Sep 23

Some things were accomplished

This is how the day went —

You shouldn’t begin a daily post generally grounded in the day-to-day events and notes of interest to the author; it is implied.

You’re right. Should I try again?

I think you should. No one has started a post like that since the days of the burrrrrr-krrrrrr-beeeeep—whiiiiii modems.

You’re probably right.

I think that I am, yes.

This is how the day went. I got a later start than I wanted, but that was fine. I did a little prep work for this week’s classes. Then I took a trip to the convenience center to drop off a good 10 days worth of garbage and recycling. Eventually, the novelty of that little chore will wear off and we’re going to want some actual curbside service, like most people from the later part of the 20th century.

The garbage haul was two bags from the house. I also moved four bags of weeds and one tub full of recycling. This took, I dunno, three minutes to load up, probably less time to unload and 25 minutes of driving, round trip.

Which meant it was lunch time, and so I had a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup on a day when the heat index will hit 100 degrees. After that, I did a a bit more work, and then set out for a haircut. The place I visited offered me a 145 minute wait. Not two hours and 25 minutes, but 145 minutes. There was a small circus worth of children in there, so I shared my thanks and departed. There was another place not too far away, I went there. Equally crowded. Did not go in. I’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll make an appointment, which carries the hefty cost of, for some reason, having to share my cell phone number with a company.

With my still shaggy and unkempt hair, I went to the grocery store. Potatoes for dinner, check. Soups for lunch, check. Cheez It because we eat it, check. Grapes as an impulse purchase’s sake, no dice.

Back in the home office, another few hours of prep work and it’s possible that I’m over-prepared. The spontaneity, I fear, is going from my best speeches and jokes. Or, I could be kidding myself about my level of preparation. The good news: I have all day tomorrow. So I’ll re-read this stuff for the 15th or 16th time in the last week.

So I called it and went for a swim.

And, this evening, I set a personal best. Longest swim of all time, 3,520 yards. I do not know what is happening. My lovely bride went for a run and caught the last of my swim, or the part near the end, the part where I was tired. I could feel it, of course. From about 2,700 to 3,000 felt different. Not desperate, but not good. Not haunting, but a distracted. My good shoulder was a bit achy, but I figured it would pass and it didn’t seem like something to stop over, so I kept on.

Then it all got better for most of the last 500 yards. And for the last 100 or so I sprinted it out, because that always seems like a good thing to do.

After I got my breath, she gave me a few pointers about what was going on with my form during that struggling portion. It seems my usual poor form deteriorated for a while, and that’s bad and can lead to injury. I’m not injured, but I am sore. I also swam two miles, so that stands to reason.

She said I should break up my swim into smaller segments if I was getting tired. And I was getting tired. This weekend I swam 3,080 yards and so I know about the point where I’d get tired. She said, with the wisdom of a real swimmer, that she’d rather see me swim 35 100s, with some rest breaks in there, so that I don’t get so tired that me and my sloppy form don’t swim myself into an injury.

I said that sounds like a good idea, and really good advice. But I had to find out if I could swim two miles.

You know, for shipwreck purposes.

And then I went to upload my swim into Strava, and found that the highest data point they allow for a swim is …

So I have a new goal. I just have to prove I can swim 100,000 yards. (I’ll take breaks.)

That’s 56.8 miles, almost three trips across the English Channel. (I’m never doing this, of course.)

Let’s wrap this up with a bit of the Re-Listening project. Though it hasn’t appeared here in a few weeks now, you’re accustomed to the concept: I’m listening to all of my old CDs in the car, and in the order in which I acquired them. These aren’t music reviews, just good music, occasionally a fun memory and, mostly, a bit of whimsy, which is always important in music.

And we’re up to late 2003 here, when Robinella and the CCstringband released the self-titled major label debut with this single.

They’d been a huge regional bluegrass sensation, which eventually brought them to the attention of the Columbia label. They’d released two smaller CDs, but this one, which included a bit of that earlier work, also got them some mainstream airplay.

You could best call the group progressive bluegrass and jazz blues. Which is great, because before I saw someone shoehorn the band into those genres, I thought, while listening to this record again, “This is one of the things bluegrass could have become.” You can hear some of that here, I think.

The musical version of that argument is sprinkled all over the record. It was one of those things that bluegrass could have become, but it wasn’t too be, for whatever reason. The next album had some pop and funk. Maybe that’s why.

I didn’t listen to this much in 2003 when it came out, for whatever reason. I liked the single, which was enough of a reason to pick this up, but it took me a while for the rest to grow on me, which is more about my musical shortcomings than anything to do with this band, which could put 12 good tracks on you and make you listen to all of them — if you’re ready for it.

Robinella and the CCstringband was Robin Ella Bailey and her then-husband, Cruz Contreras. They met in college, and shorted the band name to simply Robinella after this record. Somewhere after that the couple divorced and the band was dissolved.

While that song plays us out, let’s see if we can find out where everyone wound up. Robin Bailey is still playing locally, in Tennessee, as Robinella, having put out records in 2010, 2013 and 2018. She also makes art. Her Instagram suggests she plays a lot of unconventional, interesting places, which looks fun. Contreras is touring as well. I listened to the sample song on his site. I liked it. Cruz’s brother Billy Contreras played the fiddle on that record. When he was 12 years old he won the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and has played with everyone and everywhere since then. Everyone: Lionel Hampton, George Jones, Doc Severinsen, Crystal Gayle, Charlie Louvin, Ray Price, Ricky Skaggs and more. He also taught at Belmont for a time. Steve Kovalcheck has also played with many of the greats, he’s the guitarist on this record and he’s an associate professor of jazz guitar at the University of Northern Colorado. Taylor Coker plays the upright, and he toured with Cruz for what looks like most of the teens. He’s still plucking strings, now with the biggest jazz band in eastern Tennessee.

Twenty years later, everybody is still playing. Doing what you love all that time, it’s a great thing.

The liner notes on this CD had some extra content on it. The instructions:

With this CD and a connection to the internet, you will have access to special “Behind The Scenes” footage and more:

1. Inset this disc into a computer connected to the internet
2. Log onto
3. Click Sign In

— ConnecteD May Not Work With All Computers —

Two decades ago, things really did seem limitless. You just had to remember to connect your dial up modem.

Aug 23

So maybe I dozed off as it rained

Not every day, he said to himself in the sort of conciliatory fashion that usually comes with hair being tossled, or a sweet jab on the shoulder or the word “Slugger,” is meant to be the most productive day of the week. And in a week of slow productivity, that day was today.

I returned to Lowe’s to pick up the garbage can lid I forgot yesterday. It’s a fair drive over there, so I had time to work up some material. And I had a tight four minutes of poor comedy ready for the person at the customer service desk. But here’s the thing about the person at the customer service desk: they don’t care.

That’s not fair. This woman seemed perfectly fine and approachable. She’s just been trained, either by corporate decision or reasonable experience, to not be bothered by anyone that walks through that door and the story they share.

She did explain the corporate red vest policy. Apparently, they aren’t allowed to take them home. So they’re never clean. That’s a long way to go to avoid Halloween photos on the ‘gram. I said, because it was obvious she caught herself saying something that was too much. She agreed. And she let me get that garbage can lid. And she also rung up a few extra purchases. I got some specialty bulbs for some recessed lighting. I picked up some new air filters, because we have a lot of air to filter, and I also got some packing tape, because I need some crispy, sticky, prrrrrrrrbt! PTSD in my life.

I made two other fruitless stops, which built to a nice little mood. Then I hit an upscale UPS store. I say upscale because this place was built for a certain clientele in a certain part of town. You could tell by the “light fawn” shading of the stucco out front. Our last UPS store was in a tired little strip mall. Twice, within the last year or so, someone drove through the store. Going there for more than a few seconds at a time felt like a gamble for that very reason. Today, I was given two things to drop off at the UPS store. One was going back to Amazon. No problem. The other, the young man straight out of Disinterested Young Clerk Central Casting, vaguely assured me he didn’t want the package.

“Uhhh, these instructions usually mean they’ll pick it up?”

Who is they?

“The UPS driver.”

Well see what brown can do for us this week then.


I got back to the house just in time for the heavy rain to start. Some of our flowering flowers haven’t recovered from Sunday’s rains. This, then, made for a demoralizing scene. Maybe in a week they’ll pick themselves back up, the flowering flowers. Maybe they won’t. This is the headspace I’m reaching for.

After all, I have to simultaneously deal with things like this. This is American fireweed. It’s fire.

As in burning. It’ll burn the flesh right from your bones.

(No, it won’t. — ed.)

It’s actually named that because this is one of the things that first pops up in great abundance after forest fires. It’s a broadly indigenous plant. It has some medicinal uses. Mostly, you forget about this stuff and then wake up in August and this thing is interfering with air travel lanes.

It can grow up to eight to 10 feet, almost over night. I pulled up a lot of it today. All of it in a hard-to-reach spot. I am wondering if it was nature or a person that thought this was a great practical joke.

I looked in some storage for a few items I can’t put my hands on. Still can’t find them. But I did pull out some good thread, high quality envelopes and some thank you cards. I am sitting on some weird, arbitrary fine line of “Will this be useful? Or should this be stored and forgotten until after it would have been useful?”

Which is to say, how many times have I purchased a batch of thank you cards while six other blank cards sit in a drawer and I’ve forgotten about them?

The next thing to do — that’s probably not true, but this is on a long list — is to make sure that all of the things are placed in rooms and drawers and shelves that make sense for when and where they’ll be used. All of that tape I picked up today was placed in a cabinet in the mudroom. Because it doesn’t need to go in a kitchen cabinet, and we might forget it if we put it in the basement somewhere. There are dozens of these little decisions.

And why is that large nail protruding from the wall at almost eye level? I spent a few minutes solving that problem, because the nail is in use, but it is inelegantly applied. Martha Stewart would just cringe.

Also I disguised a bit of floor under the stairs in the basement. This is the area where things with no daily demand will go. But you can build a little box fort around that area, so that, one day, when you are cleaning up down there, and you find the old seashells that would have been useful for that one project, and the extra wood flooring and such, you’ll smack yourself in the head remembering that you did have some walnut-shaded maple, and a bunch of broken bits of ocean life. And you’ll wonder why you built up this box fort. Because it made sense on a rainy day in 2023.

Oh, I changed the air filter, and added an innovation. I wrote the date on the air filter, so I’ll know when to replace it. (Don’t worry, there’s a notation in my calendar, as well.)

The best part of the day is that my in-laws arrived safely this evening. They’re going to spend the weekend with us. They sampled our peaches.

Like that new basket, don’t ya? I surely do.

Anyway, they said the peaches are delicious. And they are! I had a few after dinner tonight.

If fresh fruit is involved in the best part of your day, no matter how productive the day was, it was a pretty good day, Slugger.

Aug 23

Is August too soon for ghost stories?

One of my former students, I learned yesterday, is beginning her new job as a reporter in Savannah. Great city, of course. The Yankee and I were married there. We visit often. And I’m excited for my young journalist friend. It should be a great market for her to start polishing her skills.

The day before yesterday I learned another former student has just begun a job reporting at NBC in Chicago. Her third stop in the business is number three in the Nielsen rankings. Only New York and Los Angeles are bigger markets, of course. In the media, the dues paying a young employee does sometimes means starting in smaller newsrooms, or in smaller markets, or both. Over time the successful worker bee moves up the ladder. Courtney, who is now in Chicago, started in market 138, moved to 35 and is now in market number three. To make it that high, that early in her career is a testament to my innate ability to her incredible talent and superior networking skills. Success stories are successful for a reason, and I’m always so proud to see my friends continue their success.

I keep a map of where my former students are. They’ve spread out across the country, of course. But I know, from my map, that four of them are working in Chicago. A few are working abroad. The problem is that I’ve been doing this long enough that inevitability some people fall off my radar. I only catch so much on LinkedIn. (I updated four of those map locations last night, for example.) So please keep me updated with your success stories, my friends.

Someone I met 15 years ago in my first year on campus went out into the world, and then law school, and is now teaching classes at a law school. That’s the one that aged me.

Today’s errands put a few new lines on my face too, I’m sure of it. I took the garbage to the garbage taking place, because, again, no one picks up garbage in this neighborhood. Despite two companies which pick up garbage in the neighborhood. I have witnessed it and taken photographic proof. Monday, a truck stopped at the house across the street. A gentleman stepped off and grabbed our neighbors’ discarded materials and drove off to … wherever garbage trucks go when they’re through on your street.

We had a little chat with our neighbor yesterday. A wonderfully pleasant and cheerful man. The sort that knows everyone, and talks about them like they’re all old friends, and you are too. I should have asked him about the garbage truck. Probably he owned the company, or the person that does owes him some not insubstantial favor.

Anyway, in and out at the convenience center, as it is locally called. And, except for the location, it is convenient. Of course, if that isn’t too convenient, or at least upwind, that’s OK, too.

From there I went to the Tractor Supply to inquire about peach baskets. They have no tractors, a thin selection of supplies, and no peach baskets. The woman I spoke with there suggested I go to the Coal and Ice, which is a local hardware store that has kept it’s name, if not it’s original products. The Coal and Ice does not carry peach baskets. (I wonder if I can make a gag of renaming that store everything they don’t have. This would be unfair, it’s a small store. And it would become a long gag pretty quickly. For example, so far it would be the Coal and Ice, and Digital Deadbolt, Sliding Glass Door Lock and Peach Basket. They do carry, however, weather stripping for basement doors. I have to be fair about this inventory gag I won’t pursue.)

A nice lady at the Coal and Ice suggested a farm market. Produce stands on the side of the road. That was, actually, my next option. They’re ubiquitous, and that’s lovely. But most of them are all stocked and sold on an honor system, which is charming. I needed to talk with someone, but no dice.

So I set out for a distant grocery store to buy Milo’s. They did not have Milo’s. So I visited a sister store to try my luck again. I think maybe the delivery guy has been under the weather or something, because I went oh-for-two. I need that driver to get back on the road, quickly.

My next stop was a Lowe’s, but on the way there I ran across a place called Bloomer’s Garden Center. A big, sprawling, someone-has-to-water-all-of-these-plants-daily place. A place with a water garden wing, and another bird sanctuary wing. Everything smelled of rich nitrogen soil. These people are in the business of selling things to people who want to grow things. The woman there had no idea about peach baskets. I think they must appear from the very air.

So I went to Lowe’s. I looked there for peach baskets. No luck, of course, because that’s a pretty small, and obviously obscure, item for a box store. I did get two garbage cans, because see above, and a spool of weed eater string. You could purchase this in spools of one or three. I had the three-spool pack in my hand, considered my traditional weed eater habits and opted for the smaller, less expensive version. Rolled my two garbage cans to the self-checkout, and then out to the car.

Next to the Lowe’s there was a Dollar Tree. I walked in there. No peach baskets. But I did find small plastic baskets that are about the proper size, have a big breathable basket type pattern and a convenient handle. I got six of them. Paid eight bucks, which is probably close to how much gas I’ve spent on that search today.

Picked up some Chick-fil-A for a very late lunch and then drove it the 20-some minutes back to the house. Whereupon I learned that one of the two garbage cans I picked up … doesn’t have a lid.

So I’ll go back there tomorrow.

We went on a bike ride early this evening and it was obvious almost right away that I had no legs. My lovely bride waited on me twice, but finally I waved her on. No need for her to slow down if I can’t speed up. This is a training ride for her, anyway.

I just turned mine into a scenic experience. Here’s today’s barn by bike.

The last four miles on this route are uphill, which is to say, have a gentle, gradual slow ascent. There’s nothing bigger than a roller, but you gain the same 70 feet a few times over and over. Also, I was developing a soft rear wheel. I titled the ride “Slow leak, Slower legs.”

Tomorrow’s ride will be a bit better. But I have to allow for a few minutes to swap out that tube. Some first world problems feel insulting even to the concept of the first world problems meme.

For dinner, we took some of these tomatoes from the backyard …

And some of these peaches from the front yard …

And mixed them with some things we purchased at a nearby grocery store to make a tasty little peach salsa.

It complimented everything nicely, but the cilantro and the onion muted the peaches just a bit. Anyway, we’ll have plenty more opportunities to try this concept. We might also soon be eating peaches as an entree. I mean, aside from breakfast and midday snacks.

And I have those baskets now, so we’re now important produce power players, locally speaking.

I have started tracking down the local historical markers. New county, new goals and all of that. I found a site that lists 115 markers in this county, so there’s a ton of easy content!

This is the second installment. You can find them all under this brand new blog category, We Learn Wednesdays. What will we learn about today?

This is a place called Seven Stars. Built in 1762 by a man named Peter Lauterbach, it is architecturally significant, and there are important bits of social and military history inside those brick walls as well. The side features Flemish patterned brickwork, which was once a common thing here, and will come up again in a later post. In this case, the pattern carries the initials “P-L-E” for Peter and Elizabeth Lauterbach.

Their son John Louderback changed his name and lived in the tavern during the Revolutionary War. The British came through and raided the tavern, looking for him. He had a price on his head because he was thought to be giving food to the Americans. Louderback and his family hid in the woods. And, a few years later, he marched with a unit out of Pennsylvania. Earlier he’d served under Casimir Pulaski.

Peter, the father, died in 1780. John lived to see the country independent, and died in 1802. His mother lived until at least 1806, which is where historians find her name on a church roll. She also voted in 1800, presumably because of the property she held, inherited from her husband or otherwise. During that period, depending on where you were, it is estimated that between seven and 25 percent of the tallied votes were cast by women. (A state law that was billed as progressive at the time disenfranchised women and Blacks in 1807.)

Seven Stars has a lot of ghost stories attached to it, as well. In the early 20th century, the residents claimed seeing figures on horseback riding up to the tavern window, that small one to the left of the door, which was where people got their orders. Someone is said to have seen a ghostly figure checking on a baby. Supposedly Peter roams the ground looking for valuables he buried during the Revolution. Another spirit is said to be a spy for the British who found his end at the end of a rope in the attic. A Halloween-type site says loud footsteps and scuffle sounds can sometimes be heard in the attic. A pirate is thought to be a frequent haunter, as well. Be as skeptical as you like, but someone also needs to go camp out and see if the ghostly ghosts and their ghostly horses trot up to the tavern window.

It is now a private residence.

In the center of town you’ll find this wonderful bit of signage. There’s a lot going on there, because, for a small town, a lot has gone on there.

I’m sure we’ll pick up on some of those themes again in future installments. For now, here’s the door to that bank, which is still standing, sturdy and beautiful as ever.

Some day, I’ll go back and photograph the whole of the building. When I was there for this, it was small-town rush hour, and people have to get where people want to go.

(Update: A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to improve on the shot. Here’s the First National Bank.)

Which is what you should do, right now. Go to the next place. But come back here tomorrow. There’s going to be a lot more fun to discuss here tomorrow.

Aug 23

Mostly music

We had some big winds and a great lightning show last night. Other parts of the region got hit quite hard, but we did OK. There were two branches in the road when we went out to pick up some dinner. (We tried a local pizza place, ordering things that weren’t pizza. The manager’s son, who looked all of 9 years old rang us up. No idea if he got the price right, but his dad was right there, cracking wise for us, so I’m sure he didn’t undercharge.

The lasagna was OK. But plentiful. I got two dinners out of it, last night and tonight, and I’m happy with that.

Anyway, this morning we found that the hydrangeas got waked by the storm. Mostly the rain, I think. One is in the back, on the eastern side of the house, but close enough to the structure that it’s hard to imagine those gusts got in there. The other is on the northeast corner. But hydrangeas will lean from the weight of water alone, and these guys were big and proud and tall.

So we went to a hardware store for some stakes and twin. Poured out a pint of blood to pay for it all, visited the grocery store to stock up on a few supplies. (How long does that take, we’re still re-stocking things. It seems a slow process. That’s fine. No one is going hungry, it’s just the idea of it, Shouldn’t there be more things in the refrigerator? There will be in time. What’s the next great meal that provides an abundance and leftovers? Thanksgiving? Will I be wonder about this in November?

Anyway, I tried my hand at staking up the hydrangea bushes. I spent a long time pondering strategies. I spent an almost equal amount of time wondering if I was up to the task. Am I kidding myself? It’s a weird question to ask yourself over such a small matter. First, they’re flowering bushes. Second, and you can look this up, it’s a common problem, and everyone has an easy peasy attitude about the solution. On the other hand, having driven most of the stakes into the ground and tied up a lot of branches, they don’t look quite as nice as they did yesterday.

Which was when I stopped, and decided to check on the peach tree. It was fine in the storm, but gravity put some more fruit on the ground, so I brought them inside. I ate six or eight peaches today. I may have a few more in a minute. The kitchen is stocked in fresh fruit.

I guess we’ll start cutting those up tomorrow.

Tonight, I’m apparently working on someone else’s project. Instead of reading about that, though, read about this.


We are still trying to catch up to the Re-Listening project, and this post is helping us make a lot of progress. Remember, the Re-Listening project is the one where I listen to my old CDs in the car, and in the order in which I acquired them. I think I am seven CDs in arrears right now. These aren’t reviews, just an excuse to post some music, recall the occasional fond memory and pad the site with some extra content. It’s fun! And musical! And there’s a lot of it, so let’s get to it.

Tracy Bonham’s first album was certified gold, earned her two Grammy nominations and in 1996 saw a single top the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. (She was the last woman to top that chart for 17 years, if you want a bit of trivia.) “Down Here” was the delayed follow-up record, released in April 2000. I got it off the giveaway shelf at a radio station. It was a signed copy. It wasn’t commercially successful, but Bonham shows her talent throughout. Here’s the single.

Wikipedia cites a ridiculous review about how it sounds like an album recorded in 1997 rather than 2000. Hey! There’s someone who reads the industry trades!

I’d go with a line like this. It feels like a song on the soundtrack of a movie about movie soundtracks.

The important thing to appreciate about Bonham is that she’s a classically trained violinist, playing at making pop records.

Bonham put out four more records after this one, the most recent in 2017. She still plays a few live shows, and has continued her varied and impressive musical career. She’s now a curriculum developer for kids’ music education. She also produced a kids album, 2021’s “Young Maestros Vol. 1,” that is aimed at teaching music theory and confidence building.

That’s a cool followup to a pop music career.

In May of 2000, Matchbox Twenty’s “Mad Season” hit the shelves. Their second album, it entered the Billboard 200 at number three and was four-times platinum in the next 18 months. Because the music industry is, well, the music industry, this success was a quantifiable disappointment. Their debut, after all, sold three-times as many units.

There are two memorable tracks to me. One I forget about every time, until that soaring riff that sets the tone. Kyle Cook can.

And this track, which has a way of haunting you, and is best not heard on the highway at night.

They’re on tour right now, supporting “Where the Light Goes,” an album they released in May. (Also, they are apparently climbing the charts again, apparently thanks to the Barbie movie.) The new record was a surprise, I guess, because they said they were going to become primarily a touring band prior to Covid. I haven’t heard any of it yet, but it gets four-out-of-five stars on AllMusic.

And I love this promo photo. There’s Cook, a rock star, but looking like he wants to play it like he’s not. Especially so since he’s standing next to Rob Thomas, who is showing his ultra rock star confidence. On the end is Paul Doucette, looking like he’d really appreciate it if you could think of him as a rock star, too. Behind them all is Brian Yale, who is just wondering if you’re done with that drill he loaned you last week.

He’s got a project to get to and he needs his tools back.

Someone gave me a copy of the next entry into the Re-Listening project. Tracy Chapman’s “Telling Stories” came out in February of 2000 and I got it that May, when it was on its way to becoming a gold record. The title track is song one. It was also the first single of the record, and it’s laying the groundwork.

Rolling Stone has a concise 16-word summation of her fifth record, calling it a “strong and steady — clear-eyed, poetic folk/funk of the kind that first got Chapman noticed.” That’s correct, and is always the case with Tracy Chapman, it’s never enough. She’s such a unique performer to me, historically, that every song is enough, but every song leaves me wanting more.

This one was a leftover from “New Beginning,” and this is, in part, why Rolling Stone called this album strong and steady, because you could put this anywhere in her catalog.

For my money, this might be the best song on the record. The woman is a poet who happens to be holding a guitar. Oh yeah, the Songbird sneaks into the chorus, too.

I’ve never produced an album, so I don’t know how this works, but is the last song supposed to be so awesome? Because this is track 12 and it feels like a third-song sort of tune.

The summer of 2000, when I got this, was an unusual one. College was over, real life was beginning, sort of. It took a few months for things to get going — not an unusual story, not everything begins on schedule. But there was Tracy Chapman, getting a lot of plays. I was grateful for that. No idea why I didn’t buy this one myself, though.

Before that happened, there was this. I was working for a company that, at that time, had three stations in their cluster. One of those stations, the best one, I thought, was a mid-century big band/jazz music format AM station that the station owner tolerated because the old music, the sports, and the absolute legend that did the morning show paid the cluster’s bills. It was a great place to learn because you could make all sorts of mistakes and everyone left you alone. It was a difficult place to learn because everyone left you alone. But it was fun. And one night, in a bin of discard CDs, I ran across this record.

Contemporary jazz just didn’t fit the format, so they were happy to give it away. The only memory I have of this CD is putting it in a player in one of the production studios, and making a tape for a pen pal in Arkansas. She did cute things like send me a postcard made from a cereal box, and blowing up a beach ball, writing a letter on it, and shipping it my way. Then or now, I couldn’t keep up with that level of creativity.

But I did have access to studios, so I set about to see if I could talk over an entire record. And I did. I talked about everything, and about nothing, really, for the entire CD. The run time on that CD is 55 minutes.

My poor pen pal. She lives in Texas now, and she has a beautiful family. They have two daughters who are in musical theater. I follow them on Instagram. Pen pals are just one of the ways that I’m sure social media does us a disservice.

I’m going to write her a letter, using some unconventional format – not a cassette or an mp3, though. Can’t play that lame card twice, even with 23 years in between. There has to be a local good or product around here that would be a sufficiently silly novelty.

Anyway, I think I am just three CDs behind on the Re-Listening project now. We may even catch up before the week is out!

Jul 23

A full day’s worth

This morning we took The Yankee’s car to a mechanic. It was a planned event. She needed an oil change and, I suspected, a radiator flush. She searched around, found a place that got great reviews, and made an appointment so, literally, a planned event.

I followed her over, we met the guy, sitting three rooms deep into his shop. Large fellow, sleeveless shirt, bandana on his head. Hunting paraphernalia on his desk. There were fishing rods in the corner, a Dale Earnhardt flag hanging on the wall. I felt like I understood him right away.

We left the car, which he said would be ready this afternoon. We headed back, stopping off at the grocery store for a few lunch supplies. The afternoon passed easily enough. I believe I was finishing up a bit of reading and writing on LinkedIn when she said the mechanic called and her car was ready. So we went back over, the first half of the short trip entirely by memory. And the car was ready! Windows rolled down. Key in the ignition. Inside, she paid the fellow. Cash. He made change, from his pocket. He said the radiator flush was the right call. Said he tested it. So we established I knew what I was talking about, that he’d work on both of our cars, his prices are fair and, possibly, he doesn’t hold up progress by slow-walking maintenance work.

If that’d been it, that would have been a day’s worth, right there.

At the house, she said, there was something she wanted to show me. Turns out, we’ve got a peach tree.

Five varieties of peaches grow here. Now we have to become peach experts.

There are also some tomato plants out back. Do you know who is a tomato expert?

And there’s a corner of Lactuca sativa. Funny, you just don’t think of growing your own lettuce.

This is something called clammy goosefoot, an herb from Australia. I don’t know what you’d use it for, and I have yet to find a site that screams “You simply MUST put this on your pasta.” So probably I won’t.

But we also found some chives …

Nearby was the oregano.

And, of course, the sage.

We’re going to have to determine the schedules for all of these plants now. And, if that had been it, that would have been a day’s worth. But no.

For, you see, we went to join this running club. But, for the second week in a row, they no showed. They are, in fact, running away from us.

Which is fine, because I need someone to chase I wasn’t going to run this evening anyway. It usually works like this. I think Rest day? Schmest day! And then, the next day, I realize the error in that thought, and the wisdom in a rest day. So today, I did not run, or anything else, because I had eight days of workouts (be they ever so humble) in a row, and 11 days in the last 12.

Tomorrow I’ll … exercise … or something.

Instead of running, we got milkshakes. Dinner. We got dinner. And also milkshakes. We carried that back to the house and watched today’s stage of the Tour de France. And here’s the thing about the Tour … it’s 21 days of racing and this is the 110th edition and that means there’s a lot of history and trivia and wonderful anecdotes and a lot of it, until recently, wasn’t kept with baseball statistic precision. We did know, coming into this stage, that this was the third-narrowest time differential (10 seconds) between first and second place riders after 15 completed stages. We knew that because the TV producers made a fine graphic telling us about it.

Also, you know, it’s a bike race. Real roads, differing technologies and external circumstances and terrain and routes and all of that. It’s hard to compare the apples and pears of the time differential in this year’s race with the leading comparable statistic, which was four seconds between Jos Hoevenaers and Federico Bahamontes in 1959.

Bahamontes wound up winning, Hoevenaers finshed eighth, down 11-plus minutes. But everything about the style of the race was different then.

It also seems difficult to compare the tight affairs of this year’s Tour with the legendary 1989 race, which was a 50-second race on the last day, ultimately won by Greg Lemond by eight seconds. Someone put together the Lemond and Laurent Fignon time trial side-by-side.

Evolving cycling technology is coming into play here. Lemond, on the left, has aero bars and a new teardrop-shaped aerodynamic helmet. He only used the disc wheel on the back. Fignon ran two disc wheels, which leaves you more susceptible to crosswinds. Also, Fignon road a conventional style. It got so silly after the fact that people also speculated that, had he cut his hair, Fignon would have avoided eight seconds of air drag.

I’ve heard Lemond say, more than once now, that he was told Laurent Fignon was haunted by that race for the rest of his life. That he walked around counting eight seconds. Fignon, in his autobiography, wrote “You never stop grieving over an event like that.”

Anyway, that was the closest finish in history, but after 15 stages, the difference between them in first and second was 40 seconds.

It’d be a bit easier to compare the technology of today to the second closest, the 2008 edition, where Frank Schleck, of Luxembourg, was leading Australian Cadel Evans by eight whole seconds after 15 stages. (Also, reminds me that Austrian Bernhard Kohl was in between them, down only seven seconds to Schleck. Kohl later confessed to doping, so he disappears from the official records.) Eight seconds! Neither of those guys won the Tour.

At least that looks familiar. Modern. It’s only 15 years ago, and those riders have all retired, but the names are familiar. Indeed, I remember that particular tour. The technology and nutrition have jumped significantly ahead in the generations hence. Even the way they race, in terms of strategy and tactics, has been evolving since then. It’s the same, but different, remember.

But this year’s tour will be difficult to forget. Today …

Time trials aren’t usually very interesting to me, but I’d love to know how this ranks historically. The guy in second place, two-time Tour winner Tadej Pogacar, started the day down 10 seconds, and he had an incredible ride. The only problem was the guy behind him, his rival, the defending champion and current leader, Jonas Vingegaard, had an incredibler ride. A gobsmacking ride. Watching the time gaps grow at the checks was something that strained credulity. You could tell he was riding hard, working for it, riding well. It was in the body language right away. But that stage was a deconstruction. This is a place I actually want more statistics. Has a time trial ever done such a thing to an evenly matched opponent? SBS offered a slightly more technical comparative look of the two rivals.

What started the day as a tense, 10-second race finished a mind-boggling one minute and 48 second race between the two best road racers in the world. This will be hard to forget. And there are more mountains to come.

If that’d been it, that would have been a day’s worth, but no.

Because I also updated and upgraded a deadbolt. I only messed up two parts, and it only took several more minutes than the directions promised. But, it is installed. It is square. It matches the door knob. And, importantly, it is functional.

Each entry and exit through that door will now be reported to the ninja barracks out back, via a military grade wifi network, so that they can monitor and approve of all of the comings and goings.

When they aren’t worrying over that oregano.