errands


8
Nov 22

We voted hard

We voted this morning. Took a quick trip to the local middle school where all of the sign holders were sunny and pleasant and one of the men running for local office was out greeting people at the 50-foot line. By the time we got our ballots I’d forgotten about them entirely. After walking 50 feet and then waiting 30 seconds to get my ballot, I’d forgotten all about those people.

The ballot here was front and back. One school funding referendum, one Senate and one House seat. There were a lot of local seats for council this, commission that. The jobs you seldom see campaigned for, because the campaign budget isn’t there, but the people in them impact the day-to-day business of this in a direct way.

We also had the opportunity to vote on whether two judges should be retained. It’s a system this state has used for a half century.

Once appointed, a judge must stand for retention at the first statewide general election after the judge has served for two full years. If retained, the judge is on the retention ballot every 10 years. The retention system is designed to allow appellate judges to decide cases fairly and impartially, free from campaign finance considerations, and without influence by partisan politics.

Everything is a tryout, I guess.

Tonight, the student-journalists are trying a new thing. The students from the television station presented a long collaboration with the newspaper students and the campus radio station. They covered the location elections from multiple locations, aired a special on the FM station and streamed live results and news on the web.

This is a big collaboration for them. It happened organically and, I think, that’s the best way. I’m very excited for what they’ve undertaken here, how it has played out and, mostly, for how I’ll get to brag on them after the fact.

Someone gets to be the cheerleader, and that person is me.

More on all of this tomorrow, though.

If you don’t want still more election stuff … here’s some more cycling stuff.

Yesterday we were talking about Major Taylor, the turn-of-the-century world champion. Early in his career he took part in a six-day race. I found this little package from ESPN which talked about what, for many, was a career-defining event.

The six day races are primarily European these days, and soon after Taylor’s, they were reimagined as team events. (If you ever see mention of a Madison, that’s what they’re talking about.) These days, they aren’t even racing 24 hours a day. But way back when, they were a solitary, continual, brutal war of attrition. In the U.S. the six-day races took place in Atlantic City, which saw two, in 1909 and 1932. In Boston, 13 such races took place between 1901 and 1933. Buffalo had 16 races starting in 1910, wrapping up in 1948. There were four in Newark in the early 19-teens. Chicago hosted 50 six-day races between 1915 and 1957, but Six Days of New York was, by far, the most popular American version. There were 70 installments, starting in 1899 and wrapping up in 1961. Taylor’s participation was in a predecessor to even that one.

Two guys — the Italian Olympic champion Franco_Giorgetti and the Australian world record holder Alf Goullet — won eight of those each, in The Big Apple. Both of those were of the relay variety, but still. One of the records Goullet set was at New York, in his 1914 victory,still stands. He and his teammate, Alfred Grenda, covered 2,759.2 miles.

If you rode a bicycle from Madison Square Garden to Las Vegas, Nevada, Google Maps tells me you’d do almost that exact same distance, except these masochists were doing that on a track, where the scenery seldom changes — but the hallucinations might!

The following photos are from last night. Don’t run, we are your friends.

Except we did run. The Yankee had her second post-op checkup and her surgeon gave her the green light to run, a little bit, when she felt like it. She felt like it, so we ran a little bit. Just a mile or so, being conscious of the jarring and vibration that comes with running.

I think, more than the run, she simply liked being able to do one more thing that was normal. It’s a big step, followed by another one at a brisk clip.

There’s a 10K to do next month. Plenty of time to ease into that, and then back into off-season base miles. One more thing that’s normal.


5
Oct 22

Review: ‘Old on the inside’

We had a physical therapy appointment for The Yankee this morning. I drove her over, since, just four-days post-op and in a sling for the next several weeks, she doesn’t have her driving privileges.

We walked into the therapy center and it was like when Norm entered the bar at Cheers. They all called her name. Everyone came over to say hello. Everyone wanted to know what this latest thing was.

She gets good service at the ortho clinic. If they open a new wing it might be named after her.

I got in some quality work time today. Everything there feels back to normal. Monday was a lot of telling people what had happened and how we were progressing. Yesterday was spent buried in a computer and compiling my sophisticated note system — presently it is two calendars, a few notepads and index cards. Today, was just kind of a day. Looking for this, preparing for that, tracking down some person or another.

I also started preparing for four video productions I have to produce and direct next week. Whoever booked four shoots in three days should receive a stern talking to.

(That was me, of course. To be fair to myself, my concentration was divided last week.)

On my second, yes, second trip to the grocery store of the day I saw this.

I assume that dog had gotten the last of the hair care products I was looking for.

Meaning there’s another trip to the grocery store in the very near future. Fortunately I pass the store twice every day. And, today I learned the only thing more frustrating than a long series of cars in a perfect rhythm of ongoing traffic that prevents the left turn for several minutes is that the grocery store has somehow managed to rope off the primary entrance and exit to the shopping center for subtle parking lot maintenance purposes.

There was a guy there tending to the rope and traffic barrels as I was leaving. They were down, but they should be up. He said words to my windshield, but who knows what that was about. He spoke with authority when I rolled down the window.

I could not, he said, go straight ahead because this was closed.

Could I turn this way? Maybe.

Could I turn that way? Perhaps, but I don’t really know.

Seems like the guy tending the traffic modification system should have a firm grasp on the modified flow of traffic. But that might be a big expectation for 6 p.m. on a Wednesday. He was game to help, though, and so I drove one of the two ways he wasn’t sure about.

This took me through the movie theater’s parking lot. I used to love movie theaters, and then somewhere in the oughts the crowds became more of a burden. After that everyone’s TVs got better and, well, you know the rest.

But the movie posters! Everyone likes movie posters! And this theater has that row of poster frames on the exterior wall, just in case you aren’t sure what is showing, or what you are planning to see.

Half of the frames were empty. It had the tired look of a retired gas station, but the few posters that were on display were for current films, both successes and box office flops. The last movie I saw in a theater before the pandemic was inside this joint, it was a 40th anniversary screening of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which I had never seen on a big screen. (Too young the first time.) How’s this place faring? These are the last six months of reviews on Google.

Not really impressed by walk in theaters anymore. You really take a beating at the snacks and drinks bar.

A very quiet place to watch a movie and very affordable prices.

Old on the inside.

I really enjoy going to this theater.

You can tell that it’s an old and worn out theatre. But it’s generally clean and just a stone’s throw from College Mall. Not much to complain about.

Nice clean place to come watch a movie for an affordable price.

Scary theater, not from the movie either LOL. Dirty seats and crammed. Old and run down. 0/10 don’t recommend. ALSO for all of you youngsters out there, if you’re going to see and R-rated movie both participants have to have their ID. Not just one like other AMCs around the area.

It is difficult to say how old this theater is, but the web tells me it goes back at least to the mid 1990s. The interior suggests that if it is any older it hasn’t been redone since the early-90s.

It doesn’t really matter if it is true, but the place has a reputation for bed bugs. Whether that’s there or not, that’s always going to influence your decision about which theater you’ll visit.

And my choice is to watch stuff at the house. I, too, am old on the inside.


12
Nov 21

Four months of winter

This was the week the seasons changed. Yesterday my office neighbor noted it by how the rain fell from a different direction outside of his window. Usually, he said, he watches it go left to right. But yesterday afternoon he watched it blow right into his window.

I wouldn’t know.

I took the day off today, so I saw plenty of the wide world outdoors. When I woke up we started with a brilliant morning.

As I waited for a delivery that required a signature I caught up on a bit of television. Yellowstone is back on for it’s fourth season and I needed to finish season three. This fourth season started big. If you’re not watching, I would understand. The characters are earnest, but ridiculous, and a few of them are really chewing the scenery. I have described it as Knots Landing in a heavily armed modern American West. If I tried to sum up the character arcs, you might agree.

Or, if you prefer, here’s some dew-covered plant growth I noted earlier this morning.

The UPS man finally arrived, chipper in his opportunity to talk to someone, and with a usual patter that indicated he’d told these jokes before. My replies hinted at the idea that I am no longer accustomed to standing in a doorway, holding a cat desperate to escape to the wide world beyond, and talking to people.

When that was done I escaped to the wide world beyond. Or at least two grocery stores. At the first, I noted that more people seemed to be better-masked in the mid-day than when I go earlier or later in the day. (This county remains under an unenforced mask rule.) The second store seemed about the same as it ever does, I guess. I’m not paying close attention there. I simply hustle in and head to one of the corners for a specific item, and then back out again. In fact, today I was moving too fast for the automatic door. Almost walked right into the thing as I exited.

After that, back to the house, and to the garage, to sand things. It was bright, and then sunny, and then it rained. And then it turned cold and, eventually, I figured my fingers were too cold to check my sanding work.

And that’s how you know the weather has turned. I came in and it was 42 degrees. I’ll finish the sanding another day, he said not for the first time.

Maybe before the seasons turn again.


28
Oct 21

‘I hope this is the weirdest thing you have to deal with today’

Technology thwarted me today, as it often does. Someone wanted to present from Google Slides. How does one go full screen in Google Slides? I didn’t know. I didn’t even know Google Slides was a thing until this came up in conversation. The presenter says “I need a youth! I need a youth to help me!”

She was, herself, about 24 or 26.

So I guess it’s encouraging to see that sort of thing kicking in at ever-younger ages. (Bodes well for, say, 2045 or so.)

About this same time, and in no way related, Facebook announced they’d gone Meta. I care less and less, beyond the extent of how people aren’t paying attention to how Facebook/Meta are deliberately behaving as bad actors in the online space.

This is where your standard issue fictional dialogic character leans back, waiting for my Facebook and 2045 joke, but I would say, no, this isn’t important, because Facebook isn’t liable to be here in 2045.

And that fictional character I’m carving out of soapstone to advance the point would say, You’re kidding, right? They’re huge!

“Sure,” I would say, “and so was Sears and Roebuck. And now the Sears Tower is the Willis Tower.”

Then the make believe person, really helping me move this point along, replies, But no one knows it by that name. Everyone calls it the Sears Tower. No one even knows who Willis is.

“And don’t you think that’s Facebook’s goal here? Also, Willis is a London-based insurance brokerage concern. This might also be Facebook’s goal.”

And my completely invented person sits back and thinks about all of the bad plates of unhealthy food and all the photos of poorly regulated bungee jumping and unsupervised spelunking and out-of-code electrical wiring jokes they’ve made on Facebook over the years, because this character is an electrician who is an adrenaline junkie, and they sit back in a deep and sad silence.

After work today, having set up another studio shoot (and, somehow overseeing the setup of a reception) I took the recently new and even-more-recently broken toilet seat back to Menard’s. I said last night, as I was looking for a bag to carry it in, that I hoped some surly old man was working at the customer service desk, rather than some cute young person in their first or second job. It just seemed like the sort of thing you could talk your way into with a tired old guy who’s seen it all, done it all, and just wants to get off his feet at his next break.

But it was a young woman who looked like she was fresh out of school.

“I hope,” I said as I was trying to remove the seat from the bag I was carrying it in, “this is the weirdest thing you have to deal with today.” I explained the problem. She took the receipt and punched a few keys and printed out a receipt that showed the return as a credit on my debit card. She could not care less.

I think that means it wasn’t the weirdest thing she’d dealt with today.

I drove home in the rain, but with a few bucks back in the bank account, to have chili and to prepare for tomorrow. I have an interview in the afternoon, and a few small things after that which will wrap up three long weeks. It’s going to be a good feeling.

And that’s not even saying anything about the chili!

Here’s the third episode of the B-Town Breakdown. I think they’re starting to have fun. And, I don’t know how you feel about tortured spellings as clever wordplay, but the IU Even A Fan segment is becoming must watch for me.

The desk show, all the highlights of the last week, and a look ahead to the weekend’s sporting activities around IU:

And here’s the other talk show. This week’s topic: uniforms. You won’t see any, so bring your imagination:


26
Oct 21

A day that always seemed difficult, but was actually easy

I went to the recycling center to drop off some expired fluorescent bulbs. (Our closets have fluorescent bulbs. I have questions.) There are … one, two, three, four, five recycling centers in this county. Of those five, only one accepts this sort of light bulb. It is not our usual recycling center, which is to say, the closest one. It is three miles away from that one, an improbable nine-minute drive. So maybe it’s the next closest, but when I got down there today …

Always read the website yourself, that’s what I’ve learned. And if you ever meet anyone in charge of the solid waste management office, ask about these seemingly arbitrary Open/Closed days.

So I went to Lowes, for the second time in three days, because that’s the way it works. Lowe’s is 6.4 miles and 12 minutes from that recycling center. And today I needed to pick up a toilet seat. Because I broke the one I’d installed just two months ago.

Whoever heard of that?

I walked down the correct aisle, around a slow-moving couple who were deliberately deciding among off-white bathroom fixtures, and found all of the toilet seats were blocked by a scissor lift. Eventually a person wearing the “I work here” red vest and the “but please don’t ask me about it” expression walked by. I asked her if she could move the store equipment. We discussed the issue and she found that what I wanted was only partially blocked, so she didn’t have to find a person to move the lift. She squeezed in between that and the aisle and grabbed the thing. That was easy.

Paid, walked out, thought about it and grabbed those light bulbs. Turns out Lowe’s accepts those for recycling. That was easy, too. A theme emerges.

I had lunch with my friend, and a former student, Auston Matricardi. He watches things, talks to people, assembles sentences and applies punctuation for a living.

He’s a sports writer. A pretty great one, too.

And the building behind us there is where I work, and where we met. He was also a sports broadcaster. He’s one of those people that’s capable of doing whatever is before him.

The sort that makes the rest of us jealous.

Videos from the studio … here’s the morning show. They talked to a tarot card reader. And they got a lot of tarot cards read. Then they visited a haunted house, and that part is highly amusing.

It’s a fun show, all new people, the crew is largely new, and they are coming into their own nicely.

And this show is brand new, one of two the student television station has launched this semester, a fun look at students making films.

And today they shoot the news shows. One, which I’m teasing here, had a Halloween theme.

You’ll see that tomorrow.

This evening I got home and removed the new broken toilet seat and installed the new new one. So scarred am I from recent projects that I feared the worst, but it was simple: remove two plastic screws on the old one and line up the parts for the two plastic screws of the new one.

I wonder if I can get my money back on a busted seat which is still well within the store’s general policy time. We’ll find out Thursday! (Update: I did.)

But there will be much more here tomorrow. Who knows what theme it will hold. Don’t miss out!