Oct 19

Just add sawdust

That parking deck, I said to a colleague yesterday, is like a sundial. The topic was how you could tell the time of day just by what floor you wind up parking on. I usually get the second level. Yesterday he barely got the fourth level, and almost had to park in the rain, horror of horrors. The bigger issue was he had to trudge up two more flights of stairs because anyone that rides that parking deck’s elevator will only do it the once.

But that parking is also a clock looking from the outside in, as well. There, at the turnaround onto the second deck, you get this view just before you hang a right:

Those trees are telling us a story and, right now, it is the best part of the morning drive.

This evening I got in just over an hour of sanding, which means I got one piece of the current, and perpetual, project halfway done.

At this rate, in three more hours I’ll be two-thirds of the way through the sanding.

No one likes sanding, but it is acceptable to like the process toward the result. If anything it slows the project down, though, just because you have to work up the morale to sit down and sand the wood that will make the darn thing. (Plus there’s the rest of your life to consider … ) For me, to know you’re going to get an hour here and there doesn’t really fit the workflow. People that can steal a few minutes and make progress, on any project, are geniuses. I need big blocks of time, for any kind of project, it seems. This is a problem with sanding, though, because I am doing this project entirely by hand and you can’t sand for hours at a time without having a shoulder fall off. So the problem is the sanding, really. Which no one likes.

The idea, which is well more than a year old, and which begin in December, picked up steam in April and then lulled its way into a soft summer slumber, is going to gain momentum in the next few weeks just because I am going to grit (Get it? That’s a sandpaper joke!) my teeth and push through.

Why, the next time we talk about this, I might be three-quarters of the way through the sanding.

Sanding, I think, is the part of the project where you really get to know the wood. And this particular lumber, which is a Western White Pine, is telling me a lot about itself.

Here are some photos from yesterday’s run. I got in four miles, which is the longest run since my April injury. I guess I’m on the slow road to recovery. Emphasis on slow.

Like my shutter! She’s both almost in, and definitely out of, focus:

Some years back, whenever they were planning that particular neighborhood, some designer drew these on a map. And a purchasing agent filled in some paperwork and then a delivery guy dropped off the order and a few people dug some holes and put these in the ground, just for moments like these:

So what you do today may take a bit of time to reflect its beauty. We may never see it, other projects and parts of life and all of that, maybe you just forget to go back and check. Other priorities, and all of that. Maybe it just never occurs to you. But there it is, out there, doing their thing, because someone got the thing started.

The trees on the path running behind our house:

That first rain of the fall, the first few leaves:

It’s easy to love the moment. But there will be more leaves, and then perhaps more rain. And that’ll turn to who knows what. Those moments are less easy for me to love. But that’s just me.

Oct 19

Just add weekend

A fine fall weekend we had. It wasn’t long enough, but it was perfect and I didn’t do enough with it. So, yes, perfect indeed.

One would think that after a certain number of autumns you would be able to solve this contradiction. First you’d have to realize, though, that it isn’t a contradiction at all. But it is very much a thing.

Those pesky things.

Anyway, we had a lovely little bike ride on Saturday. It was a nice and warm and sunny day. We did it in the little ring, the point being lighter pedaling and a higher cadence, or something. We took one of the very traditional routes and cut it in half. Just the beginning and the end, if you please. And somewhere pretty early on I got dropped, long before it was respectable to be dropped to be frank.

But then there was the turn around and just before I got there, we crossed paths:

And then there were six-and-a-half miles back to the house. I chased on for about five of those miles before I finally got to close her down. That last mile was spent trying to bridge the final bit of the gap and get on her wheel. It was probably 20 minutes of pedaling like crazy, I had no more to give. How racers do that and then attack over the top escapes me.

Saturday night we sat on the deck and made S’mores and looked at the stars, which was pretty perfect.

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On Sunday afternoon … we went for a walk.

Here’s the maple in our backyard:

We have a fruit tree which doesn’t bear fruit …

And we have a little creek that runs through the woods immediately behind our house. And I love being in the woods. A straight branch here, an almost right angle there, there’s so much personality to slowly feel your way through. Tracks, sounds of critters, curious holes in fallen trees, it all makes for a lovely experience.

This is well down the road, and almost into the string of houses on the other side of the woods, which are just as peaceful and full of magic and possibility:

It’s hard not to be romantic about a place like this:

The colors are just starting to go, too:

And we met a new neighbor, too. Behold, the friendly green frog:

She said he was also having a fine weekend. We’d probably heard her the night before. I’d like to her song all year-round. Alas.

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Oct 19

If the joke weren’t on sail I’d be walking the plank

Question: How much did the pirate pay for his peg and hook?

Think about it for a second. You’ll want to get this right.

It’s OK, we’ve got time. I’ll be here when you’re done. I don’t mind.

No, really. It’s Thursday evening and this is important. So make sure you get it right.

Got it? Are you sure?

Good! OK, give it a shot. How much did the pirate pay for his peg and hook?

An arm and a leg.

Sometime over the summer I found myself in one of those pernicious little traps of the online retail world. If I spent beyond a certain threshold I would get free shipping on my entire order of high end, but now clearance priced polos. I had already placed the items I wanted and needed in my cart. And I still had to pump something like 12 bucks or so into the thing to save the 15 dollars. Fifty bucks gets you there! You know the phenomenon.

Problem was, there wasn’t much else I wanted or needed. And the retailer, while having decent clearance prices from time to time, skips over middle-of-the-road retail prices and heads directly to a you-better-have-a-lucrative-and-hopefully-legal-side-hustle price category.

But! I found socks! Lots of nice socks. Finely darned things, too. And on clearance! So I picked up four pair, just enough to hit the free shipping threshold. ($51.96, thank you very much.)

Good thing, too. This happened at TV tonight:

You’ll forgive the lines in the foreground. This is a picture of the monitor on the jib, which overlays the rule of thirds grid for composition purposes. The point is, look at those guys. I have to step up my sock game. Next week, it is on.

So thank you, silly retail customer psychology trick. You’re going to put me back in the sock game.

Someone remind me to follow up on this.

And though it’ll be close to Halloween, I promise I won’t wear the pirate socks.

You know …

… the Arrrrrgyle.

Oct 19

It only starts with Halloween puns

I didn’t order spooky soup or vampire vegetables or poltergeist pasta, but there were ghosts above my lunch today.

I did have a scary sandwich, though.

And we once again had the now age-old conversation about teaching tech versus teaching principles.
“You do not need,” I said, “a $20,000 camera to teach the principles of videography. Some of these I can teach with just this piece of paper.”

Look! Composition!

The point being not that paper replaces a camera — though if you had some good stock I suppose you could create your own camera obscura — but that you can do a lot with with a more basic, straightforward, efficient camera. Especially when you’re trying to teach the basics.

It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny new toy, but to teach tools in a perpetually (and rapidly) evolving industry is to shortchange your students. Mostly, I was just pleased with myself. That paper-camera composition joke was on the short list for the day’s Best Point List.

Went for a run this evening. Just a quick, slow little 5K around the neighborhood. It was fun, except for the parts where I still have to do intervals. I’m almost done with those, I think, thankfully. I’m 17 miles into my run recovery. Still wrapping my foot. Still feeling pretty decent, except for the boring walking part. But I’m not up to running full speed — which isn’t fast, mind you — but I can blur a camera phone:

We’re starting to get a bit of secondary color in the neighborhood, though. The pecan trees are shedding their nuts. There was, briefly, a tailwind. Mostly just the mild sort that hits you in the face and chills the sweat off the skin.

Television! Time flies. Why, it seems like just yesterday that she was here, tripping over herself, learning how to do the TV thing. Now she’s a cool, calm, confident and self-possessed TV person at a station up north. She dropped by a segment last night, a total surprise.

And some news:

Are you following me on all the social media? You should follow me on all of the social media. There’s tons more fun stuff smeared all over the Internet, because the world has forgotten that we should host these things on our own platforms. Look me up. There’s genius and keen insights to behold and enjoy.

Oct 19

Morale comes in many flavors

How it starts is, you see that first maple leaf fall. The one you can’t ignore because it was on a diseased or detaching branch. Maple, being nature’s quitter, is always the first one to go. And then you see random moments like this, when the sun is just right and something in the background and the polarization of your sunglasses catches the proper glint:

Then a few leaves hit the ground, and suddenly the birches have joined the maples in their emotional decline. That creates beautiful moments, of course. And those moments turn into a few days. You hope those days turn into weeks, such that you begin to not even notice it anymore. As if that could happen. And, if you’re lucky, you can get that without a big storm coming through to reduce the world to pointless sticks poking into the sky.

Autumn is nice. It’d be lovely if you could put the on-rushing winter out of your mind, before it chills the spirits. Better to just put yourself beyond its reach.

If you need something to watch, you need television. And if you need television you need a morning show. Got you covered:

They learned to make pizza and did a winery feature in that episode. Why they don’t go somewhere every week to go learn and try new things escapes me. It seems to me like it’d be the most fun show you could do.

Or if you’re reading this late at night you might need the late show:

There’s a very famous and successful a cappella group on campus and they joined the show for fun and a lot of water. I didn’t get that joke, but there’s plenty of good stuff in there. I especially enjoyed the package where one of the guys from the show tried to join the group. He sang Ode to Joy in the style of … well, a character most of us grew up with.

Otherwise, more television this evening. Saw an old friend at the tapings. Enjoyed a few meetings during the day and slogged through a few other ones, too.

Tonight we wiped out the last of the weekend’s leftovers, a tasty pork curry. That’s a success. Progress! Achievement! A big spot in the refrigerator reclaimed! There’s also the downside. Now there’s no more no-dishes nights. For the last several dinners it’s been no more difficult than opening the dishwasher. But now we’ll be back to original cooking and original dishes and, boy, isn’t life tough?

The difficulty of the evening is trying to fit a giant Tupperware container into the washer so you don’t have to do it by hand. The danger to morale in the knowledge there’ll be something you do have to scrub tomorrow. And then the nightly ironing of tomorrow’s clothes. That’s always a tricky one, when it comes to morale. And you never know which way that one will break until you see the wrinkles you have to deal with.