May 20

Well that settles it, I need a better light box

This weekend I was walking around and found a big mound of pea gravel at one of the near condominiums. I like that gravel. It always reminds me of home, traipsing around in creeks, playing in the woods, filling days with the wonder and curiosity of a child with far too much energy and enthusiasm.

I could stand beside a stream and peer through those rocks for ages, looking for interesting shapes and colors, hoping to find a cool arrowhead and never doing it. But always finding crinoids and being fascinated by them. (I found those last month, and now there’s something else to collect. I’ll try to do it without lamenting all of those that I put back over the years.)

Anyway, those rocks always make me think of summers and things I had and people I’ve lost and wishing for ways to get them back, if only in your mind and only for a moment.

And this weekend I found a few that had some nice sedimentary pieces. The color changes were interesting.

I saved the best ones for last, so keep scrolling.

And here’s the thing to notice here. Look how the photo quality changes.

These are all in a cardboard light box. You can see tons of DIY guides online, and I was just rushing through this today, but the point of a light box is quality and consistency.

This one isn’t getting it done anymore. And the rushing didn’t help. Plus, you’re always just working around an extra cardboard box.

Instead of all of that, I’m going to wind up making a more substantial, third version. Because the subjects in them should all look like this:

That rock is cool and that picture is great. The background blends right in to the page’s background, which is the point.

I know this is what you’re here for, random observations about half-baked projects, and pictures of even more random objects. I could have told you about today’s sweaty run or this morning’s Zoom meeting. Or the Zoom meeting that came after that. I wonder if I could run during a Zoom meeting. There’s always the emailing. I can get 300 words discussing email as easy as putting on a comfortable t-shirt. I could write another 450 or so words out of how many of them don’t get replies.

I started watching a documentary in Spanish! We could discuss that. And I’m looking forward to a bike ride tomorrow.

This evening was the highlight of the day. We had a two-hour Zoom chat with some of our students, just for fun. It’s so nice to hear from them and see them interact with one another and to watch them laugh.

The theme tonight was show and tell, and it was a big hit. One guy showed off a choice baseball jersey from his massive collection. Another showed a cool bat collection he has, including one he got at his bar mitzvah. Someone talked about a really cool plant, there was a camera and some celebrity photos. One guy showed us his grandfather’s sailing trophies, which was also really cool.

Show and tell, it turns out, is still pretty awesome. Give it a try. And if your crowd isn’t receptive to it, consider the crowd.

I didn’t show off these rocks. Maybe next time I’ll show off a new light box.

May 20

Here’s a distraction

It occurs to me that I am ready for a three-day weekend in the most desperate way. Which is odd, right? I’m going to spend it at home just like all of the days. And I’ll try to think about work less, but otherwise, status quo ante.

I suppose it is all mental, or I am.

Makes you wonder what next week will be like. Tuesday is Monday, and by this time next week we’ll be here thinking “thank goodness for a four-day week.” It’s a weird moment, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, we have that to look forward to, and brothers and sisters, I am looking forward to it.

Brothers and sisters. Huh, he said, writing this in an almost stream-of-consciousness style while also knowing where it was going. I had a news director who called everyone brother or sister. He wasn’t a particularly religious man then, moreso now it seems, so it struck me as an odd word choice. I just figured he was from where he was from, and that’s the way it was there.

He was a nice guy. Young. His first news director job, he was being handled and he didn’t need to be. After he figured out what was what in that market and who the sharks in the building were he was good at it. I only worked with him for a short time, but he was nice to work with, and gave me one lasting piece of advice: You have to look out for yourself, because no one else will.

It was that last bit of early-20s advice I really needed, I think. It was overdue, perhaps, but I took it to heart.

He’s a news director in Nashville now. He and his family are doing well, according to his Facebook feed. Always seems happy when we catch up. Brothers and sisters.

Let’s look at some old newspapers again. Let’s go back in time 111 years and look at the local paper on this date in 1909.

We save by using the ditto marks and pass along the savings to you! I love the little local ads that exist because of the university. It’s always difficult to tease out their story, though. One of the owners has two other men of different generations using the same name here. The other couple don’t leave much of a trace either. And that’s not an uncommon book store name, it turns out.

Oh, it’s one of those seasons. The Milwaukee mayor was in town. And one of the authors of the legislation.

This wasn’t outright prohibition, it was about home rule and liquor licenses and how much a saloon would have to pay and, yes, about prohibition. The Anti-Saloon league held a powerful sway.

The registrar speaks! Terrific news! Had there been an accident? Was he recovering, then? Was he coming out of mourn — oh, he was just weighing in on the debate of the hour.

He wants to leave out the moral question, indeed, he mentions it twice in here in this brief selection. I’ve edited out a few paragraphs in between because, you know academics, we do tend to go on.

This was actually Craven’s paper. He founded it in 1893 and ran it into his brother bought him out in 1906, just three years prior. He was the registrar for 41 years, until 1936.

A registrar, by the way, keeps the academic record of all the students and plans the registration process for classes. Craven did all that while he was a student. Academia was a lot different back then.

Look, I wear a suit to work. Not while fishing, though:

Kahn Clothing was Moses Kahn, and a partner, Solomon Tannenbaum. There was a big fire, but Moses was soon back to work, and became a founding member of the local fire department. He ran that store until he died, in 1920, at about 70 years of age.

Someone was in a mood when they went to look for filler:

I love that these places didn’t need an address. You just knew where The Globe was. I don’t. Or I didn’t. A few other searches tell me it was on the square. You can assume everything was there, but you shouldn’t. It’s just one square.

Elmer Bender was in the clothing trade for a long time. You can still find references to him through the mid 1920s. And soon after he joined the city council. He died in 1957.

Safe to say the newspaper was coming down on the side of the Drys. I’ve edited a bit of this to get to the real panic.

Ninety percent of the murders were somehow tied to saloons and drink! And you want that to come here!?

That’s an instructive look at fear-mongering you weren’t expecting out of this exercise.

The vote was just a few days away. I skipped ahead. The drys won the day. It seems they thought the city would vote dry, but the vote totals went against that idea. It rained and that let the farmers come in from the fields and voted dry. There was a big stir about whether many of the students who voted were eligible to vote. But across the state, it was a series of wins for the Anti-Saloon League.

I’m through here every so often.

When I first read that I thought, I should keep a look out.

You never know when a lost cufflink will turn up, but if I see it, Mr. J, I’ll let you know.

Apr 20

A podcast, a random memory and three photos

From time to time I am put in mind of my first real camera. I was in undergrad. I was about to start the photojournalism work at the campus newspaper. Soon after would come the photography classes and so on. It was Christmas time and there must have been a really nice deal on Canons that year. I remember being at family haunts and taking those first pictures, really just trying to figure the thing out. It was a step up from the old 110s, to be sure, and what even is an aperture, anyway?

It was that phase of learning how to take pictures. There’s a certain tree, a certain outbuilding. This and that. And you think, That’s going to be a great photograph. Then you send the film off to be developed, or go to the darkroom to do your work, because wow I’m old. And then the prints come back and they are very average. Because you’re just trying to figure the camera out still, really, and it’s a nice and important element of family life and important to you, but that’s where it begins and ends and that’s really enough.

Then you go out and you take pictures of a random dead tree that grew out and above the rest of the tree line before just giving up entirely. And you think, That’s going to be a great photograph. But it isn’t. Because not all of them are great. Some days most aren’t even good.

You just need a few of those, really. If you ask for more you just look greedy.

Which is clearly what I was not on this walk, from a few more of the found photographs from last month.

I’m sure I thought to myself This trail is going to look amazing in this photograph, and I’ll remember this thought verbatim as a construct for a future photo essay on recall and subpar photography!

You can see why I was excited about that:

And! Look! A stream!

It is cold. It was cold then and it is cold now. Only two weeks have passed and while two kids were playing in it that a little further down, there wasn’t a line to get in there and give it a try. Maybe next month.

I talked with Tom Duzynski. He’s the Epidemiology Education Director at the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Indiana, and basically a rock star. He talked about how it looks like stay at home practices and quarantine practices are working, how long it might be until we can start returning to more normal activities and what experts are continually learning about Covid-19.

I was promised audiograms, but those haven’t appeared yet. So I made my own, sorta, from the above conversation just to see what that’d be like. It’s getting some nice play, too:

I think the next person I’ll talk to will also be an epidemiologist. Let’s see if we can get them to disagree!

Actually, we won’t. It isn’t that kind of show.

Apr 20

A new work project!

I worked on the deck yesterday. Put an umbrella out there, sat in the shade, griped about some coding I was working on and just had a pleasant afternoon of it. Today it was a bit cooler out, and so my outside time was a four-mile run in the evening and a few minutes down at the creek bed.

So I picked up a few crinoids.

To me, these are symbols of happy days as a child, doing the very same thing, traipsing through creek beds, learning to walk on wet stones and not to be troubled by wet socks. I didn’t know what they were then, of course. And I certainly didn’t know what they were called.

Probably, I was told they were called Indian beads. They were worn by a few different cultures at different times around the world. They are, of course, fossilized sea creatures. Maybe I’ll try to clean out some of the clogged columnals and polish these things up. What’s the point of looking for them otherwise, aside from those memories, I mean.

You don’t need another point than that.

I launched a new program at work today. Four weeks ago I pitched an idea and it was well received. We are advertising for it, and in out-of-state markets, too. And, today, I am finally able to roll out the first part of phase one.

My pitch: We have nine campuses of experts in just about every field under the sun, let’s lean on that expertise and share it with the masses. (Who knew!?)

So that’s where On Topic with IU begins, talking to the university’s many experts

There’s a website and social media (Twitter and Facebook, maybe Instagram eventually) and you can hear more shows here.

Joe Fitter has some good advice for your household finances just now. He should. He’s got a great professional career under his belt and now teaches in one of the nation’s best business skills. Let’s bring forth the expertise!

The larger concept I proposed has a ton of potential. One day, I hope, I’ll be able to explore phase two and phase three as well.

More on Twitter, check me out on Instagram. There are more podcasts from work here and the slightly more hobbyist ones over on Podbean.

Apr 20

Tonight on #IUZoomington

Tuesday’s home-office mood:

I spent a part of the day reworking the home office, because it needed some work. Things got stacked in different stacked and other things were stored in different places. Now it works, the home office, until I decide to rework it again, which will probably be sometime next week.

At least I have a nice window view! And I had to rework my office so I could enjoy that window more. And also because we had another video guest this evening. It’s a former student, and WISH-TV reporter Sierra Hignite:

She’s been out in the world for three years and landed in market #25 in her second job at the beginning of her third year as a reporter, which is a pretty remarkable ascent. She’s doing a great job there, which is no surprise, and she had a lot of great advice for today’s students.

The weather was nice. I skipped a run to see my old friend, but it was worth it. And I spent the evening out on the deck. That’s the moon at 10:30 at night and it’s 72° and there was a very, very, faint breeze. You can hear bullfrogs in the distance and the katydids up close. But otherwise it was perfectly quiet and still. I must have sat outside for 90 minutes late into the evening just looking at that moon:

… and wondering where the clouds were so busy getting off to (somewhere to the east), and wondering how long the nice weather will stay (not hardly long enough).

The moon was so bright tonight, it put me in mind of the dimmest I’ve ever seen the sun. We were in Alaska in May of 2014, and an Alaskan summer is something to behold. We didn’t see the full of darkness for 11 days. The sun, one evening, though, was a curious thing.

We were leaving a glacier cruise, which was tremendous, and we got off the vessel and stepped into a surrealistic world. It was, I’m sure, where we were on the planet, the time of the year, the time of day and, of course, a nearby raging wildfire. That particular glimpse of the sun was not much brighter than this moon.

Should have stayed there longer, Alaska then and outside tonight.