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Jim's blog

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Location: Osterville, Massachusetts, United States

I am a professor at Cape Cod Community College and and a member of a Buddhist order. After a 30-year career as a newspaper reporter and editor I became a full-time professor in 2001. I am the author of the textbooks "The Elements of News Writing" and "The Elements of Academic Writing." I enjoy running, hiking and camping. I have two grown sons and two grandchildren.

Friday, September 30, 2005


4 p.m.: The week is finally over. I am exhausted. I did a short version of the village loop this morning and dragged through the day. This afternoon I tried to locate four students who have not logged onto the online English class I teach. I left messages on their answering machines. Monday morning I will delete them form the class if I have not heard from them. I hate to lose students, but they could not get caught up any more.

Barbara has been working at home making preparations for us to paint a bedroom in our house. Our son Brandon is living in North Carolina now, and his room has not been painted since we moved in in 1983. It really needs it. But that requires moving everything out, which is quite a project. We are hoping to get it all finished by next Tuesday when my brother arrives for a visit.

(Running: 2.5 miles)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rain predicted

7:30 a.m.: It was a beautiful sunny, warm morning. I wore my long sleeves and long running pants for the Village Loop this morning, but I was overdressed. The weather forecast calls for rain, but it looks sunny and bright. I am tempted to take my motorcycle to work, but I had better not, since I am not returning until 9 p.m., and the weather can change dramatically by then.

I brought some garden snips along with me on the run today. We cut through a short path in the woods that connects two roads. It is a little overgrown, so I brought the snips to trim a few small branches. There is a house under construction near the path, but we have never seen anyone there. As soon as I started my snipping this morning a truck drove up. What timing! I finished quickly and we took off. I don't know if they would care anyway, but it must have looked strange to see someone trimming bushes on their property.

6:15 p.m.: Yes, the rain finally arrived around 5 p.m. I am glad I am not on the bike. I accomplished a lot today. These Thursdays are very, very long days.

(Running: 2.5 miles)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Two-run Wednesday

9:30 p.m.: Two runs today. I got up and ran the Village Loop at 6:45 a.m., and then went to running group in the evening. School was good. I was struck in the morning by how lucky I am to have a job I enjoy and a nice home and family. I was just feeling happy. I was careful with my diet today -- perhaps a little too careful becasue I started feeling a little light-headed at running group, after a particularly hard five-minute run. So I left the workout early and drove to McDonald's for a large orange juice. I felt better right away. Then I came home and watched a little TV and now I am about to take a hot bath and go to bed.
(Running: 6.2?)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

After the rain

7:40 a.m.: We had a big rainstorm last night. I think it may be related to the remnants of Hurricane Rita. But this morning was warm and clear. Vivi and I rant the Village Loop. I am scheduled to have lunch with the college president and some other clergy to discuss Interfaith things. That should be interesting. I am looking forward to the premiere of a new TV show, "Commander in Chief," this evening. Geena Davis plays the president of the U.S.

Speaking of Hurricane Rita, our friends Gary and Sue Carson were planning on visiting yesterday, but Rita changed their plans. Their home in Corpus Christi was spared, but their travel plans involved Houston, so they could not make it. They have postponed the trip a couple of weeks.

8:45 p.m.: The lunch in the president's office was very interesting. There were several people form various faiths, including Dianne, the head of the Cape Cod Council of Churches. We had a good discussion and an excellent lunch.

When I got home at 6 p.m., Alison called and asked if I wanted to go for a run. I suggested the Gray's Beach run I had done Sunday, so we did that. We got to the boardwalk just at sunset, and the sky was absolutely gorgeous, with bright red clouds floating above Cape Cod Bay. I was tired running back, but it was certainly worth it. Now my legs are very tired, but I am happy.

(Running: 5.5 miles)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Warm fall Monday

7:45 a.m.: I got off to a good start. We ran the Village Loop this morning and had a nice talk. I feel like accomplishing a lot at work today. I don't have any classes to teach, so I should be able to get a lot done. I need to get caught up on my online class.

10 p.m.: I did get a lot done on the online class, but there are still some students being left behind. I am trying to reach them. I had a nice lunch with Steve Carty Cordry. His son was going to court today. I hope the judge was lenient. Michael deserves a break. I was very tired in the late afternoon, but then I had trouble falling asleep in the evening.
(Running: 2.5 miles)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Another Sunny Sunday

7 p.m.: It was a beautiful day today. I finally got caught up on my sleep. I slept from about 11 last night until 9 this morning. I guess I needed 10 hours sleep. In the morning I got frustrated with the problems with my computer. It is getting more and more sluggish. I can't seem to fix it. I have run all the virus and spyware checkers and de-fragged, and all that. I think the processor may be damaged. At one point I was getting much too frustrated, and Barbara told me to go meditate for 20 minutes. That was a great idea. It turned my day around.
In the afternoon, I wanted to go for a run, and I convinced Barbara to bring her Mom and go with me to Gray's Beach, where there is a beautiful boardwalk across the marsh. Our friend Sam stopped by, and he came along too. They dropped me off at the park that is about 1.5 miles form the beach. I ran to the beach while they drove. Then I ran out the boardwalk and back. That is my favorite part because the wooden planks of the boardwalk give a little underfoot, creating a springlike feeling. Then I ran back to the park. The others drove back and picked me up on the way home. It was a lot of fun.

Then I went to the Sangha. It was a small turnout (six of us), but it went well. One man was there for the first time. He had been referred to the sangha by his psychologist. That made me feel good. He said it was the most relaxed and peaceful he had felt in a long time.

This evening I plan to watch the season premier of West Wing.

(Running: 4 miles)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Lazy Saturday

7 p.m.: Well not too lazy. I did get up at 5:45 and have breakfast and then go for a 2.5 mile run with Vivi again at 6:45. But then I was extremely tired. I did get eight hours sleep last night, but it seems like that wasn't enough. After a shower I fell asleep on the couch for a little nap in the morning. I watched news of Hurricane Rita. It doesn't seem fair that the Gulf Coast is getting slammed again. Our friends Gary and Sue Carson are supposed to visit Monday. They live near Corpus Christi, which apparently got spared this time. I hope everything is OK with them. Gary was supposed to be in Houston Friday, and that city did get hit hard. I assume he got out before the storm came ashore.

I graded my mass comm papers and most of the English papers in the afternoon, but felt very tired. I'll have to go to bed early and try to get all caught up on sleep tonight.
(Running: 2.5 miles.)

Friday, September 23, 2005


9 p.m.: (OK, I'll be honest. I am wrirting this Saturday from the point of view of Friday night because my son Brandon called and pointed out that I had not updated my blog in 48 hours. It hadn't occurred to me that anybody cared. My public awaits!)
So What is SNACCIM? It is Student Newspaper Advisers at Community Colleges in Massachusetts, of course. And -- yes -- the acronym makes us giggle too. That's why we like it. I invited all 12 student newspaper advisers to come to lunch at our community college today. It was very difficult even contacting all 12. I only established good two-way communication with 11. At first eight were coming, but then, this morning, two had to cancel, so we had only six for lunch. But the six of us had a very good conversation. We compared noted and compared papers. One of our members, Amy form Northern Essex, gave us an update on the latest court cases concerning freedom of the press for college papers. The lunch was put on by students in our culinary program, and Jim Miller's crew did a good job. President Kathy Schatzberg and Dean Earl Bloor both stopped by to say hello and express their support. That was nice. It all went very smoothly, and we plan to meet again at Roxbury Community College in November.

But the stress of arranging for it all exhausted me. I got up at 5:45, ran at 6:45, took Jessi in to school at 8:30, taught mass comm at noon and did the luncheon from 1 to 4. Worked in my office form 4 to 5, came home and collapsed. Whew I was exhausted.
(Running: 2.5 miles)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Good start to a long day

7:30: Thursdays are my hard days because I have a late class. But I got off to a good start, running the Village Loop with Vivian at 6:45. I am looking forward to English, journalism and media ethics classes today. I am a good teacher.
9:30 p.m.: It was a long day, but a good one. I rode my motorcycle over to Subway to get a veggie sub for dinner between classes. In media ethics, one student, David, made two very perceptive and meaningful comments that added a lot to the discussion. In fact the entire class was participating. I feel like I learned a lot tonight. I am very tired tonight.
(Running: 2.5 miles.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Double run

8 a.m.: Two runs today. I got up at 5:45, had breakfast and went for a run with Vivian at 6:45. We did a slightly shorter version of the Playhouse Loop, cutting down Hope Street. I call it the Village Loop; it's about 2.5 miles. I plan to go to running group at the high school tonight.
9 p.m.: Classes went well, although I may have hurt the feelings of some Journalism II students. I was emphasizing he importance of mastering the basic techniques before moving on to more advance methods, and I said, "You folks aren't good enough to use the fancy narrative leads." I should have phrased that better. After work, the running group was terrific. I ran with a group that is the slowest of the runners in the group, but we have a good camaraderie. We all got along great, and I had a good workout.
(Running: 8.5 miles)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Teaching is hard

9 p.m.: I skipped my morning run to get into work early. I wanted to finish correcting all the papers I had for English Comp before class. I also planned that class and the afternoon journalism class. I had about 30 e-mails to deal with at work too, several of them about the luncheon I am hosting for college newspaper advisers. It was a very busy day, but I felt like I taught two excellent classes. The journalism students kept asking questions after the class was over. That is always a good sign. I was at work from about 8 a.m. until nearly 6 p.m. After dinner Barbara and I made plane reservations for our trip to our 35th college reunion in Marietta, Ohio, in October.

The bad news is that I did not meditate, did not run and did not check my blood sugar. I'll do better tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Monday Monday

8 a.m.: I started my earlier version of my morning routine today. I meditated from 5:45 to 6. Then I had breakfast and read the paper. (I forgot to check my blood sugar -- shame on me!) I met Vivian at 7 for our morning run. The village loop was especially pretty today. It was like a crisp fall day, although there are still a lot of flowers around. Now I have enough for a leisurely shower before picking up Jessi for the ride to the college.
I had been feeling weak and tired lately, but I felt fine this morning. Maybe I was just sleep-deprived. I got a solid nine hours sleep last night, so that might have done the trick.

9 p.m.: It sure was an interesting day at work. I got my grade book filled in, but I also became a central character in a union controversies. The president of the statewide union sent us a message asking us to abandon our labor protest, known as 'Work to Rule" because an agreement had been signed and the governor "is expected to sign it." That made me mad because Governor Romney has reneged twice on approving raises for us. So I sent out a message saying I thought we should remain on "Work to Rule" until we actually get the raises. That started a series of e-mails from people who either agreed with me or agrees with the union president. Finally we held a union meeting at 3:20, and the overwhelming majority agreed with me and voted to stay on Work to Rule. That was gratifying. But it was also a little embarrassing to be so prominent in the dispute.

In the evening I went for another run with my running Buddy Alison. We did the same Playhouse Loop I had done with Vivi in the morning. I hadn't seen Alison for a week, so that was nice. Then, from 7 to 9 I graded papers. Barbara helped me by recording grades and sorting and alphabetizing everything to make it easier for me to return.
(Running: 6 miles)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunny Sunday

8 p.m.: I was up at 6 for my morning routine. We ran to Corporation Beach and back, which was fun. The town was deserted on the way there, but then we saw lots of other runners and walkers on the way back. After lunch Steve and Janet took Nati and Emi back to the bus station for their return trip to New York. In the evening the Sangha went very well. There were 10 f us and we did some chanting. I an very tired and will go to bed early.
(Running: 5 miles)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tropical Storm Ophelia

9 a.m.: Tropical Storm Ophelia is passing by Cape Cod today. It is rainy and windy here, but it's no big deal. It was too rainy for me to run this morning, or maybe I was too lazy. Steve and Janet arrived in the middle of the night and let themselves in while we slept. They had been to an Elton John concert at the Boston Garden last night. They said this morning that it was terrific. He hasn't lost a thing.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday again

6:30 a.m.: I got a good night's sleep last night, and woke up at 6 to meditate and run. My computer seems to be running in slow motion. For the last few weeks, it has been very slow. I have run the virus and spyware checkers, but nothing seems to help. I want to take the easy way out and just buy a new laptop, but that is too extravagant.
11 a.m.: I was unusually tired and weak during my run. I stopped at the park (one mile out) and stretched and rested before turning around. I don't know why I didn't have any energy this morning.

(Running: 2 miles)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Long Day

7 a.m.: I am facing a long day today. I have classes at 11, 2 and 6:30. At least I am preparing myself by doing my morning meditation and run. I plan to be cool, claim and collected all day today.
10 p.m.: Well, I did it. I had a good and calm day. I am working on communicating with my online students, and I taught three good classes today. A severe thunderstorm moved through late yesterday afternoon, dumping tons of water on the Cape. Apparently the storm was so bad that it closed the bridges to the mainland for several hours, or at least backed up traffic for hours.

(Running: 3 miles)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Running Group

6:40 a.m.: I am looking forward to running group this evening. I tried to sleep in and skip my morning routine this morning, but I couldn't sleep. I guess the routine has become a habit. That's good.

10 p.m.: It never fails. If I skip my morning meditation and run I have a bad day, and if I do my morning meditation and run I have a good day. So today I skipped them and got into an awkward disagreement with a colleague. It used up a lot of time and emotional energy and made us both miserable. I was able to put that aside and do a good job teaching, but that's not the best part of the day.

Running group in the evening was wonderful. My friend Kathy was there, and we talked and encouraged each other through a tough workout. It was a small group tonight, so we were among the slowest runners in our group, but that was OK. After running I went to B2 Burritos and had a fruit smoothie with Alison, Jessi and Bobby. I enjoyed that very much. It made up for the rough time in the morning.

(Running: 5 miles?)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Two classes on Tuesday

7 a.m.: I have two classes today -- English Comp at 11 and Journalism at 2. At least I think I am rested up for them. I got about nine hours sleep last night. I was amazingly tired last night. I hope that takes care of it.

5 p.m.: Both classes went very well, although I ran a little too long in Journalism. Fortunately the next professor, Karyn Van Kirk, is a close friend of mine, and she was very understanding. I love this job!

(Running: 3 miles)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sleepy Monday

6:30 a.m.: I'm sleepy. Maybe I can take a nap this afternoon.
But at least I got up and did my morning routine. My blood sugar is back to normal. That's good.

(Running: 3 miles)

Sunday, September 11, 2005


6:50 a.m.: I wonder of the phrase "9/11" will always have the emotional impact it does now.
This morning I got up early for my morning routine. When I checked my blood sugar it was twice its usual level. I guess I shouldn't have had that bowl of coffee ice cream last night. Perhaps skipping exercise yesterday added to the effect. Now that I think of it, I had a bottle of Mountain Dew in the afternoon, too. I have to be much more careful about my diet.

I am looking forward to the interfaith service for 9/11 this evening. I hope I do a good job on my part. The keynote speaker is my friend Dan McCullough, and I see he mentioned the service in his popular Sunday newspaper column this morning.

11 p.m.: The Interfaith service was fantastic. It was better than my wildest dreams. We had about 200 people I think. The auditorium was at least half full. It looked like a good turnout. College President Kathy Schatzberg was the surprise hit of the evening. Her talk was very, very spiritual and powerful. But then Dan McCullough simply blew the place away. His talk was mind-blowing. It was the best talk I have ever heard him give. He was right on target. I am sure every person in the auditorium both laughed and cried at his powerful message about world peace. One person can make a difference, and he showed us how. It was transformative. Then there were panel discussions and music, and everything was terrific. At one point the rabbi, the Muslim and David Moran my friend who is a Christian minister who uses a wheel chair, were trying to squeeze into a rather tight space behind a table, and the rabbi said, "We friends in the Interfaith Coalition don't mind getting close." That said it all.

(Running: 5 miles)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Working Saturday

First of all, I slept in today. I did not get up early and run, and I don't even feel guilty about it. I think I needed the rest. Then I fixed my motorcycle rear-view mirror, which had come loose. Then it was back into the office to work on my on-line English. That turned out to be one of the most frustrating experiences I've had in years. I could not get that Blackboard program to do what I wanted it to do. And I could not get any help figuring it out. Finally I decided to revert to the old way of doing things. It's still a lot of work, but at least I understand it. I wish I understood more about how Blackboard works.
I am reminded of a brass plaque mounted above a urinal in the men's room of the American Press Institute in Reston, Va. It reads: "At least here I know what I am doing."

In teh evening, Barbara and I watched a DVD called "Bad Guy." It is from the same Korean director -- Ki-duk Kim -- who made "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring," which is one of my favorite films. "Spring..." is a lovely touching story about a tiny Korean Zen Buddhist monastery. "Bad Guy is about a nice college girl who is forced into prostitution, so it is a very different kind of film. It is equally thought-provoking and touching, but much more depressing and less uplifting.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Finally Friday

6:30 a.m.: After a long hard week, we are finally at Friday. This should be an easy day, since I have only one class to teach. I hope I can organize and clear some of the clutter on my desk. I have done my morning meditation and exercises and I am going to run with Vivian. Then I'll take Jessi into school. I volunteered to cover a reading class for another professor who couldn't make it to campus this morning. Then I have Survey of Mass Communication at noon. I have to remember to eat good meals. I didn't do too well on that yesterday.

9:30 p.m.: Yes, I ate well and took care of myself and go through the day just fine. After work, I went for a second three-mile run with Alison, and then rested on the couch. I watched the concert for Hurricane Katrina victims. We have already donated to the Red Cross, and I don't think we can afford to give any more right now. Sunday night at the 9/11 service, I will ask people to make donations, so maybe I can help that way.

(Running: 6 miles)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Full Schedule

6:30 a.m.: I did my good morning routine this morning, and now I face an overflowing schedule. I have English class at 11, a MainSheet meeting at 12:30, Journalism class at 2, an orientation for my online students at 3:30, a meeting of the Interfaith Council at 4 and Media Ethics class at 6:30. Unfortunately there are a lot of other things to do among all that. I will have to stay focused. Fortunately, meditating and running in the morning really helps me to stay focused.

9:30 p.m.: Whew! It was quite a day, but I made it! It was hard work, but it was gratifying. I feel that I am a good teacher, and that keeps me going. When I got home around 9 I just collapsed on the couch and ate some fruit while I watched an episode of Everwood I had not seen before. It's just a nighttime soap opera, but I still enjoy it.

(Running: 3 miles)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Running around

This was a very busy day all around.
I did my morning routine, including a three-mile run in the morning. I picked up Jessi, dropped my wife at the Ford dealer to pick up our van and continued to the college for the second day of school. There were lots of challenges involving trying to get students into the right classes. My classes went well. It was the first day for Survey of Mass Communication and for Journalism II. I changed at work and went directly to the Wednesday night running group, which was fun but exhausting. I Heard some interesting journalism comments on NPR and posted a comment on my other blog: Jim's Journalism blog at http://jwkoncape3.blogspot.com.

(Running: 7 miles?)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

First Day of School

Today was the first day of classes at Cape Cod Community College.
I got up at 6 and did my morning routine, including a nice three-mile run with Vivian.
I got into school about 9, in plenty of time to prepare for my 11 a.m. English class. It went well, as did my 2 p.m. journalism class. I love my job. But the whole day was exhausting, and tonight I am too tired to write about it Maybe I can add more later.
(Running: 3 miles)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day

Good for me! I got up at 6 for my morning routine. I did my meditation and stretches, my exercises and running.
The newspaper says 2,500 of the displaced folks from Louisiana will be brought to Cape Cod. Everything is connected. We are all one.

(Running: 5 miles)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Day of rest

Sunday was a day of rest. I didn't accomplish much, except vacuuming the car and doing some laundry. Mom and Barbara and I walked down to the blueberry patch in the morning and picked some nice blueberries. We also had a few raspberries from our own bushes. And on the way home from the sangha I stopped by the market and bought some strawberries, so it has been a berry good day! The sangha (that's our Buddhist meditation group) went well. We had 11 people, and we said a metta meditation sending loving-kindness to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Working Saturday

I slept very late today, and then I went in to work at my office. It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed riding my motorcycle to work and back. Considering the rapid increase in gas prices, I love that bike. It gets about 100 miles per gallon. I completed a syllabus for each of four courses working between noon and 6 p.m.
Then I came home for dinner, a little TV and an early bedtime.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Let the Recovery Begin

Friday was another day of sad news and tragedy.
I skipped my morning routine because I had barely slept at all.
I got into the campus and attended a series of seminars for faculty from 9 to 3, but between sessions we all talked about New Orleans. The president of the college said we would take up a collection on the first day of classes Tuesday. Of everyone at the college gave one dollar that would be $5,000. That would help.

I worked on my syllabi from 3 to 6 and then returned home. In the evening there was a concert to raise money for the Red Cross. The concert featured folks form the affected area -- there was Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, Aaron Neville, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. As soon as Wynton Marsalis started playing that sad New Orleans Jazz on his trumpet I started crying. I cried through Aaron Neville singing "Amazing Grace," and I cried through Harry Connick Jr. singing 'When the Saints Go Marching In." Barbara quietly went up to the computer and sent a credit card contribution to the Red Cross. I just wish we could do more.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tragic Thursday

Oh my god. The devastation in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast is so awful. I don't understand why it took so long for the word to get out about the seriousness of the devastation nor why it took so long to help to get to the victims. It just keeps getting worse and worse. I feel so discouraged and depressed about it.

Thursday was a discouraging day for many reasons. I went into the office, but I felt like I was just spinning my wheels. I didn't get as much accomplished as I would have liked.

In the evening I watched the news and then was too upset to sleep.

(Running 2 miles)