Mar 18

Turns out, it isn’t that cold

I went to Menard’s Monday, which has become a source of fascination for me. You can buy a lot of stuff there! From Pop Tarts to post hole diggers, from clothes to claw hammers. From deck chairs to dish soap, it’s amazing!

I looked at a few things, I picked up a few pieces of wood for future projects. I went outside because, for everything that the inside holds, the outdoors setup behind the store has to be twice as big.

Here’s one of the two drive-through warehouse shed things:

This one has siding, insulation and drywall and the like. The other was just stuffed full of lumber. You can get just about any kind or cut of cedar you want. I don’t think you can find a dimensional lumber they don’t carry. And then there’s the island in the middle of it all, the Ray’s Discount section. Right next to that, the railroad ties:

Used, mind you. I bet no one ever asks them what they were used for.

So, that’s what I did Monday, I shopped. But I bought no railroad ties. (I don’t have a train.) It was chilly, but not so bad you couldn’t walk around in a giant retail wonderland. Tuesday, I shot footage of the snow in our backyard. And now there’s a cat to be held. I have mentioned here before the lava blanket game. Allie will tolerate the brown fuzzy blanket. There’s something about the white blanket, which is of exactly the same material, that she will go out of her way to avoid. If you cover up from shoulder-to-toe under the white blanket, she will lay on the part of you that is exposed. Anything but that blanket, which must be lava. And if she tolerates the white blanket, you know it is quite chilly, indeed.

Anyway, I was under the white blanket, and she came to lay on me, and managed to park herself on the blanket. She’s getting over the lava game, I figured. And then I covered her up with the back half of the blanket. I looked over and said “Look! She likes it!”

“No, she doesn’t,” The Yankee said, took this picture.

Often when I greyscale a picture for the site it is a subtle reminder to me that I didn’t take this picture. But those eyes are the point, and so I returned the saturation, so that you could get a true sense of the “Get me out of here, hooman!” that was playing out on her face.

Mar 18

Everything is local, except Perth, Australia

Spencer Elliott came back to the podcast today to talk about the “buy local” marketing phenomenon. He started all of this out with a little anecdote designed for my neck of the woods …

Little could he know that Milo’s has become a too-important part of my routine these days. It’s a little bit of home. Indeed, the stuff is brewed just eight miles from where I grew up. I can plot out three routes from A to B without thinking about it and there was a time I could have probably driven the thing with my eyes closed.

I’ve never done that, because I drink tea and that keeps me awake. It’s an expression. But, then, so is the phrase “Buy local” and its many derivatives. The point is a clever marketing of something here at home. Makes you feel good. Propping up the local economy. Sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars, as Elliott explained.

But, he said, there are no tea plantations in Alabama. Fair enough, but I’m assuming that water — and I don’t know anything about their actual production — ran down Muscoda Hill and directly into some fanciful and terrific tea cistern they have on site.

Why, look, they put it right out front!

Obviously that’s a drainage system. In point of fact the taste comes from the red clay, it gets into everything else, may as well be mixed with the international tea leaf blend.

Anyway, fun show. It wasn’t all about tea. I tried to ask of him all of the questions a shopper might ask. To do that I imagined myself at a grocery store, standing next to a guy who knew about this stuff and was ready to answer every nagging thought and worry and concern I had about things from produce to artisanally stirred, fair trade stomped, sustainably green LEED certified, child labor law obeying, down the street pasta sauce some fictitious grandma made, buongiorno!

But it’s interesting how we are attracted to that, isn’t it? I had a family member, years ago, that made these fried fruit pies. This aunt of mine would go door-to-business door selling them to the local shops and they’d put them right up on the counter and they sold like, well, hot fruit pies. It was a thing in her hometown for a little while, and that’s probably all it ever needed to be. But you would have sworn they tasted better just because, maybe, you knew her, or you’d heard of her name, or because the merchant told you it was the lady who lived over by the river, you know the one. But everything is local if the world gets small enough, anyway. That local appeal might not be entirely instinctive, but it’s got to be fairly close.

Instinctively, I know this is the wrong time of year for this:

‪Do not want. #snow #March‬ #Indiana

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This morning it wasn’t even in the forecast, now we’re going to be in a squall for an hour or two. I don’t even know what a squall is, really. Turns out it isn’t about volume at all. Nor is it about the weather hating me in mid-March.

A bit more of yesterday's snow squall. Yesterday, as in mid-March.

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Stuck to the ground, but not anything to worry over. No need rush out to the grocery store. All the local stuff has already been picked over anyway.

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Mar 18

A human typed this

Yesterday, and today, under Daylight Saving Time, in three photos:

We talked robots and bricks with journalism professor Joe Coleman today.

I remember I worked for a news director at the beginning of my young career and she said ours was a business that would never be taken over by robots. Machines won’t report and write our copy, she said. But that was 17 or 18 years ago and now AI is writing basic stories. Of course we have more wonderful ways to tell great stories today, too; there are always tradeoffs.

This is what made the second half of the program so interesting to me. There are a lot of people in declining or changing industries who can see or feel, that that change is coming. There are people at certain points in their career where they fear that it will happen to them, or they’ve been told as much. Industry comes and goes, and a workforce can be adaptable, but a person, a singular individual at the wrong point of their career might be less so. And when an industry begins to fade away due to advancing tastes, or innovation or regulation or anything, there can be a lot of those individuals thinking “Now what?”

This has long been a part of the cycle, if you think about it. But think about it a little bit more: It is possible that we’ll soon AI and blockchain and quantum this and that our way into more of these types of change than any generation before us. Which, hey, more time off. But a person still has to pay those bills. That person still has to work. You’ll have to retrain a workforce at various stages of their lives, in various family and medical conditions, in a rapidly evolving professional ecosystem.

Coleman, my guest, wrote a book titled Unfinished Work: The Struggle to Build an Aging American Workforce. Here’s a blurb:

The era of the aging worker is here. The forces driving the first decades of the 21st century — globalization, technology, societal aging, and jarring economic instability — have made later retirement a necessity for many, but those who choose to stay in the workforce are frustrated by a job market that fails to take advantage of their talents. As government’s ability to finance retirement and health care declines, making space for older workers in the labor force has emerged as a chief challenge for the coming century.

This starts pretty much now through a time when the labor force is entirely aged out of working, or we radically shift economies. It’s hard to see any reason why it wouldn’t end.

But, for now, we learn in this episode, we’re still laying bricks faster than robots. It’s a great conversation. Scroll up a bit and give it a listen.

Mar 18

Jokes, we got them

I’m thinking that there should be a regular humorous installment of this show. So we’re going to be experimenting with some things on Fridays. And here’s the first one now. It’s a basic thing still, really, but the process is organic … like we’re growing something.

They’re stealing plants!

Mar 18

My part has, hopefully, been done for the day

I did my part this morning. It was either that or just accept my plastic and aluminum and cardboard fate. As I did all of the on-site sorting, it started flurrying again.

‪"Now stop the snow and make with the spring."‬

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And I’m not even asking much in return, except for a little meteorological recognition of the time of year.

It’s springtime. It should be sunny and warm. People should be taking vacations and … oh … well, I sorta wrote myself into a corner with this one. The podcast today was about vacation photos and a very popular Instagram account.

And, finally, I did an impromptu and unscripted sports show tonight. I played co-anchor with the guy on the right, in the video below. It was entertaining, at least. And then they all sat down and produced this show, which is still pretty neat to me:

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