Sep 21

We count our Olympians on this site

Another Tuesday, another Olympian comes into the studio to take part in an IUSTV shoot. Just another day at the office.

That’s Andrew Capobianco, who won the silver in the 3-meter synchronized diving in Tokyo, and he goes to school at IU.

Capobianco tells us about a cool tradition you don’t hear about all that often.

He’s talking about his Olympic diver partner Michael Hixon, and Hixon’s former dive partner Sam Dorman.

The full interview will be in a program you can see online a bit later this week.

Today’s pocket square combo:

Also, here are a pair of my new, bespoke cufflinks I made this summer.

Pretty snazy, huh?

More videos and fashion and such tomorrow.

If you have some more time to kill right now, though, there’s always more on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too. Speaking of On Topic with IU podcasts, and, oh hey, did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? They do. Check them out.

Jun 21

These look fancy

This weekend I completed the last of my pocket square project. I have … way too many of these things now. But my breast pocket will always look colorful. It’s not quite homemade, not hardly bespoke and definitely not artisanal, but some of them will look good on me.

You know what I’ve learned recently? There isn’t a logical way to store and present pocket squares. The best option I’ve found so far involves rolling them all up. Think of a giant recipe box or a card catalog or something. Then again, I don’t think most people go into an accumulation stupor as I seem to have done. Just yesterday afternoon I added these eight to my collection. I’ve got the whole process down now, it takes very little time.

Good thing I’ve called the collection complete then, no? Most people think paisley is a gateway design, but I think it’s a moment of clarity. It says “You’ve used everything you like and you should stop.”

Of course, the ones that I’ve made are all cotton. I could try my hand at making some silk squares …

She said it, and I’d been thinking it, but listening to the cicadas has become a soothing thing. Seemed weird at first, and sure, if you find a big cluster it’s so loud it hurts. But if you’re hearing them from a distance, or from inside, the ebbs and flows have a certain enchantment.

Stay all summer, you guys. But stop trying to land on.

That recording doesn’t do them justice. But I might be looping it a lot, anyway.

We took a nice and casual bike ride this evening. This is at a turnaround spot, just under two-thirds of the way through the route.

We go this way a lot. And it is easy, after a time, to know where you’ll drag and where it’ll feel like you are flying. And while it was more former than the latter, I managed to set six Strava segment PRs in that particular portion of the ride.

So what we know is nothing, basically.

Here’s another installment of Barns By Bike, though. This has to be one of the nicest barns in the area.

I always wonder what is inside. I bet the floors are immaculate. I bet there isn’t the first streak on that glass. The glass alone should disqualify it from barn consideration. It’s probably less of a barn and more of a “Somebody finally got my spouse to agree to what I want” structure.

Jun 21

Just look at that print, would you?

I set out for a quick run. Well, a slow run. We’ve been having this conversation about the proper way to re-build your runs. I, like that great American Ricky Bobby, want to go fast.

Fast, of course, is a relative term.

My lovely bride has been arguing that you must re-build slowly. Something about lesser intensity building cardio to naturally run faster at that same ‘easy’ pace.

Here’s the thing, if I ran any slower I’d be walking. Runners divide all of this into zones, and my idea of Zone 3 is different than theirs. And their vision of Zone 3 would mean, by extension, that my version of Zone 1 would be mostly stationary.

Whereas I figure if I just run as fast as I can, relatively speaking of course, then I can slowly build the distance at which I can run that speed.

But you can also hurt yourself that way, and that doesn’t seem like a good plan.

So as to not rock this particular boat, and because she is correct, I decided to have a slow run.

Slow being, not relative, but just … slow.

And so it was that I left the house and walked to a place where I knew, given the running route I had in mind, would take me back to the house in a neat and tidy two miles.

Except that just before I started the slow run it began sprinkling. And after about a half of a mile it began to really, really rain. Now, I’ve got my phone in my hand and the house is just right over there. I am no longer interested in running slowly, because this is a real rain shower, but even still, if I continued on my pre-planned route I’d probably ruin my phone because it would take a few minutes more and, also, the house is just right through there. So I cut the run off and wound up at the front door after a mile.

And my shoes and socks were wet. The Yankee brought me a towel. I stopped my app on my phone and there’s no real point to this story, other than to say, that even if I am trying to run in such a way as to avoid the rain, I am still pretty slow, and unsuccessful at avoiding the rain at any speed. Of which I have none.

After I dried off and showered and dried off again, we had dinner. And then I worked on making a few more pocket squares. The cutting part was done. The hemming part was the last step. The biggest part of that involves keeping a cat out of the action.

Anyway, at the end of it all, I have seven new pocket squares to add to the overlarge collection.

Sure, you could buy them — and I have six or seven that I purchased or that were given to me as gifts. You could even get them in bulk from some online store at better prices than a brick-and-mortar operation. But this year I’ve made quite a few. It isn’t difficult, creating that bit of splashy color for the breast pocket. And, as one discovers when being crafty, making something in volume is an easy trap into which one can fall.

I have eight more to make and that’s it. I’ll be out of the pocket square making business. As it is I’ll have to create a spreadsheet to track and chart their use so I don’t neglect, say, that bright green one.

It probably should be neglected, but if you buy cloth in a batch like that, you’re going to have an extra color or two you can practice on.

I might need a warehouse to go along with that spreadsheet, too.

But the print is lovely, isn’t it? Look for it in a pocket of mine this fall.

Jun 21

Oh so colorful

As of today I can be out of the heady cufflink manufacturing game. I’ve been making my own, you see. And I had some great fabric and the bits to put all the cufflinks together. But, now, the task is complete. Just when I got into a good rhythm of producing the things I’ve run out of supplies. And happily so. Once you’ve created an efficient technique and found the material you want to highlight and cut and trimmed all the fabric and assembled the things … then you count them. And you find … a lot of cufflinks.

At least I’ll have colorful wrists. And go a long, long time before repeating any.

Here’s the last batch, then.

I counted them all, so I could note it here. But now maybe it’s enough to say it’s a lot. Making things — most any kind of widgets, really — on your own is inexpensive and brings about a certain satisfaction. And those widgets pile up in a hurry.

Which brings us to the next project, pocket squares. I have so many, of them already, but I’m going to make more.

It’s something to do.

This evening we went for a run. Also something to do. It was in the upper 70s and 90 percent humidity and I just jogged out two easy miles, but that was enough to make it look like I’d been playing in a sprinkler in the back yard.

I use two recording apps for this. I don’t know why. One says I gained 70 feet of total elevation on my two-lap neighborhood route. It always overestimates, if you ask me. (And you just did, in your head, ask me. I know.)

And the other app says I gained 21 feet of elevation. So a disparity between the two, and a not small one, within the context of a short run. This is the fun part. That second app breaks it down by miles. It says I gained zero feet on the second mile. But it recorded an elevation loss of three feet on the first mile. So where did I gain the 21 feet? Or the 24 feet, as the case may be?

We’re worried about our phones tracking us. We should be wondering about what’s tracking us correctly. (And also why we have willingly allowed such things into our lives, sure.)

The Olympic trials are underway, which means the Olympics aren’t far away — should things continue as planned at Tokyo, at any rate. All of this means we are watching people do things near and at their peak human physical capability. And some of the names we know. There was a swimmer in the pool tonight who was my lovely bride’s student last semester. Pretty neat stuff.

He finished seventh in his heat tonight. I don’t know if he’ll ultimately make the team, but he is, as you might expect, very fast.

One thing about the Olympics is that the proper speed of the racing events doesn’t really translate in the camera shots. You really have to be at the venues, and the closer the better, to really appreciate how these gifted athletes go.

Years ago I was in a pool with an Olympic swimmer. This guy was in the lane next to mine during an open lap swim and without writing sonnets about it it gets difficult to express the power and grace they have. It was a pleasure to watch from up close. He did it with the ease and the certainty in which you might open a kitchen drawer. And that was the moment I realized we overuse the phrase “swim like a fish.” That guy did, most of us don’t.

It called to mind a conversation I had with 12-time national champion swimming and diving coach David Marsh. He said “You have to admire anyone who spends hundreds of hours in the pool just to shave off a couple thousandths of a second off of their best time.” And he was right, go figure. (Marsh has also coached 49 Olympians. The man knows stuff.) I think about that comment a lot. You’re gifted, and you work at it. That’s what it is. That’s the historical formula.

And it makes me want to go for another run now …

Jun 21

Monday cats and things

I put on all my cycling stuff and then looked outside and saw it had just started raining. Well then. Instead of having four things I wanted to accomplish, I suddenly had three. I don’t mind riding in the rain, if I’m already out and it starts to rain. That’s fun, and funny.

But it takes some doing, getting everything clean and dry at the end of that ride. Price of admittance, though. And you’re honoring Rule #9. Somewhat, that is. If I’d gone out, willfully turning the pedals just as the rain began, it would be a perfect expression of the rules.

But if you can stay dry, stay dry. That’s not a rule anyway, as far as I know, but maybe it oughta be.

So I stayed in and worked on one of the other three things. And, hey, one-third of one of those three things was accomplished. And here’s the proof.

So a few more sets of cufflinks, ready to adorn sleeves. Don’t they look nice? I especially like the pair on the bottom. This photo doesn’t really do them justice. And now I need more french cuff shirts. And then more cufflinks. And so you see how it spins out of control pretty quickly. When I get through with all of these I’ll have … way too many of these things.

Which is fine, because a project a bit further down the list of things to do is build something with which to hold all of my cufflinks.

So many projects, so little time.

The cats are no help with the many projects. But otherwise, they are fine. And to begin our weekly check with a cozy shot of Phoebe sleeping in her hammock seat.

Put something fuzzy in front of a window and she’s set.

Here she was, one recent evening, cuddling and … volunteering … for … something. Most assuredly she was not offering to help with any running project.

This is the way they’ve been lately. When one gets up the other immediately takes over. Like Poseidon, here, who has spent a lot of time curled up next to me the last few days.

He’s keen on taking naps on kneecaps.

Making this another week in which we won’t solve the mysteries of kitties.

Tomorrow, more progress! I’m trying a new thing: I’m talking my many projects into fruition! Let’s see how that goes for a while.