Archive for May, 2020

God bless Linda Tirado

… who was shot in the face by a cop in Minneapolis last night. She lost an eye.

Linda’s a truly wonderful writer. Her book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America needs to be read by everyone and then read again. Her twitter-feed is incandescent and is the only reason, really, I’m still on that platform. I admire this badass without reservation.

My Son and Grandson

Twenty-seven days after Colby was born, he meets his Dad.

Mother’s Day

My son Miles writes:

Happy first Mother’s Day to this amazing woman.

After what turned out to be the scariest day of our lives, Alie and I welcomed Colby Joseph Basil into the world three months earlier than expected on May 1st, 2020. Weighing in at just under two pounds, Colby is as cute as he is tiny and is growing and fighting everyday in his new NICU home. We already love him beyond words.

I could never begin to explain the bravery that this new mom had to display in the midst of incredible uncertainty and fear, and did it all with grace and courage that blew me away. She did it with great physical and emotional strength and she did it with a husband and new father at her side who was both terrified but also in complete awe of her.

This is a picture of Alie going to meet Colby the day after he was born. Less than 24 hours of recovery after emergency surgery, there is a genuine, beautiful smile behind that mask. In a world packed with anxiety, this mom is once again fearless, positive, and nurturing, and is ready to meet her new baby boy.

Colby is the luckiest boy on the planet to call you mom. Happy Mother’s Day!

I am truly blessed to be in all of their lives.


A theme in all my orientation classes is the primacy of feedback in communication: how you give it, how you receive it.

When you gratefully welcome feedback into your life from colleagues, you grow as a professional, because you learn. When you usefully provide feedback to your colleagues, they get better as professionals, because they learn.

That’s why defensiveness and unfriendliness are killers when it comes to the work of communication.

A short while ago a friend forwarded me a short memoir written by Phil Mott, a mutual friend from our university years four decades ago. It covers this theme:

My girlfriend encouraged me to write and set me up with the Prodigal Sun editor [Bob Basil], the entertainment section of the paper. He assigned me a rather harmless assignment of reviewing the movie American Gigolo.  I wrote the review and sat down with one of the editors to review the article. Bob was a kind-eyed soul with a talent for writing and an affection for the spirit of Jack Kerouac. His stories took him on wild trips riding rails and visiting the less fortunate of the world. He sat next to me with a red pen and wrote more in red than I had double-spaced typed. I was crestfallen. He wrecked me in ten minutes and crushed any dream that I ever had of writing anything but a to-do list ever again. He then looked up at me with a smile and told me “looks pretty good. I like it. You made some nice observations”.  His support was greatly appreciated and kept me from jumping out of a window. He passed the review on to the copy department, red marks and all, and, just like that, I was a writer.

In giving me permission to reprint this passage, Phil wrote, “I would love it if my addled brain remembrance is of some use. Take it as a grand compliment that your advice stuck with me all of these years. It helped me give feedback to my own college students.”

Summer Semester

I meet three groups of new students starting on Monday – a third-year class and two first-years. They are all online, “distant learning” endeavours. I’ve done a bunch of online courses in the past – it took me a couple of semesters before they were truly “robust” – so I am not climbing the learning curve the way some of my colleagues are.

That said, everything is nonetheless different for *all* of us, and in my interactions with my new students – as well as with my old colleagues – I am trying to focus on being extra-courteous to everyone.