The other Chris Hardies out there

Back when the Internet was small enough to fit on my current 80GB hard drive, there were no other Chris Hardies in the world. I was it, and I was certainly the only one with any sort of online presence. Even though I come from a long line of Farquharsons, if you looked for my name in search engines, you could find all sorts of stuff about me, but ONLY me. I was special, a beautiful unique snowflake.

These days, I am apparently part of the same decaying organic matter as everything else. I have some company from other Chris Hardies out there, some of them surprisingly close to me in either geographical, occupational or metaphysical location. Here's a survey:
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Kristol Pieing, Dialogue Redux

One of my blog entries that is most often commented upon is The Pieing of William Kristol, about the incident in March where Earlham Student Josh Medlin hit conservative commentator Kristol with some sort of pie. As the paper reported yesterday, Medlin pled guilty and will be required to perform community service and pay court costs. Fellow blogger and local attorney E. Thomas Kemp defended Medlin in the case, and it's good to see that it's mostly resolved in the eyes of the judicial process. I don't know Medlin personally, but the incident as a whole would seem to put him in a unique position to reflect on or even talk about some interesting issues related to dialogue and debate, direct and indirect activism, the nature of unintended consequences, and related topics - perhaps his community service could be an opportunity to make use of that.
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The quality of public dialogue in Richmond

I'm a strong advocate of the general concept that good dialogue can work wonders for resolving conflicts, building community, and improving the world we live in. (That's dialogue instead of, say, violence, explosive angry yelling, paternalism or monarchy, snap judgments, knee-jerk fear-mongering, heated debate, or silence and avoidance.) As a result, I am constantly aware of the need for better dialogue in my own community of Richmond, Indiana, and for venues that facilitate that practice. I would go so far as to say that Richmond is, on the whole, handicapped by the poor quality of public discussion about the issues that matter to us, and that addressing this handicap is one of the opportunities most ripe for the picking in our community today.
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The Review of Indiana Blogs

Thanks to the folks at TRIB (The Review of Indiana Blogs) for the kind mention over the weekend. As I told them even *before* they were nice enough to link to me, it's good to see a resource like this devoted to covering the Hoosier blogosphere. I've already enjoyed reading through the posts and learning about other folks in Indiana who are bothering to comment on happenings around the state and in their own lives.

David Gray's Life in Slow Motion

When I first discovered David Gray, it was by encountering his song Please Forgive Me, which was quite impressive, stunning maybe, to me as a song in its own right. But when I got the full album it was on, White Ladder, I realized that it was part of a package deal that achieved so much more as a nuanced whole than any of its parts did alone. This was striking to me, as so few albums these days carry a lot of obvious interconnection of their songs, at least in a way that isn't only obvious if you read every lyric and the "behind the music" bio of the artist. Gray's songs seemed to talk to one another, answering questions that the others had asked, flowing back and forth around recurring themes that the words and the melodies created together. It was as much of a "listening experience" as I'd had with any music in a while, and he was consistent in that sense when I saw him perform at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia (right before he was "big" in the US...friends tell me he had a great following elsewhere well before that). Fortunately for me, Gray's newest album, Life in Slow Motion, is another experience filled with great inter-song integrity and a striking sound that seems to reveal a new layer each time I listen.
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Is Michael there? Are you sure?

My day started at 4 in the morning today. I was having a dream about someone knocking on the door to wherever I was, and then I realized that the knocking was in fact real, and that someone was pounding on the front door of my house and ringing the door bell over and over again. I think the last time that happened to me was at about 4 AM also, when I was in Scotland and a fellow student was so inebriated that he demanded that I leave "his" room, and then fell over in the hallway. So for that or some other reason, I was immediately thinking it was someone out of their mind with meth-amphetamine or something similar that's recently been played up as an unthinkable evil invading our communities. Gosh, I get dramatic at that hour.
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More credit card offers...from Miami University?

Sound the rant alert. I've written here before about how much I don't like getting credit card offers in the mail, but I've learned to deal with it. Or, I thought I had. Then came the onslaught of offers from the Miami University Alumni Association for a card branded by Miami - "support us and save with our low introductory rate!" Groan. One of those mailings I could have dealt with...but I've gotten four identical offers in the last two months alone - and I didn't even attend Miami. So, that means that not only does Miami (and JPMorgan Chase & Co., the organization they're working with to make this offer) not observe the national "do not contact" lists I've subscribed to, but that unless they are *trying* to tick people off, their mailing list management also stinks. Apparently they have some data privacy issues to work through, too.
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Oops, we ALL cut the trees down

I am hesitant to write more about the conversion of Hayes Arboretum land into commercial shopping space - so much has already been said. But I feel compelled to point out my sense that Richmond, as a community, is finding some good in a situation that, for a while, only seemed to have negative feelings and outcomes attached to it all around. Indeed, I am hopeful (perhaps naively so) that it may serve as a turning point in how we shape Richmond's future.
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Whole lotta learning going on

I almost feel like a student again! Not including my trip to the conference last weekend, which was a semi-academic learning experience in itself, I'm engaged in a couple of other great learning opportunities. I just completed a course in mediation training given by The Conflict Resolution Center here in Richmond as a part of preparing to volunteer as a community mediator. I already greatly enjoy studying and learning about how humans can communicate more effectively with each other (especially around difficult issues), so it was great to formalize some of those skills in this particular context, and to interact with other folks interested in doing the same. I also really appreciated that such a great resource with such important community services is right here in town.

I'm also taking a creative writing class from the folks at the Gotham Writers` Workshop. It's been an interesting experience so far, and I'm grateful for some structure around my desire to do more creative writing - or, dare I say it, "be a writer" - but I'll reserve for later my opinion of how well I learn in an online course environment - quite a contrast to face-to-face interaction. Anyone out there had any experiences with online education or training to share? What are *you* learning about these days?