photo


13
Sep 18

A non-meditation on time

And now, four weeks in, everything is in full swing with the fall semester. Of course classes have developed their own rhythm by now. In my class today we talked about newspapers, radio, television and online ratings are measured. Media data, and the analysis of all of the many analytics, are important, whether you’re talking circulation, Nielsen numbers, page views, unique views or whatever. The only thing I couldn’t really mention was Netflix, because their data remains a mystery to everyone.

We were in the television studio this evening. The sports crew is finding their rhythm as well, and they’ll be a well-oiled machine in three or four more weeks.

They did two shows tonight, a highlight show and a talk program, and I stepped out of the control room and studio just in time to walk down the hall and see some of the late evening’s daylight streaming into the old building:

And at 8 p.m. they were done, and I got to go home. I exited out of the main door of Franklin Hall, a portal that has let people pass for 110 years. And I walked through the Sample Gates, which IU folks see as much as a welcome to the world as a welcome to the campus. That’s been the icon since 1987.

By contrast, these flowers have been in these planters for a few days:

It’s that time of year, I guess, where moments and memories and heartbeats and history all flow together. They can all mesh together, overwriting, coinciding and complimenting one another. By the time you realize it, there’s another one upon you.


6
Sep 18

How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

I woke up before the sun this morning, before my alarm went off, even. And sometime after that I got my act together and walked out the door with my bicycle and had a little quiet ride. Some of the roads were mine alone, as the day stirred into action.


I could go for more rides like this. It is only the up and at ’em part where I struggle.

Class today was a continuation of sportswriting. We had a guest, a local writer of considerable talent and ability. The only problem is that in addition to his talent and experience, he also has some sort of stomach bug. So I was on my own.


Fortunately I had just enough time to dash off some slides and we discussed lead writing for an hour.

Then I caught up on email and went into the studio for the evening. There was television to produce.


They shot two different shows tonight. One, a highlight show, will be out tomorrow. The other is a talk show, and they are really getting those segments down to something tight and special. That show will be out sometime over the weekend. This was week two for the sports crew, and they’re off to a great start. Next week the news folks start their shows for the semester.

I made it home just in time for dinner.


4
Sep 18

Almost every goal of the day was met

I got out for a morning bike ride. This was a special treat, which mostly involved me waking up early enough to do it.


Being on empty roads was easily the highlight of my morning. Later, I went to work and put together a quiz and wrote an AP Style primer and then lectured a tiny bit on news writing. I was supposed to go into the studio this evening and watch some historic television being made, but that got delayed until next week. History waits for no one! Except when it does.

I did get to do this, however:


A few times a week I walk by the building named in honor of the scrawny old Indiana journalist. We’re just rich with the Ernie Pyle stuff around here. His desk is one floor beneath my office. Two floors down they’ve recently created an installation showing off his medals, some of his books, his war correspondent field jacket and a whole bunch more. Just outside our building is a sculpture of him sitting at a table and banging away at a story, somewhere in Europe or the Pacific. One day his ghost will show up and point out my typos. (He’ll be a busy spirit.)

Also, I got to ride my bike this morning:

I climbed two little hills on my short ride. It was all a freewheeling, downhill adventure from there.

More on Twitter, and check me out on Instagram


16
May 18

We went flying over the Tuscan countryside

We woke up so early this morning that I actually demonstrated how upset I was. On any other day, this would be strange. But this was a vacation day, of course, and so there’s a layer. And I’m terrible at time zone adjustments, so there’s another layer. And it was obscenely earlier, friends. Had it been any regular day, then, this would be the thing that was remembered, the bit that was etched into family lore, the part of the tale never untold.

But, we did this, and this is a way better story:

Now, I don’t know about you, but occasionally I see a hot air balloon and I think, “Oh, how neat.” But it has never really occurred to me to be a thing I should pursue. I’ve always thought I’d enjoy it. But it always seemed like it belonged in a different world than mine, maybe. I’ll just blame all of the places I saw it on television as a child. It was always an extravagance, or an incredibly low-speed getaway. Well, no one chases me, thankfully, and I’m not an extravagant person, so the hot air balloon ride was someone else’s achievement, some other person’s signal.

And to do it in Italy? Well, friend, that just seems right out, doesn’t it?

But, of course, if you’re going to enjoy a hot air balloon ride — and how we did enjoy it! — you probably ought to start in Tuscany. So we did. And there it is. So much fun, so beautiful it all was, that I really struggled cutting this footage down. But if you’re going to glide over Tuscany, you want to record a lot of it. And you may as well show it off, so people can see, and you can remember.

And if you’re going to glide over Tuscany in a hot air balloon, make sure you get the pilot that struggles coordinating the landing zone with the proper speed and gas variables, so your flight is longer.

These things are very weather-dependent, as you might imagine. We shared our balloon with a very fidgety couple down from Rome. They’d been trying to take this trip for some time and had their flights canceled four times because of one kind of weather or another. They both worked the overnight shift at the da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport and had come down at the last minute to finally get this in. We were fortunate to get our balloon ride on our first try, despite unseasonably gray skies.

And after you do that, make sure you stand around in a Tuscan field and eat meats and cheeses and drink heavy drinks because it is barely 9 a.m. and you’re on vacation and you were just up there, using physics and the wind and basic aeronautical design that started carrying people more than 300 years ago. Also, you’re in Italy and it’s beautiful and wonderful and perfect.

Then you go back to your 17th century farmhouse and take a nap, because this is going to be a beautiful and wonderful and perfect trip — it already is … — but you need your rest.

When you wake up, your rental bikes have arrived. And so we’ll spend a week going up and down the hills of Tuscany on a pair of nice, 10-year-old-or-so Motobecanes. We took our first ride this afternoon, a simple shake out ride, but I didn’t take my phone because it looked gray and rainy and I was too tired to remember it anyway. We road up and down the Via di Botanaccio, a perfectly unremarkable country road suitable for bicycles. Except we’re in Tuscany and there’s vineyards over there and olive groves over here and that’s just everything. Oh, and there are two 15-degree ascent climbs on the road. We’re going to be trying to get over the top of those a lot in the next few days, too.

Tomorrow, we’re going into Siena.


15
May 18

Walking around in Firenze

In between the museums, we saw some of the sites around the town itself. Here are a few of the views we saw today.

This is Florence’s Cathedral, the Duomo. Construction started at the end of the 13th century under the architect Arnolfo di Cambio. His work can be seen all around Rome, the Vatican and here in Tuscany. The dome, which is an impressive feature unto itself, was almost-but-not-quite an afterthought. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and added in the 15th century. Brunelleschi, a founding father of the Renaissance and one of the first modern engineers. There’s an interesting book about his role there. (He also held one of the first modern patents for … a river transport boat.)

Sorta makes you wonder how primitive engineers built things.

Here’s a slightly closer look at one of the corners. The exterior is a mixture of pink, white and green marble.

The front of the church wasn’t finished until relatively recently — the 19th century, between 1871 and 1887 — hence the Gothic Revival look. Emilio De Fabris, an architect, designed it after the original 13th century plans were deemed to be outdated. They held a competition

It was, Leon Battista Alberti wrote, “a structure so immense, so steeply rising toward the sky, that it covers all tuscans with its shadow.”

I will quote Alberti any chance I get.

Outside the front door there are statues of Cambio and Brunelleschi, the two architects that designed the place.

One last look, because the sky was pretty:

This is the Palazzo Vecchio’s Arnolfo Tower. The Palazzo was where David was originally displayed. The clock has one hand, typical of the time, but the oldest mechanical timepiece in town still works. The building briefly housed the Italian parliament once upon a time, but is today the Firenze town hall. Cambio, the architect, was also involved in this project, which started in the 13th century. Ruins of a previous tower were used as a part of what we see today, so it is even older than that.

This is an early 2nd century marble sculpture. It’s under a roof, but outdoors. It has been in Firenze since 1787, after being on display for a few hundred years in Rome.

That statue of the Sabine woman is really in the background of a picture of this sculpture:

That’s Heracles battling the centaur, Nessus. Heracles’ ribs and the veins in Nessus’ legs are a real treat of the 16th century workmanship. This is all carved from one block of stone. Here’s the view from the other side. In the myth, the centaur’s blood ultimately also kills Hercules. So this is all a very bittersweet open air display, really:

Heracles is a bit different than Hercules. The latter being the Roman version of the Greek story. There are differences.

There’s art everywhere here, by the way, even in the most prosaic of utilitarian features. Need to tie up your horse?

Finally, a random street scene.

And now, after a full day and three posts, it is time for bed. We have an awfully early morning tomorrow.