Monday, January 17, 2005

Let the Conversation Resume

It was about seven years ago now that Amherst classmate Steve Clark first approached me about handling the 25th reunion "book" for our 1975 class. I had no idea what it entailed, but was nevertheless inclinded to duck the invitation somehow. Steve persisted, of course, and sent me a few "examples" of past volumes to review. They were awful things, basically scanned letters and a few photographs collected with no apparent theme or thread.

My natural Amherst competitiveness was unfortunately piqued, and I boldly responded to Steve that while I would never put my name on a book like that, I would do a "real" book. And so began the two-year journey to the book published five years ago for the 2000 reunion -- "The Class of '75 at Y2K."

As it turned out, the book was a wonderful experience, despite the strenuous logistics, and it had the equally wonderful effect of starting a "conversation" at the last reunion that we hope to rekindle at the upcoming 30th reunion, May 26-29.

Because there is no precedent for another book until the 50th (thank goodness), I chose to prime the pump for this round by setting up a "blog." Now, some of you will be ready to fly with this blog right away; others who are less comfortable in cyberspace may not be. Indeed, for some, this may be your first encounter with a "blog." There is really nothing to be afraid of. If you can read and type, you can blog. (That is, unless you lack a keyboard and a connection to the Internet. Let's hope technology hasn't left too many of our mates that far behind.)

A blog is a running journal, to which anyone can contribute, and I hope you will. You can just read -- and not write -- but the fun will be in contributing ... regularly.

Leading up to the reunion, this blog will be a place to post some occasional news, but mostly it will be a place to talk about what's on our minds, as we all (I think by now) have passed the 50th-year milepost in our lives.

So, for starters, let us know that you're out there and thinking about the reunion. And, please, give some serious thought to attending. Grant Haskell, our reunion chair, has great plans in the works, which we will detail in subsequent posts.

A WORD ABOUT HOW TO BLOG: To contribute to this blog by name (as opposed to anonymously), you will have to register with blogger.com. The directions are pretty simple, but you will be prompted to set up a blog of your own as part of the signup. Just disregard that part. The important thing is to establish a username and profile. (Who knows? Maybe you'll have so much fun, you will start a blog of your own. That's OK, but not a requirement. Cheers!)

25 Comments:

Blogger David Kirkpatrick said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:01 PM  
Blogger David Kirkpatrick said...

Let me be the first to congratulate Jim on his blog-consciousness, and concur with him that there has probably never been a better means for people like us to stay in touch with other people like us (or any other type of people to stay in touch with their own respective kind). Having just written a cover story for Fortune on blogging and its discontents, I am convinced this may be the biggest thing since the web itself. The reason is simple--anybody, including you or I, no matter how rudimentary our tech skills--can create their own website and publish anything they want for all the world to see. In a case like the blog Jim has set up (without having to be an HTML programmer or anything close) it allows us all to comment and engage in a dialogue in admirably simple fashion.

So while I do intend to come to the reunion and look forward to it tremendously, I look forward also to contributing to this conversation. While I stay in touch with my professional colleague Jim, there are too many of you who I like but never talk to.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Donn Randall said...

Thanks Jim - there's nothing like a simple guide to blogging to encourage yet another of the myriad ways to waste time on the internet! I'm looking forward to the reunion, and hope everyone will attend and post to the blog. At some point we should try to get pictures to prepare one another for the ravages of time - that 50th birthday was indeed a bad one! I think my freshman roommate, Joe Lipsick, is not yet 50, but he is probably the only one!

4:14 PM  
Blogger Eitan Fenson said...

Jim:
As a Silicon Valley resident technologist, I feel compelled to add my support and enthusiasm for your inspired idea to create this blog. I do plan to attend the reunion and am greatly looking forward to it. I will probably add something more substantive soon.

Thanks!

4:47 PM  
Blogger Rik Williams said...

Adding my thanks to Jim for leading us on this bold, new (for many of us) way to reflect on our reunion and life tranistions. Our 25th book and reunion was an inspiration for me. Look forward to seeing where the blog goes.

I plan to see you at the reunion. Best wishes.

Rik

11:38 PM  
Blogger Peter Wise said...

Thanks Jim for setting this up. If Wm. Safire is to be believed, advertising will come to these precincts soon and bring this kind of communication into the legitimate media mainstream. I say let's enjoy the virgin frontier while it lasts, in the spirit of the settlers of Western Mass., the American pioneers of their day.
Sixty some-odd years after Amherst was incorporated as a town, the citizens (mostly farmers) took it upon themselves to build North and South and Johnson Chapel, buildings that, considering their scale, said much about their belief in the future of the College.
Their faith in that on-going enterprise has been bourne out by successive generations of Amherst grads, and, if we're lucky, we will live to see the College celebrate 200 years of vitality.
My more modest hope is to hear from many of you in the coming weeks via this site, and see you at our reunion in May.
Peter Wise

11:48 PM  
Blogger Steve Clark said...

Thanks for setting this up, Jim. You are great to do it in addition to all your incredible work as Class Secretary over the past five years (the columns have been awesome), not to mention the inspirational 25th Reunion Book. We're in your debt.

A mini '75 Reunion took place last Tuesday (Jan. 11) at Wesleyan where Ned Mulligan, Ernie Williams, Don Horstkotte(sp?) and I watched Hixon's team demolish the Cardinals. Good time catching up with old friends. Lots of shit happening in our lives after age 50, good and bad.

Hixon's team is surely headed for the Division III Final Four again this year. Catch a game if you can. They are great to watch, and Dave sounds the same as he always has on the sidelines.

5:24 PM  
Blogger John Harriman said...

Jim,

Having now worked in Silicon Valley for over 10 years(Gawd!) with the likes of Apple, eTrade, OneTouch Systems, Hughes, Network Alchemy and now Nokia, it's fun to think back to 1994 (at Apple) and the dumb luck I had to be part of the Internet's comming of age. Thanks for doing this.

John H

8:13 PM  
Blogger Peter Alfvin said...

Jim,

Great idea, although I have to confess it's a little intimidating when the first postings are from two of the country's leading technology journalists. ;-)

Anyway, despite spending most of my waking days typing on a computer on the Arpanet/Internet since graduation and having conservatively sent a quarter of a million emails during that time, this is my first real opportunity to blog, for which I thank you.

I'm posting this while watching the sun rise on a boat in Avalon harbor on Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California. I'm taking "workation" yesterday and today, but my peers at work hardly know it because our meetings typically take place via phone and NetMeeting, being spread out across multiple buildings in several cities. I brought the wrong charger for my cellphone but no matter, because VoIP from my wireless laptop works fine, particularly with a USB headset.

I don't know if I'll make the reunion, but I look forward to this dialog. I can think of a bunch of potential topics, but I'm going to go read up on blogger etiquette before proceeding further.

Regards to all,
Pete

10:31 AM  
Blogger Jim Kennedy said...

It's great to hear from people right away, and to get kudos from the most tech-savvy members of the class is particularly gratifying. We have lots of time and space to explore topics, and I'll be prompting along the way.

I'm lunching with Kirkpatrick tomorrow in NYC, so I'll get his expert perspective. Cheers!

9:08 PM  
Blogger jamie stoller said...

Hi Jim et al. Fabulous idea to set up a blog. I add my voice of thanks and appreciation. I too am looking forward to "re-uning" with all of you. I talked to Noraml Tobias who plans to come, as does Bennett Ojserkis with whom I am in pretty frequent email touch. Also, Henry Boom, my next door neighbor (yes, consider the odds!) is also planning on coming.
All is well here in Shaker Heights, OH. Lots of snow today (~12 inches) but we are hearty, and can always blog.
I'll continue to check in to the blog and will try to add something more substantive sometime. Regards, Jamie Stoller

8:39 PM  
Blogger jamie stoller said...

Hi Jim et al. Fabulous idea to set up a blog. I add my voice of thanks and appreciation. I too am looking forward to "re-uning" with all of you. I talked to Norman Tobias who plans to come, as does Bennett Ojserkis with whom I am in pretty frequent email touch. Also, Henry Boom, my next door neighbor (yes, consider the odds!) is also planning on coming.
All is well here in Shaker Heights, OH. Lots of snow today (~12 inches) but we are hearty, and can always blog.
I'll continue to check in to the blog and will try to add something more substantive sometime. Regards, Jamie Stoller

8:42 PM  
Blogger Rocky said...

Thanks again Jim, for your efforts to stir things up, rekindle connections, and add to our experiences in a meaningful way.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Bennett Ojserkis said...

With this entry my blogirginity is gone. Good riddance, I suppose. It is mind-boggling how much and fast the internet and digital storage and transmission of data has changed our lives. On balance I believe very lopsidedly for the good. (I may take exception to those whose vacations are tainted by their laptops. On the other hand, if the alternative was no vacation at all, then more power to them.) It is true that the new challenge is no longer digging, but sifting. By the way, this morning I am celebrating an increase in my download speed to 5.6Mbps.

Unlike some of you guys who have been in on the birth of this phenomenon, I am a relative latecomer and not as facile with it. Not the slowest though. I think I contributed/assisted our Alumni Office in moving away from paper toward electronic. I know that it was my job as class secretary which forced me to learn to use email, and my job as class agent which caused me to learn how to use a spread sheet. Jim Kennedy has taken it all to a new level. Wow!

My profession (though I think it better now classified as a craft)of Medicine has been a very latecomer (with the exception of imaging techniques) to the digital age, and is still way behind in information management and analysis. I suspect it is because, while all the resources were going into the business world as the new technology burgeoned, Medicine was being carved up to get the perceived fat out of it. For example, when I was a resident at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan in the early 1980's, we were first hand witnesses to the discovery of AIDS -- a monumental development in Medicine and society in general. On the other hand, Bellevue, which was then the regional head trauma center for all of NY City, had no CAT scanner, which had been state of the art for many years by then. (CAT scanning being a prime example of a HUGE digitally enabled advancement in Medicine.) We, the government designated head trauma center, were forced to use then Neanderthal methods such as pneumoencephalography and cerebral arteriography to evaluate critically ill patients. You see, the "community board" of lay folks felt that since a nearby hospital already had a CAT scan machine, it was a complete waste and unethical to have one at Bellevue too. When the community board would not relent, and when it became flagrant malpractice not to get CAT scans, Bellevue was forced to put these critically ill patients on life support machines into ambulances, and ferry them to the other hospital for the CAT scan. (Of course, the City did not have enough ambulances to take care of this, so the process often took six hours, and of course, some doctor had to sit with the patients. That was us. That was what we did instead of doing more learning or godforbid sleeping.)

Anyway, I am pleased to have access to bits and bytes now. I think it is so important for us as we become older and our brains loose juice. (Who can deny it? Okay, maybe Randall still has all his juice.) I just cannot keep track of stuff like I used to and am every day depending more on my computer. When my father retired, reluctantly, from business at ~age 80, my brothers and I bought him a computer. We thought that it, email and the internet would be a fabulous thing to keep him amused and his brain active into retirement. Unfortunately, his ability to learn this new technology had atrophied away before we got to him with it. It was just too late, and he has never been able to get the hang of it, or at least not to have it stick. Too bad, because I suspect that one of the greatest potential benefits of this electronic age is that it will enable us to get the most of our brains, as they get inevitably more feeble. I wonder what our neurologist colleagues Conway and Alexander have to say about this. Is anyone working on this?

Enough already. I will be at reunion. I will be attending the Amherst Today program about Drugs, in March. Look and listen to the Amherst Thank You CD if it is still just sitting next to your computer -- it is fabulous. My daughter will be in the Class of 2009. I could not be happier.

Best to all. (Am I supposed to say that on a blog?)

11:13 AM  
Blogger Edgar Neel said...

I must add my voice to those of you who have already thanked Jim for introducing them to the brave new world of blogging. Although email has become an essential means of communication in my law practice, until this very moment, I was a blog virgin. While the earth didn't move today, I'm sure I'll get better with practice.

I immensely enjoyed both the Book and the actual 25th reunion. Almost immediately thereafter, I hatched a plan to bring Betsy and the kids along in 2005, with a side trip to Cooperstown either before or afterwards. Unfortunately, the dates are in direct conflict with Abbye's eighth grade exams, which she seems to belive are more important than visiting our fair college and the Hall of Fame. Where did I go wrong?

In any event, I have procured my ticket from Denver, and am anticipating another excellent event in May. I'm sure blog momentum will build as we get closer to then, and look forward reading comments from all.

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