Nov 23

A visit to the coast, and some other stuff, too

Late Friday night, and this really sets quite the tone for the weekend, I straightened up the laundry room. I did it because it needed to be done I am an impulsive party animal. Also, I was standing right there. It’s easy, rearranging cabinets, but what really sparked the exercise was I needed to reorganize the Covid cabinet. There are masks and tests and various other supplies. Somehow they all got jumbled. But you want to stack them up with respect to expiration dates. It’s a detail that appeals to me, for some reason.

Then there were some shoes to move. And a cubbyhole to straighten up. And, because the laundry room is between the garage and the rest of the house, there’s always something that is intended to go from one or the other, so I moved those things.

Then I remembered that we put up the birthday light in the laundry room, so I took a photo.

I got this for my lovely bride several years ago. It was also in the laundry room of our first house. But, in our second, everything was recessed lighting, so the fixture stayed in a box. But now it can glow again.

On Saturday, I set a new personal best for consecutive days riding the bike. It’s not a big number, but it is for me. And, after nine days in a row my legs are tired. But the weather was … mild. I overdressed, and then took off some layers. For about half an hour, and then I had to put my layers back on.

It was a day for an easy ride, and so I took one of our basic routes and rode part of it in reverse. At the bottom end of the route there is a place to turn right, but I turned left and headed into the next town. It’s the county seat. It’s careworn. And, for me, close by were a handful of historical markers. So I pedaled by and added those to the queue for the next few weeks.

On the way back, I passed this house. It is quite difficult, even at a bike’s pace, to see the shot, dig my phone out of my jacket pocket — a different pocket angle than my warm weather kit — and then get the camera app open through full-fingered gloves.

It would have been better if I could have done all of that about six seconds sooner, but I’m happy with the shot.

You’ll be happy with these shots, because they make up the most popular part of the week here on this humble little blog. It’s time to check in with the kitties.

No one has told Phoebe yet that she’ll be evicted from her favorite mid-afternoon nap spot next week. No one has mentioned Thanksgiving, and the meals we’ll eat on this table.

We haven’t told her because she’ll be intent on trying to get on the table during dinner.

Poseidon needs your attention. He needs your attention. He desperately needs your attention.

If you look closely you’ll see to scratches on his nose. He spends too much time harassing his sister. Occasionally, she runs out of patience with him and he’ll catch a swat or two right on the schnoz. He never learns from this lesson.

Other than that, though, the cats are doing well, thanks for asking.

Yesterday, we took an afternoon trip to the beach — Cape May, specifically. This little town has been a resort destination since … colonial days.

The Cape May lighthouse was built in 1859, automated in 1946 and remains in service today. It is the third lighthouse on the point. The first two locations are now underwater. If you want to go to the top you’ll have to climb 217 steps. The view might be worth it. They say you can see 10 miles away on a clear day, like this one.

We didn’t take the lighthouse challenge, but instead enjoyed the state park’s many walking trails. Some of it was on the ground, some on these well maintained boardwalks over some swampy, sandy soil.

We picked, perhaps, the best weekend for it. Bright sun, cool air and beautiful colors everywhere.

You’ll see more from the cape tomorrow. I’m spreading out the photos to cover a busy week. The busy starts today, with this evening’s class and a bunch of other work besides.

May 23

This (Re-Listening) band is for lovers

There were two highlights to my day. First, and this came late in the day, so you can tell how quite things were otherwise, we took a nice long walk after I got in from the office. The temperature was mild-trending toward warm and the views were just right for the back half of May.

That’s on the path behind our house, which winds through the neighborhood and connects to other paths and sidewalks that will take you most anywhere in town, if you are willing to walk or run there. The path system, let’s call it, continues to grow, and all of that access is one of the more wonderful features of Bloomington, even if we tend to haunt one particular section of them.

The path closest to our house does stop on one end. If you walk behind some of the new developments you can pick up another part of the paved route, but first you must walk over grass. The horrors!

City or county, and I’m not sure which, because this spot is right at the line, takes good care of this area. There’s always a walkable, mowed stretch through here. They do take pretty good care of their multiuse corridors here.

The other highlight was that, when we came back in from our walk, we ran into our neighbor. It looks like we’ll be sitting out and chatting with them tomorrow evening. They’re funny, witty, have just the right sort of enthusiasm and are polite enough to laugh at all of the better-ish jokes. So, good neighbors.

We’re making good progress, of late, catching up on the Re-Listening project. Writing one of these every day has helped. And, believe it or not, we’re only two discs behind right now. The point here, of course, is a quick breeze through of all of my old CDs. I am listening to them in the car, in the order that I first came to own them. This is fun for memories and singalongs and good filler for the site. They’re not reviews, but whimsy, as most pop music should be.

So it is 1998 or 1999, though this is another 1997 disc. I remember specific things around this record, firstly that I came to find the band through streaming an alt station out of Atlanta. And this really gets down to two groups of people. OK, musicians and two other groups of people. Record label A&R types and the music programmers that put up with them.

In the 1990s there were maybe six or eight real programmers of what was left of alt rock. There were other stations, but they were following the leaders. One of those guys was in my hometown, but another was just a short car ride away, the late Sean Demery, who was the music director at WNNX, 99X Atlanta. Here’s a guy who was doing the morning drive, realized there was a guy already in their building who would be a better morning jock, and stepped away from that to take on the afternoon shift. This is all but unheard of. But Demery was also the guy who, a few years earlier, turned that station on its head, and made it the mad hatter of musical taste that it was. As his AJC obit says, “Demery helped turn 99X into a hugely successful station in the 1990s, a ground-breaking blend of Gen-X insouciance, goofiness, sophistication and musical diversity which cemented loyalty among its listeners.”

That’s where I found him, doing wild stuff in the afternoons. I had a small town morning show that was punching above its weight because I was inspired by guys like Demery, who like a few other pros’ pros were willing to spend a few moments listening or offering advice. The people that taught me broadcasting said, on the first day, that “dead air was the work of the devil.” Demery walked away from his microphone mid-sentence for a punchline, or to make a point. He’d play the same song over and over when he had a hit, and in those days he was never, ever wrong.

He was a pirate working for corporate media. A confounder, the tail end of a now-dead art, a visceral force of taste, the match that made the spark. The sounds that maintreamed into modern rock, the strains that influenced the generation that came after, his colleagues sold it for revenue, but in the 1990s Sean Demery was one of the few people in the country putting it before us. (Demery wrote, “99X never referred to itself as an Alternative station until after 2000 which is funny because by the time some consultant decided we should call it Alternative it had become a music and cultural norm.”)

And so it was with Guster. Here’s three guys from Massachusetts, with an incessant rhythm section of … bongos?

“Airport Song” was the debut single from their second studio album. People like Demery helped push it to 35 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. “Goldfly” was an independent release, but this was the album that got them picked up by Sire Records and Warner. It was all edgy, a bit ragged and spotty in places, and everything on it fits the moment.

I think, for about three years, this was what I listened to when I exercised or mowed the lawn, all of which comprised most of my music listening.

Now, I bought this late, because their third album was coming out. But this one will always be a favorite.

And I got to see them live for the first time not too long after that. They’re a band best seen live.

That explains why I’ve seen them three or five times. In fact, a Guster show was on our calendar for the day that everything shut down in March of 2020. I found out at the box office of the local venue. And so it was happy and sad, in May of 2021, to see them live in a documentary format. It was a hint and a reminder and just a great, great band. I’ve watched them their whole career, through the alt and the boop boop beep boop, the Beatles pastiche and everything else.

Probably I would have found them somewhere else, but I found them because of Sean Demery and the legendary 99X.

Go see them this year, because I can’t.

Dec 22

Another travel day

We woke up this morning in Alabama, had a light breakfast and eventually pulled our things together for the car. We went to Publix for our traditional lunch sandwiches.

Man, I miss Publix.

Gassed up, spent a little more time with my mother and also my grandfather. And then it was seven hours back up the road. Our only stop was a brief visit to see a friend in Nashville.

The Yankee said she didn’t want to get in at 9 p.m. because we had to unpack and repack and prepare for more travel. This is reasonable and practical, as my lovely bride is a reasonable and practical person. So we got back to the house at about 9:45 p.m.

Last week the government announced more free at-home Covid tests. I jumped onto the website and ordered our tests. I also filled out the form my mother, my grandfather and my in-laws. On Sunday, I think it was, I saw that the tests would be shipped out starting Monday. And when we got to the house tonight, there they were.

Some government efforts are helpful and efficient, and it’s worth pointing those out, too. You can get yours right here.

You know what else is helpful? I wisely did all of my laundry last week. So now I only have to pack for another week on the road.

Fortunately for me, I am a retired professional suitcase manager. My speciality was overpacking. So, if you will, pardon me while I go do that now.

More tomorrow. If you have some more time to kill right now, however, there’s always more on Mastodon.

Nov 22

We only go back a century in this post

We have rapidly moved straight on into holiday mode. It was a sneaky and sudden shift this year. I was wondering how these Dickensian commercials made it into the breaks of football games, and then looked at the calendar. That was surprising. Well, time means nothing anymore, and the weather has, until just last week, been unseasonable.

But I receive a monthly email from the thermostat people. This is our one publicly acknowledged concession to having a smart home, connecting a remotely programmable thermostat to our domicile. It is useful when traveling. But the downside is the emails. The upside to the email is that, once a month, we receive a basic summary of our heat and A/C use. For instance, the heat was up a little bit in October, compared to last year, but the air conditioning was drastically lower.

Also, and this may just be copy holder for all I know, I haven’t consulted the National Weather Service here, the email says our average temperatures in October 2022 were 6° cooler than October 2021. The average high three degrees lower, the average low 44 in 2022, compared to 54 in 2021. So much for the late warmth confusing my knowledge of the seasons.

Enjoy, then, this brand new conspiracy theory that I’m hatching with every keystroke before your eyes: Something about vaccines and wearing masks are altering my perceptions of days.

There aren’t a lot of mask wearers around anymore, are there? Despite, well, you know.

Holiday mode is upon us. We are having guests next week and trying to put a thing or two into an itinerary, such as can be had. I am setting the over-under on trips to the grocery store, from next Sunday to the following Saturday at four.

This means I’m also counting the hours until a few days off work. And, judging by my inbox, everyone else is, too. It’s a delightful thing, the unacknowledged and entirely unified feeling of we’re all just waiting … until … And there’s some solidarity involved in that too. Everyone is looking at different dates. My Thanksgiving begins tomorrow. Some people will push through a few days next week. I’ll be thinking of you while I’m doing my level best to not think of work.

My contribution to the cause today was this. I canceled some things. I reminded some people of something two weeks out. I scheduled a few programs for two and three weeks away. I found myself in a series of tedious emails that will be resolved next week, when I won’t be here. (And saying they were tedious is not a criticism. The tedium was mostly my doing.)

This evening I donned long pants and a long shirt and gloves and ear muffs and a headlamp and ran two miles in the brisk cold and snow flurries. It wasn’t a personal best, but I wasted little time getting that down. Then I sat in the garage and sanded wood for almost three hours. A few more hours of sanding and the longest running project in the history of woodworking will be ready for a dry fit. Saturday, then. I had dinner at 10 p.m., and am planning on reading myself to sleep.

But only after this.

Some unsung hero(es) at the university library has collected and preserved and digitized some ancient newsprint. It makes for a fun few minutes and, now and again, we’re going to dive into some old random stuff from the alma mater. Why should these bits of history exist in only one corner of the internet? If I can’t be there, I may as well bring imagine something now generations past. This is The Plainsman, 100 years ago today.

Remember last year! Centre is Centre College of Danville, Kentucky. It was already 100 years old by this point, and that previous year, 1921, the Colonels whipped up on a young Auburn team, 21-0. No one had forgotten. They all remembered.

Frank McLean Stewart, college student.

Stewart, having gained hard-earned insight from that choice, shared his wisdom with others before graduating with the class of 1923 with a degree in agricultural science.

He became a field rep for the American Cotton Association, then worked for Belle Meade Butter Company before becoming a dairy farmer. He spent a decade as the executive secretary of the Alabama State Milk Control Board and left there to work for the War Food Administration late and just after World War II. In the 1950s he became the state’s commissioner of agriculture.

I wonder how many times he told that story when he was a younger man.

I’m always struck by how ads in smaller parts of the country, for the longest time, didn’t even bother with addresses. Just get to our town. Ask around, someone will tell you how to find The Cricketeria. (I see references online to the Cricket Tea Room through at least the 1930s, but that’s where the trail stops. Similarly, I found William Abbott, born during the Civil War, died, next door in Opelika, just before World War II. He came from a family of photographers.)

I don’t know that I’ve ever run across anything about this ice cream parlor. But everyone knows Toomer’s. Back then, of course, it was an actual drug store. Today, many owners later, it’s a busy gift shop. Same name, same corner.

This was another drug store. At one time, in a walk of two or three blocks you could hit five drug stores. Sign of the times, one supposes.

What do you suppose they’re implying with these quote marks?

Remember, this is 1922. The technology was ascendant. It would have been farther along, but the government stepped in during the Great War and took over the airwaves as a matter of national security. You could study radio, the engineering and broadcasting elements of it, that is, and it was understood to be a military endeavor at the time. Radio at Auburn has a big history. I’ve written about it a bit here, you’ll see a bit more on the subject … right now.

This is the next issue of the paper next one in the collection is from about two weeks later, Nov. 29, 1922. Since we’re here we may as well breeze through it. (Oh, and, yes, Auburn avenged the loss to Center. It was a 6-0 game, the Tigers mauled ’em. Every bit of overwriting possible was used to describe the game. We’ll skip most of that here.)

It’s about time radio did it’s part! Remember, this is 1922, so all of this is an incredible step into the modern age.

On page 4 — it’s a four-page newspaper — there’s a long column that turns this into a process story. They’d just gone through some upgrades and expansions. Now 5XA and WMAV boasted four radio telegraph sets. More technology was coming, but by the time you read this in the paper they were already at 500 watts. Not so much these days, but that was a huge range considering there was less interference in the atmosphere. The paper in Birmingham — the publisher was on the university’s Board — had donated a radio phone, so they had the strongest setup in the South. They would soon be able to get weather reports directly from Washington. All of this led to WAPI, which was a station I had the great honor to broadcast on for a year or so.

The more things change …

It’s easy to take water out of the faucet for granted, if you have it. It’s easy to laugh at a time when you couldn’t take it for granted. It must have been some kind of experience to have lived in that time in between. I assume this is part of that time.

The guy that wrote the above, Reid Boylston Barnes, Itchy to his college friends, was born in 1903, went to law school, and eventually entered the U.S. Army as a captain during World War II, serving in the military judicial system.

He mustered out a lieutenant colonel and continued on his path of becoming something of a legal giant. He died in 1984. He saw some changes in his life. Including …

I was not aware that this was a thing … nice to see some humor in an old newspaper ad, though.

Speaking of literary societies … I wonder how popular they are these days.

This really takes you back.

Maybe I should keep that one. It could be recycled every term, for any generation of college student!

Nov 22

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, as do vaccines

I watched students produce a show this morning, and also watched a show promo that should win some awards, or — what with college students specializing in dark humor and all — a visit from the local police department, I’m not sure which.

Put it this way, they decided they wanted to add a dramatic jib shot to this promo. The jib is the camera on the big long boom that makes those cool faux-flying shots happen in a studio, or at fixed events like lap races. They wanted to utilize the jib for a dramatic shot and I thought, “I’ll go lend a hand and do that.”

But before I could say that, someone else volunteered. Which was great! Student work is student work. And then when they actually recorded this ultimately ad libbed promo, I was glad the other person decided to work with the jib because there would have been no way I could have envisioned the jib shot he produced. It was, in point of fact, dramatic.

Anyway, I hope that promo sees the light of day. I’ll share it, if it does.

The rest of the day was full of emails. Catching up on other meetings of the week, cinching a neat little bow on small projects, booking people for future projects and the like. Somehow that filled most of a day.

And I tried a new apple, because it is apple season and apples are delicious and Apple Twitter is making me do it and an apple a day keeps the doctor away. So let’s try the Rave.

People compare this to the Honeycrisp. It is, in fact, a cultivar out of Washington that joins that variety with the MonArk apple out of Arkansas. Some of the Washington State people have their hand in the MN55 cultivar, as well.

My normal apple eating system doesn’t work on this apple. I bite off all of the skin, and then work through the flesh down to the core. But a Rave seems to need the tartness of the skin to complement the bubblegum sweetness inside. That sweetness wasn’t working in isolation. So next Rave, big bites.

I have tried three new apples this week, and now I must decide which of those I prefer for repeat purchases. Fortunately, I bought two of each of those three, so I have a few more days to be sure, but I’m pretty sure.

And that’s what Apple Twitter is all about, I gather.

It isn’t scientifically truthful at all, by the way, the old expression. There’s no proof that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but there is some evidence that daily apple eaters have to take fewer daily prescription medicines. The original Welsh rhyme was “Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” It is traced back to 1866.

They didn’t have nurse practitioners in Wales in the mid-19th century. We didn’t invent those until the 1960s here in the United States. It was a stop gap to address a shortage of physicians. (Makes you wonder, no?) Dr. Loretta Ford observed that … well, let the National Women’s Hall of Fame explain:

because of a shortage of primary care physicians in the community, health care for children and families was severely lacking. In 1965, she partnered with Henry K. Silver, a pediatrician at the University of Colorado Medical Center, to create and implement the first pediatric nurse practitioner model and training program. The program combined clinical care and research to teach nurses to factor in the social, psychological, environmental and economic situations of patients when developing care plans.

When the program became a national success in 1972, Dr. Ford was recruited to serve as the Founding Dean of the University of Rochester School of Nursing. At the university, Dr. Ford developed and implemented the unification model of nursing. Through the model, clinical practice, education and research were combined to provide nurses with a more holistic education.

So there you have it. For most of us, this has been a part of the health care system for our entire lives. (Wikipedia tells us that Ford retired to Florida decades ago. Hopefully, at 101, she is hopefully able to find excellent medical care when she needs it.) Residents of 26 states can see NPs which have full practice authority. In 24 other states the nurse practitioner is required to work under the supervision of a physician.

Which is how I come to find myself in the little clinic attached to the grocery store — and no formulation of that sentence will ever not be weird — visiting with a bubbly nurse practitioner who called me a goober this evening. Apples and doctors, but not NPs dear reader, oh not hardly.

The two shots she delivered, however, those will help keep me from seeing a doctor. One hopes, anyway. New Covid booster and a flu shot in the same arm are now on board, and expertly done, one after the other.

But now my arm is sore, and my throat is just the tiniest bit scratchy. The tiniest bit: I would have a sip of water or a peppermint and not have thought anything more of it if my bicep wasn’t reminding me where we went this evening. But no real side effects. Let’s keep it that way.

Must be the apples.