Mar 18

Old dusty books

Back to the books! This part of the site is devoted to my grandfather’s books. I never got to know the man, he died a few months after I was born, but over the years, I’ve been given a few of his things. Including a lot of books.

If you click the link above you’ll see the books already uploaded to the site. Right now we’re checking out a few publications he had when he was a bit older, because almost 60-year-old advertisements are always fun. And so here we have the November 1960 Reader’s Digest:

Click the cover and you’ll get today’s installment, which gives us pages five through eight in our quick flip through this book as I attempt to once again make this a weekly feature. Also, check out the main section and you can see a classic literature book, some great science illustrations, some notes, newspaper clippings from his youth and more.

Slow day around these parts. Spring break for students, most of the faculty and staff have ducked out of town too. So it is quiet and sunny everywhere, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Let’s celebrate with song! I heard Lake Street Dive at lunch today and that meant I stayed in the restaurant for three more minutes to enjoy the tune. Now you can enjoy it too:

The TV group made for a cool photo essay feature in an alumni magazine. I don’t think I’ve shared that here yet, but here they are now.

Mar 18

My part has, hopefully, been done for the day

I did my part this morning. It was either that or just accept my plastic and aluminum and cardboard fate. As I did all of the on-site sorting, it started flurrying again.

‪"Now stop the snow and make with the spring."‬

A post shared by Kenny Smith (@kennydsmith) on

And I’m not even asking much in return, except for a little meteorological recognition of the time of year.

It’s springtime. It should be sunny and warm. People should be taking vacations and … oh … well, I sorta wrote myself into a corner with this one. The podcast today was about vacation photos and a very popular Instagram account.

And, finally, I did an impromptu and unscripted sports show tonight. I played co-anchor with the guy on the right, in the video below. It was entertaining, at least. And then they all sat down and produced this show, which is still pretty neat to me:

More! On Twitter, on Instagram and more podcasts.

Mar 18

The bricks are now doing the talking

So last year, in a town that likes its bicycling, the city council decided to let bikes on sidewalks. Or, more accurately, they just legitimized something that was already happening and not being enforced. The biggest argument for it was “I’m scared to ride on the roads.” And that’s not an illegitimate concern – have you seen people that drive?

The biggest argument against was “Bicycles don’t belong on sidewalks.” I happen to like this argument, and I am not unsympathetic toward the elderly residents who complained about what changing the rules might mean for where they walk around.

Nevertheless, the city made it OK to ride your bikes on sidewalks. Except for a few high profile walkways, where these messages are now appearing:

In a perfect world, with unlimited resources and no lost days to weather or personnel or legal disputes, I’d build a secondary path that followed the primary roads. This would be for bikes. And I could drop this into place instantly and people would come up with interesting ways to break the rules set up for safety. Because that’s just what some people will do.

I bet I could go sit by that dismount notice for just a few minutes and manage to take a picture of someone riding or skating over it. That’s just what some people will do.

Today’s podcast was with my old friend Justin Thurman. The story we discussed has to do with how technology is hurting the youth, this time.

I used to work with him way back when. He may be one of the people that interviewed me, as I was leaving broadcasting. Super nice guy, just smart and thoughtful as can be. He’s one of those knows a lot about a lot kind of people. And he’s got this super cool kid and his wife is a wonderful human being. Now I think I’ve finally arranged this so that I can do a show with him on a regular basis, which was really the ultimate goal of the entire show, if you ask me on the right day.

(Tomorrow’s show will feature the guy who was our boss.)

(Tomorrow will also feature a road trip, so I must go pack a few things. Ta ta for now.)

You’ll find more on Instagram and still more on Twitter. And you can hear more podcasts on Podbean as well.

Feb 18

Tomorrow is going to hurt, but tonight was a blast

We’ve had a lot of sports on my little podcast lately, so I turned to a straight up newsman for today’s episode. Dominick Jean is a news editor at the IDS, and he’s telling us about a historic drought that could mean the end of running water in Cape Town, South Africa:

Meanwhile, in South Korea:

And, later, or much later which became a time better described as “early,” women’s hockey was offering an incredible product:

Feb 18

I learn more, know less, forget just as much: Memories

I was in the sixth grade when we heard the helicopter land. My school was on what was then a quiet little country road intersection, with a new interstate about a three-wood off the front lawn. It was a K-12 school then, and it was a school and a community hub in many ways. The only other development there then was on the diagonal lot, where a church was waiting for the exurb to grow, and the extra parishioners to come with it.

I think we were at lunch, and we heard the big thump thump thumping sound. It was a helicopter and it was low. We were due a new principal that day. The place had enjoyed the same woman running the joint for years, she’d become a favorite. (I believe she’s retired and living down at the beach now. Good for her.) This was a WPA school built to look like a prison, or a brutalish battleship, and we got a new chief, one full of fight. Or something. (She’s now a deputy superintendent at the state level.) So we thought this new person must be making a grand arrival. Thump, thump, thump, thump. A little much, we thought. Thump, thump, thump.

Now, we lived out in the suburbs of a suburb. It was quiet and peaceful. Twenty minutes this way, you were in a proper metropolitan city. Just beyond our front yard was the county line and then a whole lot of country. The setup was pretty grand, but on those old county roads you’d see more accidents than sheriffs or police, and we all knew where the helicopter landing plots were for medical emergencies. But that day we’d learned that the church across from the school was one of those pre-determined spots, too.

That helicopter, you see, wasn’t for the new principal, but for the flying ambulance. Across the open field from the lunch room and downstairs beneath the gym, a boy was on the floor just about bleeding out. He’d been changing from his gym clothes when a classmate apparently spun him around and stabbed him with a great big kitchen knife. I can still see the image of it from the television news later that night. A big, ghastly thing of a butcher knife. Meant for pot roasts, not for a 16-year-old boy’s chest. The doctors, we later heard, suggested that the guy was actually. A flinch this way, a hair that way, an entirely different story. The argument had to do with a basketball goal, but there was some longstanding thing going on as well.

Which, heck of a first day for the new woman, right?

The 15-year-old attacker was charged with murder. I’m not sure what happened with him.

And then in my junior or senior year a guy came off the street and onto campus to settle some score with a classmate. I didn’t see it, but the story went that that particular student was also very lucky, as he managed to somehow fight off an armed attacker. The details were always a little murky on that one. But another story was perfectly clear. In a second floor classroom one day that same year some kid was fiddling with a gun in his pocket and it went off. Somehow the bullet came through his pants, didn’t hit him and lodged in the floor. I distinctly remember this because that year I had a class in the room directly below it that semester. This guy apparently sprinted from the classroom, out the nearest door and threw the gun in the bushes. The gun, we heard, was never found.

These are stupid stories. The last two may be full of hearsay, to be honest. The first was very true; I remember it well. I knew the guy’s sister. There were other stories, and we lost classmates to horrible accidents. I was in a math class and heard someone come over the public address system in obvious tears to tell us that a boy in my grade had died from a gunshot wound. We knew he’d been clinging, I’m sure they told us the prognosis wasn’t the best. But we were still stunned. I’d played soccer with him for a year or two. Nice guy, talented kid. And then class carried on and a few days later I went to the funeral home and I’m sure said something foolish to his parents. It seemed like every year there was at least one fatal car accident to hear about, and you’d hear those helicopters every so often.

Ours was, by and large, a good school, a signature piece in the district, but we thought we’d seen and heard a lot. I have a hard time putting myself in those classrooms today, thinking what must it be like to have some story like that coming out of Parkland, Florida flooding the news. I have an impossible time imagining that in my old school, as I remember it. And I looked today at the young men and women I work with daily, just a year or two or four removed from their own high schools, and I am hard pressed to imagine how they would react to what we’ve seen and heard in the last two days. How could anyone know?

And so now we come to it: How does that shape those people? What is to become of them?