Wednesday


18
Mar 20

Hello, hello, hello

The best time, I told Instagram, for a run in the early age of social distancing? Obviously on a day when it is in the mid-40s. The preferred time would be when it isn’t raining, but the forecast was not a reality today.

Aside from the wind, and the rain, and the cold, it was a nice little three-and-a-half miles around the neighborhood. In a few weeks, if and when it warms up, I’ll have to think adding a few more miles back into the routine.

After a big meeting today, and thinking of an email and a conversation from the last few days, I pitched an idea which got the approval for further pitches. Up chains it goes. Now it needs a title, apparently. So that was a happy task for much of the afternoon, and perhaps part of the rest of the week and, if it goes well, for some time into the future. More on that then, then.

Let’s look at links.

I’ve come to really admire The Undefeated in it’s short run. It launched in late 2016, but it has covered a lot of ground and its writers manage to have a simultaneous air of authority and attitude that’s not always easy to pull off.

Maybe it is a bit easier in this brief essay, because the whole system has been a farce and the women who have been at the center of it have carried themselves with such poise, none more so than Simone Biles, who does all that while still competing at heretofore unknowable levels, having to maintain a criticism of her sport and constantly being the center of that as a spokesperson while also, you know, at the ripe old age of 23, being amazing:

She knows that it takes a village to raise a predator above reproach, to look the other way when his predations become so far out of hand as to be a well-known secret. She knows, from experience, that true, explicit acknowledgment and real structural change are required.

It’s unforgivable that Biles must use her hard work and success in this way — risking it all to advocate for herself and other gymnasts trapped under the governing body’s irresponsible purview. It’s unfortunate that the other side of her luminescent medal and legacy is dulled by that governing body’s paternalism and neglect. By pressuring an institution that performs in the face of its own inaction and injustice, Biles makes legible the ways our society tucks violence against women under the proverbial floor mat, and the ways in which women continue to materialize the strength necessary to demand the world beyond violence that we deserve and imagine.

This will be something a lot of people find useful, or will otherwise be looking for in the coming weeks. Stuck at home? Enriching activities to do with all ages from the Indiana Young Readers Center:

Looking for extra activities to keep children busy? Explore some of these activities put together for you by the Indiana Young Readers Center, located in the Indiana State Library. Remember, children of all ages can benefit from play and reading. Keep your kids engaged with some of these resources.

Sadly, my age group was not included. I’ll just have to fall back on my experience as an only child.

The apparently innumerate senator is from Wisconsin.

And the 3.4 percent he’s using here in his rhetoric works out to just over twice the population of his state. But, really, it is the rhetoric that’s a problem here. That data point isn’t being used correctly. So he’s using an incorrect data point, incorrectly.

To say nothing of the knock-on effects, and the many other medical cases that will be marginalized as hospitals become forced to triage everything:

These choices could be particularly devastating for the tens of thousands of Americans awaiting new organs, transplant experts said.

The outbreak has already caused serious disruptions. Doctors in some parts of the country say an inability to quickly test potential donors for the coronavirus has led them to decline viable organs, forcing some ailing patients to wait longer. To avert the spread of the virus among vulnerable patients who must take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of their new organs, doctors have canceled most routine follow-up visits for transplant recipients. And in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus patients requiring beds in intensive care units, some hospitals are now performing transplant operations only for patients who are at the most dire risk of death.

[…]

Without a transplant, Branson said his surgeon told him last week that he might only have about 30 to 45 days to live. But he said the hospital considers the surgery needed to remove part of his uncle’s liver to be elective — and therefore nonessential.

In a statement to NBC News, Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret, the chief of transplant surgery at UCHealth, confirmed that the hospital had suspended some transplant surgeries.

Meanwhile …

Never mind that younger people are also susceptible. But if you’re talking ’bout my generation (and not the one that actually claims that song) …

So, who is taking COVID-19 seriously? Possibly Gen X, who are born between 1965 and 1980 according to Pew Research Center, and are often referred to as the “sandwich generation” because many are caring for children and older parents. On social media this weekend, the hashtag “GenX” trended, with the “latchkey generation” saying that they were the most prepared to live in isolation.

From a psychological perspective, there might be some truth to this argument.

As they tried to explain this — and I stipulate that painting sweeping generalizations over a 20-year cohort, which is nothing more than the thinnest of constructs anyway, is silly — they missed one important potential external factor: MTV.

Now, usually, when I point to MTV, it isn’t in a good way. But it works out this time. We were just ready, because of what we already knew.

Also … is any other group allowed to see itself in this light?

Our little group has always been
And always will until the end


11
Mar 20

The drawdown

More meetings today. Meetings about meetings. Meetings which begat other meetings. A fair amount of time canceling meetings. Meetings about canceled meetings. And oh so many emails and rapidly evolving and newly created policies. Our employer, Indiana University, is taking it seriously, which is nice.

My dean, in fact, told everyone at a meeting this morning to not be in the office after today unless it was essential that we be there. I have to go in for a brief while, tomorrow, but today is the last full day of on-campus work until April as we duck Covid-19. These are not off days. We’ll just be working from somewhere else. I’ll be in the home office.

It’ll sink in eventually.

We went for a run this evening. It was a quick three-and-a-half-miles of progressions, where you continue to build up speed as you go. This was just as we got int the third mile, which means she was going pretty fast, which meant the photo was blurry:

Earlier in the run I saw this, the second green things of the season. The tulips of February are false advertising. The longer days are a signal, next week’s spring break is a clue. March is a mirage, but there are now, suddenly, a few green things:

The next warm-ish day we have I’m going to take a walk through the woods behind the house. I have to find more green things.


4
Mar 20

Working through an owie

Sometimes I can pop my upper back from a seated position by raising my hands above my head and rotating my torso with a particular style of torque. Did that on Monday, and as I did, my back popped, as did my shoulder, in a most unfortunate way.

That set off a sequence of painful sensations — sore shoulder, muscle spasms beneath and beside the scapula, pain across the collarbone and into the neck. Right in this area, which was on fire for a day and change:

More scapular stabilization dysfunction, then, and how did I walk around feeling like this for the second half of 2012 and almost all of 2013? (I’ve had one or two other re-occurrences and each time I’ve said the same thing. How did I suffer through this for that long? It only took three hospitals, three different surgeons and two different sets of physical therapy to make a collarbone tolerable.)

Anyway, at the office today I concentrated on some of those therapy exercises and I found an empty wall and did the tennis ball tricks. And then, walking down a ramp (it’s a quirky building) my neck popped and started feeling better.

I could feel it immediately, everything was starting to loosen up. My neck started popping at the slightest provocation. All of the muscles in my back, having flared for two days, felt better, but exhausted. I could move freely! But it also felt as if the slightest provocation could start the whole thing over again.

So naturally a three-and-a-half mile run was in order. Best I’ve felt in two days, somehow.

The moral to the story, I guess, is this: Never raise your hand.

I wasn’t even volunteering for anything at the time. And if volunteering requires any big arm movements right now, I probably would think twice about it.

Back to being the idea guy, then. I’m pretty good at that.


26
Feb 20

Just writing about very casual photos

Bought gas this morning. Watched the rain turn to snow and marveled at how gross the parking lot looked, which is to say, a lot like a wet parking lot in semi-dark conditions. It’s the most central European experience I can offer you today. Brown turns gray and it’s too cold to qualify as dank. And it was almost the first thing in the morning. But at least the price at the pump was good:

So thank you, Kroger fuel points for the discount.

Forgot my lunch today. I guess I was just too excited about fueling up. So I had to get a sandwich at the nearby sandwich place, which meant chips. Which meant choices and new packaging and …

Cool design, I guess, so they’ve increased the cool, but perhaps not the ranch. The look suggests a chip went subatomic and left only the excess seasoning. There is a little extra seasoning. I’m not sure it required new packaging. You could give me the new chips in the old bag and I would have thought there was a new man on the special spice machine last week. The new guy is always more interested in the customer experience than the corporate bottom line, after all. But that soon passes when the veteran first shift crew talks him into toeing the line.

At which point the new guy becomes just one of the guys, on his way to being the old guy. It happens overnight. Literally. Before he knows it he’s working a double on the third shift because that guy is the manager’s brother-in-law. Everyone knows he’s the weak link, the third shift brother-in-law. No way he’d be working that schedule if the manager liked him. But you know how it goes. And so the formerly-new-guy bitterly starts thinning out the spices.

And that’s when the new design on the chip bag is outdated.

But will you even notice? There’s so much going on, if you’re not leaving big, smeary, fingerprints on everything, how could you notice it all?

There isn’t enough extra cool ranch for big, smeary, fingerprints.

I took a picture of some of the wood stain in the garage, because I needed to make a note of it for my current project. I’m going to start sanding soon. I think. I hope. So here are some stain cans.

And so now I’m spending the rest of my Wednesday evening enjoying getting to go home with some of the day still left in it. Working late on Tuesdays and then having a regular schedule on Wednesday is an unusual thing. Challenging on the at the beginning, but the back end, this is a nice feeling: free time.

Makes getting gas first thing this morning worth it, I guess.


19
Feb 20

No one even made the “Oh my!” joke

I met this guy last night in the television studio. He took part in a nice little segment about the local petting zoo of discovery and wonder:

The handlers, for lack of a more appropriate term, were wonderful with both the animals and the students who were working the show. And some of their creatures work school and other promotional events all the time, so they apparently take it in stride.

The ladies said the animals would do better out of their carriers than in them, so after a moment of “Awwww,” and a second moment of photographs, the crew got down to work and did a nice job pulling the program together. And the hosts created a tight little segment with their furry guests.

Off-camera the lemur jumped on me. And I learned that a bengal cat will grow to be a bit larger than a domestic feline. This one was still growing. We were told that you can tell them apart mostly by their softer coat and their personality. They generally behave more like dogs, she said. But this guy was too chill to be bothered by anything going on around him. That lemur wanted to be the star, however. You can see it in here:

The news show was done after that. I missed a lot of it, trying to be useful, downstairs working on other things.

Driving home this evening, I had a nice view of the sun:

Something about the angle of it in the sky, even as it was descending toward the horizon, is starting to feel different. Like the sun is bigger, brighter, and should-be-warmer. It isn’t yet. But either some ancient neuron in my brain has begun to detect the seasonal shift or my keen powers of critical observation are seeping into my subconscious.

It still isn’t warm — nor would you expect it to be warm here just now, but on general principle I demand it nevertheless — so either instinct or perception is wrong. But there was a feeling that an optimist might ascribe to optimism.

I’m a resigned realist.

Probably I owe Phoebe a photograph. It was a rare evening, indeed, when she chose to sit on me. If she’s going to choose to cuddle with someone it will be The Yankee. (And almost always on one of the blankets.)

This is a thing she does near the end of her time cuddling. Having rolled over, she stretches her full body out. I’m not sure if she’s surveying the ground below her, or just enjoying the moment or trying to wake up or fall back asleep.

Eventually, she pushes off with her back legs and gracefully rolls toward the floor. Here’s the side view before that happens:

I think we’d now, finally, have to use three hands to count the number of times she’s voluntarily sat with me. It’s progress. Maybe she was jealous of the bengal cat. Maybe she’s noticed something about the sun, too.