Jan 18

Things you write in and on

I bought some new notebooks the other night. I have many notebooks and notepads, you see. Some I use. At the office, I work from a stack of legal pads, with each one corresponding to a different role or set of running concerns. At home I have a nice stack of old notebooks and pads and things that I’ve accumulated over the years — and years isn’t overstating it. None of them are of an special high quality, they were meant to be scribbled and written on, but for whatever reason I find I seldom use them. And when I do find a need to write in one, I have the worst time deciding which one I’m going to mark up.

But when I’m on the go I’ve found that I enjoy the one-subject, 100-page, seven-inch by five-inch spiral notebook. They fit in my bag, they are inexpensive, they come in many colors and so I can use one for each subject and they are spiral bound, which is just easier somehow.

And so, having purchased a new handful of those to compliment the two older ones, I can pare some stuff down. I have lecture notes and interview notes and random notes to myself and scribbles between me and whoever I was sitting next to at the time and all kinds of things in those two notebooks. Some of that information is still useful. Some information really needs to be separated, which I spent a bit of this evening doing. (My life, now featuring a notebook of things that just needed to be separate unto itself, in a notebook that might one day see eight percent of its pages put into use.)

While I was leafing through the pages, trying to decide if I should keep this section, or tear it out or transcribe this specific page into a new book, I ran across this page:

I’ve no idea what I was going for here.

As ever, the web helped me figure it out:

I thought that, somehow, someone’s guess might jog my memory, but I’m still at a loss. Leave your theories on what this note could possibly mean in the comments!

I visited the surplus store this evening. This is where the entire university system sends its gently and heavily used products when they’ve reached the end of their time on campus. You can find deals on clothes to cleats to sheets to desks and chairs to high quality picture frames there. So it is good to visit every once in a while, and they have later hours on Wednesday, so I can stop in on the way home and, tonight I was going with a purpose. We basically needed a computer stand and I thought I’d start looking for something I could halfway modify.

And wouldn’t you know it, they were having a half off sale tonight. And wouldn’t you know it, right by the door:

So I consulted with HQ, we took some measurements both of this lectern and of where it might need to go and, long story short, we now have a lectern at home.

What, you don’t?

I was standing in line, beating out some random rhythm with my fingertips and the couple behind me called me out on it. I thought they were trying to get me to stop, but they were just making idle talk while they stood in line with me. They were a little surprised a random guy would purchase a lectern. And they were pretty close to buying my story that I wanted it so I could practice classroom lectures at home.

In retrospect, if I’d told them about the notebook thing they would have absolutely bought that story.

Jan 18

Still flowering

The flowers I picked up last Friday? They still looked great this morning:

Which, I don’t know how you’re supposed to estimate the value of a bouquet, but I turned down the options at the first grocery store I went to that day because the flowers in their stand were running for $8. There was nothing wrong with the flowers, but they don’t have any actual floral department there, or anyone pretending to be a florist. Someone just ships in the finished bouquet. And that’s fine, but it makes you wonder how long they’ve been there. Plus, I figured, since I was going to the other, larger store too, and since they have an actual floral department staffed with people at least pretending to be florists — and perhaps some legitimate florists, too — I would find better options and maybe some fresher cuts. It is a bigger store, you see.

And at that store I had options aplenty. There was this cooler and that wall, and this bundle bin thing in between and in that bin there were bunches of flowers of one variety and several, all wrapped up in that crinkly, premium cellophane that feels substantial and let’s you, as the consumer, think you’re getting a great deal. And you were! Almost all of the flowers were less than the $8 at the other store. But you have to be careful, because not all of these bundles are the same price. And this wasn’t for a special day, but a Friday, so there was no need to go crazy here.

So I spent about five or six bucks on those things and they’ve been sitting on the bar in the kitchen since Friday evening and aren’t showing any real signs of giving up yet. So I guess I got a good deal on those.

And of course I know how to estimate the value of a bouquet. The Yankee saw them and smiled and thanked me and gave me a hug and a kiss and those flowers were a steal, and I should go back and thank the florists at the great big, ridiculous grocery store.

Like I’m going in there again anytime soon.

Here, watch this. It is rather amusing:

Now that makes the second time Forrest Gump has come up in conversation today. And somewhere along the way I wondered, Has anyone turned that into a horror movie yet?

Once again, the web provides.

Jan 18

Monday onomatopoeia

One of my Christmas presents:

Oh, forgot to mention: Santa brought me a new car this year. And surf's up!

A post shared by Kenny Smith (@kennydsmith) on

I did very well with the presents, better than I should. Some nice clothes, a new car, a tin whistle and a harmonica and some other neat little things. Now I have a growing car collection in my office. (I’m thinking about making a track.) And I also have a new pen. But this is a special pen, a fancy pen, a philosophical truth-telling pen. If you press the button it gives you answers to your questions. It’s like a Magic 8-Ball, with ink.

Here, go ahead, think of a question. I’ll get you an answer …

No Brainer

Try it again with another question …

Dude, No Way

All of the answes are spinning around inside the pen and now I have a new think to keep my idle hands busy with. Click spin whir. Click spin-whir.

Anyway, the students are back today, and things are slowly getting back to normal. You ease into the first few days of classes, and then things will get quite busy. Indeed, before the end of the week we’ll be missing this pace, and by next week it’ll feel like a distant, happy memory.

Click-spin-whir. Clickspinwhirrrrrrr.

This evening, relaxing with Allie The Black Cat:

Jan 18

Stiiiiiill frozen

I walked back out to more-or-less the same spot I took the picture from yesterday’s post. That was actually something I shot on Wednesday, after the Jordan River, which is really a stream, had been frozen for a few days. And today:

It is melting this weekend. We’re finally getting above 20 degrees for the first time in weeks. And then the ice will come.

But that’s for Sunday night and Monday morning. Tonight there’s a trip to the grocery store for drinks, and then another grocery store, for different drinks. This is a thing that happens for us discerning shoppers. One store simply won’t do.

So I headed north, to the next little town, to get a tea brewed from back home. The tea is made nine miles from where I grew up, actually. They ship it up here by the miracles of interstate commerce and it is sold in exactly two places here. So its a bit of home I enjoy too much. So that one out-of-the-way store has the tea. But I must also pick up some Coke. And this store doesn’t carry the proper variety.

The very large grocery store, the annoying one with the unseemly parking lot and the large crowds, has the right Coke. It is hecho en Mexico. And you can get it for a bulk rate, and use the self checkout system, which is a lifesaver, when you can catch an open unit. If they’re full, you may as well find the longest line with a human checkout. Also, you can get flowers at that store, which I did this evening, because it was Friday and that seemed like a good enough reason for a small bouquet for the kitchen counter.

Outside, in the shivering, blistering cold, there are six gas pumps and a bunch of people in cars who don’t know how to drive around gas pumps. And now I have drinks for a week, a month of fuel for the car and a few days of colorful petals to enjoy over breakfast and chicken pot pie for dinner tonight. And, also, a weekend.

Next week classes begin, there will be a lot of new stuff on Twitter and Instagram, the return of a great site feature and a lot more. Do enjoy your weekend, but come back soon.

Jan 18

This is fine, everything is fine

All week long like this:

And for the first few seconds, you don’t even notice. The conduction takes about two minutes to really kick in. If you wear enough layers, you find yourself only freezing in your lower body.

I found this out because I looked outside on day three or four of the creek running around Franklin Hall and saw someone walking on the frozen creek. Being on the creek would give a slightly different perspective:

But when I got down there, I saw that the previous person was just barely staying on the ice:

So, I thought I could go get a monopod and just reach out over the sorta-frozen water. But by then, I was already cold, overly cold, and getting colder. The thing I learned is that you have to allow for the time it takes to walk back inside. That part is the coldest part.