Oct 20

My favorite leaves, my favorites leave

Quite day on campus. Fridays were always a little slow, in the Before Times. You’d occasionally have a meeting or two, maybe a production or three, but we don’t run a lot of classes on Fridays for various scheduling reasons.

But now, in the During Times, our building is all that much more quiet. Most people aren’t even working in the building, after all. So I sat in my little office and had a little Zoom meeting and ran through a little round of emails and a little To Do list and another Zoom meeting and wondered about how the day was lovely, and I was indoors.

The day was lovely. At the end of it, at the end of the week, the walk to the car and the regular beginning of the unloading into the weekend was also lovely. The sun was at just the right angle. The leaves still just the right degree of chipper to create a nice little glow …

That blurry bunch of leaves, that’s the sort of memory we keep. Falling leaves and fallen leaves and they blur together, first on the edges, then in the middle, just like a bad television flashback sequence.

You think about that, not about what the rest of it means. About what’s here — later, what was there — and not what’s not.

The weekend? The weekend will be nothing special. Spectacular in its normalness. Normal in its spectacularness. Unvarying in its events. Nothing special. Perfectly special. Perfectly normal.

Oct 20

A fancy item, a fancy idea

Homemade pocket square achievement badge unlocked:

No one said a thing. No one noticed it was homemade. Given the few people I see, and how focused they are, probably no one noticed. But the color adds a nice touch, and I got spend part of an afternoon making three of these. I’ll have to make a few more. Perhaps next week.

Today, at the office, and this evening, in the television studio. The sports gang produced two sports shows. They’ll be online tomorrow and over the weekend.

On one show they showed off the university’s new golf course. It was due to open this year but, then, you know, Covid. But they are apparently taking reservations from the public right now. And in the program you can see some of our broadcasters play the course. They really bragged about the experience. I guess I’ll have to dust off my sticks.

My clubs are dusty.

The second show was the talk show, and they discussed the best college sports traditions. Things to do, mascots, music, experiences, and so on.

And it brought to mind a good idea for a class on sports culture. Here’s the short version: You feature guests from various other college programs, athletic directors, ambassador types, foundation people. You research the fan experience to get an overview of the atmosphere of the place. And then you go take part in the game day experience, not as a fan, but as an observer of the operation.

Think of it. We go to see the same show every time. The tailgate. The souvenir place. The must-have restaurant or bar. The game, and all the attendant ceremonies before-during-and-after the game. And you go back, again and again. The only thing that changes are the players and the game itself.

You may argue that that is why you spend the money and go and do all of those things, and you’re right! But you also go for the other things, too. The whole experience is part of your personal cultural journey into the collective experience. It’s all a part of the pageantry, brought on when ol’ State U comes to town. Universities put on a great show. The band has to be over here by this time, the other thing starts precisely 10 minutes later and then you’re in your seats for the precisely worded announcement from the PA, it’s all a part of your scheduled program. It’s all a part of the culture. I’ve seen enough, and worked in a few, to know a good show when I see one. And the ones that keep bringing you back those are good shows. And they all feature a “if it ain’t broke” mentality. We like that sameness, that familiarity, that timely link to a timeless time that we’re all trying to cling to.

So what if you did an examination of your own school’s setup? And then did the same with two or three geographically close programs to see how the other guys do it? What a class experience that would be. The guys tonight were talking about this and that, and it’s all a surface-level appreciation. Some of it they have maybe experienced, or only read about or watched on TV. But they don’t know what prompted that song to be a thing, or how it came to be there, and who really deserves the credit.

And, as college sports are grounded in that sameness, the tradition of it all, you need to be able to appreciate those things to know what you’re taking part in. Here’s my forever question: when does something contrived become a tradition? We’d like to think our favorite elements of this sort of pageantry evolved organically, on our own fan terms, but you’re mistaken. They started deliberately from somewhere. The selectivity wasn’t necessarily ours. It’s a great way to see it, and it’s a clever way to sell it to us, as appreciators of the old ways and all that. When does something contrived become a tradition? To answer that you have to ask: does anyone really remember, and do we individually know? And from the program’s standpoint, why is it this way? Because it works and the people want it that way. The entire experience would be thinner if you took away those favored elements. The whole trip is the experience, then, not just the game.

So, from the perspective of students of sociology or anthropology or people who want to go into sports administration or operations, this is a solid idea.

It will never go anywhere.

Anyway, the TV shows they produced tonight should be fun. I’ll put them here when they get them online.

Oct 20

Human beings! We saw some!

You have to like the colors. The colors are rather glorious in this, our peak time of the leaf turn.

It turns colder tonight, and we’ll have a few cool days. At some point, eventually, it has to rain — there’s a moderate drought on just now — and then the rest of the leaves will fall and it’ll be stigs and twigs and the long, boring sigh of a gray, drab winter.

But those colors are something else today!

We visited with our friends Mike and Kate for a few minutes this evening. I dropped off a bunch of milk jugs that they’ll use to start some container planting project. They’ve got a quiet spread out beyond the suburbs and we stood in their driveway and enjoyed the waning sunlight and the nice warm air and a view of a few acres of trees and their company for a few minutes. Many jokes were made! Some of them at my expense!

Even their neighbor came over to say hello. He said his wife had recently retired from 45 years at the university library. Nice fellow, the neighbor. I see him when I ride through that area on my bike. He’s always outside puttering around with something. That might be the wife’s doing.

After he left we stood around and talked about their upcoming trip to see family. What an exotic adventure they will have this next week. I wonder what that’s like. Going places. Staring at different walls. Hearing different creaks in the floorboards. Pitching in with some little project at their place, rather than your own. Seeing people.

Sometimes it is nice just to see people. Well, some of them. You’d like to see them more. In limited and carefully controlled doses. But, as they say, 2020.

This came up in our visit. Why is this the hip thing to say? Why do people think that January 2021 is going to be any different from Apritoberember 2020? And what do New Year’s Resolutions even mean anymore?

Something to think about, alas.

Here are some shows the news team produced Tuesday evening. New anchor, a first-time interview and other fun stuff:

And here are some programs the sports gang put together, that I forgot to include late last week:

Tomorrow they will produce more sports. I’ll be there. I’ll share them here. Tonight, I don’t have anything else to share, except for the dishes. If you’re interested in helping there, come on over. I’ll be sure to give you plenty of social distancing.

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.

Oct 20

A long night

Are you enjoying Catober? Phoebe is very serious about her naps. I don’t know how any creature can look that intense, if I can mis-anthropomorphize, while relaxing, but that’s how she does it. Click that link to catch up, if you’re somehow behind. Tomorrow’s Catober entry will feature Poseidon. There will probably be hijinks.

Didn’t get all of the things done today, but a few more items are off the list. The rest will, no doubt, get at some later date. More phone calls and forms to fill out and an oil change for the car. All of that will happen next week, I suppose. Or tomorrow. But probably next week. Because tomorrow is fully about email.

I spent a lot of time on the phone today, and then the evening in the television studio, watching the sports gang do their thing. After that, a late meeting with some students before I could leave. It looked like this:

The building next to ours has a chime in the tower and that’s how I knew the time: 8:45.

At least I don’t have an early morning meeting tomorrow.

Here’s some programming the television people produced this week. The late night show brings you some funnies:

And here are the two shows from the news team:

We had soup for dinner, and around here we say “Hooray soup!” Mostly, I think, because it’s good. Now, with the dishes done, I’ll put another armful of laundry through its paces and then get ready to start tomorrow, and, then, the weekend. Thursdays in the fall are just a preface.