IU


27
Nov 19

It’s Friday somewhere. Here. Holiday weeks, amirite?

We are now in the slow weeks. The time simultaneously before and after time. It has been busy, but now it is Thanksgiving week. And next week we will have one last week before dead week and then finals week and then the slow times again.

The office is open this week, for reasons that surpass understanding. There were eight people in the building at one point today.

Dear Mr. Hamlet, the answer is “To be.”

This is the sunset from the parking deck.

This is the black and white version.

This is the same photo, but with some random phone filter applied to it.

Those sunsets are from yesterday. Today it was not appreciable, which may or may not be a meteorology term, in this part of the world, but it should be.

I visited the hardware store this evening, where no one, not once, asked if I needed any help. I didn’t need help, because I’ve learned that, while they mean well when they ask at the local hardware shop, and they are nice and pleasant people about the undertaking, my needs are apparently too exotic or I am, in fact, beyond help.

This is what I needed: Two pieces of hardware. Four screws. Because my latest contraption needs handles, and it is built in such a way that the screws that come with handles are a default length, but my build needs longer screws. I need screws that are one-and-three-quarters of an inch. But the standards are one, one-and-a-half and two inch screws. So I’m going to have to saw screws down to size.

That’ll show ’em.

Also, I needed a countersink screw bit. And I found myself totally guessing on that purchase. (Later edit: I guessed correctly.)

And then I went to the house, and we ran. Or shuffled. Or jogged. Or whatever I’m doing these days. It’s moving faster than a walk, that much is sure.

And then I started putting the finish on this particular wood working project. Tomorrow it will be completed.

After that, the in-laws arrived. This was totally expected, almost down to the minute, thanks to the proliferation of GPS and constant contact via text message. They’re visiting for Thanksgiving, of course, which will be lovely, of course.

So let the holidays begin.


21
Nov 19

Sports Nite

I pulled this picture off Instagram, which is why it is a little fuzzy, and also why I converted it to black and white. At the end of tonight’s television production, much of the crew got together. It was the last sports show of the semester. The young woman that directs the highlight show is graduating. She’s been a part of IUSTV for almost four years, and a member of the station’s management for three years. They created a nice little goodbye montage for her. The sports director was anchoring tonight. They’re friends. She, in fact, brought him into the program. To keep the video a surprise he called the package from the desk, which was a cool little moment.

There’s also a few people in that photograph who have been a part of the station for three years or more. There are hot shot freshmen. There are people who, this very evening, made their first on camera appearance. The sports director, who won a statewide award last year, is in there. A lot of these students, working on the same show last year, can claim second-place in the College Media Association’s Pinnacle Awards, which is aptly named. Second in the nation.

When I talked to the group in their post-production meeting tonight — after the director’s cut of the touching goodbye montage was shown — I got to say how different things were when the outgoing director first started here. How much stronger and how much smoother an operation it is. The sports crew have sent three people to ESPN and a handful to local stations across the country in the last four years. But now we’re starting to get good at this stuff.

And I thanked them for doing this. We have a joke that the Thanksgiving week holiday really starts on the Tuesday the week before Thanksgiving. Students have often mentally checked out. And then those cliched “My parents bought my airline ticket, but my flight is on Wednesday … ” jokes. And most of our students don’t have classes on Fridays, anyway. But here they are. Late Thursday night. Most people have skipped town, but the student media are still doing the things they love, with people they care about. It says a lot about what they want to do, and it’s a special thing.

The guy who designed the studio is in that picture, off on the far left. He works with us a lot. We’re both just happy to help this group learn how to do this.


14
Nov 19

And in 5 … 4 … 3 …

In the studio tonight, watching IUSTV make television magic:

I haven’t put any of their programming here recently, so let’s do that!

The power went out last Friday just as the morning show was about to start their show. We learned the power wasn’t coming back anytime soon (it took about 10 hours) and they found another way to produce their show, demonstrating some nice flexibility.

Want to know what’s up this week? They have a show they call What’s Up Weekly:

News, sports and weather:

Or, if you prefer, a deeper dive into campus sports:

And here’s the show from the photo above:

That’s five shows — three of which routinely are recognized nationally — in less than a week, all produced by students, all around their classes and internships and jobs and their lives. They’re an impressive bunch.


13
Nov 19

Historic parchment

Seventy-five years ago today Indiana awarded alumnus Ernie Pyle an honorary doctorate. He grew up not far away, attended school here, worked at the campus paper, left a bit early for a professional newspaper job.

He’d said “(M)y idea of a good newspaper job would be just to travel around wherever you’d want to without any assignment except to write a story every day about what you’d seen.”

A decade after that he got to go on the road and write all of those columns that made him mildly famous before the war. It was there that blogging began.

Anyway, when the war came, one of the most well known domestic reporters would become the best known war correspondent, first in Africa, then Europe and everywhere he went, really. He was beloved, because he wrote about the GIs and the Marines, and not about all the generals. He lived it with the soldiers and sailors. It was tough for him, just as it was for all of those in the fight. They loved him because they thought of him as theirs.

And in November of 1944 his alma mater gave him a lovely little sheepskin. He belonged to Indiana first.

He would become something more than an accomplished and famous alumnus. The journalism people at IU, over the years, essentially canonized him. For decades they worked in Ernie Pyle Hall. Outside the new building is the famous statue. And his desk today sits one floor above my office. (I used to be one floor above that desk, but they moved me for reasons that still surpass understanding.)

On this floor there’s a display with some of Pyle’s personal effects, on loan from owners or university collections.

Here are his medals, and a not-often circulated photo of Pyle and Generals Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower.

Of Bradley, Pyle wrote in September of 1944:

He is so modest and sincere that he probably will not get his proper credit, except in military textbooks.

But he has proved himself a great general in every sense of the word. And as a human being, he is just as great. Having him in command has been a blessed good fortune for America.

Here’s Pyle’s entrenching tool. They said that the writer was the foot soldier’s best friend. But they also say that a soldier’s best friend is the earth. And this is what Pyle would have used to dig holes for cover, for sleep and so on. It’s not difficult to see that spade, in hand, digging frantically into all different types of soil and sand. It’s easy to see the wear on that handle and wonder about the fear and worry that any man would have felt when they had to dig and dig and dig.

He wrote about being a part of the tragedy of Operation Cobra, which brings home the importance of all of that digging.

In 1943 Pyle wrote a column calling for combat pay for members of the infantry, airmen, after all, were granted “flight pay.” Soon Congress voted for an increase in pay of $10 a month for combat infantrymen. The law was entitled “The Ernie Pyle Bill.”

Pyle was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Correspondence that year, for “distinguished war correspondence during the year 1943.” He typed some of his work on this very typewriter:

Of course he also wrote in his letters, and perhaps in his columns — it gets hard to recall directly from memory, because his style was the same in a letter to his friend or to readers or to his colleagues — about his typewriters. A true devotee of his craft, he thought of his tools.

This is what he wore in Europe. The standard issue field jacket. He didn’t have a rank, but on the left shoulder was a simple patch: war correspondent.

And his passport is there as well.

He received that honorary doctorate 75 years ago today. The next April he was killed in the Pacific, and we all lost a talented scribe.


8
Nov 19

Today we partied like it’s 1899

I’m flipping through a 50-year-old periodical. My grandparents leafed through this same book. That’s how I came to have it. It sat in storage for decades and then I got to go through a bunch of things and sometimes that’s how things of no real value are inherited. Some night in an Alabama spring, perhaps, my grandfather read some of these articles, whichever ones might have interested him. I’m taking pictures of the ads with the supercomputer I carry in my pocket. (I wonder what he’d think of that.) So, you know, the same experience.

Anyway, you can check out some of these images too. We’re about halfway through this last copy of Reader’s Digest. Click the book below if you’ve been following along.

To see all of the parts of this issue I’ve photographed, click here. To see all of my grandfathers books that are, so far, on the site, start here.

Sometimes red lights aren’t a bad thing. I had just enough time at this one to see this, decide it would be a good idea to capture the moment, and then make it happen.

That’s just a thing we do now. The technology isn’t terribly impressive at this point. That we can do it is a minor modern miracle, really, but we seldom even acknowledge that these days. What’s impressive is that we sit there thinking Should I? Is it worth it? What’s impressive is how quickly we’ve adjusted and adapted to do that.

Sort of like electricity. Sure, that’s my great-grandparents wonder, and your birthright, but you only think that because it is there every day, all day. We lost power on campus today, and the hard-working electricians from the power company didn’t get the entire outage restored until late in the evening.

I was watching a group prepare a television program when everything went off. They ended up doing it with field equipment and lots of batteries. I checked in on a handful of students who were about to record some podcasts, but they were out of luck. I visited with an instructor who was set to deliver a big social media lecture with videos and slides and, oops. She did the whole thing in the dark, students looking for examples on their laptops, eyes occasionally darting up to the power icon. I gave a tour of the radio station to a high school student, using flashlights. I sat in the dark at the end of the day and caught up on a few emails, also with my eyes darting up to the laptop’s battery icon. Welcome to Indiana University, in the 19th century. Except it is nothing like that.

A view from the parking deck this morning:

That tree is pretty incredible, but I bet it will be hardly recognizable by the next time I have a chance to check on it again.

I’m proud of this tree. The leaves show up early in the spring and they’re staying for as long as possible. Not like those maples, quitters that they are.

The still-novel-to-me parking deck foreground shot:

I just looked up at this one and thought the lights and colors made for good lines:

Speaking of maples, this Red maple is probably the last one still trying. But the green is gone, the yellow is giving ground. The seasons must grind to a halt.

The Red maple, then, is nature’s traffic light. And next week, winter will be here. Until April.

Probably the next time I show you the River Jordan, it’ll be frozen.

It’s diminutive for a river, I grant you. I prefer the previous name anyway: Spanker’s Branch. Maybe there was someone named Spanker, maybe parents spanked their kids for getting in the creek. No one knows why it had that name. But from such harmless mystery good lore can emerge. As it is we have to say: Jordan was a 19th century president who didn’t think a building should be named after him, so he said just name the creek after me and by the 1920s people were calling it the Jordan River casually, and it was formally renamed in the 1990s.

Spanker’s Branch is the better name, then.

But what’s even better is the weekend. And I hope you have a great one!