Jun 20

Sometimes Thursday fly

The light week continues. I’m not sure where the days are going just now. Probably Zoom meetings and Slack messages. I spent some time this evening working on a project in the garage, too. And, somehow, that constitutes a much of the day. And also a podcast. Third one of the week! I’m saving one for next week, but I do have one for you today.

Danielle Kilgo researches protest movements and she walked me expertly through this conversation. At one point, I think, I said “Statement of fact. Give me an answer?” She overcame my deficiencies and loaned her expertise to the cause and it turned into a terrific show. Just because of her, it had nothing to do with me. Plus, I think, I hope, it represents the beginning of a pivot in the program. We’ll see about that this summer, but for now let’s see about this:

On the subject of shows, I have always wanted to try this, too:

The point would be all of the new ways that a scientist in one field is using a satellite or a radar or some other piece of tech being applied in a field that’s, well, far afield. How did you come to try that? What does this simplify or amplify for you? What kind of doors does this idea up for more work in your specialty?

I got to do one episode of this on an old show, before things got shut down. LIDAR was making the rainforests spill all of its secrets about how big the ancient cities were. I found someone in the same field to talk about how taking a few modern tools were changing the efforts of archeology and nothing less than our understanding of the sheer size of a society. It would be a boring show for everyone that’s not taking part in it, probably, but at some point the first audience is the most important one.

There’s something important to be said about the power of humanity and the healing of the spirit.

Between the leeches and the take-two-of-these-and-call-me-in-the-morning and the tonsillectomies and the Ritalin and the animal-assisted therapy we’re going to find out one day that hope is another important prescription. Maybe this disease creates some circumstances, the highly contagious nature of the thing and negative air pressure rooms, that deprives people of an elemental treatment. It could be that soothing sounds and rhythmic lights and butterflies are part of the deal, too. It could be that we learn one day that hanging upside down or a trivial root boiled at a precise temperature will ease our aches and pains. Maybe we find concentrated sound waves clean up your organs. Maybe concentrated beet juice really does do something. People do something, for each other, too.

Maybe, and bear with me here, masks and social distancing work. Let’s keep trying that.

Jun 20

Got 20 minutes? There are two great videos below

I found some fossils down at the lake yesterday. We have to spread these things out for content just now, plus I’ve been playing around with a new light box setup at home. So yesterday’s crinoid samples would have to wait. They’ve been sitting around for a few hundred million years, so what’s a few more hours, really?

Anyway, I am trying to remember how to take pictures of small things.

They look like shriveled Cheerios, don’t they? Really crunchy cereal bites with ridges. Don’t eat these, they aren’t that tasty, and probably difficult to digest at this stage.

It’s amazing, really. I’m taking these pictures and I’ll put these back out by the lake or a creek or something and maybe one day someone else will see them.

Or maybe they’ll just wait for another few hundred million years until the insect citizens of Perpaplexiconia dig through a few more feet of soil and who knows what they’ll think of tiny fossils. Maybe they’ll eat stones for their digestive properties.

Stuff from Twitter, to pad this out.

This is sort of self-explanatory. But I always wonder how people select the takeover person, and what that negotiation is like. Do you have to leave your license and car keys behind or something? Now, a full on swap for a day or so would be enlightening. I think it might be better on Instagram than Twitter, actually.

George Taliaferro is one of those people that, the more you read about him, the more you want to know about him.

He led the Hoosiers to their only undefeated season, helped end segregation in Bloomington by a few different methods:

He became the first African-American drafted by the NFL, and spent a lifetime, I mean the rest of his life, lifting up others. I regret not having had the chance to meet him before he passed away. But there are plenty of great stories about him, I mean plenty, and football is merely the way you learn about an otherwise great man.

Midway through this piece Taliaferro talks about he and the university president managed to desegregate the businesses of Bloomington. It’s a little choppy, but it goes like this: There was a photo in a popular restaurant right across the street from campus that had a picture of a championship IU team on the wall. Taliaferro said to Herman Wells, my picture is on the wall, but I can’t eat there. And Wells said, we’ll just see about that. It’s a big little story about two amazing men.

They don’t make many like that anymore, and they never did make enough of them to begin with.

I have an idea about this, don’t:

Can you imagine? One day you’re going through life’s drudgeries, the next day you’re in a pandemic, and then suddenly you’ve lost your father and your step-mother and now you’re the caregiver to five children and a stroke victim.

Where a mask, wash your hands, give the people around you plenty of distance.

Jun 20

Dip your toes in, the water’s fine

And, now, a scene from “the beach,” which is how I mistakenly thought of the lake’s shore line when we were out there for a few minutes today. That says something about how long since I’ve seen a beach.

It was Christmas, last time I saw a beach, and that was just looking into a sound, so it might not even count. If you don’t count that you have to go back to last July. I’m not the biggest beach person in the world, but that still seems like too long.

So we were at the lake for a few minutes. It rained. I sat under an umbrella talked on the phone while The Yankee did some considerable distance of freestyle swim. And that was lunch. Down to the lake, in for a quick dip and then produce a show.

Talked to an economist today. Bottom line is … we know a lot of things, but that really just illustrates what we don’t know. We’re about to start stage four of back-up-and-at-’em here, which will be normal-ish but for some restrictions that won’t get honored a lot, I’m sure.

The good news is that the jobless claims are coming down from the spring. The bad news is they are still very high. The other bad news is that state tax revenues are taking a hit. This was not a surprise, but still, it is underway and impactful. The good news is that people are going back to work and so there is progress to be made. But don’t take my word for it. I have a minor in economics. This is an actual economist:

I have a love-hate relationship with security-footage-as-news stories. It doesn’t devalue a story, but too often it elevates a story beyond its natural worth because of suddenly compelling available video. Compelling, easily available video. (That part is important.) Or, even worse, it elevates a story because there’s video and no one else has anything better that day.

It’s a tricky thing, when visual drive messages. I see and have worked with and teach this stuff, so I consider all sides of the argument. I think we all should consider all sides of its use before using it, and that’d be a great starting point, I’d say.

And then there’s stuff like this …

Funny how video has helped bring to light rampant injustice in society. Funny how necessary that video is for this sort of circumstance. Sometimes the visuals have to drive the message.

More on Twitter, check me out on Instagram and more On Topic with IU podcasts as well.

Jun 20

Wrapping up this week

There are a few Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) down at the lake. I’ve seen them flying around and play-fighting a few times. Photographing butterflies is easy with a proper camera. If you’re using your phone you have to be first, sneaky, and, then, lucky. And I was almost one of those two things today:

That was while The Yankee was getting in her laps, though one doesn’t really do laps in a lake. She’s doing concentric shapes, and always improving the open-water swim. It’s the opportunity found in all of the pool closings. Plus, butterflies.

And, now, some scenes from today’s bike ride.

It was a light week, so we only rode two hours today. That is a thing you say, sometimes. It is one part posturing. “Yep. Light day, just two hours.” It is also one part something you can be incredulous about: “I’m not even training for anything and this was a light day and it was two hours.” Or you could be incredulous in another way, as I was: “It took me how long to go that far?”

Anyway, today’s route was a simplification of the recent Friday regular. We just went out a ways and then turned around and retraced the route. Instead of making the big circle, or having the one proper climb in it, we went close to the lake. All of the fun, without the refreshing water views or the dreadful climb after.

It was good, then it wasn’t. Then it was all over the place, which is what usually happens with my rides, so it was good. Except for the parts that aren’t.

I went through one little slice of town and set out for more rural communities and pedaled 55 minutes in one direction, at which point I turned around, figuring that’d the reverse course would set me up at one hour and 50 minutes, which was, I think, the goal, and my understanding of math. And the math worked out, perfectly, before I added an extra mile or so at the end to put a unique finish on a regular route.

Now we just have to find some long flat routes around here. (We won’t.)

Much more on Twitter today, like …

Be sure to check me out on Instagram and listen to the On Topic with IU podcasts, as well. And have a great weekend!

May 20

Dramatic cat scene ahead

So there I was Tuesday night, washing dishes later than I should have been. Everyone had retired for the evening, but one of the cats came back to see what all this noise in the kitchen was about. As I was scrubbing I didn’t really pay attention to his approach, but he’s got two or three options available to him. However he chose to get there, I looked up, and there was the cat directly above the sink.

Sometimes a light will flash on the ceiling, and that will amuse and astound him, being a cat. Last night, however, I decided to hold the sponge up close to him and squeeze out the water into the sink, so he could see it from above. He’s one of those cats that likes water, so this was a captivating experience. We did this a few times, which lead to a series of photographs.

Why that didn’t wind up in yesterday’s post you’ll just have to solve for yourself.

Tonight we had a dinner and a movie date with colleagues. It was via Zoom. (Zoom has really helped our social lives!) One of them works in our school and the other is in Global and International Studies. We were going to watch a comedy, and instead we just wound up talking for hours and hours.

I was talking when it became obvious that the call was over.

Isn’t that always the way?

People who are still staying indoors — people who have both the ability and desire to do so, that is — are eager for contact. Some of them are talking to me after all. But no one has figured out how to wind down a video call yet. But when those nonverbals kick in … that’s when you can tell.

I wonder if anyone has decided the optimal number for such an interaction. We’ve basically been developing a wholesale interpersonal culture from scratch. Sure, the technology for this has been around, and yes, some people have used it professionally and even some personally, but the wholesale adoption is a different thing. Even if we’re diffusion of innovation laggards — and I’d say we are early or late majority at most — we’ve got to figure this out. Is this a meeting where one person talks to others? Will there be slides and someone droning on and on? Should I mute? Are we using the text chat or not? Do you have to stay backlit the entire time? Are we just being friendly? And isn’t that better than a work video meeting? Are we more, or less, courteous in crosstalk? And why do I keep pointing at things on my screen like I think you can see them?

I haven’t seen any Facebook Portal ads in a while, come to think of it, which is perfectly fine. You’d think they’d be everywhere, having come to market at just the right time. Maybe they are fighting it out over how Facebooky they have to be right now, who knows.

If they promised me only the Muppets could call me, and that the Muppets would answer when I called them, I’d buy one.