25 Years Ago Today: I Graduate From College


On May 14, 1995, I completed four years of undergraduate education at the College of William & Mary in Virginia (that is its official name).  In many ways, it feels like yesterday as the years since I went to college have gone by much faster than the years leading up to college.  And yet, I also feel that I have changed quite a bit in the intervening years.

Me with W&M icon Ernestine Jackson.

I was so anxious then but more confident in myself now.  Conversely, I was more social then but much more comfortable spending time alone now.  Even when it comes to learning, I look back and am appalled at how slapdash I was in studying and research. And yet I learned things at the time that I could expound upon at length, that I can’t remember anything about now. Oh, and that whole thing about getting more conservative as you get older? Not true.  I’ve moved much farther to the Left as I’ve become increasingly cognizant of the woes of the world.

A very wet but memorable procession across campus.

Anyhow, here is what I remember about that Sunday (which was also Mother’s Day) when I officially became a college graduate:

  • It rained.  On the traditional walk across campus from the William & Mary’s historic Wren Building to the William & Mary Hall arena, the heavens unleashed a deluge of biblical proportions.  Graduation gowns provide absolutely no protection from the rain.
  • We were warned about increased security because of our commencement speaker (see below), but no one really checked us at all.
  • Former President George Bush spoke.  I’ve always been grateful that he kept his remarks short, not least because it was uncomfortable sitting in damp robes.  He mentioned “a kinder, gentler nation” and “a thousand points of light,” castigated the NRA (to great cheers, even in Virginia), and told a joke about a long commencement speech at Yale. In this yarn the speaker expounded on a word starting with each letter in YALE for 30 minutes each.  The punchline is a student praying to “thank God I didn’t go to The College of William & Mary in Virginia).
  • After the main ceremony, we went to the diploma ceremonies hosted by each discipline. I double-majored, and chose to receive my diploma at the English department ceremony rather than History (I can’t remember why, but it was a good choice, because my friend who went to History said they bungled the ceremony).
  • My mother hosted a reception for friends and families.  My sister had too much punch and introduced herself as my brother.

And that’s about all I can remember about that day. I was a college graduate.  Four months later I started working as an historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg. Three years later I moved to Boston.  Five years later I started working in a library.  Nine years later I received a master’s degree in Library and Information Science.  Ten years later I got married.  Twelve years later I became a Dad.  Sixteen years later I had two kids.  And now, here we are twenty-five years later!

Related Posts:

2019 Year in Review: Memorable Events


I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 24th annual list.

February 18-24: Walt Disney World – We returned to the Most Magical Place on Earth, spending a day at each of the four parks.

March 2: Met up with my long time internet friend Jim for the first time in person.  We drank a lot.

March 15-18: St. Patrick’s Day in New York – I joined my mom for a walking tour of Irish New York, a bit of the parade, and attend a traditional Irish seisiún in the Bronx.

April 3: Slipped out of work to go bowling with some co-workers.

April 5-6: Attended the New England Archivists spring meeting in the lovely town of Burlington, Vermont.  It snowed.

April 15: Patriots Day – watched people playing baseball and running down the street.

April 16-17: Cooperstown – a short pilgrimage with Peter.

April-July: Youth Baseball – Kay played her first season of coach-pitch baseball and her team won their division! Meanwhile, Peter played on his spring league team, the Mayor’s Cup team, and a new summer league team!

May 4: Wake Up the Earth – we marched in the parade until the Earth woke up.

June-July: Women’s World Cup – another entertaining tournament (won by the US!)

June 14: 5th Grade Moving On Ceremony – Peter completed elementary school and moved on to middle school.

July 4-6: Independence Day in New York – we visited my mother for the holiday, saw the fireworks, and counted many butts at the Metropolitan Museum.

August 24-26: Visit to Nana – I took the kids back to see my mother and we attended a Mets game (and saw a Polar Bear homer), visited the American Museum of Natural History, and sailed boats in Central Park.

August 28-31: Camping at Wolfe’s Neck – another outing to our favorite oceanside campground (with goats) in Freeport, Maine

September 29: Cataan with Craig at Turtle Swamp – good game, good beer, good friends.

October 14: Pumpkin Picking – took the kids to get some gourds at Ward’s Berry Farm.

October 27-28: CEDWARC Workshop – I took a day trip to Washington to learn about web archiving.  As an added bonus, I got in a nice walk to Lincoln Memorial and across the Potomac.

November: Kids’ birthday parties – Peter celebrated by racing go-karts with his friends.  Kay hunted horocruxes and fought Voldemort the pinata at a Harry Potter-themed party.

November 24: Learn to Curl – I got to experience the joy of sliding a big stone across the ice and vigorous sweeping.

Previously:

2019 Year in Review: Favorite Books


Here’s my annual list of my ten favorite books read in the year.  As always, this is merely the best books I read this year and not necessarily books published in 2018  For previous years see 2018, 20172016201520142013201220112010200920082007 and 2006. You may also want to check out My Favorite Books of All Time or see Every Book I’ve Ever Read cataloged in Library Thing.

  • The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro
  • American Passage: The History of Ellis Island by Vincent Cannato
  • Dylan Goes Electric!: Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties by Elijah Wald
  • Fault Lines : A History of the United States Since 1974 by Kevin Kruse
  • The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • One Giant Leap: The Untold Story of How We Flew to the Moon by Charles Fishman
  • Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
  • Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
  • We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang

Books Read in 2019

The books are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars with links to summary reviews. (A) is for audiobook.

Here’s a thumbnail of what the ratings mean:

  • 5 stars – all-time classic (I’m very stingy with these)
  • 4 stars – a particularly interesting, well-written, or important book
  • 3 stars – a good book from start to finish
  • 2 stars – not a good book on the whole but has some good parts
  • 1 star or less – basically a bad book with no redeeming values

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Vol. 11, Call Your Squirrelfriend
  • Ms. Marvel. Vol. 7, Damage Per Second
  • Ms. Marvel. Vol. 8, Mecca
  • Ms. Marvel. Vol. 9, Teenage Wasteland
  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 10: Time and Again
  • Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry (A) – ***1/2
  • The Second Amendment: A Biography by Michael Waldman (A) – ****
  • Star Wars Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes –
  • Star Wars Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon –
  • Star Wars Vol. 3: Rebel Jail –
  • Star Wars Vol. 4: Last Flight of the Harbinger –
  • Star Wars Vol. 5: Yoda’s Secret War –
  • Star Wars Vol. 6: Out Among the Stars –
  • Star Wars Vol. 7: The Ashes of Jedha

 

Baker’s Dozen (13 Years of Panorama of the Mountains)


Hey, did you like how this blog turned into a Movie Review blog?  Thirteen years ago, I decided to start a blog but couldn’t figure out a topic to focus on.  Hence the name “Panorama.”

3,456 posts later and this blog still has no focus.  I’ve gone through trends where I posted a lot about librarianship, Catholic saints, links of the day, photographs, routine baseball updates, so very many book reviews, so many memes, beer, travelogues, so many podcasts, favorite albums of all time, favorite books of all time, favorite songs by year, my efforts to watch more soccer, A to Z Challenges, biking and transit issues, public school activism, and some general navel gazing.

I’m not sure if this blog is ever going to have a point, but I do enjoy taking the time to write in it whatever the topic that comes to mind. I’ve never been sure who, if anyone, is really reading this blog.  There are of course viewership states from WordPress, and sometimes I find my blog mentioned in odd places, such as a citation for a Wikepedia article (which is weird!).  But if you’re out there and reading this and at any time found Panorama of the Mountains interesting or helpful, I thank you!

13 years down, and it looks like I will keep blogging until I run out of things to write about.

Previously:

46


46 years ago yesterday, President Richard Nixon delivered what became known as his “I am not a crook” speech.  This went down as a key moment in the downfall of his presidency, and Nixon would resign less than 9 months later.

There are a couple of things that fascinates me about this historical event.  One, it took place at Walt Disney World, specifically the Contemporary Resort where the monorail passes through, which strikes me as a strange place for a president to deny his crimes.  Two, on a more personal level, I was born the next day so the headlines of the newspapers on the day I was born were all about the “I am not a crook” speech.

Here’s a couple of examples from New York Newsday and the New York Times:

 

After looking back to a highly-relevant past, I also look towards the future.  I have high hopes for 46 in more ways than one.

As always, happy birthday to my November 18th fam: Mickey Mouse, Steven Moffat, David Ortiz, and Chloë Sevigny!

Related Posts:

2018 Year in Review: Memorable Events


I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 23rd annual list.

  1. December 30 2017 – January 1, 2018 – New Year in Vermont

Technically, this partially occurred last year, but since I wrote last year’s list before it happened it didn’t make that list.  Anyhow, we finished out 2017/began 2018 with family and friends in Vermont which involved snow tubing, Anomia, Cataan, and a lot of Kathleens.

2. March 1 – New couch

We got a new couch.  It folds out into a bed.  It’s really fancy. We’re not used to fancy furniture.

3. March-September – Fantasy baseball

My son really wanted to play fantasy baseball so we put together a laid-back league of adults and children and had fun playing all season.  (my team finished third).

4. March 23 – NYBG Orchid Show

Flowers, flowers everywhere, even if it’s chilly outside.

5. March 23 – “Weird Al” concert

I saw “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert for the first time at the Apollo Theatre, of all places.  Also dined with good friends at Sylvia’s Restaurant.

6. Apri1 1-30 – I watched a ton of documentary films for the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge

7. April 15-20 – Great Wolf Lodge and North Carolina

We had a lovely spring break at the Williamsburg water park and then visiting family in North Carolina.

8. April-July – Youth Baseball

Once again my children had an exciting baseball season, my daughter in teeball, and my son at kid-pitch Junior level.  He even participated in the Mayor’s Cup Tournament!

9. June 10 – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon

This fundraising ride is always a highlight.

10. June 17 – Father’s Day

As a whale of a dad, we celebrated the special day on the Stellwagen Bank on a whale watching journey.  We even saw a baby whale, bro!

11. June 28 – July 1 – Wolfe’s Neck Campground

A lovely weekend camping on the Maine coast with the added bonus of a goat hike!

12. July 21 – Janelle Monáe

We saw 2018’s top artist perform live and it was amazing.

13. August 14-18 – SAA Annual Meeting

I attended the Society of American Archivists annual meeting and even presented at the Archive-It Partner Meeting. When not learning about Archives, I got to enjoy some time in Washington, DC, and in the evenings I went to a DC United game and a Nationals game.

14. August 28 – September 1 – Chicago

Our summer vacation to Chicago included museums, parks, art, architecture, a Cubs game, a White Sox game and time spent with some fun cousins.

15. September 4 & November 6 – Primary Election and General Election

This was an important election year and I was pleased that Massachusetts candidates Ayanna Pressley, Rachael Rollins, Nika Elugardo, and Jon Santiago all won challenging primaries and eventually the general elections as well as the passage of Yes on 3 to protect equality for transgender people.  Not every election went as I liked, but significant steps forwards were made.

16. October  – The Red Sox win the World Series

It was another exciting Red Sox season, and we attended several Red Sox games.  Oddly, they lost a number of them including an 8-0 loss to the Mets in September (who I secretly cheered for while my children elbowed). But the Red Sox won when it counted, including the ALCS Game on October 14 that I attended with my son, and eventually the World Series.  We celebrated at the Red Sox Victory Parade on Halloween

17. October 31 – Halloween Trick or Treat

Recently on Halloween, I’ve stayed home to hand out candy, so I had the delight of joining my children – or should I say Bigfoot and a Ghost Chicken – as they collected loot in our neighborhood.

18. November 24 – Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I took my family on their first visit to these national monuments which included visiting Lady Liberty’s crown and finding the name of my great-grandmother on the Wall of Honor.

19. November 30 – December 2 – Birthday Celebration in New Hampshire

I turned 45 this year, but my kids – also November babies – had bigger parties.  So we celebrated late by staying in a cabin in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  We enjoyed snow-shoeing and riding the Santaland Express.

20. Following up on last year, I had an ongoing activity that I can’t speak of online, but came to a joyous resolution this year.

Previously:

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Books


Here’s my annual list of my ten favorite books read in the year.  As always, this is merely the best books I read this year and not necessarily books published in 2018  For previous years see 20172016201520142013201220112010200920082007 and 2006. You may also want to check out My Favorite Books of All Time or see Every Book I’ve Ever Read cataloged in Library Thing.

In alphabetical order:

Books Read in 2018

The books are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars with links to summary reviews. (A) is for audiobook.

Here’s a thumbnail of what the ratings mean:

  • 5 stars – all-time classic (I’m very stingy with these)
  • 4 stars – a particularly interesting, well-written, or important book
  • 3 stars – a good book from start to finish
  • 2 stars – not a good book on the whole but has some good parts
  • 1 star or less – basically a bad book with no redeeming values

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October 1918

November

December

An even dozen


Hokey smokes, I completely forgot to commemorate by 12th anniversary of this blog’s first on December 4, 2006!  It seems amazing to do anything for 12 years, much less spend hundreds of hours writing something no one reads. (j/k)

Here are some thoughts on being twelve:

  • This is the 3,049th post I’ve published.
  • In the past year I’ve quit Facebook and Tumblr, so I’m trying to rely on this blog to connect with people even more.
  • Nevertheless, I still maintain an accounts on Instagram, Pocket, and two Twitter accounts: @Othemts for general tweets and @ArchivaLiam for archives & library issues.
  • I also moved my Doctor Who sideblog from Tumblr to WordPress.
  • I’m curious about what other social media alternatives may be out there.  Mastodon? MeWe? Vero?  Where’s the next bold internet venture where all the good people are hanging out?
  • This year I debuted the following new features;
    • Monthly Mixtape – the best new songs from every month.
    • City Stories – my personal reflections on experiences in the world’s great cities
  • I created new pages as indexes to help you find some of my best back posts:
  • I enjoyed participating in the following blogging projects:
    • AdventWord – reflections and photographs for each day in Advent.  I should be doing this again right now but I’m not so organized this year.
    • Blogging A to Z Challenge – in which I watched and reviewed documentary films
    • 30 Day Song Challenge – 30 of my favorite songs and stories that go with them.

 

My most popular posts from the past year according to WordPress stats:

  1. VOTE on September 4th! Massachusetts Primary Elections
  2. Major League Baseball Expansion: A 32 Team Option
  3. Concert Review: Janelle Monáe
  4. Movie Review: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012) #atozchallenge
  5. Album Review: The Beatles “White Album” Super Deluxe Edition

Here are five of my personal favorite posts that I think more people should read and comment on:

But most of all, I really, REALLY want people to give some attention to my City Stories.  I plan to write more of these in 2019 and it would be great to get some feedback.

  1. Brooklyn
  2. Derry
  3. London
  4. Chicago
  5. Venice

And now onto a Lucky 13th year!

Previously:

Bonny and blithe, and good and gay


On this date, in 1973, at 9:34 am, I was born. Which makes today my 45th birthday. Like today, it was a Sunday, so that makes me a Sabbath child.

This means I’m halfway to 90, and since most people don’t live until 90, it means I’ve most likely lived more years in the past than I will have to live in the future.

Speaking of 90, today is the 90th birthday of Mickey Mouse, which means we’re at a point where half of Mickey Mouse’s life was before I was born, and half of Mickey Mouse’s life coincides with my own.

Other notable birthdays on November 18 include David Ortiz, Chloë Sevigny, and Steven Moffat.  Happy birthday gang!

Five years ago I published my 40 for the Forties list. I’ve updated if you want to see what progress I’ve made.

I also wrote birthday posts for my 34th, 35th, 36th, and 43rd birthdays, if you feel like reminiscing.

Massachusetts & Me: Two Decades Together


20 years ago today I drove a rental truck down the narrow streets of Winter Hill in Somerville and officially became a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Nine years later almost to the day, I moved to Boston proper in my present home in Jamaica Plain.  20 years is by far the most time I’ve resided in any state (compared with 15 years in Connecticut, 7 years in Virginia, and 2 years in New Jersey), and close to half of my life.

Living in Massachusetts this long means making many friends, some of whom have moved on to other states, and then meeting new, interesting people.  I’ve developed annual traditions, found favorite restaurants (sadly, many of which have closed), gone to tons of concerts and sporting events, visited museums and historic sites, participated in protests and celebrations, and settled into comfortable routines.  And yet there’s so much more to see and do and explore.

It’s all gone by so quickly, so let’s look back at some of the highlights of my 20 years in the Bay State:

1998-2000 – I work sundry temp jobs at GTE, Genzyme, and MIT, and also spend some time unemployed. FUN!

1999-present – began commuting around Boston & environs by bicycle, and while I don’t ride nearly as much as I used to, it’s still a great way to get around the city.

1999 & 2000 – Participated in the Boston –> New York AIDSRide

1999-2006 – Not really in Massachusetts, but living in day trip distance of New Hampshire’s White Mountains meant I could do a lot of hikes of 4000 foot peaks.

2000 – Started working at a library, where I’m still working 3 job changes, 7 offices, and 12 supervisors later.

2000 – Begin leading historical walking tours as a guide for Boston By Foot.

2001-2013 – Participate in a wonderful church community at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston.

2002-2004 – Studied for my Masters in Library and Information Science at the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

2004 – Witnessed the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years.

2005 – Married Susan!

2007 – Saw the Red Sox win the World Series again.

2007 – Peter Born!

2008 – Spend a couple of weeks suffering from crippling sciatica and missing work. :(

2009 – I performed in the annual Christmas Revels show.  I even sang a solo!

2010-2011 – I write and lead a new tour for Boston By Foot for the Avenue of the Arts.

2011 – Kay Born!

2011-2012 – I create and lead another Boston By Foot Tour in Somerville’s Davis Square.

2012 – 2013 – Sang in a family chorus in JP.

2012-present – Our kids attend a wonderful Boston Public School and we get to meet lots of cool teachers, kids, and parents (and become public education activists).

2013 – sang as part of a 50-voice choir in Somerville Theatre bringing the music of Beck to life with burlesque dancers.

2013 – Horrified by the Boston Marathon bombing but touched by the many people who helped save lives and the spirit of the community in the ensuing days.

2013-present – Our kids play in the wonderful Regan Youth League

2013-present – become active in another fantastic church community closer to home, Hope Central.

2013 – Watched the Red Sox win yet another World Series, this time with a 5-year-old superfan

2014-2015 – I write and lead yet another new tour for Boston By Foot of Cambridge Common

2015 – Four consecutive blizzards in a matter of weeks bury Boston in a 108″ of snow.

2017-2018 – Yet again, I’m involved in creating a new tour for Boston By Foot, this time of the SoWa District.