Jan 22

Give me a three-day weekend

On Wednesday I overslept because my phone’s battery died and there was no alarm. I was on time to my first scheduled part of the day but, nevertheless, it’s always difficult to shake that feeling. So, this morning I managed to overcompensate the other way. My brain insisted on waking me up several times throughout the night.

At some point, when that happens, I’d rather just stay awake all night. But despite the fitful sleep I woke up on time this morning. Good thing, too! I had a meeting first-thing. I actually had two of them scheduled at the same time. One of them was a meeting I was running, so I chose that one. It was the right choice.

It looked like this today.

That’s just the way of things.

On the plus side, I got everything off my card for the day. Each day I prepare an index card for the following day. One side has all of the known and planned tasks. On the back are things coming up on the radar, and things that could be cause for trouble, worry or concern. It’s a helpful and effective system. And, today, I got to it all.

I even had enough time to write a card for next Tuesday, but I never write them on Friday evenings. There’s no reason to unnecessarily clutter the mind over a weekend. So, instead, I left on time. I think that made twice this week.

Amy Ray sent me a guitar pick.

I guess that’s what you get when you complete the catalog. I recently purchased her live show, The Tender Hour. It’s a live show, featuring a:

treasure of a night with a top notch country band and her “home away from home,” hometown crowd! With local hero Jeff Fielder heading up the band on guitar, dobro, banjo, mandolin and vocals, this record features all the songs from Goodnight Tender, as well as songs from her previous 4 studio records, plus a ripping rendition of the Bob Seger classic, “Night Moves.” Seattle’s Eric Eagle and Keith Lowe joined in on drums and bass with the rest of her core band, Adrian Carter on fiddle, vocals, and guitar; Matt Smith on pedal steel and banjo; and special guest Phil Cook on keys, banjo and vocals. The Tender Hour does what any satisfying live record should do-it puts the listener in the room and immerses them in the humanity of the show-complete with stories, blunders, an incredible band, and a energetic heartfelt night of music!

Haven’t listened to it yet. It seems a bit weird, but I feel like I have to wait, or at least I want to wait. I’m going to have to listen to it, eventually. When the weather turns I’ll certainly want to. How could I not? But Amy Ray is just not winter music. There’s too much passion and hope and nostalgia, too many breezes and sweaty, sticky nights in her sound and lyrics. Call it, I dunno, March through November. There’s too many places in her music I’d rather be, and you can’t get to any of them from here, particularly in January.

And, also, “Night Moves?”

But I appreciate the pick. Thanks, Amy! Now I need to pick up an instrument that needs a pick, I guess. Or, what else can you do with a single guitar pick?

Skimming my way through newspapers.com this evening and I found a page deep in a 1929 issue of a small town paper that had a lot of wire copy filler.

As I tried to find out more about Sparkes and Morehead, I discovered that this same copy was publisehd in an upstate New York paper…four years later. There’s evergreen, and then there’s evergreen.

King Zog? He was born into a bit of nobility, fought in the Great War, took some government jobs, became Albania’s youngest prime minister, and was then forced into exile. He went back, became president, and then, after this 1927 copy was written, he made himself a dictator-king. That lasted for about 11 years. Wikipedia suggests he might not have been well liked. “About 600 blood feuds reportedly existed against Zog, and during his reign he reputedly survived more than 55 assassination attempts.” But he held the proverbial crown until Italy invaded in 1939. He lived in England, Egypt, and then France, where he died in exile…in 1961.

His wife, Geraldine, was half-American. She lived until 2002. After the smokey Zog died, she lived in Spain, Rhodesia and then South Africa. Here she is 1999.

In her last months, she was allowed to go back to Albania:

On 5 April 2004 her grandson, Leka, Crown Prince of Albania, accepted the Mother Teresa Medal awarded to her posthumously by the Albanian government in recognition of her charitable efforts for the people of Albania. Leka’s daughter Geraldine (born 22 October 2020 at Queen Geraldine Maternity Hospital in Tirana, on the 18th death anniversary of queen Geraldine) was named in her honour.

Most readers probably didn’t know that much about Albania. Some would struggle to find it on Europe‚Äôs Balkan Peninsula. You could hardly be faulted if this is all you knew about the people known as the Children of the Eagles.

I wonder what the reaction was, in 1927, when they read that little clip about the king of this sleepy little place half-a-world away. That’s a lot of cigarettes! Maybe it was a bit less imposing 95 years ago. Do you think anyone, back then, went to Wikipedia to look that guy up?

That last brief? I’m pretty sure that last one was optioned to HBO Max.

Jan 22

Read along as I talk myself into something in less than 100 words

Today I start feeling the impression that I’m beginning to wrap my arms around a new project at work. I’ve been working at it for a few days now, so that’s good timing. We’re also bringing two new studios online. And everything is up in the air with Covid.

And we haven’t even got the IUSTV folks back into their productions yet. They’ll start next week, 50-plus days in various studios and 80-or-more shows and a handful of podcasts and all of the live sports and … I probably shouldn’t be this tired in mid-January. I should definitely be this excited.

I also left the office mostly on time today, which was great, because I got to the house and hopped on the bicycle.

Here is my avatar riding underwater.

And look! I’ve never noticed this mountain in the background before. That’s not where we were headed today, but I have been thinking about going uphill, so that was a nice view.

Since I mentioned riding through the volcano in Watopia earlier this week, I figured I should do that again, and actually get a photo.

I set a new PR on the volcano climb, despite getting distracted, losing my rhythm and falling apart in the last 100 meters before the top of the climb.

At the end of each ride you get a little wattage report. They compare your best output over five seconds, one minute, five minutes and 20 minutes to your all time bests. In the five and 20 minute segments this was one of my better rides.

And now I want to start doing laps up the volcano. And returning to the bigger ascents on Zwift.

But first I need to upgrade my bike shoes. My dear sweet old, cheap, Bonties — pictured here when they were still almost new — are starting to hurt my feet.

More than six years and many thousands of miles. Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about that.

My feet do, though.

OK, this weekend: shoe shopping!

Jan 22

Let’s read century-old newsprint

I woke up, because a bit of daylight was peering through the blackout curtains, 73 minutes later than I’d intended. My phone battery died overnight. No phone, no alarm. And despite making it out of the house — showered and shaved, in 15 minutes, and on time for my first appointment of the day — I could not shake that unsettled feeling. Despite that, it was a lovely day.

It got into the mid-40s here today. Positively chamber of commerce stuff.

I gave a tour this morning, reasserting once again that I would have never enjoyed being a tour guide. And yet. Then I did a little text work, then a little video work. That was the day, flying by as they do, except for the slow parts.

He said, after rethinking the parts of the day not worth writing about here.

Let’s look at some newspapers. This is what was was going on 100 years ago in the town where all of my family lives. Not my hometown, mind you. I’m not sure, anymore, if I have one of those. People talk about a hometown as the place where you were born, or where you grew up or where you live. I’m not in the one I’d prefer, and the rest hardly apply. And though I never lived in this part of north Alabama, all of my family is from around this area. And most of our ancestors were there when this paper was published a century ago.

Ain’t that something?

Read this over breakfast.

You wonder what led up to that over the previous year.

Earl Dean was convicted in April, and sentenced to life. He was paroled a decade later. Dean died in 1951. His sister, the wife of the well-known William McCarley, died at 81, in 1966. She never remarried. The McCarleys had five kids, the last born just after the murder. He passed away, aged 75, in 1996.

There’s still a Wofford Oil Company, but I believe it is a different concern. As for that gas station?

Long gone.

Also, why is the paper telling me about yesterday’s weather? Sure, it was cold and wet yesterday. We lived it.

Will build new church.

The First Methodist Church opened in a log house in 1822. Their third church got them to their current site, in 1827. Two versions later they had a brick building, which burned in 1920, so just before this newspaper. The new church went up on the same spot in 1924 and was renovated a few decades later. No one calls it the new church anymore.

I just wrote about the dam in this space recently. I told you the river and the dam and the TVA figured into everything. In the 1921 paper the writers were discussing its future. ‘Would the government keep the dam project up? And just look at how this dam thing has insulated us from the doldrums some other parts of the country are experiencing. We sure would like it if this continued.’ It’s easy to get the sense that they knew this was their path to prosperity and maybe a touch of that modernization that people talked about, the better parts of it, anyway. Also, there were sad tales like this.

He was one of 56 people who died during the dam’s construction. I know many of the family names on that plaque.

Finally, my grandfather smoked Camels, right up until the day the doctors told him another cigarette would kill him. So my grandmother made him quit. I can still picture, though, the coloring of the package, and the crinkling of the cellophane. No matter what this ad copy says, I can still imagine that god awful “cigaretty odor.”

After my grandfather stopped, my grandmother would go outside and sneak a Raleigh every now and then. That was her brand, and I never understood the distinction. They both smelled terrible to me. And there was a lot of that in their house.

My grandmother was a lovely hostess, though, the archetype grandmother. She always made sure to send me home with food or a plant or a toy, and a suitcase full of clean clothes.

The first thing we did when I got home was put all of those clean clothes go in the washer again. The smoke smells were baked in. It’s hard to imagine these days how ubiquitous that was, and not so long ago. How we were just … used to it. Sorta like cigarette ads in a newspaper.

We had lunch today at Chick-fil-A, which is to say we ordered it via the app and got the parking lot delivery and drove to a neighboring parking lot to enjoy our sandwiches. We parked in the lot of the now defunct K-Mart. It closed in 2016 and is presently being demolished to make way for apartments. The view from that parking lot is the Target parking lot just across the street. There were perhaps fewer cars there today than at any time during the pandemic. (Both locally, and across this state, we’re setting all sorts of pandemic records right now.)

This is our usual lunch date, once a week. While we’re there, I like to imagine we’re sitting over a broad, lazy creek. Today the mental image was enough to make me overlook this little message on the back of the cup.

And that’s true enough. So keep it up, won’t you please?

Jan 22

Always fun? Always fun

I had a meeting today. I was late to that meeting. I was late to that meeting because I had another meeting. It was a meeting about a meeting that will happen later.

All of that actually happened.

Also, the following sentence fell out of my mouth.

“I’m just doing some fact checking, because that’s always fun.”

It’s the lot of an editor. You have to look into things like phone numbers and hyperlinks and dates and times. There is something gratifying about it. The writer got this right, and good for him or her! And, you hope, that when someone edits you, they’ll also take the time to make sure you’ve gotten it right.

(Bring it home with something funny here. — Editor)

Anywhoodles (That’s not what I meant — You know whoodles) it wasn’t that I was editing, or fact-checking. The weird part wasn’t that I pronounced it fun as a sort of truth-in-sarcasm aside. Why did I have to add the word always?

It isn’t always fun.

You know what else isn’t always fun? (Rhetorical questions? — Editor)

No, that joke.

What isn’t always fun is email. I used to love it so much, back when they were fun. Now it’s just spam and work. And that’s when the email is even working. Outlook was a bit glitchy today. That’s never fun.

And now I’m writing about email. (Yep, that’s always a sign. — Editor)

Anyway, that photo up there? That was what I could see from where that second meeting was held. At least I had a view for an hour.

Having a view? That’s always fun.

Jan 22

‘They’re coming! They’re coming!’

Two years ago, plague.

Last year, plague. And locusts.

This year, plague. And also …

The birds, the noisy noisy birds. The messy, messy birds.

You should see the sidewalks. But it’s better if you don’t have to. And if it rained. Or someone rolled a high pressure washer outside.

Anyway, pretty day out there. But quite cold. This is a tradeoff I’m willing to accept.

Oh, and hey look! My new desk chair showed up Saturday. I put it together Saturday. The cats helped. And, right now, they’re taking turns checking out my stuff.

I’m assuming that it will prove comfortable, once the animals let me sit in the chair that I … just bought … for myself.

Which must mean it is time for cat pictures. Here’s Phoebe at rest.

And here she is, taking a nap. Yesterday, you see, was a serious sleep day.

And here’s Poseidon, wondering what I’ve done with his new chair.

He sat in it right there most of the day. After, that is, I assembled the chair, let him sit in it downstairs, spun him around a bunch, then carried the chair, and cat, upstairs. As soon as he got down, hours later, I put it in the office, and shut the door. He is very confused.

This weekend he has also discovered the joys of the space heater.

This is going to become a thing. We’re creating monsters.

As I typed this, Phoebe returned to the same position for another nap. Clearly I should be doing this at my desk and not in a recliner.

Monsters are what we are creating.

I had a nice punchy little ride yesterday, this is a part of Watopia, Zwift’s fictionalized world.

Which explains how I’m underwater there. Some of their environments are simulacrums of the real world. You can ride in a few villages of France. There’s a former world championship site in Virginia. You can ride in Central Park. You can also ride through the futuristic sky bridges of New York.

Or you ride around and up, and through, a volcano. Here’s my avatar coming down from the top of the volcano.

Of course there’d be a full moon and lava spewing. I often wonder, when I’m on this course, what it would be like if you had a different lunar phase as part of the reward. And how difficult to ride through the overwhelming presence of sulfur.

Your avatar rides, literally, on a road that goes through a volcano.

Which is a good metaphor for some people’s Mondays. Not mine. But Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday mornings? More meetings then you’d normally find on a volcano, though. Sometimes there is a sulfur smell, though, but, thankfully, minimal ash.

At least the birds stay in the trees.