24
Mar 20

Spri — nope, not yet

We’re just a week or so away from the visual clues being unavoidable. And then it’ll quickly turn to all-green, all-the-time, which takes a few days to get used to. And then, when you think back on it, you can spend a few days marveling at how you get used to it so quickly.

But first, this little budding stage of things:

These photos were all taken on our Monday evening walk, which was beautiful and delightful in most every way. Today was not picturesque. It was cold and gray and damp and that’s not frustrating at all. The clouds move so slowly. I looked at them during this evening’s slogging run of just under four miles with no inspiration, no legs or anything resembling pace, and I was again mystified how there were no clouds, but but the always terribly exciting white gray. You can’t see any of the defining characteristics that allow you to distinguish one large collection of very tiny droplets of water or ice crystals from the next. It all just … is.

I’m ready for spring.

It’s been a very mild winter.

This tree is ready, too. And that bloom isn’t the only thing around here excited for something to happen, and waiting for it to do so:

I got photobombed.

It was pretty much the highlight of the walk, which was already a fine part of a nice day.

I’m just showing off the non-macro lens on my phone, now.

On these nice walks, I should take my real camera. As I was taking that photograph, on my phone, this skein of Canada geese flew over.

They’re heading west, in the direction of several nameless ponds. They should go back north. But I guess they know something I do not.


23
Mar 20

A weekend in 243 words and seven photos

Saturday, we hit the drive-thru, where things are still so fast they can’t be troubled to add the extra letters to the sign. It was our trip out for the week. Three young people who we usually see working inside were bundled up and pretending to be the menu signs. And then another person midway through the line was taking your money. At the window they were just giving you your food. And a message:

And I thought: Little things like that are going to mean a lot for people.

This means a lot to me, signs of spring!

I wouldn’t have seen that if we haven’t gone for a run, in the cold.

Do you see that little bit of blue? That’s all of the sky we saw through the clouds during our quick four-miler today.

When we got home, and I mean almost immediately — I was still walking up the stairs to the shower — the sun came out:

Phoebe and I might be having a breakthrough this weekend. I got four cuddles yesterday, which is a new record:

This guy, meanwhile:

On Saturday night, I heard a distinctive crashing sound. Someone, I have my suspicions, knocked this bag of their treats off the windowsill, from the counter and onto the floor:

By the time I got there they’d somehow defeated the Not-A-Ziploc seal. So now we have to had the treats.

We’re running out of room to hide things in, honestly.


20
Mar 20

We go back in time

I didn’t go out to see this, because we shouldn’t be going out anywhere right now, but this is really lovely.

If you unpack that tweet as a thread, you’ll see a collection of marquees around the country. The Buskirk-Chumley’s signage is pretty terrific, and that is a wonderful quote.

Fun fact of trivia: I walked in there Thursday of last week to pick up some Will Call tickets for a show last Friday night as the show was being postponed. Sometimes you can only smile, and so that’s what I did. The woman working there at the moment didn’t know anything yet. She said they hoped to know something soon about make up dates. I said that’d be nice, and hopefully so, but I think we both knew it wouldn’t be tomorrow or the next day, like she said. I wished her well, and good luck with all of the other customers I was sure they’d hear from, and gave her a smile as I walked back outside.

That’s not being a helper in the sense that Mr. Rogers taught us about, but I’d like to be a person who doesn’t cause other problems, which is one of his less well-known quotes, I’m sure.

At the moment, their website says they plan to reopen on May 11th. Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe the first movie in May, or whenever they get back, will be Home Alone.

If I may sum up a convoluted website I just read about the place, it was originally built as the Indiana Theater and used for vaudeville entertainment and silent movies, in the 1920s. It lived on as a movie theater until 1995, when it became a performing arts center, so a little bit of everything these days. (We were supposed to see Guster last week.) It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Let’s fall back in time and look a little more at this place. May as well, we’re homebound anyway, right?

The time was 1917, the paper was the Bloomington Evening World, a paper that dates back to 1892, and ran under this name until 1943, when it merged with the coolest paper name in town, the Bloomington Telephone. A few mergers and name changes later, and it’s lineage is loosely still found in the modern Herald-Times, which is being almost stripped for parts today.

I’m looking at this issue for the first time as I create the screen captures, so I’ve no idea where this is going or what we’ll find … but on this day in 1917 …

The Campbell’s ad, which is so scandalously run on the front page — it isn’t a scandal, and it wasn’t a few years ago when some papers returned to that historic trend — invites you to come into their shop on the west side of the courthouse. Actually, the ad doesn’t say where it is. Everyone just knew. A man named Noble Campbell ran that concern. He was an IU graduate, sat on the library board, married well and eventually retired to Florida, where he died in the 1950s. I see on one site that he “was also connected with the motion picture business.” Whether that means he made wardrobe or just liked movies, we don’t know.

It’s fun to imagine though. I’m going with the silent, silent investor type. The guy the organized guys were afraid of.

They just put all your news in the old papers:

Another front page ad, where most assuredly people gathered for batteries and to gossip about that front page brief:

The Willard franchise was about 20 years old, but already a national concern. I’m not sure why the character is shooting his own sign there. Anyway, by the 1930s there were more than 5,000 shops under their banner. They’d eventually buy a radio station, built batteries that powered submarines and some of the sort you could hold in your hand. Things dried up in the 1950s and 1960s. A few years after this ad J.W. Farris also got into plumbing, heating and air. That was probably a booming series of career choices for a man in the 19-teens. Where it led him next, we don’t know.

Where that store was then? Condos today, just a few blocks from the theater, above.

There are four pages of the paper, and a lot of it points to the agricultural audience of the time, and some what we would today call syndicated content, or sponsored content, or “there weren’t a lot of people involved in writing this thing, perhaps.” You’ll be happy to hear there’s advice for how women can remove any corn, and a “Write Now” to receive the secret to masking gray hair. It’s not a new concern.

There’s also this, just hanging out on the bottom of the third page:

It’s just a hundred years ago, but they were still looking for people to settle land. In that time the building they wanted you to write to, the Traction-Terminal Building in Indy, came and went. It was the train station, and then a bus station. They razed it in the 1970s. Today there’s a Hilton on that spot.

At the student building on campus you could settle in for a play with a legitimate silent film star:

She was about to turn 21, so her audience looked a lot like her. She’d been in 125 movies and shorts by then, too. She acted regularly until 1930. This was one of her last films.

She got married, got divorced, different than the one above, and then the talkies came. She only appeared in three of them before moving to radio and Broadway. She worked in retail and then showed up in two television shows and one movie from 1958-1960. This was her last appearance, on The Many Loves of Doobie Gillis.

Arrivederci, Mrs. Dowell! It’s a quick part, and how it came to her is probably one of those small non-mysteries from 70 years ago we’ll never know, meaning a quick glance of the Internet didn’t have an essay or comment from a great-niece. In the late 1960s film scholars and, eventually, documentarians, rediscovered her career. She lived long enough to see all of that and died, at 90, in 1986.

The society notes tell of us a student recovering from appendicitis, a man who had lung fever, various family visits, and the return home of Howard M. Tourner, a jeweler. He had been out of town in Washington D.C., where he saw the second inauguration of Woodrow Wilson. He had a shop downtown, though it might not have been downtown back then. He played and taught the flute. He passed away in 1941.

On the front page there’s a paragraph about the signs of spring. The university’s baseball team had taken the field for practice, and boys could be seen playing marbles in the streets. On the back page there was the weather forecast: “Generally fair tonight.”


19
Mar 20

How are you settling in?

Everyone is getting a little more adjusted to their current realities. More people are staying indoors and at home, such as they can. And there are adjustments we’re all learning to make. It’s interesting to see and hear about. In between the many work emails and such.

Not everyone can, of course. Some people’s work requires them to be physically present. And some people just don’t get it. (But they’re liable to, if they keep that up, and they’re going to give it to others.)

And, it turns out, we don’t have the power of bulletproof young people we thought we did, either. Yes, Young People Are Falling Seriously Ill From Covid-19:

New evidence from Europe and the U.S. suggests that younger adults aren’t as impervious to the novel coronavirus that’s circulating worldwide as originally thought.

Despite initial data from China that showed elderly people and those with other health conditions were most vulnerable, young people — from twenty-somethings to those in their early forties — are falling seriously ill. Many require intensive care, according to reports from Italy and France. The risk is particularly dire for those with ailments that haven’t yet been diagnosed.

I wonder when the stigmatization of the people living their social lives really begins. You’ll have to somehow distinguish between the folks going to work to pay their bills or venturing out to take care of the vital necessities of life. But places that haven’t shut down their venues, or had their events shut down for them by executive power, the people there are going to get judged, I’m sure.

Even our cats get it; stay home.

We had to open a box late last evening and boxes, as cat owners know, may as well be C.S. Lewis’ wardrobe. So I thought I would turn it upside down. Defeat the cat! He can’t get in. No, he couldn’t. He got on. So, I thought, maybe I’ll just make you a little cat house.

He liked it immediately.

Because they don’t have enough things to climb on or in around here.

I shared that picture with a fellow cat owner, and she sent me this video and urged me to build …

I will not. Because I have another idea.

On the dual subject of pets and finding things to break up your days just now …

Don’t watch that one while walking up steps, that’s what I learned.

This one is quite interesting, for different reasons:

These sound interesting to me.

Experiments: Now is a great time to learn science by doing science. In this series, we take kids through real scientific research projects, showing them how to apply the scientific method to develop their own experiments. Check out the full collection of experiments — and give one a try!

Explainers: We have explainers on many topics, from how to read brain activity to the greenhouse effect. Each is designed to take a deeper dive into the concepts that underlie science news and research.

Technically Fiction: These stories look into the science behind fiction, from Harry Potter to bigfoot to what it would take to make an elephant fly. These can be a great place to start if your child doesn’t think they like science.

I started a musical conversation this evening. Some of the good ones that came through …

And this is aimed at marketers, but we’re all doing a bit of that these days, if you think about it. So think about it.

Be mindful. That’s terrific outreach advice. Grace and patience, friends. Grace and patience.


18
Mar 20

Hello, hello, hello

The best time, I told Instagram, for a run in the early age of social distancing? Obviously on a day when it is in the mid-40s. The preferred time would be when it isn’t raining, but the forecast was not a reality today.

Aside from the wind, and the rain, and the cold, it was a nice little three-and-a-half miles around the neighborhood. In a few weeks, if and when it warms up, I’ll have to think adding a few more miles back into the routine.

After a big meeting today, and thinking of an email and a conversation from the last few days, I pitched an idea which got the approval for further pitches. Up chains it goes. Now it needs a title, apparently. So that was a happy task for much of the afternoon, and perhaps part of the rest of the week and, if it goes well, for some time into the future. More on that then, then.

Let’s look at links.

I’ve come to really admire The Undefeated in it’s short run. It launched in late 2016, but it has covered a lot of ground and its writers manage to have a simultaneous air of authority and attitude that’s not always easy to pull off.

Maybe it is a bit easier in this brief essay, because the whole system has been a farce and the women who have been at the center of it have carried themselves with such poise, none more so than Simone Biles, who does all that while still competing at heretofore unknowable levels, having to maintain a criticism of her sport and constantly being the center of that as a spokesperson while also, you know, at the ripe old age of 23, being amazing:

She knows that it takes a village to raise a predator above reproach, to look the other way when his predations become so far out of hand as to be a well-known secret. She knows, from experience, that true, explicit acknowledgment and real structural change are required.

It’s unforgivable that Biles must use her hard work and success in this way — risking it all to advocate for herself and other gymnasts trapped under the governing body’s irresponsible purview. It’s unfortunate that the other side of her luminescent medal and legacy is dulled by that governing body’s paternalism and neglect. By pressuring an institution that performs in the face of its own inaction and injustice, Biles makes legible the ways our society tucks violence against women under the proverbial floor mat, and the ways in which women continue to materialize the strength necessary to demand the world beyond violence that we deserve and imagine.

This will be something a lot of people find useful, or will otherwise be looking for in the coming weeks. Stuck at home? Enriching activities to do with all ages from the Indiana Young Readers Center:

Looking for extra activities to keep children busy? Explore some of these activities put together for you by the Indiana Young Readers Center, located in the Indiana State Library. Remember, children of all ages can benefit from play and reading. Keep your kids engaged with some of these resources.

Sadly, my age group was not included. I’ll just have to fall back on my experience as an only child.

The apparently innumerate senator is from Wisconsin.

And the 3.4 percent he’s using here in his rhetoric works out to just over twice the population of his state. But, really, it is the rhetoric that’s a problem here. That data point isn’t being used correctly. So he’s using an incorrect data point, incorrectly.

To say nothing of the knock-on effects, and the many other medical cases that will be marginalized as hospitals become forced to triage everything:

These choices could be particularly devastating for the tens of thousands of Americans awaiting new organs, transplant experts said.

The outbreak has already caused serious disruptions. Doctors in some parts of the country say an inability to quickly test potential donors for the coronavirus has led them to decline viable organs, forcing some ailing patients to wait longer. To avert the spread of the virus among vulnerable patients who must take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of their new organs, doctors have canceled most routine follow-up visits for transplant recipients. And in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus patients requiring beds in intensive care units, some hospitals are now performing transplant operations only for patients who are at the most dire risk of death.

[…]

Without a transplant, Branson said his surgeon told him last week that he might only have about 30 to 45 days to live. But he said the hospital considers the surgery needed to remove part of his uncle’s liver to be elective — and therefore nonessential.

In a statement to NBC News, Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret, the chief of transplant surgery at UCHealth, confirmed that the hospital had suspended some transplant surgeries.

Meanwhile …

Never mind that younger people are also susceptible. But if you’re talking ’bout my generation (and not the one that actually claims that song) …

So, who is taking COVID-19 seriously? Possibly Gen X, who are born between 1965 and 1980 according to Pew Research Center, and are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” because many are caring for children and older parents. On social media this weekend, the hashtag “GenX” trended, with the “latchkey generation” saying that they were the most prepared to live in isolation.

From a psychological perspective, there might be some truth to this argument.

As they tried to explain this — and I stipulate that painting sweeping generalizations over a 20-year cohort, which is nothing more than the thinnest of constructs anyway, is silly — they missed one important potential external factor: MTV.

Now, usually, when I point to MTV, it isn’t in a good way. But it works out this time. We were just ready, because of what we already knew.

Also … is any other group allowed to see itself in this light?

Our little group has always been
And always will until the end