Nov 23

Happy Thanksgiving

The in-laws are here. They came down last night and will spend a few days. Today, my uncle-in-law also came in. Later, there’s turkey to eat. So this is, notably, brief.

We went out for the turkey trot this morning. We were huffing for the stuffing. Hopping potholes for casseroles. Wheezed for the peas. Hying for the pie. And so on.

Look! I’ve almost got anime hair!

It’s not that I’m getting slower, it’s that I don’t run much, and never run up that many hills.

We’re also marking the fifth anniversary of the time my father-in-law smack talked his way into a Trivial Pursuit contest that he had no chance of winning. The pain was so bad he accused us of memorizing the cards. And though memorizing Trivial Pursuit cards sounds like something I’d do, I have a closet full of Trivial Pursuit games.

Near the end of the game, we got this stupid question, the orange one at the bottom.

I said, “It just so happens that I live with one of the nation’s foremost Olympic scholars. Take it away, Dr. Smith,” and I walked out of the room. And, of course, she drilled it.

For some reason, I also knew the answer to that question. (It was two.)

So this also marks the fifth anniversary of the day my father-in-law swore off Trivial Pursuit.

Now, having caught my breath from this morning’s run, it is time to think of all of the many things for which I am thankful. And to carve the turkey. This is my job for reasons that have never been discussed, and I take it seriously. After five or siz more birds, I might be pretty good at it.

Nov 23

And it all made for a full weekend

The cats, what with the end of Catober last week, miss all of the extra attention. They never get any attention, of course. And so Catober is a big time of year. There’s the big comedown after that which, I think, is how we started doing the weekly check ins with the kitties. No matter the origin, this is the most popular weekly feature on the site.

Poseidon, so desperate for attention he resorts to gymnastics. A pole sault, if you will.

The etymology of sault is fun. It hasn’t been used with any frequency in almost 200 years. There should be a site that brings this language back to life, but it is not this site.

From colonial French sault, 17c. alternative spelling of saut “to leap,” from Latin saltus, from salire “to leap” (see salient (adj.)). Middle English sault, borrowed from Old French, was “a leap; an assault.”

Phoebe, never a big Francophile, is unimpressed by his catlike prowess. She can do tricks too, you can almost hear her sigh, but she doesn’t have to.

We think she’s more Italiano. When we first got these two, he’d respond to a strong Nein!. So we decided he was a katze. Phoebe did not care for the German, but we were able to get her attention by calling her a gatto, so we decided she’s Italian. They’re siblings. You figure it out.

On Friday, when I was preparing for my weekly visit to the inconvenience center, I found this red maple on my car.

We don’t have a red maple tree in our yard. Not one that I’ve found, anyway. There is a Crimson King maple, which stands out throughout the growing season with rich, dark leaves. But it diminished with no flourish, and then the tree sneezed one day last week and now half the tree is bare.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss our trees a bit more.

Here is a leaf that is mine. I tracked this inside the house today. It’s from a plant, a golden leaved pineapple sage. I have to bring it inside … just as soon as I unscrew the planter from the railing.

That was an innovation by the previous owners. I now have to dig into this planter and remove a wood screw and wonder why, in good spirits and cheer, they decided to do that.

It was a busy weekend, athletically speaking. If, that is, you’ll allow for the most generous use of the term “athletically” possible under the constraints of our language. I had a 25-mile ride on Friday. Saturday, we enjoyed the mild weather and had a 30-mile ride. And there’s me, riding out under the canopy of color, over a carpet of other colors.

Maybe the orange gilet did not provide enough contrast in that particular moment.

We passed this guy late into the ride, just before darkness fell upon us. Think of it, he’s out working in his fields on a Saturday night. What else could he be doing? But that’s the job.

I wonder if it’s his field or if he works for the company that owns the equipment and they’ve been contracted to do the work. Who knows how that part works around here, or if it makes much of a difference. It’s getting late into a weekend day and he’s still putting in the hours. The crops that grow in that field might feed you or me, though, or his own family directly. And so he’s putting in the after-season work. I like to give that person a little nod of appreciation as I pass by.

A different version of that photo will eventually become a footer on the site.

We did a 5K Sunday. Here’s the shirt from the fund raiser.

Nine soldiers returning from World War 2 service started that place in 1946. It seems they were underwhelmed by the local VFW and American Legion options. They bounced around a few locations for a while, and interest waned, until they got their own spot in 1953. As the years marched on, they re-branded from Delaware Veterans of WWII Inc., to Delaware Veterans Post #1. Non-veterans have been able to join since the 1970s.

And they’ve been doing this little event for 25 years now. I told our group I only do runs on arbitrarily important anniversaries. Good cause, good year? I’ll run.

It’s a marginally hilly course, for a 5K, with the added benefit of my god-sister-in-law’s home. Their kids were out cheering us on, cowbells and all. You have to get in your best stride when you’re running in front of the little ones, just in case they know good form and decide to start judging you. It was good fun.

After that, we had a Sunday evening ride, a quick 11 miles of wondering why the sun was disappearing so rapidly.

Just clearing the legs out, riding easy at 18 miles per hour.

And then on today’s bike adventure, I put in 25 miles just to keep things moving. Here’s a colorful tree in our neighborhood. This one is, thankfully, not our responsibility, but we are enjoying the show at the moment.

And, not too far away, on the other end of the ride, a colorful show of a different sort.

Before I’d gotten far beyond that big orange maple I realized that this was going to be a ride for miles, not for speed. My legs felt so heavy and tired. And then I managed to produce one of my fastest half hours ever. I had a 23.18 mile per hour split in there. And then, when I turned and the wind shifted, everything returned to normal. Just like riding a bike.

Nov 23

‘On your yellow bucket seat’

Today was Copeland Cookie Day in my classes. (And so was Monday.) Dr. Gary Copeland was a professor of mine. He retired soon after my cohort, and he passed away not too long after that. He didn’t get enough time with his beloved grandchildren, and no one got enough time with a widely beloved man. He was a giant of a scholar, a sweet-hearted man who always did a lot for his students.

In one class, he’d bring cookies, put away the syllabus and talk about whatever seemed important: conferences, papers, dealing with colleagues. A lot of the most important things we learned came from that non-class.

Because of that, that’s why I have a Copeland Cookie Day. I bring in snacks, put aside the plans and, for a few minutes, we just talk about industry, courses, war stories, whatever.

After classes were over we went for a run. It was too late in the day for a run. It was too late, which made it too cold. So I only did a quick mile, but I did see this part of the far side of the sunset.

I need to find my running gloves. And start dressing better than shorts and a t-shirt. ‘Tis the season, and all. Only, I have no idea where my running gloves are. I knew where they were, in a drawer, right by the refrigerator. But that was in the old house. And that was in June, in the chaos of packing our stuff when the packers no-showed, and when it was the middle of summer when gloves weren’t exactly a priority.

Where are they now? No idea, but mother nature is a necessity.

Since we’re at the beginning of the month, let’s look at the year’s cycling graph.

The blue line represents mileage I would accrue if I road seven miles a day, a basically arbitrary number I picked at the beginning of the year when I started this spreadsheet. Seven miles, on average, seemed doable.

Then I added columns, and lines, for nine and 10 miles per day. That’s why those three lines are nice and steady, daily projections are consistent, steady, reassuring.

But that purple line, that’s the one that reflects my actual mileage.

As I say so often, I need to ride more. Tomorrow, then.

But tonight, we dive back into the Re-Listening project. I’m playing all of my old CDs in the car, and in the order in which I acquired them. Right now, we’re in the summer of of 2003, when Guster’s “Keep It Together,” their fourth studio album, was released.

This is the first Guster album where the Thunder God, Brian Rosenworcel, played on a drum kit rather than his legendary hand percussion.

A bunch of musician’s musicians — Ron Aniello, Ben Kweller, Joe Pisapia, Josh Rouse and more — appear on the record, which peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Top 200. Thirteen tracks, I like 12 of them, and I love 11 of them. It’s a record that comes up a lot for me, and so the flashes of memories span, well, two decades now.

This is the first track, which was a trippy departure to hear as the first sounds on the thing.

“Careful” was released as a single, and it went to number 30 on the charts.

This was the lead single, which the label released before the album. “Amsterdam” climbers to the 20 spot on the charts. The band said, and you could never tell if it was a joke, that they wrote this just to get the label to fund a trip to Amsterdam for the video.

I think it was a joke.

Someone told me that this song reminded them of me. All melancholy and what not. I’m not sure if she didn’t understand the song or the word melancholy. Apparently, all of the guest musicians were allowed to record one pass (and only one pass) on this song. They didn’t hear the song before they played, or told chords or instruments. I don’t understand how that would even work out, but it’s a triumph. And not about a melancholy me.

“Jesus on the Radio” is now a crowd favorite singalong. They usually do this on stage as unplugged as possible, and if you look around on YouTube tons of fan videos have been uploaded. It’s odd that the band hasn’t done more with that fervor, he said mischievously. Here’s a version with Pisapia (who toured as the fourth member for seven years) on banjo.

There is a high quality version on the “Guster on Ice” DVD, also featuring Pisapia.

Here’s a more recent version, from four or five years ago, long after Luke Reynolds joined the band.

And, as the O’Malley family proved, most anything in your kitchen can be a percussion instrument.

Not just the O’Malleys, but all of their musical fans cover it and record it and upload “Jesus on the Radio,” too. And a few years ago the band made a supercut, and somehow, despite the changes in tempo from version to version, it mostly works. Except for that one.

I could do this all day. And I usually do, on Jesus on the Radio day, March 16th. I actually have the t-shirt. It was a Christmas gift a few years back.

Here’s the title track.

I could do this with the whole album, but I’ll wrap it up with a version of “Come Downstairs and Say Hello,” a thoroughly underrated song when it gets going, and, here, with symphonic accompaniment.

You will discover, about three minutes in, why the Thunder God is so named. It’s one of the few times on that particular record when he went back to his roots. (As I recall he was basically learning how to play a drum kit while they produced this record, partly to change the sound of the record, but, I think, also to give his hands something of a break.) Also, in the second half of that version, the brass, and certain of the strings make it sound absolutely triumphant. I wish they hadn’t come into the song until then.

I have the T-shirt featur that song too. I guess I should finally buy a Guster Is For Lovers shirt, to solidify my OG cred.

Original Guster cred, that is. I go back to the spring of 1997, when Guster Is For Lovers was one of the two things they sold.

Oct 23

The sun stepped back, the leaves dozed, autumn was awakened

Just a gray blah day, and I acted like it, too. Could have done more, but I did enough. At least I hope so. If not, someone will let me know, and there’s always tomorrow and Friday and so on. (Thursday I’ll be busy, of course. Which means tomorrow I’ll be busy. Which means Friday I’ll be making up for other stuff. And that is how a stuporific Tuesday influences the rest of the week.)

Late in the day we went for a short run, and the clouds were just beginning to move off for the evening. The sun was able to just break through in the last hour or so of daylight.

The Canada geese are taking all of this as a hint.

Do you ever wonder just how much smarter all the critters are than us? Sure, we’ve got thumbs and language and social skills, but the animals, they know when to call it a day.

Those geese flew over this tree, the first tree to start the light show.

And so it begins.

Aug 23

Yes, the world’s best hobo song is included here

Last night I swam a mile. I didn’t know how much I would do, but it started raining on me at about 800 yards and I didn’t want to get wet, so I just stayed in the pool. Before you know it, that’s 1,650 yards and my shoulders felt like it.

The getting wet joke is a lame family joke. We’d gone on a vacation, a dive trip, and my step-father and his kids had just been certified for open water diving. Now, some of us had been diving for a long time, and some of us took to water naturally, and a lot of us had learned from different companies and through evolving teaching methodologies. So I got to be the stick in the mud who demanded the safety meeting the night before our first dives.

Good thing, too, because we learned that my step-sister thought that giving the Heimlich maneuver was delivering CPR. (To be fair, she was young.) Anyway, she wanted to go to the pool, but I wanted to go over hand signals and hypothetical situations. It seemed a good idea. She hated every moment of it. Finally, after a refresher on rescue breathing, and a run through of the basic Caribbean fish signals, we decided we were all at least in the same chapter of the book. So it was time to hit the pool. But it was raining, you see, and so she wasn’t enthused by that. (She was young.) So the rest of us went to the pool. I stayed underwater so I would not get wet.

But last night, I swam that mile and then I floated in the water listening to the raindrops until I got cold. It was delightful in every way.

I swam a mile and I … liked … it?

I do not know what is happening.

Maybe I’ll go for another swim on Thursday.

My laps have been pretty decent, by my standards. My riding has been OK, but light. My running, lousy as ever. Now I just need to put them all in a consistent routine. That’s the part that always gets me.

Today, just more peaches. We tried the new blender. (It blends!) We had peach smoothies. And then we blanched peaches to freeze. Our freezer has a lot of peaches in it now. A new colleague came over and took some off our hands. I brought in three more baskets from the tree. I made myself another smoothie.

We goofed off in the pool until dinner time. It was a fine day. Just peachy.

So let us turn our attention to the Tuesday Tabs feature. This is for all of those extra browser windows I have open. Some of these are worth keeping, somewhere, but perhaps not worth a bookmark at this time. So I’m simply memorializing them here, so I can finally close a few more tabs. (There are so many tabs.)

This is a relatively new one, and I must say, not really, but I have to start somewhere. 10 Alternatives to bi-fold closet doors (you’ll absolutely love):

The most common alternatives to bi-fold closet doors include barn doors, sliding doors, pocket doors, French doors, and curtains. If you want a more unique option, consider swinging doors, a room divider, mirrors, bookcase doors, and industrial doors …

If you’re tired of the same old bi-fold doors, choosing an alternative comes down to the overall look you want. Ready to try something new? Give these different looks a chance when you’re ready to close the door to your closet.

My home office has a bifolding door set. Not a fan.

Here are some nice places to explore here. Maybe I’ll get to one or two this fall. 8 Adorable small towns in Delaware

“The First State” is an amazing state along the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware Bay and Delaware River. This peninsula location means it is full of beautiful sandy beaches, riverfront views and gorgeous parks. The state also has a rich history dating back to it being the first of the original 13 states to ratify the constitution in 1787 (hence its ‘first’ nickname). Among the big cities and prominent attractions are a number of adorable small towns full of charm, history, and opportunity. From the Dutch colony of Lewes to maritime villages or the scenic beaches of Bethany Beach, Delaware is a beautiful and friendly state worth exploring.

I wonder how long we’ll see stories like this, before they all feel inevitable, I mean. AI comes for YouTube’s thumbnail industry:

This March, when U.S.-based AI researcher Anand Ahuja launched CTRHero, “an AI to replace Thumbnail Artists,” he called it “his life’s work.” Trained on millions of successful thumbnails from various social media platforms, CTRHero could create thumbnails within minutes, reproducing faces with 99% accuracy, according to Ahuja. The tool outraged designers who felt their livelihoods were suddenly at stake: some threatened Ahuja with physical violence. Soon after its launch, Ahuja sold off the core technology for CTRHero.

For YouTubers, thumbnails are serious business, as they can make or break a videos’ reach. Top creators such as MrBeast test up to 20 different thumbnail variations on a single video, paying designers a reported $10,000 for a single video. This has spawned a microeconomy of freelance YouTube thumbnails artists around the world, who hone their design skills to attract clicks.

Stop me when it feels like everything is Ready Player One. How AI will turbocharge misinformation — and what we can do about it:

By some estimates, AI-generated content could soon account for 99% or more of all information on the internet, further straining already overwhelmed content moderation systems.

Dozens of “news sites” filled with machine generated content of dubious quality have already cropped up, with far more likely to follow — and some media sites are helping blur the lines.

Without sufficient care, generative AI systems can also recycle conspiracy theories and other misinformation found on the open web.

University of Washington professor Kate Starbird, an expert in the field, told Axios that generative AI will deepen the misinformation problem in three key ways.

Starbird is a brilliant scholar and one of the leading researchers in this field. Check out her work.

As you read this, I am eight CDs behind in the Re-Listening project. That’s the one where I’m listening to all of my CDs in the car, in the order in which I acquired them. I am writing about them here because, it’s a good excuse to post videos of good music. Also, sometimes there are memories attached to these things, but mostly it’s padded content. And all of it’s fun. Except when you run across that bad CD, sorta like the bad grape you weren’t expecting. There’s one in every bunch, and it all comes down to taste.

Someone else bought Sister Hazel’s third studio album so I didn’t have to. I’m not sure who gave it to me, because I did not write it on the CD and it has been at least 23 years and two months since it happened. My memory is good, but there’s a lot of stuff in my memory, ya dig?

“Fortress” featured three singles, “Change Your Mind” peaked at number five on the US Adult 40. “Champagne High,” one of the album’s better songs, reached number 22. “Beautiful Thing” did not chart, which, in retrospect, was probably a signal that the moment of success brought on by Sister Hazel formula had somehow passed them by. It’s a mystery to me, really, because it’s the same as what we were all used to from the boys from Florida.

They are rhyming the word “thing” with the word “thing,” though. Maybe people noticed.

But, look, the formula works. If you want a fun sweaty party band, Sister Hazel can take the stage and keep you happy.

As an album, “Fortress” was a minor hit, settling at 63 on the Billboard 200. The record you remember, “Somewhere More Familiar” made it to 47 in 1997. Nine years and four albums later they cracked the top 50 again. Maybe tastes change around them, but the syrupy, twangy Southern rock guitar and the upbeat harmonies stayed with the band. And you can hear it still, Sister Hazel is touring all over the eastern US for the rest of the year.

Next up is one of those albums you regret. It was released in 1997 and I got it in 2000 and I can only blame myself. The world wide web was out there, and I had three solid years to find out “Deconstructed,” a remix album, is just a bad project. Even if you like electronic music, you didn’t want this. There are no new tracks, and no real reason to listen to this. I have probably played it four or five times, total, and two of those were for the Re-Listening project. Anyway, Bush worked with DJs from the electronic genre of music to remix some of the band’s previously released songs. The first one is probably the best track … but … still … electronic, British or of any other nationality, just wasn’t for me.

Hey, it was a fusion idea that went gold, and settled at number 36 on the Billboard 200 in 1997. I didn’t like it in 2000. I don’t like it today. I never understood it on my few tries in between. Maybe it’s just me. (It can’t be just me.)

Let’s wrap up this post with a better one. Up next in the Re-Listening project was a 2002 purchase, something I no doubt got at a discount bin. Something Sony licensed for a few suckers just like me. But that’s not a problem, because “The Sound Of Country was a 2 CD sampler set full of important tracks. It grabs you right away, with some classic Roy Acuff.

That’s the more famous Acuff version, of course, but his 1946 original is something to behold. It’s not o this CD, but I have included it for you here.

One of the greatest songs ever recorded in the English language is also included here.

It’s a fundamentally perfect song. Chet Atkins is in there. The background vocals are none other than the Jordanaires. That song topped the country chart for eight weeks in 1958 and climbed to number seven on the predecessor of the Billboard Hot 100. At least three covers of that song have charted over the years.

I am pretty sure I bought this double CD, which was, no doubt, very cheap, for this one song. It was the correct choice.

I was going through a Roger Miller phase. I’d find reasons to play that song. I wasn’t the only one who fell in love with that. It won five Grammys in 1966. It should have become a Broadway show and a network miniseries. If it had come out a few decades later it would have been embossed on mudflaps. The legendary Buddy Killen played guitar on that song. His people knew my people. Maybe that’s it.

You get into some important later hits, too. This topped the charts in 1984, presaging what would become of country music a generation later.

Also atop the charts in 1984, was The Kendalls last number one.

The father-daughter act released 16 albums, seeing 22 singles making the top 40, and 11 climbing into the top 10, including three at the top of the chart. Royce died in 1998 (this CD was published in 2002), but Jeannie Kendall, who started performing at 15, is still strong more than a half-century radio.

The whole double CD:

Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain – Roy Acuff
Walking After Midnight – Patsy Cline
Oh, Lonesome Me – Don Gibson
Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
King Of The Road – Roger Miller
Big Midnight Special – Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper
When I Stop Dreaming – Leona Williams
No Help Wanted – Bill Carlisle
Sweet Memories – Frank Ifield
It’s Only Make Believe – Conway Twitty
I Love You Because – Bob Luman
All My Ex’s Live In Texas – Whitey Shafer
Louisiana Man – Rusty & Doug Kershaw
Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind – Whitey Shafer
Okie From Muskogee – Merle Haggard
I Got Mexico – Eddy Raven
The First Few Days Of Love – Lorrie Morgan
Sweet Dreams – Don Gibson
Tennessee Waltz – Redd Stewart
Honky Tonk Merry Go Round – Patsy Cline
Night Train To Memphis – Roy Acuff
Tortrue – Kris Jensen
Thank God For The Radio – The Kendalls
God Bless The U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood

And with that, we’re only four CDs behind. The next installment of the Re-Listening project will feature an act that shows us what turn-of-the-century country and bluegrass music should have done.