Mar 17

That looks pretty comfortable

Sometimes, the sofa is comfortable. Sometimes it isn’t. It all comes down to where you are and how you are and how you’re feeling. It shows its age every now and again, and it is getting to that point where you sometimes have a two-point maneuver to exit the thing. But it still sleeps pretty well.

Or so I thought.

Sometimes the sofa isn’t comfortable. You could sit on any of the chairs or any of the beds or, really anywhere. But sometimes you find yourself on the sofa and it just isn’t working. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit your needs.

Which is why we have throw pillows:

I bought gas this morning:

This is notable only because of how little I have to do that now. This is I think the second, but definitely no more than the third time I’ve filled up this year. Used to be a once-a-week thing. But, now, my commute is a little over four miles, and we carpool and I ride my bicycle when circumstance allows, so I don’t have to get gas very much. That’s a nice improvement.

Mar 17

“It’s hella late, but don’t sleep”

Here’s my plan: I’m going to keep talking about Rob and taking pictures of him on set in preparation for the day he becomes a wildly successful comedian:

That’s the host of the late night show around here. I’ve mentioned him. He’s actually studying standup comedy. That’s his major. Funny guy, a kind personality, he’s thoughtful and has an air of a worldly wisdom to him already. There is a pretty big handful of people I get to work with each week that you could file under “We knew them when.”

That’s pretty cool. You think about that sort of thing from time to time. And if you went back and counted, how many folks do you suppose you would have categorized that way? Quite a few, I’d bet. And more than a few prove themselves worthy of it, over time.

You don’t have to stand under klieg lights for this. Rising to some level of celebrity isn’t the measure of success here. I know a few talented veterinarians, medical professionals, lawyers, jazz musicians and hustling entrepreneurs and business executives and so on. “I knew them when.” Every now and again, you run into someone and find out about their lives and realize that makes the most sense in the world, because you knew them when. And then you find out you went to school with the one guy who became a rocket scientist, well, who would you have thought it then?

But Rob up there, I’ve got him pretty well pegged. He’s going to be doing a Holo 3D show or some such in my living room one day. And we knew him when.

I went across town for dinner tonight. I got barbecue. I listened to WIUX, the college radio station, on the way. Two undergrads, one of them I know, were calling the Big Ten basketball tournament. Undergrads calling the big men’s basketball game. I remember when my college radio station couldn’t get a real meeting to even pitch broadcasting softball. Such a great experience for the students, and a great opportunity for it provided by the athletic department here.

Also, this is going on here:

Finally, Don’t forget, time to change your clocks! And, no, no one cares to hear the complaints:

The traditional grumbles about falling back come from morning people. They complain because it’s dimmer out when they stir. They have a point, but here’s something important to remember: I don’t care, because I like longer evenings, and my side won. (Sticking out tongue.)

But I am not without compassion. We can reach an accommodation. We abandon the biannual switch; we never fall back again — except once, and then by 30 minutes. We split the difference, in other words. This will require the participation of the entire world, but we could stop all our clocks for 30 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon, say, and then make sure that everyone gets paid for an extra half-hour of work.

Downside: Well, I’ve read enough sci-fi to know that any babies born during that 30-minute period probably would be immortal mutants with strange powers and vast intellects, and they probably would rule the world after three decades.

Only to be thwarted by a sentient collection of ovens blinking 12:00 …

Mar 17

We went West

We have successfully reached Napa Valley, which was our goal. We have checked into our hotel … oh wait, I forgot to mention our luggage:

When you pack in a hurry, you tend to pack a lot.

We’re going to be here for four days and I can put a week’s worth of decent clothes in one small roller. Years of practice, you see.

On our way up here this morning The Yankee and I both had a first:

We agreed — in fact we each came to this decision independently — that Whataburger was better. I said this online and people disagreed in varying degrees. This led to an entire conversation on the construct of taste, which I can distill, in this instance, to one sentence: How can people disagree when I am so obviously right?

Not there was anything wrong with In-N-Out. It just wasn’t the best thing in the world. It isn’t a top five burger, if you ask me. Here, let’s settle this. If you notice the menu at In-N-Out the wording suggests you should do the burger with either the onion, or without. So I chose the with option. The onion made the burger. And when an onion makes your burger, well, that’s just a kind of average burger. I did enjoy the fries.

Anyway, we made it to Napa. We checked in to our hotel. We registered for the big Sunday event. We met some friends. The Yankee is here to see four or five friends, and some of them I met tonight.

We went to Morimoto for dinner. That was worth trying. Tomorrow, I think, we’ll be lazy tourists. Sunday we’ll be busy.

Feb 17

11-hour Fridays

Morning show this morning. Everyone arrived early. One of the students brought donuts for our engineer. He and I realized none of them knew the songs “I Can’t Drive 55” or “I Wanna Rock” or “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”

That sorta dampened the moment, donuts or no. They produced their show, the very famous Ed, from one of the popular nearby restaurants was their guest:

He’s a New Yorker who has been here for 30 years. He’s had that restaurant for 10 years. He says he’s doing the same thing he did in college, which was acting as the party host. And, most days, if you go into his store, that’s not that far off.

After the show I retired to do more editing. I’m reducing a lengthy, but not-entirely-dense technical document to create what will essentially be a piece of brief marketing material. Today I turned 26 pages of great notes written by a colleague into about one page of language.

In junior high and high school I had the same English teacher for four of six years. Mrs. Newman was sharp and intimating to teens, but she was hard and fair. Every Friday, for all of those four years, she made us write a one-page prĂ©cis, or a brief summary, of a Newsweek article of her choosing. As we progressed, the articles became more demanding, the summaries more challenging and her expectations grew as the selections became more complex. It never got easier, but we maybe got better at it. She graded those on a scale of one to nine for some reason. I don’t remember every article I read or every grade I got on them, but I do recall one where she noted I could do better. That stuck with me because it stung me. On days like today, with a lot of editing, I think those prĂ©cis were as valuable as any aspect of my formal training or years of professional experience.

So I thought of Mrs. Newman today. Oh, looks like she and her husband have a beach home now. Good for her. She retired a good while back, I wonder if he’s still practicing law.

We did some practice in the studio. One of our shows had auditions for next year’s hosts. So that was the afternoon. Also the sun came out, glorious and brilliant, acting like it had forgotten what to do with us after such a long time behind the clouds. Of course the cloud cover returned. Of course it’ll be another week before the sun is seen again.

In another studio, in another building, we also launched a brand new late night show. I went over to watch it get underway:

Rob is the guy on the right. He’s actually studying standup comedy as a major. We had a nice chat about it. He’s a smart young man. Going to be a great show.

And for the year so far that makes three new shows we’ve launched. These are full time students, and all of the productions are entirely student run. We’ve assembled three new crews and put together three new shows, in addition to three pre-existing shows. Not bad for being in a new facility and the students having to deal with me and every other thing.

Feb 17

You can decide which parenthetical note is best

Yesterday I wrote, for too long, about a blue jean jacket. (“Rosebud … “) I also learned that they were back in style. As if they should have ever left …

I looked for a picture of me in the jacket, but I don’t have one. I’m sure they exist though. And then, this morning, we saw definitive proof that they were back. This is a morning show our students shoot:

On the left is one host. On the far right is another. Obstructed from this angle is a fashion columnist from the campus paper. And she is talking about the outfit being worn by the young woman on the middle right. Denim on denim.

Different colors, she intoned seriously, so that each stands out from the other.

We had a name for that once upon a time, and, as I recall, it was a look to be avoided. But everything changes.

We were setting up cameras before that. This has a name, but I forget what it is. So let’s just call it cool:

I did some of the other things that make up a normal day at the office. I helped some folks practice weather presentations on the green screen. I had lunch. At 2:30 I finally got caught up on the day’s email. I talked to students. I also gave a tour of the building today. And after work we went over to Nashville, the little artists’ colony about 20 miles away, for dinner.

We had a date! The Yankee found Hobnob Corner, which has been around since just after the Civil War as a dry goods store and then a restaurant. It felt like a cracker barrel. The people were friendly. The decor was rustic. The walls were covered with photos of the history of the little town. (White settlers came in after an 1809 treaty. Farming and forestry ran the isolated area. By the time the 20th century rolled around deforestation ruined the agriculture because of poor practices leading to wide scale erosion. Roads, the Depression and the CCC, then the artists showed up. The town has three traffic lights, which is all of the lights in the county. They enjoy tourism as a big part of their economy.) My favorite photo was of a parade from 1900. I thought it might have been a prohibition parade, or a women’s suffrage march. But I just found a site with a similar photo that might be of the same parade, and it is labeled there as Decoration Day.

But they have some pretty nice dining there. Try the Duck Breast with Orange Maple Glaze with butternut squash risotto and sauteed kale. (This is the only acceptable way to eat kale.)

We’ve been over to Nashville once before, in the daylight, in the summer time, when things were open. I’m sure we’ll go back. There are always new shops to see and 24 restaurants to try and dates to be had.