May 17

Northwest, to the coast of Scotland

Our first stop today was a diversion along the way, the Rogie Falls, a walk in the woods, a place to stand on a suspension bridge just in front of them, and a place where, in the late summer, you can watch the salmon jump upstream. I shot a video:

Here’s a place where we walked out on the rocks just above the falls:


I believed she’s taking this rock as her own personal territory.


And here we are on the suspension bridge, which sways only a tiny bit:


Our drive today took us from Inverness to Applecross and then to nearby Shieldaig. This is in the northwestern quadrant of the countryside. Here are some of the views we enjoyed on today’s road trip.

A beach scene we saw along the way:


And the classic Highland cow:


On the way to Applecross, we went over the high pass of Bealach na Bà. Below is a Hyperlapse video of a single track road, built like you’re in the Alps, lots of switchbacks. It goes from sea level to 2,054 feet. The views are spectacular — or they are cloudy and treacherous. This is the uphill side, about 45 minutes of riding, squeezing past others and waiting. It was mildly scary. It was terrific.

Bealach na Ba is Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle. Traditionally, this has been a drover’s road. Today, there are cars and motorcycles and I would like to try to ride a bike up it. Apparently there are two local races that use the mountain as part of their course.

I don’t know how to tell you about where we had dinner tonight. It was probably 40 miles from our bed and breakfast in Shieldaig, which is, itself, a lovely, small little village. The restaurant sits in a remote village called Diabaig. The trip there is rocky, rugged, and predicated by the many coastal inlets. It is an inspiring landscape.

Previously, what is now the restaurant was a small school building, a school put there simply to satisfy Scottish mileage laws. Now, Gille Brighde sits down on the water and a Dutchman and his Scottish wife make food brought to them by local farmers and fishermen. The mailman had to tell us which way to go to get there. We were probably there for two hours and four other people were there. I had a lemon hake. The Yankee had locally hand-dived scallops, which she pronounced as the best scallops she has ever enjoyed. It was a lovely meal.

Just outside the school turned restaurant is the local pier, which gets rave reviews :


That’s down in Lower Diabaig. These selfies are in Upper Diabaig. You can see the pier just on the left margin.



May 17

Petal to the metal

Let’s just get it over with. To the puns ‘n’ roses!

Listen, bud, though some might say we haven’t rose to the occasion, we’re going to have to stem the jokes, bouquet?

Those are on the a bush on the side of our house. The ones I put here yesterday are in a bed on the front of the house. Good soil, I suppose. But I was working around the back of the house this evening. I had to install three sets of blinds.

The instructions suggested this would take 30 minutes per set. This would be possible, perhaps, if all of the parts were there. Or if the instructions were any good. But hey, in one box there were two sets of instructions. But, hey, I got to use my circular saw on something. Measure twice, keep your fingers out of the way, cut once and all of that.

I was done in two hours. Even still, the project isn’t truly finished, but there are blinds in windows instead of in boxes.

When you hang blinds, I think, you see the value of curtains.

May 17

The Indigo Girls show

We went to a rock ‘n’ roll show tonight:


Which means there’s fuzzy video from a dark room, but the sound is pretty decent. Well, the performance was great; the recording of the sound was not bad. I’ve been listening to the Indigo Girls for more than 20 years now, and so have most of the people in the audience. We’re all aging together, people! Except for the young people. They are somehow not moving at all.

Anyway, this song is almost 30 years old and who knows how many times they have played it over the years, but Amy and Emily still put a lot of energy into it:

I think they’re singing the “time is not on my side” line with a bit more emphasis these days. Who isn’t, though, right?

Look! This song is only 20 years old and I have no idea how that happened!

While you play that, a little story. I don’t sing in front of people really at all. I sing a lot, in private. In public I’ll sing in church and that’s about it. I’d rather stand in front of hundreds or thousands of people and give a speech — hey, I have! — than sing in front of four people. It’s just a shy, privacy, thing.

When The Yankee and I had just started dating we sang this together on a road trip. And I always think about that when I hear that song, that part of the song, when the shy singer was trying to pretend to hit a note. Voice, just like anything else, can be a great vulnerability if you choose to see it that way, but there I was, sharing it out loud, on a supremely sunny springtime day somewhere in south Georgia. I still don’t sing around people. But I sing with her. (She sings Emily’s parts because I can’t.)

Yeah, it is a banjo and a mandolin, and yet the back half of that song is some of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll. It’d be pretty high up on a folk list, too.

Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll shows … The Yankee has seen the Indigo Girls something like nine times over the years and I’m at six, I believe. Chickenman is still crazy good:

You could get into whole essays on who, or what the Chickenman is. This is the Internet, of course people have launched into historical allusions, literary metaphors and references to Springsteen lines and 1960s radio programs and all manner of things. I met a Chickenman once. I’ll never not think it wasn’t The Chickenman.

(Aside: I felt a tiny bit let down that they didn’t do the Mountain Top medley.)

Isn’t it weird how things can become biographical, even if you didn’t consciously intend for that to happen? There was this one 12-mile stretch of road, an almost-home road, where I’d pop this in play it three good times before the drive was over.

Each of the three times I’d sing it differently. All were probably sung poorly, but they had feeling. A loud and noisy and jangly feeling. It makes for a good show.

May 17

A new thing in the video below

I had a nice meeting today with some thoughtful and talented people and we discussed creating a podcast that highlights some of their interesting work. We’re just getting started with the idea, but it could be a very promising project, based on all of the enthusiasm in the room. This one is not the podcasts about podcasts. Nor is it the one which is just the ranking of things. (I’m going to call that one “We Rank Things.”) No, this one will be full of interesting topics and experts. It should come online in the summer or fall.

On my desk there is actually a notepad full of potential show types. It is a slightly annoying thing, this list.

I also spent time in a production studio today. And I spent time in email today. I spend time in email every day. This long note here, this short note there, a summary that probably has more information than any one reader will need, but all of them might think to consult, and recommendation letters.

There’s a late semester rush for references. I am happy to provide them, especially for some of the more talented people like I discussed today, but it does seem unusual that there are places out there still filling their internships.

Also, right as I was walking out the door to go home for the evening I learned of another graduating student’s big interview come next week. If my math is correct that means fully a half of the seniors I’ve worked with this year have jobs before graduation — not too shabby in the journalism and broadcasting game — and another one interviewing 48 hours after graduation. I believe almost every member of the underclasses will be either in school or interning over the summer. That must say something about the quality of their work and the curriculum they’re in.

Also, today, I picked up this book:

I’ve read pretty much the entire book online. This was the source material for the map that we made to help us understand my great-grandfather’s time in the Army. There are a lot more photographs in the book, of course. Here’s the map I made a few years ago:

I tried to look up the men that compiled that unit history book, but they all have remarkably common names, good, solid, middle America names. People of that sort, from that particular era are sometimes hard to find on simple Internet searches. Now, in the back of the book there is a partial roster of the regiment. Probably recalled from memory and various early rosters and whatever names showed up on subsequent reports, so not hardly complete. My great-grandfather isn’t it. But there is one man who had the same last name, a Texan. He was a lieutenant, got married, shipped out, made it home and lived a long life as a successful rice farmer and rancher. He died in 2003 at 86. My great-grandfather passed away just shy of 82 in 2001. (And think of all that you would see in a lifetime of that span.)

The commander of the 137th was Maj. Gen. Paul Baade. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana and educated at West Point, Baade was in the 87th Infantry during WWI, fighting in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the final hours of that war. And then, three decades later, he returned to the region commanding the 35th Division and maneuvered them over 1,600 miles through the end of the war in Europe. Must have seen some familiar territory. He retired in 1946 and died in 1959. And his is a fine obituary. The regimental commander during my great-grandfather’s time in Europe was Col. William S. Murray. He was a highly regarded commander, and after the war Murray taught at the Infantry School, before retiring in 1948 and dying in 1949. We don’t know what battalion my grandfather was in, so everything about his service is at a basic, bird’s eye level.

I like to wonder, then, if my great-grandfather, the medic, knew the medics in those photographs in the video above.

Anyway, my Google searches have now started wandering for the evening, obviously. So let’s wrap this up … rain tomorrow, starting tonight, even. We are wearing jackets again, like you do in May.

Hey, what did you think of the new video bumpers? Didn’t notice? Scroll up and play it again.

Apr 17


I am wearing an ice pack on my shin. You’d think — I thought as I knelt on the ground in a serious kind of pain — that all of those years of soccer and all of those many times of slide tackling opponents, and being tackled myself, that my shins would have calcified nicely. But, as I tried very hard to keep my composure in front of a room full of people, that is not the case.

I walked through a metal chair and it caught me on the inside of the shin bone striking about nine inches of my leg. Perhaps it separated bone from muscle, I had a vision of that in my head, anyway, to accompany the first initial white hot pain. And then before the stride was through, before the natural swing of my hip had taken its course and placed my foot in proximity to the ground and gravity reasserted itself, I stepped through another chair, this time hitting the outside of the same shin.

So I sat there on the ground, in some real pain, contemplating the two hours between then and getting some ice. And let me tell you, ice is good. Oddly, there is no bruising. So take that, devilish metal chair!

I’m sure I’ll be fine in a day or three.

Anyway. In the studio tonight, the last sports shows of the term.

Here’s the crew, relieved they can get back to studying for finals, I’m sure.


I think they were going up a roller coaster here:


One of the shows they shot tonight:

Not pictured, my ridiculous leg injury.