Nov 21

Thanksgiving Eve

I slept in until 9 a.m. this morning, which was lovely. I could get used to not having an alarm. I’ve spent the day puttering around the house, which would get old before too long, I’m sure. But I haven’t gotten anything accomplished today, which will be old by Friday.

I did record a podcast last night. Talked to a former student for a new show I’m rolling out after the first of the year. So that takes care of two days of productivity, I suppose.

OK, the lack of accomplishing thing kicked in just now. So I’ve beaten my tolerance prediction by two days. That, in a way, is an achievement, right?

No wonder I’m a bit tired.

One last thing from my Monday visit to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center. Have you ever heard a lion roar? I had not. They say the sound can be heard up to five miles away. That seems unrealistic, until you hear it. We heard two lions and some lionesses. And now I believe it. You’d absolutely hear this miles away. And if you heard it in the wild it would definitely hold your attention. Anyway, they’re showing off here.

There’s a little clip of a lion, a bit of a lioness, and the third clip is just a silent bit of watching the lion walk around. This was a unique experience. Turn on your audio and press play.

These are all rescued animals. They’ve never been in the wild. And they have a good life here. The only part I don’t like is hearing about how the animals came to them. Some of them have terribly sad backstories. But they are well looked after, and it’s obvious and apparent the passion the staff have for the animals in their charge.

If you didn’t see them, I shared some high quality photos of the tigers and lions on Monday and again yesterday.

I started my winter indoor cycling season on Saturday. It was an easy 20 mile ride, averaging 19 miles per hour, with 535 feet of ascent. Pedestrian numbers, but it felt great considering how long I’ve been off my bike — for no reason whatsoever. The ride was in the Makuri Islands, which is a fictional Zwift locale. The part at the end looks something like this.

I finished in eighth in one of the sprints, which is weird. I am not a sprinter.

On Tuesday we rode in Watopia, one of the classic Zwift routes. It was a quick 16 mile ride and I set two Strava PRs. No one cares, but the route looks like this.

And today we did a few loops around London. Clearly that’s the Thames. I was looping Westminster and Belgravia and maxed out at 37.3 miles per hour.

But, if I say 60 kilometers an hour, it sounds like something serious. All the metrics say I maxed out at 1,276 watts and averaged 20.9 miles per hour. I’m slow.

Oh, here’s a sports thing. It’s Thanksgiving, of course, and the students have the whole week off, but my friend Ta Lao is still producing good stuff.

Ta talks to IU’s goalkeeper about his amazing year and, at 3:20, that save. That sequence was number one on Sportscenter’s Top 10 that evening, and I’m still in awe of it. And you can see it, right there in that video.

Ta is an IUSTV beat reporter for men’s soccer, which is in the national championship tournament yet again. He also published today an interview with the team’s head coach and one of the young players. He also covers soccer in his native Thailand and runs podcasts and a video channel and who knows what else. Oh, and he’s also a student. The guy is tireless.

It helps to be tireless in student media. It’s almost a prerequisite.

After which I re-read the first three paragraphs on this post and laughed.

Nov 21

You’ve got video options

Right as I cross the street onto campus I walk under this ginko tree. It was having a busy morning. And this is your moment of Friday meditation. It’s 60 seconds. Just watch it over and over until your weekend begins.

I will.

This is directly below that same tree, and it’s the next installment in my jigsaw puzzle project.

Wouldn’t you like to have a whole series of puzzles like that? I think it’s a 5000-piece puzzle. And, of course, as my contribution to the innovation puzzle industry, I’m proposing two-sided puzzles. This side yellow leaves, the other side red leaves.

One more show before the Thanksgiving break. This is the talk show the sports gang produced Wednesday evening. So if leaves aren’t your things, there’s always more sports talk to be had, right?

This week’s episode is a deep examination of the current state of the NFL.

And if you’re not in the mood for leaves or sports talk, here’s a car chase I watched this live this evening. One of the better ones I’ve ever seen. It had a little bit of everything — high speeds, PIT attempts, spike strips, wrong-way-down-the-freeway, bystanders trying to pitch in, a standoff, K-9, rubber bullets, bumper cars — it was a roller coaster of emotion and, happily, no one was hurt.

Some Fridays you just want a good chase and some Fridays deliver.

The daily duds: Pictures of clothes I put here to, hopefully, help avoid embarrassing scheme repeats.

Here’s a pocket square I made. First time I’ve worn it.

And I also made these cufflinks this summer, as well.

Looked pretty snazzy for a quiet day in the office.

And that’s my last day before the break. There will be some stuff here next week, so if you’ve not logged off for the week, stop back by and see the good stuff.

Nov 21

The two promised unusual things

We’re coming to the last of it. The brilliant, crisp days before the gray moves in permanently, and the final trees before everything is just point sticks into the sky. Within the next week or so winter will set in, most decidedly, with an awkward plop. But, until then, we still have some lovely views of a few vibrant sweetgums.

These are on my little miniature walk from the parking deck to the office. There’s a half-block of sweetgums in a row.

I don’t know who planted, or left them, there, but it was the right choice, and I silently thank them for that decision this time of year.

It’s a good view walking east.

I had to walk further that direction on campus, today, because we signed up for the voluntary asymptomatic Covid tests. The university has been doing these on campus since the beginning. Initially all of the samples went to New Jersey, but they built a lab for this campus, and the one in Bloomington, and now you get your results in hours.
Anyway, this is part of that walk, from the Old Crescent, across Spanker’s Branch, past the IMU and the hotel (yes, there’s a giant hotel on campus) and one of the ancient gymnasia.

In fact, where they are conducting the tests is a small gym of some sort. Not sure what it is used for when we’re not in the midst of a pandemic, but today you register online, walk in, swipe your campus ID card at the first table, answer three questions, “Have you had anything to eat or drink in the last half hour? Have you had any symptoms? Have you been advised to quarantine?”

I remember the first time they asked you these aloud. Now they just point. The product of doing anything a few thousand times is finding the easiest way to do it. I also remember when I used to read the sign, now I just assume they haven’t changed the questions. No, no, no.

And then you go to a second table, two young men are sitting there waiting on the printer to produce a label that they wrap on the little plastic tube. They used to tell you how much saliva to produce. Now they just ask if you’ve done this before.

I have! It’s an asymptomatic testing site, and we’ve fortunately never had any symptoms, but it’s good to have the peace of mind before traveling or having guests.

So now you have that little tube in your head and you’ve been working the saliva glands overtime for the last few minutes. Produce, produce, produce. The first time or two you do this, it seems daunting. But the students are right: after you’ve had the experience you can generate that kind of spit on demand.

In the gym they’ve created lanes and there are stickers and don’t stand too near anyone because everyone’s mask is lowered and it’s time to spit into the little plastic container. You have to fill it to the bottom of the sticker. Did it in record time. Cap the sucker off, wipe it down with a few wet naps, put it in the tray and hope that the person who picks those up at the end of the day isn’t feeling clumsy. Then you get out of there. You get notified of the test results in a few hours.

(Update: Negative again, as expected. Bring on the in-laws.)

And then it was back to the office, for office stuff.

After work I walked the three blocks to the local public library. I’ve had a book on hold there for some time and this week Craig Johnson’s latest became available to me.

I enjoyed this lovely maple just outside the building.

Then I went inside — one of the few places I’ve been during the pandemic, and though I’ve been here twice, it’s one of only two dozen or so public buildings I have visited in the last 18 months — the library which is always amusing. It is built into an uneven plot of land. So going through this particular door means you go down an immediate flight of stairs. The children’s section is to the right and the used book store is nearby and there are a few meeting rooms and offices down there. It has a half-submerged feeling, not the least which is because of the large set of stairs that sweeps up and to the left to get to the main floor of books.

I walked down to immediately walk back up. And where those stairs deposit you is right next to the rows of reserve books. In fact the books for people with S names is directly in front of me, and mine is in the first section, at knee level. I was able to grab that quickly and say a silent thanks to the person who keeps those well alphabetized, and used the kiosk to check myself out. Scan my card, input my password, scan the book, print the receipt. And then back down the grand staircase, and then immediately up the half staircase to exit.

All of the power of a library, none of the human interaction. The most time intensive part, aside from waiting for the book to become available, was inputting my eight-character password.

Outside, I found another potential candidate for my jigsaw puzzle series.

And I walked back to the parking deck. Here’s one of the same sweetgums I photographed this morning, and showed you above.

Brilliant as they are, they really do need the right kind of sunlight. Either way, it’s a shame photographs can’t convey the real sense of a quality leaf turn.

So there you go, two new stories for an otherwise average Thursday. I spat in a cup and a checked out a book.

It’s all downhill from there.

And here’s the routine sharing of this week’s sports show. Lots of highlights to check out from the IU students, and it’s all brought to you by the IU broadcast students.

The daily duds: Pictures of clothes I put here to, hopefully, help avoid embarrassing scheme repeats.

I think this combination did better in person than in the photographs. Anyway, a new pocket square.

And a pair of the cufflinks I made this past summer.

And I am now one day closer to the Thanksgiving break. Just one day to go!

Nov 21

Another Wednesday down

Saw this on my morning 5K. You’ll forgive the composition and fuzzy focus, but I was running, sorta. Also, this didn’t seem the place to stop and frame a shot.

And this is the difference a month makes. On October 17th, that’s cute, neighborhood kitsch. On November 17th, the neighbors have had enough. And it could come off as creepy to the rest of us.

But, just maybe, there’s a kid that lives there that really loves Halloween. Favorite holiday of the year. Why can’t it be Halloween every Sunday? In which case, keep that ghost dancing.

That wasn’t the only spooky thing of the day. Dig that sky.

And take it back on with you. I could do without all those clouds. I will get more clouds than I want, so feel free to grab a few of these gray skies when you go.

Tonight was the last night in the studio before Thanksgiving. It was a sports night. And I can share those shows with you tomorrow and later this week. For now, two little news shows are here for your consideration. Here’s Hoosier News Source:

And once you’ve gotten all the headlines and weather you need, you can stroll on over and find out what’s up on What’s Up Weekly. (They’re taste-testing pies, just in time for Thanksgiving.)

And at least one sports show will be here tomorrow. I watched them shoot it tonight.

The daily duds. This is an alma mater tie.

And I learned you shouldn’t wear contrasting shades of orange. I had a different orange as a pocket square, saw it in the mirror and tucked it away. But I stuck with the cufflinks. They were a bit more low key.

Orange you glad I learned that lesson? You’d think I’d already know that, having attended a school that used orange in the color scheme, but somehow that never came up.

What’s going to come up tomorrow? I have to do at least two unusual things and surely there will be a new story out of at least one of those, right? Come back tomorrow. Let’s find out together!

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.