Tuesday


18
Jan 22

To the four-day week

The best part about a three-day weekend is that it also means a four day work week. Good thing, too. Given how things have started today, this week will feel like it will last eight days.

To sum up: At least Tuesday is done. Twenty-five percent of the work week behind me. Just 175 percent left to go.

Phoebe knows how I feel.

She had a nice opportunity for a suntan this weekend, and she enjoyed the early morning rays in the living room.

Poseidon, we might have mentioned, has recently discovered the joys of the space heater. And I mean this spoiled cat has really discovered space heaters.

To be fair, I put the blanket on the ground for him. Not so much that he’d have a blanket, but because he’s guaranteed to lay on it, and that might, hopefully, help him make the connection between the tall white thing and the hot air blowing out of it.

He is, as you might imagine, appreciative.

And a few quick scenes from indoor bike riding. Here’s that volcano I’ve been riding up and around and through.

I think I might have done all I can do on that course. I’d like to find another minute somewhere on the route. Two rides ago I took about 30 seconds off my bet time up the volcano. Which means that, on this last ride, I really had to push to get a few seconds off my next PR. But I did. And on this last ride I had my best time to, and up, the volcano. I worked so hard that I was 20 seconds off my pace for my best descent down the volcano. I was so tired I slowed down on the downhill part! But even if I can put those things together, I’d still be looking for 40 more seconds, somewhere. So, now, I’m making mind bets. If I could just somehow go a little harder for five extra seconds every mile …

And I’ll try that after I let my legs rest for a day or two. That always seems to serve me well.

There’s another mountain in the background of that same course. This digital mountain, as you can tell, causes digital weather.


11
Jan 22

Always fun? Always fun

I had a meeting today. I was late to that meeting. I was late to that meeting because I had another meeting. It was a meeting about a meeting that will happen later.

All of that actually happened.

Also, the following sentence fell out of my mouth.

“I’m just doing some fact checking, because that’s always fun.”

It’s the lot of an editor. You have to look into things like phone numbers and hyperlinks and dates and times. There is something gratifying about it. The writer got this right, and good for him or her! And, you hope, that when someone edits you, they’ll also take the time to make sure you’ve gotten it right.

(Bring it home with something funny here. — Editor)

Anywhoodles (That’s not what I meant — You know whoodles) it wasn’t that I was editing, or fact-checking. The weird part wasn’t that I pronounced it fun as a sort of truth-in-sarcasm aside. Why did I have to add the word always?

It isn’t always fun.

You know what else isn’t always fun? (Rhetorical questions? — Editor)

No, that joke.

What isn’t always fun is email. I used to love it so much, back when they were fun. Now it’s just spam and work. And that’s when the email is even working. Outlook was a bit glitchy today. That’s never fun.

And now I’m writing about email. (Yep, that’s always a sign. — Editor)

Anyway, that photo up there? That was what I could see from where that second meeting was held. At least I had a view for an hour.

Having a view? That’s always fun.


4
Jan 22

Of color and cats

We are in an idyllic moment of January, I suppose. The skies are clear. It won’t last long, but you don’t expect it at all, so you’re grateful for the moment. I often lament that I can handle the cold, because I’ll stay inside for most of it, just give me some blue skies. There aren’t a lot of those here, this time of year. The first half of December was surprisingly variable, but we’re in it now. And we’re in it until April. This is why I’m posting the #IndianaSkyStudy series on Instagram. Happily, as you’ll see in a moment, these last two days have thrown us for a loop. Yesterday and today I saw the sun for the first time here in almost three weeks. And, sure, part of the reason for that might be that we were gone for the better part of two weeks. You’d be correct in pointing that out.

I’d also be correct in noting the general overcastness of things here during that time. And that I did see the sun and the blue skies in the five states I was in during that time. Furthermore, I’d point out that I chose my words carefully above. And also, my site — my rules.

So it’s just a colorful post all around today, OK?

First, here is a colorful photograph that I took in Connecticut over the holidays. It’s here because who doesn’t like berries that you can’t eat in December?

It was sitting on my phone. I wanted to use it. I wanted to delete it. This is the deal I made with myself. Upload it late, and then get it out of here.

Speaking of late to uploading things, we have to do the weekly check in with the cats. They are the SEO experts in our house and they were telling me earlier today that I’m behind on the most successful feature here.

They are also the meow experts in our house, and when they talk, you’ve really no choice but to listen.

Anyway, Phoebe loves cozy blanket days. And what’s not to love about this?

She is, just so you know, completely covered by one blanket, while relaxing on top of another blanket, which is sitting on the sofa. These cats have it pretty good.

We’ve been back from our holiday travels for almost a week now and, soon, she’s going to get over her lack of cuddle angst.

Phoebe is also a fibber. She got plenty of cuddles while we were gone. She’s just turned into a “Pet me? Pet me. Pet me! PET ME!” monster. And to think, when we first got these two misfits she wanted nothing to do with me.

Do you ever wander what a pet is thinking? You should stop doing that. Poseidon would tell you that down that path lies madness.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it, but on a weekend morning The Yankee and I actually sit down and have breakfast at the little bar in our kitchen. After she’s made eggs and put the custom cover back on top of the stove, Poseidon jumps on top of it and rolls around soaking up the ambient warmth. He tries to get under the cover a lot, too, which is a fun, and then frustrating, and then fun, and then again frustrating exercise. But he stays there until my little plate is done. And he waits patiently there while I wash all the dishes. And then he finally gets his moment. I pull out some leftover napkin and rub his face with it. He loves it. Can’t get enough of it. And lately, he’s posed for pictures with the napkin.

Sure, cat’s are programmed for routine, and they’re observant. And it’s probably because we’re sitting at the kitchen island bar that he knows which day he gets to play the dirty face game. But I like to think he’s glancing at a calendar every once in a while, trying to remember, “Is this the morning I get the napkin? Do I have to wait until tomorrow?”

See? Never wonder what your pets are thinking. Because suddenly they have schedules and agendas and then your mind wanders and it suddenly gets complex.

Since I complained about the gray skies, and mentioned we’ve enjoyed two clear days, I figured I should show you proof. (I do go on about the gray a fair amount, after all.) So here’s the rare and surprising early January we’re enjoying. This was from yesterday evening.

And this was the brilliant view when I walked into our building on campus this morning.

And though I’ve been back in the office just two days, and classes don’t start until next week, I still managed to be there after hours today. But I did catch a glimpse of a sunset you don’t typically get here in January. (Or February or March.)

Tomorrow might be clear too! And it’s supposed to snow on Thursday. So we’ve got all that going for us, I guess.


22
Dec 21

The memories park

This is the park where my lovely bride played as a child. She’d dangle in the trees off to the left of the frame. And she would swing on the ropes and the monkey bars that used to stand through those woods in the background. These days we walk on the paths and run on the track.

It’s also where, 13 years ago yesterday, we took our engagement photos. We just happened to find ourselves there again yesterday, but without the snow. Because, you see, we took our photos in 19.7 degree weather.

We tried to recreate a few of the photos. Only our faithful photographer — who shot our engagement in a Nor’easter and our wedding in the hottest heat wave of the summer — wasn’t there.

Here we are today.

And 13 years ago.

Once more, today.

And, again, in 2008.

For the record, that bench was still cold, this week.

Here’s a low stone wall and the woods of Connecticut. It couldn’t be any more authentic if you put a Joe Lieberman sign out there.

And last night we picked up a pizza and had dinner with The Yankee’s college diving coach. Dan is a lovely guy. Wonderful conversation, and the best tomato pie around, from Pepe’s Pizzeria.

And, perhaps the best part, we had plenty for leftovers.


15
Dec 21

1,400 words for a Tuesday

The Yankee’s car is in the shop. It’s a radiator issue. Easily fixed, after a time. Which means she has my car. Meaning I have no car. Her car needs repairs and I need a ride. Weird how that works.

So she’s taking me back and forth to work, which is what I do, while she goes to physical therapy or athletic massage or to a dive meet or to buy a present or get the groceries. I’m not sure how I can get any present shopping done this way. But at least I didn’t have to get the groceries.

Tomorrow, on the way into the office, I’ll go to the grocery store for the third time this week anyway, just to stare at the empty shelves. It’s a hobby, I guess.

I was going to take part in some binge watching of television this evening, just to clean some things off the DVR. There’s a little meter on the side of the screen that shows the percentage of the DVR’s space still available, and I pay far too much attention to things like that. We were down to 28 percent, which is pretty low since the memory is large enough to store all of the images we’ve ever captured of space and every movie that’s ever been set in space and every television show that’s used the word “space” in any context.

But I was able to delete some accidental recordings instead. A few buttons on the remote control and 36 hours of content no one wanted disappeared, never to be seen again, or for the first time. Thirty-six hours. After that, the DVR’s little meter told me 46 percent of its memory was now available. That oughta hold through the holidays!

Speaking of things to watch, I just discovered some early 1990s television programs are on NBC’s streaming app, Peacock. It’s made for good doing-other-stuff listening, because a lot of the early episodes are of the “Why did I watch this again?” genre.

It’s Highlander. I’m talking about Highlander. The universe that’s so poorly conceived that there are two different universes. The universe so poorly conceived that in the third movie (of the first universe) they retconned the second movie and called it a dream. And the bad guy in that third movie, to bring a little gravitas to the franchise, was Mario Van Peebles. And, for the fourth movie, they started making movies in the second universe, where the first universe intervened, sort of. Which brings us to the fifth movie. It was supposed to be the first installment in a trilogy, but the movie was so bad they released it not in theaters, but on the SciFi channel.

On iMDB, which frequently has a very forgiving scoring system, that last movie earned 3.1 out of 10.

The movies are a mess, is what I’m saying. They always will be. The series, though, was better. Well, it gets better. Skimming through a few of the first season’s episodes … woof.

What’s better? Dopesick.

Recently finished this show, which I tried after a few random suggestions. Michael Keaton stars as a country doctor in the middle of the OxyContin epidemic. You know where this is going, even if you only vaguely know and you’re guessing. And then this show, based on Beth Macy’s best-selling book of the same name, comes along. It’s an eight-part series, filled with great character actors and a slow, tense build.

It’s something of a composite of recent history, and so you have the gift of hindsight. You know what’s happening, so you find yourself saying “Use your brain!” But scruples and good sense are sometimes thwarted by trust. And you want to have a word with the intransigent people at Purdue Pharma. But sometimes deserve doesn’t have anything to do with it.

That’s what the show is ultimately about, trust, searching for a way out of a hopeless situation and, now, how the people at the top of the food chain at Purdue Pharma are squirming out of this in perhaps the most frustrating way possible. It isn’t a happy show, but it is an important one. And while the show ends just before all of these please and settlements and immunities, if you watch this those recent stories will play a bit differently.

Also today, I updated some of the images on the blog. There are now 113 new images for the top and bottom of the page. Click refresh a bunch and you’ll see them all. Buried on the back of the site is a page with all of those banners, now loading 226 images. Each has a little cutline, just so I can keep all of the memories and locations straight. So I had to update that page. Then I went through that whole page updating changes to the style. Because, every so often, the Associated Press makes updates and, yes, I have to make corrections on a page no one will ever see.

Ed Williams would be proud.

Williams was our Journalism 101 professor. He called the class Newspaper Style and that class was the weed out course in our curriculum. Four exams. Score below an 86 on any of them and you failed the class. A lot of people failed the class. He drilled us for an entire quarter on the “AP Stylebook” and Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” …

… which, as you can tell, is still an influential text. I paid $5.95 for that book. It was the least expensive, and most important, textbook in the entirety of my college career.

People that survived Williams’s class could still complete this Strunk and White quote: Vigorous writing is concise.

He was also the adviser of the campus newspaper. We were all required to spend a semester there as a part of the formal curriculum. That one credit hour requirement worked it’s magic, as it was intended, and I stayed at the paper for a few years. We won two Pacemakers — essentially the collegiate Pulitzer — while I was there. And somewhere along the way Williams told us his first name, King. He disliked that and we were sworn to secrecy, or to never use it, or both, under pain of newsprint paper cuts.

I had his class almost halfway through his 30-year teaching career, and I saw him in the newsroom thereafter, of course. He always wore a tight, closed-up smile, and an air of knowing things we weren’t allowed to understand yet. Eight years or so into my career I started thinking a lot about all of that, and my student media experience and the impact all of it had on my own career. It’d be gratifying to be a small part of doing that for others one day, I thought. Soon after I had the opportunity to do that same sort of work, and now I’ve been doing that for going on 14 years.

The last time I saw him he still had that same expression. It was heartening. I was a decade or so into my career and there was still much to learn. There always is.

And a quarter of a century (good grief) or so after his class, I’m still thinking about Associated Press style.

Thanks for that, Ed.

When I was advising a campus newspaper I told students that, at the very very least, we were going to change the way they read everything, but it was likely they were going to get much more out of it. And today, at the TV station, I say the same thing. We’re going to reshape the way you consume video as you learn how to produce works of your own. We’re making critical observers. That’s the lesson and the gift.

Ed retired a few years back, and established a scholarship to honor his former students. It fits him.

Which is what I was thinking about while updating the style on a page that even the search engine spiders don’t crawl. Which is what I was doing while waiting for my lovely bride to pick me up. In my own car. While her’s is in the shop.

Maybe we’ll get it back tomorrow.

We better. I’ll soon run out of basic things to clean or update on the website while I wait to be taken from the house to the office and back, over and over.