Apr 22

Doesn’t get better than donuts

There were donuts in the building this morning, and I was nominally involved in the event. My fee was paid in donuts. I had an old fashioned, my standard donut choice. (If you’re at home reading this, go outside for a moment.)

I am not writing home about that donut. It was dry and flavorless, and this is sometimes a misnomer about the old fashioned. It shouldn’t be either of those things. It should be subtle, and nuanced. This was not.

I also grabbed a powdered sugar donut. (You may go back inside, because I will write home about this donut.)

That donut was the best decision of the morning.

I had two studio productions canceled today, and one shoot that went off without a hitch. I think there are just two more productions left this week. Time creeps by, no matter how much fun you’re having, or not having, as the case may be.

I was in a meeting yesterday where this semi-famous quote came up. William Bernbach was an American advertising creative director. He co-founded an influential, global ad agency, and had a huge role in the advertising landscape of the second half of the 20th century. Volkswagen, Life, Juan Valdez, if you watched any TV or read any magazines in the last 80 years or so, you’ve seen some of his agency’s work, and if you’re of a certain age, quite his very own campaigns.

This makes him a celebrity in the right circles. In fact, if you watched Mad Men, you heard his name get dropped a few times, for good reason.

All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.

Anyway, impressive cultural contributor. Important concept in the quote, which has earned its own fame over the years. You know it has pulled the weight the author intended because it has appeared in several textbooks. It’s funny how those mid-century sorts seemed to be reaching beyond their own event horizon.

The quote, of course, also finds its way into a lot of navel-gazing webpages. There’s one that asks Should We Evaluate the Media Input in Our Lives? And if every there was a question that needed asking because it didn’t need to be asked, it might be that one. The brief piece seems to start from the position that we’ve already and incontrovertibly vulgarized and brutalized it. But this isn’t a universal truth, of course.

I’ve been wondering today about the lifting to a higher level. We’d all like to think we have. And, as it came up in that meeting, it isn’t necessarily a big lift that you’re always after. Just a bit is enough. Mass media? Society? The former is merely the tool. Society, being of considerable size, requires a fulcrum.

Hopefully, I’ve done a decent enough job in helping show others how to lift it. Surely I’ve worked with others who have actually shaped some bit of society. Me?

I’m just doing podcasts that I find interesting, after all. This is compelling research.

It turns out we need more people, different sorts of people, in our in-person, face-to-face interactions. That challenges us, mentally, and that stimulus could help ward off cognitive decline as we age. That’s the research from IU’s Dr. Adam Roth. I talked to him about his recent work.

Listen to that, share the show, and then let’s all go out and make new friends.

If watching videos sounds better than listening to me — and who could blame you? — these are the news shows the IUSTV gang produced last night. These are the last two shows of the news division this semester. Here’s the news show. And there’s been big news in town. Two shootings within minutes of one another over the weekend sent four people to the hospital. As of this writing, still no arrests announced.

And here’s What’s Up Weekly, the pop culture magazine style show. There’s a haircut and a taco hat and some clever jokes in here.

The entertainment group will shoot three more shows this week, and that’ll be a wrap on the term. More bragging to come, then, on Friday.

Feb 22

To the weekend

I was thinking about a passage from Romans, because I recently heard the expression “speaking things into existence.” I’m all for visualization, but the idea behind the saying is at odds with that one part of Romans, chapter four.

And so it was that I was in a meeting with students this morning who were tired and quiet and I thought to myself, “Are we already in spring break mode?” And then I grimaced inwardly a bit. What if you just thought that into existence?

Spring Break is four weeks away. And when that mindset hits, well, everyone is counting the days.

Left that meeting to go to the studio. They were shooting their own version of The Dating Game for Valentine’s Day. Left the studio to go into another studio. Someone is doing an interview and that requires a podcast and that requires a crash course running a mixing board.

And I made it back to the first studio in time to watch this interview. They’re highlighting a short film.

And I learned her film was given an honorable mention at Cannes. Student projects recognized at Cannes! It is easy to be impressed around here.

The two shows they shot today will be out sometime next week. Until then, hang out with the sports gang. This is the highlight show they produced Wednesday, Hoosier Sports Nite.

And here’s the Superb Owl show they did. It’s get amusing.

I like when they have this much fun. It makes it me think we’re doing more than one thing right.

I keep forgetting to share this here. It’s days old now. A little over a week, in fact, but it is still timely and topical. It’s about how we come to know and trust experts and their science. Someone here is conducting studies on that. Pretty cool, if you ask me. Also, Young Frankenstein shows up.

After that, you’ll need this.

And I’ll put on the ritz by … taking a nap.

(Update: I did. It was a great idea.)

Nov 21

Listen to this

If I ever actually make jigsaws, they’ll just be fields of leaves. They’ll feature the next big innovation in puzzle technology, two-sided puzzles. They’ll all be thousands of pieces. They’ll be glorious. No one will ever complete one.

But you wouldn’t mind spending part of the winter pouring over a picture like that, would you?

At least we had a nice day of it today. You could wonder how long it lasts, but I’m going a different route this year. I’m being pleasantly surprised and amazed that we’re almost to Thanksgiving and I can still see the sunshine.

Here’s a new podcast and it isn’t getting enough attention, so I’d appreciate it if you gave it a listen.

I’m talking here with Dr. Christopher Owens, who graduated from IU and is now on the faculty at Texas A&M, about some of his work studying the lives of rural HIV social workers. It’s interesting in that this research team is unpacking what’s going on for people practicing medicine and care out in rural areas, and it’s oftentimes very challenging. This is just the second podcast Owens has ever done. He did a fine job. So give it a listen.

And after this one I’ll have to try to find one or two more during the holiday season to wrap up the year. Who’s not too busy to talk for a half hour amidst the end of their semester, the holidays and trying to wrap up the year? And can you talk about something as interesting as the topics I’ve had recently? Because I’ve had some great ones, the experiences of rural HIV social workers, energy insecurity, studying suicide risk with machine learning, rural homelessness, clean energy. It’s been a productive month or so.

I was in the studio this evening. It was a news night in Studio 7. Those shows will be online tomorrow. But, today, you can watch a fun show the entertainment division shot in Studio 5 last Friday. Here ya go.

The host, Sebastian, fell into a pit. Mia is taking over. I’ve long said that semi-scripted interview and sketch comedy shows need more drama and realism. And more suspicious host disappearances.

That show started, four years or so ago, with the premise of making awkward comedy like Eric Andre. And it always amuses me to see they’re still doing it.

And if you stick with it until the end, you’ll get some tap dancing, too.

Today’s look … it was new tie Tuesday. It was also old pocket square Tuesday.

The shirt was from the Brooks. And the tie is from Mr. Banks.

It was also old cufflinks Tuesday. I really have to figure out a better way to take pictures of those things.

And, again, I’m just doing that so I can keep track of what I’ve worn so, hopefully, I won’t repeat the same look next week. Plus some people like them on Instagram.

Speaking of other places, if you have some more time to kill right now, however, there’s always more on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too. If you need more to listen to, check out more On Topic with IU podcasts, and, oh hey, did you know Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? They do. Check them out.

Nov 21

Catching up

Another Monday closer to … whatever Mondays get you closer to. I suspect it’s a bit different for us all: the weekend, the next vacation, seeing the kids, a three-day weekend, existential dread, a trip to Disney World. We all have things for which we are marking off Mondays.

Saying spring, for me, is obvious and easy, and 21 Mondays away. Anything else would probably run out much longer.

The holidays! One could mark Mondays until the holidays. That’s a good one.

Being the first of the month, I did the monthly computer maintenance, updated files for the site, removed October stuff to make way for November material, put in the newest data for spreadsheets and similarly interesting stuff. I also ran across one of those “Things to watch this month” lists, and there are some things worth giving a try. One of them starts next week. So it could be that I am just marking Mondays until … next Monday. Incremental progress being more readily achieved than medium- or long range counts.

And no one wants to hear about your upcoming trip to Disney World on a Monday. Talk about your existential dread!

Here’s a podcast I recorded on Friday. As you have no doubt read around here, I find it fascinating when you find a scientist trying new techniques in their research field. In this case, some of the people working in the IU School of Social Work are using machine learning — data analysis that automates analytical model building — to study almost 30,000 cases using about 100 variables in a decade-long longitudinal study. It makes for some really cool innovation and, as is often the case, this is the beginning. So I’m getting you in on the ground floor here. Check out this conversation.

We’re in a fine spot with the podcasts just now. I rolled this one out today. I have one scheduled for Thursday, and another big one slated for some time next week. And there’s one I have already produced that will get published after those two. Sometimes you just get lucky with the timing of these things, I guess.

Let’s check out a few photos from the weekend, shall we?

We had clear skies Saturday morning. It was not to last:

It got pretty dynamic the rest of the weekend:

Here’s a random tree I shot on our Sunday walk. This is the obligatory “No matter how many pictures of autumn leaves you take, you can never capture the real sense of autumn in a photo” photograph:

Maybe we’ll be able to do so on a later version of smartphones, but there’s just something about the sound of leaves and the smell of the air and that odd sense of happy optimism you can’t get into a photograph, yet.

Saw this guy, too, the banded woolly bear caterpillar:

This is the larval stage of the Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella). It is found throughout the US and southern Canada, anywhere there’s plant growth. But you’ll also find them well into the Arctic. Soon, this caterpillar will literally freeze. It’ll thaw out in the spring.

In some places, this caterpillar is a weather forecaster. The wider the brown band, the milder the winter weather. But that’s just folklore. The bands seem to have to do with genetics and age of the larva with respect toward the molt.

Places in Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New York have festivals, costume contests, weather predictions and more. The one in New York started in 2012. If that little guy is going, though, it better get a move on.

Like the new little section-break banner? It was time to add a new one to the new rotation, so we’ll give this one a try for the week. And speaking of leaves, I have updated the theme on the front page of the site. Here’s a hint:

And if you click that image you’ll go to the front page and see the whole show. It looks quite nice, and should get us through the next few Mondays.

See you Tuesday! If you have some more time to kill right now, however, there’s always more on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too. Speaking of On Topic with IU podcasts, and, oh hey, did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? They do.

Oct 21

Welcome to the last week of October

Here is a photo from a few days ago which I never shared. Shame on me. This would have been on a late afternoon walk, on a Monday.

I know generally where it is, but not the precise plant — that’d be taking a day’s notes a little too far, if you ask me. Somewhere nearby, though, on Saturday, another bush was showing off.

Hopefully some critter comes by and eats the berries soon. I don’t know that they’ll last much longer.

Anyone know what this is?

It is a clasping hinge for my china cabinet. My cabinet has four doors, and each door has two of these mounted inside. A little spearpoint is attached to the door and it slides through those spring-loaded rollers and that’s how the doors stay shut.

Anyway, the original piece broke last week. Looked around online. I found a lot of similar pieces that wouldn’t fit, and this guy which looked as if it would almost perfectly fit. When it arrived I was able to make it work without a problem. I’m assuming the patina on the clasp’s finish will catch up, eventually, not that anyone notices. My grandmother bought this china cabinet for my mother decades ago, and it has been handed down to me. This is the one piece I’ve had to replace on it. And I’d like to keep it that way.

We don’t always dine at the matching table, but when we do, it’s nice to think of the memories that come with that furniture. All the card games and board games and family meals and life lessons and good jokes that have come along where that china cabinet and table are a set piece. And now I’ve put a small little bit into it, too. No one will ever know, no one ever needs to. Sometimes it is more than enough that a thing has happened.

Which is an awful lot to say about plastic fatigue, an hour or so scrolling websites and a two-screw installation. But that’s how our dining room rolls.

We got our flu shots yesterday. Set up an appointment in the morning. Walked right in on time, a woman asked us the “Have you been sick?” questions for surely the 1,400th time that day, and waved us on to the next point. Someone pointed us to an open table. We walked up, a young woman scanned the ID cards, her colleague administered the shots. It was very easy.

There were no lollipops. I am writing a complaint email tomorrow. Just as soon as I have feeling in my upper bicep again.

Just kidding. Feels great. Even the bandage did a great job, showing off some quality 21st century adhesive staying power.

Also, should you get a flu shot? I asked that question of the university’s chief medical officer last year in the context of masks and social distancing. (Do you remember all that?)

That still seems like sound logic.

As to the masks, the county we are in voted last week to extent their indoor mask rule through November. NO one at Lowe’s today got that memo. It was much better at some of the other places I had to go. I feel as though I spent all day going from store to store, mostly because I did.

Look, here’s a picture I took outside of Kroger, at the end of the day, on my third venture out.

That’ll do. Catch ya here tomorrow for more Catober and some other fine stuff.