Aug 20

I had no idea

Did anyone lose some nice risers and a little canopy and some other stage implements? Because they’re just sitting out here in Dunn Meadow.

The university has set up several of these temporary outdoor venues. In addition to the county’s health restrictions the university has put their own rules in place to cap group sizes. And, whenever possible, they’re trying to get student groups to use the little places like this. They’re not all built the same, or the same size, and I’m sure there’s a strategy for all of that.

No one, I’m convinced, is capable of thinking of everything when it comes to restarting things anew in these curious circumstances. Every answer prompts a new half-dozen questions, who could have all the answers? It is encouraging to see all of the things they have thought of, and to see the way the university is investing in doing this as safely as possible. It won’t be perfect, but it’s a big, big effort.

And, to me, after the institutional-level stuff, it comes down to basic human habits and structures and our personal responsibilities.

My hands, for example, have never been as clean as they’ve been these last few months. In and out of the house, time for a sing-along. Pass a hand sanitizer at the office, rub-it-in, rub-it-in. Have to run an errand around time, take a hit off the travel stash.

Who knows what else I’ve avoided while trying to be diligent about the current public health crisis.

I learned something interesting today. This style of mask is slimming if you wear it upside down.

Imagine my chagrin when I saw that in a mirror. That should teach me to tie my mask as I’m walking from the parking deck to the building.

Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of people in our building in this first week of classes, so no one noticed and I was able to correct the problem. Dodged one there.

Dodge people. That’s good advice when you are committing fashion faux pas.

Aug 20

Happy National Radio Day

I worked in radio, a few lifetimes ago. I have a great radio transmitter sign, it reads:





A station engineer gave it to me once upon a time. Too bad he didn’t need to offload a transmitter and broadcast license that day, I suppose. Anyway, sitting right under it, and looking rather out of place because of it, is my Silvertone 8090 AM radio, from 1948.

You wonder what news and entertainment the original owners enjoyed through that cabinet, and how it came to my hands.

I purchased it from a retired educator about three years ago. Restoring radios, he said, was his retirement hobby. Feeling a bit like I was on a reality show, I got him to tell me all about his process and show me his other radios. He gave me a tour of the ones he was tinkering on in his garage, and the finished radios that held pride of place in his home. I got him to drop his price a bit and we loaded it up in the car. It still powers up, and I turned it on when I got it home. I listened to part of a football game on the local AM station.

One day I’ll actually put a Bluetooth speaker in there and play big band music from within the cabinet. But I have to move all of the things in my home office four or five more times first. (Another shuffle is coming this weekend!)

The gentleman I bought it from came to campus a few weeks later and I gave him and his wife a mini-tour of The Media School. They were quite pleased by all that we are doing for students. (I believe she was an educator, too.) On their way out he said he was thinking of selling one of his really, really nice radios. One of the few sorts I’d really want. It was an early console radio with station presets. I could put my old station call letters on the buttons. How neat this would be! We’d talked about them for some time in his home, and I knew better than to ask. But on his campus visit he said he was maybe thinking about selling one, one day.

Which was the time to say, if you do, I hope you’ll consider giving me a chance to make an offer.

I keep checking my Facebook messages to see if he’s ever written me about selling it … no luck on National Radio Day.

Aug 20

To get even with yesterday

This was yesterday. We had a bike ride and I worked at it a little bit and sweated and probably made some straining faces in-between big gasping breaths and managed to stick on her wheel for a while.

And then I passed her and she had to chase me for a change. She, of course, was able to do this effortlessly.

And when I got in I did the thing I’ve been meaning to do for a few days now, but I’ve gotten a little negligent and forgetful about for some reason. I cleaned and lubed my bicycle chain.

It’s a simple process, you take off the computer, flip the bike over, wipe all the gunk and grease off the chain and the put a little drop of this on the links and then spin it around the cassette on the big gear and the little one, enjoying the smell and the satisfaction that you’re ride will at least be quiet the next time you get outside.

We’re going to learn. Eventually. Today will not be that day.

This was my biggest contribution to the internet today. I think you’ll appreciate it, as well.

More on Twitter, and check me out on Instagram as well.

Jul 20

Masks can be art, too

We went out for an errand today. We, being the responsible sort, wore masks.

It’s odd, somehow, that we’re the responsible ones. We went out to get gas for the cars. More so because we had to use some fuel points before they expire at the end of the month than needing fuel. We missed the expiration of fuel points last month. And the month before that we got fuel because it was cheap, and we had a big discount and not-at-all empty tanks.

We’re staying at home. (I mean, just look at that hair.) We’re wearing masks. I hope you are too. Keep yourself safe. And, do it for others.

Also, these masks — highlighting the mascot, Gritty, and the band, Guster — were presents from The Yankee’s god-sister, who is very kind and works with this stuff in a university laboratory. So she wants you to wear a mask, too.

I had this setup in place today:

And if the many pieces of foam are up that can only mean one thing in my tiny home-office. It’s time to record something.

This gentleman is the director of the Eskenazi Museum here on the IU campus. They have 45,000 objects, with about 1,400 on display. Wikipedia tells me the collection ranges from Picasso to Pollock. There’s ancient jewelry and artifacts from all over the world. Coming up, when they reopen in the next few weeks, will be a wide array of exhibits. But, here, we talked about how museums, in general, are doing without foot traffic.

It’s a great museum, even if he wasn’t ready, today, to say when they are re-opening. That news, he said, is coming next week. I’m guessing late August, early September.

And you’ll need to wear a mask.

Jul 20

I had no idea where this was going

Everyone is just waiting for this week to be over, right? Or is that just me? There’s nothing wrong with the week, mind you, but there’s nothing of note about it, either. I owe a few phone calls to people, just to catch up, but I could sum this week up embarrassingly quickly. It’s been that kind of week.

I’m hesitant to call it ennui, which would probably be overstating things. Perhaps it is a small measure of ennui.

A wee bit of ennui.

Wee ennui?


Here’s a bit of advice: if you’re ever reading anything where the writer is making fun of word sounds and he can only draw words with etymologies traced back to just two languages for his joke, you should consider clicking ahead to the next thing on your reading list.

Unless those two etymologies take you to French and Scottish. Classic exception to the rule, and a good way to keep you here for now.

Here’s something we can talk about.

That’s the creek out back of our house. It isn’t ours, but it’s passing by close enough that the sounds drift into the yard, so the sounds are ours. It’s a shallow thing. You can’t swim in it and you won’t want to float down this part of it. And in places you can jump right across.

It’s fed out of a pond just up the street a bit. Olympians swim in that pond. A FINA Masters World Championship swimmer swims in it. A USA Triathlon Olympic Distance national championship participant swims in it. A North American Ironman Championship finisher swims in it.

Most of those are my wife. She’s not an Olympian, yet, but she knows a few. And we’re always on the lookout for a country with lax representation rules and no Olympic program in something we can halfway do. We’re going to be Olympians yet! Probably it will be in something like creek floating, or obscure knowledge. Those are events, right?

At any rate, that water above drains into another creek which went into a reservoir that was the town’s water supply for a part of the 20th century. Now the water comes from a larger lake, which was dammed in 1965. And the second named creek that that water above is heading to goes through there. That second creek puts out 495 cubic feet per second, Wikipedia tells me. (In the 1970s they found a new strain of a bacteria in it. The study was prompted by an outbreak of Legionnaires disease on campus.) And that 495 cubic feet per second flows into the White River, which in 1997, was listed as one of the United States’ most threatened rivers. Pesticides, pollution and overflow sewage. Hooray, Indiana.

The White flows into the Wabash River, which is big enough to have songs written about it. It was named by the Miami Indians and the translation has to do with the clear water quality. “Water over white stones.” You could see the limestone river bed. The French explored it, and French traders traveled north and south from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. fought five battles on it in 33 years. Some of them you’ve heard of in passing. It became an instrument of commerce, this river, and it featured canals and its flow defined geopolitical borders. Today, 411 miles of its full 503-mile length flows freely. Its watershed drains much of the state before running into the Ohio River.

Water is funny like that. The bodies near you have this way of figuring into everything. Topography, economics, agriculture, travel, recreation, history, and can promote great diverse local ecologies. And if it isn’t too dirty, you can drink it!

That creek above runs into two more creeks, and then it flows into two more rivers and ultimately reaches the Ohio River. It would be an exciting trip for a rubber duckie, don’t you think?

If the duckie was the adventurous sort.