Jan 13

Clever title to come

Hey, did you notice? I updated all the photo galleries! I changed the font on the blog! And I added new banners to the top and bottom of this page! There are 36 headers and footers now. Refresh to see them all!

I also changed the site’s links to a server side include system. And I’ve tinkered with some other ideas too. These are productive times.

Rode a few miles on the bike. Not very many because I am still sore. Maybe someone will say differently, but there is a difference in suffering and hurting on a bicycle. I don’t mind the legs and the lungs and the feet and the seat. But my neck — which is connected to my collarbone and shoulder — that hurts. It is something about the necessary posture of cycling and whatever related muscular problems I’m enjoying.

Can’t even stay on the bike long enough yet to suffer, a point of honor when it comes to a bicycle, so I take it easy. Which is a good thing since my fitness is presently lousy.

So I did a little work on a paper, I cleaned out an inbox and made a lot of recruiting phone calls, talking to high school students who are looking for their college. I get the chance to talk up Samford, our journalism and broadcast and public relations programs, the student media, the new MBA program and more. Lots of good fun.

Had a long dinner at an Irish place with a friend, we talked sports and the rodeo and cannons, which just capped off a fine day.

Good thing, since tomorrow will be a lot like it.

Also, Justified, Justified, Justified:

Jan 13

Return to the saddle once more

Wake up!


Your time of slumber is over, Cateye and Felt. I have many, many miles to start adding back into my routine. And today is the day that slowly starts. Today is my first day on the road since the crash and the subsequent surgery.

Looking back on those helmet photographs in the crash post makes me queasy. Thinking about how that lousy ER wasn’t concerned at all about my head just makes me angry.

Time marches on and now I can pedal on. I have a new tire on my bike, a Gatorskin. Everything is tuned up. I put on a pair of bibs for the first time since June — I’ve been riding the stationary in normal lycra. The bib strap goes right over my collarbone, which I hadn’t even considered, and that was the first thing that came to mind when I pulled on the straps.

Put on a jersey, threw on my new cycling jacket — a lovely Christmas gift this year. Filled the water bottles, put on the bike shoes, noted I was missing a glove and searched that out. Filled the tires with air. Put on my new helmet, which was a gift from my mother not too long after I crashed. Matches my bike almost perfectly and was a great way to inspire. I’ve thought a lot about that new helmet while recovering.

Walked the bike outside. Felt a bit anxious about it. I told The Yankee, right about here:


I don’t normally get too worked up about things, but there are questions. Will I remember how to balance? Can I clip out of the pedals without embarrassing myself? Can I manage to stay upright? What happens the first time I really I have to lean into the handlebars? Will the shifting still make sense? What will I do when I see debris in the road?

That’s what caused the accident, after all.

Turns out, as she said when I clipped in, it is just like riding a bike. So I stood over the frame and smiled and pedaled off to the road behind our house, where I start to warm my legs.

There was a lot of energy in my legs today, but my lungs felt impressively shriveled. That’s OK though. This was just a refresher ride. I have to figure out how it all feels and what I can hold up to. I’m a long way from doing real miles, and that’s sad and —

Ow. My neck is stiff. I’ll blame forgetting the cycling posture. But I did a little warmup ride. I had to climb one little hill. I felt gassed, but not terribly embarrassed should anyone see me. I’ve got a great scar I can use as an excuse and this is just day one.

So a few weeks, I said, of just getting everything back under me. And then I can think about miles and fitness. But I’m riding again.

Riding again.

Dec 12

This plumbing has happened before, this plumbing will happen again

For the seventh time in our two-plus years in the house I undertook a plumbing chore this evening. The working mechanism in the tank of one of our toilets had forgotten how to turn off — a plastic tab having turned to dust or what have you — which threatened an overflow and so on.

The good news is that this is the third one of these I’ve replaced in the last 18 months. At least it is easy.

The big thing is keeping everything dry. You have to drain the tank, and then climb between the cabinet and the porcelain and work your way through two plastic bolts. These were made in China, of course, so they are the best plastic money can buy.

And then there’s the water dripping, because a little drip is better than a lot of sponge drying. After that the new device, which will surely find some way to crumble before 2014 arrives, goes in.

Seen another way this is really an exercise in defying the Mayans, who were big on plumbing:

A water feature found in the Maya city of Palenque, Mexico, is the earliest known example of engineered water pressure in the new world, according to a collaboration between two Penn State researchers, an archaeologist and a hydrologist. How the Maya used the pressurized water is, however, still unknown.

“Water pressure systems were previously thought to have entered the New World with the arrival of the Spanish,” the researchers said in a recent issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. “Yet, archaeological data, seasonal climate conditions, geomorphic setting and simple hydraulic theory clearly show that the Maya of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico, had empirical knowledge of closed channel water pressure predating the arrival of Europeans.”

I had no idea I’d find that story when I started the Mayan joke.

Anyway, after a few attempts, the washer was seated. The newest fine plastic from China was in place and tightened.

Also replaced some light bulbs in the other bathroom, because electricity with wet hands is fun for everyone! And because if you’re going to one of the home improvement stores you may as well combine your misery. The bulbs are on the primary aisle when you walk in and the cheap plumbing stuff isn’t far away. Naturally, since I knew exactly what I needed tonight, I ran into two staffers who offered to help.

“Yes. Can you just wait here? Soon enough something I don’t understand will inevitably break in my house.”

We did our Christmas cards tonight. I was responsible for the stamps and the return address. The cards look great, because my lovely bride picked them out. I think everyone most in our address book is getting one.

Everyone else is getting an email with a JPG attachment.

Then I made a Christmas card for Allie. I’ll put it here tomorrow.

Tonight I also added several new banners for the blog. Many of the new ones are a departure from the thin 900 by 200 pixel design. Tell me what you think. (And reload to see more. Or see them all in one place, here.) My next trick will be to organize them in something that resembles a seasonal classification.

Oh, hey, there are new things on the Samford journo blog:

Maps that tell stories

A few lessons from Newton media coverage

You saw the Newtown picture now read the story behind it

There’s also Twitter and Tumblr and this, the complete Star Trek trailer.

See you tomorrow. Remember: Allie’s Christmas card will be here.

Oct 12

Pictures, lots of pictures

Did a photojournalism presentation for my class today. I showed the Taylor Morris photo essay I mentioned yesterday. I handed out some notes. I showed off some audio/visual slide presentations, silly stuff really.

I talked about all of these photos for an awfully long time:

If you’ve been visiting the site — or lurking in the photo gallery section — over the years you’ve probably seen many of those.

Just remember, some of the shots in that slideshow are meant to be bad. Most of them are average, at best. I told the students today that I had one photojournalism class with a brilliant professor and another photography class with another talented teacher, but I’ve had photos sprinkled in newspapers and magazines and on websites and in books here and there over the years. Not because I’m a great photographer. Click through there, you’ll see.

I’m a serviceable photographer, I told the students. Being there, researching the subject matter, knowing how to tell a story visually, anticipating the action, knowing your equipment, understanding a handful of basic photographic techniques and having extra batteries … that counts.

Link bait from the school blog: What will the iPad mini mean for journalism? I wrote that on my phone. Technology is amazing.

Oct 12

“Would you mind if I take your picture?”

Woke up early. Went to sleep late. That probably explains the dozing off I did this evening.

But I had a nice workout this morning, moved some weight around, turned muscles this way and that. Rode the stationery bike for an hour or so to get a good sweat. I’m ready to ride my bike on roads again. I’m still trying to wait out my shoulder, though. This, he said for the 13th week in a row, is getting old.

Had a meeting with the boss. Did some work on our scholarship program. Had lunch. Critiqued two newspapers and challenged the editorial staff to make their work even bigger and better. Gave an interview to a freshman.

Ran around campus and took pictures. I wanted to take some shots to demonstrate what not to do. This is surprisingly easy for photographers like me. So here are a few of those. But look! The back of her head is in focus!


Ms. Debbie keeps our department running smoothly. She’s such a sweet lady. And now she’s pretending to do work with some of our students. The young lady you can’t say was a section editor at the Crimson last year. Her friend there is a student and a model. You should see the shots where he is mugging for the camera.

Too wide. Far too wide. No information, but it has some motion into the background!


Frisbee is a big part of the quad culture, so show it differently, I’ll say. I asked this guy and his friend if I could take a few shots. “We’re not very good,” they said. “Fine, I’ll just crouch in between you. Buzz me.”

You have to suffer for your art. Also, fill the frame. Motion, action, showing the face. No rule of thirds, though:


I can’t count all the things I did wrong with this picture. Now I have to point them out to my students:


Dogs! On campus! This can be exciting and cute. But not if you compose the shot like this:


Unusual and creative and illustrative compositions make for better photography. Dogs learn the world through their noses, so this one is slightly better:


I took that picture five years ago, in a different state. Looks like the same pooch, though.

So I walked all over campus looking for things to do right and wrong to show in class next week. Now I’m type the rest of the night away. Some kind of life I’m lucky to live.