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13
Feb 19

He said prolonged eye contact with a bear in the wild

Oh, look, the morning show crew brought back an old favorite game show.

Sure, it is The Dating Game, but local in all of its local glory. Plus college students! I watched them shoot this last week. The original run ended four years ago, at least, which means this particular set of people had never done this show before. They did a pretty nice job with it. And the guests were fun! And tarot!

My favorite part might be the “interesting thing about you.” As ice breakers go, it is a classic. Some are better than others and sometimes the ice breaker itself goes over better than others. I’m always intrigued by the things people say. You’re all interesting and all of us have varied experiences. I’ve no doubt that, given a minute or two, anyone could pull one or two or four notes from the memory banks with which to wow us. Now, the bear thing, from the title, that’s in the video. As interesting facts about a person might go, that’s pretty good. I am always intrigued by how a person arrives on sharing their particular tidbit.

Anyway, one of the station’s managers dug up some old archives of the original Big Red Love. It was a different studio, which was in the basement of a dorm. It featured different production values, a Barkeresque microphone, delightfully awkward interactions and a cubicle wall that “separated” bachelorette from contestants. It was a wonderful college television show. If they brought this new version back and streamlined their production, it would be an even better and more wonderful college television show.

This evening we went for a run on campus. Because hills! Hills are great to run in concept, and I am lousy at it in execution. The Yankee was done with her day a bit earlier, and wanted to go a bit longer than I did. So she started out, looped back and then picked me up. Here we are at the top of the very last hill for the day:

I was four miles in and she was about, or so. I finished with six and she finished at 10. And, also, it was about 30 degrees.

A young woman with flaming red hair passed us earlier in the run. She was so fast I couldn’t figure out if she was saying something encouraging or suggesting we get out of her way. Her voice dopplered very quickly because she was fast. And she had on a little cape. She might have been an actual superhero!

Generally, we avoid amateur nights. In a college town this includes New Years, St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s. Part of that might be because we spent so many years not in the same town on Valentine’s Day. (I started counting that and then stopped.) Mostly it is because we generally observe today as the anniversary of us being a couple.

It was a friend group, you see. There were about six of us who were all in the same grad school cohort and then within the group there were the two of us palling around all the time. People, in our group and in the larger cohort and some of our professors too, started thinking of us as a couple. Where there was the one there was the other. And then we realized that’s what people thought and so on and so forth. And that realization came today, 14 years ago. So we celebrate today. And the celebration is typically a low key dinner at the hibachi steakhouse because it is a tradition at this point.

So there we were, at 8 p.m., cleaned up after our run. The local place had two people sitting in the hibachi side of the restaurant. They didn’t look a day over 15 and one of them looked almost exactly like my second-cousin. His wife, I assume they were married, was an over-sharer. A nice couple, but before the man had wheeled out his cart to spin the spatula and pour the sauces and cook for us, we learned they had a 4-year-old. The cart comes out, the cook makes a great deal of noise with his cutlery, cooks the food, does the flaming onion bit, busts out the little squirt joke the restaurant likes so much, cleans everything up and thanks us again and again. As he leaves I said, “So a 4-year-old, huh?”

To which she immediately launched into a 20-minute speech about the dogs, and their territorial habits and, here, check out some pictures. Oh, and finally here’s one of our daughter. Who does she favor?

That’s always a loaded question for some reason or another, of course. We all know that. But she obviously favored the dad, who looks almost perfectly like my second-cousin. Only the kid isn’t his, biologically. And this is an intriguing conversation to be having with someone over fried rice. Oh and she had just had her gall bladder removed and he doesn’t eat anything green and … they were nice, truly.

Also, I can now tell you where to get the best sushi in town, and where you should absolutely not get sushi. No one had asked.

Anyway, in the back of the restaurant, by the restrooms, there’s a door into the kitchen area. And this is on the door:

If it ever said anything other than “Your uniform hangup” then I’m just going to assume it has a story to tell. I guess we’ll just have to keep going back until we figure it out. Oh, darn.


11
Feb 19

The iPad story

Oh look, more snow and rain to run and play in …

That was at the end of this evening’s too-cold-for-a-5K neighborhood 5K. I’m now writing fancifully self-indulgent mini-essays on Instagram about it. The theme is: I’m ready for it to be warm. And, if we’re lucky, in six or seven weeks, it might be!

Yesterday looked like this, all day:

It was an almost-bitter cold on Saturday, but it was sunny, which was nice. And we took the day to take a trip to Indianapolis. Another trip, incidentally. Do you want the whole story? You want the whole story.

The week before last I finally said aloud that my iPad, which is now five years old and a refurb, was having trouble charging. We took it to a local place, where we have had the occasion to spend too much money for minor repairs. They looked it over and could not help.

So I called on Friday, a week ago, to set up an appointment at the genius bar at the Apple Store in Indianapolis. That Saturday was much like this one, cold, with stubborn snow piles everywhere, but dry, so it was a good day to take the 70-plus mile trip north. At the Apple Store we met a guy named Scott. At first he thought my iPad had died, so after I convinced him that it was the glare and the brightness turned way down, Scott ran his diagnostics. I’m having trouble with the charging port, but the battery was pretty much toast. He said as much, and showed us the diagnostic results. Scott said it is a batter problem, then, and not a charging port problem. The solution was a new replacement iPad, for $99. Same model, but a new battery and no charging port problems, and a 90-day warranty.

Great! Good deal! This is what I want to do. Of course they don’t have this particular model in the back of the store. It’s several generations behind and it would be unreasonable to expect they have it on the shelf.

So the solution, to avoid having to make another trip up to Indianapolis, is to have them mail one to me. This is how that process didn’t work.

On Sunday, right on time, someone from Apple Support called me. She consulted the file, and I had to explain everything. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) Kim was her name, and she was lovely. I was her first call that day, we talked for 40 minutes. She is a retired school teacher out west and was just upbeat about how this whole experience was going to set up her shift. She had an even better solution than the mail procedure. It turns out there is an authorized service provider here in town and only slightly removed from my regular route. She set up an appointment for Tuesday morning and I could go and do this whole thing. They’ll get the replacement iPad in, $99, I can transfer everything and we all go about our day. Wonderful.

On Tuesday morning, I went to the local authorized service provider. The time for my appointment arrives. They open my file. I have to tell my story again. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) The guy says “We can do that, but it will be $149 because our prices are — ” and I said I’ll just work with Apple instead then, thanks for your time.

So I call Apple Support again. I didn’t catch the name of the lady I spoke with on Tuesday, but she opened my file and I had to explain the whole story for a fourth time. Turns out Apple can’t do the mailing option in the way that was described to me in the Apple Store or by her counterpart at Apple Support. That’s if you’re under a warranty. I am not. The method she can offer me is for me to send mine in and they send it back. Well, that might fix only half of my problem. And why is it that every person in this take has a different solution? And why do I have to keep explaining this story to every level of the organization?

The lady on the phone asks if I’d like to talk to the senior supervisor. No, I said, but if you could give me a direct line to the Apple Store in Indianapolis that’d be great. I’ll just deal with them. I don’t want in the national system, I want the local store. She tries to forward me, but no one answers. OK, fine. I ask her if she could just give me that number. She can. I ask her if she can email that number, because I am walking across campus at this point and I don’t have a pen. She can’t email me the phone number.

You know what? I’d like to talk to the senior supervisor now. Without a fuss she says OK. And I’m put on hold until Wade comes on the phone. Wade has been briefed a bit. But I have to tell Wade the whole story again. (Why do they maintain a file if it can’t be seen by others inside the customer service organization, anyway?) Wade agrees this story is now ridiculous and should have been resolved.

So Wade gets me the direct Apple Store number, and after two tries, Amber answers. I explain the whole story one more time. She sends me to the repair shop in the back of the store, where I speak to someone who also wants to know the story, which is amazing because I’m bored with it myself now. This person orders my new iPad. So nonchalant was she that I spent most of this week wondering if they’d actually, you know, done anything.

Anyway, during Thursday’s tornado warning the Apple Store called. My iPad was in. They also sent two emails. And on Saturday we went back up there, the thing I was originally trying to avoid, for the second time in eight days, and did the swap. I made sure my machine was backed up. I met Randall, who was easily the least cheery person in this story, but maybe he was just having a long afternoon. Nevertheless, he got the new iPad, we restored my old device to it — like not missing a beat, after eight days of watching Apple miss beats all over the place — reformatted the old one and managed to not get emotional about handing it over. And it cost the $99, as I had been promised. (Take that, authorized service provider!)

Also on those two trips we stocked up at Trader Joe’s and failed at one other errand. On the second trip we saw Bohemian Rhapsody. On both days it was sunny and I was with The Yankee. Easily the best part of the deal.

Incidentally, my father-in-law bought a new iPad online Monday. It was delivered on Tuesday. The lesson? Buy new.


7
Feb 19

Today I learned what my office floor used to be

I won’t tell you what my floor was — this is a family site — but I will tell you this. Our building is currently in its third life. What now houses much of The Media School used to be an administration building and, before that, it was the university’s library. Our offices are in the stacks, which all have a different personality owing to the lower ceilings and many columns. Books are heavy and there were a lot of books, of course.

We had dinner this evening with our friend who is one of the university’s archivists. The oral history program of the university’s bicentennial program is one of the many things she helps look after. And apparently one theme that has come up a few times in some of the older stories is what each floor of the library was. Each floor had its own personality, it seems. And mine was no different.

It was an important meeting place and I’m thinking we should put up a commemorative plaque.

I visited the store. Almost hit this guy:

Look, if you study the left margin, you can see the nearest cart corral. It was four parking spots away. Four spots from where someone just left their cart. Bloomington people, man.

Today we are starting a new book in my grandfather’s book section. We’ve now glanced through two Reader’s Digest, and we’re staying with that celebrated publication today. We have two more Reader’s Digest issues to see, so let us start our inspection of the October 1966 issue. I suspect we’ll get about three weeks out of this one, starting with these five images.

Click the book cover below to jump right in to today’s additions.

If you’d like to check out all of the stuff I’ve posted from my grandfather’s books so far, start here.


5
Feb 19

We were somewhere in England …

I haven’t told this story in a while, so I may as well tell it again.

We were somewhere in England, see. I know precisely where we were, but it just seems to sound better that way. We were somewhere in England when someone took this picture:

We were in England, you see. And that was the first leg of a terrific multi-nation trip. And I was tired of taking pictures where you could see a lot of us and a little of what was going on behind us. Rather impulsively, for me, I went to a store that sold clothes and other odd things that people think are a good idea in the store and bought a selfie stick. A friend took the picture above. The picture I was taking looked like this:

Right now we’re discussing a vacation for this summer and starting to dive into the details of it. We’re planning a friend trip. And one of the selling points is, apparently, that I have a selfie stick.

Oh, sure, The Yankee made fun of it, but she quickly came to admit that it occasionally helps make better photos. She still makes fun of it.

Also, the selfie stick is pink.

(It was the only color the store had that day.)

(I told you it was impulsive.)


1
Feb 19

One of these stories is bigger than the other

I go to this particular grocery store for a particular thing every eight days or so. It’s across town, in the next town, really. It is 10 miles away and takes 20 minutes, if you’re lucky. You navigate the pot-holed parking lot, park, go inside and back to the front left corner to the refrigerated section. It is a small store and I’ve never seen more than two of the registers open. There’s never been a line of more than two people waiting to checkout.

The Salvation Army sets up during the holidays outside, of course. And the girl scouts are there every now and then. Once I visited while the local food bank was taking donations. I bought some things and gave them to the people manning the food bank table and you’d have thought I gave them the winning lottery ticket. It’s a little country town, really, just stuck on the northside of this other little town, a town which happens to have a world-class university at its center. You wouldn’t know it to be in this next town, or in this tired little grocery store. It’s perfectly fine, but it needs an update. It is always clean, but the white floors and the fixtures have an age to them to make it feel a little scuzzy, somehow.

Or maybe it’s some of the shoppers:

This is the fourth time I’ve moved someone’s cart out of the handicapped spot. I’m only there once every so often for four or five minutes, but I’ve done this four times. It is a little thing that, one supposes, happens all the time, which makes it a big thing, which makes it something more than inconsiderate.

This afternoon I produced another oral history. This one featured Dean Gerardo Gonzalez. He’s a dapper fellow, exceedingly and unfailingly considerate and polite. And he looks good in a bow tie:

He’s semi-retired, and is now technically a dean emeritus, but he’s still teaching. And these days taking students on trips to his native Cuba.

Gonzalez has had a full career, as you might expect of a man who has reached such a standing. He’s an expert on alcohol and drug education. He’s worked at Miami and at Florida and has supervised different programs at all six of the IU campuses. But his full story is a fascinating one. I wish you could hear it. You can read about it. His memoir came out late last year, and has been well received.

Today he told the story about how his parents brought he and his sister to the U.S. from Cuba in 1962. It was three years into Castro’s revolution. Those were the last days when you could still come directly here. The process was this: You applied for an exit visa, if it was approved, the state would come and inventory everything you owned. You could use it, but it all now belonged to the state. Then, at some point after that you’d receive a telegram telling you your visas had been approved. You had 48 hours to leave.

Gonzalez was 11 years old, and said he remembers a great deal of commotion. They swapped out his parents’ good mattress for his grandparents’ bad one. The state owned a mattress, but a mattress is a mattress to the state. He said his father had $40, but got scared of trying to carry that much. They bought two bottles of Bacardi rum.

It was the four of them, a man, his wife and two kids. They had the clothes on their back, five bucks, two bottles of rum and virtually no English. That’s how they came to America.

That’s the story that sent me into the weekend.