site


12
Apr 24

I’m short on time, here’s five photos and a gorgeous video

You should be looking at photos from an ancient yearbook right now, but you’re not. Let me explain.

Two weeks ago I finished up our look at the 1946 Glomerata, the yearbook of my undergraduate alma mater. I said that, the next week, we’d go back 100 years to see the 1924 Glom. And then I realized I needed to actually update the section of the site that includes those 1946 photos. It seemed like I should finish that before starting a new one. So last week I spent a substantial part of Friday wrapping that up.

So now, you can see 40 of the best photographs from the 1946 yearbook, and read about the stories that go with some of those photos. Click here for the 1946 Glomerata. Or, if you’d like to see all of the covers, you can find those here.

And next week we’ll start in on that 1924 yearbook. But I’m seemingly behind on everything today, and while building out the Glom section is great fun, it is time intensive.

So, instead, you’re just getting five photos and a video today.

When I went out to get the mail this evening, the clouds were looking rather ominous. They’re telling us of the gray skies we’ll have for quite some time. Because no one has told the weatherman that it is mid-April and we should have warmth and sun and breezes and a pleasant entry into the middle of spring, here in the late spring.

In the backyard, I just liked the color of the leaves in the gathered little puddle, all of it brought on from last night’s wind and rain.

All of those flowers we’ve been admiring? All of those flowers I’ve been showing you? They’re going to wind up in that spot sooner or later. Such is the cycle of things. The next part will be lovely too, though, so that makes it easier to accept this flowery little puddle.

Good news! We didn’t kill the fig tree.

As I think I mentioned last week, we covered it to keep out the harsh elements of a mild winter. We covered it three times, in fact, because the wind kept blowing the cover away. But finally I figured out a technique to make the canvas stay in place, which was good. Because after a fourth time I was just going to tell the fig tree it was time to grow up and weather the weather on its own.

The tree might be fairly old. Our neighbors have reason to believe that this one came from their fig, and they believe theirs is ancient. Is it possible we could have figs that came from a cutting of a century-old tree? Probably not. But we could have figs from a decades-old tree, and I bet they’re just as tasty.

One of the apple trees looks lovely.

It’ll be nice to watch that continue to bloom up and out. The tree sits there, quietly, in the side yard, and is easy to forget about.

If only trees made more upsetting noises that reminded you to check on them, right?

Because it doesn’t yell randomly throughout the quiet evenings, we’ll have to remember, on our own, to go get the apples later this year.

I can’t decide what this one is.

But what it is, is pretty.

Everyone liked the jellyfish yesterday. Here’s another shot of the same species. It’ll be a good way to wind down your week. Take a moment for yourself and enjoy this view of a purple-striped jellyfish that lives at the Monterey Aquarium. We saw them last month and I’m happy to share it with you now.

 

This jellyfish’s diet is zooplankton, larval fish, other jellies and fish eggs. Turtles like the purple-striped jellyfish because those fancy arms are rich in nitrogen and carbon.

I bet you’ve never thought of jellyfish that way.

Have a great weekend!


2
Apr 24

A day doing prep work

This is another busy week. I am today working on a presentation for Thursday. I am creating a contemporary case study for a classroom exercise. The whole thing came to me, almost fully formed, last weekend. One of those ideas that was so complete it had to be perfect. Only today did I realize that the entire exercise requires on-the-spot participation from a group of strangers.

Much depends on their willingness to play along. And there’s not really coming back from it if the idea doesn’t land, or if they aren’t interested in playing along.

It’d be better not to have that realization, but once you have it there’s no escaping it.

No matter what happens, the graphics will look passably good. No matter how many of these presentations you make, it is amazing the time sink a good set of graphics can become.

Since it is the first of the month I have to also do the routine computer cleaning. It takes just a few minutes to delete a bunch of stuff from the desktop. Some of it I’ll probably need later. New directories must be made for the website. Statistics for the site need to be updated. I haven’t done that in two months. March was a good month! But the site has been done this year compared to last. I suppose people have found better distractions. But this humble little site attracted 137,000+ visits in the first three months of the year. We’re at 5.75 million views all time. No idea why that number is so high, but I’m grateful.

Also, I updated my cycling spreadsheet. And the chart still looks pretty good, despite the long lulls of March.

The green line plots a steady 10 miles per day average. The red line shows where I was at this time in 2023. The blue line charts the mileage of this year.

All of those blue line miles have been indoors. I’m ready to take a bike ride outside. Maybe next week.

Maybe next week, he sighed.

It’s gray and cool and April and I’m over it, quite frankly. The flowers don’t seem to mind.

That’s a brilliant camellia shrub and it’s just full of great, big, beautiful blooms. Spring hasn’t come, but spring is here. It should stay for a long time, at least until mid-summer, don’t you think?

We could then push the summer late into fall and just wipe out the next winter. What with all the leaping days and the stumbling seconds and springing and falling, would anyone really miss it?

No one would miss it.

What everyone misses is the beach. So let’s go there now! Here’s one last video from the big rock in the middle of Spooner’s Cove.

Not to worry, though, I still have … quite a few peaceful videos from California. And there are still a few more slow motion videos, too. Three, I think. After this one, that is.

And the slow motion views will change with the next video, so we’ll have that going for us, too.

Anyway, back to this presentation I’m working on.

I now hate the graphics.


1
Apr 24

Light up your path, and strew it with flowers

We had a lovely Easter with family. There were … let me count … 15 people in a house where four grew up. And then six more people came over. There were eggs to hunt in the backyard for the little kids, family photos in the front yard and football in the street. Ham and football, that’s what is done.

I threw two touchdown passes and scored another on a trick play. It helps when the receiver you’re throwing the ball to doesn’t know how to drop the thing. The first time I let the ball go and said, “Nope, that’s over her head,” and she caught it. The second was a timing pass that was out of my hand before she made her cut on the ol’ flag route. It just landed in her hands and looked like it refused to leave.

If you need a teammate, pick a field hockey player, that’s what I decided.

Some of the kids hid eggs for a few of the adults and I don’t remember that being as stressful as it was. We each had a color to find, which is a great idea for kids spread from 3-16. I had to find yellow eggs and so I watched everyone else to see if they’d bend down and not pick up an egg. Waiting for an “Ah-ha! Oops, not my color moment.” It was not a winning strategy.

The kids did great, though. Inside their eggs was money. Change here. A single there. Someone made a map of all of the eggs and presumably there was a degree of difficult to the Easter wealth redistribution plan.

We had ham, which was delicious, and I never really get, and so Easter dinner was a test of How much of this can I get before people notice? But there was also ice cream cake, so it worked out just fine.

We were, of course, the last ones to leave. We have to work on that, as a skill set, but the company is so pleasant sometimes you don’t want to.

And what a lovely Easter weekend it was. Saturday we spent a large part of the afternoon outside. It was perfect weather for …

We have many trees. They shed many branches. Bits of the tree cast off for the greater good, aided by wind and rain and now sitting about everywhere on the property. At first I despaired. They shed many branches. And then I remembered: we have a fire pit and fires need kindling. Now, those bits of the tree cast off for the greater good can serve us once more.

There are a lot of sticks. Just enough, in fact, to make you see the romance of self sufficiency, but not so many that you come to realize the harder work and challenges that can from time-to-time come with it.

It’s like playing at using the whole buffalo.

The forsythia out by the road looks splendid, and I just wanted you to know how elegant and beautiful it is.

I really do wish they stayed like that all year long.

Also, the humble, noble, sometimes underappreciated dandelions, Taraxacum officinale, have made their appearance. It’s a shame we won’t allow them to stick around. But, as you can see, they’re going to be in the way, eventually.

We lit the fire pit on Saturday night. Used some of those sticks, from above. Did not make the first dent in the pile of them, at all.

And when I say we lit the fire pit, this time I mean I did it. I got outside before my lovely bride, and so I could set things up. I used the drier wood, which I’ve been stacking in the greenhouse away from the other stuff, exposed to the most recent elements. The wood that we have here is old and seasoned and so the effort means little more than keeping the most recent rains off the graying splinter distributors, but that’s enough.

I put some pine straw down under a teepee-style arrangement of those sticks. Around all of that I built a log cabin-style stack of wood. I put two sparks on it, it wooshed to life and I was able to sit back and enjoy the blaze. If I don’t get outside first, I spend the next hour or so trying to bring efficient combustion to chaos.

The lesson is clear: let me build the fire.

This little sprig of moss is thriving in the dark behind the grill. I’m not even sure, now, how I noticed him. But I did, and so here we are. The light got in there just right and now this will soon wind up as one of the new banners on the blog.

Perhaps you’ve had a busy Monday, and you need to unwind. I have just the idea: take a brief vacation to the California coastline in this video.

 

Perhaps I’m the only one amused by slow motion waves. That’d be OK too. But on the off chance you like them, too …

 

And now, I must head over to campus and teach a class. Tonight we will discuss the battle for our attention online, and then I will try to keep the class’ attention while I introduce them to video editing via Adobe Premiere Pro. It is no one’s favorite class, but it figures into the rapidly approaching final for this class. So a remarkable thing happens. We all learn to love it.


22
Mar 24

An unusually quick Friday post

We will return you to your regularly scheduled Friday post next week, perhaps. Right now, I am ahead, busy and behind in all of the most unusual ways. As it relates most to the Friday material, I don’t have anything in the queue. Shame on me for only scanning three weeks worth at a time, when, clearly, there should be six weeks prepared at any given moment.

The lamentations will continue at another time, and quietly, but, for now, this is a quicker way to work through a few Friday things.

The forsythia looks beautiful. We have several in the backyard, like this one here.

And there’s one proud and well shaped one that stands on one of the front corners of the property.

These, I wish, stayed just like this all year. They are gorgeous from any distance, any time of day.

Welcome back to California, where we enjoyed this spot a little over a week ago. This is Spooner’s Cove, a part of Montana de Oro State Park, near Los Osos, California.

  

Spooner’s Cove is where Islay Creek empties into the Pacific Ocean. It’s a beautiful spot, in California’s lifetime undergoing the long, patient process of turning from a rugged and dramatic place where land meets the sea into a beautiful and calm beach. All of California feels like it is in that process. The human impression and human memory seems so long, but it is so fleeting to the waves and the winds and the rocks. We think we understand, we’ve only begun to realize what we don’t know.

Anyway, the cove has a pebbly beach, tide pools, caves, and unique rock formations to climb around on especially at lower tides. (There was an arch, so typical of the central California coast, but it collapsed from the weather and erosion just a few years ago.)

Oh, and if you want to see something wonderful, take an adult who grew up around tide pools back to tide pools. A remarkable thing happens.

I often tell journalism students that the difference between them and nursing students and engineering students is a simple one. Nurses work on anatomical models to learn their craft. Engineering majors will use popsicle sticks and other materials and some complex software before they’re ever allowed to touch plans that will lead to a bridge or a dam. We learn our craft in public. And here’s further proof.

Student journalists from the Daily Iowan, a non-profit paper, have purchased two local newspapers saving them from shutting down. Students from the University of Iowa will help both papers cover their communities. Iowa student journalists buy two local papers saving them from closure

What will kill cable television, and severely hurt the business of the regular networks in terms of revenues? The diminution of sports on regular TV. Do NFL Sign-ups Stick Around?

While some may assume a majority of users who sign-up around tentpole events (like big NFL games) will quickly cancel, this isn’t borne out in the data. In the case of Peacock, by the end of February, nearly seven weeks after the AFC Wild Card Weekend, Antenna observed 29% of the AFC Wild Card sign-up cohort had canceled their subscription, meaning 71% remained subscribed. Peacock’s one month survival rate across all 2023 sign-ups was 78%.

For Paramount+, Antenna observed that at the end of February 65% of the Super Bowl LVIII sign up cohort either remained subscribed to their paid subscription or had converted their free trial to paid. Antenna’s initial Paramount+ estimate does not include iTunes distribution, which Antenna estimates was 21% of the Paramount sign-ups.

I hope everyone is paying attention, and programming and planning accordingly.


16
Feb 24

A nice package arrived today

On the front porch, and a day earlier than anticipated, was a box with two books inside. I found these online, on e-Bay, actually, in one of the more fruitful examples of late night insomnia. The prices were low and right and the end of the auctions were listed during the Super Bowl.

No one was paying attention to e-Bay. But I have a particular set of skills, and so I was paying attention to e-Bay and watching the game and silently wondering, for about the sixth year in a row, why we still get worked up about the commercials which were — not exactly pedestrian — but standard fare for the most part. Many commercials are well done these days, so you have to really stand out with celebrities, but they’re in spots all the time. Many commercials are good. And so even the good commercials debuted during the Super Bowl didn’t stand out too much, except for the ones that were obviously going to be controversial in some corner of the web. And that wretched Temu ad.

But I digress. I won both auctions. The nice lady who sold me the books offered to combine shipping and, today, they have arrived.

I opened the box, and inside were two large Ziploc bags. Inside each bag was a book. That book was wrapped in guerilla-resistance strength cling wrap. And, beneath, that a two layer roll of bubble wrap.

The woman who sold me these books really understands me.

Inside the first bubble wrapped, shrink wrapped, Ziploc bag was this.

That’s the 1912 Glomerata, the yearbook from my alma mater. This book is 102 years old, and the cover is showing that age. Even if it does need rebinding, the pages inside are basically perfect. The cover, particularly of the older books, is where the fun is.

Longtime readers know I collect the Glomeratas. It seemed like a good thing to get. They make a handsome bookcase. And it’s a unique thing to acquire. I know of two other people who dabbled in this. And, importantly, it is a finite thing. The first Glom was published in 1897. (I don’t have that one, so if you get a lead … ) and the last, latest one I’ll collect was the 2016 book. There are 120 in between. (One year they published two books.) I have 112 of them.

As I said, it’s a handsome bookcase.

The other book was the 1907 Glomerata. It has been rebound. It’s a generic black cover. No need to show you that, but what’s inside is also where the fun is.

I just spent a few minutes flipping through the 1907 book. The highest quality photos are the studio head shots and the posed group photos. There are a few candid action shots, but they are all small. It was a limitation of cameras 117 years ago. There are some cool drawings inside the older books. This one was on the page introducing the students who put the yearbook together.

That was done by a guy named F. Roy Duncan, a senior. His blurb in the yearbook says he learned to draw in an English class there, and I’m not sold on his proficiency as an artist, or as an English student. But he becomes a talented engineer and architect. Born in Columbus, Georgia, educated at Auburn. He worked in Pittsburgh, and then on the Panama Canal. It seems he stayed down there for about three years, contributing to electrical, mechanical and structural engineering projects. And then he returned to Columbus.

Some six years after that photo was taken at school, he became an architect. Among his achievements are more than a half-dozen homes still standing in various historical districts (here’s one), the Taylor County (Georgia) courthouse and parts of this Columbus church. They all survive him, as did his wife, and this art. He had a heart attack while fishing and died, at 61, in 1947.

And so we’re going to have to look at these books. And all of the rest of the collection, over time. Because I also recently picked up a nice desktop document camera. These were the first three photos I took with it, and I’m pleased. It’s a little slow and awkward as I figure out the workflow, but it seems much better than trying to take a photo on my phone, emailing it to myself and then editing thing. At the very least I’ve got out two steps in the process. And so, next week, I’ll open a book and point it at the camera.

I think I’ll probably start in the 1940s.

But first, I have to add these two covers to the Glomerata collection on the site.

(Four minutes elapse.)

There, now the 1907 and 1912 volumes have been added to my Gloms cover collection. I’ve just noticed four or five other covers which haven’t been digitized, but I’ll get to them soon. And, as of this writing, these are the only ones I need to add to the collection: 1899, 1900, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1916.

Beyond a certain point, as you can imagine, they are difficult to find.

I just wrote 800-plus words about things that are only of interest to me! Let’s show you some diving photos, which I know you’ve been waiting for, patiently, and get you in to your weekend.

There is absolutely positively nothing like just … hanging there in the water. It’s so captivating that I spend time on most dives just watching other people do it. Like my dive buddy!

This is a shot-from-the-hip of a woman that was on one of our dive boats with us. She just happened to float over, or I swam under, or whatever it was, and I looked up. I love these shots, and I include it here as a reminder to myself to take more of them, which can only be done by more diving.

Dive boat dynamics are interesting. Unless you go as a big unruly group you’re surrounded by strangers. These are two-tank dives, which means you go out, take the first dive, and then enjoy another, all without having to return to land. For safety reasons that have to do with the chemistry of your blood under the mild pressures involved with reef diving, you take a surface interval. So you wind up talking to people. And they’re often just fascinating. This dive had a bishop from Miami, a high powered business man from Denver, this woman, who is in pediatric medicine and, of course, us. Plus there’s the captain and the divemaster, who is an underwater welder doing this in his free time. That’s an awesome amount of brain power on one little vessel, and also me.

So you wind up having some interesting chats. Usually it’s about equipment, things you just saw, how your diving has been, something innocuous from back home. It’s small talk. And you’re all the best of friends.

Except now I can’t remember anyone’s names.

I don’t know if she got to see this turtle. Not everyone on that dive did. But that’s the breaks. Sometimes you see the high profile sea life, and other times you hear about it and appreciate what you were able to find. But we found this giant turtle.

That’s easily a three-foot shell. Easily.

OK, that’s enough for now. Enjoy your weekend! (We’re getting snow.)