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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.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Busy Monday

Even though I don't have any classes on Monday, it always seems to be a very busy day.
I took Jessi into college, worked on my online class and answered a lot of e-mail. Then I had lunch with Steve, as usual. It was terrific. We talked about pastoral counseling, in which he has formal training. I am just winging it! Then I got back to the college for a union meeting. Then a meeting with another professor, some more class preparation, and then a conference with a distraught student. It was more like pastoral counseling, come to think of it. Then I updated my online class and filled out book orders for next semester. In the evening we had 12 Trick-Or-Treaters, who loved our pumpkins.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunny Sunday

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day. We started off with a great hearty breakfast at The Red Cottage. Steve, Janet, Mom and I all had big breakfasts. I had buckwheat waffles with almonds and blueberries. After breakfast we drove down to West Dennis Beach and collected seashells. Then we headed north to Corporation Beach and watched a windsurfer. After that I graded more papers. Steve headed home in mid-afternoon, and then I got ready for the sangha. It was a lovely sanga with 10 people. We did some chanting, whihc everyone seemed to enjoy. We chanted the name of Avalokitschvera, the Bodisatva of Great Compassion. In the evening Janet and I watched "West Wing."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Pumpkin carving

My brother-in-law Steve came down today, and we had a good time. In the afternoon, he, Janet and I carved jack-o-lanterns using terrific patterns Janet brought. We also listened to a new Cheryl Wheeler CD. Then the rest of the folks went to the beach while I graded papers. In the evening we played a rousing game of Gimme Five.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Friday was a good day. I drove Jessi to the college, but then I headed into Hyannis. I went to the credit union to do some banking. Then I went to the hospital to visit some people. I am a volunteer Buddhist chaplain at the hospital, and occasionally the director of pastoral care calls me to visit a Buddhist. This time, there were two on her list. I felt a little insecure, wondering if I would know what to say, but it went very well. The first patient was a man about my age who had been in the coronary care unit. We had a lovely talk. He has studied the Buddha and the Dharma, but he needs a Sangha. I told him about ours and encouraged him to contact me later. I also took his phone number and will call him. The second patient had already checked out, but it turns out she is the wife of an old friend of mine. I called my friend and asked him to tell his wife I would be happy to talk to her any time.
Back at school, the mass communication class went well. I had lunch and worked on some projects at the office and then came home. Janet made a nice dinner and even an apple pie for desert.
I wish I could run, but the doctor said to wait six weeks after the bronchitis. Let's see the diagnosis was on Oct. 19, so that means I should not start until Nov. 30. Ouch! That's a long time to wait. Maybe I can shave a week off or so off that if I feel good. We'll see.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Long Day

Thursday is my long day. We got up at 6, and Barbara left about 7 on her trip to Asheville. I got to work around 9 and got ready for my 11 o'clock English Class. Then there was a MainSheet meeting and some student conferences. I was pleased to help a student figure out what his next step is. I am sure he should take the Suffolk University feature writing class next semester. Then there was journalism class and the evening class for Suffolk, media ethics. I prepared a big packet of stories about eh Judith Miller case for that class. I gave them all 30 pages and asked them to read it for the next class. I was very tired when I got home late that night.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wednesday night party

On Wednesday I had two good classes and did some work on my online class. The student from New Orleans who arrived late is finally onboard.
In the evening, Barbara and I got ready for her trip to Asheville. We went through all the bills and paid the urgent ones. Then we loaded up the van with furniture for Brandon's new apartment down there and some winter clothes for him. Then she packed her own clothes. Finally, around 10 p.m. we had a party. When we were first married, we used to cheer ourselves up by having little parties for the two of us that features Plumrose sliced ham, little finger rolls, Ruffles and sour cream and onion dip. It usually includes Sparkling Burgundy or Cold Duck too, but I gave up drinking in 1990, so I got myself some sparkling cider and also got a bottle of cold duck for Barbara. We had a fun time reminiscing about old times when we used to do this. Around 10:30 Barbara's cousin Janet arrived and joined the party. She will be helping take care of Barbara's mother while Barbara is out of town.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Two good classes Tuesday

Both classes went very well on Tuesday. In English the students asked a lot of questions, which gave me a good opportunity to go over the grammar points we had to cover. In journalism we had a similar experience. The journalism class has dropped down to about half the original enrollment, but those who are left are dedicated students.

I spent some time collecting several articles about the Judith Miller case so that I can hand them out to my media ethics class. It is 30 pages altogether. It sounds like Judith Miller was a lose cannon at the New York Times.

In the evening I received an early birthday present from my wife -- a new laptop computer. That is a wonderful gift because my old one is getting slower and slower, and I am convinced it is a hardware problem.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Back to work

I got up at 7 a.m. and had a good breakfast before heading back to work today.

I want to copy the big New York Times articles about the Judith Miller case. Like most ethical case studies, it is not as simple as it appears at first.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sleepy Sunday

I guess my sleep pattern is disrupted. I had a hard time falling asleep last night. I think I was still up around 2 a.m. I tried meditating, but even that didn't help. I finally took an antihistamine, and ended up sleeping until after 10 a.m. It will be hard to get back on track. I woke up feeling better still this morning. I take my last antibiotic (levofloxacin) today. I hope I am past the infection.

Barbara's computer died this morning. She can't boot it up. She is on the phone with Dell. It is still on waranty, so I hope they can fix it. Mine is still working, but very sluggishly.

9 p.m.: Barbara got her computer working again, and I got a lot of papers graded. In the evening, I went to the sangha, which went very well. We had eight people, one of them a first-timer. It is strange that very few of last week's participants were there. People seem to love it, but they don't come every week.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Feeling better

1 p.m.: Saturday I woke up around 11 feeling a little better. I'm not out of the woods, but I felt better. I took a shower and put on clean clothes. Barbara changed the bed. It's time to get better.

I figured out I have three big priorities I need to address seriously: Spiritually, I need to stabilize my daily practice, which has gotten irregular. Also I will work with the three aspirants to look deeply at what ordination means. That will give me the opportunity to do that too. Professionally, I need to finish the three books I am writing. That includes the book of haiku, the spiritual book (Along the Path), and the novel (Wither the Revolution). And personally, I need to get and stay healthy by getting plenty of rest, eating right and exercising regularly. I think that means more than running. I need to do some other exercises too, including yoga. I also need to work on my family life and caring for my home and yard. But, in addition to those goals, I also need to keep up with my regular teaching duties, which means grading papers this afternoon.

10 p.m.: I did several hours of grading, getting all my English and Journalism papers graded. That feels good. I still have more to do tomorrow.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Spiritual healing

Lying in bed with bronchitis gave me time to reflect on my need for greater spiritual activity in my life. Two years ago I was ordained as a member of the Order of Interbeing, founded by Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. http://www.iamhome.org/ .

Three members of my sangha have recently said they are interested in seeking ordination and accepting the 14 Mindfulness Trainings. If a help mentor them, that should raise the level of spirituality in my life significantly. I exchanged e-mail messages with the three of them (and with my mentor) last night. This could signal a new step in my spiritual development. I know you never learn so well as when you teach.

After that I slept for 13 hours last night, from 11 p.m. until noon today. I awoke with a bad headache and body aches, but then I took some Tylenol, and I felt better.

I spent almost all day resting, although Barbara did drive me into the college so I could pick up the papers I have to grade.I didn't grade any today, but maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Canceled classes

I had hoped I would feel well enough to go to work today, but I felt much worse. I called in sick and canceled all my classes. I had already gotten a sub for Friday's class, thinking we would be flying to Marietta, Ohio, for our college reunion. Unfortunately, we had to cancel that trip too. What a drag. I have a wheezy cough, some sneezing and a bad sinus headache. I also ache all over. Let's see how quickly I can recover.

Thich Nhat Hanh taught me that "pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." I will try to put that into practice.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


My cold got worse Wednesday morning. I was completely winded just walking up the stairs to my office. I called my doctor. They said for me to come in at 3 p.m. The doctor examined me and said it is bronchitis. She prescribed some antibiotics, a bronchiodialator and some cough syrup. I went home and rested. Worst of all, she said I shouldn't run for six weeks. Oh no!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Busy Tuesday

Today was a busy day. I got a haircut in the morning and had two classes. In between that I corrected lots of papers, did lesson plans, filled out mid-term-warnings and met with several students. By 5, I was exhausted, so I went home and rested. I had more chicken soup and took a hot bath. Whew. I hope I shake this cold soon.

Monday, October 17, 2005


I definitely have a cold. I spent the day sniffling, sneezing, coughing and wheezing. I did go into work, but it was not a lot of fun. There is something going around because a lot of my colleagues have similar colds. We probably caught it from our students, but who knows?
I went to lunch with my friend Steve and had a bowl of chicken soup. When I was done the waitress asked me if she could bring me anything else. I said, "Yes, another bowl of chicken soup, please." Then I got home for dinner and had yet another bowl of chicken soup. That ought to fix me right up.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunny Sunday!

Hooray! I woke up this morning to bright sunshine and blue skies.
It sure seems better when the sun is shining.
I was lazy and just had a leisurely breakfast and read the paper in the morning. In the afternoon I graded papers.
Alison called to ask if I waned to go for a run, but I feel like I am coming down with a cold, so I decided to skip the run. I need to spend the time grading papers, anyway.
Barbara is researching Dell laptops for me. My current Dell laptop is about five years old, and it is getting slower and slower. I think the processor is fried. I have tried all the software solutions I can think of, but nothing helps. I would love a new computer for my birthday. Barbara is seeing what kind of a deal she can find.

The sangha in the evening was excellent. We had 13 people, including three young men from Sandwich High School, who saw us on the Internet. They stayed behind and asked questions for half an hour after the sitting.
After dinner (chicken soup) I watched some of West Wing, but turned it off when i got a call from my dear old friend Charlie Dawes, who went to Marietta College with me in the '60s. We will see Charlie next weekend, since he still lives in Marietta and we are returning for homecoming.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Soggy Saturday again

Eight straight days of rain -- this is getting amazing. I drove to a meeting at Bridgewater State College, and it was a torrential pownpour both ways. The speed limit on the highway is 65, but I was going about 50 most of the way. I feel like I may be coming down with a cold. I took some TheraFlu nighttime medicine and slept a long time Saturday night.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Soggy Friday

Enough is enough! A solid week of rainy weather is getting discouraging!
I was feeling a little under the weather figuratively, too, so I did not run this morning. I had a terrific class in Mass Communication. We got to talking about movies, and lots of students participated. That was great. In the evening I played Rummykub with Barbara and her Mom and then went to bed early.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Soggy Thursday

Yes, yet another rainy day. I can't believe how long it has been rainy. Fortunately it was not actively raining at 6:45, so Vivi and I did our morning run. I was sore after going to running group Wednesday night, but I warmed up after a half mile or so. Classes went well. In English I had a guest speaker, and in journalism I gave a test, so I didn't have to do much teaching myself.


Running: 2.5 miles)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Soggy Wednesday

Well, the rain let up just enough for Vivi and I to get our run in at 6:45. We did the village loop, and it felt great. It is definitely good to be back on the road again.

At work I received some very sad news. My old friend Jack White died. Jack was the dean of Rhode Island journalists. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his story uncovering the fact that President Nixon had not paid his income tax. I had first met him in 1970 when I was a young cub reporter and he was Newport bureau chief for the Providence Journal. Later -- after my four years in the Navy and his Pulitzer Prize -- we both ended up at the Cape cod Times, where I often edited his Sunday columns. He was a wonderful reporter and a kind and compassionate gentleman. Everyone liked and respected him.

I kept meaning to call him in recent years, but I never got around to it. Now it is too late. I am saddened by that, but I an happy I had the chance to know Jack White.

In the evening, I went to running group. Because it was cool with a light drizzle, hardly anybody showed up. My regular buddies wimped out. But a few of us ran and had a good time.

(Running: 7 miles?)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Soggy Tuesday

Yep, more rain again.
Gary and Sue left early in the morning. I had planned to run with Vivian, but she couldn't make it. I gave up and didn't bother to run alone. It was kind of drizzling anyway. But three days without running is making me cranky.

School resumed, and I taught English and Journalism. They went well. In the evening I graded lots of papers. The grading never ends. I gave up at 9 and watched "Commander in Chief." It's OK, but not very intelligently written.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Soggy Monday

Oh no, not more rain!
On Monday morning Brandy and Christina packed up and headed for the Poconos. Barbara and I did some housecleaning, and then I went to have lunch with my dear friend Steve. He and I try to have lunch every Monday. We have a great relationship. We talked about getting the Interfaith Coalition organized and about supporting each other in our writing projects.

In the early afternoon Gary and Sue Carson arrived. We took them out for a walk at Fort Hill, and then to the beach at Coast Guard Light. Later they took us out to dinner at The Marshside.
We had a pleasant talk that evening, but we were all tired and retired early.

I just ran this through the spell checker, and it did not recognize "Marshside." It suggested changing it to "Marxist." That's wonderful becasue when Gary and I were in college, we used to call him "Trotsky" -- only partly because of the physical resemblance.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Soggy Sunday

We had even more rain Sunday. We took Joe and Gay to the bus station, but stopped by Trader Joe's on the way. I found great deals on Kashi cereal and soy yogurt. In the evening, I went to the sangha. It was a good session with eight people. That evening we all watched "West Wing." My brother and I agreed it is not as good as it used to be.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Soggy Saturday

It rained all Saturday. I graded papers, and Barbara and I wrote checks and took care of business. Brandy and Christina and Joe and Gay went out to Provincetown to celebrate Gay's birthday. In the evening we had a good game of Apples to Apples.

Friday, October 07, 2005


11:30: It's been a long week. I am glad it is Friday. I think I'll sleep in tomorrow. This morning I got up at 5:45 for my run. I came down to the dining room table and fond a stack of white computer paper with printing on it. I absent-mindedly start reading the first page, and it is an absolutely fascinating story of a young man who may have invented a time machine. It is riveting -- a real page turner. I can't wait to see how it turns out. Then Joe Haldeman comes down. It turns out he was up during the night working on his next book. It's strange having a successful science-fiction author in your house.

The reason I started this blog was to learn more about the phenomenon. Joe, science-fiction writer that he is, was way ahead of the curve. He started his "on-line diary" several years ago, before anybody talked about blogs. Now people are suggesting that blogs could either be (or contribute to) the next mass medium.
Joe's blog is located at:

I see he referred to me and I have referred to him, and we are all connected. I don't know what that means, but it is cool, I'm sure.
(Running: 2.5 miles)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

We are all one

Thursday included a very nice meeting of the Cape Cod Interfaith Coalition. My friend Judith from the Bahai community handed out buttons they have that shows the symbols of six major religions. I like them very much. Getting together with people from different faiths is always fulfilling.
Then I returned to the college for my night class, and finally got home around 9. Brandy and Christina were still there, and they were joined by their good friends Joe and Gay. We had a nice talk in the evening.
(Running 2.5 miles.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Wednesday running group

Wednesday went well. I ran the Village Loop in the morning, taught two classes and went to running group in the evening. ON the way to running group I dashed into Eastern Mountain Sports to buy a bandanna. I asked the clerk to cut off the tag and throw away the receipt. Then I dashed out. I think it was his first "bandanna emergency." I like to wear them on my head when I run to keep the sweat out of my eyes. My regular friends were not at the running group, but I had a good time anyway.
(Running: 7.5 miles?)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Two classes Tuesday

Back to the old routine. I ran the Village Loop in the morning and then rode my motorcycle into the campus. I had already corrected the papers for English Composition, so that went well. Then I had to frantically grade papers and prepare for my afternoon class -- journalism.

On Monday afternoon I was interviewed by a reporter for the Cape Cod Times about the sale of a local weekly to the owners of the Times. In today's story none of my quotes appeared. I guess they cut them for space reasons, but I wonder if they decided not to print comments that may have appeared critical of the trend toward chain ownership and the decrease in competition. They are claiming that the competition will remain.

My brother arrives

On Monday my brother and his wife arrived for a week's visit. It is great to see them. Because they live in Florida, it is far too long between visits.
But first thing Monday morning I was so sore form the weekend of painting and cleaning that I was too sore to run. I had to cancel my regular morning run. I felt better by evening.

More painting

Sunday was another painting day. We finished the white trim and took a long time cleaning up. We also decided to rearrange the furniture while moving things back in. We moved a big bookcase into the "library," moved a dresser from the library to the garage, and moved a dresser form the garage up to Brandon's room. It is a yellow-and white dresser that matches the rest of the furniture. The room looks terrific.
We also had a good sangha with eight people. I was exhausted in the evening.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Painting Day

8 a.m.: Yesterday I noticed a comment that was posted on Wednesday's entry from a blogger in England. He challenged me to post something more substantive and journalistic, instead of when I woke up and how far I ran. I shall try to do that in the future, although it doesn't come naturally. That is strange, since I am a professional journalist and professor. I spoke at great length in class about the Judith Miller Case.

Judith Miller is the New York Times reporter who spent nearly three months in jail for contempt of court because she refused to reveal a confidential source to a grand jury. As a journalist, I support her point of view that journalists should not be compelled to reveal sources, although I always urge my students to refrain from using confidential sources unless it is absolutely necessary. Journalists are in the business of providing information, not keeping secrets. I particularly admire Miller because she got the information (that the wife of a Bush critic was a CIA spy) and chose not to print it. Knowing the identity of a spy does not help the public in this case; it only served to end the career of the spy. Finally yesterday, Miller was released form her pledge by her source (Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff), and she testified before the grand jury. My hope now is that the grand jury indicts the Bush administration officials who leaked the identity of the spy in order to punish her husband, who had the audacity to point out that there were no weapons of mass distruction in Iraq. The most important role of journalists in American society is to provide a check on the abuse of power by the government. I hope the Bush administration officials responsible are severely punished for their abuse of power and that no more journalists are not punished for doing their jobs. (I think I'll post this paragraph in "Jim's Journalism Blog too)

Meanwhile, back in my mundane life, I got up and ran the village loop with Vivi. We have cleared out most of the furniture from Brandon's room, and I spent about an hour spackling nail holes and chipped plaster in the walls. We plan to finish clearing it out and paint the walls today.
(Running: 2.5 miles)