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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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Busy Tuesday

5:30: Another busy day. I slept in a little. Then I came to work, taught English, went to a baby shower for a colleague, taught journalism and had an hour-long phone conversation with my mentor in the Buddhist order. We discussed some aspirants whom I, in turn, am now mentoring.
9 p.m.: On the way home from work I picked up a pizza for the family, but I didn't eat that. I had a weight watchers shrimp marinara and a big salad. Then I had some Kashi Puffs cereal for dessert. We watched some dumb TV and then headed to bed. I have been putting off a little job of printing up "Sangha Cards" on my computer. They are little business cards that have contact information for the Cape Sangha. They are handy if someone asks me about the meditation group. This task has been on my "To Do" list for months. Finally, this evening, I was complaining to Barbara about how I have such a backlog of things to do, and she looked at the list and said,"Why don't you just go up and print the Sangha cards now?" So I did it, and it took less than 10 minutes. Wow! I can cross that off my list now!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Very cold Monday

7:30 p.m.: It was about 12 degrees this morning, and there was a high wind, making the wind-chill below zero. We skipped our run. Work was extremely busy. I had a class, gave a talk about meditation to the learning-disabilities group, met with the chair of the business department and spent a long time recording grades onto a spreadsheet and answering 44 e-mails. I came home exhausted. I did not do a good job of keeping to my diet, so I used up a lot of "flex-points" today. I'll have to be more careful tomorrow.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Cold and Mindful Sunday

1 p.m.: This morning was a lazy day. I did not get up early, meditate, run or go to church. I just slept in and had a slow breakfast. I even forgot to take my morning injection of Byetta. Oops. I also forgot to test my blood sugar this morning, so I won't have those little numbers at the foot of my entry that indicate glucose level and weight.

This afternoon I have the regular sangha meeting at 4:30, preceded by our discussion group at 3, preceded by a meeting with an aspirant at 2:30, so I have to leave the house around 2. I guess I'll have to get lunch soon and get ready to go to that.

I will try to be as mindful as possible all day. I am glad Barbara and I got almost all my grading done yesterday, so that is not hanging over my head today. There is a light dusting of snow on the ground today, but the sun is shining.

About running: My little three-miles runs with Vivi in the morning are nice, but I want to take it to the next level. I want to get back into running thsi spring and summer. I used to run a lot of road races, and I think this is a good year to do that. I want to do more long runs and see if I can get in good enough shape to run another marathon in the fall. The Cape Cod Marathon is Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006. That's three days before my 58th birthday. If I aim for a long run once a month to build up to it, that should work :
March: 6 miles
April: 8 miles
May: 10 miles
June: 12 miles
July: 14 miles
August: 16 miles
September: 18 miles
October: 22 miles (early in the month)
October 29, 2006 : 26.2 mile Marathon

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Busy Saturday

6 p.m.: I slept in until about 8 a.m., and then had a slow leisurely breakfast. I also spent some time cleaning up the kitchen. Having a lot of family and friends visiting sure messes up the house! Then I spent a few hours correcting papers. In the afternoon Barbara and I decided to go to Trader Joe's, which is a store I love. It is a specialty store that carried a lot of organic, natural and vegetarian foods at a very low price. The Kashi cereal I eat every day is much cheaper at Trader Joe's, as is the soy yogurt. We stocked up on things there that would have cost us more elsewhere. On the way home we decided to stop at BJ's wholesale club to see if they had the Fresca I like. They didn't have that, but we found a lot of other bargains. These things cost us a lot of money today, but I honestly believe it will save us money in the long run. Since Brandon was home with his grandmother, Barbara had the rare opportunity to go out together. It started to snow while we were out shopping. This evening I will have to grade more papers.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Frigid Friday

9 p.m.: It didn't start out frigid, but it sure got cold in the evening. I slept in a little because Vivi didn't want to run this morning. Then I had a nice breakfast and headed for work. Barbara and I dropped off the little car at the service station so Steve could replace the thermostat. Then I dropped her off back at home, picked up Jessi and went to the college. I gave a test in mass communication, met with several students and updated the web site for the on-line class. I dealt with a whole lot of e-mail and reports and paperwork like that.
IN the late afternoon I came home in time to say goodbye to Ben and Wolf and little Nathaniel, who are heading out to Western Massachusetts to visit their friends and then home to North Carolina. After they left, my running buddy Alison came over for a run. She drove me to the service station, and we both went for a run from there. It is one of our favorite runs down to Gray's Beach and back. But it was getting colder and colder, and the wind was really picking up. The whole way down to the beach, the wind was in our faces, and we almost froze. But when we turned around and headed back the wind was at our back, and it practically carried us along. That was nice. From there I was able to drive my own car home again -- see how nicely that all worked out? I got the car fixed, for work done and got a good run in too.
The Weather Channel's Web site says it is 29 degrees, but with a 25 mph wind, it feels like 15. Frankly, I think the winds are more like 50 mph here, but I am not really sure.
(180/169) Running: 3 miles

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Great Thursday

9 p.m.: Today started out great because I went to my Weight Watchers weigh-in, and they said I had lost 5.6 pounds. Of course the previous week I had gained 2 pounds, but all in all, I have lost a total of 10 pounds in the seven weeks on the program. That feels great. First thing in the morning I did my three-mile run with Vivian.
I had some good classes, too, and at dinner time my whole family came in to meet me for dinner at Subway. (I sound like Jared the Subway spokesman, I suppose. I had their Veggie D'Lite sub.
My night class went well, too, and I got home before 9 p.m.
(160/169) Running: 3 miles

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Busy Wednesday

5 p.m.: I have been too busy to fill in my blog. Let's see -- up at 6 to meditate and run at 6:30. Then I took Jessi to school and got ready for my 10 o'clock class, give a make-up test, chaired a committee meeting, had an evaluation meeting with my dean, prepared for my afternoon class, taught that, and now it's 5 already. I'm just a busy guy, I guess.
(166/172) Running: 3 miles

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Family Reunion

In the morning I meditated and ran, which was great. Then I had a full day at the college, with two classes. I also had lunch with my friend Alicia, and I enjoyed that very much.
After work, I cam home to a big reunion. Our son Ben, his wife Wolf, their baby Nathaniel, our son Brandon, Barbara's brother Steve and his wife Janet were all there, not to mention my wife Barbara and her mother, Vee, plus Brandon's friend Justin, who is living with us. It was quite a houseful. It was great to see everyone together at once.
(156/174) Running: two miles

Monday, February 20, 2006

Family coming!

10 a.m.: Today is the big day! My son's Ben and Brandon, pllus Ben's wife Wolf and their son Nathaniel, are all arriving sometime this afternoon. We are very excited about it. Between now and then I will need to get a lot of papers graded.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mindful Sunday

1 p.m.: I got off to a good start today by going to church. I have been attending the Unity Church of the Light, and I recommended it to my running buddy Alison. Today she took me up on the idea, so we went together. It was a good service, with a guest speaker who gave an inspiring sermon.
9 p.m.: The afternoon and evening were wonderful too. The sangha went very well. A nice young man who has been coming to the sangha called me before hand and asked if I could read something by Thich Nhat Hanh. I found a new magazine interview with him, and it made an excellent reading. Everyone said it was terrific. Also I spoke with two other members before and after the sangha and helped them with some questions they had. All in all, I felt like it was a genuine day of mindfulness.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lazy Saturday

noon: I can't believe I slept until nearly 10 a.m. this morning. Then I had a long, slow beakfast and read the paper.
4:30 p.m.: Well, it didn't turn out to be so lazy after all. Barbara and I spent most of the afternoon doing laundry and housecleaning. We're getting ready for lot's of company starting Monday.

Friday, February 17, 2006


7 a.m.: I skipped my morning run today because Vivi couldn't make it. Of course I could have run alone, but I was feeling lazy. It is mild outside and most of the snow has melted. They say it is going to turn colder this weekend. Although I have only one class, I have several appointments that will keep me very busy all day.
10 p.m.: Yes, those appointments did keep me busy all day, but I got through them all. The one I enjoyed the most was lunch with my friend David, who is the rabbi of the Cape Cod Synagogue. We had wanted to open a bank account for the Cape Cod Interfaith Coalition, but it turns out we have to get a taxpayer Identification Number first. That will delay things a bit. So we went out to lunch and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly getting to know each other better.
In the evening, Barbara and I watch "A League of Their Own" with Geena David and Tom Hanks. It was amusing, but I won't put it on my favorite movies list.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thawing Thursday

7:15 a.m.: We had another good three-mile run this morning amid melting snow.
Last night, around 11 p.m., I had another incident of low blood sugar. I had to get up and eat. I guess it is a sign of the effectiveness of the new medicine I am taking. It has brought down my chronic high blood sugar, and now I will have to reduce some of my medication to avoid it going too low. I think I will cut back on the glucophage with dinner and see how that goes. My physical already suggested I would be able to reduce the oral medication when I started the Byetta.
My night class tonight is canceled. That will make this a much easier Thursday than usual.
7:15 p.m.: Well, no it still wasn't an easy day. I got discouraged becasue I gained two pounds at Weight Watchers, instead of losing weight, as I should have. That kind of soured my outlook. But I made it through the day, and I know I have it a lot better than most people. I'll try to remember that when I have a hard day.
(126/174) Running: 3 miles

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Warmer Wednesday

7:30 a.m.: We had another nice run this morning. It is up to about 33 degrees this morning -- almost balmy. The snow is starting to melt. Mom woke up with a severe pain in her hand. Barbara put a call into the doctor. ON the way to work, I stopped by the Shell station and picked up Mom's car, which got a new alternator. Justin took it from there to his job. Jessi and I continued on to the college. Cindy had asked me to pick up donuts for the office, so I bought a dozen donuts, but I won't eat any. What a good boy am I!
8 p.m.: At midday I saw Dr. Slater, the pulmonologist who examined me last August, when I had a scare with some nodules in my lungs. It turned out to be nothing, but they wanted me to get a follow-up exam six months later. Once again, I got a clean bill of health. That felt good. My afternoon class went well, and I got a little more work done on the e-mail address book for the Cape Cod interfaith Coalition.
(145/173) Running: 3 miles

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day

7:30 a.m.: Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.
Vivi and I got back on the roads and did a three-mile run this morning. The roads have been plowed, so it wasn't bad at all. It was a little cold (25 degrees), but we pressed on. I always feel better after running.

Yesterday I found a West Virginia commemorative quarter, and I love it. I have gotten interested in the New River, which flows form the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, through West Virginia and into the Ohio. We cross the headwaters of it when we drive down to Asheville, and I would like to explore it. There is a stretch in West Virginia called the New River Gorge that is supposed to be particularly beautiful. It is a popular area for white-water rafting. I was thrilled to see that the New River Gorge is depicted on the West Virginia quarter. Now I really have to go see it.
According to the U.S. Mint site:

The design chosen to represent West Virginia is one that combines the natural physical beauty of the State and the triumph of the human intellect exemplified by the engineering wonder that is the New River Gorge Bridge. At 3,030 feet long and 69 feet wide, the bridge is the world’s largest steel span and the second highest ridge in the United States, rising 876 feet above the New River Gorge in southern West Virginia. In 1978, 53 miles of the New River was added to the National Park System as the New River Gorge National River. For years, crossing the New River Gorge meant long detours along narrow, winding mountain roads. The completion of the bridge in 1977 reduced this dangerous 40-minute trip to a smooth and scenic one-minute drive.

Photograph provided by the National Parks Service

Running: 3 miles

Monday, February 13, 2006

Digging Out

7 a.m.: It's cold and clear this morning. We decided to skip our morning run because the roads are still snow-covered. It wouldn't be safe to try to dodge cars when the snow banks cover the shoulders. This morning I am going to drop Justin off at his job, since Mom's car is still in the shop. Actually it is probably buried under eight inches of snow behind the shop!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snowy Sunday

10 a.m.: I awoke to true blizzard conditions. We have only about five inches so far, but it is coming down quickly, and it is blowing and drifting in high winds -- what fun! We still have power, so we are quite comfortable, so far!

4 p.m.: It has been snowing all day, but we seem to be missing the most intense bands of snow. I just measured an average of eight inches of snow in our yard. I canceled the sangha, and I wonder whether or not we will have school tomorrow. There is no word yet on that.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Calm Before the Storm

11 a.m.: The weather service is predicting a big blizzard for tonight. We'll see. I slept until 9 a.m. and had a nice leisurely breakfast.
11 p.m.: I graded some papers this afternoon, and then we had a fun evening with our friends Ned and Glenda. We had Chinese Food and talked all evening. It was a lot of fun. I ate all my bonus "flex points" from Weight Watchers, so i have to be on a very strict diet form now until next Thursday. OK I deserve that, but I had fun tonight. The snow hasn't started, but there are predictions for 10 to 14 inches of snow here during the day Sunday.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Frigid Friday

8 a.m.: Brrrrr!
It was so cold I didn't even want to get out of bed this morning. But I skipped my run yesterday and felt guilty. So I dragged myself out of bed at 6. The thermometer said 22 degrees. With the wind chill, it felt like about 7 degrees, according to weather.com -- http://www.weather.com/outlook/recreation/outdoors/hourbyhour/02638?locid=02638&from=36hr_topnav_outdoors -- but we ran anyway. After a mile I suggested to Vivi that we turn back early. My lips were so cold I could barely get the wrds out. I know my friends in New Hampshire will say it was a balmy day here, compared to there, but it was plenty cold enough for me.

10 p.m.: The day is ending as it began -- cold! I can't seem to get warm, so I am going to take a hot bath. But in the middle of the day I got a CAT scan, sorted through about 90 e-mails, organized a lot of papers, gave a talk to some young students with developmental disabilities, got a flu shot and plenty of other things to keep busy. I tried to watch the Winter Olympics on TV, but NBC is stretching it out to maximize the number of commercials. The opening ceremonies had already occurred, and yet they are making us hang on for three hours to watch them. I am giving up and going to bed.


Running: 2 miles

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Very long Thursday

7 a.m.: skipped running and meditation this morning to try to get to work early. I can't believe how much I have to do! The e-mails are piling up, and so are the papers to grade.
10 p.m.: Well, I got through the day and taught three good classes. We got excellent feedback from last night's program on race. The Cape Cod Times gave it front-page coverage. I let my night class out after two hours, instead of keeping them until 9:30. We covered the material, and everyone (including me) was tired. I'll sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Very full Wednesday

10 p.m.: It is after 10 p.m., and I am only now finding time to write in my blog. I went for a short run at 6:30, picked up Jessi and headed for school. We stopped at the Sangha sitting room to pick up a book I wanted to show in mass communication class. We were discussing books as the first mass medium. So I showed them the children's book The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton and The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, and talked about how they were two of my favorite books. They have very similar lessons, one I learned at age 5 and one at age 50. I hope the class got the idea. Then I chaired the meeting of the committee on Curriculum and Programs ("C&P"). Unfortunately there was some conflict, and I had to break a tie on a controversial issue. That was stressful. Later a student came to me asking to be added into my English class because she had a dispute with her other English teacher. i urged her to try to workout the conflict with the other professor. That was stressful too. Then I had a good Journalism 2 class, and returned to do some preparation for the evening program. That was a "town meeting on race" presented by the Cape Cod Interfaith Coalition. I just made some very brief remarks at the event, but I wanted them to be the right words. It went from 7 to 9, but I stayed to thank folks for coming, so I didn't get home until after 9:30. It was an excellent program, and I felt like I learned a lot. I am glad to be part of the coalition, even if it is a lot of work.
Running: 1 mile

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cold Tuesday

7 a.m.: It was cold on our morning run today. The puddle at the corner was frozen solid, so I know it was below freezing. But once we got running, it didn't feel too bad. Back home sipping green tea, I can feel noble about having gone for a run.

Mom has a bad cough. My wife's 87-year-old mother lives with us. She is like a mother to me too, so I call her "Mom." We'll have to get her some medicine for that cough.

The college e-mail server was down yesterday. I just tried to access it remotely a few minutes ago, and it says "unavailable." uh oh. That does not look good. It is amazing how much of the college's work is done with e-mail these days.

9 p.m.: The college's e-mail service was finally restored about 2 p.m. Whew! It was a very busy day, and I still have not gotten caught up. I wonder if I ever will. But I had a wonderful lunch with my friend Steve, and then I had a nice visit with my friend Gael after work. She is a loyal member of the sangha, and I performerd her wedding ceremony 13 months ago.
( 124/173)
Running: 3 miles

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monday Monday

7:20 a.m.: I see the Blogger status site acknowledged that Blogger had major problems over the weekend. I was not able to access it during the troubles, of course. http://status.blogger.com/.

I had a good run with Vivi at 6:30. We did our regular run, which is about 2.5 or 3 miles. I was feeling a little stiff and sore, but it went fine once we got going.

For our one national shared experience, the Super Bowl was a little disappointing to me. The ball game was OK, but I didn't see any players who impressed me as being exceptionally good. Both teams made plenty of mistakes. The advertising was good, but -- again -- not spectacular. And I was embarrassed for Mick Jagger. At least when Paul McCartney gets out of breath, he can sit down at the piano and sing "Yesterday." Mick just looked too old to carry on like that. For god's sake, he's even older than ME!

I had a good morning class and meeting with the student newspaper folks. I had an afternoon meeting at Massasoit Community College. The meeting was good but not the drive home. It should have been an hour, but it took me nearly two because of traffic.

( 128/174)
Running: 3 miles)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl Sunday

11 a.m.: Hey, bloggers -- Last night (Saturday, Feb. 4) I could not access any sites on blogger.com between about 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (Eastern time), and this morning it seems to be loading very slowly. Is anyone else having the same problems? I wonder if blogger.com got hit with a virus or some sort of cyber attack.

This morning I slept until 9 a.m., which is unusual for me. I must have needed the sleep. I was awakened by a call from my running buddy Alison, who wanted to go for a run. We went for a nice three-mile run around the neighborhood, but ended up stopping three times to chat with friends. That made it more social than athletic, but it was lots of fun. I hope to get more school work done before the sangha and Super Bowl.

Sundays should be days of mindfulness for me. I wonder if it is possible to watch the Super Bowl "mindfully."? Anyone out there have ideas on a Buddhist approach to professional football?

Running: three miles

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Too much to do!

9 a.m.: I slept until about 8 a.m. because I really needed my sleep. I had a good breakfast, and now I had better figure out how to set up my grade book on Excel Spreadsheets.
I just learned that an old friend, Frank Delear, died last week. His obituary was in the Cape Cod Times. Frank was 92. Starting about 20 years ago, when I was 37 and he was 72, we ran a lot of road races together. We discovered we had many things in common; he was also a journalist and writer. I have a copy of a book we wrote -- a biography of aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky -- which Frank inscribed to me. I hadn't seen Frank in about 10 years. I wish I had kept in touch.
7 p.m.: I have set up digital grade books for three classes so far, and I have also graded a lot of papers and put in information about attendance, quiz grades and so forth. That gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Finally Friday

7 a.m.: Vivi and I went for our run in spite of the fact that it was raining. She was so apologetic about missing yesterday that she decided to get up today no matter what! We compromised and did a shorter two-mile loop. Since I have only one class and no meetings today, perhaps I can get caught up on some of the things on my list -- like filling in my grade book and fixing the online assignments.

As a Buddhist, I should learn to be content with things as they are, yet I feel compelled to work to change things. I want the Interfaith Coalition to become a force for change on Cape Cod. I want the National Coalition Building Institute team to resolve conflicts. I want my college committee to help standardize and improve teaching standards, I want my sangha to help people find their own spiritual path, and, of course, I want to help my students become better writers and happier people. I am even trying to strengthen my family and help us all get along better. And I am working on my regime of diet and exercise to improve my physical health. Then there are these darn words and images on this blog -- why am I doing this? With all those things going on in my life I am too busy to figure out what it all means.
( 136/173)
Running: 2 miles

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Busy Thursday

7 a.m.: I got up and ran this morning, although Vivi was not there. She must have slept in because she did not have to work today. So I cheated too and cut the run short. I did about a mile and a half, instead of our usual three. I think I can still feel noble.
Today I have a class at 10, a class at 2:30 a meeting at 4 and a class at 6:30. That ought to keep me busy. I need to make use of the time between classes. Part of that will be preparing for the next class, but I might be able to slip in another task or two. I need to get my grade books filled in. I start off with Weight Watchers at 8:15. I hope I lost a pound or two.
9:30 a.m.: Woo-hoo! Weight Watchers said I lost another three pounds. That's a total of 6.4 pounds in four weeks. I feel good about that.
10:30 p.m.: This is the day I should have labeled as "Wonderful"! It was busy, but now that it is over, I feel terrific.
8 to 9: Breakfast and Weight Watchers -- lost three pounds!
9 to 10: Prep for English Class
10 to 11: Good English Class. They learned the difference between it's and its.
11 to 12: Work on online class. I also got a visit from a colleague who said some of her students had praised my online class. She wanted me to show her how I do it. She is someone I respect as a mentor, and now I have a chance to help her. There isn't much in the world that makes me happier than that.
12-1: MainSheet (student newspaper) meeting.
1 to 2:30 Prep for journalism class.
2:30 to 4: Terrific journalism class -- they wrote leads on the board and learned a lot.
4 to 5: Meeting of Cape Cod Interfaith Coalition, at which I was elected secretary. My good friends Steve, Larry and David were elected chairman, vice chair and treasurer. We will have an excellent group.
5 to 6:30: Barbara brought me dinner while I prepared for the evening class.
6:30 to 9: Somehow I pulled together an excellent history of mass communication class, including a virtual tour of the French cave drawings that represent human being's first attempts at mass communication. I found it on the Internet and had the equipment to project it on a big screen in the class. http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/chauvet/en/index.html We also had some insightful conversations. It all came together much better than I had envisioned. I feel like I am doing a good job as a teacher.
Running: 1.5

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Wonderful Wednesday

6:20 a.m.: I named this entry at 6:20 a.m. because I am determined to make this a wonderful day. I got up early to run, which is always a good start.
7:20 a.m.: Yes!!! It is going to be a wonderful day. Vivi and I had a terrific three-mile run. It was a little faster than I would have gone by myself, so I feel like I really pushed myself and got a good workout. Now I need to work hard all day and get caught up on my work.
2 p.m.: Yikes! So busy!
9-10 check email and prep for COM 105
10-11 teach COM 105
11-11:30 help student who missed earlier class
11:30-12: meet with Marybeth about plans for C&P committee, which I chair, (but she runs.)
12-1:30: Department meeting
1:30-2 gobble lunch at my desk (Jello and yogurt)
When will I ever get caught up?
8 p.m.: Well, the rest of the day was just as busy. More meetings and more classes. I did get a lot accomplished, including a note to my online students about writing blogs. I brought home a textbook to read in bed.
Running: 3 miles