Nov 15

A meaningful header would make you see past maple leaves

It is a shareable age, but you just can’t express autumn in any of the formats yet available to us. But if yours hasn’t passed yet, go outside and enjoy it some. May the weather be great and the leaves be bright, wherever you are just now.

Because you know what they say about winter.

So, anyway, even if you can’t really share the sense of the season in one photograph, I’m going to try. Here’s a basic under tree, looking up and through shot from campus today:


(And if that seems like a weird idea, I’m going to blame the Canadian singer-songwriter that’s playing as I type this.)

We were in the newsroom until 8 p.m. They gathered there less than 17 hours after leaving the place this morning. Student leaders, eyeing their upcoming Thanksgiving break, are wrapping up their plans for an issue the week after.

You have to really want it to work in student media, as they do. They know there will never be enough of them, or enough accolades or recognition for them. But I know those putting their hearts into it have learned the value of the work they do. The only lament is that not enough people appreciate their efforts and, sometimes, their sacrifices.

Elsewhere, here is a conversation I had with my friend and colleague Chadd Scott. He’s always worth a listen. This is no exception as today he’s breaking down what this underwhelming football season means for Auburn’s football coach. (The short answer, he suggests, is a great deal in the medium-term.)

Chadd was my first radio mentor and it is, to me, a neat thing to still get to work with him on projects. Check out Gridiron Now. It’s a great project.

Tomorrow I’m going to make a video. The best days are the multimedia days.

Nov 15

What is Pac-Man’s best stroke anyway?

Not sure how, really, but today I swam 3,200 yards.

The why has become easier. I remember, a year or two ago, topping out on a little ridge on my bicycle. The view was great, just a ribbon of road and one little white house and a sea of pine trees below me. There was something happy and peaceful in that view. Riding, I realized, was one of those things that I was fortunate to be able to do because I wanted to do it. And ever since, even when I take time off the bike, I’ve thought of myself as a rider.

I don’t think of myself as a swimmer, but it is something I can do just because I want to. I’m learning to take the chances you get, even if you think your arms will fall off, to do the things that are yours.

The thing about autumn is that you can’t share it. Is it the signature season where you’re reading this? Does it last for three days, as it seems to here? Whatever you have, you just have to be in it. No photograph really captures the air and the smell and the promise and the sometimes crest-sliding feelings that come with it. But we try:


I walked under that tree on campus. And I pulled out my phone and thought, for about the 14th year in a row, that this isn’t even a snapshot of a season or a glimpse of a feeling. And I sighed at the shortcomings of cameras and smiled at the moment and pressed the button.

After my swim I saw this car while seeking out dinner:


I stood there for a while, trying to decide what kind of person the owner must be. I decided they were pretty nerdy cool. You have to have a sense of humor about you. But they also have to be OK with never clearing the board. The thing about a painted Pac-Man is that you’re never clearing the board. But if you wanted to go classic video game, it is also a bit on the nose. Donkey Kong wouldn’t have made sense. Galaga plays the wrong direction. Centipede would have looked tacky. No one remembers Qbert, probably. Frogger, now that would have been bold.

Update: Today didn’t end until tomorrow. We were still in the newsroom at 3:20 a.m. on the 19th. Never let anyone tell you journalism students don’t work hard. It takes a lot to be that dedicated. And it takes a lot out of them to get it there. They must do it for a reason.

Nov 15

I want to ‘complain’ about some of my students

While we followed the horrible news from Paris last night our news editor learned that 11 Samford people were in the City of Light. (All are safe and accounted for.)

Naturally, she went to work, writing about that story. This made me read copy on a Friday night and fire off a few salvos of emails. And then they interviewed one of those people Saturday and wrote more. So I had to read that and write another few emails, praising our staff, advising them, giving them (hopefully) helpful ideas for their coverage. And now they’ll go talk to more of them, and all of this will no doubt repeat itself. Because a news editor, an English major who wants to work in museums, cares an awful lot about doing it right.

This happened on their Friday night and over the course of their weekend. This was in addition to their regular school week and the other jobs some of them have. It happened after they were in the newsroom until 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning putting together a newspaper and then spent three hours with me, until 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, talking about that issue. And they’ll do it all again tomorrow and Wednesday.

You have to be dedicated to work with student-journalists, because they are incredibly dedicated to their jobs. They care about their community and their pursuit of good journalism. Sometimes that means they work every day. Would that more did. Student-journalists don’t often get the credit for it that their output deserves, but it is gratifying to work with students so invested in the work they are doing, beyond the normal scope and scale in which they work.

Nov 15

Memory week photos, day five

For France:


A dear friend of ours is working in Paris this year. I listened to international radio on the way home as they started sharing the first horrific details. And then one reporter notes that their audience knows more about what is going on than most Parisians right now. So I pulled over to message our friend: You must tell people you are OK right now. But she’d already done it; she was safe.

She was supposed to go to one of those restaurants tonight, but her evening meeting ran late.

And that is the way things happen sometimes.

We’re wrapping up a week of skimming through old photos last week and see where they take us. So far as I can recall, I haven’t published these pictures anywhere. The theme is signs or words.

Here’s our last two for the week.

These are both from last summer’s travels. The first one is in the bowels of the London Tower. They sell these stickers and someone was unsupervised:


I wondered at the time if there was a political statement here — the locals were and are getting stirred up over various European issues — or if this was just someone being clever. Maybe someone was running from England back to Roman Britannia. But I doubt it.

It was our second trip to London. We had a great time. Maybe we’ll get to go back one in the near future. We’ve had a lovely time there both trips.

And, finally, from Berlin, the orange garbage can that says “Give it to me!”

garbage can

So orange its Berlin. It is a clean city, as you’d imagine. We walked all over Berlin. I think we walked everywhere. We hope to go back to Germany one day, there’s an entire beautiful country to see.

Nov 15

Memory week photos, day four

We’re checking out some old photos last week and following them down memory lane. So far as I can recall, I haven’t published these pictures anywhere. The theme is signs or words.

Here’s two now.

A restaurant restroom here in town. It isn’t the most clever thing in the world, but then it started with anger or an accident, so someone with a marker and some imagination did the best they could with it.


The store owner can’t get the drywall guy in there fast enough.

On campus, there’s the printing department’s printing department. I just found this wandering around from one office to another one day.


Or it could be just one department, now with two fonts and working on two different mediums!

I’ve got a different version of this and it is going at the top of the page one day. Two times the printing for one low price!