Jan 21

Snow video and cats, what the web was made for

I said it would snow, because the meteorologists said it would snow. And so it snowed, light flurries pretty much all weekend. We got maybe two inches out of the deal. Here’s some video proof:

And here’s some slow-mo snow, ponderous precipitation, facile flurries:

It was melting away in the early afternoon, but more flakes fell, amounting to little of nothing. And we’ll have some more overnight, but that will be the last of it for a while. Sun and clouds for the next few days. And Thursday we might hit 46 degrees! A delightfully mild week seems like just the thing, doesn’t it?

Let’s check in with the cats, who are a handful and just fine, thanks.

Phoebe is checking out something on that first sunny day we enjoyed after a long stretch of bleh.

Fortunately she was able to work in a bit of sunbathing into her busy schedule.

Poseidon spends a lot of his mornings contemplating the deeper things in life, like ‘What is spotted ball?’

He, too, enjoys the sun. Sitting on the cat tree lets him be taller than you, and he can really fill the frame.

Sometimes I think he understands the idea behind camera sense. Sometimes I think he’s a philosopher cat. Usually, he’s just … we call him high spirited.

Had a great bike ride this afternoon, going up the Alpe du Zwift. I am so very slow, and it takes me forever. But I did hold off a couple of people the whole way up the mountain. They were the other slow climbers, like me.

Scroll around and look at this climb:

The map looks reminiscent of my Alpe D’Huez shirt, which I am wearing this evening in honor of my massive video game accomplishment. I found the photo function on Zwift today, because on a long slow climb, you can discover new things. This is right after the summit:

This was on the descent:

That’s my second hors categorie climb. I am so slow. It actually snowed on the climb. The app showed little drifts of snow scurrying across the road as I huffed and puffed. It has a lot of detail to it.

Twelve mile climb, 3,753 feet of elevation, and an average gradient of 8.5 percent means I will feel this tomorrow, too.

Jan 21

Heading into a snowy weekend

The snow arrived during our afternoon walk. I’d spent the day watching demo reels and trying to offer feedback to students — I’m averaging just over 900 words per review this week. So it was a nice break to take a walk. We ran into a colleague who is a public relations professor. She gave us air hugs, which was cute.

A bit later on our walk the first flurries ran into us. They gave us a stinging face sensation, which was less cute.

Late into the evening it tried and tried and, eventually, the snow began to gain some traction. The ground was cooling, the snow kept falling and so now we have a wet version of snow. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go any farther than the yard today. But, for the first time this season, I found myself saying “If the weather and roads aren’t nasty tomorrow.”

Just before I said that we were discussing Covid vaccinations, because it’s nice to have a new thing to discuss. There’s an economist here who’s been modeling the efficacy of all things Covid, and it seems the state administered almost 25,000 doses yesterday, and about 80 percent of those were first doses. The economist figures that if the state can get up to 26,000 doses per day and hold that rate you’ll see 70 percent of Indiana vaccinated by early July.

This, of course, assumes things about supply. And about distribution. And human error. And whether some of those humans will even want the thing that might keep them from getting sick or saving the lives of others.

It seems a fool’s errand to try to understand which states are doing vaccine distribution better than others, for all of those reasons, but mostly because this has been utterly left to the states. But it’s hard, today, to not feel like we’re finally, finally in that motion that leans the body forward in a vigorous walk.

Our employer is looking to become another distribution point. That’d make three in the county. And it would make it even easier for them to mandate vaccination for everyone returning to campus past some certain point. I have no knowledge of the dates that we’re looking at there, but it seems logical. They required flu shots starting December 1st after all. And if you you vaccinate everyone on campus — students and professionals — then it will be interesting to see what will return to “normal,” and how. There’s an expectation that we’ll be there, or trending there by the fall.

Fall. Hard to fathom. And the battle isn’t even over. Far from it, in fact.

But we’re in that first lean. Some of our family members are scheduled for their first dose next week. Oh, happy day. And, in another state, another important person will be eligible to get scheduled next week. These are all great feelings.

So now it’s time to build some momentum, and to redouble our efforts of being safety conscious.

So we’re staying home, and watching the snow. Some of our shrubs are putting on a nice little show this evening.

And you? Are you staying safe? And looking forward to a big, relaxing, productive, busy weekend?

Jan 21

I rewrote the last sentence three times

By the third try I’d cleaned up the tone, made it more concise and got to the heart of a truism.

It was sunny today. Sunny and cold. We’ll take it.

We celebrated with a walk. We have a nice three-mile circle we’ve developed where we lately figure out the solutions to life’s mysteries, make plans, figure out some research thing or run into a colleague.

Snow is in the forecast through the long weekend. Maybe we’ll see this big beautiful glowing orb by the middle of next week.

Also got in a quick 20-mile training ride this evening. I feel so very trained, having learned all about heart rate and cadence, which is odd since I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor and I don’t have a cadence sensor on my bike right now. Basically, I learned about cadence on a flat course. So I didn’t learn much of anything. But I got in a nice hour on the bike out of the deal. Take advantage of doing things you enjoy.

Jan 21

Achterbahn is German for rollercoaster

Meetings this morning. Bike ride this evening. Odd bookends for the day, really.

We tried Innsbruck, on Zwift today. I hadn’t been on that course before. Innsbruck, in Austria, hosted the UCI World Championships in 2018 and now its big climb, a 4.5 mile long category 2 hill, is hosting me. There is a certain course here that’s called Achterbahn. And I don’t know if I’ve ever ridden a German rollercoaster, but you have to admit: now that we’re here talking about it, you’re curious.

This climb averages out as a 5.4 percent incline. It gains 1,311 up to the top. It’s steady. You just put your head down and grind it out. It looks like this. And the larger route I rode today looks like this:

I am, predictably, slow, going up this hill. Delightfully slow. I touched 58 miles per hour on the descent though.

It’s going to be a useful January of base miles. Zwift was a gift, and helps keep me from being miffed about the winter. I don’t have to ride through snow drifts. Also, I can’t ride off any cliffs. When the month is done I may have more January miles in the saddle than I’ve ever recorded for the first month of a year. Wouldn’t that be something?

Some things going on back home. This is one of those Have Nots kind of stories:

That’s just 50 miles from the biggest city in the state, and it’s world class medical system. And from another Haves part of the world, just 129 miles to the north:

Several cities were up to host the Space Force, as you might imagine. And Huntsville makes all the sense in the world. You also can’t help but wondering how deeply Mo Brooks has been involved in this lately.

Speaking of Congress, one of the new members.

His replies are something else. It’s one of those times I wish there was a sorting function. I’d like to see what his constituents were saying his stream. You can imagine the rest, and they don’t matter to a junior member of congress anyway Which is why he won’t reply to this, because I’m genuinely curious.

Sometimes I wonder about the value of ignorance as a positive attribute. Anyone working on that foundation always comes with some combination of self-righteousness, historical illiteracy, contempt, and the utter confidence of perpetual adolescence.

One wonders how people ever trafficking in this stuff ever get elected. A former newspaper publisher friend of mine had the best idea about that. Essentially, he said if you beat down an electorate enough over a long period of time, they figure this is the best they can do. This is what they deserve. Ignorant representatives.

It is its own sort of rollercoaster, but with fewer thrills.

Jan 21

The sun, in all its muted glory

The photosphere is about 10,000 degrees, Fahrenheit, but it’s cooling at that level. In the chromosphere, scientists figure, it is about 7,800 degrees. The light and heat has to travel the 93 million miles here. It takes a little more than eight minutes. And, sure, we’re pointed the wrong direction, but we’re turning back the right way. But, still, despite all of that, the nuclear fusion can’t burn away the clouds for days, days, on end.

Finally, today, as promised, the sun:

Saw that for a few minutes. It was chilly, but bright. If you can only one weather condition in January, you take sunny, because it’s always going to be cold.

There was a meeting! And it was filled with things both new and old! Decisive and not! And nothing will be reframed in such a way that requires any of the substantive articles of the meeting to change! I took notes and everything! A few of them will make sense to me in a month or so.

So … like every 90-minute meeting you’ve ever enjoyed. And then also a lot of email, and some demo reels to review, and a few other light chores to address. So a normal day. Except the sun was out, and so everything was great.

Tomorrow morning starts with another meeting, so we’re back in the swing of things, is what I’m saying.

In the spring of 2019 Wright Thompson came to campus and, at the end of his visit, he talked about his collection of sports stories, The Cost of These Dreams, which had just been released the week before. Someone gave me a copy of his book and I finally got around to pulling it from the To Read bookcase. Yes, I have an entire bookcase of books waiting to be read. Doesn’t everyone?

I keep those books well away from the Have Read bookcases. We can’t have intermingling of texts. It would get too confusing. Why, just this weekend I had to go through all of the books to see if I already had a book I was considering online. (I did.) It was in the To Read bookcase, so I picked that one out for my next read, along with a few others. They’re now sitting on my nightstand, part of a multi-stage on deck system to ease the complaints of the To Read bookcase which is groaning under the weight of paper. It’s a beautiful sound.

I digress. It’s a shame I waited all this while to get to Thompson’s book. He is easily one of the best contemporary sports writers. Take, for example, this little tidbit in a longform story about the New Orleans Saints, which is really about Katrina, which is really about New Orleans, which is really about inequity.

This is part of an 11-graph sidebar arc you could use in a master class. I read it over and over the other night, just to dissect it, to imagine, as you often do, how the story part of it came to be. It would be inappropriate to share the whole sidebar, but here’s the return, where Thompson is describing Charity Hospital. It was a teaching hospital and was, you might recall, utterly neglected after Katrina.

He gets all the details, like any great feature writer. He gets the best quotes and writes about all of the moments in a contemporaneous way, so it’s difficult to determine if he was in the room, or heard about it later through the course of his reporting — which is terrific. The next time I see him I’m going to ask him this: You get people to tell you things, for publication, that you say they have never told to anyone. How?

Sometimes it’s simply because you ask. A lot of it is about the relationship, which is about time. How much time do you have to spend with someone to get them to talk to you like their oldest friend? How long until it no longer seems strange to them that you’ve asked? How much listening does it take to become a professional confidant? This is a particular kind of reporting. Thompson is great at it.

If you like stories and people and storytelling and A-plus writing, buy this book. It’s incredible at every turn. (Except the Urban Meyer story. Some characters are just beyond the redemption of soulful prose.)

Just don’t read it all at once. Read a story, put the book down and come back several weeks later. This isn’t a criticism. Indeed, the writing is easy and the subject matter draws you in. You want to keep reading. Problem is, Thompson, like all great writers, has recurring themes. Being a great writer, they are some of the big ones. So space it out. Think of it as a textual indulgence.