May 23

We play the song “Crazy Life” at the end of this post

I took this photo the other day, and I keep forgetting to publish it. That’s too bad, because it’s a great nod to the apparent lack of thoughtfulness of others. This is outside our building on campus, and these are handicapped parking spots, as you can see from the blue lines and the sign.

All of which makes this installment of Hoosier Hospitality amazing.

You can’t really move scooters unless you rent them, of course. The wheels are effectively seized to prevent free rides. So you have to muscle them around, which is what I had to do. But, on the off chance that anyone needed the space, at least someone was thinking about you.

I can say this about Hoosier Hospitality: it’s alliterative.

We haven’t run the tab feature in a few weeks, and my browser is groaning under the pressure. This is the place where I am memorializing pages that I might want to refer to again, but might not earn a bookmark.

The 25 best documentaries of all time, ranked:

The documentary genre is a more varied one than many people give it credit for. As a type of film, documentaries do usually aim to inform or educate about some kind of non-fiction story or topic, but that’s not their sole purpose. Some aim to evoke certain feelings or experiences more than anything else, others aim to present an argument or point of view in a persuasive manner, and others are mostly concerned with simply entertaining audiences the way a work of fiction might.

Furthermore, some documentaries aim to do a combination of the above, or maybe even none of the above, instead opting to do something else entirely. Exploring the world of documentary filmmaking can be a truly eye-opening thing to do, and reveal worlds or unique perspectives that aren’t as easy to explore through other genres.

James Brown’s historic concert, staged 24 hours after Martin Luther King’s assassination, is now restored and free to watch online. This show helped calm down Boston somewhat. It’s a legendary performance.

6 do’s and don’ts when buying used scuba gear:

Ok, so you’ve decided to buy your own scuba diving equipment. Whether you are newly certified or a seasoned diver, used scuba gear may seem like a great opportunity to save some money. Buying secondhand diving equipment can either be the greatest deal of your life or the biggest mistake, the difference is knowing what to look for.

We like to look out for you guys, so here are 6 tips to buy used scuba gear:

How solar farms took over the California desert: ‘An oasis has become a dead sea’:

Deep in the Mojave desert, about halfway between Los Angeles and Phoenix, a sparkling blue sea shimmers on the horizon. Visible from the I-10 highway, amid the parched plains and sun-baked mountains, it is an improbable sight: a deep blue slick stretching for miles across the Chuckwalla Valley, forming an endless glistening mirror.

But something’s not quite right. Closer up, the water’s edge appears blocky and pixelated, with the look of a low-res computer rendering, while its surface is sculpted in orderly geometric ridges, like frozen waves.

“We had a guy pull in the other day towing a big boat,” says Don Sneddon, a local resident. “He asked us how to get to the launch ramp to the lake. I don’t think he realised he was looking at a lake of solar panels.”

We return to 1998 in the Re-Listening project. For the blissfully uninitiated, I am going through all of my CDs in the order in which I acquired them. It’s a stroll down a musical memory lane. It’s fun. And I’m writing and sharing some of it here. These are not reviews, because the web definitely doesn’t need another quarter-century-too-late alt band review. But they are a good excuse to post videos, pad out some content and have a little fun, which is kinda the point of most music.

This record is from 1997, but from what surrounds it in my old CD books I know I picked this up the next year. I imagine I got it from one of the two independent music stores that were in town at the time, but I don’t remember that part, here. This is one of the alt bands that personified the 1990s, and you can hear that immediately in the first track.

Toad the Wet Sprocket saw this record, their last for more than a dozen years, climb to number 16 on the Billboard 200, both on the strength of what had become a dedicated fan base, but also the single “Come Down,” which settled nicely in the top 40 in the U.S. and in the top 10 in Canada.

That song was so ubiquitous I was certain Toad was putting it on every record, and every musical coordinator had it in shows, movies, and commercials, but apparently not. I can only blame myself, and the A&R people at Columbia Records who had this on the air somewhere within ear shot every 17 minutes of my early 20s.

And here’s Glen Phillips doing “Throw It All Away” solo. I can never decide if this, or the full band, is the better version.

The answer, of course, is which ever you hear live.

The whole record is a fine continuation of Toad the Wet Sprocket’s work. The production is great, it’s hard to argue with the instrumentation. Glenn Phillips and Todd Nichols are in full throat. Everything works and there’s a little something for every mood. But I am always listening to Coil to get to track 11.

This is what I wrote when I finally, finally saw Toad the Wet Sprocket live last year.

I don’t know if “Crazy Life” was my first protest song or the first for my slice of my generation, but I’m pretty sure it was the first one I really noticed. The first one I read about. And I read a lot about Peltier. I’ve never really settled on how I felt about it, not really, but this is Wounded Knee.

The Eighth Circuit thought a jury would have acquitted him had information improperly withheld from the defense been available, yet the court denied a new trial. And if you really dive into the story it’s easy to question how the system was used. But I don’t know, not really. None less than Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama have campaigned for him, though, and that means something.

The point is, this song made me look it up, and think, and ask questions of things in general and specifically. And I probably shouldn’t like a pop song this much, but anything that scrapes your brain for a quarter of a century is worth noting.

And I love Todd Nichols’ sound.

Toad have released two records in the years since, 2013’s “New Constellation,” which was a crowd-funded album, and the Starting Now (2021). Some of their other work, and re-work, will show up later in the Re-Listening project. And like Chris Spencer says at the end of that 1997 video, you can catch them on tour this year, too. We did, twice, last summer, and I’m a little bummed I won’t get to see them this time out. But you can!

Jul 22

The turf and surf menagerie

Last evening, during a walk, we saw a deer.

We saw two deer, in fact. Who knows how many more were just out of sight, watching us.

We also spotted three rabbits and two squirrels.

The highlight was surely the stray cat that came into our back yard. Poseidon noticed it, and was most emphatic that the interloper be removed. After a time The Yankee went out to check on the cat, and decided it looked like one posted on the local Next Door community. She called the number. We kept the kitty — spooked but healthy and hungry — in our yard until they arrived.

They were nice people. The woman is desperate to find their pet. Last weekend they drove 80 miles one-way to see if a cat was theirs. It was not their cat, but they adopted it anyway. So they are nice and passionate people, and perhaps cat thieves. Who can tell with these things?

And then they … wouldn’t leave. So they were nice, passionate, perhaps cat thieves who did not pick up on the social cues. Who can tell with these things? But they’d come over from a few miles away and it was a break from yard work or research or whatever they were doing. They also offered to take this other cat.

So definitely cat thieves, then.

Somewhere during all of this our neighbors came out to visit and we found ourselves having a party in the side yard.

None of this sounds like much, but they stayed on the porch for a good long while, and it was otherwise a evening, so take this elderberry and be happy with it.

If that’s not enough, congratulate me on completing the Cozumel diving social media project. Since March, I have been uploading daily clips of our diving to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Tens of people, perhaps, have seen them. But if you missed all of that somehow, just click the Twitter link and you can see them all threaded together.

Or revisit with me those videos in the longer form on YouTube, where dozens of people have watched. I edited them each day of the dives.

I am very popular on the world wide web.

Apr 22

For a Tuesday, this is pretty good

I met the new provost this evening. He came into the studio for an interview with one of our news shows. I got to chat with him for about 90 seconds, but he, and the publicity detachment that came with him, was far more interested in the students, as he should be. And given some of the ongoing campus events, what could have been an easy and straightforward getting-to-know-you interview took on some real local heft.

And they got to call it an exclusive. It was a nice interview, we only missed one question, and it speaks to the news division’s growth and ambitions.

We have about two weeks left in this production cycle, and three or so weeks left in the semester, so it is time to start peeking ahead for them. Next year we’ll be in a unique position. All of this year’s leadership will return next year. This year’s youth will be the next two years savvy, veteran leadership. We will now start looking at ways to take advantage of that opportunity.

Also, today, I interviewed a sociologist who does brain science research. What a world, huh? He told me how I can keep my noodle sharp. That’ll be a podcast that should be online Thursday or so. Not to worry, I’ll let you know about it.

Let’s look at a few more pictures from our last vacation, the Spring Break 2020 (And this time we mean it!) dive trip to Cozumel.

Yes, I’ve gotten more than two weeks of videos of this trip, and 10 days, so far, of big batches of photos. And I’ve got one more day to go after this. So let’s get into this! Starting with this small school of bright yellow grunts (Haemulon flavolineatum) and gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus).

More grunts! And maybe a porgy. (I’m not very good with the silver fish.)

Isn’t it nice how the sunlight just works its way down 60-or-so feet and highlights their fins?

A queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) just showing off all of those pretty colors.

This is the regal blue tang (Acanthurus coeruleus). Pretty big one, too. They can grow up to about 15 inches. It is kind of popular in aquariums, and as a bait fish.

Who likes random coral formations?

And, remember, always look in the vase coral … because you’ll sometimes find fused staghorn coral …

Oh, look who is up there, swimming with a sea turtle.

Here’s the rare shot where there wasn’t actually anything in view. But the colors are lovely, aren’t they?

And, now, the saddest photo a diver can take. Zero feet, still air in the tank.

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up this amazing series of photos from this wonderful dive experience with some lovely people pictures. Make sure you’re ready for that.

Apr 22

Hours of video, 10 more photos from the bottom of the ocean

And how was your weekend? Cold and gray Saturday here, sat on the porch and enjoyed the warm of a brilliant Sunday. Took a nice walk. A low-key stretch by all accounts.

More improv comedy from a live production on Saturday night. This should go right to where it starts, but if it doesn’t, scrub your way over to 12:48 to see all the funny stuff begin.

And if you’re not in the mood for young comedy — and how could that even be a possibility? — let’s have some sports talk with another fun episode of the B-Town Breakdown.

And here’s a package on a historic moment in this year’s Little 500.

I hope they did a version in Thai, too.

Let’s look at some more stuff under the sea! This is some sort of pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus), I think.

Here’s another juvenile stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride) hanging out with some beautiful branch coral.

This is a good place to mention that I updated the front page of the site this weekend. There are now a lot more cool images rotating through. Some of them you might find familiar from recent days here. I have a lot of really nice ones there, so we’ll be able to keep that fresh for some time. Check back often, as they say. (But keep scrolling for now.)

There’s a barracuda just hanging out under this rock. I got to within probably three or four feet of him. He was unfazed by the attention.

I’m not sure what’s prettier here, the color of the ocean, the coral or the the queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris). This species, it is believed, communicates through temporary changes in color. Also, the juvenile fish are a different color. You thought you had difficulty reaching teenagers!

Always look in the vase coral. You never know what you’ll find inside. Like this lobster!

This is a moody picture, isn’t it? There must have been some passing clouds in front of the sun as I passed by this setting.

The light changes everything. You might think this is a lonely or spooky feeling, but you’d be mistaken.

There’s all sorts of interesting things to see and critters to meet, after all.

And if the fish and all of their natural wonders aren’t enough, you also have your dive buddy.

Best fish in the sea!

That is, by the by, the 100th photo I’ve published from the Cozumel dive series. And, if you’re wondering, I can probably get two more days out of this. So stick around!

Apr 22

And now we can take a breath

There was a live comedy show tonight. The students at IUSTV streamed it as a three-camera shoot. I did not work on this, but I am glad they did. We are big proponents of working on live events, and I, personally, want them to do it a lot. It’s a wonderful experience, doing live shoots in the field. Also, this is quite entertaining.

I didn’t work on this event because I did enough other stuff today. My morning started with producing promotional videos for about two hours. We should get about 36 videos out of the effort, which brings to mind a project I’ve been working on more than three months now.

Well, transferring all of the files so a student can edit them should bring the project to a close for me. The project will continue on, and I’ll be glad to see it’s successful completion, knowing so many people have worried over it. I hope I didn’t worry them over it.

I also brought a poet into a studio today, so she could record … get this … some of her poetry.

At least I hope it was hers.

Then I did recruiting things. I got to tell Alex’s anecdote. I mentioned him here yesterday. A year ago, Tuesday, he was doing his tour as a high school senior. Wednesday he was anchoring for the award-winning IUSTV sports division. The point being that students get involved early, often and throughout their time here, no matter their areas of interest. It makes for a wonderful learning opportunity.

Which was how I ended my day, teaching students how to use our newest video/podcasting studio, Studio 11. (We now have seven studios, six of them in the building where I work, and three more podcast booths besides. They help make a great tour.)

But if you can’t tour this place, let’s take a tour of the sea.

We ran across a small school of tang. I think they’re tang. That’s what we’re going with here. Anyway, aren’t they lovely?

Sometimes the vase coral just appear seemingly out of nowhere. (You still look inside them.)

I always enjoy the little rocky outcroppings and coral growths in the middle of the sand.

Sometimes you have to look up, because sometimes there’s something swimming above you. Like this turtle!

Same turtle, equally cool photo, for different reasons.

I think this camera, which I bought before this trip, takes better video than photos, but sometimes, when the light is right, the pictures are brilliant.

More of our friends, the yellow tube sponge.

Look at all of these little fish floating around their neighborhood reef.

There’s a sergeant major, a black jack (Caranx lugubris), damselfish and more are in that photo. And more in this one.

And two more fish right here.

I love that pose.