Feb 21

And happy Wednesday to you, too

The Yankee and I had a picnic in the old K-Mart parking lot. It was a drive-thru Chick-fil-A sort of experience, best part of the day with little doubt. The parking lot is next to the restaurant, which is still all drive-thru and curbside pickup and so we got our food and moved off to eat. When I’d finished my spicy chicken sandwich I looked up through the sun roof and noticed this view:

It was a mild day here, if you actually made it outside. I seldom seem able to do that. I live under fluorescent lights in a beige and dirty-cream color office with orange carpet and no windows most of the time. If I get a different view it’s under a handful of LEDs in the studio. But to get outside is nice, to get away for a few minutes is even better. And to see more fake signs of seasonal change is a delight.

As I noted yesterday on Twitter:

And the same thing applies today. So, when I was done with my work day I went up to the top of the parking deck to watch the sky whirl by. It was a pretty good choice, I think. The stratocumulus made for some dramatic views.

And why share one when you can share three? So here are two more pictures from the same parking deck.

Something to see, huh?

Here are some other things to check oiut. These are the videos from last night’s television productions.


Pop culture happenings:

Oh, and I forgot the other day, there’s a morning show to check out, too.

That oughta hold you until tomorrow.

Feb 21

That second wave of snow was something else

Today was a work-from-home day for our campus, so I worked from home for most of the day. We, like most of you, had weather. This is how much we received:

We have a short driveway, and it took an hour to dig it out. Biggest snow we’ve had in our time here. It’d be a great parenthetical close to winter, too, but more will be coming before we’re done. We’re never done, it seems.

Our road does not get plowed.

But a city truck came down the road, with his plow disengaged, to turn onto the walking path between houses. The road is in the county, but it seems as though the city maintains the paths, even the one behind our property, in the county. And this is how he went about getting back there.

The path, when he was done, was generally in much better shape than some of the roads. They really understand winter around here.

Except for this part of the path, where walkers can encounter a hurdle at a T-intersection. It was fun to watch people step over this on a slick ground.

The entire day was not a work-from-home experience. I went in late in the evening for a television production. The roads were, once again, a mixed bag of quality. Some were downright dry. Others looked like a sheet of tundra dotted with buildings. The sidewalks were a hilarious joke. It seemed about every other one had received some half-hearted attention. Winter, they really get it.

In the studio this evening was this young woman, who is the first editor of a new section of the campus paper.

It has been a great read this year. She, and all of her contributors have done a great job with it. And I’ll let her tell you about it when that interview goes online tomorrow.

So make sure you check back for that. And stay warm and dry until then.

Dec 20

Back in time

Let’s go back in time. Let’s go back 103 years back in time to see what the news was like around here. This is the Bloomington Evening World, which we’ve been reading from time-to-time. We’ve looked back through the contents three times this year — March, May and July — so we’re probably due another examination.

The Bloomington Evening World, went back to 1892 and published under that masthead until 1943. That’s a great run. It merged then with the wonderfully named Bloomington Telephone. A few mergers and name changes later, and what’s left of the current paper, The Herald-Times, will sorta claim the old paper.

This was the front page on December 19, 1917.

One of those stories you saw a lot of back then, and it meant a lot to the readers. These were our boys, after all.

Let’s look at some of those names. The first one listed there, Irvin Alexander, survived the war. He’d teach at West Point. He became an advisor to MacArthur and the Philippine army. In the early fighting in the Pacific he was wounded twice, before being captured and, ultimately, becoming a part of the Bataan Death March. That was a 60+ mile trek that claimed as many as 18,000 lives. He did three years as a Japanese POW, which was a demanding daily existence with little food, minimal fuel and brutal captors. Part of that time was captivity in Korea. That meant time on a boat. The death rates on the Japanese transfer vessels was notoriously high. And there was the risk of simply being on the water. Alexander survived two ship sinkings to even get there. He survived all that. He wrote a memoir a few years later that was published years after his death. It gets great reviews. He died in 1963, on his way to a visit of Mexico, with his wife.

Maurice Parks was a singer before the war, and after he came home he was part of a popular act, the Old Town
Quartette. He died in 1947, and is buried in a cemetery not too far away.

Oscar Dillman came home, and he would be elected commander of the local American Legion. He passed away at 56, in 1946. He’s buried just three miles away.

Leland Highlet was the unlucky lad on the destroyer spotted and sunk by a U-boat between France and Ireland. About 30 of the sailors, on a vessel that had a manifest of 99, survived.

Christmas advertising, front page advertising, it’s all been with us for a while.

There’s a restaurant at that address today.

Charming motorist in the red car. What can I say? Welcome to Bloomington.

This was the first undamaged zeppelin captured in France.

There’s a terrific picture, and more information, here.

It was your decade, so, if you say so …

This is an ad, found on page three. And some ad, huh?

Right next to it was a timeline of the declarations of war from the past three years. And, in no special font or stroke, there was the note reminding you that the US had declared war on Germany eight months earlier, and Austria just three days before.

“So I went down to the drug store and got you this snazzy gift.”

Such was the power of Kodak upon the zeitgeist that simply saying the brand name carried real heft. Wood Wiles bought the place in 1899. He ran it for some 30 years, until he had a heart attack in his store. His son took it over. In 1952 he moved it a block up the street, where it prospered for many years. The company stayed in business until 1985. The original location is today a restaurant, and a nice one. The second location is now a bookstore.

Did you think of the grocery boys? And why have people always been this way? Oh, I know it’s ten below zero, but I want my groceries now!

“We have spared ourselves no pains” … they just don’t write good ad copy these days, do they?

The Harris-Grand was a popular theater for decades. A couple of fires did it in. THere are some small stores and a parking deck there now.

Can you see any of these movies today? Right now? Yes you can.

Sep 20

Back in time

Today’s a good day to go back in time … beeeeeecause I don’t have anything else of note to offer you today. So let’s look at the local newspaper from this same week 103 years ago, in 1917. And the headline writers didn’t really have any idea about that little thing in Russia, did they?

There were a lot of small local sadnesses taking place about this time. Seems odd to see the “final summons” formulation twice on the same front page. Some local soldiers were shipping out, and some nurses, too. There was a war on, remember. A local boy got admitted to the local bar. The judge that swore him in presided over the guy’s father’s admission to the bar a quarter century earlier. Family practice.

There’s an optician advertising on the front page. The last line says “Artificial eyes furnished.” The location today is a commercial business building. It’s the old Masonic Temple, which was still a few years in the future of this newspaper. Notably, there’s a fake radio station in that spot note. From artificial eyes to fake broadcasting.

Anyway, inside the paper … This sounds tasty!

And, in 1917, you would see some national propaganda ads like this. Need work? Move to Canada and help bring in the crops! I wonder how many people signed on for this, and what it meant to their lives.

Yeah … about that macaroni. I think I’ve lost my appetite. Thanks.

There are the usual sorts of short stories in the paper. A lot of society stuff, weddings and vacations and family visits. There’s a brief from New York about a man who’d never before spoken, but then he fell while chasing some punks and suddenly discovered the powers of speech. I googled him, but that story is the only thing about him the Internet knows. Traffic accidents and fatalities were markedly up, nationally, and people were starting to notice. A woman in Colorado had nine grandchildren in the British army. There was a mini-photo essay about treating sheep ticks.

It reminds me that there’s never a local photograph in this paper. They could print them with the technology of the day, and considering I’m looking at scans of ancient newspapers the quality is pretty good. But they didn’t publish their own. I assume this means they were a newspaper without a camera. At one of the local theaters you could see Bawbs O’ Blue Ridge:

Just before mountain girl Barbara “Bawbs” Colby’s aunt dies, she reveals that Bawbs’ deceased father had left her $5,000, but to watch out for men because they would only be interested in her for her money. Her aunt’s warning is tested when Bawbs falls for a new arrival in the mountains named Ralph Gunther, who says he is an author who’s there for the peace and quiet he needs to write.

Also, $5,000 in 1917 would be just over $100,000 today. I imagine every early 20th century matinee reads about like that.

Doesn’t everyone feel this way?

I’m happy to report my kidneys feel fine, thanks.

The circus is coming to town!

Two years prior Buffalo Bill Cody toured with this troupe. He died a few months before this paper was published. Kidney failure at 70. Anyway, the Floto Dog & Pony Show and the Sells Brothers Circus joined something called the American Circus Corporation by 1929 or so. John Ringling bought that group about the same time, and that, friends, created the great circus monopoly.

Jul 20

There’s audio here and I would be appreciative of your listening

No Phoebe and Poseidon on Monday? No. We had other cats to feature. I also had to do my work in the actual building on Monday. And the world has gone mad.

I was going to make that joke. But the local world has actually gone mad. There’s a banner on an overpass right now that says “A man was almost lynched” because a man here was almost lynched. There’s a video of the confrontation. A putrid, two minute and several seconds video of it.

So, last night there was a demonstration downtown about this troubling weekend event, as you might imagine. Someone chose to drive a car through some people. One or two people were hurt. One of them apparently mildly. The other was treated at a local hospital and released with a reported head injury. I’m also hopeful they’ll address arresting the driver of the car that did this terrible thing.

There’s certainly evidence. But there’s evidence of both, isn’t there? You can see it. I’m not putting any of that here, but it is out there if you want it, and it is all repugnant.

This is the thing about video: someone will always say “You don’t see what happened before the video.” And that’s a true and powerful insight you have there. What a keen legal mind you have. This is the real thing about video: no matter what happened before someone whipped out their phone and got the camera up, no action calls for what is seen before the unblinking eye.

At least one of my students was out there reporting. Apparently eye witnesses say the driver ran several red lights. So, in other words, done deliberate. And I’m really stuck on this part: one of my students was out there.

So vehicular assault in broad daylight, that ought to go somewhere, one assumes. One also assumes that state officials, the appropriate authority for where the almost-lynching confrontation happened, will figure out the threatened or attempted lynching. But they haven’t managed to do that yet, despite, you know, daylight video and plenty of incriminating evidence like work shirts, prominent tattoos and faces.


But the FBI came down to look into the first crime, too. This was announced at this evening’s demonstrations which were, seemingly, much more peaceful for everyone.

So we’re having Phoebe and Poseidon on Tuesday this week.

Poseidon should also get a name for his love of cabinets. Cardea, if I recall, figures into hinged doors in Roman mythology, but I can’t think of anything close enough in the Greek, so we’re giving it to the mighty Poe, who was surveying his kingdom with great contentment here:

Phoebe and three of her favorite pursuits: a spring, a stair landing and the pursuit of belly rubs:

And they decided to sit together on the stove cover of my own design and creation. A rare display of getting along in proximity in their sibling rivalry.

So, yet again, spending a few hours building that little thing one weekend was worth it, I guess.

You know what else is worth it?

I talked to an epidemiologist today. We discussed whether the coronavirus is airborne. We talked about looking at the data and masks and the bubonic plague. We discussed whether I should get a haircut.

We also briefly mentioned the task of getting kids to wear a mask. Of course, she said, her children wear masks. She doesn’t have too much trouble with them, she said. But they are of a certain age now. And, being someone that tracks diseases, she probably brings home terrible images and scares them to death, as would be her parental right.

I’m sure she doesn’t do that. She’s a perfectly pleasant individual and probably her children listen to reason. And if they don’t, both of their parents work in public health, which means they’ve got plenty of adult experts in their lives to scare them senseless while mom and dad are conspicuously working on backyard appetizers.

Anyway, she says wear a mask. And be willing to leave places that have people not wearing masks. Stay distance and stay in well ventilated areas she said.

It keeps coming up: we had the stay-at-home orders handed down to give hospitals a fighting chance. Supplies were needed. Beds were needed. Crush the curve. Remember that, a few months and oh so many outrages and personal inconveniences and national outrages ago? Medicine and science needed time. Well, we gave it a bit of time, and now hospitals are filling up. There are a few more supplies headlines popping back up. And the consumer knows it. Stores are limiting paper goods and cleaning products again.

Let’s say everything about your health, and the health of the people around you. Mortality rates are lower than earlier projections. Thank goodness. Hard, hard earned trial-and-error have been teaching physicians for future rounds of patients, hallelujah. One of those things we’ve learned is this isn’t just about the sniffles, and it’s not just about your lungs. There are big, and varied impacts. One of the things still to be learned is how varied those impacts. Is it your lungs? Some other organ? Your mind? Medical science is still trying to figure that out. Another thing on the board, how lasting can the problems be? You can find nightmarish stories aplenty about that, too. You’re living in a big world of uncertainty right now, friends.

What’s amazing, according to every doctor and epidemiologist I’ve interviewed and seen interviewed, your best defenses are something so exotic as washing your hands and putting a protective covering over your mouth and nose. As most of us would prefer not to have our quality of life impacted in a negative way, please and thanks.

We didn’t discuss the charts, but we should have. They now have death projections stretching out to November 1st as a status quo, wherein some restrictions are being held and many are being eased, versus mandated mask wearing. And it looks like this.

In Connecticut 4691 – 4551 = 140 lives.

In Georgia 3,856 – 3,403 = 453 lives.

In Indiana 3,400 – 2906 = 496 lives.

In Alabama 3,442 – 1,682 = 1,760 lives.

In Texas 13,449 – 6,442 = 7,007 lives.

In Florida 17,472 – 9849 = 7,623 lives.

Wear a mask. Yeah, it’s itchy, but you can be that kind of hero.