Jan 22

To the four-day week

The best part about a three-day weekend is that it also means a four day work week. Good thing, too. Given how things have started today, this week will feel like it will last eight days.

To sum up: At least Tuesday is done. Twenty-five percent of the work week behind me. Just 175 percent left to go.

Phoebe knows how I feel.

She had a nice opportunity for a suntan this weekend, and she enjoyed the early morning rays in the living room.

Poseidon, we might have mentioned, has recently discovered the joys of the space heater. And I mean this spoiled cat has really discovered space heaters.

To be fair, I put the blanket on the ground for him. Not so much that he’d have a blanket, but because he’s guaranteed to lay on it, and that might, hopefully, help him make the connection between the tall white thing and the hot air blowing out of it.

He is, as you might imagine, appreciative.

And a few quick scenes from indoor bike riding. Here’s that volcano I’ve been riding up and around and through.

I think I might have done all I can do on that course. I’d like to find another minute somewhere on the route. Two rides ago I took about 30 seconds off my bet time up the volcano. Which means that, on this last ride, I really had to push to get a few seconds off my next PR. But I did. And on this last ride I had my best time to, and up, the volcano. I worked so hard that I was 20 seconds off my pace for my best descent down the volcano. I was so tired I slowed down on the downhill part! But even if I can put those things together, I’d still be looking for 40 more seconds, somewhere. So, now, I’m making mind bets. If I could just somehow go a little harder for five extra seconds every mile …

And I’ll try that after I let my legs rest for a day or two. That always seems to serve me well.

There’s another mountain in the background of that same course. This digital mountain, as you can tell, causes digital weather.

Jan 22

Read along as I talk myself into something in less than 100 words

Today I start feeling the impression that I’m beginning to wrap my arms around a new project at work. I’ve been working at it for a few days now, so that’s good timing. We’re also bringing two new studios online. And everything is up in the air with Covid.

And we haven’t even got the IUSTV folks back into their productions yet. They’ll start next week, 50-plus days in various studios and 80-or-more shows and a handful of podcasts and all of the live sports and … I probably shouldn’t be this tired in mid-January. I should definitely be this excited.

I also left the office mostly on time today, which was great, because I got to the house and hopped on the bicycle.

Here is my avatar riding underwater.

And look! I’ve never noticed this mountain in the background before. That’s not where we were headed today, but I have been thinking about going uphill, so that was a nice view.

Since I mentioned riding through the volcano in Watopia earlier this week, I figured I should do that again, and actually get a photo.

I set a new PR on the volcano climb, despite getting distracted, losing my rhythm and falling apart in the last 100 meters before the top of the climb.

At the end of each ride you get a little wattage report. They compare your best output over five seconds, one minute, five minutes and 20 minutes to your all time bests. In the five and 20 minute segments this was one of my better rides.

And now I want to start doing laps up the volcano. And returning to the bigger ascents on Zwift.

But first I need to upgrade my bike shoes. My dear sweet old, cheap, Bonties — pictured here when they were still almost new — are starting to hurt my feet.

More than six years and many thousands of miles. Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about that.

My feet do, though.

OK, this weekend: shoe shopping!

Jan 22

‘They’re coming! They’re coming!’

Two years ago, plague.

Last year, plague. And locusts.

This year, plague. And also …

The birds, the noisy noisy birds. The messy, messy birds.

You should see the sidewalks. But it’s better if you don’t have to. And if it rained. Or someone rolled a high pressure washer outside.

Anyway, pretty day out there. But quite cold. This is a tradeoff I’m willing to accept.

Oh, and hey look! My new desk chair showed up Saturday. I put it together Saturday. The cats helped. And, right now, they’re taking turns checking out my stuff.

I’m assuming that it will prove comfortable, once the animals let me sit in the chair that I … just bought … for myself.

Which must mean it is time for cat pictures. Here’s Phoebe at rest.

And here she is, taking a nap. Yesterday, you see, was a serious sleep day.

And here’s Poseidon, wondering what I’ve done with his new chair.

He sat in it right there most of the day. After, that is, I assembled the chair, let him sit in it downstairs, spun him around a bunch, then carried the chair, and cat, upstairs. As soon as he got down, hours later, I put it in the office, and shut the door. He is very confused.

This weekend he has also discovered the joys of the space heater.

This is going to become a thing. We’re creating monsters.

As I typed this, Phoebe returned to the same position for another nap. Clearly I should be doing this at my desk and not in a recliner.

Monsters are what we are creating.

I had a nice punchy little ride yesterday, this is a part of Watopia, Zwift’s fictionalized world.

Which explains how I’m underwater there. Some of their environments are simulacrums of the real world. You can ride in a few villages of France. There’s a former world championship site in Virginia. You can ride in Central Park. You can also ride through the futuristic sky bridges of New York.

Or you ride around and up, and through, a volcano. Here’s my avatar coming down from the top of the volcano.

Of course there’d be a full moon and lava spewing. I often wonder, when I’m on this course, what it would be like if you had a different lunar phase as part of the reward. And how difficult to ride through the overwhelming presence of sulfur.

Your avatar rides, literally, on a road that goes through a volcano.

Which is a good metaphor for some people’s Mondays. Not mine. But Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday mornings? More meetings then you’d normally find on a volcano, though. Sometimes there is a sulfur smell, though, but, thankfully, minimal ash.

At least the birds stay in the trees.

Jan 22

From the home office

Worked from home today — also worked from home yesterday afternoon — because of a heating problem in our building. People that know what they were doing had to work in the ancient steam tunnels and that meant there was no heat on what have been the two coldest days so far this winter.

Late in the fall they went down into the tunnels to do a two day job and it turned into something like a three-week proposition. When the experts got down there they found the problem was much more extensive than they thought. We had no hot water or heat during that stretch, but at least the weather was mild.

Now, it’s bitter cold. You can almost feel it in this photo, which was essentially the look of the day.

This is not my first cold workplace environment, of course, but I sure wouldn’t mind if it was my last. I once had a studio so cold I couldn’t type. As we were taught, you faked your way into pleasantness. Never let anyone know what’s wrong on the air. This had the added benefit of making sure the boss never got repair bills from the HVAC people, too. In my last stop the newsroom and office could get just as painful. The facilities people said too few of us worked up on that third floor, so it was not a … What is the word they used? … Was it priority? They never solved that in eight winters, so, no, I don’t think priority was the word. Oh, yeah! Problem. It wasn’t a problem! And nothing was ever done, no larger complaints ever lodged, no important people ever involved, because it wasn’t a problem, because it was just a few people, you see.

Looking back, that should have been a clue.

Yesterday I had four layers on, and only four because, I figured, sitting in my office while also wearing my long coat would have been silly.

Put it this way, when we received word yesterday we could retreat to warmer conditions, and I got to the house — where my lovely bride, who was raised a frugal Connecticut yankee, manages the thermostat — it felt positively toasty in comparison.

Anyway, the people working in the mysterious steam tunnels said their work would carry over into today, so we were given the option to work from home again. This was a rare treat, indeed.

So I sat in my home office, where it was pleasant, and worked. And at the end of the work day I decided it wasn’t pleasant because I really need a new chair. I was pretty sure, but now I’m convinced. And so I found one which will arrive next week. Or sometime in 2027. It’s difficult to tell, based on this website.

It might seem counterintuitive, but do you know what you do when your backside is hurting from a worn out cheap chair that you bought 10-plus years ago? You get in the saddle.

I set an entirely pedestrian 20 mile-per-hour pace around London.

The good news, the people working in the steam tunnels got their work done today. So we’ll be back in the office tomorrow and I’ll give a silent thanks to the hardworking people that I don’t know, who kept us warm, or safe, or both. And tomorrow is good, because classes begin again on Monday. Tomorrow will be the last deep breath until the sprint to mid-March.

Deeeeep breath.

Dec 21

The seasonal wind down

It’s funny how things sink in. The how and the when and then, just, the act of sinking in. It’s great imagery, you take a photograph of a memory or a great big block of text sliding into the brain matter. Finally! That thing sunk in!

Or, for some, it could come another way. That polaroid or life video on a short, endless loop, or that great big block of text, could collide with a domicile. I imagine it’s flying in from the left, with squiggles denoting speed, slamming into the side of a cartoon house. Hey! That really hit home!

Anyway, it just now hit home that I’ve been writing in this space for 18-plus years. I had to scroll through all of those Decembers in my FTP program to get to *checks notes* 2021, so I could upload this graphic.

That’s my ride this evening, a quick 20 miles over a fictional place in Zwift. And with this ride 2021 moved into the second place in the last 11 years for miles pedaled. Last year has, and will likely hold with ease, the top spot. All of this is pretty remarkable because, these last few years, I seem to be riding slower. It takes longer to go farther.

It takes dedication to go farther when it takes longer, he said, thinking it meant something more than it did.

This is the last production of the fall semester for IUSTV. It’s Behind The Curtain, one of the many new shows the students rolled out this term. They show a student video or, as in this case, an actual film project, and then talk to the creators.

This term they garnered well more than 80,000 impressions and almost 13,000 views of 81 new episodes of original, scripted, entirely student-produced programming. This does not count the many podcasts or social media hits of all different sorts on at least four different platforms.

Oh, and this is something of a rebuilding year, so we’re just getting started.

How do you feel about documentaries about comedians? The producer of this project is an IU professor. I’ve watched a long trailer, which was good enough to make me want to watch the full thing. (Which I will get around to in the next week or so.) And if you like comedians, you might like this, too.

I’ve lined up an interview with the producer of this project for after the first of the year. She’s got a book chapter in a new book that’s considering comedians as public intellectuals. Should we go for thoughtful, then, or punchlines? And why can’t I do both, simultaneously?

I also have three other shows in the can that I simply need to edit. Good shows, but not about comedians. That’ll be part of a day after the first of the year.

But that’s after the holidays, which I am officially on starting … a few hours ago.

So you know what that means. Two weeks of fun!