Jul 17

A weekend in 100 words

My noggin threw me a super cool headache on Saturday morning. It was the sort of thing that turned sound up to 11 — which is better than the kind of headache where sound gets turned up to 43. Not so much loud as intense.

That was Saturday. Sunday I had a leftover headache. And I played with Allie:


And we also had company. Sally Ann and Spencer came up from Nashville for the evening. Sally Ann is a broadcast professor. Spencer is a professional newsman. We went out for dinner, watched Game of Thrones and talked all about the nerdy journalism stuff.

Jul 17

Visiting the middletown*

Wrapped up the week and then hopped in the car and turned north. And I drove through clouds and rain for about two hours.

Here’s my before view:

And after the rain, when I was off the highways and moving between now-flooded country roads, this is the after view:

I met up with The Yankee and her friend, Anne, at a pizza joint. And then we drove over to a hotel near Muncie. She’s doing the Ironman 70.3 tomorrow. I’ll be schlepping some of the gear and trying to stay in the shade. But the ladies will have a great race. Anne’s husband Bill and I will be grilling hamburgers. So it should be a nice Saturday all the way around.

*Middletown was the name given to Muncie in a series of 1920s sociological studies. The name was meant to disguise the city — the people there eventually figured it out — and to suggest a typical small town America, in a conceptual sense. And that is all the sociology you get from my seat in a Best Western. More here Monday. Perhaps check out Twitter or Instagram between now and then.

Jul 17

She is the original multitasker

What does this image have to do with anything? I’m so glad you asked, because there is an answer and you will find that answer, and be intrigued by the premise behind it, just below this now ancient comic strip cell:

I’m returning to the dabbles of a long-ignored section of the site, Aubra’s Books. It started with a Bible, and then five other books. And now I have all of my grandfather’s textbooks and magazines and things. So I have a few boxes of great mid-20th century illustrations and advertisements to check out. Some of them I’ll scan and upload, of course. Today I’m sharing a few pages out of a couple of notebooks. And you can find them, including that comic, here. I also have a few images from an old English and science text here.

I haven’t touched this section of the site in years, so now I’m wondering if I should redesign the site. I had to re-work a few things tonight, so I hope not. But, style being such as it is …

To distract us from that, there’s this. On campus right now there is a group called the Mandela Fellows. They are 25 of Africa’s young leaders from about 20 countries, taking on a six-week academic and leadership program. I’d met a few of them last week.

Today, however, I had the chance to sit down with four ladies who are taking part in the fellowship. They are recording a few podcast-ish shows about their experiences and today I did a little board op work for them.

It’s an easy thing, it involves two buttons and a few mixers on a board. You could do it blindfolded, and they made it easy. But the ease of it let me hear some of their stories, and listen to them talk about their work back home, which they are all very passionate about. There’s a dean and a journalist and some activists that you might say are similar to our social workers.

To hear them talk about their work, and what they see here, and what they want for their communities, is moving. I hope they’ll show me where they post the conversation, so I can share it with you here.

Tonight, dinner with an old friend from out of town. He has some family here and he makes a visit every summer and his aunt and uncle are nice enough to share him with us for a few hours. It wasn’t nearly enough time to catch up completely, but plenty of time to consider our next two or three meetings.

Between one of those, and a bicycling trip we recently dreamed up, our next two vacations may be spoken for.

May 17

From our long(ish) weekend ride

It was hard and slow, like all of my rides have been so far this year, but the weather was nice and the company was pleasant and the scenery was pretty. So you don’t complain. You do, but no one wants to hear about how slow you’re going. They just want you to keep up with them.

Anyway, it was a 45-mile ride and here are some of the pictures I took chasing The Yankee and our cycling club buddy Stephen around. Here’s one of the few flat spots, with wildflowers growing in the fields just off the roadways:


Two people riding better than me at the moment:


We went over a causeway on the lake. Still chilly, I’d bet, but awfully pretty:


Looking up through the trees as I went uphill one more time:


Where would you like to go next? They’re deciding, I’m catching my breath, probably:


Seriously, almost all day, just like this:


This picture doesn’t do it justice, but we topped off on a hill and the trees opened up and you could look down and out on what felt like just about everything. It is silly, no higher than we’d climbed, but it was a real top-of-the-world sensation:


And one more slight incline to enjoy.


They teach you, in a photography class, all about using lines in a composition to frame action and attract the eye. I often think about that when I’m shooting, of course. But not when I’m riding and huffing and puffing. It just worked out this time. That’s the great thing about a bike ride. It can be hard. You can be slow. It just works out.

Apr 17

At the conference

Had a few presentations to take part in today at the Southern States Communication Association’s annual conference. This one was with all of my political communication scholar friends:

It is humbling to be at the end of the table with a group like that, let me just say.

At the end, after we had speculated on the Trump campaign and not enough on the Clinton campaign, and after the question and answer period, someone asked if all of these Smiths are related. Someone said that there were the two pairs. And Larry Powell there said he was to blame for two of us. The Yankee and I had met in the graduate school program he chaired, and solidified the start of our friendship in one of his classes and now, seemingly moments later, here we are.

And, later, I got to take part in this really cool presentation:

I showed a lot of clips of shows and class exercises. Most of the shows I’ve embedded in this space, previously. One of the film professors sent me to the conference with this mini-documentary.

My Grandpa‚Äôs Garage was the final project in a documentary filmmaking class, which introduces students to a variety of styles, approaches, and techniques, like personal essay, stop-motion, use of archival materials and so on. One of this group’s biggest challenges, as you’ll see, was curating the volume of information. There was a lot to search through and consider, there were varying production formats to consider, and to find a way to the path that leads to a well-woven, engaging story. And it is that. It is specific. It is quite personal — and yet there are universal elements and themes here for viewers:

My Grandpa's Garage from Adrienne Grace Wagner on Vimeo.

Adrienne Wagner directed the project, working with two other students: Cadence Baugh and Blake Phelps. It was featured at the Heartland Film Festival, and was one of five finalist in the Cine Golden Eagle Competition. Other finalists were films from NYU, Berkeley and Syracuse, so the implication is that it stands next to traditionally outstanding peers.

Most of the IU students do. It is so neat to be around such talented people, and a treat to show off their work.