Oct 19

Just add sawdust

That parking deck, I said to a colleague yesterday, is like a sundial. The topic was how you could tell the time of day just by what floor you wind up parking on. I usually get the second level. Yesterday he barely got the fourth level, and almost had to park in the rain, horror of horrors. The bigger issue was he had to trudge up two more flights of stairs because anyone that rides that parking deck’s elevator will only do it the once.

But that parking is also a clock looking from the outside in, as well. There, at the turnaround onto the second deck, you get this view just before you hang a right:

Those trees are telling us a story and, right now, it is the best part of the morning drive.

This evening I got in just over an hour of sanding, which means I got one piece of the current, and perpetual, project halfway done.

At this rate, in three more hours I’ll be two-thirds of the way through the sanding.

No one likes sanding, but it is acceptable to like the process toward the result. If anything it slows the project down, though, just because you have to work up the morale to sit down and sand the wood that will make the darn thing. (Plus there’s the rest of your life to consider … ) For me, to know you’re going to get an hour here and there doesn’t really fit the workflow. People that can steal a few minutes and make progress, on any project, are geniuses. I need big blocks of time, for any kind of project, it seems. This is a problem with sanding, though, because I am doing this project entirely by hand and you can’t sand for hours at a time without having a shoulder fall off. So the problem is the sanding, really. Which no one likes.

The idea, which is well more than a year old, and which begin in December, picked up steam in April and then lulled its way into a soft summer slumber, is going to gain momentum in the next few weeks just because I am going to grit (Get it? That’s a sandpaper joke!) my teeth and push through.

Why, the next time we talk about this, I might be three-quarters of the way through the sanding.

Sanding, I think, is the part of the project where you really get to know the wood. And this particular lumber, which is a Western White Pine, is telling me a lot about itself.

Here are some photos from yesterday’s run. I got in four miles, which is the longest run since my April injury. I guess I’m on the slow road to recovery. Emphasis on slow.

Like my shutter! She’s both almost in, and definitely out of, focus:

Some years back, whenever they were planning that particular neighborhood, some designer drew these on a map. And a purchasing agent filled in some paperwork and then a delivery guy dropped off the order and a few people dug some holes and put these in the ground, just for moments like these:

So what you do today may take a bit of time to reflect its beauty. We may never see it, other projects and parts of life and all of that, maybe you just forget to go back and check. Other priorities, and all of that. Maybe it just never occurs to you. But there it is, out there, doing their thing, because someone got the thing started.

The trees on the path running behind our house:

That first rain of the fall, the first few leaves:

It’s easy to love the moment. But there will be more leaves, and then perhaps more rain. And that’ll turn to who knows what. Those moments are less easy for me to love. But that’s just me.

Oct 19

Morale comes in many flavors

How it starts is, you see that first maple leaf fall. The one you can’t ignore because it was on a diseased or detaching branch. Maple, being nature’s quitter, is always the first one to go. And then you see random moments like this, when the sun is just right and something in the background and the polarization of your sunglasses catches the proper glint:

Then a few leaves hit the ground, and suddenly the birches have joined the maples in their emotional decline. That creates beautiful moments, of course. And those moments turn into a few days. You hope those days turn into weeks, such that you begin to not even notice it anymore. As if that could happen. And, if you’re lucky, you can get that without a big storm coming through to reduce the world to pointless sticks poking into the sky.

Autumn is nice. It’d be lovely if you could put the on-rushing winter out of your mind, before it chills the spirits. Better to just put yourself beyond its reach.

If you need something to watch, you need television. And if you need television you need a morning show. Got you covered:

They learned to make pizza and did a winery feature in that episode. Why they don’t go somewhere every week to go learn and try new things escapes me. It seems to me like it’d be the most fun show you could do.

Or if you’re reading this late at night you might need the late show:

There’s a very famous and successful a cappella group on campus and they joined the show for fun and a lot of water. I didn’t get that joke, but there’s plenty of good stuff in there. I especially enjoyed the package where one of the guys from the show tried to join the group. He sang Ode to Joy in the style of … well, a character most of us grew up with.

Otherwise, more television this evening. Saw an old friend at the tapings. Enjoyed a few meetings during the day and slogged through a few other ones, too.

Tonight we wiped out the last of the weekend’s leftovers, a tasty pork curry. That’s a success. Progress! Achievement! A big spot in the refrigerator reclaimed! There’s also the downside. Now there’s no more no-dishes nights. For the last several dinners it’s been no more difficult than opening the dishwasher. But now we’ll be back to original cooking and original dishes and, boy, isn’t life tough?

The difficulty of the evening is trying to fit a giant Tupperware container into the washer so you don’t have to do it by hand. The danger to morale in the knowledge there’ll be something you do have to scrub tomorrow. And then the nightly ironing of tomorrow’s clothes. That’s always a tricky one, when it comes to morale. And you never know which way that one will break until you see the wrinkles you have to deal with.

Oct 19

One where I tried to tie the day together

Students I know created this show:

Other students I know produced two shows this evening, and they’ll be online tomorrow. And in between this and that, on a hectic night of shooting, where I might have just been accidentally getting in the way on purpose, I did get one of the better jokes I can make in a studio …

We got one in last spring, too …

The infinity effect is a classic joke. Maybe I appreciate it more than other people, but that’s OK. There was a great cartoon, probably from the 1960s or 1970s, that I can’t find today, but I’ve never forgotten and it probably predisposed me to the bit. At some point you have to be able to amuse yourself in the course of your day.

Elsewhere, this evening, I saw a presentation from the great Doc Searls, who has been a fellow at Harvard, NYU, UC-Santa Barbara and a widely published journalist. He’s also a best-selling author. One book he co-wrote, The Cluetrain Manifesto, was an important component of a class I used to teach. So this was a great opportunity to hear an important thinker. I could say a lot more about the guy, but you’d think I was overselling it.

Isn’t it interesting how well that applies to everyone, except for those to whom it does not apply? And then, for fun, go live in that lifestyle for about 12 hours, or try to conduct your daily business therein. Where is the water that fish asked us about?

I remember the first time I said this, in a political communication panel at a little regional convention. The room was full and there were some seriously accomplished scholars in the room. The looks I got when I said “We should stop differentiating between the real world and our time online.” This would have been immediately after Barack Obama’s first presidential election, when online strategies had been so critical to many of the campaigns we saw the previous fall. I can only assume it seemed an odd thought to the more accomplished scholars because they were of a vintage that, when they thought about it, were still thinking of other mediated formats.

The bigger problem, tonight, is that more people should have heard him speak. But that’s a problem for a different day.

I made a joke today about the vulnerability of the Internet, one demonstrable weak spot, of course, being …

Then The Yankee and I went to lunch. She dove into her purse to pay and pulled out … cash. I saw an Out of Order Post-it on the little loyalty card sticker. As I am convinced the societal part of our world will come to an end just after the adhesive of hastily scrawled notes on carefully applied squares of paper gives way, this was not a good sign. Especially after that joke I made this morning.

But she just wanted to pay with greenbacks today. Sometimes you go with the classics. It was only the loyalty scanner device which was down. We won’t put too much thought into that as a metaphor. All of this, I guess, made sense, given the moment (the moment is the message, by the way) wasn’t typified by people stacked up at the cash register how they were going to get by this guy who was between them and their noontime habits.

If you know anyone looking for a project …

Someone out there is thinking big thoughts about the intersection of sports media and geo-policy and geopolitics. With the world getting smaller and sports getting larger and the money … well, the money is just a form of communicating these days. That’s the moment we live in. That’s the adtech that Doc Searls was talking about tonight.

And it won’t be going away any time soon, no matter how I mangle the spelling of Silicone Valley.

More important than all of these things is this beautiful expression:

You go have yourself a wonderful Wednesday tomorrow.

Oct 19

About that

I had yesterday off. And unlike the last two times I had an off day, I did not go into the office for a meeting.

So I went to the tailor instead. New suit pants need sizing and that guy is the man for the job. It would be helpful if the tailor’s name was Taylor. Once, in some parts of the world, names were tied to vocations or locations. It had its conveniences, not the least of which was that it bound people into one place and role. Why, some ancestor of mine worked in metals, I guess, and look how far I’ve come since then.

Well, I’ve just looked up the other five of my most proximate family names. They are all English, or diminutive of German, or maybe Greek, or just rare and relatively unknown to the Internet. One site says there are 242 people in the U.S. with that rare name. Surely that’s an underestimate. But I didn’t even know I had that name until well into adulthood and I don’t think I’d ever heard it around the ancestral haunts, so I’d agree it is rare. But it, and the rest of the family names, seem to be without detailed insight and description. Not like “Smith,” I guess. Not all names, it turns out, are terribly patronymic. But names ought to mean something.

Anyway, the tailor did his measuring and marking. I went to the store, where I saw this this scarily detailed poster. Despite it’s insight, it leaves off some important suggestions: after counting money, before and after performing surgery, after high-fiving your mechanic, after pulling a double-shift in the infectious diseases laboratory and so on.

Also, the instructions are missing. That’s a deliberate choice by some germy Batman villain, I’m sure. But we’ve all been to a restroom and where people demonstrate poor hand hygiene. Warm-to-hot water, soap, 20 seconds. Sing Old MacDonald song to yourself if you must.

MacDonald, by the way, is a common Scottish patronymic surname meaning “son of Donald,” meaning “world ruler.” So Old MacDonald was one of the less ambitious members of the clan, one supposes. Anyway, the Internet goes on — oh, how it goes on — to tell us that MacDonald is from the Gaelic Mac Dhamhnuill.

Anyway, I’m sure the merchant has noticed the problem with the poster. It’s not the dirtiest restroom you’ve ever been in. Nothing that a coat of paint and some better lights couldn’t fix. But here’s my worry. If your initial read, as the merchant who placed that poster, is that you should tell people when, you are absolutely right, and you should tell them how.

At home, sanding wood this afternoon. I’ll be sanding wood into my golden years, but it’s going to be a nice project, when I get through with the sanding in 2024. (There are 10 pieces still to go on the sanding. They are substantial pieces. I’ll get three or four done before next week, I hope.) So there I am, sitting in a chair in the garage, in between the cars, taking down some western pine from milled and kiln-dried lumber, into the dimensions required for the project, and then through sandpaper of 100-, 150-, 220- and 400-grit. The end pieces will then get a few passes with 600-grit. Then I have to somehow de-dust 24 large pieces of wood, condition, stain and seal them. And then I can assemble the finished product. It’s going to be awesome.

In 2024.

Oh, also, welcome to Catober. You met Poseidon earlier in the day. You’ll meet his sister, Phoebe, tomorrow.

They’re neat. OK, she’s neat. He’s a complete and total handful. That’s the first picture I took of either of them, and it almost perfectly encapsulates his personality. We got them midway through the summer and they are now getting good and settled in. We’ve more or less learned their styles, they sometimes acknowledge us.

We’ll do the photos throughout the month. I just couldn’t do it in September. Maybe, I hope, it’ll be a bit better here.

Poseidon got his name because his original one was not good, and he also loves water, so now he’s named after the god of the sea. Phoebe, on the other hand, came to be associated with the moon in late Greek mythology, but she was originally a Titan with gifts of prophecy and calmness. Names ought to mean things.

Sep 19

The first of the last new things

For your viewing pleasure, here are the first episodes of the last new shows semester.

First, here’s the late night show. If you don’t get it, it’s not for you.

Then again, if you don’t chuckle at it, that says a lot about your sense of humor, doesn’t it?

Probably not. That show has specific goals. Specific goals. Consistent goals. This is the third or fourth semester of that show, and they’ve developed running themes and callback jokes and, most importantly, they really enjoy themselves. It’s a creative, entertaining show, if you understand their brilliance.

And here’s the award-winning Breakfast Club. This is now fully a legacy program. All of the original crew and hosts and contributors have graduated. It was the spring term of 2017 when I was insisting that they needed more than a simple idea, and needed a concept, outlines, shot sheets, a show bible, something more than “We wanna.”

They fought hard to make it happen, and it did. And just before the last of the original people graduated last spring they started winning prominent awards. This week they’ve started the cycle again:

And these ladies will be bringing us the news a bit later in the week: