Mar 23

The day as INDICATED

Had a nice 25-mile ride this evening, a get home and quickly change clothes and hope on the bike sort of thing. You have to pedal fast so dinner isn’t super late. Look at me, setting a new PR and stuff.

That’s four days in a row on the bike, and 13 Strava PR segments in that time. I’m going fast(er, for me that is) right now. I wonder how long it’ll last? Hopefully through the weekend.

Which doesn’t leave us a lot to talk about. The daffodils have reached their peak bloom. The sun was high, but often obscured by fast moving clouds. The wind is picking up, a seasonal expectation, and storms will soon be moving through.

Bob Costas was on campus. He spoke to some classes, and it was a popular event, despite not being advertised in any way. Apparently he has a family member in school here, he’s in town visiting and has been very generous with his time the last two days. Today he did a Q&A, and he told stories and gave a little advice. It’s always nice to hear from a master of their craft, though I’m always struck by the disconnect. Almost none of us are going to be a Costas. And we’re not doing it in the mid-1970s. The professional ecosystem is different, for one thing. Plus, you know, he is insanely talented.

There’s something to learn from all of that, and there’s always something more to be learned, always another way he could tie an anecdote into a life lesson, an applicable life lesson for the non-Costas 20-year-old set.

I liked, best, how he talked about how he stepped away; how NBC of course wanted him to stick around. Costas, though, knew it was time. It’s a great moment in broadcasting, a business where people can hang on for far too long. He could have done more Olympics, more of the highest profile events in sports, plus whatever else that piqued him, but he pulled back from that. Having that caliber of talent and that cachet, and calling it a day at 64 might be the most remarkable thing in his remarkable career.

These days you can still see him calling baseball on TBS and the MLB Network and, for whatever reason, doing commentary on CNN. So he’s not entirely out of the game, but still. To decline more Olympics, more Super Bowls, it’s impressive, and it gave Mike Tirico the stage, which isn’t a bad thing.

He pointed out that Tirico was the first Costas scholarship recipient at Syracuse, which is a nice bit of broadcast trivia. Maybe one of the people in the room to hear him speak today will be a huge star and sponsor a scholarship of her or his own in the future.

If only there were something of national and historical significance, something unprecedented, going on that we could talk about.

Well, there’s always tomorrow.

Feb 23

‘Hey kind friend’

I’m in the middle of the three longest days of the week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will be postscript and epilogue. But yesterday was 10 hours, today was 10 hours and tomorrow is 12 hours. Tonight, tonight I had a bowl of soup for dinner at 9:30.

It isn’t the hardest work in the world, or overly demanding, but the hours do accumulate.

Also, despite my best efforts, no amazing anecdote emerged from the day. No outlandish story, discovery or incredible sequence of events fell into my lap. No astounding coincidence, tale with a surely fabricated punchline or other incredible thing happened. It was a Tuesday, he said, grateful that he did all of the ironing on Monday.

Some things from Mastodon, which is where all the cool kids are now that Twitter is sliding int its news inedible pot of broth.

Saw this on campus today and picked one up.

It’s a getting-on-our-feet first issue, 10 pages. Heavy on design, light on copy, but rich in information.

You wonder about the practical feasibility of research like this. It seems like we should have this and a few verifying elements of research and then, ya know, implement it.

But the corporate bosses don’t read studies like that, I’d bet.

Every time you turn around archeology is discovering a new not-so-small discovery that resets our understanding of what we understand. It says a lot about what we don’t yet understand, and all of the things there are to learn.

If you click through the link, and wait out the preroll ad, there’s a fantastic NPR package here.

I can’t go all the way to Charlottesville for a photo exhibit, but if I was at the University of Virginia, I would definitely spend some time with those displays.

It is once again time to clean up the browser a bit. These are some tabs I’ve been holding on to for … quite a while, as it turns out. Too good to close and never be found again — and bookmarks being a different, quixotic enterprise altogether, I guess — I’m collecting them here.

This one is dated 2021. Is it possible I’ve had it opened for that long?

A self-made millionaire and CEO shares 5 ‘quick tests’ he always uses during job interviews to decide whether to hire:

Having these quick tests in your back pocket helps you make smarter business decisions. Why? Because the more we think about something, the more our minds will try to play tricks on us. We second-guess, we let doubt and fear creep in, we hesitate, we overthink. The purpose of the five tests below is to get past all of that and get back to the truth that you’ve known deep down all along.

This is especially true regarding two of the most important decisions that managers at my company, Compass, make: When to hire someone, and when to pass on them.

All of those will strike you as general, but not incorrect.

I stumbled upon this sometime early last year and thought, “Clearly anyone can do this.”

I just need some canvas. (And paint. And artistic talent.)

This was a much more recent, perhaps realistic, find. Buckwheat chocolate chunk cookies:

I am a chocolate chunk girl all the way because they melt into the cookie so much better. In contrast, chocolate chips hold their chip shape even after they are baked due to their waxy coating. I also love the size variation that the chunks give. This recipe also doesn’t make you choose between milk chocolate or dark chocolate because it has both! The inner kid in me loves milk chocolate way too much to leave it out, and I think the sweetness balances out the bitterness from the dark chocolate perfectly. Always use good-quality chocolate — especially when it is the star ingredient.

This recipe yields a slightly thin cookie with the crispiest golden edges and a gooey center — just how a chocolate chip cookie should be! It calls for mostly all-purpose flour, with a touch of buckwheat flour. This addition adds a delicate texture and a hint of nuttiness. Lastly, a finish of flaky salt on top adds the perfect amount of crunch. Flaked salt just makes everything better — what can I say?

Say “Pass the cookies, please!”

Because of an impulsive decision to close some shopping sites, a decision no doubt brought on by a distinct lack of cookies available as of this writing, I am now down to just 30 tabs on my phone’s browser.

Today we also return to the Re-Listening project, which is where I’m working my way through all of my CDs, in order of acquisition. Not reviews, but sometimes memories, and most often an excuse to revisit music — most of it great!

This installment brings us to the late spring or early summer of 1997. I bought my second Indigo Girls CD. The first was the double-live “1200 Curfews,” this was a studio record, and “Shaming of the Sun” solidified my love for the band. I saw them that May and, thanks to the web, I can see the setlist.

Thin Line
Power of Two
Don’t Give That Girl a Gun
It’s Alright
Shed Your Skin
Get Out the Map
Scooter Boys
Everything in Its Own Time
Shame on You
Southland in the Springtime
Cut It Out
Chiapas Bound
Here I Am
Closer to Fine

Nine of those songs are on this record. I wish I could remember if I’d already bought it by then. Probably so. (I also saw them the next year, in Atlanta. I’ve seen the Indigo Girls more than anyone else, I imagine, and almost always as a two-piece.) It became their highest-charting album, at least in the United States. It hit number 7 on the Billboard 200.

The most important memories from this record would come still a decade later. The first two tracks are songs The Yankee and I sang together on a long car ride.

This is important because I don’t really sing in front of people, or sing with people outside of church. But it had been a good week and the sun was bright and the road was long and we were actually using an actual map.

Sometime later she made me a mix CD and that song is on there, too. We’ve also seen the Indigo Girls together twice, in Atlanta and Indianapolis. But for Covid, we would have seen them in Nashville too, just to round out the map a bit more.

The still-intriguing thing about this record is that it still fits at any time. Also, there’s a lot of message music on here. Protests and the like have never especially appealed to me, or sent me away, but the messaging is obvious, even to me. When I first got this I was still mostly taken by Emily Saliers’ incredible writing, even as I was starting to pay more attention to Amy Ray’s background vocals.

It was the next record when I would really learn to dive into everything Ray did. They compliment one another so well, of course. At the time, what Saliers wrote, the way she played, it all felt so true and intently earnest. And sometimes brooding and mysterious.

I just wasn’t hearing Ray yet, which seems hilarious in retrospect. (I have her entire catalog now, and I’ll ramble on and on about it in future installments, I’m sure of it.)

Those harmonies!

That’s why you sing along with a pretty girl, even if you’re not in the habit of making such a small thing about yourself available.

Jan 23

I’m out of steam

Extra-long day today. Second long day in a row. And a lot taking place at once, besides. I feel not one bit bad for having nothing here. It is 9 p.m. and I’m already thinking about going to sleep. So I’m playing the nightly word games and …

Have you played Redactle? This is difficult. I think I should quit while I’m ahead.

If you have some more time to kill right now, however, there’s always more on Mastodon.

Jan 23

Am assured we’ll maybe see some sunshine this weekend

We had the fog earlier, the snow tomorrow, the rain today. This was the view looking back up the street. I had to wait several seconds to get a shot with the road empty. And then I waited for this guy trudging up the street. You wonder where he’s going, and how he feels about it in the rain. But you only wonder for a moment, because he’s blurry and still something of an abstraction.

You’d think more on it if you could make out details of him and his trudge.

The composition, then, was entirely a choice.

Anyway, I like the way raindrops sit on glass. They both emphasize and distract from what’s going on in their background.

Did a quick bike ride this evening, just ticking off stages on Zwift. (Twenty down, 101 to go.) There’s no point to this, other than to do it, which is the point of everything.

I’m presently working on two cycling goals, both integral to waiting out the winter and rainy weather.

I have made a spreadsheet, you see, to chart my bike riding progress this year. It shows that I am, right now, well ahead of my daily projections, which is to be expected, frankly. It’ll only be later in the year when the daily trendlines become a challenge.

The other challenge will be in riding all of those Zwift stages. The ones I ticked off the list tonight were the first ones with slight climbs in them. They’ll only get longer, and more challenging from here.

Easy night, otherwise. Just trying to glide into the weekend. There’s only Friday to go!

And I will see you then. Until then, check out my Mastodon count. There’s always something useful there. For example …

Nov 22

Tweet ya later, bird site

I’ve made the move away from Twitter. Odd saying that, having spent 14 years with the microsite. It had great value to share information. Then that value diminished somewhat, but it was, nevertheless, still a great way to receive information. The incongruity had been weighing on me for a while, but the new owner and the great deal of baggage he’s brought along became the last straw. No sleep was lost on this choice. I downloaded my archive and moved on. Some new thing will present itself, I figured, and it did.

Mastodon has been around for a long while, but I only joined it on Halloween. I spent a week or so just watching it, another week wondering at its comparative weaknesses and reading longterm users brag on and on (and on and on) about its strengths. Some things in each of those categories are about human engineering, rather than the platform, but they are all part of the experience.

Follow me on Mastodon. Or click the button at the top of each blog page, or the homepage.

(I’m at Post, too, but haven’t done anything with it yet.)

Not everyone I follow on the bird site will make such a move, and that’s fine. Think of it as a group of people with a difference of opinion about where to eat dinner. At some point, perhaps a critical mass gathers, or key people voice their opinion, and that helps you make your own decision. It is gratifying that some of the people I want to follow are now showing up on Mastodon. As more people come over I’m sure it’ll feel more familiar and comfortable. Though I think some of the things that make it proudly different are unnecessarily limiting at this point. (That is an initial impression and very much subject to change.)

But that’s the interpersonal perception. From a corporate or institutional perspective, the biggest words for making this transition will be search and transfer. If you are an entity that has misguidedly put too many of your marketing eggs in any one social media basket, you might be in trouble in this moment of truth.

I don’t want to evangelize it today, but one nice thing about Mastodon is that you can follow hashtags. This absolutely inundates you with the subject matter of choice. The negative is that it absolutely inundates you with the subject matter of choice. There’s a great deal of selection bias to guard against there.

Take the popular Mosstodon hashtag, for example. Following that hashtag puts every use of it, all of them, in your feed. My feed quickly filled up with moss and lichen.

This isn’t bad, but it is dominating my feed So I need more friends to show up, and more hashtags to follow. That, of course, creates more volume, which means more time invested, and one needs to be mindful of that. It’s a great big work in progress.

I’m putting a few successful things on the site so far. Here’s my first Mosstodon post.

Also, I do enjoy a good batch of lichen from time to time.

Another of the real strengths is that you can take any person or hashtag and add them to an RSS reader. That makes so much sense it is amazing no other platform hasn’t tried harder to leverage it.

You still use an RSS reader, right? They’re going to make a comeback! (Try Feedly.)

Dropped the in-laws off at the airport this morning. They have returned safely to New England. The house is the right amount of quiet once again. Amazing how a variable or two changes the dynamic of the domicile. It was lovely to see them. We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving break with them, and we are grateful for the opportunity. I am grateful for the leftovers.

We took a walk this evening, and I marveled at the light, late evening views.

And I marveled at how this week has flown by.