Sep 14

Catember, Day 11


Sep 14

I have an idea about noodles

One of my favorite memories of journalism classes as an undergrad was watching the story ideas form. I wasn’t a natural. I think some people are, and others can be taught. Some people have the ideas spring forth, but others have to work on it. Until I learned to come up with a reliable story idea process, I was enthralled by listening to others just riff off ideas.

That’s not right. I’m still impressed listening to really talented, curious, passionate people spit out story ideas.

So this is, perhaps, my favorite part of the semester. We’ve been discussing this in class. Today I broke them all up into groups and requested, nay, demanded story ideas. And once we got just around the corner from the traditional campus issues of parking and tuition, they had some good ones.

Next I’m going to make them put them into practice.

One of the ideas was the new cafeteria vendors. Things have changed. Some people find the food tastier. Others have pointed out there is an awful lot more pasta. To me, the food varies from decent to bland, with fewer options — once you remove the bushels of pasta. And there seems to be more chaos in the food serving area.

Also, this:


Surely we can do better than that.

I swam again today, about three-quarters of a mile, or 1,300 yards. My flip turns, new yesterday, looked basically the same today. Off-kilter, untargeted and more power than grace. But, hey, it seems to get me back down the lane a bit faster.

Also they are slow. And I forget to look for my knees, which probably explains a lot of the above. But, on those flip turns when I go down more than out I must also come up, which, I think, has the look a whale breach. That amuses me.

I hope no one else is looking.

This evening there were Crimson meetings, where we discussed the story they had on the changes in the cafeteria. It is a popular topic. Today’s was the first issue of the year, and in their critiques I got to brag on them a great deal. The paper looks pretty great for a first effort. There are some things they’ll work on, but there are always things to work on. I’m very pleased, I told them, about where they are starting. They have great potential for the year ahead — and so now I will challenge them.

Anyway, we did not discuss the sign above, but the pasta did come up.

The vendor, Sodexo, says they surveyed students on the campus where they have contracts and found that students wanted more of the stuff, so we have tons of carbs. There’s a lot of pasta in the cafeteria.

Things to read … which is as easy to boil up as spaghetti.

Man, I need a good drone. This was shot by my friend and a Samford grad, soaring high above campus. (He appears several times as the drone does flybys.) It is pretty awesome:

This was a terrific story last winter. Now it is heartbreaking, and touching … Patient saved by doctor who walked six miles in snow to perform brain surgery on him has died:

The couple have seen the doctor several times since the incident, and he always told the doctor how much he appreciated what he did, Andrea said.

“God and Dr. Hyrnkiw gave us an extra six months,” said Andrea Robinson. “And I can see why God gave me those extra six months.”

Did you watch anything from the Apple event? Interested in the mobile payments that were discussed. It is a game changer, as Alan Mutter explained years ago … Get ready for mobile payments

It was fun while it lasted … Twitter CFO says a Facebook-style filtered feed is coming, whether you like it or not:

At a financial conference on Wednesday in New York, the CFO provided some hints about the feature roadmap that new head of product Daniel Graf — who came to Twitter from Google in April — has in mind for the service, a list that includes better search and a move into group chat. But he also suggested that the traditional reverse-chronological user stream could become a thing of the past, as the company tries to improve its relevance.


The most recent example of how stark the differences can be between a filtered feed and an unfiltered one was the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. and how that showed up so dramatically on Twitter but was barely present for most users of Facebook. As sociologist Zeynep Tufekci noted, that kind of filtering has social consequences — and journalism professor Emily Bell pointed out that doing this makes Facebook and Twitter into information gatekeepers in much the same way newspapers used to be.

The impetus for Twitter to filter is obvious: the service needs to show growth in both number of users and engagement in order to satisfy investors, and finding relevant content as a new user can be a challenge, which is why the company recently updated its so-called “on-boarding” process.

I’d hope there would be a classic version. I count myself in the group of users who have spent a fair amount of time developing a well-curated Twitter stream, and now they’ll turn it into Facebook. And, you’ll see in other stories, let you buy stuff directly from your feed. The ultimate impulse purchase!

The only thing I’d want would be to purchase the original Twitter format, chronological and curated by humans, me.

But that’s a complaint for a different day. Today I can only complain about my flip turns. And the pasta.

Sep 14

Catember, Day 10


Sep 14

Wherein I reference Carl Sagan

I showed off a neon sign in transition last week, without making too many philosophical references to the illuminating gases within us all that shine brightly into the evening sky. I stared at the distressed sign, full of rust and faded paint without wistfully wandering through paragraphs about age and history — OK, I talked history — and the way the elements shape the decay that shapes us.

I went back to check on the sign this evening. They’ve changed it:


We talked about generating story ideas in class yesterday, and will continue to do so tomorrow. Tonight the journalists produced their first issue of The Samford Crimson for the year.

Also, this evening, I taught myself how to do flip turns in the pool. They are bad, awkward, crooked, slow and hilariously off target. I can hit the lane line. I can push myself deep into the pool. (Good thing I was trying to figure all of this out in a deep pool.) My flip turns are also incredibly violent. I was here and then I pushed and now I’m waaaay over there, and it was fast.

It felt like this:

Watch a person who knows what they are doing and they are elegant. Watch me do a flip turn and it is like something out of the ACME catalog.

But I’m learning, and I swam 2,000 yards. I do not know what is happening.

Things to read … so you will know what is happening.

(When various of your gimmicks come together in an unplanned moment like that, it is kind of neat. And, perhaps, a signal to kill the gimmick.)

(Nahhh … )

Samford Is #3 in 2015 U.S. News Annual Rankings:

Samford University continues to be ranked 3rd in the South in the 2015 annual college rankings released Sept. 9 by U.S. News & World Report. Samford also was ranked third in last year’s U.S. News list.

Samford is the highest ranked university in Alabama in any peer group and continues a three-decade tradition of being ranked in the top tier of its peer group. Samford also recently was ranked the top university in Alabama by Forbes, Inc.

One of our students wrote this, and it is a neat read … Alabama’s first Miss America reflects on title more than 60 years later

Another lovely story … Finding a groove, giving a gift:

Darlene Werner suffered a stroke in 1994 and had not been out of the home where she lives with her husband, David, since Christmas.

Even with David’s support, she could no longer negotiate the four steps from the front porch to the patio or the three steps from the kitchen to the carport.

The couple tried, first with Darlene, 74, using a walker. For the past year, she has mostly been confined to a wheelchair. Returning some of her freedom was the goal of the eight men representing family-owned Contractors Service and Fabrication Inc., of Decatur, during United Way of Morgan County’s Day of Caring on Tuesday.

The crew, only two of whom had ever worked together on a ramp, created a way out down the house’s 29-inch high front porch with a ramp of three sections totaling 30 feet.

And this is quite interesting … 11 Bird’s-Eye Views That Show How NYC Has Grown Over 350 Years:

Exactly 350 years ago today, New York City became New York City. The city itself already existed, of course: As the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. But on September 8th, 1664, the British gave it its permanent moniker, which makes today its name-day.

We’ve seen all manner of maps illustrating how NYC has grown over the centuries, but one of the coolest—and least appreciated—is the bird’s eye view. These are images that are, loosely speaking, maps; but thanks to a little artful perspective, they give us much more of a sense of what the city was like in each case.

Tomorrow, there will be more interesting things to be found here. Do come back, won’t you? And have a lovely time until then.

Sep 14

Catember, Day 9