Apr 22

A stroll down memory lane, and some basic site stuff

I changed a visual element of my website today. This is the first time it has been changed in 15 years, which is an unreasonable amount of time. It’s a front-end thing, and you’ll never notice it. No one will even be aware that this particular thing has changed. But, if you look at the top of the page, or the tab you’re reading here, you might figure it out.

Tomorrow I have to start looking at viewership data at the office, so this evening I examined some of my own YouTube metrics. There’s a wealth of information in the analytics dashboard these days. You could go blind and silly trying to put all of it into some sort of coherent explanation. None of it makes sense.

All of it makes sense. How it is reflective of user habits makes very little sense. Let us, for example, consider a few videos and a key metric, the average percent viewed. The scope covers the month of April.

(And, before we dive in, I must say: If you press play on any of these videos, watch them to the end, or you might throw off the whole analysis, or at least the space-time continuum.

This video is from 2017. It is Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the mainland of Great Britain. (The most northern Scottish isle is still some 170 miles farther on.)

Scapa Flow – a prime naval base region for the British and the final resting place of much of Germany’s WW1 high seas fleet – is out there in the distance. Today petroleum, tourism and diving are big. Here, you are asked to imagine standing watch, like the British boys of the 1930s and 1940s did.

The people that have watched that this month have watched an average of 92.1 percent of the video.

This is a video last fall from The Yankee recovering from her first popliteal artery entrapment surgery.

It’s a seemingly rare problem, involving compression of one of the arteries in the leg because of muscle development. A week before that video she limped back into the house after the procedure at the Cleveland Clinic. Every day was a bit more walking. She started rehab on that leg a week later. (Last month she had surgery on the other leg. Today she went out for her second post-op run. We had our first bike ride last weekend.)

The people that have watched that this month have watched an average of 94.9 percent of the video.

This video is from May of 2018. I’d gone on a walk and saw these geese flying toward me from some ways off. I had just enough time to fumble for my phone.

This one has an average percentage viewed rate of 96.8.

Ahh, our old friend, the Short Film of No Consequence series makes an appearance. This is from a candy store in Savannah. I shot, and edited this, in the store, in January 2016, and I hope all of those delicious treats found happy homes.

Viewers here have watched an average of 97.5 percent of the video this month.

In the summer of 2017 we visited Scotland. Ceannabeinne Beach, in Durness, is known as the beach of the burn of bereavement and death. The story goes that an elderly women fell and drowned in the burn here and her body was later washed down to the shore. There are ruins of a small fire here, but like all of the other locals, the tenants were forced out in 1842 for sheep farming. Just off the coast there’s a small island, Eilean Hoan, or the burial island. It once was prime grazing land and home to four families, until the Clearances. Now the island is a national nature reserve.

That beautiful scenery has earned a 99.1 percent video view.

Let’s goo to another beautiful part of Scotland. These are a few extra bits from an afternoon walking around Torridon.

I can brag about this one having a 99.7 percent viewed rate this month.

(You can see why on these. All of Scotland is stunning.)

This one feels like a cheat. It’s an eight-second clip. But it got a perfect 100 percent on the ol’ view-o-meter.

We’d just returned from a red-eye flight across two-thirds of the country. And I thought that would mean a nap. For most people it would mean a nap. For me, it meant going on a really hard bike ride. It was great.

Which brings us to this video, which I shot late last summer in Alabama.

It is presently enjoying 179.1 percent, meaning people are watching it almost twice.

Which means you have to watch it almost twice, to keep the numbers consistent.

The most viewed video this month? This 2017 flooding footage.

One other analytical note which, also doesn’t matter, but my site, for reasons that escape me, this month hit 4.6 million views.

Thanks for clicking the refresh button so often, everyone!

Apr 22

If you’re keeping count, this is week 17 of the year

Let’s get this week started off the best way possible, by recounting our weekends! It’s as good a way as any to work through the reality of a Monday, I suppose. So, most importantly, how was your weekend? Great and warm and as precisely relaxing or fruitful as you planned, I hoped.

Mine started at the track. I left the office to catch the end of the Women’s Little 500. I briefly talked with the race director on Wednesday and it didn’t occur to me until later that I should have asked him why they start the thing at 4 p.m., when most of us are working. We ran into a guy we know who is a professor at a nearby school. We’ve had dinner with him before, worked on a paper together, used to hang out a bit socially, when that was a thing. This was the first time I’ve seen him since before Covid. Since then he’s bought a house, gotten married and had a child. The kid is already solving mid-level mathematical equations apparently. Time flies.

On Saturday was the men’s race. They take 200 laps around the track that surrounds the soccer field. Here’s the start and finish.

There were just three crashes. One was small and early in the race and the three or four guys that got tangled up in it popped right back on their bikes. One other I missed, and the guy seemed to be OK-ish when they hustled him off the track. And the last was in turn four of the white flag lap. They never threw up the caution flag — perhaps they have rules about that, or they just messed up — but this one was in the lead group. One of the guys was still crawling off the track when the remains of those hard-charging riders came back around 30-some seconds later. Most importantly, the group of eight contenders was whittled down to three or four guys, and that was the race.

Also, if you are wearing your best overalls, but somehow forget a shirt, a copy of the newspaper is highly adaptable.

Let’s check in on the cats. Here’s Phoebe at play in the cat tree.

And here’s Phoebe catching up on her time in the sun.

You can’t see it from the angle here, but Poseidon is sitting with his back legs on the sofa, and his front legs on me and his torso is hammocked in mid-air.

He seems to think that’s comfortable.

He also seems to think he’s a model.

I saw this car on Friday. I’m still surprised this was the first time I’ve seen this car around here. You think you’d notice that. It does stand out.

And, finally, a bloomington tree in blooming bloom.

Spring is upon us, thankfully.

Apr 22

In the wind down

I had a delightful moment of id today. I’ve been wrestling with a website that wouldn’t let me log in. No email. No password. But I kept getting these messages which said they’d send the requisite information to my email, which they apparently don’t have. (Despite saying they did.) There was also a helpful phone number to call if all of this didn’t work. So, after a few days of this going on in-between other things, I called the number.

A very helpful person finally caught the other end of the line and, after she verified I wasn’t a dribbling idiot and I demonstrated my grasp of erudition and and reason, she set about helping solve the actual problem. This required reciting, several times, the requisite information. Finally, she was ready to create my account — he one that didn’t exist, but which the database was pretty sure it did somehow, maybe a nickname or something, perhaps. Before she could click the final click, she had to read me the terms of agreement.

She said that I could agree at any time. And she said that with the studied patience of a professional. There was a little emphasis on any time. It stood out. It wasn’t declarative. It didn’t sound like a complaint. But she wanted me to know I could agree at any time.

And dear internet, I did this for you. I have never, in my life, been more interested in the terms of agreement. In that moment, you would have felt the same way. So she read them all.

But at the end of it, I could finally log in.

I also had a moment of herculean achievement. Normally, I run my day on email and two or three calendars and some notepads and the crucial points from all of that get distilled into a notecard. Usually a day fills a card front and back. Some days I get to do other creative things with the back of the card, like observations or notes about some item from the front or tic-tac-toe. But the card seems to fill itself up nicely, thank you.

But today I managed, after several tries, to distill the next week onto two cards. A sign of the last stage of the semester. It was a beautiful sequential list, a slug, a time, date, location, day-of-the-week stuff. The only thing left to do was to remember what each slug meant, and what was required of me for each point. One week. Two cards.

It was immediately, immediately, made obsolete by the next email that floated in.

This is a class a colleague is offering in the fall. I am trying to reconcile the clever top line and Topic 1.

I think it is clever. And I know the professor running the course, and it should be a good one. But if it’s a class on social media manipulation someone should really lean into the notions contained in that graphic. Have some fun with it. Make the art such that, if you invert it, or flip it, there are secret messages to let students know you’re in on the joke.

Maybe there’s one in there already, and I just haven’t caught it yet. But I am looking. I’m looking every time I walk by the signage and this image is on the screen. I’m also counting the fonts.

We have an apple tree in the back yard. We discovered this just last year. First year since we’ve been here that it produced fruit. We looked forward to seeing them get ripe, but the squirrels had other ideas. They ate every single apple.

I haven’t found a countermeasure yet, but I’m sure I’ll find something on Google that will in no way be effective.

But at least the tree is blooming now. (In the final third of April, it surely ought to.)

I noticed that when we were sitting on the megadeck this evening. We stayed out there until the sun got too low and the temperatures fell and the fire element went out. I took that as a sign to go inside.

Apr 22

One more day of looking back

There is great virtue in this capacity we have to remember things. It is probably a byproduct of the ability to learn things. And communication, verbal and otherwise, easily comes from there. It’s not enough to have the experience of a predator scaring you or harming you or getting in the thick of things. You have to learn he’s a predator, and remember that for the next time, and so on. There’s a lot of learning required in that phrase, and so on. So you keep accumulating knowledge. Then, it seems wise to pass it along to the family clutch and beyond.

We just keep accumulating and sharing knowledge and, over time, that’s how institutions are made. You can’t have habits and cultural institutions without memories, after all. That, and reasoning, is how we got smarter: Don’t eat that, because Grog did, and then he doubled over and died. Then Jork did, too. After Arussa got sick, we noticed a pattern. So don’t eat that.

Memories are like that, but they have limitations. You simply can’t live in them. Life is for moving forward.

He said, while inviting you to briefly rehash the day, revisit last month, and consider books written about events in previous centuries.

One of those days where I had to leave one studio to go to another studio, to go back to the first studio.

Then I did that thing where one meeting ran long and into another meeting and so on, for a while. And then back to the studio for this or that, and more meetings.

The only thing missing was a high volume of email.

I’ve gotten four-weeks of blog content out of our Cozumel vacation, let’s wrap this up with one more miniature photo-dump. This is not a food blog, of course, because food photography is harder than it looks. But eating in Cozumel was amazing. I’ve been thinking about the tacos and sopas every day since we left.

Those both came from this place, which we sadly only visited once.

Just down from our condo rental there was a roadside shack that more or may not have been a gimmick for the gringos, but it was delicious. We ate lunch there three times. None of that is pictured, since it was a bit of a quick hit-and-run thing between dives. The sopas were incredible. We also visited a few other small holes in the wall, and one nice tourist restaurant that was good, until it wasn’t.

I have a “friend” who was at a baseball game on a beautiful spring day and, thinking he’d rub it in that he was somewhere I’d rather be, and that I was in Bloomington, he sent me a photo. But I just happened to be standing right here at the time …

… and, for once, I won the point. And all I had to go was visit a tropical destination.

One more view, a little closer to the beach.

Let’s catch up on some books, before I forget to remember once again. I wrapped this book up sometime last week. It’s a collection of essays, written by academic historians, discussing lesser known people involved with varying aspects of the American Revolution. Most of the subjects I’ve never read about, so this was an insightful read all the way through. And it answers the question “What would I have been in that period of history?”

I’m reasonably well-read and educated, here, but there? I’d probably have been stuck in a life as a farmer or leatherworker, without a lot of opportunity for upward mobility. It’s a classist society after all, the 18th century. You’ll revisit that a lot here.

Alas, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

That’s a good book. Deeper than a Wikipedia entry, not as intense as a monograph, and it covers a lot of different types of people in several places in one important period.

I read this one this week.

This is a curated collection of recollections of the Allied liberation of western France. You normally see this from the American or, perhaps, the Canadian or British perspective. This is about the locals. Roberts, herself an esteemed historian at the University of Wisconsin weaves it all together, but the meat of the book is the collection of interviews she’s assembled. Most of these memories are compiled from people who were children, or young adults, in the 1940s, and many of them have the softened glaze of time. So they’re precious and valuable. And, like any memory, they are distinct right up to the point where they aren’t. Plus, I don’t know if you knew this, there was a war going on around them. So there’s that, too. As always, you want more, until you get enough. And when you’ve had enough you might realize this was too much of that one thing. But what about this other? Memories are like that, too.

Apr 22

The ways we fill our days

I washed my car this evening, because winter is over — I hath proclaimed it, he proclaimed — and because there was still daylight left after my work day.

And by “I washed my car” I mean I took it to one of those middle-of-the-road drive through car wash companies and spent $11 to get dust and salt and grime off the car.

This one doesn’t have the dryer jets with the big wheel that descends onto the car as you drive out. Those always concerned me as a child. The wheel landed right there on the windshield, and then rolled over the car. Why is this not a problem for anyone else? Instead, this one has two vertically mounted dryers on either side of the exit. There’s a helpful clock in blue lights, telling you how long until these things stop blowing hot air which, as I type this, seems like a feature we should all be required to carry.

You try to time it just right, the whole of the car deserves the same amount of time in the drying phase. Except you’ve no real idea when the front of your car begins to really feel the warm air, so it’s just a guess. The experience will likely be uneven. And then you try to rationalize it. Why shouldn’t this part of the car get more drying time? Then you wonder if you’re somehow distributing the air flow unevenly, as you creep through the blow zone, because of driver bias, or a misperception of the precise size of the passenger compartment, or something. Finally, you’re thinking, I paid for it, you should use the whole of the 60 seconds. Don’t give any of the air back for free!

Anyway, my car is clean. And, for the moment, the exterior smells nice. I was going to vacuum the inside, but this place charges for that air, too, and I have vacuums I can use at home on some future nice day. And I will! I like a clean carpet.

When I got to the house a spontaneous bike ride occurred. Why not do 20 miles! It’s a lovely way to spend a few minutes.

I wasn’t intending to ride today, but riding is fun, plus it was a bonus after the 25-miler I had yesterday morning!

And these are the ways we fill our days.

Here are some sports shows that the IUSTV crew produced last night. All the local stuff from IU is in this highlight show.

And on the talk show they discussed the upcoming NFL draft.

By now, if you’ve been here every day over the last two weeks and change, you’ve seen 130 photos from our recent dive trip to Cozumel. (My next chore is building a proper photo gallery for them. Perhaps that’ll get done in the next day or so.) Maybe, perhaps, you missed the larger videos. I’ve got you covered. Day-by-day, the best footage from 13 dives on the beautiful reefs of the Caribbean Sea. Check these out.

This is our second day, when we got in five days. Four of them are represented here.

And this video was shot on a Thursday, not that the day of the week matters to the fish in the sea, or the turtle, which appears right at the beginning of this dive experience.

And everything you haven’t seen so far, you’ll see in this great video.

Now, about that photo gallery …