Sep 19

Three-day cheers

Company this weekend. Friends arrived late Friday night. We watched football on Saturday and we visited a local fruit operation. After we’d enjoyed the public-facing part of the facilities we enjoyed a two-room tour of some of their production operation. You see signs like this:

It is a grape growing concern, founded by a former professor who wanted to share his beverages with friends. And now, thanks to tanks and tubs like this, it is one of the largest such concerns in the country.

OK, top 50. Still, that’s impressive for the middle of somewhere. No one could tell me if that was in terms of acreage, volume, sales, widgets or what.

But who cares? There’s grapes! Also, it is peak summer in almost every way:

Long may she reign:

Company, sadly, left this morning. But it is day three of a weekend, happily. The second-best part of that is that you must only face a four-day work week. But it must still be faced.

Aug 19

Dateline Springs Valley

Classes start on Monday, but I’m out of the office for the rest of the week. So it was fortuitous that a former student stopped by just before quitting time this afternoon. And I was so pleased he thought to do so. He’s a newspaper man, now, and he wanted to give me his first edition.

The paperwork hasn’t even cleared and he’s already got seven bylines and a handful of photographs in his first paper.

Auston started in television, became an anchor and a talk show guest and worked his way up to being the sports director for the campus station. He was simultaneously driving up to Indianapolis and interning at one of the stations while working on his senior year classes. Somewhere along the way he decided he’d like to try his hand at print. Maybe it was one he was podcasting, or writing for one of the local sports websites. (Students can do so much these days, and the smart ones, like Auston, do all they can.

Anyway, now he’s a freshly graduated student and will become the new sports editor of one of the nearby weekly newspapers and cover two schools in a way that they deserve to be covered, a way that only dedicated weeklies can cover them. It’s going to be a great job for him, a fair launching pad to a promising young career. I couldn’t be more excited for him.

Not too long ago I learned that another former student, Sydney, who has run about five newspapers and won more awards than she can hang on an office wall, is moving up in her career into the world of book publishing.

It is wonderful when former students keep in touch and let you know how things are progressing for them. Some time back I created a map to chart everyone’s moves. Students, when they leave campus, can become mysteries or colleagues, but when you are lucky they come to think of you as a friend. I prefer that idea. Classes begin Monday, and they’ll end whenever the calendar tells us to wrap it up, but the friendships can be lasting.

Jul 19

Don’t call me Zippy

Since we couldn’t dive that Friday afternoon, we went into the tree tops. The Yankee and I and a couple from our boat and two people we’d made friends with over the course of the week. We’d taken a shore dive with them, had a few dinners together and commiserated about that one bratty kid that was intent on ruining everyone’s trip. Anyway,

Eight of us from the resort went to this particular zip line experience. I think The Yankee and I were the only one who had never done this before. And, of course, she was great at it immediately, looking like Indiana Jones up there:

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a brief video clip:

They had us pulling down on that cable to slow down, and depending on the line you were on and the distance and speed you covered, you were supposed to start the slow down at different times. I wasn’t always clear on when that time was. And, also, I kept over-rotating somehow. It was all great fun.

We did something like 13 zip lines on our way from one of the island’s high points down to sea level. And when we were all safely on the ground we met a new friend:

That evening we had dinner with our New Mexico friends above and most of the survivors from our dive boat. Someone there had the coolest idea among all of the long-shot “Let’s all get together and do this again one day” notions. They brought along postcards to share contact information. I have to remember to do that, otherwise, it’s business cards a-plenty, and who needs that? The last thing you’re trying to do on vacation is remind yourself of overcooked job titles. We just need emails for Box folders and a postcard gives you all that extra space for a personalized message, and dive jokes, too.

And, yes, I think I can get another two or three days worth of photos out of our trip. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about dolphins!

Jun 19

The 75th anniversary of D-Day

A good friend of ours is a US Army officer, a paratrooper. Five years ago, he had the opportunity to jump into France as a part of the 70th anniversary ceremonies commemorating D-Day.

He jumped with this flag, which hangs in my office.

Here’s a video of his jump. He went out the door of a German plane on a beautiful day over Normandy.

That view makes it difficult to imagine jumping into the dark, knowing the enemy you’ve been training for is waiting below.

Ernie Pyle came ashore soon after and helped people back home understand what the men and boys in Europe were up against:

And then, of course, Ronald Reagan talked about some of those famous exploits at the 40th anniversary:

May 19

Two of the things here are reaching their potential

One of our friends and former students came back to town:

Dominick and I had lunch at the new pizza joint. We spent the afternoon catching up and telling tales out of … well … school. He’s been gone for a year, studying out west and doing great things in the universe.

I beat him, once again, at foosball in a not too demanding best-of-seven series. The last three series have gone to, well, me.

Not that I’d remember something that happened a year ago:

Speaking of remembering, if you’ll recall last Friday I mentioned a flower that’s flowering in the backyard. It has now reached its potential and it’s lovely:

One day I might too!