Busman’s Holiday

So on a widely celebrated holiday a couple months ago, I got a special gift from my family: a very cool little audio recorder. This was in recognition, I think, that: 1) I’m a swell guy, 2) my journalistic endeavors now involve working with sound, and 3) that I put this item on my Amazon wish list.

This morning, my little recorder had an on-air debut of sorts. I went up to the Cal baseball double-header yesterday to try to talk to people about the university’s decision to eliminate the team next year. (Digression: The university has deepening budget problems as its state resources dwindle. Tuition has gone up 44 percent over the last three years to make up part of the gap, and the administration wants to reduce the deficit in the intercollegiate athletics program as part of a workable long-term budget. All that makes sense to people. What has made less sense, or at least is much less understood among the Old Blue community, is the process by which UC-Berkeley decided last fall to end baseball, rugby, men’s and women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse, then reinstate all but baseball and men’s gymnastics (for a taste of the frustration with these decisions, check out this post from my KQED colleague Jon Brooks). The politics is complex, and involves both the university’s handling of potential sports donor and its obligations under Title IX, the federal law that prescribes gender equity in education programs. But even if one buys the official rationale, one might feel a certain disconnect from reality when watching the baseball team take the field. It’s ranked 17th in the country and provided an opening-day gift for fans by sweeping its two games against Utah yesterday–taking the nightcap with a four-run rally in fading daylight in the bottom of the ninth. End of digression.)

Where were we? I went up and did some interviews and recorded some game sound at Evans Diamond. Then I came home, fired up the never-used-before sound editor I bought earlier in the day, Hindenburg (this one, not this one). I transferred my audio to the computer, eventually figured out how to edit it, wrote a script that incorporated the sound I’d chose (this was a “cut and script,” a piece in which an anchor reads tracks around soundbites), did a quick edit with one of the other news folks, then uploaded everything to an FTP server to be downloaded for use this morning.

The final product is here (second item in the newscast).

Notes from Day Two

The schedule as it stands this evening:

Cognitive Sciences/Linguistics: “The Mind and Language.” Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m.

History: “Modern Ireland” (“modern means from 1600 till now). Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m.

Letters & Science/International Studies: “Global Transformation and Cultural Change: NGO’s, AIDs and Sub-Saharan Africa.” Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 a.m.

Subject to change, perhaps. I actually was signed up for a fourth class, but because of some work commitments, I’ve had to try to pack as much of my class time into the mornings as possible. What doesn’t show here is that each class includes at least one hour of discussion outside the lectures per week — that’s something new since I was last making out checks to the Regents of the University of California. I talked to my advisor in the history department today, and she said if she were in my shoes she’d take just two classes. We’ll see.


Without doing the Rip van Winkle thing too much, some impressions after waking up from my decades of academic slumber:

–My dog doesn’t know me anymore. The son of the man who used to run the CIA is now president of the United States.

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First Day of School

First day, first day back in class since 1980: Cognitive Science 101, “Language and Mind.” Despite Thom’s assurances that I might see at least one other gray head in the classroom, everyone else here seems to be honest-to-goodness first go-round undergrads. But since I can sit here and blog, I am not self-conscious (hey, you couldn’t do that the last time I was on campus). [Later: On mature reflection, and to set the record straight, what Thom was telling me when I shared my pre-first-day butterflies with him yesterday was that many of his classes at the University of Oregon have included one person my age or older; he didn’t imply that I’d have any other fogies as company, just that my appearance among students born just before or during the first Bush administration wouldn’t be as freakish as I assumed.]

This first class — it’s 11:08 11:13 11:18 and still no instructor — is something of a crapshoot. I’m waitlisted for it. The classroom is a good-sized one in Cory Hall, in the ever-expanding electrical engineering/computer science quadrant of the campus. The hall seats maybe 200 people. It’s packed. A quarter-hour in and people are still arriving.

(At the same time, I have another potential class happening, a Property and Law lecture, about a five-minute walk away. Right now, Cognitive Science 101 is becoming an exercise in waiting–how long till people just start to bail and go to whatever else they might have to do. Right now, I’d call my first day back an anti-climax.).

[Update: Instructor showed at 11:22, saying that unbeknownst to her, her room assignment had been changed. My education has begun!]


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Class of ‘0-Something

Back from Chicago last night. This afternoon, I walked up to campus — here, that automatically means UC Berkeley — for an appointment with an undergraduate advisor in the College of Letters and Science. Mission: to see what I need to do to finish my bachelor’s degree.

Yes, we have no B.A. I went to school back between 1974 and 1980, but never finished. That never seemed to affect my life or work prospects because I was lucky enough to get real experience right out of high school in a field, daily journalism, that hardly asked what college you went to or what you did there as long as you had the fire and the talent for the work. And for a long time, that was enough. When I left daily print journalism in the mid-90s, my resume was my degree, and for a while, that was enough. But at this point — having bounced around online journalism, TV news, magazine editing and writing, and some marketing stuff, among other things; and having watched that daily print news world I came from wither — I’m thinking of other things I might do (I’m told I’d make a great history teacher if I can avoid scuffling with the students), and that resume is no longer enough. And beside all that, I admit it’s always bothered me a little to have that uncompleted task out there.

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So, I’m nearing the three-month mark in this law school job (every day a new record for longevity). It’s interesting getting to know the campus again, walking it every day. Interesting to see the students; last time I was up there on an every day basis, I was one of them — a little older than most, actually, but still, within a few years of most of the people in my classes. Now — well, I can hardly ignore the fact pretty much all the students are bracketed by my kids’ ages — 18 and going on 26. I don’t feel a full lifetime away from who I was the last time I was in class (something to do with a senior thesis, I think; never got finished). But in simple age terms, that’s what I am.

That’s not what I started out to say, though. What I started out to say was this overheard snippet, a guy to a couple friends walking down Bancroft Way: “Ted had a press conference the other day. He said Longshore‘s the man.” Translation took a couple of seconds: Football season’s here, and the fans are talking about it.

P.S. And, a lifetime away or not, Nate Longshore is about as fine a sports name as you’ll find occurring in nature.

P.P.S. Pending gridiron excitement: Illinois vs. California in beautiful Memorial Stadium. The last time these squads tilted, the Fighting Illini (caution: politically incorrect) hunted, killed, and skinned the Golden Bears (government notice: extinct hereabouts).