adventures


14
Feb 18

As it turns out, I know precisely what I was doing in 2005

My friend Zach Osterman, who is a sportswriter for the Indianapolis Star, a Georgia boy and a lover of Publix, came back on to to my little podcast today. We talked about sports, the Indianapolis Colts, specifically, and the coach that wasn’t the piece itself is a little older than I’d prefer, but its a good piece, and Zach is a thoughtful journalist and I like how he approaches the stories and especially how he wants to talk about the craft. I have always enjoyed that myself. So that’s fun.

And this episode is already one of the most popular ones of the show, so you should download it, or just use the player below, to see what all the cool kids are listening to:

I got home at a decent time tonight, because it is Wednesday and I can do that on Wednesdays. So I went to Menard’s, because you can buy anything there. I got a little paint and some lumber and now I have a weekend project. I’ll show it to you when I’m finished, provided it resembles my grand vision.

So as not to build any suspense, it is a small weekend type project. It’ll be put to use around the house, and it probably won’t be nearly as cool as some of the other projects. It’ll be utilitarian. But it might also look nice. Or the plan could go awry in any one of four or five different ways.

All of those outcomes will be fine, if I all of my fingers stay attached to my body.

We went out for Valentine’s dinner. We usually don’t do this, because we prefer to avoid all of the various amateur nights throughout the year. Usually we are celebrating our first officially unofficial official date this week.

[There was a group of six of us in graduate school, The Chess Club, and we’d all been running around together for several months by then. I just checked in on them all and they’re all doing great, by the way … And I still have my chess piece.]

[So on Feb. 13 there was a dinner party. I remember the date. We had something called excited chicken, which was tasty, and there was an ultra-competitive Trivial Pursuit game. The specific game and meal I recall from old blog posts. (And, reading things I was writing, you could really tell I was in graduate school at the time.) I also recall Los Lonely Boys was playing on our hostess’ stereo that night. But what was most important was the group figured us out before we had. Someone, or maybe several or all of them, decided The Yankee and I might actually be a couple, rather than two people. And we came to realize, hey, you know, they might be right. We’d arrived at that party together, rather than separately. And that’s how we come to find ourselves at the Japanese steakhouse tonight, give or take 13 years.]

So we figured, why not? Well, because it is amateur night. But that could be part of the fun, we figured. And it was!

Also, it turns out the Japanese steakhouse in town has just relocated. They’ve gone from one of those little buildings that orbits a strip mall to the actual strip itself. And, also, most of the waitstaff was brand new tonight, except for our server, and she was happy to bag on the new people who were sitting people randomly and without communicating new store developments and spilling soups and forgetting salads and what not.

Valentine’s Day week is probably not the best night to start a new staff in your restaurant, to be fair to those people. But there we all were. Us and the strangers you sit with at a Japanese steakhouse, exchanging good natured small talk and sharing knowing glances about the guy who spilled the soup, but did not clean it up, and then the latecomers to the table who managed to sit in an awkward fashion around the chef, making him really change it up as he launched zucchini at us.

And now back home to watch more Olympics.

Fun as that is, for my money, the Trivial Pursuit was better.


9
Feb 18

King of the dairy section!

The only thing better than a Friday meeting is a Friday meeting to discuss the details of a Saturday you’ll soon work.

That’s a thing you’d say, but this particular upcoming Saturday that I’ll work is a program for incoming students. And the program looks pretty good, too. I’ll be in the television studio for an hour or so. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday.

Now the following Saturday, that might be a different thing.

Today I talked with Robert Quigley, a professor of journalism at the University of Texas. He brought us what is, I believe, the first profile we’ve ever discussed on the show.

Then I interviewed someone else, for something else, which was great. And I coughed through most of it. There’s nothing like working with a microphone when you’re sick. And I’ve been half-sick for a week. But I’ve held it together until today and my guest was kind enough to give me a piece of hard candy to help me through, because my cough drops were all in my office. The odd thing is that I am today actually starting to get better.

After that I spent the rest of the day in the other television studio — we have two, Studio 5 and Studio 7, and they are both incredible. In Studio 5 this afternoon we had some students taping the first episode of a new late night show. I sat in the back, in the dark and caught up emails and schedules and talked marketing and watched them shoot a few segments. It is a pretty clever show, even if they did have to explain one joke to me, and the host has the most ridiculous sports jacket you’ve ever seen. The show should be out next week.

And on our way home we went to the grocery store. We did the thing where one of you climbs on the front of the cart and the second person pushes. I did a lot of the pushing, because The Yankee was taking things off shelves and that let me get to the handle part of the cart. So I pushed her around the store a lot, which made everyone around us smile. I like to think we started a grocery store trend, and started people’s weekend off right. That’s what happens when you put me in charge of picking Saturday night’s dinner.


5
Feb 18

On the origins of nothing, and dogs

I tried an experiment this afternoon:

I also taught a class. I’m not sure which of the two worked out better, but I hope it was the class. I’ll go back and visit those students on Wednesday, though, and maybe the technical problems we had today will prove outweighed by the abundance of knowledge I attempted to bestow.

Bestow is an almost 800-year-old word. I bet you didn’t know that. In old English stow was a place. Then there was a “be” prefix and stow got an en on the end, somehow. And that’s probably a fascinating tale, but I don’t know it. I think it had something to do with a verb tense, though. You had “stow” as in a place, and then “to place,” it seems. And then someone misheard and miswrote and misread or found a better use and said “BESTOW!”

I had a professor who was a serious and legitimate etymologist. It was amazing the things he knew, the work he’d done or read. I wonder what he thinks of my ability to just Google that these days. I hope they’re all just glad we can look at things because the ease just, you know, might entice us to do so. Those etymology conferences, though, you just never know which way a committee is going to go. They could come out of those rooms at the Ramada and take an entirely different approach.

You know what’s hard? Googling things about the art and craft of etymology. You just get etymology links to the words you are co-searching. But I digress.

Digress is of 16th century latin origins, just so you know.

Anyway, that was a little experiment above, because John Curley was nice enough to talk to me last Friday. Funny story about that, I sent his station’s main account a note on Twitter and they sent me an email address and so I wrote to them. And then Curley wrote me right back as he was about to go on the air. He was very gracious with his time when we talked, and it was a most pleasant little conversation. The end of that piece is my favorite part, and the whole premise is sublimely funny anyway.

Pet poses from the weekend:

Sometimes you just have to reach out and touch someone’s big toe. That’s not my toe, of course, and here is a 90-degree angle.

We went to a Super Bowl party to not watch the game or commercials — there was something funny about Tide, and then Eli Manning did a thing and Dilly Dilly was disappointing and probably some other things, but I find it hard to follow along with the game or the spots in a crowd. Some people did seem to enjoy the halftime show and, for some reason, there was a single yelp when Jimmy Fallon appeared on the TV. But that’s small group dynamics for you. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all, as they say. And I got to play with a dog:

That is the preferred photographic style for the canine, a technique I settled on some 11 years ago now. (Time zooms.) That pose isn’t quite the perfect angle, but it was as close as this golden was going to let me get. He is a playful and loving dog, as just about ever golden ever gifted to humanity. And the outtakes are almost as fun as that pose:

More interesting material here tomorrow. I think the books section is going to finally make a comeback. There, I’ve said it out loud. Now it almost has to happen, maybe.

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29
Jan 18

A podcast, a video and 11 photos in between

There’s a lot here, owing to catching up from a full weekend. And it doesn’t at all get into the three-hour tin whistle concert we performed on Saturday. There’s a lot here.

We’re all from somewhere is the general theme of the show we produced today. It’s about a reporter who is using public records to look up the immigration histories of people who are lately very much anti-immigration. But most of us have family that started somewhere else. My old friend and former co-worker Justin Thurman of the USA Today Network told us about the story:

What’s funny is that Justin and his wife, when they tell me stories about their families, they sound exactly like my family. Just good old fashioned country folks, salt of the earth types. So much so that I have made a joke with them that we will one day find out we are related. And then as I learned more about my family history, it turns out that at one point my family was just a town or two over from theirs.

My family has some English and some Dutch and a few other things. One branch can be traced back to the War of the Roses, another apparently back to the Mayflower and still another group seems to know its way back to the 16th century. We’re all from somewhere.

Here are some photos I took of a walk we took yesterday.

A duck out at a frozen Monroe Lake:

Ice on scrubby brush:

I like photos of people at a distance, in silhouette. Sometimes the angles are such that you can’t see what they are doing, and so I wonder. I wonder what they are thinking, where they were before they got there, and where they might be heading after this. And I wonder about my wondering from a distance:

You don’t often see fog hang around until afternoon on a sunny day:

And then the sun turns the frost to droplets:

I think the birds like that a bit better. Warmer feet:

Here’s a picture of a vine holding a stick:

And a video I made:

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15
Jan 18

It snowed a fair amount

Signs, we all see them. We see so many of them that we tend to tune them out. But we should really pay more attention. Consider:

“Crazy weather! Snow & ice is coming?”

Look, I’m not here to pick on the nice people at the hardware store. And they are very nice, I visit there a fair amount. I won’t even make a joke about their forecasting abilities. First, they work in hardware sales, not weather forecasting. Second, I don’t know when they put that message up. It could have been before all of this came down on Friday. Like I said, we tend to tune signs out.

But can we give a nod to the punctuation there? I feel like a lawn sprinkler has just come alive, gained sentience and learned part of our language, but none of our syntax, while I standing nearby reading a label on salt spreaders.

I’ve maybe spent a little too much time over in their paint and wood stain section, and the fumes in the fertilizer area can get to you, too, but I think they might be a bit cavalier with their punctuation.

My exclamation point, exclamation point view all weekend:

Since it started snowing on Friday morning, and we’d done all of our shopping and prep work around the house and made sure we had no plans, we just sat there, looked out at that and read, all weekend. It was terrific.

We also let Allie, The Black Cat, out to explore in it:

During some snow last winter we took her out on the porch, but she wandered around for a few minutes yesterday afternoon. She’s not an outdoor cat, but in her heart she’s an intrepid explorer of things close to the house. And if she can find dirt, she will roll around in it. Snow, well, it felt weird in between her pads, but she didn’t mind traipsing around in it after a minute or two.

You could tell, though, she knows she’s an indoor cat, and this is not cool:

Me? I’m nice and warm:

I have a lot of shirts from school colleges all over. I like the ones that are named after people or tiny places, rather than big cities or states. And this one is a small private school just outside of Philadelphia. My god-sisters-in-law went to school there and they had an extra shirt and it came to be mine.

The school is named after Zacharias Ursinus, a 16th century German theologian. That’s the Latin name he gave himself, which all the cool kids did back then. But his was a pretty direct translation. His given name was Zacharias Baer. Baer, Bears. Get it?

I’m sure all of the freshmen learn that before the snow falls on their first winter at ol’ UC.