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.

Apr 21

My legs are so tired

On Saturday we rode indoors, because it was cold and rainy and just your average, underwhelming, gross Indiana April day. So we did about 26 miles in virtual northern France, instead where, according to Zwift, it is always sunny.

Yesterday we had a perfectly lovely day. So we rode outdoors for a few hours. Just after the big climb — which I’d dreaded the entire ride and before, finally, actually on the thing and tired of it, I rode a bit harder had my second best time ever on the thing — I took this photograph.

It should be noted that the climb isn’t long or especially hard. It’s the easiest real climb around here. But that doesn’t make it easy!

Somewhere after that I happened upon an opportunity to add to the Barns by Bike collection:

I don’t know why I do that, other than that barns are the right size and usually in the right kind of locale, and I move at just precisely the right speed to be able to retrieve my phone, get to the camera app and take a photo before I get by it.

Anyway, as I said, it was a beautiful afternoon yesterday. Here’s a bit of video proof.

And here’s one more shot of Lake Lemon, which we cruised by just before the “big climb.”

Now, today was a day for an easy ride. Another pleasant afternoon. I got in from campus, we sat on the lawn furniture for a few minutes and then headed out once more. Just before this photograph she said, “Where did my speed go?” And just after this photograph we turned left, and she caught some exclusive cosmic tailwind …

Bang, she dropped me. It took no longer than the time required for me to tuck my phone back into my jersey pocket.

The next part of our route offers a turnaround point and I saw her there, 4.6 miles later. By then she was riding so well I figured that would be it. But I worked hard on tired legs over the rest of the ride — managing an 18-second PR on a Strava segment and put in some ridiculous mile splits, besides — and caught her just before she turned into the neighborhood.

Tomorrow is a rest day, after three days where I asked a lot of my legs, who aren’t used to that right now. The next several days might be rest days, too.

It’s never a rest day for Phoebe. She’s doing some cat yoga here. I think this position is called “I forgot my other leg.”

And here’s a photo of a cat somewhere he shouldn’t be. Go figure.

It means a lot when we’re in one room and hear a sound from elsewhere in the house and the immediate reaction is “POSEIDON!”

It means something else when it wasn’t him and we don’t even feel bad about the verbal scolding. You figure he deserves it for something else he’s getting away with somewhere.

Which is what you should be doing, getting away with something, somewhere. But come back tomorrow for more stuff here. There will be more stuff here.

More. Stuff. Here.

Apr 21

Some pretty photos

The scene from sitting in the backyard today …

This fine day will become important later. We have three trees in the backyard that bloom. Two of them are brilliant, one is a bit shy about it. All of them will be in full-on leaf mode in just a few days. But, for now:

We went for a bike ride today, it was a terrific afternoon for it.

And here’s a two-photo installment for the irregular and not-at-all exhaustive Barns by Bike series.

Let’s check in on the cats, who are doing just fine, thanks. Phoebe is stealing a lap nap here.

She’s been sitting on this box, but now she’s discovered there’s an inside on the inside of this box.

Discovery is a fascinating thing. This one cardboard construct suddenly has many purposes! One giant leap for feline-kind. Also, I like the idea of tail-as-telescope.

Poseidon didn’t discover anything new this week. Sometimes sticking with what you know is where it’s at. He’s catching a nap on the stove cover. He knows it is warm there after you make breakfast.

He did, however, rediscover the refrigerator. He can’t get enough of it. And it’s weird. “Get out of there! But … first … let me take a picture of you.”

Wacky cat.

Apr 21

To put the sun at your back and the wind in your face

It was a lovely afternoon for a bike ride. I did not dawdle, and so we set out for an hour, with the slightest chill in the shade and the perfect amount of warmth in the sun.

It could be that the wind whisked it all away. Wind is the thing that demands the most of us. It’s a cycling thing — some 30 percent of your energy, says the almost-science/sorta-old-wives-tale, is devoted to overcoming wind resistance. It’s also a regional thing. Nothing moves the seasons here like the wind. And today things were moving.

So was she. I looked down and looked up, that’s all it took, and she’d put that gap in between us. My lovely wife is up there, powering her way through some ridiculous gear. If you peer into the picture you can just make her out, small dots in the middle-distance. Sometimes you can’t blink and she’ll be gone. When she does that I have to use all the tricks I know to pull my way back up.

I can never tell her all the tricks or she’ll be up the road and it’ll just be me back here with my shadow.

Or, if you prefer the video version …

That might have actually been on the same road. This one was a different road.

Shows I should show you, include this show, which I told you about last night. There’s a comedienne interview in here, among some other fun stuff.

And you can get all of the news and then some right here.

And this, which I neglected from Monday … I don’t know what you do at a distillery, it’s not my scene, but doing it in the morning seems like a tough assignment.

I have a full day tomorrow, and an even more full day on Friday, if that’s possible, so we’ll leave it here for now. If you have some more time to kill right now, however, there’s always more on Twitter and check me out on Instagram, too.

Apr 21

Welcome to the new week

Well, Easter was lovely, and quiet. The weather was perfect and we spent the afternoon in the backyard, relaxing in the shade. We had lasagna for dinner, which was delicious. And it was all very calm and productive in it’s own way.

On Saturday we went for a bike ride in the wind.

Not pictured: the wind.

The gusts were gusty, and could push you around. There were two hills and a lot of wind. Did I mention the breeze? I did set eight PRs over the 25 Strava segments on the day’s route. Even my shadow was tired.

We saw this beautiful bit of scenery somewhere between here and there.

I was only able to manage that composition because of the headwind.

The cats were unimpressed by the breeze, housed as they are. They probably slept through it all.

Phoebe was doubly insulated in her little box fortress. (If the cats don’t take over the joint their boxes surely will.)

Poseidon was sitting on my lap the other night and stuck his head through the side of the rocking chair for some reason and it makes sense because you see him staring at the camera, but that’s the wrong takeaway. My phone wasn’t there when he put his head through the rails. The phone was a reaction to his more spontaneous action. The real conclusion, then, is that he’s a weirdo.

And here you can see the rare moment where they are getting along nicely.

That’s how serious naps are around here.