26
May 20

Well that settles it, I need a better light box

This weekend I was walking around and found a big mound of pea gravel at one of the near condominiums. I like that gravel. It always reminds me of home, traipsing around in creeks, playing in the woods, filling days with the wonder and curiosity of a child with far too much energy and enthusiasm.

I could stand beside a stream and peer through those rocks for ages, looking for interesting shapes and colors, hoping to find a cool arrowhead and never doing it. But always finding crinoids and being fascinated by them. (I found those last month, and now there’s something else to collect. I’ll try to do it without lamenting all of those that I put back over the years.)

Anyway, those rocks always make me think of summers and things I had and people I’ve lost and wishing for ways to get them back, if only in your mind and only for a moment.

And this weekend I found a few that had some nice sedimentary pieces. The color changes were interesting.

I saved the best ones for last, so keep scrolling.

And here’s the thing to notice here. Look how the photo quality changes.

These are all in a cardboard light box. You can see tons of DIY guides online, and I was just rushing through this today, but the point of a light box is quality and consistency.

This one isn’t getting it done anymore. And the rushing didn’t help. Plus, you’re always just working around an extra cardboard box.

Instead of all of that, I’m going to wind up making a more substantial, third version. Because the subjects in them should all look like this:

That rock is cool and that picture is great. The background blends right in to the page’s background, which is the point.

I know this is what you’re here for, random observations about half-baked projects, and pictures of even more random objects. I could have told you about today’s sweaty run or this morning’s Zoom meeting. Or the Zoom meeting that came after that. I wonder if I could run during a Zoom meeting. There’s always the emailing. I can get 300 words discussing email as easy as putting on a comfortable t-shirt. I could write another 450 or so words out of how many of them don’t get replies.

I started watching a documentary in Spanish! We could discuss that. And I’m looking forward to a bike ride tomorrow.

This evening was the highlight of the day. We had a two-hour Zoom chat with some of our students, just for fun. It’s so nice to hear from them and see them interact with one another and to watch them laugh.

The theme tonight was show and tell, and it was a big hit. One guy showed off a choice baseball jersey from his massive collection. Another showed a cool bat collection he has, including one he got at his bar mitzvah. Someone talked about a really cool plant, there was a camera and some celebrity photos. One guy showed us his grandfather’s sailing trophies, which was also really cool.

Show and tell, it turns out, is still pretty awesome. Give it a try. And if your crowd isn’t receptive to it, consider the crowd.

I didn’t show off these rocks. Maybe next time I’ll show off a new light box.


25
May 20

Happy Memorial Day

A Memorial Day unlike any other. There was no pageantry observed, no war films watched. The Yankee did use the grill. The day sped by with little tangible achievement. Went for a bike ride, threw yet another flat and so, in disgust, I limped back home. The day went by quickly, somehow.

The cats are doing just fine. Phoebe is surveying her queendom.

And one recent evening we were doing some work on the bed frame, which found the mattress standing on it’s end. Poseidon climbed up the underside of it and walked along the top.

We had a great time with that. Enjoyed it so much, laughed so hard, did I, that I couldn’t even be frustrated with the cat. And I said so. I’m not even mad. This is good stuff!

It was when he prepared to walk on top of the door that I stopped laughing and taking pictures.

The biggest news of the day was that we went to the lake and The Yankee got in a quick swim. I stood by as lifeguard and chief photographer.

I said, your suit is buoyant, so if you cramp up, just sit there and float until I can get out to you.

With the pools being closed this was her first swim, since early March, and finally, I guess, the lakes are starting to warm up. She was very excited about all of this.

And so were the other people at the lake. Three other swimmer at our inlet. Several people were preparing to put in kayaks. It felt like a summer day. A mid-summer day, the sort you enjoy and file away and don’t really catalog, not a holiday, not a day that marks the informal beginning of a season, but just a regular, muted day. Maybe that’s what it was. The whole of it seemed muted. A fuzzy reflection of a copy of some far off summer that is well out of reach. The peonies are blooming, the grill is cooking and the sun is finally warming things up, but this summer already feels lesser in most every respect.

Maybe that’ll make it feel more like a summer, somehow.


22
May 20

Got bread? I know how you can make others jealous

Well, we made it to the weekend. Treat yo’self for that.

It’s warm here now, and that’s nice. We’re in the 70s, and just 48 hours after jackets were required. So summertime acclimation has hardly begun. For now, it’s nice and it’s Friday and that’s more than enough.

We had a nice 32-mile ride around one of the lakes today. I only dropped my fuel and then my sunglasses. And then I got dropped on the back third of the route. The Yankee was cooking today.

You know who else was cooking was this guy, George Rabich, celebrated baker of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

We were doing a little casual genealogy research this evening and I ran across that New Year’s ad. It seems an odd bit of clip art, but, really, how many different pieces of New Years lead would a 1916 newspaper keep in their typesetting cabinets?

We followed along, and apparently 1916 was a good year for the baker. He’s in the local paper quite a bit. You could get some luxury bread in early May of that year. And needles! Needles were still like a currency in Allentown that spring, I guess.

Probably there’s a good reason. Hemming clothes or something, I’m sure.

Later in May, and it hasn’t yet occurred to anyone to specify that the needles were not in the bread.

The needles are not in the bread, people! You may eat and break and dip our bread without concern for your gums! The needles will be in a package on the side. We keep them entirely separate of the luxury bread here in the bakery.

Now, the blue collar bread? Needles for days.

By June, and no, I did not actually see this coming, they’ve realized the problem. Our bakery is one of the cleanest in town! Guaranteed! Healthful! Unless you’re the one guy in Allentown with a gluten problem, then you should probably stay away.

But everyone else! Clean! Healthful! Ask our customers! They’ll tell you Rabich bread is some of the cleanest bread in town. And they give you needles!

All of those were 1916, and before there were needles, there were prizes for kids!

Bring in your wrappers and get a bike, or a jump rope. Be the envy of all.

I bet all the neighborhood kids are sizing each other up over jump robes and strider bikes. He’s got that and bread? Maaaaa!


21
May 20

Here’s a distraction

It occurs to me that I am ready for a three-day weekend in the most desperate way. Which is odd, right? I’m going to spend it at home just like all of the days. And I’ll try to think about work less, but otherwise, status quo ante.

I suppose it is all mental, or I am.

Makes you wonder what next week will be like. Tuesday is Monday, and by this time next week we’ll be here thinking “thank goodness for a four-day week.” It’s a weird moment, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, we have that to look forward to, and brothers and sisters, I am looking forward to it.

Brothers and sisters. Huh, he said, writing this in an almost stream-of-consciousness style while also knowing where it was going. I had a news director who called everyone brother or sister. He wasn’t a particularly religious man then, moreso now it seems, so it struck me as an odd word choice. I just figured he was from where he was from, and that’s the way it was there.

He was a nice guy. Young. His first news director job, he was being handled and he didn’t need to be. After he figured out what was what in that market and who the sharks in the building were he was good at it. I only worked with him for a short time, but he was nice to work with, and gave me one lasting piece of advice: You have to look out for yourself, because no one else will.

It was that last bit of early-20s advice I really needed, I think. It was overdue, perhaps, but I took it to heart.

He’s a news director in Nashville now. He and his family are doing well, according to his Facebook feed. Always seems happy when we catch up. Brothers and sisters.

Let’s look at some old newspapers again. Let’s go back in time 111 years and look at the local paper on this date in 1909.

We save by using the ditto marks and pass along the savings to you! I love the little local ads that exist because of the university. It’s always difficult to tease out their story, though. One of the owners has two other men of different generations using the same name here. The other couple don’t leave much of a trace either. And that’s not an uncommon book store name, it turns out.

Oh, it’s one of those seasons. The Milwaukee mayor was in town. And one of the authors of the legislation.

This wasn’t outright prohibition, it was about home rule and liquor licenses and how much a saloon would have to pay and, yes, about prohibition. The Anti-Saloon league held a powerful sway.

The registrar speaks! Terrific news! Had there been an accident? Was he recovering, then? Was he coming out of mourn — oh, he was just weighing in on the debate of the hour.

He wants to leave out the moral question, indeed, he mentions it twice in here in this brief selection. I’ve edited out a few paragraphs in between because, you know academics, we do tend to go on.

This was actually Craven’s paper. He founded it in 1893 and ran it into his brother bought him out in 1906, just three years prior. He was the registrar for 41 years, until 1936.

A registrar, by the way, keeps the academic record of all the students and plans the registration process for classes. Craven did all that while he was a student. Academia was a lot different back then.

Look, I wear a suit to work. Not while fishing, though:

Kahn Clothing was Moses Kahn, and a partner, Solomon Tannenbaum. There was a big fire, but Moses was soon back to work, and became a founding member of the local fire department. He ran that store until he died, in 1920, at about 70 years of age.

Someone was in a mood when they went to look for filler:

I love that these places didn’t need an address. You just knew where The Globe was. I don’t. Or I didn’t. A few other searches tell me it was on the square. You can assume everything was there, but you shouldn’t. It’s just one square.

Elmer Bender was in the clothing trade for a long time. You can still find references to him through the mid 1920s. And soon after he joined the city council. He died in 1957.

Safe to say the newspaper was coming down on the side of the Drys. I’ve edited a bit of this to get to the real panic.

Ninety percent of the murders were somehow tied to saloons and drink! And you want that to come here!?

That’s an instructive look at fear-mongering you weren’t expecting out of this exercise.

The vote was just a few days away. I skipped ahead. The drys won the day. It seems they thought the city would vote dry, but the vote totals went against that idea. It rained and that let the farmers come in from the fields and voted dry. There was a big stir about whether many of the students who voted were eligible to vote. But across the state, it was a series of wins for the Anti-Saloon League.

I’m through here every so often.

When I first read that I thought, I should keep a look out.

You never know when a lost cufflink will turn up, but if I see it, Mr. J, I’ll let you know.


20
May 20

Come on now

And on Wednesday, the 20th day of May, a jacket was required.

Full fingered gloves would have been nice, too, but I left them inside.

What are we doing here?