Jul 14

Tuesday’s thousand words

We’re in something of a mild stretch of weather. Not too far north temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees below average. At least, for a brief time, our sky looked like this:


The high today was 88 and it was mostly cloudy. I rode a few miles, just down through the back of the neighborhood and then out and up over the top of it. Of course it was raining by then. The plan was to use my legs a little bit before running a 5K through the neighborhood. After an Olympic-distance triathlon last weekend I get to simultaneously rest and taper for a sprint triathlon this coming weekend.

A real triathlete would probably find no problem with that schedule. I’m trying to figure out how to not work (rest is an important part of training) and train (because there’s clearly a lot for me to do) especially since I need improvement (a lot of improvement).

Things to read … because reading always brings improvement.

Two World Cup stories, to wrap up the mega-event. North Korea Is Telling Its Citizens That Their Team Is In The World Cup Final:

The report says North Korea’s brave side crushed Japan 7-0, USA 4-0 and China 2-0 in the group stages, before going on to reach the final… against Portugal.

I think the scores against that fictional group indicate a lot about North Korea’s geopolitics, too.

I wonder how many times North Korea has won the World Cup in their propaganda.

Dutch beat Brazil to claim bronze:

There was no lap of honour for the hosts as they trudged off down the tunnel with their heads bowed in shame.

Fragile in the back, runs that couldn’t produce from the middle and when they lost Neymar they lost their entire offense. They simply weren’t a good side, but they deserved better than they got from their crowd.

Here are two versions of a big local story: GE Aviation selects Auburn for $50 million 3D printing facility and GE Aviation in Auburn: Details on the new manufacturing project, incentives and how to apply for jobs. It is described as a first-of-its-kind facility. The plant now has 70 employees and should have 300 by the end of the decade.

Two more things about the Renaissance Man Triathlon: Husband and wife coordinate triathlon in Florence and some advice I received, in the comments.

A few other quick stories for varied interest:

New @congressedits Twitter Account Tracks Anonymous Wikipedia Updates

New Cosby show could debut as soon as next summer

Research: Human friendships based on genetic similarities beyond the superficial

Sydney Cromwell, the new editor of The Samford Crimson got an opinion piece published in Editor & Publisher. We’re excited for her for this and plenty of other reasons. She’s a talented student, strong young journalist and she’ll be a great editor, too.

Here’s a timeline for word nerds. “Language evolves”: The AP Stylebook during the last 30 years. Some of the changes are better than others, of course.

We knew this was coming: Sports Illustrated’s ‘Dirty Game’ articles spark false-light lawsuit.

This may be one of the best reads of the week: Retargeting Is Flawed; the Future Is Pretargeting:

There is no time in my life I am less likely to buy some white pants, a toaster or a flight to Los Angeles than after I’ve just bought these items, yet that’s precisely the time I see ads for these products or services.

These ghostly images stalk our internet journeys like shadows. While ineffective, these ads come to us by some of the most advanced technology there is. By some measures, they are the most appropriate ads to serve us; they can be the most noticeable, but they are also the most pointless.

The subhead reads “The future lies in targeting based on what we’re about to do, not what we’ve just done.” That’s very true. If you look at retailers, and some of the more forward-thinking online locales like Amazon, you’ll see the solutions coming in algorithms based on your habits, locale, where you are in the store, what you’ve looked at or purchased. It is based on your history, and trying to peer you up with other previous customers. Algorithms, by their very nature, have to improve, and the user experience will improve with it.

There’s a great chart in this story which deserves a careful examination: Which Types of Ads Do College Students Pay Attention to?

Our parents were all felons. Remember when your mom or dad told you to go outside and get lost? North Augusta Mother Charged With Unlawful Conduct Towards A Child:

A North Augusta mother is in jail after witnesses say she left her nine-year-old daughter at a nearby park, for hours at a time, more than once.

The mother, Debra Harrell has been booked for unlawful conduct towards a child.

The incident report goes into great detail, even saying the mother confessed to leaving her nine-year-old daughter at a park while she went to work.

The little girl is fine, but some say an area the mother thought was safe could have turned dangerous.

On the basis of “coulda” a child was entered into the South Carolina Department of Social Services. There is a fund raiser in the mom’s name.

So every time I was in the woods, walking in my neighborhood or spending a Friday night at the mall, the movies or the mini-golf place, to say nothing of the hundreds and hundreds of hours at the YMCA were all an opportunity for the authorities to step in. The silliness of this story, and the coverage, suggests there may be some changes in the charges. This is a simple and sad overreach.

I feel safer already: TSA Agent Stops Reporter Because He Didn’t Know Washington D.C. Is Part Of The United States.

I recently published three pictures on Tumblr that I haven’t yet mentioned on the site. You can find them here, here and here.

Today’s Weird Al is a catchy little ditty, guaranteed to make word nerds swoon:

Jul 14

Scene chewing

Today I changed a doorknob. Four screws out, the new hardware in place and four more screws to install it.


I was listening to Pandora at the time. It took less than two songs, and that was because one of the screws was stripped.

But that wasn’t even the height of my industriousness today. I also built one of those shoe racks that you hang over a closet door and immediately regret having purchased! There’s just no end to my usefulness, it seems.

The door knob was on one of the houses that my great-grandfather built, let’s say, 60 years ago.

Here he is, the older gentleman:


He built three on some of his property for rental income. They’ve all stayed in the family over the years. A few years ago I sanded down door frames in one of the houses and went through all those decades of paint. It was a smooth glimpse of archeology.


At the time I wrote:

And suddenly I’ve found myself kneeling in the dust of the place, sanding smooth at least six layers of paint, peeling away the canvas of perhaps a dozen lives or more, letting that old lumber breathe again for the first time since the Eisenhower administration.

Sometimes I overwrite.

I walked around the side of that little rental and saw this, and wondered much the same thing as I did about the paint: Did he hang this?


That’s a small question that’ll never be answered. Who would remember? Who is left to know? Who would pay attention to the details of when a screen door went in? And is that the original, or something put up during the Reagan years?

I noodled up and down the road for five miles and then jogged one, the last effort before the Sunday race. We’ll see how much I come to regret that.

Usually, by this time, I am very much aware of how unprepared I am for the thing. This time I am choosing to not consciously acknowledge how unprepared I am.

Because, you know, I am.

Played with my grandparents’ dog:


She’s a smart one.

Things to read … so you can be smart, too.

There’s a super moon tomorrow night. Pretty large tonight, too.


In a statement to the AP, the Guardian said it was disappointed to learn that “cross-Atlantic conversations were taking place at the very highest levels of government ahead of the bizarre destruction of journalistic material that took place in the Guardian’s basement last July.”

“What’s perhaps most concerning is that the disclosure of these emails appears to contradict the White House’s comments about these events last year, when they questioned the appropriateness of the U.K. government’s intervention,” the newspaper said.

The White House said Thursday that the British government had acted on its own in destroying the Guardian drives.

Digital advertising will pass 25% of total ad spending this year:

Global spending on advertising will hit $545.4 billion this year, according to a report from eMarketer, and digital ads will make up more than a quarter of that spending.
Digital ad spending is likely to hit $140.15 billion this year, with $32.71 billion spent on ads for smartphones and tablets.
Growth in total media ad spending should be 5.7 percent this year, eMarketer said, more than twice the growth rate a year ago, which was 2.6 percent.

A properly sanitized report, from ESPN. Pete Carroll headed to Trojans HOF

And when ESPN disappoints you like that, they redeem themselves like this. Marcus Lattimore doesn’t walk alone

The Widespread Effects of Facebook’s Latest Outage:

The lesson, therefore, is a poignant one: When utilizing any third-party tags, particularly ones that have such a big effect on your end users interaction with your site, it’s imperative that you make sure the code is asynchronous with your own to prevent it from affecting your entire site’s performance.

Whoops. Anthrax investigation turns up ‘distressing’ issues at CDC

Stuff on my Tumblr: The mysteries of modern shipping, an examination of modern currency, an old Scout and an older swing.

On Twitter:

Leonard Nimoy had just stolen all of William Shatner’s scene chewing.

I made fun of the Horta episode, with plenty of photos. Check it out.

Jul 14

There’s a can’t-miss offer at the end of this post

I had a V8 for breakfast this morning. “Start the gut,” they say. And I thought to myself, “I’ve forgotten how much I like V8.”

And then I read the nutrition label, remembering what I would find there, and realizing why I liked V8.

It is the potassium.

Oh, the old days in radio, when I would get to the studio at 4 a.m. and do three hours of air work and then rush down the mountain to the gas station for a V8 and a juice and some snack or other to get me through lunch. There’s nothing like faking energy on the air before 5 a.m., but, then, getting off before 2 p.m. had perks, as well.

Finally, about the time I convinced all of my friends that, no, really, I have to go to bed at 8 or 9 p.m., I was out of broadcasting. Sleeping in again never felt so good, and I probably haven’t had a V8 since.

I had lunch at a barbecue place, today, a little chicken, a little potato salad, it was delicious. And then later I went for a ride on my bicycle. I checked out 22 miles of the route for this weekend’s race. Here’s the beginning, and the end:


I didn’t do the very beginning, because it involves a small climb up from the river bank. I joined the circuit three miles in, where the country roads begin. This area will offer some long, gentle, slow climbs, rather than the rollers we normally ride. Always it felt like I was going uphill, or that I had dead legs, or both.

Then I’d look down at the computer and see my speed and be pleasantly surprised, except for the two hills of note. It will be a fast course through neighborhoods and beautiful corn and soybean fields and beyond pastureland stuffed with cattle. I think the layout only calls for six places where you have to slow down for turns, and so it is technically easy, and very pleasant. The roads are good. They are quiet.

Though I did have a car round a curve from the other direction so fast he was entirely in my lane. Not “I’m in the country and I can hover over the centerline a bit because I clearly see no one is coming,” but instead “For a moment there, I thought I was in England and driving on the left.”

And there was also, at the very end, the minivan full of children that wanted to pull up a little too close. People are people.

Anyway, the race planner has done a nice job, at least in the bike leg. I suspect several triathletes will come away very pleased with their times. (I will finish behind them all somewhere.) I hope I am. I didn’t even work very hard and had a high pace and absolutely bombed my way through the last turn and downhill.

Now the never-answered question: How much harder should I work during the race, knowing I have to bluff my way through a 10K after that?

Things to read … because if you read all of these you won’t have to run later.

Look out Hawaii, Samoa and Spain! We’re coming after your stuff! Or: Finally, Y2K arrives. 14,000 DRAFT NOTICES SENT TO MEN BORN IN 1800S:

The Selective Service didn’t initially catch it because the state used a two-digit code to indicate year of birth, spokesman Pat Schuback said. The federal agency identified 27,218 records of men born in the 1800s, began mailing notices to them on June 30, and began receiving calls from family members on July 3. By that time, it had sent 14,250 notices in error.

All the voter fraud people are surely wondering how many of them are still voting.

One commenter notes that perhaps they can find the IRS’s missing emails. Chinese hackers broke into computer network containing personal data on thousands of federal employees

I did this about 10 years ago. Man angry over child deaths videos self in hot car to prove a point:

“I’m sitting in the car with the windows rolled up cause I want to know how it feels to be left in the car, strapped in a car seat with the windows up, and the doors probably locked,” Williams says on the video. “I would never leave my kids in the car like this, man.”

The thing the story doesn’t mention is that babies can’t regulate their temperature as well as adults do. So when he locks himself in or, as I did, road 25 minutes from work to home at 3 p.m. at the apex of a summer in the South, there is an advantage we have. And, yes, it gets incredibly hot.

I think we’re down about a third in this category, based on the last numbers I recall seeing. I also recall working the statehouse beat, sometimes all alone, and seeing cobwebs in the old rooms that used to be the news bureaus’ — and all of that was a few years before the big cuts. It is sometimes worse on the local level. This means a lot when the politicians start to notice. Pew study: New media outlets attempt to fill void in statehouse coverage across the U.S.. The report says less than a third of the nation’s daily newspapers staff their respective statehouses. That is an embarrassment. Here are the state-by-state numbers.

First 5 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows Named:

The Fellowship provides a unique platform for U.S. Fulbright awardees to build awareness of transnational challenges, comparing and contrasting cross-border issues. Fellows will share their stories on nationalgeographic.com.

Finally, I made my triumphant return to Tumblr today, the place where I publish the random pictures I take so that they can one day be published on Tumblr. Today, you can enjoy amazing things like This 18-wheeler! A truly incredible chair! Or how about this postcard with a classic note? And, finally, the most amazing peanut cans ever!

There will be more tomorrow. See you then!

May 14

They’re cured

Two weeks ago I had a picture of a grounds crew pulling up the old FieldTurf at Seibert Stadium at Samford. Today they are putting down the new material:


The old stuff lasted for nine years. It has been interesting to watch them roll and shake and shovel and unroll the new stuff. Plus you never have to mow it.

I wonder if they can come to my place next.

Class today. We talked about advertising and someone showed this clip of Mad Men:

I always wonder why Don didn’t write “They’re cured.” I mean if everyone else’s cigarettes are poisoned and you’re selling comfort, security and happiness …

We watched this video, which students showed in this same class a year or two ago. It always blows peoples’ minds:

Oh, and there’s another one:

I had the Whataburger today that I didn’t have on Saturday. I swam a mile this evening. Let’s call it speed work since I kicked some and I was out of breath a lot.

Things to read … because when you read you can catch your breath.

And your weekend? 2 local girls raise thousands for brain tumor research

We’ve talked about this at conferences and in our visions for the future. We now live in the first part of the future. The ‘Holodeck’ Arrives in Newsrooms. How Will VR Influence Storytelling?

This is troubling. Survey: Most says journalism is headed in the wrong direction:

The reporters, editors and producers who put out the news every day are less satisfied with their work, say they have less autonomy in their work and tend to believe that journalism is headed in the wrong direction, according to the initial findings of “The American Journalist in the Digital Age.”

This is an inevitable move. Publishers go it alone with their own video hubs. But that isn’t the only answer, as we discussed in February: What to do when your video is winning social media, but it’s a copy that’s getting the clicks? The answer is pretty easy: be a lot of places.

Have you noticed someone has been writing Twitter obits since the platform was born? Twitter is not dying

No Regrets for the Founder of Tumblr After Yahoo Sale:

When Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion a year ago, it sent a ripple of excitement — and anxiety — through the tech industry. Would Yahoo and its recently arrived chief executive, Marissa Mayer, breathe new life into Tumblr? Or would Yahoo smother the start-up, as it did after acquiring popular young services like GeoCities and Flickr?

So far, the worst fears have begun to dissipate. Tumblr, a microblogging platform, has more than doubled its staff to 220, and its audience continues to grow, up 22 percent in the last year, according to the metrics company comScore.

5 Social Media Facts Every Marketing Professor Should Know

10 mobile marketing statistics to help justify your budget

U.S. businesses are being destroyed faster than they’re being created:

The American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. That’s the conclusion of a new study out from the Brookings Institution, which looks at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978.

Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study — 2009, 2010 and 2011 — businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first. Overall, new businesses creation (measured as the share of all businesses less than one year old) declined by about half from 1978 to 2011.

The authors don’t mince words about the stakes here: If the decline persists, “it implies a continuation of slow growth for the indefinite future.”

This a neat feature about archeology going on at terrible sites in American history. And they managed to only work Abu Ghraib into the piece twice. ‘We did this to ourselves’: Death and despair at Civil War prisons

Oct 13

Signs of autumn: The absence of summer

It wasn’t fall today. It was 75 and clear, which means it wasn’t summer, so it may as well be autumn. The maple in the front yard, already giving up the fight, right in the heart of the tree.


The maples are always the first to quit, but they sometimes hang on a bit longer than some of the others in the yard. In the front yard we have this maple that goes yellow and a towering elm that flares yellow before burning out as a dry orange. In the backyard there is a southern red oak, a white oak and a few pin oaks — the oaks the rest of the oaks would disown if they had hardwood lawyers — another maple that turns yellow and a dogwood that will flame out as a defiant red any day now.

If you could get all of those in one spot they’d surely be a beautiful collection.

Had this in the office today:


I’m not a big pumpkin spice fan, but if you like pumpkin at all, you should try the Hersey’s Kisses. Two was plenty for me, so no need to share. But you’ll probably want to keep them all for yourself.

Things to read …

Or watch. The BBC now has a hexacopter. They have one more copter than I do. Maybe one day I’ll catch up. But check out those shots. (I’d embed it, but the Beeb’s code is ridiculous.)

I was reading last night, in Rick Atkinson’s book, about Lt. Ralph Kerley at Mortain. He only appeared briefly, but it was enough to make me look him up. Whatever happened to that guy? The Internet suggests he mustered out a lieutenant colonel and died in his native Texas in 1967.

He also shows up in this column by The Oregonian’s Steve Duin, which should really change your opinion of the deceased author/historian Stephen Ambrose:

Weiss also was furious that Ambrose had described his commanding officer, Lt. Ralph Kerley, as — after four days and nights of fighting off the Germans — “exhausted, discombobulated, on the edge of breaking.”

Not true, Weiss said: “To the dishonor of the man. Kerley was one of the coolest, most fearless men I’ve ever seen. The way (Ambrose) footnoted that looks as if he got the material from me. If in that little bit of material he took from my book he created that kind of fiction, how many other times has that been done?”

Bob Weiss was a Portland, Ore. lawyer who served under Kerley. Weiss took exception to the Ambrose depiction and then had a nasty bit of correspondence with Ambrose over some other questions of attribution. But, mostly, Weiss was worried about the way Kerley showed up in Citizen Soldiers — which also sits on my shelf, though today I’m a bit reluctant about that.

Kerley earned the Croix de Guerre, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross. I was at Mortain for the exact same amount of time Ambrose was, which is to say not at all, which is also to say six days less than Weiss, Kerley and the 120th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Infantry Division. I just read the Ambrose passage again … given his history let’s just call it poorly-written narrative.

Anyway, local veterans are recalling their experiences in the military:

“I flew a B-25. That’s why I’m here,” Buford Robinson said, smiling. “I flew 43 missions.”

From 1944 to 1946, Robinson served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. He fought in the Pacific Theater of the war and participated in the rescue of 500 American POWs at Camp Cabanatuan in the Philippines.

Thom Gossom, the first African-American walk on at Auburn and the first African-American athlete to graduate from the university, got a bit of publicity today. He’s an actor today (and author), charming and engaging and wholly approachable. Here’s a story he told at homecoming a few years ago:

Quick hits:

ObamaCare screw up sends callers to cupcake shop

From Buzzfeed: Things That Took Less Time Than HealthCare.gov

How the NSA is infiltrating private networks

Insurance Insiders ‘Fear Retribution’ from WH Amid Pressure to ‘Keep Quiet’ About Obamacare

Broadcast’s Commercial Brake

And there are two new things at the Tumblr site I forgot to mention yesterday, here and here.

Allie? She’s right here: