Apr 22

Fire! And the salty water off Cozumel …

The fire alarm went off in our building at work today. This was not a planned event. Usually we receive a warning about a drill, which is helpful. This was not that. A terrible sound emerged from nowhere. Lights flashed.

A disembodied voice told us this was a fire alarm, told us to abandon hope, told us to open the elevator doors and stride through without gazing into the abyss below. The pleasant voice told us that we’d all be written off for insurance purposes, but some might make it out and those lucky few would get a chance to start anew. The voice asked us about other skills no one knew we had, told us finding a way to monetize those skills was the key to our newfound, lung scorched, skin scarred lives.

You want to weigh your options during messages like these. Is this a drill? Should you just stay in your warm, dry office? Should you honor the whuupping alarm?

You should honor the whuupping alarm.

So I gathered up my things and stuffed them in my backpack, and my half-sandwich, because it was almost lunch time, and this fire will not take my computers or my peanut butter half-sandwich!

As I write that, I am thinking of the few other things in my office that I didn’t carry, and I’m kicking myself a bit, but there’s only so much you can do.

I met The Yankee in the stairwell, because you can’t use the elevators. And, two weeks post-op, going downstairs is one of the more difficult parts of her recovery. What I’m saying here is she was slowing everybody down, and that recorded, disembodied voice needs a new line about who to avoid when making your escape from the fiery inferno that is coming for us all.

A police cruiser came. Two rigs from the fire department arrived soon after. The police officer went in to look at the fire panel, a computer system designed to help suss out the location of the supposed fire. Three members of the fire department went in, wearing their turnout gear. Sometime later they all came out. There was no fire.

There was no explanation. Just all of us standing out in the rain, waiting to go back inside, trying to imagine what it was that each person decided to bring outside. Happily, there were no problems or injuries.

Back to Cozumel! The fish take a back seat in today’s photos to the coral. Just look at this stuff.

I mentioned how these were becoming one of my favorite sites of this dive trip. I think you can see now why that was the case.

But just look at all of the other colorful sponges in that photo. It’s something to behold, is it not?

Sometimes you have to look up, because sometimes there’s something swimming above you.

Looks like an aquarium setting, doesn’t it? Note the two gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) in the center, and the little blue damselfish (Chromis cyanea) in the distance.

The damselfish always seem to be in the distance.

These next two are the same little bit of coral and sponge, only because it is fascinating and beautiful and I couldn’t decide which one I liked best.

But you can see even more of the tiny, delicate details in those two pictures.

Always look in the vase coral. Because you never know.

These blue coral just seem to glow.

Wanna know about the best fish in the sea?

This is the best fish in the sea.

Mar 22

Let’s go diving

It was a full day at the office. I had to take The Yankee in for her class, while she continues her leg recovery. I did work things, and then took us to lunch. In the afternoon I drove her across campus to her second class, then picked her up later and took her to the house. Then I bought new dress shoes, something I could write about at great length, and returned to campus for television.

We could talk about the day-to-day, or we could look at some diving pictures. I’ve spoken with my editorial committee and consulted with my high-priced consultants and it has been decided. We will look at some diving pictures!

This was the first fish I saw on this trip, and the first photo I took with my new-to-me SeaLife camera. Please meet the tropical Spot-fin porcupinefish (Diodon hystrix). You’ll find this guy’s cousins in most any tropical waters in the world.

This lovely little tangle of coral and sponge was where I first noticed how well this camera picks out the yellows. It’ll come up again.

There’s my dive buddy! You always have to keep an eye on your dive buddy.

More great sponge growth.

You have to remember to look in all the directions, and down, and up!

But if you keep looking for sea turtles, you might miss some lovely sponges.

Dive buddy check!

Here’s the lovely, and common, yellow tube sponge (Aplysina fistularis). They can grow up to four feet in this part of the world.

Clearly I need to learn the names of more of the coral and sponges.

Think it’s easy? Do you know what this fish is?

Not so easy, is it? Don’t worry, you’ll have more chances to get some names in the coming days. (And if you know the common or scientific name of that fish, do drop it in the comments.)

Mar 22

Surgery day

Today was surgery day for The Yankee. Last fall she had a corrective procedure to repair popliteal artery entrapment syndrome in her left leg. Today it’s the right, from which the surgeon will remove a bit of muscle from the back of the leg, both above and below the knee, to allow the artery to sit in the correct position, improving circulation.

If you haven’t heard of it, join the club. We’ve learned a lot in the last year or so. It’s such a rare and exotic thing that it took her almost took 20 years to get the correct diagnosis. The last doctor she saw, hilariously, said “It sounds like popliteal artery entrapment syndrome, but I don’t think you have it.” That medical practitioner didn’t stay in the rotation very long.

The specialist, and we see the guy at the Cleveland Clinic, did the procedure on her left leg in October. She was weight bearing the next day, and took increasingly longer walks for two weeks before PT began, leading to a near-perfect recovery. I’m expecting the same results this time.

We’re staying at a hotel a block away. She did pre-op yesterday, and we woke up at dark-thirty this morning to walk over, but not before I made the joke about how I’m looking forward to going back to work so I can sleep in until 7:30 every morning.

The walk seems shorter this time. The tension is a bit lighter. It’s still a surgery, but you know what to expect. There was a bit more sleep last night, for instance, and though it is colder, it doesn’t seem as scary.

In the hospital, we walked by a deconstructed escalator. If you’ve ever wondered, here’s your chance.

At check-in the two ladies giggled at a joke I made. They remembered it all day and took good care of me because if it.

Fifty minutes after the surgery began I got a message to report to the desk for an update from the surgeon. The lady at the front took me to the little room meeting room, where I saw the doctor again. Everything went well, he said, just as before.

I stepped outside to call my in-laws. “Good news! Everything went great! I’ll get to go upstairs and be with her in a few minutes!” Sent a few texts saying the same things. This is where I stood making that same call last October.

I stood in the same place today. What a difference five months makes, for most of us.

We sat in recovery long enough to design an interesting research project. When she got to her room she crutched her way around, before returning to the bed without even using them. Weight bearing four hours after surgery.

And the rest of the day we spent in the room. I think I dozed off, which was probably more rest than she got this afternoon. Of course, she had anesthesia this morning, so call it a push.

Visiting hours end at 9 p.m., which means I had to make the sad walk back to the hotel room all by myself. We bought food yesterday for dinner today and, in between giving recommendation phone calls for students, I didn’t notice the mini-fridge was turned all the way up. My chicken is frozen. And I am trying to coax the wimpiest microwave in Ohio to get this frozen chunk of food to room temperature.

(It took nine minutes.)

Tomorrow, The Yankee should get discharged, and we’ll spent an easy day lazing around the hotel room. They want to keep us close by for one more day, just to make sure everything continues to progress as it should. It will.

Mar 22

Tuesday dives

We finally had our first dives today. Of course we could not go out this morning, because the universe is fundamentally against the trip in some cosmic way I can’t comprehend.

But this afternoon we got in two dives, two years and three days late, and I finally got to try my new-to-me camera. It’s a little SeaLife I got on ebay. It’s the third most expensive thing I’ve bought there, and you take it under water on purpose. I think I’ll find it captures better video than photos. And we’ll get to the pictures, but how about this video?

Tomorrow we’re getting in five whole dives, which is a full and ambitious day of bottom time.

Mar 22

So much video to show you

I neglected to mention that we fell out of the mask mandates last Friday, coinciding with the state’s standards. I am still wearing a mask — one-way masking, as the soon-to-be-failed euphemism is called — and I am pleased to see how many others still are. (Almost as many as those who were last week, when everyone had independently and collectively given up on communicable disease and respiratory theater.) But the numbers continue to decline here, which is, of course, a delightful coincidence.

Lest we forget where we are …

I have reached the point in the school year where I have to leave myself notes in my calendar to do the most prosaic things at the most random times. At 1 p.m. today it was edit that one little bit of copy for that one project.

I have a standing note on my calendar for each day this week to work on a particular spreadsheet. That’s March at work. These little notes are in addition to my daily index card of meetings and appearance chores.

This is also March at work. Tonight, specifically.

I am once again behind on sharing productions with you here, so let’s get caught up before this gets woefully bad. (Comically bad is bad enough.)

Here’s the fill-in crew on The Toss Up last week. Take it away, Hank.

If that’s not enough sports talk for you, please enjoy The B-Town Breakdown.

And if you are after something with a bit of humor, allow me to share this fine group of human beings with you.

See!? I told you I was comically behind! We aren’t caught up yet. Here’s the morning show.

And here’s my favorite artsy show, where they talk to filmmakers about their work, and make preposition puns.

You might think I live in a studio, and sometimes that feels almost half-right, but I wasn’t even around for those last four shows. Other duties, and all of that.

Anyway, the two news shows will be online tomorrow, and I promise to post them here in a timely fashion. Hopefully I will have something else not TV related to share, as well.

Until then, there’s always more on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too. Speaking of On Topic with IU podcasts, and, oh hey, did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? They do. Check them out.