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18
Mar 20

Hello, hello, hello

The best time, I told Instagram, for a run in the early age of social distancing? Obviously on a day when it is in the mid-40s. The preferred time would be when it isn’t raining, but the forecast was not a reality today.

Aside from the wind, and the rain, and the cold, it was a nice little three-and-a-half miles around the neighborhood. In a few weeks, if and when it warms up, I’ll have to think adding a few more miles back into the routine.

After a big meeting today, and thinking of an email and a conversation from the last few days, I pitched an idea which got the approval for further pitches. Up chains it goes. Now it needs a title, apparently. So that was a happy task for much of the afternoon, and perhaps part of the rest of the week and, if it goes well, for some time into the future. More on that then, then.

Let’s look at links.

I’ve come to really admire The Undefeated in it’s short run. It launched in late 2016, but it has covered a lot of ground and its writers manage to have a simultaneous air of authority and attitude that’s not always easy to pull off.

Maybe it is a bit easier in this brief essay, because the whole system has been a farce and the women who have been at the center of it have carried themselves with such poise, none more so than Simone Biles, who does all that while still competing at heretofore unknowable levels, having to maintain a criticism of her sport and constantly being the center of that as a spokesperson while also, you know, at the ripe old age of 23, being amazing:

She knows that it takes a village to raise a predator above reproach, to look the other way when his predations become so far out of hand as to be a well-known secret. She knows, from experience, that true, explicit acknowledgment and real structural change are required.

It’s unforgivable that Biles must use her hard work and success in this way — risking it all to advocate for herself and other gymnasts trapped under the governing body’s irresponsible purview. It’s unfortunate that the other side of her luminescent medal and legacy is dulled by that governing body’s paternalism and neglect. By pressuring an institution that performs in the face of its own inaction and injustice, Biles makes legible the ways our society tucks violence against women under the proverbial floor mat, and the ways in which women continue to materialize the strength necessary to demand the world beyond violence that we deserve and imagine.

This will be something a lot of people find useful, or will otherwise be looking for in the coming weeks. Stuck at home? Enriching activities to do with all ages from the Indiana Young Readers Center:

Looking for extra activities to keep children busy? Explore some of these activities put together for you by the Indiana Young Readers Center, located in the Indiana State Library. Remember, children of all ages can benefit from play and reading. Keep your kids engaged with some of these resources.

Sadly, my age group was not included. I’ll just have to fall back on my experience as an only child.

The apparently innumerate senator is from Wisconsin.

And the 3.4 percent he’s using here in his rhetoric works out to just over twice the population of his state. But, really, it is the rhetoric that’s a problem here. That data point isn’t being used correctly. So he’s using an incorrect data point, incorrectly.

To say nothing of the knock-on effects, and the many other medical cases that will be marginalized as hospitals become forced to triage everything:

These choices could be particularly devastating for the tens of thousands of Americans awaiting new organs, transplant experts said.

The outbreak has already caused serious disruptions. Doctors in some parts of the country say an inability to quickly test potential donors for the coronavirus has led them to decline viable organs, forcing some ailing patients to wait longer. To avert the spread of the virus among vulnerable patients who must take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of their new organs, doctors have canceled most routine follow-up visits for transplant recipients. And in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus patients requiring beds in intensive care units, some hospitals are now performing transplant operations only for patients who are at the most dire risk of death.

[…]

Without a transplant, Branson said his surgeon told him last week that he might only have about 30 to 45 days to live. But he said the hospital considers the surgery needed to remove part of his uncle’s liver to be elective — and therefore nonessential.

In a statement to NBC News, Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret, the chief of transplant surgery at UCHealth, confirmed that the hospital had suspended some transplant surgeries.

Meanwhile …

Never mind that younger people are also susceptible. But if you’re talking ’bout my generation (and not the one that actually claims that song) …

So, who is taking COVID-19 seriously? Possibly Gen X, who are born between 1965 and 1980 according to Pew Research Center, and are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” because many are caring for children and older parents. On social media this weekend, the hashtag “GenX” trended, with the “latchkey generation” saying that they were the most prepared to live in isolation.

From a psychological perspective, there might be some truth to this argument.

As they tried to explain this — and I stipulate that painting sweeping generalizations over a 20-year cohort, which is nothing more than the thinnest of constructs anyway, is silly — they missed one important potential external factor: MTV.

Now, usually, when I point to MTV, it isn’t in a good way. But it works out this time. We were just ready, because of what we already knew.

Also … is any other group allowed to see itself in this light?

Our little group has always been
And always will until the end


6
Mar 20

There’s a pun here

There was a miniature conference in the building today. I wish more people had attended. The students who were presenting their research had some interesting topics and they’d worked quite hard on their papers. Maybe it is a function of doing this on Fridays, or the subject matter, or the weather or the publicity, but this is what they saw.

The 3D printer version of a giant sloth skeleton is a good and attentive listener, though.

The sloth will be with us for two more weeks, and then he’s going elsewhere. He’s actually already moving, he’s just doing so very, very, very slowly.

That’s the easy joke. And you’re right to take the easy sloth joke. How many sloth jokes are there? Let’s count …

I went out for a run to count sloth jokes, and over the course of four miles I came up with two. There are two sloth jokes. “Google, how many sloth jokes do you know?”

Turns out there are somewhere between nine and 16 sloth jokes, depending on how critical funny has to be to your conception of a joke. I would tell you all nine to 16 sloth jokes but that would be very time consuming.

That’s the other sloth joke I had without Google’s help.

Anyway, I hope you, like Poseidon, are ready to leap into the weekend.

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Poseidon gonna Poseidon.

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4
Feb 20

Caucus captaincy for sale

It’s turned cold again. And these are the days of our lives. Probably for the best. If you start having enjoyable weather for three days in a row you’d come to expect it, and you really should know better to do that here until mid-April.

Which is depressing.

Sunday’s and, to a lesser degree, yesterday’s weather, were nothing more than an aberration.

Which is also disconcerting.

There’s a lot going on here:

The carefully selected handwriting. This is the sort of thing that’s discussed before it’s done, right? “No one could read my handwriting,” and so on. Then there’s the frowny face. And the first-person. It has grown self-aware. And is sad. Now, is the sadness brought about by the existential dilemma of being a soda dispenser? Is the sadness because the dispenser knows this isn’t her fault, but is rather a faulty hose somewhere between here and the syrup? Maybe the grief comes because it knows a manager — the third shift leader in charge of liquid refreshments — forgot to fill that order.

Or maybe there’s a legal issue. It wouldn’t be the first time. Forty-some years ago Barqs was sold outside of the family, but the heirs, the Robinsons still had some companies with the Barq’s name and so the trademark battles began. The 5th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the family, so it was the root beer’s new owners that were out of order and … here we are.

I just learned that some of the fountain drink versions of Barq’s has no caffeine, which, as I understand it, is the point. But is it any good? I mean relative to other root beers? You’ll have to let me know.

It is the beginning of the other Super Bowl season. Iowa is caucusing and it’s simultaneously a silly demonstrating of nominating candidates and fascinating for journalists. The election is like the Super Bowl, so I suppose this is the first of several weeks of wildcard playoffs or something.

I slept in my car on the night of the 2000 general election, and that was just covering the local stuff. I dozed off listening to the networks being fed to AM radio and went back inside the studio (they didn’t let us sleep in there, for some reason) for my first hit of the morning and saw the same national network guys still plodding through. I’m not sure which of us had a better night, but I know they looked better than I did. And we, somehow, have convinced ourselves this is a good thing.

I don’t have any strong memories from election night, 2004. I sat in a newsroom in shivered in 2008 and convinced a bunch of student-journalists that, maybe, they should go get some reactions. In 2012, more shivering. In 2016 I watched everyone else do things. But I digress.

Tonight, I’m going to sleep long before anything is decided in the confusion that is Iowa. Iowa is confusing in a good cycle, and it is given outsized weight relative to its importance. That’s the media’s fault, really. And everything else is from a bunch of people gathering in gyms and people’s homes and wherever else and using what is, apparently, a poorly designed app.

What could possibly go wrong? Everything tonight, it seems. But I’m not staying up to watch it all. I’m not convinced that is a good thing.

We did television tonight. I recorded a little bit of it. Sure, I’m standing in a studio with five high-definition cameras, four of them controlled remotely from the adjacent control room (there was also a sixth high def camera working at this moment, as well, as we’d gone meta) and I’m holding my phone up at eye level …

This is one of the podcast series I want to do: New things shape ongoing disciplines. Think anyone will want to not want to do this one with me, too?

More on Twitter and check me out on Instagram as well.


16
Dec 19

Beginning the holiday travels

The thing we celebrated this weekend:

That was yesterday. Still a good story, still the best story.

On Saturday we went for a run.

This was notable only for two reasons. It was my third day of running in a row. Eleven miles since Thursday! I guess I am better, or healed or whatever, and starting to round into shape. Good thing, too. I’m running out of “first time since” sort of incidents.

But now, I guess, this means the real running can begin.

The other thing for which this run was notable:

These skies. Good gracious. Hang all this, I say. We’re leaving tomorrow! Which was yesterday. Which we did; which was the plan anyway.

And so we’ve come south. We had barbecue last night with friends in Nashville.

And then we drove on, getting in late last night to begin the holiday visiting circuit. This week, with my folks. And so it was that we ran in Alabama this morning. It was gray. Tonight it stormed, even. Hey, it’s warmer.

Ran by these:

Local legend* has it that the only thing two young people loved more than lions was each other. One was the mayor’s kid. And the other’s dad was from the wrong side of the tracks. Their parents wouldn’t agree to the relationship, and so the young woman jumped into the river. In his grief, the boy followed.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When they pulled them out downstream, the two young people had turned into these lion statues. The local school honors their love to this day.

My run today was awful – and I had a rest day yesterday and everything! — I suppose the long, loooong car ride doesn’t really count as a rest day. But we ran through the neighborhood my folk’s house is in, and then down to the high school, where there is a track, which was closed to us because of construction. So we ran in the school parking lot and an adjoining road and probably somewhere else and it was all awful.

I did get to see a mosaic, though:
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There was a storm this evening. Bad. Violent. We watched it on the radar and we watched it in the yard. At least until the lightning rolled close by. We weren’t far off from going into a room in the basement — as a precaution I’d already gone down stairs to turn on all of the lights and find the appropriate spot — when it shifted just enough to the south.

A dangerous line came through, the worst of landing just a few miles away from where we are. Some houses were destroyed and, as I said on air more times than I care to count: we’ll have to wait until the sun comes up tomorrow to know the full extent of the damage.

Dinner was at a little restaurant that sports this statue near the door.

Yes, I know.

It’s a quiet place, being out of the way from anything, but it is pretty good.

We may be going back when my step-father gets back in town. Oh no. Más enchiladas. Happy me.

*The local legend that I just made up.


4
Dec 19

To shine a light on my thinking

This is where I am on running, on having to sit it out for most of the year: I can now move around a bit. I am not always winded. I have to re-remember how to run uphill. I’m still slow, but then I haven’t been fast since high school, but I can manufacture a little burst every now and then. My foot feels much better, which is the best part of it all. I haven’t taped it up in a few days in a row, and I’m running without binding the thing, too.

And while I’m probably still months removed from wanting to run — it’s funny, I see people riding their bikes and I think “I’m jealous,” I’ve never seen a person running and thought “I wish I could be doing that right now — there is a certain meditative quality of a good run, when you can move the body without too much suffering.

Maybe it was the evening or the circumstance, but I remembered that this evening.

The light is great, mind you. The photo is blurry because I took that, mid-stride, running downhill. Even with all of those limitations, you can still easily see your way. The view is even cleaner with the eye.

The light is this one. You wear it on your head. It’s lightweight, has an adjustable strap and all that. You don’t forget it is there, but it isn’t an encumbrance. I don’t think I could ride a bike with it, which I’d like to do, because you’d probably outrun the light. But it’s perfect for night runs. They cast a brilliant light to see where your feet are going, and it makes you visible to people coming your way — as if they couldn’t hear me huffing and shuffling from a great distance.

Where I also am on running: I’m not yet back to doing great distances. Oh tonight I was going to run four miles. Four whole miles! But then precisely at the 5K mark, or 3.1 miles, my knee felt a twinge. And as I am trying to get my various joints to work happily and, perchance to dream, in harmony, I called it a run. It didn’t hurt — my rationale, that is — that I came to this conclusion just in front of the neighborhood. So I finished my run at the 5K mark, turned off the head lamp and walked home by porch light. It was in the low 40s, which felt like a slight chill after a little run. The crickets are gone, the bullfrogs are quiet, the kids are all inside. That’s also meditative.

I focus on spring, when I won’t have to miss the sound of insects and the aural landscape that comes with a happier season, when the sun sticks around longer, when I can a bike or run, or both!