Nov 22

We only go back a century in this post

We have rapidly moved straight on into holiday mode. It was a sneaky and sudden shift this year. I was wondering how these Dickensian commercials made it into the breaks of football games, and then looked at the calendar. That was surprising. Well, time means nothing anymore, and the weather has, until just last week, been unseasonable.

But I receive a monthly email from the thermostat people. This is our one publicly acknowledged concession to having a smart home, connecting a remotely programmable thermostat to our domicile. It is useful when traveling. But the downside is the emails. The upside to the email is that, once a month, we receive a basic summary of our heat and A/C use. For instance, the heat was up a little bit in October, compared to last year, but the air conditioning was drastically lower.

Also, and this may just be copy holder for all I know, I haven’t consulted the National Weather Service here, the email says our average temperatures in October 2022 were 6° cooler than October 2021. The average high three degrees lower, the average low 44 in 2022, compared to 54 in 2021. So much for the late warmth confusing my knowledge of the seasons.

Enjoy, then, this brand new conspiracy theory that I’m hatching with every keystroke before your eyes: Something about vaccines and wearing masks are altering my perceptions of days.

There aren’t a lot of mask wearers around anymore, are there? Despite, well, you know.

Holiday mode is upon us. We are having guests next week and trying to put a thing or two into an itinerary, such as can be had. I am setting the over-under on trips to the grocery store, from next Sunday to the following Saturday at four.

This means I’m also counting the hours until a few days off work. And, judging by my inbox, everyone else is, too. It’s a delightful thing, the unacknowledged and entirely unified feeling of we’re all just waiting … until … And there’s some solidarity involved in that too. Everyone is looking at different dates. My Thanksgiving begins tomorrow. Some people will push through a few days next week. I’ll be thinking of you while I’m doing my level best to not think of work.

My contribution to the cause today was this. I canceled some things. I reminded some people of something two weeks out. I scheduled a few programs for two and three weeks away. I found myself in a series of tedious emails that will be resolved next week, when I won’t be here. (And saying they were tedious is not a criticism. The tedium was mostly my doing.)

This evening I donned long pants and a long shirt and gloves and ear muffs and a headlamp and ran two miles in the brisk cold and snow flurries. It wasn’t a personal best, but I wasted little time getting that down. Then I sat in the garage and sanded wood for almost three hours. A few more hours of sanding and the longest running project in the history of woodworking will be ready for a dry fit. Saturday, then. I had dinner at 10 p.m., and am planning on reading myself to sleep.

But only after this.

Some unsung hero(es) at the university library has collected and preserved and digitized some ancient newsprint. It makes for a fun few minutes and, now and again, we’re going to dive into some old random stuff from the alma mater. Why should these bits of history exist in only one corner of the internet? If I can’t be there, I may as well bring imagine something now generations past. This is The Plainsman, 100 years ago today.

Remember last year! Centre is Centre College of Danville, Kentucky. It was already 100 years old by this point, and that previous year, 1921, the Colonels whipped up on a young Auburn team, 21-0. No one had forgotten. They all remembered.

Frank McLean Stewart, college student.

Stewart, having gained hard-earned insight from that choice, shared his wisdom with others before graduating with the class of 1923 with a degree in agricultural science.

He became a field rep for the American Cotton Association, then worked for Belle Meade Butter Company before becoming a dairy farmer. He spent a decade as the executive secretary of the Alabama State Milk Control Board and left there to work for the War Food Administration late and just after World War II. In the 1950s he became the state’s commissioner of agriculture.

I wonder how many times he told that story when he was a younger man.

I’m always struck by how ads in smaller parts of the country, for the longest time, didn’t even bother with addresses. Just get to our town. Ask around, someone will tell you how to find The Cricketeria. (I see references online to the Cricket Tea Room through at least the 1930s, but that’s where the trail stops. Similarly, I found William Abbott, born during the Civil War, died, next door in Opelika, just before World War II. He came from a family of photographers.)

I don’t know that I’ve ever run across anything about this ice cream parlor. But everyone knows Toomer’s. Back then, of course, it was an actual drug store. Today, many owners later, it’s a busy gift shop. Same name, same corner.

This was another drug store. At one time, in a walk of two or three blocks you could hit five drug stores. Sign of the times, one supposes.

What do you suppose they’re implying with these quote marks?

Remember, this is 1922. The technology was ascendant. It would have been farther along, but the government stepped in during the Great War and took over the airwaves as a matter of national security. You could study radio, the engineering and broadcasting elements of it, that is, and it was understood to be a military endeavor at the time. Radio at Auburn has a big history. I’ve written about it a bit here, you’ll see a bit more on the subject … right now.

This is the next issue of the paper next one in the collection is from about two weeks later, Nov. 29, 1922. Since we’re here we may as well breeze through it. (Oh, and, yes, Auburn avenged the loss to Center. It was a 6-0 game, the Tigers mauled ’em. Every bit of overwriting possible was used to describe the game. We’ll skip most of that here.)

It’s about time radio did it’s part! Remember, this is 1922, so all of this is an incredible step into the modern age.

On page 4 — it’s a four-page newspaper — there’s a long column that turns this into a process story. They’d just gone through some upgrades and expansions. Now 5XA and WMAV boasted four radio telegraph sets. More technology was coming, but by the time you read this in the paper they were already at 500 watts. Not so much these days, but that was a huge range considering there was less interference in the atmosphere. The paper in Birmingham — the publisher was on the university’s Board — had donated a radio phone, so they had the strongest setup in the South. They would soon be able to get weather reports directly from Washington. All of this led to WAPI, which was a station I had the great honor to broadcast on for a year or so.

The more things change …

It’s easy to take water out of the faucet for granted, if you have it. It’s easy to laugh at a time when you couldn’t take it for granted. It must have been some kind of experience to have lived in that time in between. I assume this is part of that time.

The guy that wrote the above, Reid Boylston Barnes, Itchy to his college friends, was born in 1903, went to law school, and eventually entered the U.S. Army as a captain during World War II, serving in the military judicial system.

He mustered out a lieutenant colonel and continued on his path of becoming something of a legal giant. He died in 1984. He saw some changes in his life. Including …

I was not aware that this was a thing … nice to see some humor in an old newspaper ad, though.

Speaking of literary societies … I wonder how popular they are these days.

This really takes you back.

Maybe I should keep that one. It could be recycled every term, for any generation of college student!

Nov 22

‘It’s all pop music,’ is a thing I said today

Tonight there was a band in the studio. Hank Ruff is a recent IU grad, and he’s making it as a performer. Beats grad school classes! He’s been on one of our shows before, just before Covid, he said. He would have been a sophomore then and I had no memory of that … until I looked it up just now.

Look how young everyone was! February, 2020:

Since then, a pandemic happened. Charlee went home to Green Bay and became a reporter there. Kendall is reporting in Milwaukee today. Hank topped the iTunes all genre chart for a day, knocking Encanto out of the top spot, which he rightly, casually, mentions.

I’d mention that every day.

Anyway, they have new single coming out in January, Hank Ruff and his band played for us this evening. I don’t know how many country acts have a saxophone player these days, but the guy in the far background has figured out how to make his spot work in this group.

I was going to make a “Is that country music?” joke, but about that time they played a song that Hank said his dad wrote decades ago. The song was “I’m Not Crazy (But I’m Out of Her Mind)” and that’s about as country a song title as you can imagine.

Safe to say they’re on their way, too. He said he and The Hellbenders played 15 shows in September. Good for them. They played three songs, ran their own audio and did a thoroughly professional load out.

I wonder where local band members go after they’re done for the evening.

“Evening.” Their mini-set was wrapped by 7:15 p.m.

After the shows I pointed the car to the house, checked the freezer for turkey room, set up some sanding for later this week, heated leftover chili for dinner, petted the cats and straightened up my home office. It needs more than a straightening, but it was in such a state that a straightening itself was a transformation.

Now I’m just waiting for the Artemis rocket to launch. Maybe everything will work right for their window, anyway. (Sometimes being a fan of science and amazing thing leads to long hours.)

Let’s spend some of that time on the Re-Listening Project. I’ve just working my way through all of my old CDs, in the order I acquired them. It’s fun, it’s nostalgic, it’s an excuse to post videos.

First up today, a soundtrack for a movie that was bad then and hasn’t improved with age. The movie gets terms like “cult hit” and “zeitgeist,” and the dreaded “mixed reviews,” but sometimes words get used without the writer knowing what they really mean. It made good box office money, and most importantly the music was good! Good enough, I suppose. The soundtrack was a platinum hit in Australia and Canada, and twice certified as platinum in the United States. Presumably that was on the strength of Lisa Loeb’s breakthrough single.

I’m sure I bought this because it had three or four songs that I wouldn’t buy on their own. I can tell you how important this was. I never listen to the thing. Almost never have.

There’s a good Juliana Hatfield Three song in there, and it’s always good to have The Posies to point too. Dinosaur Jr. makes you seem well-rounded, and there’s Loeb’s smash hit, not that I bought this for the Loeb song. “Stay” was good, still is, but “Stay” was already everywhere. And then there’s a Me Phi Me classic. It’s aged far, far better than this movie.

Maybe I should look up Me Phi Me’s full catalog.

Up next, the followup to Radiohead’s surprising smash hit, “Creep.” That song took over the airwaves off their debut album, and so the pressure was on when it came to producing and releasing “The Bends.” The record broke the top 10 in Belgium, Scotland, and on the UK Albus chart. Certified as a gold record in at least four countries and platinum in the U.S. and New Zealand and it’s a multi-platinum record in Canada and the UK. They rolled out seven singles, half the record, between September of 1994 and July of 1996. The angular guitars and the emotional falsetto helped draw a line in British rock of the period.

This was great car music for me. Probably a lot of late nights in the car. I drove a lot during this part of college, and so there was me, and, often, Thom Yorke.

“Blackstar” wasn’t a single, but was definitely a late night, car-clinging-to-asphalt track. That chorus is really something.

“Sulk” was a political song, addressing a 1987 mass shooting in England. Pay attention to what Ed O’Brien is doing with the effects on his guitar here.

Title track? Title track.

The Beatles, The Smiths, a David Bowie pastiche, and as critically divisive as a pop song can be, I guess.

After this brief toe dip in Brit rock, we’ll return to Americana pop … probably on Thursday, only on the Re-Listening Project.

Nov 22

A last word on election coverage; more words about riding bikes

They started planning their election night livestream in September. I was pleased to see my friends at IUSTV trying something new and so ambitious. They held several fax out practices. They prepped for days, huge binders, names, contests, context. I was happy to see all of that prep, and I was excited to see them collaborating with Indiana Daily Student and WIUX.

The different outlets work together on a few projects here and there, something The Media School has been hoping to see. I’ve always advocated for that to happen organically. Building natural momentum and enthusiasm from seeing the impact and the benefit of their ideas, will create lasting success.

It was an entirely student-conceived, produced and delivered project. They got great support from my colleagues in bringing together a few technical achievements, but everything else was theirs and, last night, they covered a lot of ground, all of those reporters. It was a great experience for them, a fine service to their community.

Ella Rhoades and Ashton Hackman were on the desk at the top of the first hour. They rotated out over the course of the evening with some great reports from Carly Rasmussen, Anna Black, Haley Ryan and a lot of others. They did drop-ins with their colleagues at WIUX. They ran packages, had scheduled panels with IDS reporters, they even did their own big map segments. Olivia Oliver and Emma Watson were just a few of the star producers of the evening, which ran for almost four hours. Andrew Briggs was his usual indispensable self, producing this, directing that, making it all come together.

Not everything went perfectly, live productions don’t go perfectly, but there are plenty of lessons in that, and they handled the rough spots with grace and good humor. It was an impressive lift. They’re in the middle of their school semester, after all. Some of them left one studio and one show to come directly into another studio to run this stream late into the evening.

So, while I was pleased they had the idea, and happy to see their substantial preparation, and excited for the collaboration with their peers, the best part was watching them work, off camera, on deadline.

That’s where the real magic happens. A lot of people showed us last night that they’re figuring that out. Could’t be prouder.

And their attitude was infectious!

This morning, on one of the last beautiful days before winter arrives and sets in between now and April, I got out for a little bike ride. It was sunny and in the 50s, so it seemed important to get out for a few minutes.

It doesn’t matter to anyone but me, but I keep a record of my annual mileage. I am sneaking up on some of my best years now, and so I wanted to get just a few more in before I have to put my bike on the trainer. If I threaten my record, it will most likely be in a muggy bike room, wondering why there’s an actual puddle of sweat below me.

But today, I’m merely moving up the ranks of my annual chart. After today’s little spin 2022 is now fourth place, all time.

The year 2013 was a very good year. It was a comeback year, and that’s a big part of why it is third all-time. The second and top spots are 2021 and 2020, respectively. No surprise there. Couldn’t really do much except ride my bike during the hardest part of the pandemic.

Between now and the end of the year, I have plenty of time to move 2022 into second place. Hitting that 2020 mark … that’s going to be a real challenge.

Now that I’ve written about it here, it is, of course, a big thing. I’ll keep you updated. And hopefully a few of those updates include some version of “and I got to ride outside today!”

Those are good days, just as this one was.

Hope yours was a dandy, too!

Nov 22

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, as do vaccines

I watched students produce a show this morning, and also watched a show promo that should win some awards, or — what with college students specializing in dark humor and all — a visit from the local police department, I’m not sure which.

Put it this way, they decided they wanted to add a dramatic jib shot to this promo. The jib is the camera on the big long boom that makes those cool faux-flying shots happen in a studio, or at fixed events like lap races. They wanted to utilize the jib for a dramatic shot and I thought, “I’ll go lend a hand and do that.”

But before I could say that, someone else volunteered. Which was great! Student work is student work. And then when they actually recorded this ultimately ad libbed promo, I was glad the other person decided to work with the jib because there would have been no way I could have envisioned the jib shot he produced. It was, in point of fact, dramatic.

Anyway, I hope that promo sees the light of day. I’ll share it, if it does.

The rest of the day was full of emails. Catching up on other meetings of the week, cinching a neat little bow on small projects, booking people for future projects and the like. Somehow that filled most of a day.

And I tried a new apple, because it is apple season and apples are delicious and Apple Twitter is making me do it and an apple a day keeps the doctor away. So let’s try the Rave.

People compare this to the Honeycrisp. It is, in fact, a cultivar out of Washington that joins that variety with the MonArk apple out of Arkansas. Some of the Washington State people have their hand in the MN55 cultivar, as well.

My normal apple eating system doesn’t work on this apple. I bite off all of the skin, and then work through the flesh down to the core. But a Rave seems to need the tartness of the skin to complement the bubblegum sweetness inside. That sweetness wasn’t working in isolation. So next Rave, big bites.

I have tried three new apples this week, and now I must decide which of those I prefer for repeat purchases. Fortunately, I bought two of each of those three, so I have a few more days to be sure, but I’m pretty sure.

And that’s what Apple Twitter is all about, I gather.

It isn’t scientifically truthful at all, by the way, the old expression. There’s no proof that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but there is some evidence that daily apple eaters have to take fewer daily prescription medicines. The original Welsh rhyme was “Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” It is traced back to 1866.

They didn’t have nurse practitioners in Wales in the mid-19th century. We didn’t invent those until the 1960s here in the United States. It was a stop gap to address a shortage of physicians. (Makes you wonder, no?) Dr. Loretta Ford observed that … well, let the National Women’s Hall of Fame explain:

because of a shortage of primary care physicians in the community, health care for children and families was severely lacking. In 1965, she partnered with Henry K. Silver, a pediatrician at the University of Colorado Medical Center, to create and implement the first pediatric nurse practitioner model and training program. The program combined clinical care and research to teach nurses to factor in the social, psychological, environmental and economic situations of patients when developing care plans.

When the program became a national success in 1972, Dr. Ford was recruited to serve as the Founding Dean of the University of Rochester School of Nursing. At the university, Dr. Ford developed and implemented the unification model of nursing. Through the model, clinical practice, education and research were combined to provide nurses with a more holistic education.

So there you have it. For most of us, this has been a part of the health care system for our entire lives. (Wikipedia tells us that Ford retired to Florida decades ago. Hopefully, at 101, she is hopefully able to find excellent medical care when she needs it.) Residents of 26 states can see NPs which have full practice authority. In 24 other states the nurse practitioner is required to work under the supervision of a physician.

Which is how I come to find myself in the little clinic attached to the grocery store — and no formulation of that sentence will ever not be weird — visiting with a bubbly nurse practitioner who called me a goober this evening. Apples and doctors, but not NPs dear reader, oh not hardly.

The two shots she delivered, however, those will help keep me from seeing a doctor. One hopes, anyway. New Covid booster and a flu shot in the same arm are now on board, and expertly done, one after the other.

But now my arm is sore, and my throat is just the tiniest bit scratchy. The tiniest bit: I would have a sip of water or a peppermint and not have thought anything more of it if my bicep wasn’t reminding me where we went this evening. But no real side effects. Let’s keep it that way.

Must be the apples.

Nov 22

Happy November to you

Did you enjoy Catober? It is one of my favorite times of the year. Phoebe and Poe are good sports the whole month as I try to put one camera or another in their face. And they cooperated right until this weekend, when I was trying to get a traditional bonus photo. If you missed a day, you can click that link, above, and see them all in reverse chronological order.

It was cold, you see, and we’d just made breakfast on Sunday morning. Put the stove cover back on, which I built to keep cats off the stove. So they sit on the cover, or near it, to enjoy the radiant heat from the slowly cooling stove and oven. This is the routine. Part of it, anyway.

Good thing I made that cover, I guess.

I saw this scene as I was parking this morning. This is the parking deck a block from our building, adjacent to where the old hotel/dorm/office building was. In fact, this is that removal project. You can’t really see much of this from my office anymore, but the heavy machinery work continues, and a dad thought enoufh of it to bring his kid. And they had a time.

They’re busting up cement with the big machines. Big repetitive sounds. The kid is bouncing in dad’s arms in time. It’s the cutest thing.

This is quite the treat for both of them, I’m sure.

We ran across this in Indianapolis on Saturday, and it didn’t really fit in yesterday’s sparse entry, so I’m putting it here.

“We thought. You. Was A. Toad!”

The soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” in a future installment of the Re-Listening Project. Speaking of which …

There’s not much new you can say about 1977’s “Bat Out of Hell.” The Meat Loaf, Jim Steinman debut is one of the best selling records in the history of everywhere. Meat Loaf became an actor and enjoyed a well-deserved musical renaissance in the 1990s, but “Bat Out of Hell is the mark. It is certified 14-times platinum in the U.S. and spent 522 weeks on the charts in the UK. It’s also 26-times platinum in Australia and two times diamond in Canada. It topped the Australian, Dutch, and New Zealand charts in it’s day. A quarter century later it found its way atop the Australian, Irish andAmerican album charts again in 2022, and landed in the top 10 in four other countries. It was as, they say, a minor success. I think they issued it to people in the suburbs for a time.

There was a time when someone bought this record, invited their friends over, and put this needle on the vinyl for the first time. Imagine, or remember, hearing the first 100 seconds of this rock opera for the first time.

That’s one of those first-time experience I’d like to have once more. Wikipedia:

Steinman insisted that the song should contain the sound of a motorcycle, and complained to producer Todd Rundgren at the final overdub session about its absence. Rather than use a recording of a real motorcycle, Rundgren himself played the section on guitar, leading straight into the solo without a break. In his autobiography, Meat Loaf relates how everyone in the studio was impressed with his improvisation. Meat Loaf commends Rundgren’s overall performance on the track:

In fifteen minutes he played the lead solo and then played the harmony guitars at the beginning. I guarantee the whole thing didn’t take him more than forty-five minutes, and the song itself is ten minutes long. The most astounding thing I have ever seen in my life.

Next up, a bit of Van Hagar. I bought my first Van Halen record, “OU812,” as a cassette in 1988 or so, when it came out. The first Van Halen CD to appear in the collection is a bit later in their catalog. It, like so much of the Sammy Hagar holds up.

I should have played this filler-track for Halloween.

If you’re looking for classic Van Halen riffs and percussion …

This iteration of the band was doomed to fail just after the supporting tour. In retrospect, I think you can hear it in Alex Van Halen’s drum solo. There’s just something grievous and entropic happening in here.

Now, “Baluchitherium” didn’t make it onto the vinyl format because of time constraints, but it’s full of that classic sound. And, score one for a more modern format.

Real Van Halen fans thought this riff sounded familiar. They were correct.

The record was three-times certified as platinum in the U.S. and Canada, but it was the last of Hagar. The band got tense on the road, because this is the Van Halen story. Three years later there was the one record with Gary Cherone, and then the last studio album, the still-tumultuous David Lee Roth version of the group.

Altogether, Van Halen had 12 studio albums — all but one of those landed in the top 10, and four of them, including “Balance” went to number one. (Balance was the last to hit the top of the charts.) From all of that, and two live albums and two more compilation albums, they released 56 singles. Thirteen of those sat atop the charts in the United States, and another 10 landed in the Top 10. But every time Van Halen comes to mind, for some reason, I think “What if?”

I’m sure that’s just my timing, talking.

Speaking of timing … just you wait until you hear the underwhelming anecdote I have for the next item on the Re-Listening Project.

I shouldn’t say it is very underwhelming … that might set the bar too high. But the story will not impress you at all.