May 20

I apologize for the rant below

Today I ran four miles. Fourth run in a week, following almost four weeks of not running. So this, I guess, is brought to you by the number four. It’s interesting how quickly you can come into and out of phase with running. And I am not, by nature, a runner.

Or a model. Or a photographer. But my hair game is on point.

Last weekend I noted that the night before I celebrated the 45 minutes where my hair was at it’s most presentable peak of long-short. Now we enter into the short-medium phase which lasts an inordinate amount of time and offers no good looks. But you’ll wish for those days when medium-medium arrives, should it come to that.

Yes, I too need a haircut. No, it isn’t really bothering me that much at all. Mileage varies, and I’m fine with that. We can all roll our eyes at one another, which is a great way to take in the grandeur of our sans-haircuts, our home-haircuts and our “I just couldn’t wait another minute to see my barber/stylist” contemporaries.

One day I realized that, despite my lights and my green screen and everything else my webcam still shoots at a pitiful 720, and that meant that slightly longer hair and formerly nice shirts with tiny spots on them were back in play again. That’ll do for now. I’m not even ironing the shirts. Oh, you see wrinkles? No, my wifi is just seizing up.

Besides, no one is looking at my hair, they’re concentrating on that typo from my last email. I dashed off a note last night related to one of today’s Zoom calls. I consulted it this morning to make sure I had the meeting topic well in hand. And that’s when I found the typo. It was one of those where there are two words that sound the same, but mean wholly different things and when you use the wrong one you look feral and uneducated. Never mind that I was still corresponding at 8:01 p.m. There was an obvious error and it will now shame me for all of my days.

I talked with a history professor who has built out a food program at the university and, this summer, they’ve collaborated on creating a meal and delivery service. There’s a lot you can’t get to in an interview like this, but if you look up Carl Ipsen‘s research interests this all make sense.

And it’s a small scale effort, relative to these big food banks staffed out by the National Guard. But the man brought two or three different units of the university together, even as it scaled down in a pandemic. And from that they created an effort that feeds 70 or so meals a day, and counting, to members of the campus community? That’s something.

People doing things, like the famed chef who’s creating that menu that Ipsen talks about, the people preparing the food, the drivers bringing things in from farms and food plants … people taking the initiative of the moment and making it productive, they’re going to be the unheralded glue of all of this. We’ll talk nurses and doctors and truck drivers and shelf stockers, and we should. There are also a lot of other people doing a lot of good, big and small. We’d all do well to acknowledge them.

That’s much more inspiring than the tiresome binary argument over Covid etiquette.

Decency is not in short supply, the mention of it just doesn’t get the lift that jerks do. This is not a new phenomenon, and we’d do well to think of that, too.

May 20

The usual much ado

All of that sun on Sunday was so nice and lovely, but the passing shadows told the tale. When I stopped taking pictures of the birds it was because the sun had scooted beyond the houses and was focusing on something else. A chill took over from the sun. Because that’s going to be the natural conclusion of things around here in May. I went inside because I was shivering.

And yesterday, Monday, I went on a bike ride and shivered some more. It remains the second week of May and jackets are required.

It was a quick and short ride. Today, a short and slow run. First time out in a while, dashing off a casual little 5K:

Because if you asked me to actually work through a 5K right now I could only laugh at you.

We talked the performing arts! Dance! Theatre! Musicals! I mentioned a classic Italian and sounded learned:

Of course, it is a conversation with the chair of a high quality program, so we know who the real learned person was. These conversations are fun, but here soon, as the reopening begins, or continues, or begins to continue, we’ll have to start thinking about some of these are framed. Which is just as well. We’ve had about 15 of these sorts of episodes now and a little change of pace is called for.

Which is why it’s cold, and I’m shuffling on slow neighborhood runs. See? The pace, she changes.

I’m getting to the point where I could do for some change. Thursday will mark nine weeks at home. That’s a lot, and I’m a homebody. One mustn’t complain overmuch. We have our health, and the health of our loved ones. We are still working. And sure, we have missed out on some activities, but those are relative inconveniences. It is easy to get caught up on the personal inconveniences. It should be easier, still, to maintain one’s perspective. I read that story about cruise ship crews and I think of the few I’ve been on, and the gracious and kind people who spend their lives working hard and working long hours for small amounts of money to make sure people have a wonderful experience, and this is happening in their office. It’s a terrible thing. My office is all-but-closed and we’re working from home offices. And, if that gets too stuffy, I move to the living room, or the kitchen island, or the deck as I did one day, or the front porch as I did another day. So I’ll stay quiet about what I need. My chief complaint, then, is the weather, which is out there while I’m in here. What I can complain about is inconsequential at the moment.

I sat on the deck all afternoon Sunday, I had a bike ride yesterday, a run today, and tomorrow it will be cold again. I’ll have a Zoom meeting or two. We’ll read about something sad that has happened somewhere, and something sweet and endearing that took place elsewhere. I’ll probably watch something I have had in a queue for a while. It’ll be Wednesday. (Or so I’m told.) And it’s all downhill from there. Patience and grace.

May 20

To the week … end? To the weekend!

Isn’t this a lovely little Iris from our late afternoon walk? I took several different shots trying to find the perfect angle. The lengths I go to for you, gentle reader.

Fine day for a walk, which is about all that can be said. Days and nights seem like the only distinguishing features right now, and that because of the visual cues. Psychologists, I have read, would suggest this is because the days don’t have the normal distinguishing features. Makes sense. If you don’t have a sport practice or a musical rehearsal to get to, if your weekly book club is canceled, all of the days seem like … Tuesdays, or whatever they seem like to you.

But, then, that’s just your programming. How did that work before the before times? Before all of the serious structure that we’ve anchored everyone too? I suppose they were a different sort of drudgery, more back breaking, and without conditioned air and ice cubes, without an entire universe of streaming distractions.

See? Not so bad, not knowing what day it is, when you think about in those terms.

Tom Duszynski from the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI in Indianapolis talked with me about where we are with the stay-at-home plans and what could happen next. He’s one of those actual experts you should listen to, so listen to him.

I’m also sending some of his soundbites out to local television stations. Maybe one or two of them will pick up quote or two. Wouldn’t that be a nice way to celebrate the weekend? That is what happens next, right?

More on Twitter, check me out on Instagram and listen to a few On Topic with IU podcasts as well.

May 20

It’s gonna be …

Time for a bike ride, and since we went in the late afternoon and we headed generally north and east that means it’s time for a shadooooooow sellllllfie …

It was also the day for me to go the wrong way because I got the roads confused and The Yankee had to chase me down which was no easy feat today because I had good legs and yet she managed to eventually do it anyway because I looked over my shoulder and saw the look on her face and then sat up and, yes, run-on sentences do happen a lot in cycling. It has something to do with the breathing, I think.

So we turned around and went the right direction, determined to not speak of this again. It only added on one extra mile, so she didn’t have to chase me far, because she is a strong rider, but my legs held up throughout the day. This is what’s important, look at that water:

There were people fishing on the causeway as we went through. Everyone is ready to enjoy some nice weather, which we’ve only had it intermittently here. That’s a crime against humanity, I’m pretty sure.

Anyway, that’s just after the big downhill, which one app tracked me at 134.4 miles per hour. I was not going 134.4 miles per hour. That’d be very fast, indeed, and I think the app is wrong in a lot of ways, begging the question: Why?

So you go down the descent then you take a hard left and you find yourself on a road that you can somehow hit 25-27 miles per hour without even pedaling. Then there’s the water and that’s when she caught me:

And then the climb out. This is where our barn by bike feature of the day comes in, and, yes, that is an uphill and not a camera tilt trick:

Is there a video? There is a video. On this particular route the video is from the last smooth, easy part before the hard part, and before the water.

It would be tempting to rush through here and attack the long series of rollers that turn into an uphill before the long downhill and the next eventual climb. It’d be fun to turn this into a bunch of big sweeping sines, as Bill Strickland called them:

I was riding in long, gradual curves that stretched nearly from the right shoulder of the road out to and sometimes past the yellow line on the left, then back and out and again the same.


The sine curve to me is more of an undulation, an expression of the natural beauty of movement, and the beauty of natural movement: a lover’s body in moments of passion beyond thought, for instance.

Or a bicycle rider in one of those rare interludes when the pure sheer pleasure of being a bicycle rider can be expressed only through an extended series of line-to-line swoops. The road sine is one of the most spontaneous and unsophisticated acts of cycling, and it begins and occurs and continues in some kind of complete state of unexamined and unself-conscious motion.

Bill Strickland is a brilliant writer and I love that description. I do it all the time on the bike. I always think of that passage when I do.

But never right here; never at the fence.

Somehow, I always find myself doing that other ultimate sign of freedom. I get to just the right spot on that road, just ahead of us here, and let it go and coast. I’ll float almost as far as momentum and enthusiasm will take me. And then start working my way uphill.

Talked with Tom Duszynski again, because the world needs to hear from epidemiologists and I’m part of the world and I want to give learned and thoughtful people a place to speak to people who want to hear real things and not bombast.

Wash your hands. And if you’re out on a bike or out on a trail or just in the backyard, have a great weekend.

Apr 20

If the photos don’t make sounds the podcast will

Remember how, a few days back I said I had to catch up on photos that I’d taken on my DSLR? We’re back to doing that today. These next few photos are from a walk we took … I dunno, three lifetimes or two weeks ago. Forgive me. I seem, today, to be having the day that a lot of people have been struggling with for the last four or five weeks. It’s something you bounce back from sooner or later, I’m sure.

Anyway, some version of a few of these are going to get used elsewhere on the site. (There are big plans! OK, average-sized plans. Alright, alright, very small plans with no real import at all.) Let’s see how they look!

Neighborhood trees in full bloom:

And I think we found our winner from that batch.

And some dandelions in the yard. This is a tough head-to-head competition here:

I know which one I think, but what about you?

Today on the show we talked computer and network and data security with Andrew Korty, who has the title chief information security officer. It’s easy to imagine a person with a title like that standing behind the captain on the bridge and scowling, but that’s just television. Andrew probably just has three or five computer monitors and a lot of blinking lights and some operating software that doesn’t exist beyond a television set.

I learned some things in there, and you might too. Primarily that I am supposed to pay attention to my IT experts. Who knew?

Won’t you give it a listen?