22
Feb 24

A new high mark

We opened a ticket with the home warranty people last week. We generally have good luck with home warranty people, though many have nightmare stories. How it works with this particular company: you have a problem, you check to see if the home warranty will cover it, you put in a request … to the people who work for you … to see if they’ll do the thing you pay them for. And then they approve.

An email link comes back. You’re approved! And this company will send a highly trained professional well equipped in the trade will come out and examine your problem, make several deeply intimidating noises as it relates to the issue, criticizes the anonymous person or people who did or didn’t do the things that led to it, and then show you what a career spent in the industry means for creating the appropriately deft maneuvers required with their hands and tools. And what day would you like them to come?

Their system lets you pick three dates, and the general time of dya. So rank order them, which day is best? And why are afternoons always ideal? I selected this Tuesday afternoon, yesterday afternoon and this afternoon as my preferred choices. That way, I could sit here and grade, and do other fun things at home, while I waited for someone to pull up the drive. And I bet you can tell where this little story is going now.

We generally have good luck with home warranty people. Contractors, however. Hit or … what’s that other word?

I’m getting low on photos from our last SCUBA diving trip. This means that, next week, I’ll have to switch over to more SCUBA diving videos.

The things I do for you people.

The things I did for me: several decades ago I took a SCUBA diving certification course. Later, I talked my then-girlfriend into getting certified, as well. Then I purchased the SeaLife Micro 2.0 camera off eBay. Then I boarded a plane and flew to another country, where I endured pleasant temperatures in January and allergies so I could go diving, which allowed me to take this photograph.

She’s perfect in it, but the phone could be a bit better so, ya know, we’ll need to go diving again. Darn the luck.

Some photography simply needs to be improved on. Some are good enough to see variations of, over and over. Like another shot of Jennifer, the turtle.

Don’t worry, we’ll see a bit more of the turtle before we wrap up the photos. Jennifer the turtle is a star.

This was one of the views I had on my late night bike ride last night. Alone, it is of no significance. But when you put it all together, it means just a little more. Somewhere, right in this portion of the ride, I set a nice personal best.

It means nothing, really, this personal best, but my spreadsheet likes it. One of the pages on the cycling spreadsheet, there are several pages, is titled “Monthly Marks.” On this page I rank each month by the highest mileage. My top months, all time:

10. July, 2018
9. Feb, 2023
8. June, 2011
7. April, 2023
6. July, 2011
5. Jan, 2024
4. May, 2016
3. Jan, 2023
2. Nov, 2023

And right about at that spot above, this month, February 2024, became my all time high mileage month. And it’s a short month! And there’s still a week to go! And my legs feel all of it!

Tomorrow, we’ll start an entirely new experience on the site. I’ve no idea what it’ll look like yet, but it’ll be interesting, and probably too long by half. Come back to enjoy it all!


21
Feb 24

Too much of what we like

You start off with the best of intentions. You’re going to settle in and get all the grading done. Finished, finito and kaput. From there, you can take a deep breath, rub your eyes and do other things until it is time to get geared up for the next lecture and class notes.

That’s what you want to do, with the 51 things you have to grade, but when it comes down to it, you’ve come into 51 things to read and think about and give some useful feedback and, ultimately, grade.

It’s the grading part, you see. These are good assignments, but ultimately subjective. So, each time, with each assignment, you have to make sure you’re comfortable with the rubric and that you can deliver it equitably. All of this takes a little time and then there’s just the regular daily stuff and should that really be an 80? Or was it a 70? Should I call it 75? Was that a typo in the feedback?

It goes on and on. The mind goes round and round. And when I grade in bulk I am mindful of two things. First, I have to stay consistent throughout the process. Rubrics help with that, but you keep it at the forefront. The other thing is that I have to stop before I get blurry eyed. The grading must come in stages.

So much for the plan of knocking all of this out in one sitting. And that’s a big part of how Tuesday turns into Wednesday and Wednesday will turn into Thursday.

Time, once again, for We Learn Wednesdays. This is the 26th installment, so you are familiar with the idea. These are the local historical markers, as found by bike rides across the county. This is the 47th marker in the effort, which presently consists of photos I grabbed last fall.

Last week, we saw this building, and several of the colonial-era names we’ve learned in the last several months start to fit together. The courthouse is going on 400 years old, and sits near the center of downtown, even today.

Around the left side of the building, you find this small plaque.

John Fenwick fought, as a cavalry officer, for Oliver Cromwell in the Second English Civil War. (This one was about the Scots, King Charles and a parliament, including Cromwell, that didn’t like him killing his subjects, among other things.) Sometime around that same year he got married. In 1665 he left the Church of England and became a Quaker.

When he came to the new world in 1675 he created the first Quaker colony in North America, seven years before Philadelphia, even. The Salem Tenth was 1/10th of this region of the state. Basically the resolution of a convoluted and contentious series of business dealings, it was a 350-square mile county, making up most of two modern counties. Native Americans lived here, as did the children of earlier Swedish, English and Finnish settlers, people of modest means, merchants, farmers and craftsmen among the forests, meadows, bogs and waterways. The farms ranged from 50 to 300 acres.

It was Fenwick that recorded a land deed with the local Lenape Indian tribe. It was a deed and treaty with indigenous residents that was actually honored. You might remember reading about this in a history class somewhere along the way. The deal was made, the story goes, under the Salem Oak, which died in 2019, at almost 600 years old. Saplings were shipped to every town in the state.

Just a few of the modern allusions I’ve found to Fenwick refer to him as hapless, troublesome and eccentric.

The bottom of the plaque says “That my said colony and all the planters within the same may be settled in the Love of God – and in that peace which becomes all our great professions of being Christians.” Presumably that’s Fenwick, which doesn’t sound so bad a dream.

The Quaker still had some fight in him. It seems the colonial governor of New York, a man named Edmund Andros, wanted Fenwick to stop running his little area. These guys were political rivals. The governor obviously had power. Fenwick felt the same way.

Fenwick regarded himself the political equal of Governor Andros that he was the head of a small, but rapidly increasing colony that he was Patroon by purchase; was Governor by choice of the people. He had pledged his allegiance to the King and taken an oath to discharge the duties of his office faithfully, and to the interests of the people without fear or affection, and hence could not recognize any power greater that his own, save when the prerogative of the King should be exercised.

Andros, obviously, didn’t see it that way. Couldn’t see it that way. He had Fenwick tossed in jail a few times. Once, the governor’s men came down and Fenwick

bolted himself in his house and refused to go “without he was carried away either dead or alive, and if anyone dare to come to take him it was at their peril, and he would do their business” (New Jersey Archives, I, 190).

He had two homes in the area, was looked upon as a possessor of valuable belongings by his peers. Having been a cavalry officer, he maintained good horses. He was a successful enough farmer for his time. He made furniture, and then became a barber and a phlebotomist. When he was about 65, his health failing, he moved in with his daughter, and died that same year.

He’s buried in an old family cemetery, but we don’t know precisely where his grave is. In the 1920s a marker was put nearby, but there’s not a specific marker for his grave. I’ll have to go by there sometime.

Next week, we’ll visit a 19th century fire house. If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.

Here I am on the descent of Box Hill, in the Surrey Hills, in the Zwift cycling video game, exercise program and winter base mileage accumulator. Yesterday I did the PRL Half, which features Box Hill, a 1.9 mile climb with an average gradient of 4.4 percent, though in places it sneaks quite a bit higher. Right after the primary climb, each time, is a maddening extra climb, a short leg breaker that isn’t happy until you’re going uphill at 9 and 11 percent. But all of that is behind me right here, on my last descent of the day.

Box Hill is said to be a GPS-accurate climb of the real Box Hill that figures into the actual Prudential RideLondon-Surrey route and was featured prominently in the 2012 Olympics. It isn’t the hardest hill, in the real world or on Zwift, but there enough to it to make for an interesting mental obstacle. In yesterday’s route, I had to go over it four times.

This route is the PRL Half which copies the distanced of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey. I don’t know if I’ll do the PRL Full. I tried the half a few days ago, completed two circuits and decided I’d rather go eat. I’ve never decided anything that quickly, in one heartbeat I was going under the banner, ready to start lap three and in the next I said, “Nah,” and pressed the exit button.

That was the right decision, but sometimes even the right decisions can ring in your ears. So, yesterday, it was back to the half. Four laps, each anchored with that Box Hill climb. I had a plan. Go out slow the first time, slow-ish for the second lap, do whatever felt right on lap three and drag myself over the climb on the final loop. It seemed a wise plan.

This is what happened. On Zwift there are ghost riders, representations of your effort the last time you were on that particular route. Sometimes they fall behind you because you’re stronger, today, than you were the last time. Sometimes they dance just ahead of you for reasons unknown to man and science. Some days they disappear ahead of you because you’re tired. On my first lap I kept pace with the ghost rider, even as I was telling myself to go slow. This particular route gives you two ghost riders. One for the whole lap, and the segment for the Box Hill climb. So, at one point on that first lap, I had two ghost riders ahead of me. And then I was ahead of them, and so on. At the top of the 1.9-mile climb, I was in between them. I had to chase the first ghost down the hill.

When we got back to the starting banner I was able to follow my go slow-ish strategy for lap two. First the initial ghost rider and then the second would dangle just ahead of me, until nearing the top of the hill. The full lap ghost rider finished just ahead of me, and that was fine, because I was in this for the duration, not the time. At these speeds, duration was a thing.

Now I had to get over the climb on the third lap and let my legs rest on the descent. The ghost riders, again, only riding at my previous pace, but they easily dispatched me. That’s good for the morale on lap four.

On lap four, I found a nice little burst. I dropped the first ghost rider right away and when I linked up with the second ghost rider on the climb, he too fell behind. I hit the peak of Box Hill some 42 seconds ahead of both of them, and had about three minutes on the full-lap ghost by the time I finished the loop.

Which meant I had to continue on for nine more miles. And then sprint! Anyway, that’s 42 miles in the basement. The effort helped turn this February into the fourth most prolific month I’ve ever had on the bike. Before the week is out this should become my most productive month. There will be several spreadsheets to update.

I cut 100 words from the Box Hill story so I could include the most salient details of tonight’s late night ride. It was a flat course, but it featured five sprints. The Zwift timer shows two data points. One is your performances over the last 90 days in that particular sprint segment. The other is your time, relative to everyone else in that Zwift world at the moment. So you can see your times historically, but also your results compared to the 2,500 peers currently pedaling away around the world.

In those five sprints, I finished 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 5th and 1st.

My avatar wearing the coveted green sprinter’s jersey means simply this: all of the real fast people were already fast asleep.

Something you’ll like even more: a few more photos from last month’s SCUBA diving trip. The most important element, of course, being my dive buddy, and the best fish in all of the world’s seas.

Here’s another decent photo of a giant tortuga. She was big, and very patient with us.

And here’s a random photo I managed to take at the end of the dive. It seems I was juuuuust about to break the surface.

But who wants to do that?


20
Feb 24

You’re going to watch the video and follow all of the links, right?

Once this day got started, this day got productive. Let’s see, there was a late breakfast. And then I gave Phoebe some extra milk. I did dishes. And then I checked email, and updated various computer things. I pulled in the day’s delivery from the front porch.

I recently met someone who works at the local Amazon distribution center. She told me about the many different kinds of jobs in her building, and the one she’s doing now. I promised to check with her before we ordered anything heavy. Make sure she’s not working that day, ya know. Of course, I could barely pick up the box that arrived today. I hope she didn’t have to heave that to and fro.

I also took care of the garbage and recycling. This was an involved process. There was an extra bag of garbage. And more recycling than usual, owing to cardboard. I haven’t moved this much cardboard since we moved. Some of the cardboard that I recycled today was, in fact, from the move. The move was last June.

Standing at the giant bin, breaking down cardboard boxes by tearing tape with my keys, I narrowly avoided giving myself a cardboard cut. Paper cuts are bad, but cardboard should be registered and require a permit. Dangerous stuff. The guy that works there was patiently waiting on me to finish the task. He was standing down by the two cattle gates at the entrance. I was the last visitor of the day, according to his watch, which said 4:51, but he was ready to get out of there a little early. This was not the regular guy, Milton, that I’ve come to wave at, but another fellow. People are punctual about their early dinner plans, one supposes.

Anyway, the sun was out and it was an easy enough chore, even if it all took the better part of an hour this time. When I backed the car out to set off for the inconvenience center I looked into the yard and the trees beyond and said, “Spring is starting and you can’t convince me otherwise.” I said this to no one but the cardboard and the other recyclables, because there was nowhere to put a human being in my car. But nothing about the drive, the chore, or my return made a convincing counterargument, either.

The long-range forecast calls for the low 60s this time next week.

In class last night we did not talk about the weather. I warmed up, though, with a little history lesson of Voyager 1, the golden record and Blind Willie Johnson. Voyager 1 has been flying my whole life, and more than twice as long as my students have been alive. And these last few months, Voyager has been slowly, sadly, limping to its own end, decades after exceeding its mission parameters. It’s no less sad for the over-achievement. Perhaps more so. Doug Muir wrote something beautiful about it.

Also, a student asked me what I thought about Jon Stewart’s return to The Daily Show. Short version: It felt right. Last Monday’s re-start was a start, a clearing of the throat, a framing of the conversation. His return is going to be best understood over time. So let’s see what he does between now and November.

And what he did last night. My goodness.

My lovely bride and I did our first research in grad school on Jon Stewart. It was one of the first 2,200 or pieces of scholarship about the comedy-satire-politics show. I think the preemptive criticism in the run up to his return was overdone. Stewart still has one of the most unique and powerful voices in the much broader genre, and the circumstances today aren’t that different than nine years ago when he walked away. More acrimonious, but let’s not forget from whence we came.

If anything, the show runners have to consider how the Daily Show’s style of accountability — via the technological breakthrough of database queries and video playback — is finally more widespread now. That, if anything, blunts the ability for him to tackle his first real target, contemporary media. (People forget who the real satire subject matter is.) That part will need to be reshaped, perhaps, and along the way, he’s going to annoy everyone sporting a little letter behind their name. I could do without making the superficial punchline an ad hominem attack, I never liked that part, but he’s still got plenty of punch in his gloves. And the ratings are there too, much to the chagrin of last night’s subject matter.

For the actual class we discussed Ellen Ullman and Nicholas Carr. Basically, what is the internet doing to us, and why is it all bad? The Ullman piece was prescient, she wrote it in 1998, still stands by it, and, what’s more, was correct. The Carr readings date to 2008 and 2010. The latter is a book chapter of his, but that essay in The Atlantic should give us pause.

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet. The Web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after. Even when I’m not working, I’m as likely as not to be foraging in the Web’s info-thickets—reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts,
watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link.

For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded. “The perfect recall of silicon memory,” Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, “can be an enormous boon to thinking.” But that boon comes at a price. As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

I’m not the only one. When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintances—literary types, most of them—many say they’re having similar experiences. The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing.

The first time I read that piece I saw a lot of the same complaints. And so I’ve been trying to change my habits — sometimes with more success than others. I think the change has been fruitful, when I’ve been most successful at it.

One of the assignments the students have to do soon includes an element where they chart their own media consumption. If this is done well some people will look at that and think, “Yes, that seems about right.” Others, however, will look at the data they’ve collected on themselves and be stunned.

Maybe that’ll mean something for them going forward.

Let us go forward together, back under the surface of the water.

I made this video before class yesterday with the intention of publishing it then, as well. Only I made a critical error in the rendering and exporting process. (A two-paragraph explanation of everything between now and then goes right here. An explanation made all the more hilarious because I teach this stuff. So I figured: Tuesday. Today, suffice it to say, instead of having to remake the entire video, I remembered Premiere Pro has a pretty decent autosave function, which was a big time-saver.) Having correctly rendered and exported the video, I was able to upload it and remain quite pleased with the result. I think you’ll like it too. I think the beginning and the end are the best part.

Also, enjoy the flounder, the sea anemone and the beautiful eagle ray.

  

Tomorrow, I’ll have a few more diving photos for you, we’ll go back in time to meet a local 17th century man of considerable importance and I’ll probably try to find a way to talk about riding my bicycle in place. Because, right now, I’m going to go ride my bike.


19
Feb 24

We had snow this weekend

The forecast called for waking up to three to five inches of snow on Saturday. It was promised to be the good, dry, powdery stuff. We looked up the amount of snow required of a snow blower — because we have a snow blower now — and the consensus was two inches. That doesn’t seem like a lot to me. Drive over it. But maybe you don’t want to. So we could shovel two inches. Only our new driveway is a bit long for shoveling.

The old driveway was a little more than a car length, which you could do with two shovels in no time, and by yourself in about twice the amount of no time. But this driveway is more imposing. We’ve shoveled it once so far, and the evening we did that it was cold. You think you’ll get out there and keep moving and get your heart rate up and your body will warm up, but that did not happen. Also, that was a good six or seven inches of snow and it had been on the ground a day or two when we got back to it. It took a while. We did enough. And that was enough of a reason to invest in a snow blower.

Which of course meant that it sat in its box in the garage for weeks because we’ve had perhaps the mildest January and February possible at this latitude. Now comes the Friday night forecast, and thank goodness there’s nowhere we have to go tomorrow, but still.

So we open the great big Toro box. There’s a snow blower inside. Imagine, for my Southern brethren, a push mower, but, instead of that place on the side where the clippings come out, there’s an ejection portal on the top. You can spin the thing so it can blow strategically to the left or right or, if you are an agent of chaos, straight up into the air. It’s shiny and new. Corvette candy apple red.

I was going to go get a quart of oil, because while we had gas, we had no oil. Except a 12-ounce bottle was included in the box. Good! One less thing to do in the half hour before the hardware store closes. So, let’s assemble the thing. This is what I did before dinner Friday night. Assembly involves five sets of nuts, bolts and washers, and then you put in the oil and gas.

There was a little matter of the nuts, bolts and washers, however. They were not included in the giant Toro box. So I spent a long, long time peering through boxes and tool boxes, tool drawers and other random places I might have put nuts, bolts and washers I’ve accumulated over the years. And what I learned is this: you don’t get as many extra nuts as you do bolts and screws.

Not only do you have to find them, you have to, of course, find pieces that will fit with one another, and the blower itself. Exactly what you should be doing at 8 p.m. on a Friday night before this week’s storm of the century. Two screws, bolts and washers were needed for the handle. I made that work. Three were needed to attach the multidirectional snow chute. Two on either side, done, but less confidently, and a third, which some does … something. You’ll probably only notice it when you’re rotating the chute or when the whole machine has rattled into action. Thing of it is, this Toro has a hard-mounted, threaded bolt post. I only needed to find a nut for it. Except I didn’t have the hardware.

Now, I figured I could tear the house apart and find the right size. But that nut, wherever it is, is doing something important already. So I strapped three bungee cords to the thing and pronounced it road worthy. The most ratchety, brand new, road worthy snowblower in three counties, I’m sure.

I decided to wait until the morning to fill it with oil and gas. I’ve done all this in good spirits, and why would I want to ruin my Friday night with issues of dripping, pouring, volume or viscosity? Besides, let’s wait to see what we actually get overnight.

We got about two inches of snow. The beautiful, wonderful, dry, powdery version. The kind that looked beautiful on the lawn, and could not stick to the patio, driveway or roads. And now we can find replacement parts for the new snow blower in our own good time. (Ensuring we don’t have to use it for a nice long while.)

Until then, welcome to our temporarily monochrome world.

Also, I noticed Friday night when I did a preemptive inspection of the fig tree, that the first signs of spring are growing in one of backyard beds. They’re a hardy sort, at least.

As I said, the dry, powdery sort of snow.

And, as an extra bonus, it looks like it only came from the one direction.

The peach tree was doing just fine.

And the pear tree in the front yard had a good grasp of things, as well. This was a delicate snow, but it knew a thing or two about balance.

Or, if you want something more colorful, the flowers inside are still stinking the place up. These look like they should be dry, brittle and crusty.

Instead they’re soft and frail, like the sleeves of an old silk blouse.

The lilies, though, they’ve really come to life this weekend.

Back outside, our neighbor puts on the best sunsets.

Can I tell you how awesome that snow was? It was quite, pretty, dry and clean. By the time I went outside to take that sunset photo and walk around the back of the yard to put a few random sticks on the stick pile, the snow was all but gone.

By today, the only evidence of any weekend precipitation was in the perpetually shady spots.

The cats did just find with the winter weather. Here is Poseidon, in his warm kitty cave, in front of the space heater.

I don’t know why he always thinks he wants to go outside. He is too accustomed to all of the comforts of indoors.

Phoebe went another route to keep herself warm.

Both were effective. And now let’s bring on the inevitable sprint to spring.


16
Feb 24

A nice package arrived today

On the front porch, and a day earlier than anticipated, was a box with two books inside. I found these online, on e-Bay, actually, in one of the more fruitful examples of late night insomnia. The prices were low and right and the end of the auctions were listed during the Super Bowl.

No one was paying attention to e-Bay. But I have a particular set of skills, and so I was paying attention to e-Bay and watching the game and silently wondering, for about the sixth year in a row, why we still get worked up about the commercials which were — not exactly pedestrian — but standard fare for the most part. Many commercials are well done these days, so you have to really stand out with celebrities, but they’re in spots all the time. Many commercials are good. And so even the good commercials debuted during the Super Bowl didn’t stand out too much, except for the ones that were obviously going to be controversial in some corner of the web. And that wretched Temu ad.

But I digress. I won both auctions. The nice lady who sold me the books offered to combine shipping and, today, they have arrived.

I opened the box, and inside were two large Ziploc bags. Inside each bag was a book. That book was wrapped in guerilla-resistance strength cling wrap. And, beneath, that a two layer roll of bubble wrap.

The woman who sold me these books really understands me.

Inside the first bubble wrapped, shrink wrapped, Ziploc bag was this.

That’s the 1912 Glomerata, the yearbook from my alma mater. This book is 102 years old, and the cover is showing that age. Even if it does need rebinding, the pages inside are basically perfect. The cover, particularly of the older books, is where the fun is.

Longtime readers know I collect the Glomeratas. It seemed like a good thing to get. They make a handsome bookcase. And it’s a unique thing to acquire. I know of two other people who dabbled in this. And, importantly, it is a finite thing. The first Glom was published in 1897. (I don’t have that one, so if you get a lead … ) and the last, latest one I’ll collect was the 2016 book. There are 120 in between. (One year they published two books.) I have 112 of them.

As I said, it’s a handsome book bookcase.

The other book was the 1907 Glomerata. It has been rebound. It’s a generic black cover. No need to show you that, but what’s inside is also where the fun is.

I just spent a few minutes flipping through the 1907 book. The highest quality photos are the studio head shots and the posed group photos. There are a few candid action shots, but they are all small. It was a limitation of cameras 117 years ago. There are some cool drawings inside the older books. This one was on the page introducing the students who put the yearbook together.

That was done by a guy named F. Roy Duncan, a senior. His blurb in the yearbook says he learned to draw in an English class there, and I’m not sold on his proficiency as an artist, or as an English student. But he becomes a talented engineer and architect. Born in Columbus, Georgia, educated at Auburn. He worked in Pittsburgh, and then on the Panama Canal. It seems he stayed down there for about three years, contributing to electrical, mechanical and structural engineering projects. And then he returned to Columbus.

Some six years after that photo was taken at school, he became an architect. Among his achievements are more than a half-dozen homes still standing in various historical districts (here’s one), the Taylor County (Georgia) courthouse and parts of this Columbus church. They all survive him, as did his wife, and this art. He had a heart attack while fishing and died, at 61, in 1947.

And so we’re going to have to look at these books. And all of the rest of the collection, over time. Because I also recently picked up a nice desktop document camera. These were the first three photos I took with it, and I’m pleased. It’s a little slow and awkward as I figure out the workflow, but it seems much better than trying to take a photo on my phone, emailing it to myself and then editing thing. At the very least I’ve got out two steps in the process. And so, next week, I’ll open a book and point it at the camera.

I think I’ll probably start in the 1940s.

But first, I have to add these two covers to the Glomerata collection on the site.

(Four minutes elapse.)

There, now the 1907 and 1912 volumes have been added to my Gloms cover collection. I’ve just noticed four or five other covers which haven’t been digitized, but I’ll get to them soon. And, as of this writing, these are the only ones I need to add to the collection: 1899, 1900, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1916.

Beyond a certain point, as you can imagine, they are difficult to find.

I just wrote 800-plus words about things that are only of interest to me! Let’s show you some diving photos, which I know you’ve been waiting for, patiently, and get you in to your weekend.

There is absolutely positively nothing like just … hanging there in the water. It’s so captivating that I spend time on most dives just watching other people do it. Like my dive buddy!

This is a shot-from-the-hip of a woman that was on one of our dive boats with us. She just happened to float over, or I swam under, or whatever it was, and I looked up. I love these shots, and I include it here as a reminder to myself to take more of them, which can only be done by more diving.

Dive boat dynamics are interesting. Unless you go as a big unruly group you’re surrounded by strangers. These are two-tank dives, which means you go out, take the first dive, and then enjoy another, all without having to return to land. For safety reasons that have to do with the chemistry of your blood under the mild pressures involved with reef diving, you take a surface interval. So you wind up talking to people. And they’re often just fascinating. This dive had a bishop from Miami, a high powered business man from Denver, this woman, who is in pediatric medicine and, of course, us. Plus there’s the captain and the divemaster, who is an underwater welder doing this in his free time. That’s an awesome amount of brain power on one little vessel, and also me.

So you wind up having some interesting chats. Usually it’s about equipment, things you just saw, how your diving has been, something innocuous from back home. It’s small talk. And you’re all the best of friends.

Except now I can’t remember anyone’s names.

I don’t know if she got to see this turtle. Not everyone on that dive did. But that’s the breaks. Sometimes you see the high profile sea life, and other times you hear about it and appreciate what you were able to find. But we found this giant turtle.

That’s easily a three-foot shell. Easily.

OK, that’s enough for now. Enjoy your weekend! (We’re getting snow.)