Monday


13
Sep 21

Weekend photos

Just a few shots from weekend walks outdoors. And there’s also a video down below. But, first, the pretty things.

The sun silhouetted the trees and I further polarized the lens with a pair of cheap sunglasses.

The photos of which are never as cool, somehow, as what you’re seeing through the glasses themselves, but still fun nonetheless.

I thought this was a bit of toadflax, or hairy skullcap (that’s actually a wildflower name, yes) but now I think it could be any number of other things. I’m going with downy lobelia (Lobelia puberula).

And that is why when I did the last wildflower post I made the joke about failing hilariously at plant identification.

I’m not even going to try, here. Let’s just admire the contrasting colors.

I’m guessing this is some genus of Persicaria, or smartweed. There are 30-some species in that group. One of them has to be this color, right?

I feel comfortable with this one, it’s white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima):

I was rather surprised to find honeysuckle blooming this late in the year. I was pleased. It should bloom more. And, if not, this should be a sign of the new spring. It is almost springtime, right?

Look at this Yellow wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), so full of life and promise:

Your standard issue bunch of goldenrod.

On our Sunday walk I heard this doe before I saw her. I don’t think that happens very often. She stood and stared for a long time, and let me get within about 15 feet before she calmly walked off.

I did not see the deer that was with her, which had stayed very still, until they both walked away.

We had a big video chat this evening with a Pulitzer Prize winner. Elizabeth Kolbert joined us via Zoom as part of the fall 2021 Themester, “Resilience.” Her Prize-winning book — The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, covers mass extinctions She has a new book, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, which was released a bit earlier this year.

The interview went well, after it got started. I’ve queued it to the beginning.

It’s always fun working on someone else’s projects.


6
Sep 21

Happy Labor Day

Welcome back to you and me. Nothing happened here last week because … well … you didn’t miss much around here. It was the second week of classes, and, as ever, the first few weeks of classes are hyper-charged. If anything, the post-lockdown might make that period run even longer. Typically it’s a two week rush to find a semester’s cruising speed. Looking at the upcoming calendar, the ops tempo isn’t evening out for another week or two, though.

Meaning things might feel like they’re running at a normal speed … as we approach October.

The most fun things last week, perhaps, were an interview I conducted about two interesting new studies and some television stuff. We had a practice shoot for the sports crew and a big call out meeting Thursday night.

Late that same evening we climbed out of the car after a long drive for a weekend visit with my family.

This was our second visit since the pandemic. And just my third trip, total, since all of this began. We act conservatively and try to stay as safe as possible so we can have visits like that. It makes sense if you’re being risk adverse.

And the trip was nice. We picked up barbecue in Louisville and had a lot more great food all weekend. We sat poolside with my mom, saw my grandfather and finally won a game of dominoes from him, got to hug my uncle. And we watched the hummingbirds dance.

We came back today. If it feels like a full day’s drive that’s because it is. But work calls again tomorrow, and there are cats that need attention. And, since I didn’t give you anything last week, there are extra kitty pictures this time around.

Phoebe is (almost always) a good girl. Except for when she’s on this ledge.

It’s a weird thing, really. “You’re cute, but you’re not supposed to be there. Get down. Wait, let me take a picture first.”

She likes afternoons on the stairs, which gives her some nice indirect sunlight warmth. There’s also a change of temperature near that spot on warm days. Maybe she prefers a half-and-half temperature.

Poseidon prefers tasty snacks.

Again, “Stop buying that! But not before I take a picture!”

He managed to get one out of the box. We think he just likes the crinkly foil. Or likes dropping them on the floor, since we did that a few times.

Phoebe also likes sitting on that box. As we’ve discussed here before, we’re dealing with two cat lawyers. ‘On the box isn’t on the counter,’ is, I’m sure, what’s behind those eyes.

And, also, ‘As you can see, I’m not getting into the treats like he is.’

Poseidon is caught.

And he is notably chagrined.


23
Aug 21

A day of hope

I, like billions of other people, don’t use Facebook that much anymore. It’s too crowded. And there’s only so much time in the day for noise, anyway.

But this year I have been trying to go every day and peruse the memories. It’s worth it to clean those up sometime. And these last few days have offered some doozies, all from just a year ago. It’s interesting to see how much has changed, and how little.

When was it, that the old life slipped away, and wise men and women worried that it was never to return again? Was it all at once or, did it come to mind gradually over that hot summer last year?

Someone instinctively felt it, but the signs were there for all of us to read. Henry White was a turn-of-the-century diplomat, and a signatory of the Treaty of Versailles. He noticed the same thing, as his biographer said, when Europe marched itself into the Great War. “He instinctively felt that his world — the world of constant travel, cosmopolitan intercourse, secure comfort and culture — would never be the same again.”

There may be great gains, yet, but when they are counted, what will we they be, and how will we measure them against what has been lost? It is at a moment like this where we search for the spirit of an era. This one having not been filled to overflowing with optimism and confidence, might cause a person to continue the search. A searching mood such as that could feel like a spark, a great light of promise by which we set the world to right, rather than being rolled under the world in the darkness.

It’s a cycle, and in our study of history we know it is anything but unique. Heroes shape the world, victims struggle through it. People have been warmed by that spark and felt that exuberance before. They will do so again. Hope never dies as long as we can move and feel. Sometimes it smolders low, at other times it will not be ignored.

We are, perhaps, at the start of such a moment. I pray that we are, and that others take up that feeling, as well. It’s too beautiful and full of possibilities to wrap it up and set it down in a box, all but forgotten for some later time.

This is a day full of hope.

And cats. It is Monday, after all. Even in the middle of a heat wave, Phoebe needs her blanket naps.

She does that all by herself. Usually Kitty Me Time means going all the way under the blankets, but maybe it was a little too warm that day for a completely immersive experience.

And I guess they’ve decided to have a cute contest this week. Look at Poseidon’s handsome face.

What’s not to love about a look like that?


16
Aug 21

Set a record for interpersonal interactions this weekend

Saturday we had a video chat with some friends. Two of them were supposed to be getting on a cruise ship for their anniversary, a trip they’d postponed last year, but there was a small snag in their plans. Now they will cruise next week. And that’s just the way of the world now, right? You didn’t get precisely what you wanted when you wanted, but there might be the opportunity to do it literally next week, with a bit less hassle than you’d imagine for that sort of thing, pre-Covid.

This is a part of the business model that I endorse. Maybe this level of customer service and good faith acting is something that consumers will see fit to reward when it comes to the bottom line. It’d be nice if that was a certain kindness that sticks around long after all of this is gone, if all of this ever goes away.

Remember, we used to live in a world where doctors or hair dressers would fire you if you had to cancel too many appointments. That airlines and cruise lines and whomever else are now acknowledging that stuff happens is a good thing. We can assign fault later, assigning fault is easy. Get me on the next trip to enjoy your goods and services and we can each call this a pleasant transaction.

Sunday evening we had a visit with some work friends. It didn’t go quite as we’d planned, but we’ve only been trying to do this since the pandemic began or so, so you roll with it and hope for the best.

So there we were, an advertiser, a comm scholar, a political scientist and us, all trying to be smart and funny at the same time. All thoroughly likable people, all full of giggles. It was a nice visit and we somehow managed to do it just before classes start next week and everything turns upside.

Turning upside down being a question of going from summer mode to the fall plan, and not a cynical Covid distinction. Who knows what that will bear out. Play it smart, hope for the best and thank goodness for the science that brought us masks and vaccines.

Incidentally, that three-point plan is a big part of my fall plan.

Anyway, this was the most people I’ve seen in a two-day span since the spring — and half of these folks were virtual! — we still take our precautions to heart.

But I know you’re really here for the weekly check on the cats. They are doing just fine. Phoebe is enjoying her mornings in the hall, where the sun lights things up nicely for her.

She enjoys being playing coy behind the spindles of the railing.

She also wants you to rub her belly through the spindles. If you’re nearby, that’s what you should be doing.

Poseidon spent the morning in the closet. It’s nice and warm there, too, and it’s a door we try to keep closed, so naturally he has to be in there at every opportunity, working on his Superman pose.

I don’t think we were supposed to see his Superman pose.

Now we’ve embarrassed him. Awkward photos are his kryptonite.

Finally! I’ve found a way to keep that cat in check!

And you? How was your weekend? How are your pets and friends and family?


9
Aug 21

So we let another Monday sneak up on us

I’m not sure why we let this happen. Again. By now, you’d think, someone would have noticed a pattern. Perhaps they could have gone down to the Office of Naming Things and said something. You probably get brushed off there. They’d send you to the Department of Reorganizing Units of Time. Now, if we know one thing, the humorless people in that office are no help. They’ll let you know straightaway. There’s a sign there that says it takes five business posplexes to get a response back on the paperwork.

The solution then, is obviously to get back to the time machine project. I’m planning on building the next test version in the body of a front-loading clothes dryer.

Unless future me comes back right now to tell me that’s the wrong approach.

No future me. So the dryer version it is. I should make some nice progress on it over the next few posplexes.

How was your weekend? Lovely and restful and productive in all of the proper proportions, I’m sure. I had a nice little run on Saturday morning. It was nice until my entire body rebelled. And that’s what you get when you try to run more than a 5K on no fuel. My blood sugar was a bit low, so I walked the last mile. That let me discover some of the largest milkweed plants you’ll ever see.

I wonder if anyone ever just decided to go for it and crack one of those seed pods open, to see what was inside: no tools, no rocks nearby, just hands and derring-do. I’d bet they were sorely disappointed. And their hands were sore.

We picked up the traditional Chick-fil-A lunch, parking right by the front door for the curbside pickup, watching people walking in right by this sign, maskless.

This county went back under a mask mandate last week. I understand, and am sympathetic, to some elements of the current vaccine debate. Because of that, I’m of two minds about the anger. But masks, this is a different category altogether. Masks are effective; they’re no infringement on your rights. You can breathe in them, and we all should know by now that our noses are connected to the respiratory system.

At which point we’re talking about people who, for some reason, want to conflate self-interest and public health. Like there’s a difference.

Went for a nice 25-mile bike this weekend, too. I only just realized that I didn’t take any pictures or videos. Just imagine me falling well behind on a short ride and going much slower than I should.

That was yesterday afternoon. And last night we stained a bit of wood. This is second or third coat, but you can still see The Yankee’s patented dot-dot-stain system.

I’m not sure where that came from, but that’s how she does it. She enjoys staining — now if I can just show her how much fun sanding is! — and has done a lot of the little projects we’ve built around here. I’ll show you what this is later this week.

Because, right now, we must get to the regular Monday check-in on the cats. They’re doing great, as you can tell. Phoebe is enjoying a bit of late evening sun here:

And here she is sleeping. This must be comfortable. She often finds herself wrapped around the arm of the sofa as a part of our evening cuddle.

Upside down is the way to see life, apparently. Poseidon thinks so, anyway.

So rare that the two of them agree on something, it’s worth noting as a universal truth.

And, finally, here’s Poseidon’s latest portrait.

And that’ll do for now. See you tomorrow. It’s only a posplex away!

Did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? Phoebe and Poe have an Instagram account. And keep up with me on Twitter. Don’t forget my Instagram. There are also some very interesting On Topic with IU podcasts for you, as well.