Aug 20

Happy website anniversary

This blog started, on Blogger, this week in 2003. I was bored and it was a light day after work in a slow week in the studio. I’d been reading a lot of blogs and decided to try it myself with no expectations. And after 17 years and one day, here we are.

Jump forward a year, this same week in 2004, I bought the URL to this website. I think my co-workers talked me into it. Better to host your own than to jump from free site to free site. Tomorrow kennysmith.org turns 16 years old.

This is a basic view of the statistical trend of monthly growth of the site’s visitors.

The whole site, which I scaled back starting in 2016 or 2017, has welcomed almost 3.7 million visitors over the years. Not bad for a personal site.

Thanks for being a part of this.

Aug 20

Tuesday is getting even with me

I worked on campus yesterday. And I’m feeling it today! It was the sort of day that makes me glad I went to college. It was a highly physical day. We moved furniture. I sweat a lot. I only hurt myself twice, and on two separate tables.

One, I was trying to flip over a table and dropped it squarely on both big toes. You walk that off, in time. The other time, we were moving tables, via under-sized hand trucks, from one building to the other. This was a half-mile odyssey upon which only one table was destroyed. It wasn’t mine, at least.

It was sunny early, and then turned gray by midday.

And when we left at around 4 p.m. we were heavily invested in dodging rain drops. And that’s probably the part that left me the most achy today.

Probably not, but let’s go with it!

Anyway, it was nice to see people, at least the part of them between their masks and hairlines. It was nice to pitch in on a big project and make some progress on it. We were replacing furniture in a computer lab and rebuilding some edit bays and the like. Later this week we’ll go make some videos. It will almost feel like normal, if that’s your sort of thing.

I visited the grocery store on the way back to the house yesterday. I mention this only because the sport of mask watching seems to be obligatory at this point. The only people I saw sans-face covering were young people.

College town! What could go wrong!?

The only people I saw wearing masks incorrectly were three older ladies whose noses were born to be free, dagnabbit. What could go wrong, indeed.

I picked up the five items I went in for, stuffed them all in my semi-impermanent fabric shopping bags, forgot to look for the sixth item I was considering and made my escape, through the continuing rain. I was in and out in five minutes, and avoided both the mask deficient utes and the mask inefficient oldz.

The nicest part of all of this is that I loaded up the car with new music today. And, considering how much time I’m not spending in the car right now, it could last a good long while.

I predict you’re going to see more about this story in the next week or two.

The home state is also rocking the good personal decisions, I see.

That’s unfair, as generalizations go. Not everyone who is sick should be characterized as making poor choices. But a great many people seem to be intent on ill-informed decisions and it’s easy to sweep others into that group. To that subset of people, I apologize.

Perhaps you’ve already seen the instantly famous Axios interview. If not, you might. Either way, you might come away with some questions about what it contained. Seth Abramson put himself through the ringer to unpack the whole thing. It’s really something else. Do him a favor and reward his dedication to an unsavory job by reading about it.

And do me a favor by checking out these other places. There’s a lot more on Twitter, and I hear Instagram is popular these days, as well. Also, you can catch up on the work podcast On Topic with IU as well.

Aug 20

Day hiking in the Deam

Welcome to August, the time when we all try to remind ourselves that days are inconsequential, but months matter, somehow. How are things going where you are? That sounds rhetorical, but I mean it. How are things? Parents are trying to figure out how school will work. Fans are wondering if they’ll see their sports this fall? People are trying to figure out if they can just get their mortgage or rent in on time. Some people are working through a lot, and isn’t it funny how inconsequential some of those things can seem if the big ones are up in the air?

So I hope you’ve been taking a little time for yourself here and there. Mediation. Coffee. Walks. Reading something fun. Dancing sillily to music. Exercise. Whatever it is you do, do a little more of it. You probably deserve it. And if you think you don’t, you definitely do. This is August.

And since it is also Monday, we check in on the cats. The cats are good!

Phoebe literally can’t even. Did we do this one right?

Poseidon, in a rare moment of cuteness takes his break from being a little pill.

I’m kidding. He’s about 50/50. Or 40/60. Definitely he’s 30/70, cute.

We went for a walk in the wilderness yesterday. We saw one family on the trail. They were hiking back up out of the ravine as we were just beginning to work our way down into it. We each stopped, and the mom and the dad and all of their kids put on masks. We put on our masks. And then we all made a wide berth for one another. I waved at one of the kids, and it is obviously too early for all of that for her. Maybe I should have complimented her mask.

The mother and I both worked on smiling with our eyes. It’s probably past due on that, at least for me.

We were in the Charles Deam Wilderness, which gives you 36 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, and horse riding. I took pictures of some of the humble undergrowths.

It’s a scenic hardwood forest, and the up-and-down terrain is probably beautiful to explore in the autumn. If you’re on the right part of it you can get some really nice views of the nearby lake. We happily crossed a few streams in our four-mile hike.

This was declared a wilderness in 1982 based on some legislation from the 1960s and today makes up 12,000-plus acres of the Hoosier National Forest.

It’s yet another one of those places where we say “Native Americans lived here” and, also, “It was originally settled in 1826.” Clearly people had been there before. It’s got good game, even today, but the agriculture was a bit hardscrabble.

Finally, when the Great Depression hit and the economy turned in this area people were forced out. The government bought up the abandoned land and the Civilian Conservation Corps moved in to return it to a wilderness, control erosion and make it a recreation area.

You can still see some of the old home structures in the wilderness, though we didn’t run across any yesterday. As noted, it’s a big area, which will be nice for return visits and new discoveries.

We did see a few horseshoe prints, even on the trails were horses aren’t allowed. Silly horses, they should know better and read the signs. We only heard and saw a few other people the whole time we were out, and most of them at our turnaround point, at a little cave on the top of the ridgeline. It was a bit underwhelming, as caves go, but I’ve been spoiled by some large examples over the years.

We found this tree on our way back out.

Let’s take a closer look at that tree.

I got photobombed.

There are six other trails to try out, as well, and I’m sure they all feel different in the passing seasons.

The cleanup has been an impressive one. There were 81 farms out here, and corn and hay on the ridges. Given the topography and crops it was probably a terrific example of ten-year land.

Because of today’s special rules of the wilderness act, the only work done today is trail maintenance. So if you know what you’re looking at, it’s an interesting place to see nature making it’s slow and sudden comeback.

In some areas the growth is thicker than others. It’s a space rehabilitating itself.

The Deam Wilderness, I’ve just learned, is the biggest wilderness in the lower Great Lakes region with almost 13,000 acres. For comparison, Illinois has eight wilderness areas but they’re mostly a few thousand acres each.

And, finally, a tree we found in one of the creek beds.

When you’re down in that area with the creek beds, and the hills on either side of you, you have a great sense of being alone. Even in a socially distanced world it felt like a fine dose of quietude.

Jul 20

Just a quick self-promotion

The key to landing good morning show appearances is in having excellent representation.

You’d think your publicists would be able to get that right. You’d think they’d acknowledge the joke. Nope. They just meekly deleted their mistake, tagged the right guy — who is a good four or five inches taller than me and it shows in his headshots — and moved on with their day.

It would have been nice if they’d played a long, imagine the many creative muscles they could have flexed! Oh, the fun we could have had today. It’s Friday, it’s the end of the month, it’s a stay-at-home environment, after all. But, alas.

Anyway, I watched the segment — it was good and you’d expect nothing less — and I’m sure Rogers and Cowan will have a laugh about this later.

More on Twitter, check me out on Instagram and more On Topic with IU podcasts as well.

Jul 20

Masks can be art, too

We went out for an errand today. We, being the responsible sort, wore masks.

It’s odd, somehow, that we’re the responsible ones. We went out to get gas for the cars. More so because we had to use some fuel points before they expire at the end of the month than needing fuel. We missed the expiration of fuel points last month. And the month before that we got fuel because it was cheap, and we had a big discount and not-at-all empty tanks.

We’re staying at home. (I mean, just look at that hair.) We’re wearing masks. I hope you are too. Keep yourself safe. And, do it for others.

Also, these masks — highlighting the mascot, Gritty, and the band, Guster — were presents from The Yankee’s god-sister, who is very kind and works with this stuff in a university laboratory. So she wants you to wear a mask, too.

I had this setup in place today:

And if the many pieces of foam are up that can only mean one thing in my tiny home-office. It’s time to record something.

This gentleman is the director of the Eskenazi Museum here on the IU campus. They have 45,000 objects, with about 1,400 on display. Wikipedia tells me the collection ranges from Picasso to Pollock. There’s ancient jewelry and artifacts from all over the world. Coming up, when they reopen in the next few weeks, will be a wide array of exhibits. But, here, we talked about how museums, in general, are doing without foot traffic.

It’s a great museum, even if he wasn’t ready, today, to say when they are re-opening. That news, he said, is coming next week. I’m guessing late August, early September.

And you’ll need to wear a mask.