07
May 21

Friday in the garage

Slept in, enjoying a day off. Fiddled around catching up on the day’s reading until lunch. Had a sandwich and then went to the garage.

I have been trying to get into the garage all week. But events, and timing and desire and other things, so events, have conspired against me. Today, though. Nothing on the calendar, so to the garage!

Moved the car out so I could get to a saw. I had some wood scraps that needed to get trimmed down. Do away with the pointy bits and save the better stuff on the end.

Ahh, the smell of sawdust! Smells like progress!

And then I straightened things up along that wall of the garage. It needed it. It needed cleaning more than I realized.

Doing that I found a piece of lumber that would work for something my beautiful bride asked me to make for her. So I cut that down to size. And then cut it again. And then tried to square it up. And cut it a 1/16th of an inch off the desired dimensions. Fortunately that’s not integral to the project. Nor is the squareness of all the ages. Somewhere there’s a 1/32 inch of a wave in the thing and we don’t care.

And then I sanded and sanded: 100, 150, 220, 400, 600. It’s almost furniture quality.

It’s just a rectangle of pine. It took no time, but the grain is clean and has some nice character when you can see it up close. Most importantly, she’s pleased. Next The Yankee will stain it — she likes the staining part, everyone does. Then we’ll put some legs on it to make a nice monitor riser on her desk.

This evening we went for a nice walk in between the rain drops. Standing on the cement garage floor and then walking three miles or so. I was starting to feel that. Thanks, old sneakers!

Ribs and re-runs for dinner this evening, and then an early morning for a bike ride. All of this makes for a nice way to start a weekend. Still didn’t get to some of the projects I’d imagined for myself last weekend. But it’ll keep.

And this will have to, as well. I’m taking a few days off from here. So this may hold us over until May 17th. There will be plenty of things to see here then.

Until then, though, you can keep up with things on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too. And did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? Phoebe and Poe have an Instagram account. Follow the cats.


06
May 21

Commence summer cruise speed

Spent a little time in a podcast booth this morning. I had to record someone saying words. She did a nice job of it. I think she got what she wanted on the third or fourth take. Not bad for someone not used to talking into a microphone. Pretty good for me, some days, and I’ve done this for a while.

And then we moved camera stuff around and three different a capella groups came in, spaced out six feet apart, took off their masks and spit at one another.

I stayed in a different room for that part, thanks.

But I could still hear them! And they sounded great.

They’ll be in a program later this month, and that’ll be nice.

After we returned all the production equipment back to where it normally goes I went back to my office and did office things.

It was otherwise gray and damp and rainy and that was the day.

I’m taking a few days off of work now that things are now approaching the summer pace, and today it really started to feel like it.


05
May 21

Results: Still happily negative

Here’s a new thing. I’m running a new campaign that aspires to highlight our scholars in the building. We’ve been mulling this over for a while, but we’re here now. I’m basically in a soft launch, because everything feels like a soft launch right now. So it’s a little social media showing off the thoughtful and important work of people. The idea is that they’ve done the hard part, let us help show it off just a smidge more.

So here’s Jess Tompkins, who has just completed her doctoral work, talking about the research. Kinda neat.

All summer I’ll tinker with settings and styles and, one day, I’ll get it just right. Perhaps, by the time the fall rolls around and we’re back to the new normal — har, har — this will be a part of something larger that really brags on people.

It’s a thing to do.

Walked over to the IU Auditorium for a mitigation test today. They’ve been running spit tests on campus all year, and since November or so, they’ve been doing the lab work here, too. All a part of the work the university has put into keeping students and employees safe. It hasn’t been perfect, what could be? But it has been beyond substantial. It has been thoughtful. It has been effective. It’s gratifying to know that the people that are making the really big decisions are handling things like this conscientiously, and are taking the best advice of the science — from their own experts and points beyond — and applying it as best they can. It’s been the best part of the year.

They did all of this testing with some thought, and some randomization. So it might be that you lived in a place where it would have been difficult to control spread, so maybe you got called in a lot. You might have had some exposure, so you got called in. Or it could be, like me, you got something akin to a jury duty lottery. Sometimes it is just your turn. But, soon after the vaccines rolled out — get your shot — the university decided that once you were fully vaccinated you didn’t need to do mitigation testing anymore.

But you can still schedule your own, even if you’re vaccinated. Looking after people. Anyway, on the walk over:

Anyway, that was one bit of the walk. I enjoy that little stand of trees. Usually a photograph is about timing, but if there’s any sun in the sky it’s the right time to take some kind of picture right there.

Walk in, scan your ID card, get a little vial, spit in it a bunch, and then wipe it down and put it in a little tray. Later they’ll send you an email letting you know how it went. The turnaround today was just over six hours.

Still happily negative.

This is the week where I begin to rediscover free time. During the regular school year I am on campus until all hours of the evening on two or three nights a week, getting done just in time for a late dinner and dishes and trying to stay awake so it feels like I have some free time to read or watch TV or maybe accomplish some minor task around the house. (I usually don’t.) The other days of the week I get to the house just in time to go ride a bike or do something like that. It fills the schedule six days a week, somehow.

But now I can go back to being done at 5 p.m., or thereabouts, and have full, consecutive, evenings to myself. There’s still bikes to be ridden and stuff to do around the house from time-to-time, but it feels different. It’s a part of it, rather than an obstacle to it, somehow.

Monday we went for a bike ride. Yesterday I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I mostly did nothing. Today we were supposed to go for a bike ride, but I got a late start back and so we postponed it and the timing was such that I couldn’t start in on something before dinner. So, again, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

But we had dinner earlier, and at a reasonable hour. A nice change of pace.

Some nights during the school year it’s 9 or later before dinnertime.

All of that wears on you a bit, is all, and when the summer comes I am happy to finally work my way toward something a little less clock-driven.

It’s always nice to see how the other half live.


04
May 21

The cats are in this one

I did an interview today, and then I edited the video. And then I played with the mysterious settings in Adobe Premiere. Everything worked fine, after a subsequent amount of time. It’ll be up tomorrow.

You learn a lot by being self-taught. That’s what I’ve learned, every time. I spend a lot of time thinking about that when I’m messing around with something I’ve taught myself.

Somewhere in all of that is the joy of learning. That’s probably one of those things that means different things to different people, but to me, it’s pretty straightforward. Instilling the willingness to continue to learn in someone, because they understand the delight of discovery, is to give them the drive to want to do it throughout their lives. And what a gift that is, a gift that defeats the fear, the intimidation of learning new things later. Then a person isn’t stagnant. They continue to grow throughout their lives. What a joy that is.

You know people who just sparkle in knowing a new thing. They positively glow at the opportunity. And you know people who blanch at the prospect.

It’s funny, I used to think of this in the context of the elderly. You see it in people a lot earlier, though. And lately I find myself wondering — not about the old guy who knows he’s lived and seen and learned it all, and yet there’s still so much! — but about that middle-aged guy who thinks he’s lived and seen and learned enough.

And he’s going to stagger through the next several decades like that?

That sounds lonely, and depressing, doesn’t it?

So the joy of learning, of discovery, of inquisition, of invention and creation, it shall always be.

These aren’t the problems of philosophy, but, then, it’s only Tuesday.

If it’s Tuesday, that means yesterday was Monday. And I didn’t do the cat feature. So let’s get to that here.

Phoebe did not like this email.

She did not like it at all.

We were sitting out back and Poseidon desperately wanted to be involved.

Really he wanted to find some place to roll around out there, but we’re on to his game.

And now they’re both onto the idea that there’s a chipmunk living in the back yard. If you’ll just follow their eyes here, you’ll see him too.

One day, they are thinking in their little kitty brains, I will catch you and your days of blissfully tormenting us will be over.


03
May 21

The in between

It is finals week. I have no finals. Not taking any. Not delivering any. Only one major studio production this week, and one minor one.

It is the interregnum! The inbox will be cleansed! The office will be returned to its minimalist purpose! Other content will be scheduled, arranged, prepared and produced! Much will get done!

In a week or two it will all start again.

I spent two hours today dealing with an audio production I am working on.

See, it all began when I received an email in February with an intriguing subject line. Someone wants to produce a program, and can we help produce it. Well, I have studios and students. And so we began the process. And now they are to the point where they are almost ready to publish their first episode. (Hence the minor studio production later this week. We have to get their credits put in the can.) The host has been interviewing his guests most enthusiastically. The producer is closing in on a nice mental image for how the show will work. I have a bright young student who is working on editing the shows.

We’ve had technical difficulties. We’ve had laughs. I’ve tried my best to come off looking like a wizard. They are very pleased with my wizard-like skills. And, now, we are almost ready to let this thing run under its own power.

But two hours, right in the middle of your Monday, that really fills up the day, somehow.

Also today, I was able to say goodbye-for-now and congratulations to some of our graduating seniors. As is my tradition I wished them the best, gave them the parting advice they needed and reminded them I might one day be hitching a wagon to their star.

I don’t do that, but it could be. It’s a small industry. You wind up working with everyone some day.

Here are the last two shows of the semester. This is the late night show, which has been a lot of fun to watch come to life this year. The studio where they produce this is a giant soundstage, but they’ve built sets on it this year for some of the cinema classes, which crimped the previous style of this show. No matter, the creative-types said, we can work with that. I made them jump through a lot of hoops because of various studio rules and Covid-19 rules and they did it all with good cheer and determination and this show has been evolving all year long. It’s been neat to see.

They shot that last Thursday night in Studio 5. And on Friday morning another group — though there is some crossover in the crew — produced this in Studio 7. The shows where they talk about themselves always run the longest. Weird.

That episode also had a surprise-on-video appearance by Gabrielle, one of the people that started the show, and Patrick, who was a producer that really helped round it into something nice. Award winning, even.

He’s an award-winning producer, then. Met his wife doing these shows. (Or in a class. Or just on campus. Or maybe they grew up next-door to one another. I’m not really sure, but my version sounds better. They met on one of our shows.) He works in finance and does freelance production today. Just a super, super nice guy. I think he was the first person I had a conversation with in masks last spring. He had to return a key to me. I watched him hold it up and drench the thing in sanitizer and then hand it to me, and we stayed well apart in a parking lot because everyone was afraid of everything. I told him one thing I wasn’t afraid of was what he’d do next because, to know him is to know one of those people who you just know is going to work hard and do right and things in the world around him would line up.

How was that only a year ago?

It was probably more like 13 months. And change.

Oh, well, yeah, sure. That’s right. That makes a lot more sense, then.

At some point this month I’ll consider doing some back-to-normalish things. Just visit a store for the heck of it, sort of things. We’re vaccinated. Our families have all gotten the shots. The local population will be reduced a bit when the students return home. Hopefully community vaccination will get a nice surge. (It’s slowing here, same as everywhere, unfortunately, but I’m hoping for renewed interest.) So all of those things together might make the time right. Plus it will a nice bit of punctuation between that time last year and this time this year, a good reminder of the time spent laying low, rather than creating a misperception of a foggy dream.

Maybe this sort of timing is important in ways we haven’t yet really wrapped our arms around. Everyone is eager and in a rush to put this behind them, and I understand that. Maybe that it hasn’t been one symmetrical year is a good thing. There’s a lot, still, to understand about what’s just passed us, too.

Went for a bike ride this evening. There’s this one road on one of our usual routes that has three little rolling hills and, for some reason, that third hill always hurts. So my tactic this time was to ride the first two casually, spinning out the easiest gear I could. (My rear derailleur needs adjusting and I can’t shift from the big to the little right now, too, so that’s a thing.) And then, on the third hill, I hoped, I would still have some feeling left and be able to get over the thing.

So that’s when I jumped ahead of my lovely bride.

The next five miles offer a handful of turns and curves and sticky little rollers before the turnaround spot. And right after that is when I passed her going the other way.

She was far too close, which meant she was far too close. Which meant I hadn’t created the separation I’d hoped for. Which meant she was going to chase me down. Which meant I had to ride harder to keep in front.

It’s more difficult to get ahead to give her something to chase than to catch up to her when you’re behind.

It is six-and-a-half miles from where that photo is taken to the house. And all of that was in my head the whole way. There are a few places on that part of the route where the terrain and the road and, on days like today, a lack of traffic can give you a good long view behind you. I never did see her. But once, on the last little leg of this course, she was nowhere to be seen and I sat up to catch my breath and soft-pedaled for 17 seconds. I did it for only 17 seconds because in the 17th she whooooosed right by me.

So there was going to be none of that this evening. I had two one-mile splits that were on the low end of fast. And she never caught me.

She was about 15 seconds behind at the end, though.