The two promised unusual things

We’re coming to the last of it. The brilliant, crisp days before the gray moves in permanently, and the final trees before everything is just point sticks into the sky. Within the next week or so winter will set in, most decidedly, with an awkward plop. But, until then, we still have some lovely views of a few vibrant sweetgums.

These are on my little miniature walk from the parking deck to the office. There’s a half-block of sweetgums in a row.

I don’t know who planted, or left them, there, but it was the right choice, and I silently thank them for that decision this time of year.

It’s a good view walking east.

I had to walk further that direction on campus, today, because we signed up for the voluntary asymptomatic Covid tests. The university has been doing these on campus since the beginning. Initially all of the samples went to New Jersey, but they built a lab for this campus, and the one in Bloomington, and now you get your results in hours.
Anyway, this is part of that walk, from the Old Crescent, across Spanker’s Branch, past the IMU and the hotel (yes, there’s a giant hotel on campus) and one of the ancient gymnasia.

In fact, where they are conducting the tests is a small gym of some sort. Not sure what it is used for when we’re not in the midst of a pandemic, but today you register online, walk in, swipe your campus ID card at the first table, answer three questions, “Have you had anything to eat or drink in the last half hour? Have you had any symptoms? Have you been advised to quarantine?”

I remember the first time they asked you these aloud. Now they just point. The product of doing anything a few thousand times is finding the easiest way to do it. I also remember when I used to read the sign, now I just assume they haven’t changed the questions. No, no, no.

And then you go to a second table, two young men are sitting there waiting on the printer to produce a label that they wrap on the little plastic tube. They used to tell you how much saliva to produce. Now they just ask if you’ve done this before.

I have! It’s an asymptomatic testing site, and we’ve fortunately never had any symptoms, but it’s good to have the peace of mind before traveling or having guests.

So now you have that little tube in your head and you’ve been working the saliva glands overtime for the last few minutes. Produce, produce, produce. The first time or two you do this, it seems daunting. But the students are right: after you’ve had the experience you can generate that kind of spit on demand.

In the gym they’ve created lanes and there are stickers and don’t stand too near anyone because everyone’s mask is lowered and it’s time to spit into the little plastic container. You have to fill it to the bottom of the sticker. Did it in record time. Cap the sucker off, wipe it down with a few wet naps, put it in the tray and hope that the person who picks those up at the end of the day isn’t feeling clumsy. Then you get out of there. You get notified of the test results in a few hours.

(Update: Negative again, as expected. Bring on the in-laws.)

And then it was back to the office, for office stuff.

After work I walked the three blocks to the local public library. I’ve had a book on hold there for some time and this week Craig Johnson’s latest became available to me.

I enjoyed this lovely maple just outside the building.

Then I went inside — one of the few places I’ve been during the pandemic, and though I’ve been here twice, it’s one of only two dozen or so public buildings I have visited in the last 18 months — the library which is always amusing. It is built into an uneven plot of land. So going through this particular door means you go down an immediate flight of stairs. The children’s section is to the right and the used book store is nearby and there are a few meeting rooms and offices down there. It has a half-submerged feeling, not the least which is because of the large set of stairs that sweeps up and to the left to get to the main floor of books.

I walked down to immediately walk back up. And where those stairs deposit you is right next to the rows of reserve books. In fact the books for people with S names is directly in front of me, and mine is in the first section, at knee level. I was able to grab that quickly and say a silent thanks to the person who keeps those well alphabetized, and used the kiosk to check myself out. Scan my card, input my password, scan the book, print the receipt. And then back down the grand staircase, and then immediately up the half staircase to exit.

All of the power of a library, none of the human interaction. The most time intensive part, aside from waiting for the book to become available, was inputting my eight-character password.

Outside, I found another potential candidate for my jigsaw puzzle series.

And I walked back to the parking deck. Here’s one of the same sweetgums I photographed this morning, and showed you above.

Brilliant as they are, they really do need the right kind of sunlight. Either way, it’s a shame photographs can’t convey the real sense of a quality leaf turn.

So there you go, two new stories for an otherwise average Thursday. I spat in a cup and a checked out a book.

It’s all downhill from there.

And here’s the routine sharing of this week’s sports show. Lots of highlights to check out from the IU students, and it’s all brought to you by the IU broadcast students.

The daily duds: Pictures of clothes I put here to, hopefully, help avoid embarrassing scheme repeats.

I think this combination did better in person than in the photographs. Anyway, a new pocket square.

And a pair of the cufflinks I made this past summer.

And I am now one day closer to the Thanksgiving break. Just one day to go!

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