Aug 21

Downstream from here

It rained this afternoon. Less than 20 minutes of the wet stuff fell from the sky. Something between a trace and a measurable amount. Just long enough to make me stay at the office a few minutes more, you understand. I rode out this randomly appearing rain cloud with purpose, doing a computer networking test that I learned earlier in the day on an extra classroom.

By the time that chore was done the rain was gone. And the little creek that runs alongside the building looked like this.

There’s something about the limestone that’s all around the place that slows drainage. If the water can’t go into the soil it just rolls to wherever the terrain wants it to and, here, that means Spanker’s Branch and down into the underground system just after that last shot. In an appropriate number of hours or days I’ll be using this same water to clean up after dinner.

It’s comforting, really, knowing there is a cycle to this, and we have integrated a system into it.

Saying a thing like that, about the dishes, is just one short step from trying to assign a story to that particular bit of water. The happy bubbles, and all of that. At which point you’re simply anthrophomorizing dihydrogen monoxide.

“What’s this ‘you’ stuff, pal?”

You’re right. You’re right. Not one among you has ever wondered about the hopes and dreams of the water you use while doing the dishes. That is the most ambitious part of the water that comes into our house. How else to explain how it gets on the countertops, the cabinets, my shirt, under the dish drainer and everything else?

I got some under the drainer this evening. No idea how that happened.

We’re hitting the books again before the weekend begins. We’re looking at a few of the interesting bits from one of my grandfather’s magazines, the January 1954 edition of Popular Science. We started this particular magazine a few weeks ago now, and you can see the first ads if you click that previous link. Click the image below and you can enjoy the next nine photos and bring yourself great worth and merriment.

But if Popular Science doesn’t interest you, you can see the rest of the things I’ve digitized from my grandfather’s collection. There are textbooks, a school notebook and a few Reader’s Digests, so far. It’s a lot of fun.

Just like your weekend. Unless you’re getting rained on. Watch out for Ida.

I’m taking next week off here, but we’ll be back for more fun of this sort the following week. See you on Labor Day!

Jul 21

Links of the day

We did it last week, and that went well, so let’s return to the simple link post in a good long while. So let’s do that. Here are a few items that have been in my browser(s) today.

This story is 1.3 million years in the making.

Archaeologists in Morocco have announced the discovery of North Africa’s oldest Stone Age hand-axe manufacturing site, dating back 1.3 million years, an international team reported on Wednesday.

The find pushes back by hundreds of thousands of years the start date in North Africa of the Acheulian stone tool industry associated with a key human ancestor, Homo erectus, researchers on the team told journalists in Rabat.


Before the find, the presence in Morocco of the Acheulian stone tool industry was thought to date back 700,000 years.

The dating is something there, isn’t it? It almost doubles the local timeline. If you aren’t paying attention to archeology news, that seems improbable, 1.3 million years. But not too long ago a team led by scholars from Stony Brook and Rutgers, pushed the timeline in Kenya back to 3.3 million years and Australopithecus afarensis or Kenyanthropus platyops.

The use of the word “industry” in that Al Jazeera story, the first one, also stands out.

It’s one thing to use a rock, but to make it into something useful — something we’d later recognize — is another. And then! Then, to be able to teach that skill to others, so that they can make more axes or spears or knives, maybe in exchange for something else, I suppose that’s industry. That’s civilization. And this one is apparently 1.3 million years old.

I’m sure you saw the new CDC guidance, which is still somewhat muddled. Maybe before we’re through the second year of the pandemic they’ll get their health and crisis comms in order …

Anyway, they’re recommending masks, even for the vaccinated (yes, even for you) if you live in a place where the Covid case load is rated as “substantial” or “high.” Really this is an actuarial exercise, with an element of risk assessment to it. Let’s all assume we have some understanding of percentages and risk aversion and game theory — sorta the same way we decide whether we’re going to drive over the speed limit speed the next time we go somewhere. It’d probably just be safer to driver more carefully every time. Same with masks!

Anyway, substantial and high are what you’re concerned with in NPR’s handy little tool. Just type in your county and you’ll get a read on the local happenings.

The change to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s masking guidelines came after pressure from many outside experts. The CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said in a news briefing that new evidence showed delta was more transmissible than previously understood.

“This was not a decision that was taken lightly,” Walensky said. She noted that new data from outbreak investigations show that, rarely, vaccinated people can still get infected and spread the virus to others.

“On rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” she told reporters when announcing the new guidelines. “This new science is worrisome and, unfortunately, warrants an update to our recommendations.”

(Every county I’ve ever lived in, ever, is in one of those two categories right now.)

Wear a mask.

This is one of those local women dominates at Olympics stories.

They have trained together, raced together, wept together. Now they will swim together – in adjacent lanes – for an Olympic medal.

Bloomington workout partners Annie Lazor and Lilly King advanced Thursday morning to the final of the 200-meter breaststroke at Tokyo. They will be underdogs against South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker, who challenged the world record in heats and semifinals.


“It’s going to be awesome, this is what we have been training for the whole time we’ve been training together,” King said. “So I’m really excited.”


Last month’s Olympic Trials was the first meet for Lazor since her father, David Lazor, died April 25. He was 61.

“The last couple of months I’ve been going through trying to achieve the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me while going through the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” Lazor said in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Sometimes my heart, for the first few weeks, it felt like I was choosing grief that day or choosing swimming that day. There was no in-between.”

Update: How cool is this?

Used to be that the athletic performance was what I watched for. Now it’s just the reactions after the events, the culmination of all that work, and the joyous celebrations that come from people who’ve devoted themselves to something so difficult. I guess that means I’m getting older.

Just not 1.3 million years old. Yet.

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.