Nov 20

A Monday post about Sunday

We went for a bike ride, because that’s what we do, and because it was an abnormally beautiful weekend day. Just the sort that is intent to try to trick you into thinking this is what the whole fall and most of the winter will be like. It won’t be, and that’s a shame. And I can’t get that out of my head, and that’s an equally big shame.

Did I mention it was a great day? Ridiculous. It was 80 degrees, far beyond what anyone here would expect, which is also a shame.

Anyway, we were going out to the lake, but changed our mind to take a slightly different route. Different roads, different traffic — only yelled at twice, by a dude that, feeling he didn’t get it right the first time, decided to let us get by so he could pass us and yell again — and different views.

It was described to me as a nice, easy ride.

I looked down at one point because my legs notified my brain that I was turning over ridiculous RPMs. We’re talking maximum watts, and I’m torquing the handlebars for all they were worth. And that’s how I found myself in a sprint, at 26 miles per hour, just to stay on the Yankee’s wheel.

We were also climbing a hill when that happened.

Down on the causeway:

And a bit of video somewhere between here and there …

Anyway, yesterday was a lovely day for a ride, and we enjoyed it. And we look forward to the next one. (And it better be 80 degrees again!)

I also got to play around with part of this wood carving project I started on Friday:

This is just a test piece. I’ll use a longer piece to create the scoop-bowl volume I want here, and I need to figure out some way to handle the bottom of the bowl. It’s quite rough in there, as you can see, and I’d like to clean that up without having to buy even more stuff. I think this is becoming a scoop for dry cat food, which was the suspicion I had from the beginning. And that needs to be 3/4s of a cup. But if I can get the volume right, smooth out the insides of the real piece and thin the sides and shape the bottom, I’ll have a nice piece.

Or just something else that never works quite the way I intended.

Oct 20

I made a thing, at the bottom of this post

Got the oil changed in my car today. I was many miles past due. The place here has the model where you park the car and sit in their waiting area and they drive it around back and do the work. I miss the old days, when you could drive your car into the bay and the tech guided you to get it just right over the pit.

I always liked seeing the enterprise of it. Hood up, exotic sounds made, shouted commands back-and-forth from topside and down where the real work is taking place. He just opened a valve and supervised gravity, of course, but it seemed mysterious if you don’t think about it.

I liked when they come along and open the car doors and push a shot of WD-40 into the door hinges. The smells of light industry! I enjoyed when they tell you how all the things look and the one guy would come around and show you the dipstick, “And the gentleman will enjoy a 10w30 this evening … ” presenting it like you were two steps above a table wine.

My favorite part was the participatory bit where they ran you through the headlights, taillights, brake lights, blinkers and horn. I gave a short curt toot on the horn. These people heard this all of the time and they didn’t need me to sit on the thing. Just enough sound so that the guy running the safety check can verify the horn is in working order. I took great pride in that.

The place here, though, you’re sitting in a small row of chairs. It seems like an even less pleasant idea these days. Fortunately I timed it well. There was one other person there and she left soon after I arrived. There are no magazines to look over. I suspect those went the way of the dodo when some manager realized everyone was looking at their phones anyway.

After about 15 minutes the technician came in with my air filter in his hand. Looks good, he said, but the cabin filter is so brittle that removing it to show you would destroy it.

Well. Let’s replace that. If there’s anything I need right now it’s properly filtered air.

He came in later and said the one he took out was the factory filter. Of course it is.

The lady at the desk then conducted the business part of the transaction. Fluids are good. Wipers are good. Everything is good, except two tires are aging.

Knew that.

One of them is basically bold.

Guess I’ll get that changed sooner than later.

We wound up talking about her child. Turns out she has a five-year-old. And kids are tough and he understands that he can’t do all of the things that kids should be able to do now. He’s back in school, and he gets masks. He even, she says, points out others who aren’t wearing a mask and wonders why.

You and me both, kid.

She says virtual work and masks are hurting him with a speech therapy program. You have to be able to see the teacher’s mouth for so much of that style of instruction, but if the pathologist is wearing a mask …

It’s just another one of those million things we don’t think about until we’re confront by it.

At television tonight, with all of the students in masks, of course, the sports gang produced their highlight show. Next week they will finally have some highlights! So far it’s been virtual interviews and some practice updates and now a story about how there will be no tailgating and a feature on the university’s brand new golf course. And, of course, this Saturday, there will be football.

It’s that unique and special time of year for fans, here in late October, when anything is possible because nothing bad has happened on the field yet.

On the talk show they previewed that game, IU hosting Penn State. The guy on the left, Drew, is the host. DJ is the one in the middle is a beat reporter from the newspaper and Haley is one of the station’s beat reporters.

As I said to her just before they sat down to shoot the show, the best part of this job is to watch the students develop their craft. It makes me smile, behind my mask, every time Drew starts this show. I’m also pleased to see how comfortable he’s become, considering how nervous he was when he began. DJ I had in a class early in his time on campus, and he’s showing himself to be a talented young writer and, he was good on TV tonight, too. And Haley is … Haley is just ready.

And all of three of them will graduate this year and we’ll be alternatively proud and sad and that’s just how this level of the game is played.

After TV there was a technical issue to take care of, and then home to clean up for dinner and the debate and then a little football. After all of that I went to the garage and worked on the card holder I mentioned yesterday.

I put some music on in my headphones and put my sound-killing headphones on top of those and my safety glasses around all of it and I broke out the belt sander for a quick pass at 60 grit. Then I took the glasses and the sound-killing headphones off and listened to music while I sanded the rest of the thing by hand up to 800 grit.

And this is my new ID card holder:

It’s not bad. It’s probably a quarter inch smaller than my other ones. My ID card and five business cards make a nice, snug little arrangement. You don’t want things flying out all over the place when you are trying to fish it out of your pocket.

Here, again, is one of the originals:

You’ll note that this new effort also has the fancy curvature at the top. I’m very artisanal.

Oct 20

Sometimes you can get a lot into a Wednesday

Attended a virtual meeting today were the future of the future was definitely not decided. We did hear about other meetings, however. Seminars here, movies there, presentations and workshops from near and far. Everyone is keeping busy as best they can.

After the meeting I recorded some audio. And after recording the audio I took it to the office to edit. And then some of it was uploaded. It is a cycle and it has its place. Keeping busy.

The afternoon was a bit slower than the morning, then. I was able to catch up on email and the news and many of the other attendant things that make up normal days. Even in abnormal times, they’re always there. Always there.

Returned to the house after work and went for a bike ride. It was an easy hour. I pedaled alongside The Yankee as she condensed two days of webinars into an hour of highlights. I could ride like that all day. She talked, I tried to keep up. Usually her training rides are designed to be more brisk. She rides harder and I … try to keep up. So it was a pleasant thing to do, riding along, listening to the conversation.

It was gray and humid and moist. Yes, both adjectives are required here. It was 64 degrees when we left and 61 when we got back in and for some reason I could see my exhalations. It was the first “I can see my breath!” ride of the year. The dew point was very high.

This evening I tried working on three projects. And two of them went nowhere. I need to replace the button on a pair of blue jeans and that’s harder than it should be, apparently. There are a few methods to this, the Internet tells me. One destroys the denim, which seems besides the point. Another is poorly described. The third is pretty straightforward though: Grab the button on either side with pliers and unscrew the thing.

Well, that didn’t work tonight. I managed to ruin another button from a pair of ruined jeans, and since it was dinnertime anyway, I put that project once again on the back burner. We’d cooked everything on the front burners anyway.

I wanted to make a little carrying sling for a small bottle of hand sanitizer to keep in the car, but the initial plan didn’t go according to … well … plan.

So, back to the drawing board, which I don’t have. Maybe that’s the problem. I shouldn’t draw things up in my mind. The specs are never that good up there anyway.

But my third project, it has real potential.

I have to use my university ID for various things on campus. It’s a key, it grants printer access, you check out books with it and so on. I’ve recently decided that maybe I don’t want to carry it around in my wallet. Maybe I don’t want to pull my wallet out every time I need the card. Too many cooties, and who knows how repeated hand wipes will treat the leather.

So I’ve had in mind a few different things I could make as a minimalist card holder. And I’ll probably wind up trying several of them out before I ultimately settle on one. So tonight I started working on the first idea which will be a slimmer version of my homemade business card holders:

I had some leftover wood from those projects which were already perfectly cut to size. To create the depth I ran the jigsaw over the thinnest paint stirrer I could find. Now the glue will cure overnight. Tomorrow evening I’ll sand the thing down and try to find some way to make white alder wood look interesting. And, when it’s done I’ll show you this solution. Because every project comes down to having material to put here, for you, dear reader.

Here are some TV shows the TV people did. This is the morning show, and they are on location, and that seems like an early time of day for a spot like that …

All the stories came together for the news team this week. I believe I counted seven produced pieces within the episode and 10 or 11 different voices all told. This is the pace we’d like to keep for every episode. Sometimes we’re more successful at it than others.

And there’s a really cool little feature in the pop culture show. Carillons are oddly fascinating, once people are reminded to think about them. And a student who has an abiding interest in music sought out the story of the impressive instrument that you can hear on the IU campus.

And that should be enough for now.

More tomorrow, though. And, until then, don’t forget to catch up on Catober, since Phoebe and Poseidon are putting on quite a show. And did you know they have an Instagram account now? Phoebe and Poe have an Instagram account now. Keep up with me on Twitter, and don’t forget my Instagram. There are also some very interesting On Topic with IU podcasts for you, as well.

Oct 20

Colors of the season

On Monday I sanded two pieces of wood. They are very long pieces of wood. And I worked out all of the splinters with 60- and 100-grit paper. Which means I only have to take eight pieces of wood, large pieces of wood, through grist 150, 220 and 400, so I can finally stop sanding wood.

But! Progress! That funny feeling of progress! Vibrating through the entirety of the upper body! There’s just no bettering that. Or is it just the remnants from the orbital sander? Probably it’s that.

But progress!

Also, I’m experimenting with making pocket squares. Measure twice, cut and trim your way with bad scissors into something resembling a square shape for all of eternity! You could sew these, but I don’t have a sewing machine. I found some nice hem tape, though, and you iron it into place to save the day. Also, I had to learn the hard way that hem tape is double-sided and you have to remove the covering first. If you don’t learn something, you don’t leave any room to laugh at yourself. Anyway, I’m now a costume designer, or something:

You’ll notice I’m not wearing any of those today. Today’s pocket square is a nice orange, autumnal number:

I took this picture right after a student called me by someone else’s name. There was a question mark on the end of it. He thought I was his professor. I am not. Imagine there’s another guy around here that has to look like this.

Anyway, autumn! It was a beautiful day and I indulged in taking seven whole minutes outside in it.

I am a party animal. A wild man, in my mask and pocket square, which clashes with my lapel pin. But the leaves are impressive.

This is just one lively maple, don’t you think?

A version of this shot might wind up elsewhere on the website.

This little guy is sitting in the window sill above the kitchen sink.

That’ll give you something to contemplate when you’re washing dishes.

Jun 20

Pictures of small fossilized creatures

Here are more marine animals turned to stone by time. I picked these up off the shore of a lake and now that they’ve been documented here for no reason I will return them whence they came. It’s important that these things go back to the wild. They’re destined to roam free, stepped on and kicked and maybe picked up and marveled at by children of all ages.

And, also, to take up a good day’s worth of space here on this humble little website. And maybe on social media. There’s always a need for content over there.

Check out these articulations. I believe these, at least some of these anyway, are comatulida, which is an order of crinoids.

Those layers, I just learned, are called synostosis.

Even on the broken ones, I like the ridges. These things have so much character.

If you squinted just right, and I put some greenery and fake foliage on the paper I might be able to trick you into thinking these were castle towers or something. Maybe you’d think I got them from a train set.

Donut or Cheerio?

OK, that’s a Cheerio. This is definitely a donut.

So there’s three types of the common crinoid fossils things in my experience — and the third one is relatively new to me. There’s the one that’s got dirt or mud or fossilized sediment inside. The more desirable version are the ones that are still hollow, like our friends above which resemble tasty treats. Through that axial canal runs, which ran through all the stem segments of the living organism, you would find the nerves and the digestive system that sent nutrients along the body.

Most of these look like they might be cyclocyclicus or pentagonacyclicus, according to this 1968 study I’ve suddenly found myself reading. And the new type, to me, are the ones with the specific shapes through the columnal feature. Like these.

Let’s take a closer look. This one is a floricyclus.

I just found something called The Fossil Forum and two things are clear. The little samples I find are relatively modest and, second, I can’t be sucked in my something called The Fossile Forum.

That 1968 paper — Classification and nomenclature of fossil crinoids based on studies of dissociated parts of their columns by Raymond C. Moore and Russell M. Jeffords — has almost 30 pages full of photos. I don’t see this one there, and it’s not even especially rare.

I’ve seen it’s kind in similarly vague and casual photographs like this one before, so it’s nothing new.

Please remember, dear expert reader who finds this at some point in the future, this is obviously and quite clearly not my field. I’d love to be corrected, however, on any of these errors, big or small.