Oct 23


The weirdest sound woke me up this morning. Apparently it was the heater. We turned that on last night. Maybe we didn’t exactly need it. OK, sure, it was chilly. There was a frost warning. But we could have made do with a space heater. But this seemed wise. This is a good week to give it a test. Having toured the house in April and moved in in the summer, this was the first time we’ve had need to try it out and all that.

On the one hand, you want to know the heater is working. On the other hand, we turned the heater on in October. On the third hand, we’ll have temperatures in the 70s for the next week, and it should hit 80 on Saturday. On the fourth hand, this other hand business is getting out of … hand control.

So the heater works. Also, it’s noticeable. There’s an air intake vent in the bedroom and it sounds just different enough from the other noises we’re growing accustomed to.

The things you don’t think about when you move: where all of your stuff will go, not the obvious big stuff, but the endless small things; why one closet set up is better than another; which stairs will creak in the night; if all the light switches are logically arranged and what every new sound will sound like.

My bedroom, when I was a little boy, was on the corner of the house, which was on the corner of the residential road and a busier county stretch. I laid awake enough nights in there to learn where all of the lights came from, I could tell the difference between truck lights and car lights, and learned the directions they all went, from each direction. It was watching those lights and listening to the road noise that I first came to understand the Doppler effect. I had enough nights watching those lights that I’ve compared every bedroom since to how those lights played on the walls. Ten bedrooms since, by my count, none of them have the right lights. My current bedroom is almost perfectly dark. It’s great. No street lights. But we do have this nice rumbling heater.

If we ran it and the overly ambitious ceiling fan simultaneously we could start a real weather event.

Had a nice easy bike ride this evening. My Garmin was dead. My lovely bride’s Garmin wasn’t far behind. So we just turned right and pedaled until we ran out of road.

There is a bit of video. Just a few shots from before the shadows got too long and muted everything. I’m going to find a style out of this, eventually. Just think, you’ll be here to see it evolve.

Down at the other end of the road, just after we turned around and headed back, the setting sun was making a show over our shoulders.

She dropped me not too long after that, I guess. And then I caught back up and we raced to the finish. I couldn’t get around her, but managed to stay locked right there beside her, determined to sprint longer than she did. And I did, but only barely. She said her power meter showed 588 watts during our prolonged kick, putting her in the 80th percentile. Considering she never practices sprints, that’s an impressive output.

Mine was … almost not bad.

We got back just in time to see the neighborhood’s balding tree.

Every day, that leafover grows less and less convincing. When you get right down to it, some trees are just fooling themselves.

Would that they fooled us the year ’round.

Since I mentioned it yesterday, in case you were wondering what the new Gritty phone wallpaper looks like, it looks like this.

If you like it, just right click, download this version and enjoy.

You just have to say “It’s Gritty o’clock” at the top of every hour.

Oct 23

The sun stepped back, the leaves dozed, autumn was awakened

Just a gray blah day, and I acted like it, too. Could have done more, but I did enough. At least I hope so. If not, someone will let me know, and there’s always tomorrow and Friday and so on. (Thursday I’ll be busy, of course. Which means tomorrow I’ll be busy. Which means Friday I’ll be making up for other stuff. And that is how a stuporific Tuesday influences the rest of the week.)

Late in the day we went for a short run, and the clouds were just beginning to move off for the evening. The sun was able to just break through in the last hour or so of daylight.

The Canada geese are taking all of this as a hint.

Do you ever wonder just how much smarter all the critters are than us? Sure, we’ve got thumbs and language and social skills, but the animals, they know when to call it a day.

Those geese flew over this tree, the first tree to start the light show.

And so it begins.

Oct 23

New OS, same ol’ me

Most of today was spent doing class prep. Grading camera shots. Studying the latest editing tricks. Also, updating my computer.

I deleted about 600 words on that experience, but it goes like this. To download a program I need, I had to upload my OS. To do that I needed to create some space on my machine. Somehow, there’s a bunch of system files, dozens and dozens of gigs of system files. So I bought a program for that last night and freed up 60-some gigs. Then I backed up my computer to an external drive and updated the OS. There’s never a more tense moment than that update, but I learned that if you do it really late at night, it is difficult to muster up any real energy with which to worry.

The new OS loaded fine. It looks slightly different. That’ll be a mental adjustment. It also wiped out four of the programs I use regularly. They’re all old, but I don’t want to find and download or pay for replacements.

So, today, I found and downloaded replacement programs which will work, but, being new, they’ll work more slowly. Technology! Also, I got the program I needed which started this whole thing after last night’s late dinner. In the long run it all worked out pretty smoothly.

Now my apps have ballooned in terms of storage space — 144 GB, somehow. The OS is now 15 GB of it’s own. But those pesky system files are down to “just” 37 GB. Whatever is going on in here, at least it is moving fairly smoothly.

And that’s the shorter version of the story.

Otherwise, today, the task was figuring out how to get a bunch of editing tricks downloaded into students’ brains in one class. You could spend a lifetime working in editing and continually learn new things, new tricks and new shortcuts and techniques. Fortunately, I have tomorrow to figure it out, as well.

Oh, and I’m feeling fine after Sunday’s small bike accident.

I rode my bike today, in fact. Just did the same little 10 mile route. I wanted to slip a thank you card into the mailbox for those nice people that helped me. And, also, a small box of Band-Aids. The little boy gave me two of his Batman Band-Aids, so I picked him up some Avengers. I hope he isn’t exclusively a DCU kind of kid.

Their mailbox, it turns out, is up there drive and right by the door. Their door was open, someone was home, so I had to be quick and sneaky, so I wouldn’t get caught. I hope they giggled at the Band-Aids.

I rode to their house and back slowly, because I have this special bandage on my leg. I didn’t want to get that sweaty. Plus it was a beautiful day to be outside, and I didn’t mind extending my class prep break. That bandage is wrapped up in an ace bandage. And so that it stayed in place as I pedaled, I wore one leg warmer. It looked silly, but I was all in black, so it looked cool at the same time.

As I pulled into our driveway another cyclist was coming by. I waved at him and he came up for a quick chat before setting out for his own ride. Turns out he lives directly behind us, and I’m sure we’ll get an occasional riding partner out of the proximity, eventually.

Most importantly, the ride was great! Except for bumps, my wrist didn’t care for those, but that’s no reason to not start daydreaming about what a longer ride on Friday.

Do you think rock shows need more drum solos? Rock shows need more drum solos? At the end of his drum solo, Roger Taylor said he was getting too old for this. The man is 74 and doing just fine.

But it brings into focus some darkly funny thoughts about old people and rock ‘n’ roll, right? This was going to happen, whether they knew it in their decades or not. Now, whether any of those older acts could have imagined sticking with this, doing nostalgia tours, filling venues and still keeping time … that’s an open, and unlikely question, but — oh, here’s a song Roger Taylor wrote. OK, he wrote the early version. It wasn’t working, the band bumped into David Bowie, as one did, and all five of them got together and created a pop masterpiece.

It was double-platinum in the UK, and has been certified as four-times platinum in the United States.

“Under Pressure” was Queen’s second number one in their home country, and Bowie’s third. It cracked the top 10 in a dozen or so countries. It peaked at 29 on the US Billboard Hot 100, but charted again globally in 2016. Then, it climbed to 45th on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number five on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. I’m not sure that chart knows what it is. But it was there, after Bowie died that January.

I remember where I was when I heard it again that first time, after they were both gone. I wanted to turn it off, but it was a public place, a deli, and they weren’t my speakers. I haven’t listened to the whole song since then, which is odd because this is not the sort of thing that affects me. Watching them sing it live, though, with the joy and verve that they did, makes that feel a bit better.

Queen played it for the rest of their touring days, though Bowie didn’t put it on stage until the Freddie Mercury tribute concert, singing opposite the great Annie Lennox, in her mascara phase.

After that, Bowie played it almost all of the time. And if you think the last few paragraphs and videos were all a set up to introduce you to Gail Ann Dorsey, you are correct.

I’ve yet to hear her do anything that doesn’t impress.

As for my version, above, I only included part of the song because that’s the most important part. To me, the song belongs not to Bowie or Queen, or even Dorsey, but to Grosse Pointe Blank.

But that’s just me. A Rolling Stone readers’ poll has it as the best duet of all time, so it means a lot of things to a lot of people.

Oct 23

The ‘You’ve got mail!’ voice actor only made $200 on that job

I know I think this and say this a lot, that I spent the day on Email, because sometimes I do. You can get a lot of work done that way — deciphering what your correspondent means, wondering if they read your full reply, trying to invent a button that universally eliminates the reply all button — we’ve all been there.

And then, today, I spent almost six hours doing nothing but email.

I did grade 10 things in between bouts of “You’ve got mail!” pings, but that was it. All of the ding dong day: email after email after creative solution to a problem email, after bringing people together in common cause email, after finding out that some things were resolved without me needing to be involved email.

I was still writing an email about how we’ll navigate this series of unique circumstances when I looked up to see it was 4:30. I wanted to take the garbage to the inconvenience center, but they close at 5 p.m. There’s a tub of recycling in the garage, two garbage bags in the outside can that doesn’t really fit in the trunk of my car, another bag in the kitchen and two or three small cans strategically located around the house. Also I had some plant matter to haul away, but first I had to stuff that in a yard bag.

The center is seven miles and 13 minutes away. Just enough time to load up the car, then, plus a few seconds to laugh at myself for almost feeling like this was a stressful thing. Drive over there, arriving at 4:52. The guy that closes it patiently waits while I place the cardboard and the other recycling where they go, and the garbage bags across the way where they go. He closed up the gate behind me at 4:56.

So email and that.

We had a man stop by the house today to give us a quote on some work that needs to be done. He was waiting at the front door as I returned to the house. You never feel so silly as when you wave at a guy on your own front porch. Don’t leave! I’m here! This is me! I promise!

We walked around and talked about what we’re after. He came up with a loose plan, which makes sense. We asked questions and he patiently answered them or promised answers. His phrase is “I get it, I get it.”

Not once, but twice. He got it twice.

I tend to repeat myself a lot. Occupational and cultural hazard, I guess. But I often do the thing where I tell students “I know I’ve told you this more than once. Why do you think that is? It must be important, right?”

And this evening I grew conscious of that in this casual conversation in the yard.

“I get it, I get it.”

He told me twice. And then he had to tell me a third and fourth time if I reiterated.

Which is, in a way, quite encouraging. Someone gets it, even when I don’t.

I wonder if he got in his truck and went about his evening if he thought to himself, or called the office, “I told that guy I get it. Why couldn’t he get that?”

He was an exceedingly nice man. We talked about the youths and the weather and everything in between. We kept him talking for probably far too long — he was just looking at stuff to make a quote after all — but I was also trying to decide who he looks like. He was one of those fellows, the eyes and the cheeks and the jaw just belonged to someone who is in a very loose orbit. The voice was an entirely different tone and accent, keeping me off balance, like trying to remember the words to one song while another is playing. I bet he looks familiar to a lot of people, though. He gets it, he gets it.

We did one of our morning loops today. This morning, actually. This was the one thing I achieved during the work day that didn’t involve email, and only because it was directly out of bed and onto the bike. Breakfast? What breakfast.

Surely that wasn’t why I felt like I was dragging the last 20 minutes or so.

Anyway, I got ahead of my lovely bride and stayed there. Twice she pulled alongside, but I dug a little deeper and … well, you could tell nobody had legs because that was that. I think I got back to the neighborhood about 90 seconds before she did. But, along the way, I saw this guy.

And since I haven’t shared this chart in a few months, and I’m already talking about today’s bike ride, and you’ve been volunteered, dear AI bot Google spider reader, this is where my mileage for the year is right now, be it ever so humble.

I’m comfortably beyond my personal best in terms of miles per year, so every pedal stroke is a record breaking one. That table has three projection lines, based on a daily average across the year, for where I’d be if I rode seven, nine or 10 miles a day. The purple line is where I actually am. Everything took a big dip around the move, and the complete and total disappearance of my legs for about four or six weeks after that.

Now I’m riding better, I just need to ride more. That’s something I said aloud this week and typed here, so now we have spoken it into reality. By next month, surely then, the purple line will be threatening the green plot again.

You know what hasn’t been spoken into reality? My ironing. Oh, what a neat trick that would be, speaking out the wrinkles. So I’ll go do that now, and do some class prep, and try to get to sleep before the sun comes up.

Because I’m sure the email will be all queued up once again by then.

Sep 23

Four monochrome days … and counting

For class last night I needed a photo for a quick Photoshop demonstration, so I grabbed a few shots of the honeysuckle in the backyard. The original here had a lot of negative space, which was part of the point of the demo I needed. But as I looked at it more closely, I came to appreciate the almost-symmetry. I like repetition in photographs, I like lines in photographs. And, in generally, symmetry is neat and appealing. But the almost symmetry here worked for me.

Surely that’s a sign of something. Positive growth, perhaps. I am positive I have grown in my appreciation of that chaotic photograph.

Also, raindrops on plant life makes for an easy and appealing subject.

I like rain, rain is good. We all need rain. It’s amazing how fundamentally important such a seemingly basic miracle as rain is to, well, all of us and all of this. But I’m over the gray skies.

Give me rain or give me sun. This in-between indecisiveness is not for me. I wonder how spiders feel about the rain.

This one was building a trap just off the front door in the early evening. I reached out from an awkward ankle, one foot on the ground, the other stretched behind me in a yoga-inspired counterbalance, to my right arm as close as I dare get, trying not to disturb the natural order of things. I think this spider just moves around the yard from place to place, looking for the all important location, location, location, because the web is never there when I go back.

I couldn’t help but notice that the very casual composition was able to capture the setae hairs of the spider’s body, and also the rain drops it has been carrying around. And now I wonder, do spiders like rain?

I suppose we know how they feel about waterspouts.

It seems they want shelter from the rain, thanks National Geographic. So there you have it, you have something in common with the arachnids. But not waterspouts. You find them much more useful than they do.

Anyway, today was a brutal day for productivity. I graded things late into the evening on Monday, and just could not find a sufficient spark today. Which is not to say nothing got done. Some did. More should have been accomplished. But that’s what Wednesdays are for.

I did get the next round of ironing completed. (Thursday-me and Monday-me will thank me for this.) make some of these. New pocketsquares!

I made four. The brown and yellow thing was my test piece. I’m going to send that, and one of the red ones, to our old neighbor as a joke. He is a professor of retail apparel, and if anyone can find the humor in repurposing silk, it’ll be him. The purplish-gray one, and an identical red one, are for me. Thursday-me and Monday-me, specifically.

Working with silk, I learned right away, is a little time consuming. But if they look good in your pocket, maybe they’re worth it.

Now I just need a way to store them. But that’s a different sort of project, for a different day.