Dec 13

Back in Connecticut

We traveled all day yesterday. Up and out of my grandmother’s house, skipping breakfast to her mortification, before 8 a.m. Our route took us across regions both populated and sparse and rural. And also down gravel roads. Not even the good stuff, where the creek rocks have been crushed to dust and spit out to the side by previous generations of tires, but loose gravel roads.

Which might be unfair. It was on a detour. A bridge was out, you see, and the local crew that were in the middle of repairing the structure had helpfully hoisted road closed signs and a detour sign, but no actual detour. So we made our own, on roads that looked very much like what we’d traveled in nearly abandoned portions of Ireland this summer.

And from the gravel roads we made it back to the empty county roads and from there through sleepy southern towns and finally into Atlanta and to the place where we parked our car … just in time to miss the airport shuttle.

No matter, there will be another along in 15 minutes, we are right on schedule and so we are really playing with house money for an hour. So we park, unload the things that are going on the next leg of our holiday travels, leaving behind the first stages of clothes and things. The shuttle comes along, we climb on, meet a new young Auburn fan — he’d just chosen sides before Christmas, apparently, and was very pleased to tell us about the shirt he got for Christmas.

These are golden times, my man, and you’ve chosen wisely.

We got into the airport. I instantly lost track of my wife while fiddling about with a zipper or something on my luggage. That took 17 seconds. At 22 seconds, with my thoughtful, staring face firmly applied, a helpful airline employee asked if I was looking for something.

Turns out she was in the check-in line. (Who knew?) I’d found her myself. We checked. We made it through security, where we probably got ourselves on a watch list by hopping lines. We’d committed to one line before realizing the people there were still trying to reach their spring break destinations. So we changed to something that looked like your typically efficient government operation, rather than a Soviet toilet paper queue.

So down to the terminal train and then we found our gate, grabbed some food, finally and got on the plane. Our flight was uneventful, save for the three year old kid doing a wicked Billie Jean cover off and on.

And I had so hoped that flight would have a talent show.

We arrived in Connecticut, where it is cold, as you would expect. Good thing I brought two jackets! On the one hand, we drove and flew almost a full day. On the other hand, we covered more than 1,000 miles. It was an easy night after that, dinner with the in-laws, hauling luggage upstairs and so on.

This morning, we ventured out into the post-Christmas wilderness, and this:


They had a white Christmas, and there is still a little bit of the stuff lying around. It doesn’t impede anything, but it is cold enough to sit in one spot for four or five days without feeling like it is in anyone’s way.

So today we shopped. A visit to the empty mall here, a quick stop to the reasonably underwhelmed Apple store there. We got in and out of a high end district and hit a big name cosmetics store. We visited a haute couture kind of place for one thing or another — I was dizzy with it all by then — and the lady who worked there spoke with us like we were long-lost nieces and nephews.

She’d heard of Auburn. And it had registered enough that, isn’t there some sort of big game? And some sort of rivalry? It was interesting. People either live it or know of it. Or they are completely oblivious to it. But she had just the most passing knowledge — which, hey, good for her, I guess, a fashion store girl in New England knowing anything about the South and its diversions — and I had to explain how this silly little thing was so much a part of our local culture.

It kind of makes you dizzy.

We hit another place or two and then got our collective acts together. We went, with the in-laws and some family friends, to New York City, tonight, here:


At the Lincoln Center there is a performance of MacBeth, staring Ethan Hawke as the cursed mad king. They play the whole thing for the poetry rather than the emotion. Hawke is a much better mad king than a reluctant and treacherous one. It was a fun show, seeing Shakespeare is always good.

They rushed through a lot of really great stuff — this is Macbeth, so of course it is great — as if they just really wanted to get to the last battle, which felt thin for different reasons. Perhaps if they’d lose the rapid fire delivery, and let the audience think about the spaces in between the lines, the show would feel stronger.

We finally had dinner sometime around midnight, at some cafe on the way back home. My body has no concept of regularly spaced meals any more. We’ll get that fixed tomorrow.

Oct 13

No pigs were harmed in this post; Ritz crackers damaged

Doctor’s appointment first thing. You arrive precisely at 8 a.m., you are seen right away. Didn’t even have the opportunity to get settled in the waiting room. Or in the examination room. Everything was … unsettled, then.

No. The doctor is a fine fellow, the very personification of sincerity. Firm hand, assuring tone, appropriate levels of sincere concern. We were in and out in no time. All things are proceeding accordingly, nothing to be concerned or alarmed about. All blue skies from here, as they say.

So the lesson is be the first appointment of the day, or you’re waiting for 90 minutes.

A grocery store run for provisions. This, too, is the time of day to be there. I found the crackers. Do you know how many varieties of Ritz crackers there are available to you today? I’ll document this on the next visit, as I was in a bit of a rush today, but there are more non-Ritz flavored Ritz crackers than there are Ritz crackers now. I just want a few sleeves of Ritz-flavored Ritz crackers.

That’s a problem of the 21st century, if ever there was one.

So while that was bemusing, the bread choices were underwhelming. We are a two-brand household. If it is on sale we get the Arnold bread, but it was not on the shelves and the buy-one-get-one signs were not on display. So I turned to the Nature’s Own, which has that comforting title and those marvelous symbols of Midwestern enterprise: wheat and a sugar jar. One loaf of that, one box of crackers, one box of Ibuprofen and (success!) I found English Teatime. Which means I should back up.

In the last half of the summer I cut way back on my tea intake. It turns out I can drink a lot of tea. So we’ve made exactly one large pitcher in the house since July. However, we’re enjoying more and more hot teas. We have an entire shelf in a cabinet stuff with packets we’ve purchased or picked up or been given over time. So there is a lot of sampling going on. Lately I’ve settled on three favorites (because I drink a lot of tea). The problem being I ran out of the preferred variety. I’d visited the giant box store with no luck, but now, at Publix, where shopping is a pleasure, I found the English Teatime again. So I bought a box today.

I’m trying to arrange the part of the day I would drink these in: English Breakfast, Mint and English Teatime. The mint is obviously an after-dinner treat. The Teatime varieties that I’ve had have, thus far, seemed strong than the Breakfast stuff. Though there are people who disagree. All of those reviews came from 1,367 reviews of the Bigelow brand on Amazon. Of those, 15 mentioned Teatime. If there’s one thing we’ve come to love, it is sharing our sometimes-insightful opinions with others. Here are a few more reviews. The downside, of course, being you don’t know what is going on with these folks, and how do you address the reviews that diametrically oppose one another? Of course the lay review is sometimes better than a professional effort, which can seem officious for tea.

Even better are the reviews on Steepster. There are some people in that community who are very casual with their reflections, and others who are trying a bit too hard. (Simply put, did you like it? Was it strong or weak? What was the flavor like? Let’s move on.) Some of them, however, offer incredible bits of biography into the things they write. Seule771, who has commented there 587 times, and presumably mostly about tea, writes:

This tea belongs to my mother-in-law yet, I help myself to a cup of this tea every now and again, as she takes notice of the tea bags missing. I take one tea bag and put it in my cup adding the boiled water to it. Tea colors right away to a pinkish dew, not dark red but more like mahogany; rose-wood red and smells very robust as fine black teas tend to. When sipping of the tea it is malty with creamy texture. This is a fine cup of tea and I don’t need to add a thing to it.

In all, this tea has a lovely color and aroma of a freshly brewed cup of tea; robust in texture and body with an invigorating aroma to waken or refresh one’s mid-day drawling of sobering thoughts. This is an ideal cup of tea for all occasions.

Makes you wonder what the mother-in-law thinks of the tea, and tea theft in general.

Steepster invites you to “dive into the universe of tea.” But they still don’t offer a simple chart that has “Ease into a restive night” on one end, “Tea for brunches sanguine or sublime” in the middle and “Pulls your taste buds through your eyelids with a domineering efficacy that will remind you of countries lax on human rights policies” on the other end.

This is a tea chart we could all use.

But I digress. Purchasing crackers, bread, Ibuprofen and tea I wondered what the cashier thinks when you checkout by the handful. No one ever gives a consideration to the idea that he or she is judging you when you have a great big cart full of groceries. “Restocking the shelves at home. Big weekend ahead, no doubt,” is about all that the unimaginative cashier could have for that. But when you bring up four items, you get judged, pal. “This guy is having cracker sandwiches. Guess he never heard of Atkins.” And from there that imagination really kicks in.

The great mystery of the day was also found at Publix, where the staff is under strict order to be conversant with everyone that it could be said made plausible eye contact. I guess they have meetings after hours and watch the camera footage. “Jenkins, you ignored two ladies on the canned veggies aisle. One more of those and you’re gone!”

An assistant manager, I saw him just enough to catch that part of his tag, did the standard hello and how are you today. He was walking one way and I was walking the other. By the time I’d given the expected reply he was already ticking off inventory on the cake aisle. Hard to see the point.

Class today featured profile features and editing and the great question “How do I find out about a person’s warts?” One student searched and searched and finally pronounced that Josh Groban, in fact, has no warts. He is, it was revealed, perfect in every way. So there you have it: Jesus and Josh Groban.

She did find a Groban wart — which sounds like an unfortunate looking thing that can be removed in an easy outpatient procedure — but then later conveniently discarded it. The previous narrative was better.

Also, in the class I discovered a book on the Three Little Pigs. This edition was a bit more detailed than I remembered.

It seemed the momma pig pushed them out. The first two got by on begging and convincing naive farmers to gimme gimme. Alas, the most jubilantly drawn wolf possible blew down their homes of straw and sticks. The pigs disappeared just in time, never to be seen again. (One had a racquetball tournament, the other a drinking problem.) The third pig won some bricks in a radio station contest — or stuck up a brick mason, I forget — and built Fortress Porcine. It could not be defeated without air superiority, of which the wolf had none.


So the wolf went the other direction, guile. There are turnips nearby, let’s go get them together. This pig, smart enough to take out a loan from Freddie Mac to obtain bricks and mortar, went early and enjoyed the turnips. So tomorrow, the wolf said, let’s try this apple orchard. The wolf, wise to the pig’s game yesterday, also arrived early, but not earlier enough. An hour earlier still, because this pig has insomnia, the pig was up a tree. Never mind how that pig got there. He escaped by the ancient art of distraction and Canidae ADHD.

So the wolf later said, hey, I know this fair, only we have to go there at 3 a.m. The pig, desperate to watch another installment of Adam Levine on a late night Proactive infomercial, reluctantly agreed. But, again he went early. And, again, the wolf almost caught him, but the pig, remembering his ancient Greek — remember, this is the big that baked his own bricks and watches television and scales trees — hid in a butter churn and rolled home right past the antagonist. Porcum ex machina, if you will.

These are the geekiest jokes I’ve made in some time, no?

Recruiting calls into the evening. You leave a lot of messages, you slow down to say your phone number so it can be written down. You always are a little concerned that you might have transposed a few digits.

Occasionally they call you back. Every so often you catch a student at home and they are very excited about the prospect of talking to you. You get to tell this young person all of the cool things that are going on in your department. You mention the neat places students intern and the awesome jobs they get one day.

You forget entirely that, for some reason, there was a Three Little Pigs book in the classroom today.

Then a bite to eat and reading and writing this and doing other things that I couldn’t make into a silly play on words. It is a fine life.

Things to read

This story has the best quote about a silly adventure imaginable. People wobbled but the record didn’t go down:

“Everything that could go wrong went wrong between rehearsal and execution,” she said at halftime. “We had some folks to come late, we had microphone problems, we had sound and speaker problems, we had some timing problems. But it does not mean we’re going to give up.”

Not to worry, Gene Hallman, president of the Alabama Sports Foundation, tells us: “The Mayor will make sure the PA works properly next year.”

This is a great relief to everyone, except people holding the current Wobble record, one assumes. I’m uncertain what that number is, or if Guinness recognizes it. None of the stories I’ve read so far have addressed that angle.

Here’s one of those obvious stories that only clicks when it is actually written, and it has given rise to a terrific expression. The Information-Gathering Paradox:

The Internet industry, having nudged consumers to share heaps of information about themselves, has built a trove of personal data for government agencies to mine — erecting, perhaps unintentionally, what Alessandro Acquisti, a Carnegie Mellon University behavioral economist, calls “the de facto infrastructure of surveillance.”

This is interesting. There was an unfortunate bomb threat at Central York (Penn.) High School recently, but … Central York High School journalists tweeted live updates about the bomb threat:

Students turn to social media when something happens, and Fuhrman and Kristen Shipley, editor-in-chief of On the Prowl, the school’s entertainment magazine, began tweeting the news through @CYHSProwler.

They reported as the students moved from the football stadium to the baseball field and finally to the soccer field. They reminded everyone to remain calm. They informed students about when they could return to the school building to retrieve their belongings.

The student journalists also tweeted pictures from the scene and interacted with those on Twitter. They responded to questions, saying they would seek answers if they didn’t know.

Sounds like they handled it like pros.

Meanwhile, Old Meets New: Newspapers Take to Instagram:

Newspapers haven’t flocked to Instagram the way they have to Facebook and Twitter. Which makes sense. Instagram, unlike the other platforms, can’t drive people back to the site because the photo-sharing platform doesn’t embed live links. Also, they can forget about monetizing.

Still, some papers that do real journalism (and are looking to attract real readers) are on the photo sharing site, if only to have another venue to showcase their occasionally stellar photography – or, at the very least, remind the digital kids that they still exist.

What about that other shoe? Some health insurance gets pricier as Obamacare rolls out:

Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month. She and her husband don’t qualify for federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined.

“It doesn’t seem right to make the middle class pay so much more in order to give health insurance to everybody else,” said Harris, who is three months pregnant. “This increase is simply not affordable.”


Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.

“She said, ‘I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,’” Kehaly said.

The Los Angeles Times goes on to note that some of those who will actually benefit will do so because “the federal government picks up much of the tab” to demonstrate they couldn’t connect a straight line with a ruler and a dotted path.

Quick hits:

Census Bureau: Means-Tested Gov’t Benefit Recipients Outnumber Full-Time Year-Round Workers

America’s New Lost Generation, in One Map

Army Fleet Service at Fort Rucker to lay off 300 workers by year’s end

Hundreds attend vigil for shot Mobile bicyclist Joe O’Brien

Toddler battling leukemia crowned homecoming queen

Owing to the wise decisions of the good people at News 4 San Antonio I could not embed the video from that last story. That’s a beautiful little girl though. Here’s her homepage. That’s two leukemia stories I’ve seen in six days. Here’s the National Marrow Donor Program site, which explains the donation process and lists all of the drives going on around you.

More on Tumblr and plenty more on Twitter.

Oct 13

Downloading a tux pattern to avoid this in the future

And I ran. I ran not far away. Really a jog, just a little ways …

Enjoy those seagulls in your head. They chased me for 2.5 miles today. And then I was finished running. It was, as they say, one of those bad days. I would have previously thought you’d need a series of good days with which to surround a bad run, but this is apparently not the case.

The Yankee said later to think of it this way: You ran 2.5 miles and you think that was bad, which you wouldn’t have thought at the beginning of the year. Which is true, but also missing the point. It was not a good run.

But it was fine. The sun and shade were delightful mixtures. The pavement was suitably hard. The body parts weren’t in a terrible amount of discomfort. The breathing was no more labored than normal. I was just finished. My body seemed tired and my mind didn’t bother to try to convince me otherwise. So I stopped running.

Need to make sure that doesn’t happen again anytime soon.

Physical therapy today, where we moved up to the two-pound weights and added some new muscle movements, which together really wiped me out. I hope that is the saddest sentence I write today.

You stick a towel under your arm, pinch your shoulder back and move your arm in and out or up and down, depending on the routine. My amazing physical therapist had me do something today with both hands, which was new. Interestingly enough my bad shoulder felt better about that exercise than my good shoulder did.

Told you she was amazing.

There are the famous Thera-Band exercises. (We look like a physical therapy office at home, by the way, with my many Thera-Bands.) There are row exercises and bicep curls and lateral movements and so on. Then I get to repurpose a chair and use it for something approaching a push up. I dislike this exercise because it hurts my hands and wrist.

After all of that there’s the torture table where I go from resting on my stomach to arching out in such a way as to make a close-parenthesis mark that has fallen over. There is pulling on nylon and rubber straps that are attached to springs which lock into pulleys and eye-hooks. I try not to think of all the things on this table that could accidentally hurt me by pretending I’m doing a snow skiing long jump. Sometimes this distraction actually works.

We closed the session with an exercise I get nothing out of, which more than likely means I’m doing it wrong. You take a ball and roll it around in little circles on the wall while I pondering the now timeless dictate: wax on, wax off.

Picked up my tux this evening. This is the fifth visit to the rental store, each a more silly waste of time than the last visit. The first drop in was punctuated by a helpful gentleman who left you cold with the feeling he may or may not know what he’s doing and it may or may not be realized on your transaction. The second was the opposite, a man who knew his stuff, but with an air that suggests you might be leery of letting him park your car. The third visit was the first man, and this time came the measurements and he knew about this stuff. The fourth visit was Monday, because in true guy fashion, as soon as you get the thing arranged there will be a change in the parameters, necessitating a further visit, and a third and fourth person plugging aimlessly through software that was a bad idea for Windows 3.2.

So today was the fitting, double-checking the size and making sure no last minute alterations were needed. Which, if that were the case, would of course require a sixth visit. Happily that was not the case. A fifth person was there to make sure everything fell just as it should. She struggled in vain through this tedious software which would see semaphore as an upgrade to find me in the cobweb filled corners of the computer system.

What I’m saying is Jos. A Bank could do a better job of this if they wanted too. The staff have been helpful and polite, how they maintain that attitude in dealing with their software is a mystery.

So the tux is in hand. Looks nice. Fits well. Tomorrow it gets to travel.

Things to read which may be of interest …

Patriot Act author preps Freedom Act to rein in NSA:

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the original author of the USA Patriot Act, said Wednesday that he plans to introduce legislation in the “next few days” to restrict the National Security Agency’s surveillance power.


In a speech at the Cato Institute, Sensenbrenner argued that the Patriot Act’s “relevance” requirement was meant to prevent the kind of bulk collection the NSA is now conducting.

“This is something that Congress would have never authorized,” he said. “And since the administration has assumed this authority, Congress should not hesitate to stop it and stop it quickly.”

Long overdue. Here are more details, from The Guardian, which has seemingly beaten all of the traditional American media to the story. Curious.

And now a series of journalism pieces:

The rise of the reader: journalism in the age of the open web

Student newspapers in Northampton, South Hadley follow news industry trend with online editions

Report: Obama brings chilling effect on journalism

The Effects of Mass Surveillance on Journalism

And today’s Dumb Thing Which Is Dumb, which is threatening to become a regular feature here, Student stopped from handing out Constitutions on Constitution Day sues:

On Sept. 17, Robert Van Tuinen was passing out copies of the Constitution in honor of Constitution Day at Modesto Junior College in California when he was asked to stop. Officials told Van Tuinen that if he wanted to pass out literature, he could only do so in a designated “free speech zone” on campus and under college policies would be required to get permission in advance.


After the incident, Modesto Junior College President Jill Stearns issued a statement saying the school apologized to Van Tuinen and was working to clarify with campus officials that policies allow students to distribute printed material “as long as it does not disrupt the orderly operation of the college.” Stearns also said the school was reviewing its policies.

Is there video? Yes, there’s video:

First of all, the guy should be cited for holding his phone incorrectly, but that’s secondary.

I understand the concept. I appreciate what the universities, and Robert Van Tuinen’s Modesto Junior College is far from alone here, are trying to do. The application of “free speech zones,” however, leaves something to be desired.

One of those appeared on campus when I was in undergrad. It was a small square on a campus of 1,841 acres. They were, I’m sure, trying to balance the school’s real need to fulfill educational and research goals while limiting distraction. (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education may disagree.) Regardless, the solution is poor. One must also be aware of the supposedly largest free speech zone in the world, the 3.794 million square miles that is the United States.

Oh look, the local chapter of Young Americans for Liberty just had a demonstration at Auburn. It reads like a success. And, it turns out, the president of the YAL chapter at Samford is one of our photographers. Good for him.

Anyway, every campus being different — the layout, the culture, the traffic patterns and so on — there is no blanket solution. Some moderate to high traffic areas, some respectful distance away from classroom doors and windows and no amplification technology seem like a good place to start. Bring in too many opinions on the question and you run the risk of getting “That green space behind the alumni building” as a working policy.

Finally, someone distributing the U.S. Constitution should always be acceptable. We have enough problems with civics in this country as it is. We shouldn’t hamper it further.

Oct 13

The sounds of Monday

Some people don’t get it:

And then they double down:

Because saying that, perhaps, you didn’t play that as well as, perhaps, you could and that, perhaps, people are put off by it is, perhaps, a step too far.

Made my fourth visit to the tuxedo rental store in the last month this morning. There is a wedding in which I will participate next weekend. To recap, I am trying to match up a rental tux with the one other civilian, a man I’ve yet to have the pleasure of meeting, in the wedding who owns his own. I first visited the local shop and left with something of a poor impression. I visited a sister store after work one day and found a more enthusiastic reply. So I returned to the original shop. The gentleman there had already begun inputting my data in the archaic 1997 software system they use for rentals. The second guy, at the second shop, who’s manly look and brusque attitude suggested he knew about making a man look good in fine clothes, was only countered by fingers so thick they couldn’t hit the keys, and an apparent misunderstanding about how form fields work.

So the first store again, last week, where I rented the tux. Same guy. Same uneasy feeling of general uncertainty. But it got rented. Last night, from the wedding party, I was informed of further details to consider and, ultimately, change. So that was this morning.

“We’d be happy to help with that, just as soon as I struggle with the system for 15 minutes because we can’t boot even boot DOS Shell on these machines and the cursor buttons are broken because of storeroom angst and won’t you please by this tiny cube of collar stays for $9 or this fancy tie blotting napkin for $18. How about some $100 jeans while you’re here? Our software is terrible, but Fred Flinstone is in the back coaxing the bird into hammering the text into the stone faster.”

“Also, that’ll be a $40 late upgrade fee.”

It was during this experience when I considered the customer vs. employee experience. All these expensive pieces of handsome finery, and you can’t even give your crew a workable system? Or hardware from this century?

“You’re going to love the way we telegraph in your order, I guarantee it.”

It turns out that the tuxedo will ship the original order. And then ship the subsequent late additions. This will all be delivered by the middle of the week, so at least they have one part of the PDQ distribution model down, but not the parts that make logistical sense.

So I’ll go back to the tuxedo rental place late Thursday, for the fifth visit, so they can check to see if any alterations are necessary. And I can pick it up on Friday, the sixth visit.

I could have made the tuxedo, if only I had the pattern.

And then there was a stop at the gas station. I chose the one that orbits outside a big box store, that has four pumps, eight hoses and 16 square feet of parking lot to maneuver into. I hate this gas station, but it is the second cheapest in town and it was on a direct path to get my oil changed.

And that was done quickly. They did not spray my door hinges with WD-40, which is a part of the experience that I found I missed. The guy ran through the safety check himself, so I did not get to do the lights, the high beams or the blinkers — or as he did it: libeamblink!. I did get to tap the breaks and honk the horn. The air filter continues to be a marvel of modern technology. All of the fluids and belts and hoses look good. All of this the guy said in 2.4 seconds, which gave me something to decode for the next 10 minutes and gave him an air of cool efficiency. Nothing was wasted, no move was unnecessary, and could you sign the receipt a little faster, please and thank you?

Then work. A fight with the copy machine. A last minute tweak to the afternoon class plan. Then the class itself. Notes, notes, notes, editing, and then an editing exercise. All very riveting for probably me alone.

Most people don’t find editing to be a gripping part of their classroom experience, and you can’t blame them for that.

Then some office time with office stuff. I went to the pool, but was mysteriously locked out. Through the door you could hear the sounds of what you might interpret as people having fun. Or, perhaps they were the sounds of people being chased by a horror movie character.

So back to the office then. Some work. And then dinner. And then some more reading and writing and … that’s pretty much the day.

Things to read which I found interesting today:

The Newest Journalism:

These days, the web seems a bit less wild and more polished. Everywhere you look, there are signs that publishers are importing traditional journalism values to the constantly shifting digital environment. The web continues to do what it does better than print—delivering on-the-minute stories with a conversational tone to an always-connected audience—and the blog post, as one distinct unit of digital journalism, still offers what Andrew Sullivan called in 2008 “the spontaneous expression of instantaneous thought…accountable in immediate and unavoidable ways to readers.” But increasingly, digital journalism does its business while embracing certain core beliefs typically associated with old media.

I just did a presentation on that not too long ago. Nice to know you’re not the only one that notices shifts and changes, big and subtle.

The visual arms race of cable TV sets is now joined. Fox News debuts bizarre, giant tablets in its outrageous new newsroom:

Fox says the new “news deck” is designed to appeal to viewers who are “nonlinear” — those who sift through news all day on their phones and computers. “Just like you, we get our news from multiple platforms,” Smith says, “and this is the place where viewers can watch us sort it all out as it happens.” In other words, Fox’s new newsroom will serve as a fact-checking machine for Twitter’s firehose.

I wonder if this will stay awkward looking, or if we’ll become accustomed to it.

This seems like a bad idea. ‘Truckers for the Constitution’ Plan to Slow D.C. Beltway, Arrest Congressmen:

“We are not going to ask for impeachment,” Conlon said. “We are coming whether they like it or not. We’re not asking for impeachment, we’re asking for the arrest of everyone in government who has violated their oath of office.”

Conlon cited the idea of a citizens grand jury – meaning a pool of jurors convened without court approval – as the mechanism for indicting the officials.

“We want these people arrested, and we’re coming in with the grand jury to do it,” he said. “We are going to ask the law enforcement to uphold their constitutional oath and make these arrests. If they refuse to do it, by the power of the people of the United States and the people’s grand jury, they don’t want to do it, we will. … We the people will find a way.”

The best thing I’ve read today, and well worth your time, hence the long excerpt. Give Us This Day, Our Daily Senate Scolding:

The disapproval comes from angry constituents, baffled party elders and colleagues on the other side of the Capitol. But nowhere have senators found criticism more personal or immediate than right inside their own chamber every morning when the chaplain delivers the opening prayer.

“Save us from the madness,” the chaplain, a Seventh-day Adventist, former Navy rear admiral and collector of brightly colored bow ties named Barry C. Black, said one day late last week as he warmed up into what became an epic ministerial scolding.

“We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness and our pride,” he went on, his baritone voice filling the room. “Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”

So it has gone every day for the last week when Mr. Black, who has been the Senate’s official man of the cloth for 10 years, has taken one of the more rote rituals on Capitol Hill — the morning invocation — and turned it into a daily conscience check for the 100 men and women of the United States Senate.

And, finally, Picle still doesn’t know how to embed. But I still like the concept of a photo (or series) mixed with audio I can record and put together on my phone. It takes 10 seconds, and only needs an embed function. This has been around for a year now, so maybe someone else has an app. Let me check … Anyway, this is the day the weather broke. The sun is high, but it seems farther away. The air is dry and the evening is almost crisp. This is the first night it seems possible, I wrote on Twitter that we could lose that beautiful summer symphony.

Every year you hear the first one, but never the last.

Sep 13

I don’t say anything bad at all about the DMV

The guy at the local bike shop — I should say My Guy, since he’s always the one that draws the short straw and has to deal with me — says it isn’t an alignment problem that keeps me from shifting rings on the front of my bike. This explains why I could see no obvious problem. My front derailleur, tells me is frozen.

“Do you sweat a lot?”

Do you mean, do I ride in the heat of the day a lot? Yes.

Turns out all the sweat goes right there into the derailleur cage, where the hinge can rust out over time. Which is why, right now, I can only ride in the big ring. (Which is usually where I ride, anyway.)

Maybe I should stop riding in the rain so much, too then.

“No,” he said. “Just the sweat. The salt.”

Rust. Tastes like victory.

And the cost of a new derailleur. And not being able to ride until next week.

Because Amazon can ship you something from across the country in a day, but in a bike shop it will be Tuesday before your part comes in. No matter, I’ll miss one day of riding and, hopefully, it will be ready by next weekend.

On the upside, we did stand over a Trek time trial bike. And I picked up a carbon fiber Trek with state of the art electronic groupo just to feel what 15 pounds felt like. It felt like about $10,000. How anyone could ride something that expensive without fear in their eyes is beyond me.

And I coveted a Colnago. It was a beautiful machine. (It looked like this.) So beautiful, and significantly less than the Trek. We had a moment, me imagining slinging it left and right as I stood out of the saddle, the Colnago knowing I could never handle the ride. So beautiful.

Good thing my Felt was downstairs. It doesn’t need to get jealous. Can’t afford a new bike. It “only” cost two or three grand.

Also, upstairs was this poster:


That was for Bo Jackson’s Bo Bikes Bama tornado relief ride last year, and a shorter tour this year. He’s raised more than $600,000 in those six days in the saddle. Still sad I couldn’t talk any of my media friends into letting me cover it for them.

But Bo rides a Trek, and Trek loves Bo. And he signed his left thigh. In the reflection off the glass frame you can see part of another Trek in the background.

The Yankee rides a Trek, hence she knows Bo.

Also, the DMV this afternoon.


We have a satellite office, and the people there are nice and courteous and they know their business. Still, this late in the month, it took an hour to weave through the line. I was going to ask “How did we do this before smartphones?”

Then I remembered: I used to take a book.

But everyone was pleasant and in a good humor. Many folks took a friend. As good a time as any to catch up. A lot of people ran into people they knew. Medium-small towns have those advantages.

I’d rather go to our DMV than our post office — where I have also waited an hour in line.

Also, when you park in a parking space that is for employees only the DMV staff will run the tag and call you up to the desk to move your car. And you get your space back in line. Two people had this problem while I was there.

I might have been one of them.

We went for a run late this evening on the nearby bike and running trail. It is three miles, round trip. I got out a little ahead of The Yankee and, as it got dark I stopped and waited for her so I wouldn’t be shuffling along by myself in the twilight.

This was a mistake because it turned into an all out sprint at the end. I was not prepared for the last 200 yards. But I did break the tape. And by tape I mean spiderweb.

That wasn’t nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.

I’m concerned I’ll soon come to enjoy running.

I do not know what is happening.

Things to read which I thought were interesting while standing in line at the DMV today …

Three bears and one tough hiker

Special Space Camp graduation: 200 vision-impaired students from 25 states, 6 countries

The Economist rethinks ‘lean forward, lean back’ model

Got a great weekend planned?