May 24

A double miss!

Completely whiffed on the Wednesday feature yesterday. Whoops. This just a day after I skipped a planned Tuesday feature. It seems that, in my haste to be hasty, I’ve been too hasty. That’s the problem with speeding up, or taking one’s time, or both. Anyway, apologies for missing out on the markers. I’ll return to them next Wednesday. We’ll talk music below. But first … today was a peaceful, relaxing, “What was I supposed to be doing again? Oh, that’s right, nothing.” sort of day.

And then, breaking news via email. Isn’t that something? Wasn’t that something?

Usually, I know about the story before the emails come out. Social media, despite it’s many frustrations, is a swift informer. But I hadn’t been on any of the apps in a bit, and then the New York Times wrote.

My lovely bride was swimming laps at the time. When she was finished I told her the news, and we set about wondering what the comedians and the satirists would say.

I also looked back at what I was doing on this day a year ago. We were in Alabama, and it seems I was looking at the ol’ family tree.

Five years ago, I said one of those bike things that sounds like something profound in a waxy wrapper of nothing. Still seems true, though.

Ten years ago, we were in Alaska.

There’s no way in the world that was a decade ago.

Fifteen years ago, we were in Savannah, and Tybee Island.

Twenty years ago, I stopped by the local civic center, on a whim, which was hosting a model train convention.

Now, I’m no train enthusiast, but there are granddads and dads and children all being kids together, so why not?

I walk in and meet some nice people; one man telling me of some very historic parts of his collection — he’d accidentally been given the paperwork that documents J.P. Morgan’s purchase of an entire railroad; three men talking at length about how best to paint a cliff face and so on. But the best part was stumbling onto a booth with college merchandise.

I found this tapestry that I love. I got it for a song.

Now I just need to figure out how to display it, without it being used for cover.

Funny the things you do, and don’t remember.

We return to the Re-Listening project, which is where I pad the page out with music. I’m doing this because I am currently re-listening to all of my old CDs, in the order of their acquisition, in the car. It’s a wonderful trip down memory lane and I’m dragging you along, because the music is good.

Today we’ll do a double entry, since it is back-to-back of the same act. I picked these up in 2004, but the albums are older than that. If we’re going back to my first listen in 2004, we have to hop in the time machine and go back another decade to when Barenaked Ladies released “Maybe You Should Drive.” It was their second studio album, and went double platinum at home in Canada, where it peaked at number three. It was the band’s first visit to the US charts, sneaking in at 175 on the Billboard 200.

The first of two singles, “Jane” was an instant catalog classic for Steven Page.

There’s a lot of great work from Page on this record. Here’s one more fan-favorite, the second single, which just feels like a deep cut at this point.

I picked up this CD after a handful of the later BNL records, and several shows. So many of the songs I knew. (Three of these tracks are on Rock Spectacle, which was my first BNL purchase.) And so I don’t know when I first heard this song from Ed Robertson, but it’s one of those beautiful works that I’d like to be able to hear again for the first time.

The day I bought “Maybe You Should Drive” I also picked up “Born On A Pirate Ship,” and I wish I remember, now, where I got them. But because I got them together, these CDs have always belonged together. The former came out in 1994, the latter was the followup, released in 1996. It was another hit in Canada, peaking at number 12, and captured more American ears. “The Old Apartment” was a breakthrough single and video, and Pirate Ship went to 111 in the American Billboard chart. It was certified gold four years later. Andy Creegan had left the band, Kevin Hearn came in soon after, but this is a four-piece record.

It is peak 1990s Canada pop.

I still think this is a song about a dog, Catholicism and a bunch of other random things. It’s inscrutable.

People that just knew BNL from airplay — well the Americans anyway — will recall this as their first song.

It used to be that “When I Fall” seemed like it had to be a full, live show performance. But then Robertson played it in one of the Bathroom Sessions, and you heard it in a different way entirely.

Page will occasionally remind you he’s working on a different level. This is one of those times. Seeing it live is the preferable way* to take in this song, so go back with me to a time when it’s amazing we had washed-out-color video and you can’t explain the tracking squiggles to the children of the future. But don’t fixate on that, follow the performance.

That song … Steven Page … it just feels like it should be a misdemeanor to not know anything more than their later pop hits.

*I think karaoke would be another ideal way to hear “Break Your Heart,” but that’s just me.

One of two Jim Creeggan songs on Pirate Ship, this one sneaks up on you every time, which isn’t creepy at all. And for four minutes it just gets better and better and better, and bigger and bigger, even when it lulls, which is a lot of fun.

And here’s Creegan’s other track, which refuses to fit in any pop music mold.

BNL is touring the US this summer, though we won’t be able to see them. We did catch them last year though, which was the third time we’d seen them in two or three years. Everyone wishes Steven Page was still in the band, most everyone has wished that for 15 years, but aside from the 2018 Juno Awards celebration of the Canadian Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction, that may never happen. (Though they haven’t definitively ruled it out, and that’s what hope is aboot.) The band stills put on energetic rock ‘n’ roll shows. They’re very much worth seeing.

Apr 24

I’m short on time, here’s five photos and a gorgeous video

You should be looking at photos from an ancient yearbook right now, but you’re not. Let me explain.

Two weeks ago I finished up our look at the 1946 Glomerata, the yearbook of my undergraduate alma mater. I said that, the next week, we’d go back 100 years to see the 1924 Glom. And then I realized I needed to actually update the section of the site that includes those 1946 photos. It seemed like I should finish that before starting a new one. So last week I spent a substantial part of Friday wrapping that up.

So now, you can see 40 of the best photographs from the 1946 yearbook, and read about the stories that go with some of those photos. Click here for the 1946 Glomerata. Or, if you’d like to see all of the covers, you can find those here.

And next week we’ll start in on that 1924 yearbook. But I’m seemingly behind on everything today, and while building out the Glom section is great fun, it is time intensive.

So, instead, you’re just getting five photos and a video today.

When I went out to get the mail this evening, the clouds were looking rather ominous. They’re telling us of the gray skies we’ll have for quite some time. Because no one has told the weatherman that it is mid-April and we should have warmth and sun and breezes and a pleasant entry into the middle of spring, here in the late spring.

In the backyard, I just liked the color of the leaves in the gathered little puddle, all of it brought on from last night’s wind and rain.

All of those flowers we’ve been admiring? All of those flowers I’ve been showing you? They’re going to wind up in that spot sooner or later. Such is the cycle of things. The next part will be lovely too, though, so that makes it easier to accept this flowery little puddle.

Good news! We didn’t kill the fig tree.

As I think I mentioned last week, we covered it to keep out the harsh elements of a mild winter. We covered it three times, in fact, because the wind kept blowing the cover away. But finally I figured out a technique to make the canvas stay in place, which was good. Because after a fourth time I was just going to tell the fig tree it was time to grow up and weather the weather on its own.

The tree might be fairly old. Our neighbors have reason to believe that this one came from their fig, and they believe theirs is ancient. Is it possible we could have figs that came from a cutting of a century-old tree? Probably not. But we could have figs from a decades-old tree, and I bet they’re just as tasty.

One of the apple trees looks lovely.

It’ll be nice to watch that continue to bloom up and out. The tree sits there, quietly, in the side yard, and is easy to forget about.

If only trees made more upsetting noises that reminded you to check on them, right?

Because it doesn’t yell randomly throughout the quiet evenings, we’ll have to remember, on our own, to go get the apples later this year.

I can’t decide what this one is.

But what it is, is pretty.

Everyone liked the jellyfish yesterday. Here’s another shot of the same species. It’ll be a good way to wind down your week. Take a moment for yourself and enjoy this view of a purple-striped jellyfish that lives at the Monterey Aquarium. We saw them last month and I’m happy to share it with you now.


This jellyfish’s diet is zooplankton, larval fish, other jellies and fish eggs. Turtles like the purple-striped jellyfish because those fancy arms are rich in nitrogen and carbon.

I bet you’ve never thought of jellyfish that way.

Have a great weekend!

Apr 24

A day doing prep work

This is another busy week. I am today working on a presentation for Thursday. I am creating a contemporary case study for a classroom exercise. The whole thing came to me, almost fully formed, last weekend. One of those ideas that was so complete it had to be perfect. Only today did I realize that the entire exercise requires on-the-spot participation from a group of strangers.

Much depends on their willingness to play along. And there’s not really coming back from it if the idea doesn’t land, or if they aren’t interested in playing along.

It’d be better not to have that realization, but once you have it there’s no escaping it.

No matter what happens, the graphics will look passably good. No matter how many of these presentations you make, it is amazing the time sink a good set of graphics can become.

Since it is the first of the month I have to also do the routine computer cleaning. It takes just a few minutes to delete a bunch of stuff from the desktop. Some of it I’ll probably need later. New directories must be made for the website. Statistics for the site need to be updated. I haven’t done that in two months. March was a good month! But the site has been done this year compared to last. I suppose people have found better distractions. But this humble little site attracted 137,000+ visits in the first three months of the year. We’re at 5.75 million views all time. No idea why that number is so high, but I’m grateful.

Also, I updated my cycling spreadsheet. And the chart still looks pretty good, despite the long lulls of March.

The green line plots a steady 10 miles per day average. The red line shows where I was at this time in 2023. The blue line charts the mileage of this year.

All of those blue line miles have been indoors. I’m ready to take a bike ride outside. Maybe next week.

Maybe next week, he sighed.

It’s gray and cool and April and I’m over it, quite frankly. The flowers don’t seem to mind.

That’s a brilliant camellia shrub and it’s just full of great, big, beautiful blooms. Spring hasn’t come, but spring is here. It should stay for a long time, at least until mid-summer, don’t you think?

We could then push the summer late into fall and just wipe out the next winter. What with all the leaping days and the stumbling seconds and springing and falling, would anyone really miss it?

No one would miss it.

What everyone misses is the beach. So let’s go there now! Here’s one last video from the big rock in the middle of Spooner’s Cove.

Not to worry, though, I still have … quite a few peaceful videos from California. And there are still a few more slow motion videos, too. Three, I think. After this one, that is.

And the slow motion views will change with the next video, so we’ll have that going for us, too.

Anyway, back to this presentation I’m working on.

I now hate the graphics.

Apr 24

Light up your path, and strew it with flowers

We had a lovely Easter with family. There were … let me count … 15 people in a house where four grew up. And then six more people came over. There were eggs to hunt in the backyard for the little kids, family photos in the front yard and football in the street. Ham and football, that’s what is done.

I threw two touchdown passes and scored another on a trick play. It helps when the receiver you’re throwing the ball to doesn’t know how to drop the thing. The first time I let the ball go and said, “Nope, that’s over her head,” and she caught it. The second was a timing pass that was out of my hand before she made her cut on the ol’ flag route. It just landed in her hands and looked like it refused to leave.

If you need a teammate, pick a field hockey player, that’s what I decided.

Some of the kids hid eggs for a few of the adults and I don’t remember that being as stressful as it was. We each had a color to find, which is a great idea for kids spread from 3-16. I had to find yellow eggs and so I watched everyone else to see if they’d bend down and not pick up an egg. Waiting for an “Ah-ha! Oops, not my color moment.” It was not a winning strategy.

The kids did great, though. Inside their eggs was money. Change here. A single there. Someone made a map of all of the eggs and presumably there was a degree of difficult to the Easter wealth redistribution plan.

We had ham, which was delicious, and I never really get, and so Easter dinner was a test of How much of this can I get before people notice? But there was also ice cream cake, so it worked out just fine.

We were, of course, the last ones to leave. We have to work on that, as a skill set, but the company is so pleasant sometimes you don’t want to.

And what a lovely Easter weekend it was. Saturday we spent a large part of the afternoon outside. It was perfect weather for …

We have many trees. They shed many branches. Bits of the tree cast off for the greater good, aided by wind and rain and now sitting about everywhere on the property. At first I despaired. They shed many branches. And then I remembered: we have a fire pit and fires need kindling. Now, those bits of the tree cast off for the greater good can serve us once more.

There are a lot of sticks. Just enough, in fact, to make you see the romance of self sufficiency, but not so many that you come to realize the harder work and challenges that can from time-to-time come with it.

It’s like playing at using the whole buffalo.

The forsythia out by the road looks splendid, and I just wanted you to know how elegant and beautiful it is.

I really do wish they stayed like that all year long.

Also, the humble, noble, sometimes underappreciated dandelions, Taraxacum officinale, have made their appearance. It’s a shame we won’t allow them to stick around. But, as you can see, they’re going to be in the way, eventually.

We lit the fire pit on Saturday night. Used some of those sticks, from above. Did not make the first dent in the pile of them, at all.

And when I say we lit the fire pit, this time I mean I did it. I got outside before my lovely bride, and so I could set things up. I used the drier wood, which I’ve been stacking in the greenhouse away from the other stuff, exposed to the most recent elements. The wood that we have here is old and seasoned and so the effort means little more than keeping the most recent rains off the graying splinter distributors, but that’s enough.

I put some pine straw down under a teepee-style arrangement of those sticks. Around all of that I built a log cabin-style stack of wood. I put two sparks on it, it wooshed to life and I was able to sit back and enjoy the blaze. If I don’t get outside first, I spend the next hour or so trying to bring efficient combustion to chaos.

The lesson is clear: let me build the fire.

This little sprig of moss is thriving in the dark behind the grill. I’m not even sure, now, how I noticed him. But I did, and so here we are. The light got in there just right and now this will soon wind up as one of the new banners on the blog.

Perhaps you’ve had a busy Monday, and you need to unwind. I have just the idea: take a brief vacation to the California coastline in this video.


Perhaps I’m the only one amused by slow motion waves. That’d be OK too. But on the off chance you like them, too …


And now, I must head over to campus and teach a class. Tonight we will discuss the battle for our attention online, and then I will try to keep the class’ attention while I introduce them to video editing via Adobe Premiere Pro. It is no one’s favorite class, but it figures into the rapidly approaching final for this class. So a remarkable thing happens. We all learn to love it.

Mar 24

An unusually quick Friday post

We will return you to your regularly scheduled Friday post next week, perhaps. Right now, I am ahead, busy and behind in all of the most unusual ways. As it relates most to the Friday material, I don’t have anything in the queue. Shame on me for only scanning three weeks worth at a time, when, clearly, there should be six weeks prepared at any given moment.

The lamentations will continue at another time, and quietly, but, for now, this is a quicker way to work through a few Friday things.

The forsythia looks beautiful. We have several in the backyard, like this one here.

And there’s one proud and well shaped one that stands on one of the front corners of the property.

These, I wish, stayed just like this all year. They are gorgeous from any distance, any time of day.

Welcome back to California, where we enjoyed this spot a little over a week ago. This is Spooner’s Cove, a part of Montana de Oro State Park, near Los Osos, California.


Spooner’s Cove is where Islay Creek empties into the Pacific Ocean. It’s a beautiful spot, in California’s lifetime undergoing the long, patient process of turning from a rugged and dramatic place where land meets the sea into a beautiful and calm beach. All of California feels like it is in that process. The human impression and human memory seems so long, but it is so fleeting to the waves and the winds and the rocks. We think we understand, we’ve only begun to realize what we don’t know.

Anyway, the cove has a pebbly beach, tide pools, caves, and unique rock formations to climb around on especially at lower tides. (There was an arch, so typical of the central California coast, but it collapsed from the weather and erosion just a few years ago.)

Oh, and if you want to see something wonderful, take an adult who grew up around tide pools back to tide pools. A remarkable thing happens.

I often tell journalism students that the difference between them and nursing students and engineering students is a simple one. Nurses work on anatomical models to learn their craft. Engineering majors will use popsicle sticks and other materials and some complex software before they’re ever allowed to touch plans that will lead to a bridge or a dam. We learn our craft in public. And here’s further proof.

Student journalists from the Daily Iowan, a non-profit paper, have purchased two local newspapers saving them from shutting down. Students from the University of Iowa will help both papers cover their communities. Iowa student journalists buy two local papers saving them from closure

What will kill cable television, and severely hurt the business of the regular networks in terms of revenues? The diminution of sports on regular TV. Do NFL Sign-ups Stick Around?

While some may assume a majority of users who sign-up around tentpole events (like big NFL games) will quickly cancel, this isn’t borne out in the data. In the case of Peacock, by the end of February, nearly seven weeks after the AFC Wild Card Weekend, Antenna observed 29% of the AFC Wild Card sign-up cohort had canceled their subscription, meaning 71% remained subscribed. Peacock’s one month survival rate across all 2023 sign-ups was 78%.

For Paramount+, Antenna observed that at the end of February 65% of the Super Bowl LVIII sign up cohort either remained subscribed to their paid subscription or had converted their free trial to paid. Antenna’s initial Paramount+ estimate does not include iTunes distribution, which Antenna estimates was 21% of the Paramount sign-ups.

I hope everyone is paying attention, and programming and planning accordingly.