entrepreneurs (not a life I envy); to leaving and severing all my connections to a region where I’d felt comfortable, if increasingly insecure and simultaneously predictable, for much of the previous 20 years; to driving through, seeing, and sleeping in towns and states I’d never dreamed I’d encounter except in movies or books; to adjusting to life and people in a very different part of the nation. I feel proud of myself, and us, for having gone through this incredible ride and come through it wiser and better (and, I think, happier), and I am forever grateful to Steve and Bayley for putting up with me through the journey (and for agreeing to uproot their lives to start to put together the building blocks to start an entire new life of our own).

‘There’s something to be said for risk and leaping into the unknown. There’s also something to be said for the familiarity of having lived someplace for 365+ days.’

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 26-Aug

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘The calm before the grad school storm …

Ann Arbor: day five

‘Today was a bumpy one. We went out to get some supplies and victuals. I bought a few new short-sleeved shirts but I don’t know how much longer they’ll be wearable here. The traffic around Ann Arbor right now is not much better than traffic during a typical weekday rush hour in the Bay Area, and the drivers are aggressive and careless. We went to Target and Meijer, right next door, which is a huge shopping center that is sort of a combination of a supermarket and a department store. Today it is was like a combination of the busiest Safeway and the busiest Macy’s rolled up in one. The crowds were incredible, and it was not even 4.00 yet.

‘We dealt with it for about 45 minutes and then (having found most of what we needed) gave up when some voice started annoyingly announcing, over and over again, insistently, a contest for some useless merchandise over the PA system and egging shoppers to race to the other end of the store as quickly as possible to get a prize, hardly a wise thing to be doing in what was already a zoo. We drove back to the house and cleaned up some more, unpacked a few things, but mostly rested.

‘On the positive side, we walked the dog again around the complex around 10.00 and I saw what I think must have been Mars up in the heavens, looking bright and beautiful in its approach to the closest it has been to Earth in 60,000 years. The horizon is so flat here that you can see the heavenly bodies quite clearly, a definite plus.

‘Tomorrow is going to be a busy day for me. Have to be at Michigan Union around 8.30, then it will be a full day of welcome-wagon stuff and, later in the afternoon, evidently, registration. It is scheduled to last until 6.00, though I doubt it will last straight through to that.

‘More tomorrow.

‘—Posted by Frank at 23:59:00 | 26-Aug-03’

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 25-Aug

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘More of our first days in AA …

Ann Arbor: day four

‘We went out to dinner with Scott tonight at Gourmet Garden, a Chinese restaurant on the west side of town. Other than that, the day was mostly recovering from the long weekend. I was still stiff and sore all day long, but not nearly as immobile as I was yesterday. The repair man from the complex came and fixed our air conditioning, a greatly welcome development on a day that saw the humidity hit 100%. I got in the bathtub to soak and was wetter when I got out than when I was in the tub. The beagle got re-acquainted with his couch.

‘We met Scott in front of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library and it was impossible to escape the fact that students were back on campus and in town in force. Steve pointed out that I was old enough to be the dad of many of these kids, which was something I had been thinking myself but did not necessarily love having pointed out.

‘We walked the beagle around the immediate vicinity of the complex and he got to poop and pee and sniff around and explore without running into a single other dog, let alone a leashless one.

‘We will most likely be traveling up to the Traverse City area this weekend to visit Linda, who lives up there with her husband and two excitable Lab mixes, so that we can have a respite from the high jinks that are likely to ensue Saturday morning when the first Wolverine game gets played at the Stadium against the Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Chippewas (and which the Wolverines, which are currently ranked number four in the nation, will probably win handily).

‘Things are slowly coming into focus. I will feel a lot more grounded once I have a greater familiarity with the town and its layout—knowing where everything is geographically is very important to me. I will also feel more secure once orientation is done with. A thunderstorm just erupted out of, literally, nowhere. This is going to take some getting used to, that’s for sure.

‘—Posted by Frank at 23:45:51 | 25-Aug-03’

Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 24-Aug, Part 3

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Oh, those heady first days … and now it seems like we’ve been here forever instead of just a year.

Ann Arbor: Day Three

‘It’s a puzzling place.

‘The lush greenery is almost headache-inducing in its vastness and omnipresence. The traffic, alas, is not much better than the traffic in the Bay Area was. You see lots of cars with militaristic stickers like “AIR ASSAULT” nestled next to University of Michigan logos. Everyone seems to be in sort of a hurry, though it is unclear why.

‘The home improvement stores are a smash hit, with lots of big-muscled, tightly-wound Michigan dads and husbands taking self-important walks into the hugeness of the outlets with their wives and kids, almost as though to demonstrate how all-American they are.

‘The churches are not prominent and those who frequent them seem to be enraged that this is the case, judging from the perversity and intensity with which one of the patrons of one of the said churches tailgated us on our way home from Lowe’s today.

‘The Borders bookstore I went into while Steve bought beagle food at Petco was a strange and conflicting melange of not-quite-identifiable styles and feels, with the store music system playing Warren Zevon’s “Sacrificial Lambs” (“Krishnamurti said,/’I’ll set you free/Write a check/and make it out to me’”) while a line of customers waited patiently to make their buys.

‘Everything seems a little too well-appointed, a little too eager to please, a little too perfect. It reminds me some of Palo Alto, though shorn of that town’s always-aggressive yuppie ethos.

‘Every four blocks in Ann Arbor has a neighborhood name, which, even by the standards of name-crazy San Freancisco, is a bit on the obnoxious side. Our little housing subdivision, in a neighborhood helpfully called Bryant/Pattengill (most of the neighborhoods are named after the K-12 schools in their midst), seems very quiet, almost oddly so, and yet also very much each one to his own, with not much in the way of demonstrable neighborliness either from the current residents to newcomers or between the denizens already ensconced.

‘I saw and apologized to our next-door neighbor today for our trailer being parked in front of her door while we unloaded and she nodded and grimaced a tight, grimacing smile at me, as though I had just boasted to her that Bayley had taken a dump in her yard.

‘There is a real and pleasurable beauty about the surroundings, a large-ish park next door, a gym with a bunch of new equipment, a modest showiness about the houses and apartments, yet something does not quite fall together.

‘I think that the reality is that I still feel unsettled, and not just because things have not quite fallen together yet for me and for us, and the clash between this still, tranquil place and the memory I have of commuting every day to work and strolling through the urine-soaked passageways of MUNI up to the homeless-draped sidewalks of Van Ness and Market, with the same pathetic old woman sitting on her stoop every morning and squeaking an emphysematic “Morning” to the changing cast of harried and exhausted and studiously indifferent passersby, and the painfully buzzingly hectic pace of life in the Bay Area, and the rush of the packing and the semi-goodbyes and the cross-country voyage, and the urban sounds of sirens and car horns and yells and squawks, have yet to leave me. It’s all just very strange.

‘There are tons and tons of boisterous, chattering, fearless squirrels everywhere here, another reminder of Palo Alto, except the ones in California are brown and these are squirrels with patches of fiery orange and yellow on their breasts and legs. There are also insects that make strange rising and falling whirring sounds all day long in the bushes, like a cross between the hiss of an angry cat and the sound of a rattlesnake rattling. Steve tells me these are cicadas. The squirrels and cicadas own Ann Arbor, no matter what the people who allegedly live here think.

‘—Posted by Frank at 23:59:00 | 24-Aug-03’