Dec 19

The day-after-Christmas party

My in-laws have this perpetual calendar by their kitchen door. It’s the sort of thing where you swap out the month tiles and move the numbers to get right under the days of the week. It’s the sort of thing that a lot of people have, but let it quickly fall out of sequence within a month or three. But, in all the years I’ve known them this calendar has always been up-to-date. Even when you come downstairs into the kitchen on the first day of the month, it is ready to go. I imagine that appeals to my mother-in-law’s sense of order. It’s a thing she can keep nice and tidy, and keep her organized for the days ahead.

It was a gift, many years ago, from a beloved family friend, and that probably plays into it, too. And they have custom tiles for important events, which is another added feature she surely looks forward to every month. And, look! This year I got my own tile!

The Yankee’s god-brother-in-law’s mother made that one for me. And, the joke this year, is that it only took 14 years for me to earn it. I suppose they think I’m going to stick. Time, as the cliche says, will tell.

Anyway, today we had New Jersey Christmas. Every year we drive down to spend a day with the family folks. The Yankee’s god parents are lifelong friends of my in-laws. It’s a cute story, really. Bob and Nancy met a year after she finished nursing school. Her best friend in school was Marge. And when Bob and Nancy got married, Marge met Clem at their wedding. Bob and Clem have been friends since before they were in school. They’re all lovely and wonderful and it’s really neat to see people who’ve been in each other’s lives for so many decades. They all raised their daughters together, and they vacation together, just this summer taking an amazing trip through Canada. And they let us all invade their house at Christmas time.

We opened presents:

And dinner, which was homemade lasagna (so, if you’re keeping track, that’s ravioli on Christmas Eve, shrimp cocktail and prime rib for Christmas and shrimp cocktail and lasagna at New Jersey Christmas) and we had homemade poppers to go with it. My mother-in-law made these:

They had little prizes and puns inside. Here was mine:

And before the night was over the girls, the ladies, recreated their traditional pyramid picture:

Isn’t that awesome? Aren’t they beautiful? They’ve been doing this all their lives, literally. There are teeny tiny kid pyramid pictures at the beach, and one from every time they get together as adults, including each of the weddings, and one from from the shore this summer. So, of course, they also do them every Christmas. Someday we’ll have to guess how many there actually are.

We’re trying to get all the kids trained to do a super pyramid. It didn’t quite work out today. Maybe next year.

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:

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.

Oct 19

Let us look at a new book

Today is Fall Break. The university gives the students the day off. Just the day, not a full week like you see in the spring. And since it was today, that means it really began in earnest on Wednesday or so. By yesterday afternoon the building had a Night of the Comet feel.

Fewer teens, yesterday and no zombies yesterday, though. Thankfully. We’re not really built or kitted out for zombies. And it would give the safety people fits.

The zombies were today.

We’ve got a new book today. This is a Reader’s Digest from 1969, and it is the last one Reader’s Digest from my grandfather’s collection that I’ve inexplicably saved and will have to do something with. Like take photographs of the ads and make fun of them. They’re dusty and moldy and I’ve realized you have to wear a mask even to deal with them. The cover on this one is pretty rough …

But some of the stuff inside is worth seeing, and in much better shape. If you click the cover you can see the first six samples from this issue. We’ll probably get about five or six weeks out of this book before we move on to some other piece. If you click here, you can see all of the books I’ve put on the site so far. There are eight textbooks, notebooks and magazines so far, and there’s a huge stack still to go.

So, anyway, the April 1969 issue has ominous titles like “Is Congress Destroying Itself?” Still? Again? “Our Son is a Campus Radical.” Get in line. “Man vs. Virus,” Now you’re just trying to scare the parents of campus radicals.

Another selection is “Can Baseball Be Saved?” Yes, Cal Ripken did it just 26 years later. I was watching at my grandparents house, where this book lived all those years, in fact the night he broke Lou Gehrig’s streak and did his lap around Camden Yard. It seems baseball is always in need of saving. Someone probably has to do it again these days. But we won’t read about it in Reader’s Digest, I bet.

“NATO: An Alliance in Search of a Future.” I think we could all argue that’s a good thing. And a weird thing, given we were still at a high part of the Cold War when this was being written. “Frenzy on the Freeways,” but mass transit will save us all, I’m sure. “From the Brink of Extinction,” some themes stick around, what can I say?

But you want something a bit more contemporaneous, I hear you say. That’s fine. Here’s some sports television the Award-Winning TM sports crew produced last night:

It’s a brief show, but they did it in one take, which I think was a first.

What’s your weekend like? We’ll have some beautiful weather, and we have to find ways to enjoy it all, while it lasts. I hope yours is incredibly long lasting.

Oct 19

At least three decades are referenced here

Another morning in the studio. We talked news and guests — and I had an incredible flashback moment to newsroom meetings from 2006.

Back then we were tasked with writing promotional material about news at a 9 a.m. Friday meeting for a Monday morning newspaper paper advertisement. Every Friday I somehow managed to forget my crystal ball at home. And there was a similar dynamic in the conversation this morning. It made me question everything about my career.

Not really, but I did enjoy the idea of how some things can’t change, because they are realities. The reality is we simply haven’t yet found ways to predict the news three days in advance. Maybe the students I work with will do what I have not, and invent a way to accurately predict such a thing and retire fabulously wealthy and incredibly young.

Probably they’ll be having the same sort of conversations in 2035 about what to beam into people’s brain pans.

I used to think, maybe even during those 2006-era meetings, that was a novel idea. Wouldn’t it be great to have the web in my brain. Everything there with a flick of the eye, because the typing was too tedious, I guess, and we didn’t yet really think in terms of a flick of the thumb.

We also didn’t think about all of the data collecting the smart house features would do, or the listening in that the big companies would do, you know, in the name of improving the customer experience.

Around here the customer experience is just fine. And today we’re looking at the advertising experience of 1966. Today there are three new ads from Reader’s Digest. Click the book cover to see the new additions:

Or you can see all of the best ads from the October 1966 issue by clicking here. This was my grandfather’s magazine, and I’ve been irregularly putting some of the more interesting things that I find in his books on the site. You can see the full collection here.

The rest of the day? Well, there was a late meeting, and another, later meeting. And lunch at my desk. There was also breakfast at my desk. The experience was an experience, to be sure.

Tonight I’m having chili at home, like a normal person.

Have some sports!

And, if that’s not enough, here’s a bunch of guys talking about baseball.

And have yourself a lovely weekend, as well.

More on Twitter and on Instagram. Also, Catober continues tomorrow as well.

Aug 19

Dateline Springs Valley

Classes start on Monday, but I’m out of the office for the rest of the week. So it was fortuitous that a former student stopped by just before quitting time this afternoon. And I was so pleased he thought to do so. He’s a newspaper man, now, and he wanted to give me his first edition.

The paperwork hasn’t even cleared and he’s already got seven bylines and a handful of photographs in his first paper.

Auston started in television, became an anchor and a talk show guest and worked his way up to being the sports director for the campus station. He was simultaneously driving up to Indianapolis and interning at one of the stations while working on his senior year classes. Somewhere along the way he decided he’d like to try his hand at print. Maybe it was one he was podcasting, or writing for one of the local sports websites. (Students can do so much these days, and the smart ones, like Auston, do all they can.

Anyway, now he’s a freshly graduated student and will become the new sports editor of one of the nearby weekly newspapers and cover two schools in a way that they deserve to be covered, a way that only dedicated weeklies can cover them. It’s going to be a great job for him, a fair launching pad to a promising young career. I couldn’t be more excited for him.

Not too long ago I learned that another former student, Sydney, who has run about five newspapers and won more awards than she can hang on an office wall, is moving up in her career into the world of book publishing.

It is wonderful when former students keep in touch and let you know how things are progressing for them. Some time back I created a map to chart everyone’s moves. Students, when they leave campus, can become mysteries or colleagues, but when you are lucky they come to think of you as a friend. I prefer that idea. Classes begin Monday, and they’ll end whenever the calendar tells us to wrap it up, but the friendships can be lasting.