14
Sep 21

We count our Olympians on this site

Another Tuesday, another Olympian comes into the studio to take part in an IUSTV shoot. Just another day at the office.

That’s Andrew Capobianco, who won the silver in the 3-meter synchronized diving in Tokyo, and he goes to school at IU.

Capobianco tells us about a cool tradition you don’t hear about all that often.

He’s talking about his Olympic diver partner Michael Hixon, and Hixon’s former dive partner Sam Dorman.

The full interview will be in a program you can see online a bit later this week.

Today’s pocket square combo:

Also, here are a pair of my new, bespoke cufflinks I made this summer.

Pretty snazy, huh?

More videos and fashion and such tomorrow.

If you have some more time to kill right now, though, there’s always more on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too. Speaking of On Topic with IU podcasts, and, oh hey, did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? They do. Check them out.


13
Sep 21

Weekend photos

Just a few shots from weekend walks outdoors. And there’s also a video down below. But, first, the pretty things.

The sun silhouetted the trees and I further polarized the lens with a pair of cheap sunglasses.

The photos of which are never as cool, somehow, as what you’re seeing through the glasses themselves, but still fun nonetheless.

I thought this was a bit of toadflax, or hairy skullcap (that’s actually a wildflower name, yes) but now I think it could be any number of other things. I’m going with downy lobelia (Lobelia puberula).

And that is why when I did the last wildflower post I made the joke about failing hilariously at plant identification.

I’m not even going to try, here. Let’s just admire the contrasting colors.

I’m guessing this is some genus of Persicaria, or smartweed. There are 30-some species in that group. One of them has to be this color, right?

I feel comfortable with this one, it’s white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima):

I was rather surprised to find honeysuckle blooming this late in the year. I was pleased. It should bloom more. And, if not, this should be a sign of the new spring. It is almost springtime, right?

Look at this Yellow wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), so full of life and promise:

Your standard issue bunch of goldenrod.

On our Sunday walk I heard this doe before I saw her. I don’t think that happens very often. She stood and stared for a long time, and let me get within about 15 feet before she calmly walked off.

I did not see the deer that was with her, which had stayed very still, until they both walked away.

We had a big video chat this evening with a Pulitzer Prize winner. Elizabeth Kolbert joined us via Zoom as part of the fall 2021 Themester, “Resilience.” Her Prize-winning book — The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, covers mass extinctions She has a new book, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, which was released a bit earlier this year.

The interview went well, after it got started. I’ve queued it to the beginning.

It’s always fun working on someone else’s projects.


10
Sep 21

Ding! You are now free to enjoy the weekend

The old Southwest Airlines slogan was in my head when I woke up this morning. The alarm on my phone went off, some pleasantly disarming 1940s radio jingle I clipped many years ago, and for some reason my brain said “Ding! You’re now free to move about the country.” I don’t know why it was there. No travel planned. Though the idea of going somewhere is appealing. No air travel on the radar for a good long while. But ding!

It was the place on words that always worked well in that slogan. Sure, you have the pilot’s announcement bell, so Pavlovian. But that concept “You are now free to move about the country.”

Of course it wasn’t free. But you were free, conceptually speaking. Though the whole thing violated some law of thermodynamics, I’m sure, because on Southwest, at least, you were flying dirt cheap. When that slogan was in use I could go from Birmingham to Louisville, to see my folks, for $29. I was there in an hour. It would have cost me more in gas for the car and the drive would take much more time, even after you figured in the airport waits. If I stayed longer than a weekend the parking deck cost more than the flight.

“You are now free to move about the country.”

But that wasn’t the real case. Not really. We know this to be true because Southwest did not go broke their first year in business.

None of this explains why the old saying was in my head this morning, except that random thoughts such as these are the truest freedom we enjoy. And there never seems to be enough free floating thoughts around. We should daydream more. Or, in my guess, I guess, hit the snooze button more frequently.

I pedaled my bike to work this morning. The Yankee has my car because she had a weirder schedule for the day and needed to make a trip to Indy and my commute is only 4.5 miles, or so, one way. So it seemed obvious that I would glide through two neighborhoods and over the creek trail and through a few more neighborhoods and onto campus. I wore my too-heavy backpack, and tried to keep the heart rate down, thinking a nice and leisurely ride would be pleasant, and wouldn’t work up much of a sweat.

On the way, along the creek trail, I met some new neighbors.

I had a meeting this morning, which was happily on Zoom. I say happily because, while the assembled group is charming enough, I’m just not keen on the idea of being in a room with 50-some other people when it can be so easily avoided.

And this afternoon I had a meeting with two students from Black Voices about studios and how they could use them this semester. That was after another small meeting about studios and what is going to be used, and how, this semester. It all has a certain flow to it, if you’re surrounded by the concepts, but perhaps arcane, otherwise. Suffice it to say, Media School students have a lot of studios and a lot of options and at least two more are due to come online in the next few days and weeks.

The people that put them together — I know them, but I’m not one of them — do terrific work to set it all up, sometimes building them out of the very air. And the students use them well. By the end of this semester you could be working in a studio with five cameras, two different rooms with four cameras each, or another brand new space that’ll have two or three cameras and a motion-capture studio with unlimited potential. Oh, and up the hill, in our other building, a giant studio, about three times larger. We have two distinctly different kind of showpiece studios. That’s how spoiled we are. Students will use them all, and use them well, and we show them off to prospective students and donors and it will continue to grow and grow into we know not what.

Two years ago the two studios being built today weren’t even ideas.

Anyway, another show from the Wednesday night sports productions. They were talking college football.

That’s a straight up murder’s row of young sports media talent, by the way. As overrun as we are with studios, we have even more incredibly gifted students.

At the end of the day, the end of the shortened week, I pedaled my bike home. It was mild this morning, but much warmer this evening. So I’d brought along a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and spent much of my downtime trying to imagine a route that was all downhill.

There is no route that is all downhill.

So I went the normal way, which has three short hills and some easy rollers. I also had my heavy backpack, and it all felt like I haven’t ridden in years. In reality: three weeks, tomorrow. As I struggled up the longest, easiest hill I wondered how I would fare on tomorrow’s ride, which will not feature an extra 20-some pounds of luggage. It was most dispiriting.

(Edit: It also turned out to be a false reading. My Saturday afternoon bike ride was short, punchy and fun. Even in the headwind, my legs were much better. Blaming the too-heavy backpack is clearly the right choice.)

As ever, I need to find more time to ride. And more time to do all of the other things I enjoy.

There never seems enough of the free stuff, does there?


09
Sep 21

Open wider

This was the view on my morning walk. My morning walk … it sounds so casual. So routine. Perhaps it seems even a bit philosophical. But I don’t usually afford myself a morning walk. Perhaps I should. Instead I opt for more sleep. There’s never enough sleep.

But a morning walk does sound like a fine luxury, particularly as the weather turns a bit milder, if only for a short while. But this was no morning walk. It was a trip with purposes. I walked to the dentist, who has his office just down the street from our house. And if you think that doesn’t stick in your head each time you go by you’re fooling yourself. Every car trip, every bike ride, every run: did you brush enough before you came this way?

He has a new promotion. Follow him on Instagram, and you can win an iPad. Why not. The dental hygienist that works with me is a lovely woman. Her son is a freshman in college this year. And she and I usually discuss TV shows we’re watching. I assume she keeps notes on her clients. I’d mentioned, earlier this year, a great place to go whitewater rafting and she asked if I’d been anywhere this year. I expected more TV talk, or SCUBA diving talk or of the other things we’ve all mentioned in the past.

This is my third regular visit since the pandemic began.

It’s still weird to consider. Please lean over me and poke around my mouth with your pointy instruments which you have, no doubt, left in the nuclear autoclave out back for weeks between patients. You feel most … vulnerable.

This time last year they took my temperature at the door. Today they didn’t even point to a sign that asked if you’ve been having sickly symptoms.

Anyway, all went well with the appointment. And I hope I win that iPad. You can never have enough glowing electronics, no?

Saw this colorful little branch on the walk back.

After which we drove to campus. The Yankee to teach and me to sit in the office and do office things. It’s a carpool experience while her car is in the shop. She should get it back in the next day or two. Tomorrow she’s stealing mine altogether. So her car can’t get back to us quickly enough, you see.

I walked under this American sweetgum tree on campus. The breeze was blowing at the time.

The prickly little fruits of a sweetgum always take me right back to the gravel roads of childhood and running across such a tree is always a treat. Today, in the breeze, it looked like the leaves were waving.

Studio last night, as you might recall. One of the shows they produced has found its way online. First sports show of the season. From here, I’m sure, they’ll start to flesh things out as they go and grow.

And there will be another show to see soon. It’s a talk show and they discussed fantasy football at some length. You can find all those tips here tomorrow.


08
Sep 21

They call it The Smith II, no doubt

I had my car in the shop last week. Routine stuff. I needed new brakes. The mechanic called me to tell me I needed new brakes. That was thoughtful of him since, when I drove the car there, I told him I needed new brakes. So he put on brake pads and charged up the air conditioner and I got my car back just in time to drive it safely to the ancestral haunts and back here.

And, this evening, we shipped my lovely bride’s car to the mechanic. Her alternator died. The mechanic is making his boat payment this month off the Smiths.

Her car died in the parking lot across the street from the office. She’d gone to pick up my bike from the bike shop, which is also right across the street. (And, hopefully, this fourth trip for bike repairs for the year has solved the continual problems.) So it was that she texted me that her car died. We tried all the things you try, and, yep, it was dead enough for 5 p.m. on a Wednesday.

Fortunately, we have a roadside assistance service with our car insurance. It’s an app, and it warns you somberly that there are delays because of staffing and just, you know, the world. So since I was already at work, and had to be in the studio tonight anyway, I said take my car and go to the house and do stuff while I stand here with your car until the truck gets here.

Josh, the tow truck driver, was a bit late, but the app kept us updated enough, and the insurance people have an automated text message system that keeps tabs on the whole thing. But the weather this evening was nice and I was standing in the shade. Standing in the shade, that is, in between going into the building to vainly work on someone’s technical problems, poking my head into the studio, fielding insurance company texts and getting updates from colleagues, anyway.

Whatever she did with her time at the house, while I sat with her car, I hope it was productive.

She will drive my car tomorrow and Friday, at least. I will be on my bike which, hopefully, works. The mechanic will drive his boat, The Smith II. I hope it’s a great one. Nothing too overpowered or ostentatious, but nice enough for him to entertain his friends. And I hope they all laugh when he explains the vessel’s name.

Eventually Josh, the tow truck driver, came along. We pushed the car into position, hoisted it up and drove it the four miles to the mechanic. You presume that’s what happens. The man was a professional, after all. And what is he going to do with yet another car that isn’t operational at the moment?

And I got in the studio to see some studio stuff. The sports crew were working tonight.

Their first shows will appear later this week and, as is customary, I’ll put them here.

Speaking of the sports crew …

Michael is working in Iowa. News and sports in the quad cities.

And speaking of sports … this one is a high-water mark in baseball for me.

Read that and watch this over and over. Every part of it gets more interesting with each recollection.

As sports oral histories, that’s one of the better ones you’ll find.