May 21

New photos adorn the website

It’s another new look Friday here on the website. The little minion that runs the joint — in a word, me — has updated the photos on the front page. The general theme is something akin to this photo.

And if you click that photo another tab will open in your browser and you can see all of the nice new art. Also, I’ve made minor changes to the text there. But, really, the pictures are the nicest part of it. They will stay on the front page for about three weeks, until it’s time to freshen the thing up once more.

A system is now in place, you see. A pipeline has been built. An efficient workflow has been developed.

Until one day when I forget to make the requisite changes. Then it’s simply c’est la vie.

Quiet day on campus. Everyone was in summer weekend mode already, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But this happened today:

And that’s big, substantial, news for the fall term.

Also, I did this:

And some other stuff, too, but mostly a quiet day.

Also, meet Col. Ralph Puckett Jr.

What you can’t get in a tweet: then-1st. Lieutenant Puckett was serving in an occupation garrison on Okinawa when the fighting in Korea broke out. He volunteered to join this new Ranger unit, the first since World War 2. He didn’t get the job, so he volunteered to serve in the unit beneath his status. He so impressed the brass that they gave him command of the company.

He drew his soldiers from the roster of cooks, clerks, and mechanics — people who’d gone through basic training, but generally served in non-combat capacities — and drilled them for five weeks, and then they were Rangers. He had 57 American Rangers and Korean soldiers with him when he took this little hill. As President Biden said in the ceremony today, “The intelligence briefing indicated that there were 25,000 Chinese troops in the area.”

They fought off battalion-sized attacks all night. He was wounded by mortars and grenades. His Rangers refused his order to leave him behind. It took about a year for Puckett to recover from his wounds, during which time Army doctors thought, for months, they’d have to amputate his foot.

You know that dramatic scene in war movies where the guy in charge calls in artillery right on top of his position? Puckett did that several times on that frozen November night in 1950.

He was offered a medical discharge, but he continued to serve, and even fought in Vietnam, where he earned his second Distinguished Service Cross. He also wears two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars with V device for valor, five Purple Hearts and ten Air Medals.

Also at the ceremony today was South Korean President Moon Jae-in, apparently the first foreign leader to attend such a service. He said “From the ashes of the Korean War we came back and that was thanks to the war veterans who fought for Korea’s peace and freedom. The Republic of Korea and the U.S. alliance was forged in blood from heroes (and) has become a linchpin of peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula and beyond. Col. Puckett and his fellow warriors are a link that thoroughly binds Korea and the U.S. together.”

And, to tell you what his fellow Rangers think of him, Col. Puckett was in their inaugural Hall of Fame class.

One of his soldiers was at the ceremony, as well, and yesterday he recalled the man that turned him into a Ranger. “Puckett impressed me. If you made a mistake, you would do 50 pushups, and he would do 50 with you. There is no telling how many a day he did.”

Many years ago now I decided to read all of these stories about men (there remains only one woman to have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the equally admirable Dr. Mary Edwards Walker) who demonstrate such valor. It never disappoints, learning more about these people and their great personal courage and virtue toward their fellow service members. You can do that, too, right here.

May 21

It must be the shoes — but probably not

I went for a run this evening. Just a short little mile and I am trying to decide if I’m mostly out of shape or if the shoes have already died. I’ve just calculated the mileage in them and … it’s definitely me.

I was hoping it was the shoes.

Anyway, at the top of this little run there’s a pine tree. I think it’s the closest one around.

By this point I have a complicated relationship with pines. You don’t see them much here, compared to their ubiquity at home. It’s a reminder. But just this month when I was visited family I was surrounded by them again and it was … underwhelming. And then there’s all the pine lumber in the garage that I have waiting on me.

Who knew a softwood could be so hard to figure?

Stuff I’ve put on some Twitter accounts I’m running at work. It’s just Twitter, but the content is interesting.

Before my run I sat on the deck. After my run I did that some more. And then after dinner I started working on a little project this evening. I’ll show you some of the finished work in the next days. It will be quite fashion forward. So many projects, so little time to complete them all.

May 21

Results: Still happily negative

Here’s a new thing. I’m running a new campaign that aspires to highlight our scholars in the building. We’ve been mulling this over for a while, but we’re here now. I’m basically in a soft launch, because everything feels like a soft launch right now. So it’s a little social media showing off the thoughtful and important work of people. The idea is that they’ve done the hard part, let us help show it off just a smidge more.

So here’s Jess Tompkins, who has just completed her doctoral work, talking about the research. Kinda neat.

All summer I’ll tinker with settings and styles and, one day, I’ll get it just right. Perhaps, by the time the fall rolls around and we’re back to the new normal — har, har — this will be a part of something larger that really brags on people.

It’s a thing to do.

Walked over to the IU Auditorium for a mitigation test today. They’ve been running spit tests on campus all year, and since November or so, they’ve been doing the lab work here, too. All a part of the work the university has put into keeping students and employees safe. It hasn’t been perfect, what could be? But it has been beyond substantial. It has been thoughtful. It has been effective. It’s gratifying to know that the people that are making the really big decisions are handling things like this conscientiously, and are taking the best advice of the science — from their own experts and points beyond — and applying it as best they can. It’s been the best part of the year.

They did all of this testing with some thought, and some randomization. So it might be that you lived in a place where it would have been difficult to control spread, so maybe you got called in a lot. You might have had some exposure, so you got called in. Or it could be, like me, you got something akin to a jury duty lottery. Sometimes it is just your turn. But, soon after the vaccines rolled out — get your shot — the university decided that once you were fully vaccinated you didn’t need to do mitigation testing anymore.

But you can still schedule your own, even if you’re vaccinated. Looking after people. Anyway, on the walk over:

Anyway, that was one bit of the walk. I enjoy that little stand of trees. Usually a photograph is about timing, but if there’s any sun in the sky it’s the right time to take some kind of picture right there.

Walk in, scan your ID card, get a little vial, spit in it a bunch, and then wipe it down and put it in a little tray. Later they’ll send you an email letting you know how it went. The turnaround today was just over six hours.

Still happily negative.

This is the week where I begin to rediscover free time. During the regular school year I am on campus until all hours of the evening on two or three nights a week, getting done just in time for a late dinner and dishes and trying to stay awake so it feels like I have some free time to read or watch TV or maybe accomplish some minor task around the house. (I usually don’t.) The other days of the week I get to the house just in time to go ride a bike or do something like that. It fills the schedule six days a week, somehow.

But now I can go back to being done at 5 p.m., or thereabouts, and have full, consecutive, evenings to myself. There’s still bikes to be ridden and stuff to do around the house from time-to-time, but it feels different. It’s a part of it, rather than an obstacle to it, somehow.

Monday we went for a bike ride. Yesterday I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I mostly did nothing. Today we were supposed to go for a bike ride, but I got a late start back and so we postponed it and the timing was such that I couldn’t start in on something before dinner. So, again, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

But we had dinner earlier, and at a reasonable hour. A nice change of pace.

Some nights during the school year it’s 9 or later before dinnertime.

All of that wears on you a bit, is all, and when the summer comes I am happy to finally work my way toward something a little less clock-driven.

It’s always nice to see how the other half live.