A podcast, a new setup, and a new book

Want to record something? I spent most of my evening re-building my audio recording gear. I put in a new mixer, plugged in the old Sennheiser MD 421-II microphone — a classic when I got it in 2003 or thereabouts — and played with audio drives and test checks ’til my heart’s content, or at least until dinner time.

Much later in the evening I figured out all the issues and everything is solved. I started adding new sound effects to my setup, just because I made cool musical-sounding sounds (please forgive the technical term) that were burning a hole in my hard drive.

I tested a new acoustic foam treatment. This should kill all of the echoing sound in a quiet room. It should also be small enough to move and store away. My current setup is clunky, but works. Except for those times when it is liable to fall on my head in the middle of an interview. Clearly, I’m in the R&D phase for new styles.

All of this, any of this, is better than how I spent my free time last night, rearranging a closet.

My office closet is a process. It isn’t clean, mind you, but it’s one tiny little step closer. One very small step. You can step into my storage closet now, around the many neatly stacked boxes and bins, is what I’m saying.

Now I need a better writing chair, because my 12-year-old office desk chair has done just about all it can. After that, perhaps some LED lights for atmosphere. This home office is starting to come together, or it will in many more months.

This is a podcast I recorded last week. We’ve rolled it out today in honor of Women’s Equality Day, which is observed this Thursday.

I saw Women’s Equality Day coming up on the calendar and found the appropriate faculty member. The stars lined up: an important day, interesting topic, and an especially impressive scholar to talk about equality, the 19th Amendment, where we are culturally in this long march. Only the professor begged off. Too busy. But, she said, you might try this person, or that person. And both of those people have equally impressive biographies. Ultimately, Dean Deborah Widiss agreed to take me on. So I talked with three brilliant female scholars about what this interview should cover. I asked some students about it. And I talked to some other thoughtful women, as well. Eventually, I distilled all of that down to this 20-minute conversation.

Women’s Equality Day, and the 101st anniversary of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing American women the right to vote, is on Thursday. Listen to this before then.

I finally started Bruce Catton’s The Coming Fury. It’s the first volume in the author’s trilogy, the Centennial History of the Civil War. This installment delves into the social, economic and political causes of the war and runs through the year prior to the First Battle of Bull Run.

We’re just getting started. This is the beginning of the second section of the first chapter, 12 pages in, and he’s already set his tone. A modern eye could mistakenly project this tension onto their own time. That’s more about the writing than the history.

It’s no wonder people hold this work in such high regard. Kirkus’ unsigned 1961 review called it “history at its best.” No small compliment. Every sentence is declarative. Every statement is pure and thorough. Any of them could be a thesis statement. It is confident and declarative in every phrase, at every turn. Young writers could learn a great deal just studying the sentence structure Catton uses. It makes for wonderful reading.

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