Jan 20

Happy New Year

Here’s the first sunrise of 2020.

The blog is going to take a few weeks off. We’ll reconvene a bit later in January and get everyone caught back up. Until then, may all your resolutions by new and may all your newness be resolute.

Dec 19

Merry Christmas

From us, to all of you — Enjoy all the blessings of the season, the peace of family, the joy of friends, the warmth of home and the love of loves — Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanzaa and the best Festivus ever. ‬

Dec 19

Happy 10K to me

Don’t worry. This isn’t a running blog, or a blog even turning into a running blog. All appearances to the contrary. I just have a bit of extra time now, my foot feels better (and aren’t we all relieved of that, in the hopes that we’ll stop talking about it) and I am trying to hit an arbitrary goal for the year. So it is a high-volume month, dear reader, and you have my apologies.

Last week I announced that today I was going to run a 10K, my first since mid-March, and so we did. Plus, it had the added benefit of being a good way to welcome in a new magic number.

It was a warm-ish and sunny day. Plenty warm by here, the second mile of the course:

Even in the shade it wasn’t too bad:

Here’s a shot where you fool the processor in your pocket super computer camera. A simple overexposure looks like the end of a day at the end of times. This is the Tennessee River.

And this is the Wilson Dam, which was closed to traffic today for some reason.

Probably for wind or rains or temperature or who knows. They shut it down sometimes. Probably today word got out that we were going to run down here and they turned everyone away for us. Thanks, TVA!

They started building the dam in 1918 and completed in 1924. Two years ago we ran down here and saw a rainbow that, I artfully said, was 100 years in the making. I have four more years to think up a similarly good line to see another one.

There were no spillways open today, but there were no cars on the road either. My mother would tell you she learned to drive on this tiny dam, in the snow. I’m sure it was a blinding storm. But, the story goes, her father’s logic was that if you can drive on this dam in the snow you can do most anything.

It’s a small damn, and the logic, scary as it seems, holds up. I never liked going over the thing as a kid, and back then that was the only way between A and B. The first time I drove over it was, I’m sure, a bright, sunny day — or a perfectly clear night — and there’s little chance of me going over it in anything more treacherous than the rain. Fortunately, there’s another bridge people can take today. That’s helpful for both the nerves and closures, like today.

Look how small those two lanes are!

So really, this was one 5K, because we had to stop to take all these pictures. You don’t often get all of this space to take a shot like this, and so you better take advantage of it when you do:

Back to the run, then. On the way back to the car, on the back half, somewhere close to mile five, the sun dipped down to look in on me through the trees:

And I exceeded the limit on selfies for the week:

That was all just before I started thinking about how little I’ve eaten in the last day or so. And, look, a 10K isn’t that long. This is just 6.2 miles, or, today, a little over 6.3. But when you’re hungry and you have a long straightaway into the wind and your running partner is way up the bridge from you, and you’re thinking about where you can get a chocolate milk right away, it can seem like it takes forever.

Here’s the dam, from the other bridge:

We stopped at a Walgreens, which has a temporal anomaly inside so powerful that renders the shoppers and the clerks equally unable to complete either side of their prescribed interactions. I must have stood there for about half an hour with a giant chocolate milk in my hand that I could not drink because I was not able to purchase it.

After which, we got cleaned up and went out for Japanese with my mom, my grandfather and one of my cousins. My grandfather doesn’t eat Japanese, but he did have an ice cream while the chef prepared our food. Later, I learned you can eat ice cream with chopsticks. And if there are photos of that I’m sure they’ll never see the light of day. The key is attacking it while it is still firm.

And then we visited the giant hardware store. For parts! I have a project tomorrow. Let’s see how that turns out.

Dec 19

nasses Nickerchen

I saw this word used a few years back and immediately fell in love with it: administrivia. It is an American thing, of course, and apparently came out of the 1930s. Can’t imagine why. And it became popular in education circles in the 1960s. Can’t imagine why.

Which is not to say that we’re the only ones burdened with the thing. Administrivia is everywhere. But the way it’s used is delightful. Even summoning up the word is a judgement: This isn’t cool, I know, but I also know it is necessary, and know you know, by my using this word, that I know it isn’t cool. And maybe it isn’t even necessary, but that’s bureaucratic inertia, kid.

Even saying the word is a bit of a challenge the first few hundred times you do it. It makes you sympathetic to the German speaker’s use of komposita.

The first time I saw this word, administrivia, it was on a syllabus. Which was perfect. It was in a bold font. Which seemed useless.

Anyway, that was my day, dealing with the details that must be dealt with in order to do more interesting work.

There was the approval of travel funds, the approval of payroll and the sending out a contract which had most assuredly been sent before. Arrangements had to be made for an office key to be turned in, and the first question about the next term rolled in about that same time. Somehow, another approval was required for the same upcoming travel funds. This prompted a great many notes. There are always programming notes to consider, both looking back and looking forward. And then there were the emails, always there are the emails, and the brief doorway meetings and so on.

The Germans don’t seem to have a word for administrivia, which seems like it would be an embarrassing oversight on their part.

I did learn a fine German proverb looking for it though. Wer den Acker nicht will graben, der wird nicht als Unkraut haben.

Speaking of komposita …

Hey, it was either that or going long on this little news note today: Wet-Nap maker planning to build area production facility, add 90 jobs

Nice-Pak Products, a manufacturer of wet wipes for consumers, health care, food service and other commercial markets, announced plans Wednesday to build a 760,000-square-foot production and warehousing facility in Mooresville, creating 90 jobs.

The Orangeburg, New York-based company already employs 413 people at its existing administrative and production facility at 1 Nice Park Road in Mooresville. The company, which has 2,500 employees worldwide, has operated in Mooresville for 45 years.

A man named Julius had an idea and started it all. He and his son got in bed with Colonel Sanders, and then things really took off. It’s an industry that is projected to have compound annual growth of about seven percent over much of the next decade. Everyone needs clean skin, after all, and some of that growth is going to come from just up the road. And that’s 90 new jobs rolled into what is already that county’s biggest employer.

The company makes products as varied as Wet-Nap, Nice n Clean Wipes and Grime Boss. What, you didn’t think you’d diversify in the wet napkin game? There are all sorts of pre-loaded moisture needs out there, friend, and businesses have to meet those needs.

It isn’t clear from that brief story if this means an additional facility, or a full upgrade and replacement project. Here’s what they have now. The exterior looks as clean as you would expect of such an enterprise.

The new place will be about five miles down the road from the old place, which is opposite a concrete mix supplier. Adjacent to the new locale are a small car dealership and a gutter cleaning service. It just seems a logical place, said a guy who was counting on those civic tax breaks to build the new facility.

They’ll start moving dirt late next year. It’ll be a project where no one goes home with grime under their nails.

Dec 19

To shine a light on my thinking

This is where I am on running, on having to sit it out for most of the year: I can now move around a bit. I am not always winded. I have to re-remember how to run uphill. I’m still slow, but then I haven’t been fast since high school, but I can manufacture a little burst every now and then. My foot feels much better, which is the best part of it all. I haven’t taped it up in a few days in a row, and I’m running without binding the thing, too.

And while I’m probably still months removed from wanting to run — it’s funny, I see people riding their bikes and I think “I’m jealous,” I’ve never seen a person running and thought “I wish I could be doing that right now — there is a certain meditative quality of a good run, when you can move the body without too much suffering.

Maybe it was the evening or the circumstance, but I remembered that this evening.

The light is great, mind you. The photo is blurry because I took that, mid-stride, running downhill. Even with all of those limitations, you can still easily see your way. The view is even cleaner with the eye.

The light is this one. You wear it on your head. It’s lightweight, has an adjustable strap and all that. You don’t forget it is there, but it isn’t an encumbrance. I don’t think I could ride a bike with it, which I’d like to do, because you’d probably outrun the light. But it’s perfect for night runs. They cast a brilliant light to see where your feet are going, and it makes you visible to people coming your way — as if they couldn’t hear me huffing and shuffling from a great distance.

Where I also am on running: I’m not yet back to doing great distances. Oh tonight I was going to run four miles. Four whole miles! But then precisely at the 5K mark, or 3.1 miles, my knee felt a twinge. And as I am trying to get my various joints to work happily and, perchance to dream, in harmony, I called it a run. It didn’t hurt — my rationale, that is — that I came to this conclusion just in front of the neighborhood. So I finished my run at the 5K mark, turned off the head lamp and walked home by porch light. It was in the low 40s, which felt like a slight chill after a little run. The crickets are gone, the bullfrogs are quiet, the kids are all inside. That’s also meditative.

I focus on spring, when I won’t have to miss the sound of insects and the aural landscape that comes with a happier season, when the sun sticks around longer, when I can a bike or run, or both!