May 22

Let’s go back in time

Ten years ago I took this photograph, and published it on my Tumblr site. (Remember those?) This is the agapanthus, the African lily. From the Greek agape (love) + anthos (flower).

The plant is believed to have a hemolytic poison and can cause ulceration of the mouth. It does have other medicinal properties, however. There are about 10 species in the genus.

(Haven’t put anything on that Tumblr since November 2014. I wonder why? Probably just rightly remembered I should put everything here.)

Nine years ago I was at a baseball game, and the good guys won. We found our friend watching from a nearby parking deck.

(Happy times!)

Eight years ago we ran a triathlon in the morning, and watched a baseball game in the afternoon. (Good guys lost.) And I got Aubie to take a selfie on my camera.

(Happy times!)

Seven years ago we ran a 10K. I did it in brand new shoes.

This was a fundraiser in London, and on part of the route we ran around Wembley Stadium. The guy that won the race was an Egyptian Olympian. He lapped us. It was amazing to watch him run. He could not stick around to get his medal, they said, because he ran off to run another race. Long distance runners, man.

But look at this awesome bling!

(The next day we were in Paris. It was a whirlwind.)

Six years ago, plus one day …

I’ve never been able to eat watermelon without thinking about that. And I can’t eat watermelon without being a bit sad. Had some this morning, in fact.

Five years ago, boy, I was right about this one.

Four years ago, we were in Tuscany, specifically, Siena, and just one of the beautiful things we visited that day was the Duomo di Siena. In the 12th century the earliest version of this building starting hosting services, but there’d been a church on this spot for centuries by then. The oldest bell in the church was cast in 1149! These beautiful facades started appearing in the 1200s.

That was a grand trip. We’d do that one again, I’m sure.

Three years ago, the 17th was a Saturday, and we went on an easy bike ride.

Two years ago I apparently sat around and thought of little more than Covid. Remember the pandemic?

And last year at this time I was recovering from my first long drive in a year. We’d just come back from visiting my vaccinated family members. It had been my first drive out of the county in more than a year. It took a day or two to recover.

I did have a reason to re-use this gif, however.

The guy on the left is a sports director at a television station in Illinois now. The guy on the right is a 2L at a Washington D.C. law school. (We’re all going to work for one of them one day, I’m sure.)

So a bit of everything on this day in the last decade.

May 22

A light day

Ever get fundraising letters and emails from your alma mater(s)? This 1922 copy circulated in newspapers around Alabama, a sad story that came from one of my alma maters, and it is more impactful than all of those donation letters.

This was part of an important campaign for my alma mater. Auburn was in a deep economic hole compared to the other schools in the state, which had been uniquely successful in creating a deep economic hole for all of its schools anyway. So all that spring of 1922 they prepared for this campaign that they hoped would raise $1 million dollars which would equal … quite a few more million these days.

It was a substantial ask, am ambitious plan and, if you’d be willing to listen to the whole of the tale I can draw a pretty clear line between that campaign and the institutional politics that still appear there, 100 years on.

Ralph Boyd appears in the papers one time before this syndicated piece, in a small brief about his death in Montgomery that February. His last surviving sibling passed away in 2017.

And here he is the year before, somewhere in this group photograph from the 1921 Glomerata, the university’s yearbook.

In the 1922 yearbook there’s a mention of the Greater Auburn campaign. They called it the greatest thing Auburn had ever undertaken. But there doesn’t seem to be a mention of young Ralph Boyd in that edition.

So there’s not much here today, but I did run across that, which is really an excuse to share the greatest century-old graphic you’ve ever seen.

That’s recyclable, is all I’m saying. It’s also amusing that they were using the Auburn name in the university’s campaign efforts, a formal usage if you will, decades before they changed the institution’s name.

Something a little fun … Penn & Teller!

And something amazing … The Punch Brothers!

More tomorrow, I assure you.

Feb 22

Happy February

Welcome to the pivotal month. It’s starting out cold, it’ll be cold throughout, and it’ll end that way. But the length of it is perfect, reminding us that all of this will end, eventually. (And in just 10 or 12 more weeks the earth will have shifted enough to feel a little warmth from the sun.) Halfway through the month, we’ll be halfway through it all.

I don’t believe in groundhogs, because they didn’t go to meteorology school. Besides, historical observation and the most rudimentary understanding of planetary science, atmospheric science, oceanography and hydrology, tells me all I need to know. It’s a long way off, spring, but it seems important to stay positive on the first day of the month.

It’s also an honest month, but that’s someone else’s line.

It’s even in the skies! Positivity!

Which means a lot after the Friday snows, and this week’s forecast. There will be snow. And also ice. Since Sunday the weather forecasts have been saying “We’re not saying how bad it’s going to be, but it’s going to be bad. We’ll tell you later, sure, but go ahead and buy a bunch of batteries and bunch of french toast supplies.”

They were talking about up to 10 inches of snow, and a few inches of ice. We’ll see what becomes of it, Wednesday night and Thursday morning, but they’re refining those projections down a bit.

I need to catch you up on television. I remembered that tonight while we were in the television studio.

Here’s a sports show all about swimming and diving.

Here’s a morning show!

And here’s a show dissecting a short film. (It’s also a show about prepositions.)

It was news tonight.

Those shows will be online tomorrow and, well, you know the drill by now.

The daily duds: This feature wraps up tomorrow, because it hasn’t proved useful or entertaining in any way. But, hey, tonight it was top-ranked Auburn hosting rival Alabama, so I had to break out the orange and blue.

Auburn won, by quite a bit. Must be the neckwear. And, for those guys, it’s one game closer to the really critical month.

May 16

Goodbye, Auburn

You sleep and eat in safety in it, but a house is, really just the place where you put your memories for awhile.

This was a pretty good house, then. Except for the part about being on a haunted burial ground.

But there’s another house waiting, elsewhere.

Goodbye, Auburn.

It’s been real.

May 16

Last of Lee County’s markers

When I graduated from high school I had this poster under my ceremonial costume. It said something like “Thanks Mom! On to Auburn.” I’d been working at that for a while. The grades were no problem, but the money was tight. Two days after graduation I got my scholarship offer and off I went. And so I attended school there for five years. And then I left, because there was no work there in town. I would have stayed. But I went into the world instead and started making my way through it.

In graduate school I met my future wife and on a date the next fall I took her to Auburn and she liked it. And then when she finished graduate school she got a job offer at Auburn. There was no suitable half way spot, and Auburn is a nice place to live and so we moved there. And we stayed for six years. Until today, when we finished loading up the car and brushing away tears and drove off into the midday sun.

In between good things happened and great things happened and sad things happened. Life happened.

One of the many smaller things that I did was to start riding bikes. And from there I started seeking out all of these historic markers all over the county. Today the Lee County project is officially completed. This is the last such site and, before we signed the papers selling our house today, this was the last thing I did. I visited Pine Hill Cemetery.

Pine Hill Cemetery

And this is fitting. A small part of what I am now is because of Auburn. And a small part of what I am now is because of my appreciation for history. My mother asked me once why I liked history so much. I thought of two answers. I finally got lucky and had a history teacher who taught the material as more than names and dates. That stuck with me. But, when I was in undergrad at Auburn I found Pine Hill. It was an old cemetery that the city had almost forgotten about — which is a total Auburn thing to do, ignoring its own history — but they’d undertaken a big project about the time that I showed up to revitalize the place.

As well they should. I love this place. I’m not the sort of person that hangs out in cemeteries, but this place is special. There are about 100 Civil War soldiers there. The man my high school was named after is buried there. The names on the buildings and roads in Auburn are almost all buried right here, in Pine Hill. And somehow, one day, that stuck with me too. It wasn’t names and dates, but people’s lives. History isn’t an abstraction if you walk through the doors of a place named in honor of the person resting right here.

So, as I said, fitting that I would be here last. I saved it for just that reason. You can see my pictures from Pine Hill Cemetery right here. If you want to see all of Lee County, Alabama’s historical markers click here.