Oct 23

Happy Friday 13th

Dates only stand out to me when I have something big scheduled for the day. I’m a day-of-the-week sort. I don’t think I always was. Once, in the dimly lit and fuzzy-around-the-edges Before Times, I might have been the sort that operated by dates. But if I know anything about a schedule now it’s because I have routinely reminded myself what day of the week it is, or looked at a screen which can tell me definitively.

I don’t believe this has hurt me in any way. Not a lot of missed meetings or anything like that. But I just don’t think much about the dates. And so it was late, today, before I even realized it was the 13th. Which is odd, because I had a pretty strong, I mean celestially strong, fix on Thursday being the 12th.

Who can say why these things are the way they are. You might argue that it’s an avoidance of something or other, but I think of it as an acceptance of what is. And what it is, at this moment, is the weekend. For this knowledge I thank the egg timer in my head that is forever counting the days of the week, and not simply “the dates.”

We enjoyed a late afternoon bike, just an hour jaunt around the usual jaunty loop. For me, the main roads went like this: fine, then fast, and then slow, then falling-behind-bad, then the don’t-wait-for-me pronouncement which usually comes with falling behind. And then there was the road where I thought I put on a Herculean surge, but it wasn’t, not really. After that I got dropped again and decided to add seven or eight more miles, for fun. So I turned my hour or so into a 26 mile ride.

I have a new idea for a video I want to shoot on the bike, but I don’t feel comfortable enough to do it just now. My wrist still hurts a tiny bit from falling on it last weekend and I didn’t really want to contort it for the experiment.

But that meant I had plenty of time for shadow selfies. My shadow had a pretty decent ride.

During the last little bit, right through here, the sun started losing it’s punch. Between the weakening sun, the moisture on my skin and the breeze, you could tell that all of the changes are coming. Fight it, ignore it, acknowledge it, doesn’t matter. A rain system this weekend will be pushed through by a cold front and that’ll be that.

Which means sleeves and pants (and gloves!) on the bike, so I can still enjoy afternoons finding trees that hang out over roads for photos like this.

But not tomorrow. Not in the rain. Maybe on a partly sunny, breezy Sunday afternoon. Or a similar Monday. Highs approaching 59 degrees both days. Huzzah.

I kid, of course. I’m going to be optimistic about this winter. First time in many years! I have resolved it so. I am going to be optimistic about the winter so I can enjoy the autumn. I am resolved.

This is my resolve.

Here’s the last video from the Queen + Adam Lambert show. I got a good eight days of videos out of this, and so we’ll close the week with the full encore. “Ay-Oh,” “We Will Rock You,” “Radio Ga Ga” and We Are The Champions. Whereas there was someone sitting near us who was surprised and excited that they worked “Bohemian Rhapsody” into the main set, no one in the building was surprised by the encore. Pleased, sure. But you could almost hear people clicking through the catalog in their head. Everyone knows what’s coming here. Everyone knew they had gotten a great show, and they were pleased they’d heard so many of their favorites. (I only missed out on one song, but that’s understandable.)

None of the songs in the encore are among my favorites, but they can’t all be on your short list, and it was still great to see Roger Taylor and Brian May blast and bang their way through the standards. It’s fan service at it’s finest, and there’s nothing in the world wrong with that.

Queen + Adam Lambert have 17 U.S. dates remaining on this leg of their tour. It’s a great show. If you are so inclined, get tickets. You’ll have a fun time. You don’t need the $1,000 tickets, either, to sing along and have all of the Queen memories.

Have a happy Saturday, the 14th!

Oct 23

‘Who waits forever anyway?’

I turned off my alarm and went back to sleep this morning and that was not the plan. I figured I’d have one of those little peaceful moments and then get up and, wait a minute, my lovely bride is asking me if I’m going to get up today. Of course I am, it’s only been … 90 minutes since my alarm went off.

The good news is that my alarm was set well before I needed it today anyway. I had an apple, got dressed, finished pulling my things together and we went to campus, and arrived a few moments early, as it turns out.

I spent six hours in a classroom today. Most of that time talking about video editing software. I used these clips, just stuff I found in the yard yesterday, as examples.

That video isn’t what they saw, but those shots figured into the How To of it all. I think it went OK. Next time, maybe, I’ll do that differently. If for no other reason than I think I was beginning to talk myself silly the second time through. Things were shared. Things were learned. I got thanked a few times.

That was one of the views on the drive home, which currently takes place in that 20-minute window between daylight and the gloaming. It’s such a romantic moment, before the darkness creeps upon us. I think we were talking about sports or some silly policy or something. We were in the car, but it was still a moment, and we might have trampled it a bit.

Just three more Queen + Adam Lambert videos from last week’s Baltimore concert. I feel like I have an obligation to share the North American tour opener. Also, it’s earned me 52,000 page views in the last week … so, yeah, you milk that.

“Who Wants to Live Forever” comes out of the 1986, psuedo-soundtrack to the Highlander movie. The song peaked at No. 24 in the UK. Certified gold there, and in Italy, it never did anything here, except stick in the heads of people who liked that movie franchise.

And then there’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I don’t know how many songs have been on charts around the world across four decades and in two centuries, but this is one of them. (Yes, the opera is the original band recording. They couldn’t figure out how to do it live way back when, and that’s stayed the traditional performance version.)

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is also the most streamed song from the 20th century and, in 2021, it was certified Diamond in the US for combined digital sales and streams equal to 10 million units.

I wonder how the rights holders will re-introduce it to new audiences once more in the 2040s and 2050s.

Oct 23

There are so many keyboard shortcuts out there

After Monday night’s and Tuesday’s computer updating sessions, I spent today … on the computer. All day, tinkering with Adobe Premiere Pro. Guess what we’re talking about in class tomorrow? Premiere! That’s right! How were you able to divine that? You’re so keen. So sharp minded and clear eyed!

Why, if there’s one thing I tell everyone I meet, it’s that they should read this site, so that they, too, could be among the most keen, sharp-minded and clear-eyed people on the world wide web. I tell so many people this that I forget who I tell, which inevitably means I tell the same people over and over. And the ones that get it, they’re reading this, right now. Thanks, friends!

I tell everyone this.

I don’t meet that many people, though.

Anyway, it took about seven hours of Premiere today, trying to figure out how I would distill down almost two decades of sporadic video editing, several years of goofing off with, and critically working with, Premiere — including the seven hours of considerable focus today — to figure out what to do tomorrow. This is an intro class. They’ll be using Premiere a few more times this term, and throughout their college experience. How much is enough?

The great thing about Premiere, which will be one of my initial truisms tomorrow, is that there are about 10 ways to do everything. The other great thing about Premiere is that you can use this program daily and still learn from other people.

The downside to Premiere is that you can use this program daily and still learn from other people.

Also, some people in my class have some to a fair amount of experience with Premiere already, but most don’t.

Oh, and I can do about 60 or 90 minutes on this (because I am a highly dynamic speaker) before I lose their attention.

So, I’ve decided, we’ll talk about the project panel, the source panel, the program panel, the timeline panel and eight of the nine tools on the modern Premiere. We’ll talk about audio next week. And all of this took about seven hours to figure out today.

Time now for the 11th installment of We Learn Wednesdays, where I ride my bike to find all of the local historical markers in this county. Why by bike? So glad you asked. You learn new things and see new stuff by bike that you won’t discover at the speed of a car, even a slow-moving car, making the bike the ideal way to undertake a project like this. Counting today’s discoveries I have listed 24 of the 115 markers found in the Historical Marker Database.

Today’s markers are down by the big river, in a beautiful and beloved and quietly neglected area. The sort of place people couldn’t find without a map unless they grew up. The kind of place where nothing opens on Sundays. The kind of place where there aren’t stores or gas stations. People live and love and farm and commute and remember their heroes.

The memorial itself is rather generic, but around these markers are engraved bricks. (The local Ruritan Club offered them in 2013 at $55 per.) Memorials and honorary stones filled with names and units and the wars and conflicts in which the men served. I counted about seven dozen of them.

This memorial sits beside a T-intersection. It is surrounded by two fields, a private residence and the municipal building, which I showed you a few days ago.

It seems a quietly proud little place. Some 2,580 people live in that community, one of those sprawling sort of places that covers a lot of ground, but distant folks all share the same small post office. The day I was out there, it was quite lovely indeed.

There meaning the Alloway Creek Watershed, where I found this marker about the restoration of more than 3,000 acres of wetlands and upland edge (land at higher elevation than the alluvial plain or water). One of the bigger parts of this project is, apparently, trying to control Phragmites an invasive plant that is trying to choke out more beneficial marsh plants. They call it foxtail around here, and that reed grass is beautiful, but not ideal for the local ecology.

This marker also tells us the Native Americans called the area Wootsessungsing, which is a word you’ll find five times on the web. Two are in reference that marker, two referencing the old fort that was built nearby (believed to be offshore of the modern river’s course) and once, here. Wootsessungsing saw the Swedish build their fort, Helsingborg or Fort Elfsborg, in 1643, and then the English rolled up in 1675.

Some of the old English homes are still in this area, the sign tells us, including the Abel and Mary Nicholson House – a 1722 patterned-end brick house (which is nearby, but a world away) and the Hancock House (which we’ll see in this space next week).

Early in the recorded history of the region, the sign continues, portions of the area were diked and farmed. Hunting and trapping were dominant activities in the 20th century.

PSEG, by the way, is a giant group of old electric and transportation companies. Formed in 1903, they grew so big that the government busted them up in 1943. Ultimately, they serve 1.8 million gas customers and 2.2 million electric customers. Like every big concern, they do some good, and they receive some well earned criticism. NOAA gave PSEG a big award a few years back, for instance, for this estuary program.

The day I was there, the weather was mild, the water was up, that little corner of everywhere felt peaceful, three old friends were sitting under a shade tree catching up on their latest stories and I enjoyed finding myself out among some small bits of history.

There was another marker in that same spot, badly sun-damaged, titled “Waving Acres of Grass.” It read.

Salt marshes are one of the most productive habitats in the world and possess many surprising qualities and benefits – protecting the mainland from flooding and the effects of erosion, filtering sediments and some pollutants from the water, and providing a safe nursery for many species of coastal fish and shellfish.

Nearly half of New Jersey’s 245,000 acres of salt marsh is found along the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic coast of Cape May and Atlantic Counties. Salt marshes may appear as only waving acres of grass, but are in fact, a critical link in the coastal food chain – providing vital nutrients for crabs and other crustaceans, for nearly all of New Jersey’s coastal fish, and for huge flocks of shorebirds on their spring and fall migrations.

It featured carefully detailed drawings of local plants and animals, like the beautiful Marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris), the Snowy egret (Egretta thula) the annoying horse fly (Tabanus nigrovitatus) and the Northern diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin).

Speaking of terrapins, let’s go back to Baltimore, for a few more Queen songs. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” The song was their first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US in 1980, topping the charts for four weeks. It was atop the Australian charts for seven weeks. It peaked at number two in the UK Singles Chart in 1979.

Freddie Mercury said he wrote that in 10 minutes, while sitting in a bath. The band recorded it for an hour or six, depending on which version of the story you like. Either way, it still feels like a timeless tribute, and that isn’t bad for a day’s work.

“I Want to Break Free” was a moderate hit in the American charts, but it moved a lot of records. It was certified platinum in Denmark, Germany, Italy, double-platinum in the UK and it was a platinum single here, as well.

Aside from that rising guitar lick I never really cared for it. (But I did enjoy the disco ball used here.) There’s an extended version out there that runs seven minutes and 16 seconds, and I don’t know why that was though necessary.

We’ll wrap up the Queen videos this week, but there are still a few great songs to go, so be sure to come back tomorrow.

Oct 23

New OS, same ol’ me

Most of today was spent doing class prep. Grading camera shots. Studying the latest editing tricks. Also, updating my computer.

I deleted about 600 words on that experience, but it goes like this. To download a program I need, I had to upload my OS. To do that I needed to create some space on my machine. Somehow, there’s a bunch of system files, dozens and dozens of gigs of system files. So I bought a program for that last night and freed up 60-some gigs. Then I backed up my computer to an external drive and updated the OS. There’s never a more tense moment than that update, but I learned that if you do it really late at night, it is difficult to muster up any real energy with which to worry.

The new OS loaded fine. It looks slightly different. That’ll be a mental adjustment. It also wiped out four of the programs I use regularly. They’re all old, but I don’t want to find and download or pay for replacements.

So, today, I found and downloaded replacement programs which will work, but, being new, they’ll work more slowly. Technology! Also, I got the program I needed which started this whole thing after last night’s late dinner. In the long run it all worked out pretty smoothly.

Now my apps have ballooned in terms of storage space — 144 GB, somehow. The OS is now 15 GB of it’s own. But those pesky system files are down to “just” 37 GB. Whatever is going on in here, at least it is moving fairly smoothly.

And that’s the shorter version of the story.

Otherwise, today, the task was figuring out how to get a bunch of editing tricks downloaded into students’ brains in one class. You could spend a lifetime working in editing and continually learn new things, new tricks and new shortcuts and techniques. Fortunately, I have tomorrow to figure it out, as well.

Oh, and I’m feeling fine after Sunday’s small bike accident.

I rode my bike today, in fact. Just did the same little 10 mile route. I wanted to slip a thank you card into the mailbox for those nice people that helped me. And, also, a small box of Band-Aids. The little boy gave me two of his Batman Band-Aids, so I picked him up some Avengers. I hope he isn’t exclusively a DCU kind of kid.

Their mailbox, it turns out, is up there drive and right by the door. Their door was open, someone was home, so I had to be quick and sneaky, so I wouldn’t get caught. I hope they giggled at the Band-Aids.

I rode to their house and back slowly, because I have this special bandage on my leg. I didn’t want to get that sweaty. Plus it was a beautiful day to be outside, and I didn’t mind extending my class prep break. That bandage is wrapped up in an ace bandage. And so that it stayed in place as I pedaled, I wore one leg warmer. It looked silly, but I was all in black, so it looked cool at the same time.

As I pulled into our driveway another cyclist was coming by. I waved at him and he came up for a quick chat before setting out for his own ride. Turns out he lives directly behind us, and I’m sure we’ll get an occasional riding partner out of the proximity, eventually.

Most importantly, the ride was great! Except for bumps, my wrist didn’t care for those, but that’s no reason to not start daydreaming about what a longer ride on Friday.

Do you think rock shows need more drum solos? Rock shows need more drum solos? At the end of his drum solo, Roger Taylor said he was getting too old for this. The man is 74 and doing just fine.

But it brings into focus some darkly funny thoughts about old people and rock ‘n’ roll, right? This was going to happen, whether they knew it in their decades or not. Now, whether any of those older acts could have imagined sticking with this, doing nostalgia tours, filling venues and still keeping time … that’s an open, and unlikely question, but — oh, here’s a song Roger Taylor wrote. OK, he wrote the early version. It wasn’t working, the band bumped into David Bowie, as one did, and all five of them got together and created a pop masterpiece.

It was double-platinum in the UK, and has been certified as four-times platinum in the United States.

“Under Pressure” was Queen’s second number one in their home country, and Bowie’s third. It cracked the top 10 in a dozen or so countries. It peaked at 29 on the US Billboard Hot 100, but charted again globally in 2016. Then, it climbed to 45th on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number five on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. I’m not sure that chart knows what it is. But it was there, after Bowie died that January.

I remember where I was when I heard it again that first time, after they were both gone. I wanted to turn it off, but it was a public place, a deli, and they weren’t my speakers. I haven’t listened to the whole song since then, which is odd because this is not the sort of thing that affects me. Watching them sing it live, though, with the joy and verve that they did, makes that feel a bit better.

Queen played it for the rest of their touring days, though Bowie didn’t put it on stage until the Freddie Mercury tribute concert, singing opposite the great Annie Lennox, in her mascara phase.

After that, Bowie played it almost all of the time. And if you think the last few paragraphs and videos were all a set up to introduce you to Gail Ann Dorsey, you are correct.

I’ve yet to hear her do anything that doesn’t impress.

As for my version, above, I only included part of the song because that’s the most important part. To me, the song belongs not to Bowie or Queen, or even Dorsey, but to Grosse Pointe Blank.

But that’s just me. A Rolling Stone readers’ poll has it as the best duet of all time, so it means a lot of things to a lot of people.

Oct 23

Fall down go boom – plus some truly special Queen

Heads up: There’s a bloody leg at the bottom of this post, and I’m not talking about the British expletive attributive. I’m saying there’s a photo of a leg with a bit of blood on it. It’s in black and white, but there’s no mistaking what is going on there. Just so you know.

Saturday was slow. Luxuriously slow. We sat around and watched football, shaking off shot side effects. I checked my email two times too many. My lovely bride took a nap. (She dislikes naps on a fundamental level, so this is indicative of the speed of the day.)

Late on Sunday afternoon, as a break from housework and school work, I proposed a casual little bike ride. We stood over our bikes in the driveway and I said Where would you like to go?

She said, “No, no. You’re idea. Your route.”

So I thought we’d do the square route. But I realized that there isn’t a lot of opportunity to ride and talk on those particular roads. So I selected another series of quieter roads. The point being to just be outside and enjoying the opportunity to have a little ride without bigger goals. To pedal and not pant.

We went, then, through corn fields and across three intersections. After that the road ends. We turned right and went down a nice little hill, around a curve and to another intersection, where we turned left.

(Incidentally, I updated the art on the front page of the site with 10 new photos. The above photo is a clue.)

At that left-turn is a quite little intersection. The National Guard has a facility there. There’s a farm. And another building a small fertilizer concern, that has pearls of wisdom painted up near the roof. This was the second time I’ve been by there, and so we went by slowly, trying to read them all. There are, I think, a few I missed. One day I’ll have to stop and take photos of them all, because I’m sure there’s something important for me to learn in those old faded sayings.

A bit before that I had decided that I would ride us by a few houses that have had an explosion of Halloween decorations. There are at least two of them on this little soft-pedal I planned out, and here’s one now, just there to the left.

A little boy runs into the road. Probably five.

“There’s a party going on and you’re invited!”

He’d come from the direction of the Halloween yard. I looked to him, watching where he’s moving, maybe I said something to him, I don’t recall. I looked back up and there’s my wife’s bike, a half-second away from me riding into it.

When you touch wheels on bikes, you’re going to crash, and that’s what I did. Fell to my right, foolishly putting my hand down to try to catch myself before I rolled into it.

The kid ran off to get his folks, yelling about this guy that’s crashed. My lovely bride stayed up right and she wheeled around. Probably apologizing before she’s even seen me. I was flat on my back. Bike still between my legs.

She said “Are you OK? What can I do?” I’ve been listening to the little boy running off to get his folks. And before I’d even opened my eyes, as I waited for all of the parts of my body to report in with pain, I said Stop that.

When I opened my eyes I was laying opposite the direction of my travel. Still not sure how that happened. But I’d pointed in the right direction that the boy had run. His family must now be outside because she’s saying to them, in her really reassuring tone, “He’s fine. It’s OK.” I wasn’t sure, yet, if I was, but that was nice and encouraging.

This is a residential neighborhood, but there is still the occasional car, so the first thing I noticed when I stood up was this guy standing around me with his arms out wide, blocking off an oncoming car. Someone moved my bike out of the road and there’s a truck where a guy has stopped to offer help. But all I need are a few bandages. First thing I noticed was that my left index finger hurt, and it was bleeding, right on the tip. Second thing was a bit of road rash on the outside of my right calf, which is the direction I’d fallen.

How did I cut my finger, anyway? We’ll never know. We’ll also never know how I scraped my right forearm, a little, but it never hurt. Not like my left finger, or my right wrist, which I put out to catch myself. I tentatively peeled back my right glove to see what I’d done there, but the glove did it’s job. It looked like I’d have a wicked bruise in my hand, but no abrasions. (Today, my palm was just fine.)

My left finger and right leg, then. And also my right wrist, which I immediately diagnosed as the mildest sprain ever.

These nice people quickly retrieved their tub of first aid stuff — like they keep it by the front door or something; this mom was so well prepared, you could tell her boy is the rambunctious sort, even if he was being shy. He’s sprinted back out with an antiseptic spray and I doused my index finger. I took two Batman Band-Aids to cover the thing. Someone else drove by offering to take my bike wherever. My lovely bride had already volunteered to go back to the house for the car. We were only about three miles away at that point. But I said none of that is necessary. This is the silliest slow-speed crash in the world and none of it is as bad as it looks. My leg looks pretty awesome though, right?

We rode back to the house. She stayed behind me, keeping a careful eye, I’m sure, making certain that I didn’t run into anyone. I wound up riding part of the way back with puppy paws so I didn’t have to hold the handlebars with my aching wrist. This is funny because my bike is a little short on me and that’s hilariously obvious when I try to ride in that position.

The shower was fun. Clean and grimace and dab. Clean and grimace and dab. Keep your spirits up and dab. We have some special first aid bandage stuff for road rash that works incredibly well, so I’m wearing that now. The best news is that I wasn’t even sore this morning, except for how I managed to sleep on both that leg and wrist.

Today, while doing class prep, I found myself rubbing my eye. My right wrist popped and it felt immediately better. Not perfect, but a lot better. So I took off the wrist brace and I haven’t worn it since. (Fortunately, we have three varieties of wrist braces in our personal health care stores … )

The biggest problem is that the Band-Aids are limiting the use of my left index finger. If you see any typos in this post, that’s probably because I am typing with six or seven fingers instead of the usual seven or eight.

I should have thought up that excuse years ago.

Tomorrow, I’ll go put a thank you card in those nice people’s mailbox. I’m going to go buy some super hero Band-Aids to put in there, too, to make up for the two they gave me.

I think I’ll ride my bike over to do it.

Back to last Wednesday’s Queen + Adam Lambert show. This was a fun concert. Had a great time. All of the YouTube commenters are jealous that they weren’t there to see the North American debut of the tour. And the more I think back on it the more little bits of it I enjoyed.

Except this part. The crowd let me down. I wanted to be a part of a moment like the end of the utterly classic George Michael performance at the Freddie Mercury tribute show, but this crowd, while good, was not up for that.

“Somebody to Love” peaked at 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and made it to the nine spot on the Cash Box Top 100 in its original 1970s run. The version with Michael reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, and stayed there for three weeks. It’s criminal that it didn’t have that reception in the United States, where it stopped at 30.

All told, this song was Triple platinum in the US, the 2011 version was platinum in the UK, also platinum in Denmark and Italy, and gold in Germany

Since I mentioned it, here’s the version with George Michael fronting the song. It’s a fundamentally perfect live performance. No arguments will be entertained.

The look from Brian May at the end of the song says it all. Speaking of May, this beautiful sequence happened at the show. “Love of My Life” has always been a singalong, but this … Watch the whole thing.

That’s just special. I am so so glad we got to be a part of that.