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13
Feb 18

გთხოვთ, წავიკითხე მთელი რამ

One of the things I get to do is teach students how to use new equipment. And one of the areas that has become partly mine are the audio production booths. Can’t imagine why.

Anyway, WIUX, the campus radio station, which is very large, probably has a new group every other week that I get to show how to do this or that, and then we book them to do this or that in one of our production studios. I also get to tell them they can do these same things in their own studios, but that doesn’t offer a solution they like, somehow.

I get it, the production facilities on campus are nice. But if we knew what podcasts were back in my college radio days, I would have never let the booths in the station. Which, come to think of it, I spent an awful lot of time in those production booths anyway. And most of the gear here is much, much nicer than what I learned on. Part of that is the endless march of technology, and also the esteem of things. Indiana has put so much into the student experience and their production opportunities in The Media School that most places just can’t measure up. And I get to work there and learn all of the gadgets and play with them and teach them to others. So I get it. We have some super nice setups.

I was in one of those booths today with five students and I ended up having to pass out a few business cards. So I reached into my pocket and pulled out my business card holder:

One of the guys said “Whoever made that for you is a true friend.”

Well, I made it myself, so here’s to hoping!

It was a weekend project. I made three of them one evening. Different cuts, different stain patterns, and I rotate through them. Everyone thinks they are great, but they are a bit on the thick side and they could probably use a better finish. But they keep my cards from being bent.

I might try some more out of different materials, because there will, hopefully, be another evening that needs a project.

Today’s podcast was about a column about men’s basketball in Colorado. The program at Colorado State is a mess and a writer there has an interesting idea of how to get things cleaned up. At first, the story sounds exactly just like that. But the more you get into it, the more interesting it becomes, and the more interest this episode generated.

The analytics tell me that this little podcast is now truly global. Australia, Canada and Georgia (the country in Eurasia, not the 13th state) all registered downloads this week. I don’t know what the people in Georgia like the most about the program so far, but if they’ve found their way here, I’d just like to say this: I’ve listened to your anthem, Tavisupleba, and it is quite stirring.

If you haven’t had enough talking yet, here’s a show my sports crew produced for last weekend. It’s still steamy and the takes are still hot, as they say, so check it out:

What? That’s not how they say that? Maybe it should be. Have you thought of that?


12
Feb 18

There’s a cat pic, funny tweets and a podcast in this one

Saturday:

And the Olympics are on, of course, which, in our house, means two weeks of Olympics. Also it means a two-week quixotic attempt to understand NBC’s programming strategy. That’s the true Olympic sport around these parts.

Also, this, from last night:

Actual tears.

And then we got criticized:

I really enjoyed this episode of the podcast. I saw this story a few days back and thought I’d like to find an expert and talk about this with them. You know, localize what is, honestly, an incredible news story:

In what’s being hailed as a “major breakthrough” in Maya archaeology, researchers have identified the ruins of more than 60,000 houses, palaces, elevated highways, and other human-made features that have been hidden for centuries under the jungles of northern Guatemala.

Using a revolutionary technology known as LiDAR (short for “Light Detection And Ranging”), scholars digitally removed the tree canopy from aerial images of the now-unpopulated landscape, revealing the ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization that was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed.

The story goes on at great length, and one of the many cool tidbits is that this research is going to force archeologists to revise their old population estimates from about five million people to 10 or 15 million. That’s no blip.

So of course I wanted to talk about this. I looked around and it turns out there are at least two experts on Mayan culture on campus. One is on sabbatical, but the other is here and she was incredibly gracious with her time. Anne Pyburn is the provost professor of anthropology, which is a university honor acknowledging her national reputation for scholarship, research and teaching. And wouldn’t you know it, she has spent more than a little time in these same jungles, working on this same sort of thing, with a Mayan specialty.

She talks about it all in the very measured way that experts often do, but she has some great ideas about what it all means. If I could just spend a few days a week following up on some significant story with a campus expert and examine why it all matters it would be an excellent use of my time.

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6
Feb 18

A bunch of journalism and storytelling stuff

We turned our eyes north, to Wisconsin, to talk with Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter Jonathan Anderson today. He joined the program to talk about a brand new ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It has to do with unions and votes and public records, and it could have some long reaching implications.

Yesterday’s story was about a man, his mop and criminal intent. The one before that was about iPhones, and before that we talked gerrymandering. The variety is such a neat thing, I think. Also, these shows are short. The idea is you can listen to this while you’re running an errand. You don’t have to be running a marathon.

This morning Dan Wakefield visited the television studio. We recorded a brief interview with him. Here’s a man who covered the Emmett Till murder trial, had a full journalism career, then wrote two best sellers and then had both of those books turned into movies. How do you get that down into a seven-minute conversation?

Wakefield is one of those journalists you study in school. He always gets asked, and is forever reciting, the lead to one of his stories for the magazine “The Nation.”

The crowds are gone and this Delta town is back to its silent, solid life that is based on cotton and the proposition that a whole race of men was created to pick it. Citizens who drink from the “Whites Only’ fountain in the courthouse breathe much easier now that the two fair-skinned half brothers, ages twenty-four and thirty-six, have been acquitted of the murder of a fourteen-year-old Negro boy. The streets are quiet, Chicago is once more a mythical name, and everyone here “knows his place.”

We should probably send the same amount of time on the themes of insularity, maintaining the status quo, parachute journalism, long memory, the other Others, and irony, which are all found in the last three paragraphs of his story:

It took the twelve jurors an hour and seven minutes to return the ver­dict that would evidently help close the gap between the white and col­ored races in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Tradi­tion, honor, God, and country were preserved in a package deal with the lives of Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam.

Reporters climbed tables and chairs to get a glimpse of the ac­quitted defendants, and the news­paper, magazine, and television cameras were aimed at the smiles of their wives and families in a flash­ing, buzzing finale. Then the agents of the outside world disappeared in a rush to make their deadlines and the stale, cluttered courtroom was finally empty of everything but mashed-out cigarettes, crushed paper cups, and a few of the canvas specta­tor chairs that the American Legion had sold across the street for two dollars each.

The trial week won’t be forgotten here soon, and glimpses of the “foreign” Negroes who don’t till cottonfields but hold positions as lawyers, doctors, and Congressmen have surely left a deep and uncom­fortable mark on the whites of the Delta. But at least for the present, life is good again. Funds are being raised for separate-and-equal school facilities in Tallahatchie County and on Wednesdays at lunchtime four of the five defense attorneys join with the other Rotarians of Sumner in a club song about the glad day “When men are one.”

Wakefield’s interview will be a part of a program next week. I watched two other shows being produced this evening. They’ll make it online at some point this week, I’m sure.


5
Feb 18

On the origins of nothing, and dogs

I tried an experiment this afternoon:

I also taught a class. I’m not sure which of the two worked out better, but I hope it was the class. I’ll go back and visit those students on Wednesday, though, and maybe the technical problems we had today will prove outweighed by the abundance of knowledge I attempted to bestow.

Bestow is an almost 800-year-old word. I bet you didn’t know that. In old English stow was a place. Then there was a “be” prefix and stow got an en on the end, somehow. And that’s probably a fascinating tale, but I don’t know it. I think it had something to do with a verb tense, though. You had “stow” as in a place, and then “to place,” it seems. And then someone misheard and miswrote and misread or found a better use and said “BESTOW!”

I had a professor who was a serious and legitimate etymologist. It was amazing the things he knew, the work he’d done or read. I wonder what he thinks of my ability to just Google that these days. I hope they’re all just glad we can look at things because the ease just, you know, might entice us to do so. Those etymology conferences, though, you just never know which way a committee is going to go. They could come out of those rooms at the Ramada and take an entirely different approach.

You know what’s hard? Googling things about the art and craft of etymology. You just get etymology links to the words you are co-searching. But I digress.

Digress is of 16th century latin origins, just so you know.

Anyway, that was a little experiment above, because John Curley was nice enough to talk to me last Friday. Funny story about that, I sent his station’s main account a note on Twitter and they sent me an email address and so I wrote to them. And then Curley wrote me right back as he was about to go on the air. He was very gracious with his time when we talked, and it was a most pleasant little conversation. The end of that piece is my favorite part, and the whole premise is sublimely funny anyway.

Pet poses from the weekend:

Sometimes you just have to reach out and touch someone’s big toe. That’s not my toe, of course, and here is a 90-degree angle.

We went to a Super Bowl party to not watch the game or commercials — there was something funny about Tide, and then Eli Manning did a thing and Dilly Dilly was disappointing and probably some other things, but I find it hard to follow along with the game or the spots in a crowd. Some people did seem to enjoy the halftime show and, for some reason, there was a single yelp when Jimmy Fallon appeared on the TV. But that’s small group dynamics for you. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all, as they say. And I got to play with a dog:

That is the preferred photographic style for the canine, a technique I settled on some 11 years ago now. (Time zooms.) That pose isn’t quite the perfect angle, but it was as close as this golden was going to let me get. He is a playful and loving dog, as just about ever golden ever gifted to humanity. And the outtakes are almost as fun as that pose:

More interesting material here tomorrow. I think the books section is going to finally make a comeback. There, I’ve said it out loud. Now it almost has to happen, maybe.

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2
Feb 18

Welcome to your weekend

I went into the studio first thing this morning and recorded this.

And I walked out of the audio booth and down the hall some 75 feet, let’s say and immediately into the television studio, where I produced an oral history. And that somehow ran until about lunch.

So I had a quick bowl of noodles at a place called Noodles, with The Yankee, which has the benefit of being right across the street and, usually, pretty good lunch fare. And they are quick, which is good.

After lunch it was right back into the studio where I worked with some students from the newspaper who are wanting to do movie reviews. This reporter is creating some no-doubt award-winning content and I am watching her in the viewfinder and trying not to giggle at her movie review:

She did two takes and decided she had what she wanted for this trial run episode. And after that I was down to the little this and that parts of the day, the tidying up the desk for the weekend, part of the day, and the answering all of the many emails part of the day.

On Fridays you can get all of that into one part of your day, if you are suitably motivated.

And then it was home, home to sit and read and pet the cat and enjoy doing nothing for a little while. The problem is, you could get used to that, so I ended up straightening up my office a tiny bit and doing some laundry and thinking up new projects and plotting out the weekend and, now, here we are. I’m sort of caught up on things, for a change. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about that. Any thoughts?

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