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6
Sep 21

Happy Labor Day

Welcome back to you and me. Nothing happened here last week because … well … you didn’t miss much around here. It was the second week of classes, and, as ever, the first few weeks of classes are hyper-charged. If anything, the post-lockdown might make that period run even longer. Typically it’s a two week rush to find a semester’s cruising speed. Looking at the upcoming calendar, the ops tempo isn’t evening out for another week or two, though.

Meaning things might feel like they’re running at a normal speed … as we approach October.

The most fun things last week, perhaps, were an interview I conducted about two interesting new studies and some television stuff. We had a practice shoot for the sports crew and a big call out meeting Thursday night.

Late that same evening we climbed out of the car after a long drive for a weekend visit with my family.

This was our second visit since the pandemic. And just my third trip, total, since all of this began. We act conservatively and try to stay as safe as possible so we can have visits like that. It makes sense if you’re being risk adverse.

And the trip was nice. We picked up barbecue in Louisville and had a lot more great food all weekend. We sat poolside with my mom, saw my grandfather and finally won a game of dominoes from him, got to hug my uncle. And we watched the hummingbirds dance.

We came back today. If it feels like a full day’s drive that’s because it is. But work calls again tomorrow, and there are cats that need attention. And, since I didn’t give you anything last week, there are extra kitty pictures this time around.

Phoebe is (almost always) a good girl. Except for when she’s on this ledge.

It’s a weird thing, really. “You’re cute, but you’re not supposed to be there. Get down. Wait, let me take a picture first.”

She likes afternoons on the stairs, which gives her some nice indirect sunlight warmth. There’s also a change of temperature near that spot on warm days. Maybe she prefers a half-and-half temperature.

Poseidon prefers tasty snacks.

Again, “Stop buying that! But not before I take a picture!”

He managed to get one out of the box. We think he just likes the crinkly foil. Or likes dropping them on the floor, since we did that a few times.

Phoebe also likes sitting on that box. As we’ve discussed here before, we’re dealing with two cat lawyers. ‘On the box isn’t on the counter,’ is, I’m sure, what’s behind those eyes.

And, also, ‘As you can see, I’m not getting into the treats like he is.’

Poseidon is caught.

And he is notably chagrined.


27
Aug 21

Downstream from here

It rained this afternoon. Less than 20 minutes of the wet stuff fell from the sky. Something between a trace and a measurable amount. Just long enough to make me stay at the office a few minutes more, you understand. I rode out this randomly appearing rain cloud with purpose, doing a computer networking test that I learned earlier in the day on an extra classroom.

By the time that chore was done the rain was gone. And the little creek that runs alongside the building looked like this.

There’s something about the limestone that’s all around the place that slows drainage. If the water can’t go into the soil it just rolls to wherever the terrain wants it to and, here, that means Spanker’s Branch and down into the underground system just after that last shot. In an appropriate number of hours or days I’ll be using this same water to clean up after dinner.

It’s comforting, really, knowing there is a cycle to this, and we have integrated a system into it.

Saying a thing like that, about the dishes, is just one short step from trying to assign a story to that particular bit of water. The happy bubbles, and all of that. At which point you’re simply anthrophomorizing dihydrogen monoxide.

“What’s this ‘you’ stuff, pal?”

You’re right. You’re right. Not one among you has ever wondered about the hopes and dreams of the water you use while doing the dishes. That is the most ambitious part of the water that comes into our house. How else to explain how it gets on the countertops, the cabinets, my shirt, under the dish drainer and everything else?

I got some under the drainer this evening. No idea how that happened.

We’re hitting the books again before the weekend begins. We’re looking at a few of the interesting bits from one of my grandfather’s magazines, the January 1954 edition of Popular Science. We started this particular magazine a few weeks ago now, and you can see the first ads if you click that previous link. Click the image below and you can enjoy the next nine photos and bring yourself great worth and merriment.

But if Popular Science doesn’t interest you, you can see the rest of the things I’ve digitized from my grandfather’s collection. There are textbooks, a school notebook and a few Reader’s Digests, so far. It’s a lot of fun.

Just like your weekend. Unless you’re getting rained on. Watch out for Ida.

I’m taking next week off here, but we’ll be back for more fun of this sort the following week. See you on Labor Day!


13
Aug 21

Listen to some music, read some books

Just a week ago yesterday I mentioned Nanci Griffith here. She figured into one of my first blog posts. Back then I said “God Bless Nanci Griffith.” I’ve been listening to her for a long time, about a quarter of a century. This evening it was announced that she’d passed away.

God bless Nanci Griffith; he blessed us with her.

The Flyer, looking back, has a certain mid-century weariness that is overcome by the un-replaceable mid-century optimism she put into so much of her work. It was a wonderful entrance to her folkabilly style.

“These Days in an Open Book” sticks with you.

And there are parts of “Grafton Street” that can haunt you. Indeed, I can hear every important note perfectly well in my mind, even now.

She produced 19 records over the course of her career, which spanned most of my life until her health turned a few years ago. It’s an impressive body of work from a gifted storyteller. The nature of the entertainment industry, of course, is such that an artist’s work never leaves us, thankfully. What a gift it is to have all of this to return to.

I’m not ready to listen to them again just now — one day soon, I hope — but you should definitely try them out.

The planned event for the day was the return to the books section. We made it back there in just a shade under two years. That’s a perfectly average turnaround time, if you ask me. Perfectly average if you are Voyager 1 and you are in between Jupiter and Saturn.

This section of the site is a casual study of some of my grandfather’s books. I didn’t have the good fortune to meet him, but I know him from family stories and some of his things that I’ve inherited. Like a giant box of periodicals I rescued. So, today, we’re beginning a look at an issue of “Popular Science,” January 1954. Click the image to see the first five ads I’ve selected.

At this rate, it’ll take a while, and that’s the point. If Popular Science isn’t your speed, you can see the rest of the things I’ve digitized from my grandfather’s collection. There are textbooks, a school notebook and a few Reader’s Digests, so far. It’s a lot of fun.

And fun is what you’re supposed to have over a weekend. I hope that’s what you have in store for you. Come back and tell me about it on Monday, won’t you?


10
Aug 21

Not everything here is from the last century

I’m reading through this book right now. It’s the 1960 version of a long-winded, well written Wikipedia series. Each chapter covers one particular moment, almost all of which can and do have several tomes you can dig up. This book is the city bus tour of the historical period. It’s a great read to get an overview, an easy way to discover a new interest.

The San Francisco earthquake and fire gets 24 pages. And, for me, for that, it was plenty.

I’ve read three of the definitive biographies on Teddy Roosevelt, and two on the Wright Brothers, you see, it’s the subject, not the period. Some things are just more interesting than others. There’s one chapter here about a particular insurance man and his social life. Didn’t do much for me. There’s another on how J.P. Morgan forced the American banking system into avoiding a an economic collapse by force of will. It was intriguing, but you got the gist. Right now I’m reading about Peary’s sixth Arctic expedition. I’d probably enjoy a bit more of that. Here’s a bit from the chapter on the Great White Fleet, and a full telling of this story would probably be worth trying. Roosevelt sent the vessels around the world as a projection of American naval power — 16 battleships, 14,000 sailors on board them and their escort with ports of call on six continents — it was one of the first signals of the American century.

I’ve looked a fair amount. Several accounts refer to these cheers, but no one seems to know where they are from. I Assume some Chilean naval officer went to Cornell and brought all of that back. And when the Americans arrived in January of 1908, that was just part of the fanfare. A surrealistic bit of home for the American sailors who’d been on this mission for a month, making just their third port of call.

I wonder how many of the Americans recognized them. Cornell was a big player in early 20th century athletics, but still there wasn’t a lot of opportunities to Google this sort of thing in 1908.

This is from the same chapter. Walter Lord diverged a bit, which is rare in this book, but his point was what the returning sailors came home to after their historic circumnavigation. It was one of those moments where things were changing quickly in the culture.

If you’ve read about Europe in this period, or the American experience just before entering the Great War, you can see an entire world-shaking bit of foreshadowing going on there. It’s a good book. Written in 1960, when some of these things were frozen in memory, rather than frozen in amber. And while new perspectives and information have no doubt come along in the intervening years — Lord was much closer to his subject than we are to him here — the book holds up. Click on the cover, above, and pick up a copy for yourself.

And if you’re not interested in that …

Here’s a bit of Poseidon, god of water, bathtub mortal.

Achilles had his heel, Poseidon has his back paws, I guess.

I like to think he’s not fascinated by the water, but by the physics of the water’s retention and movement.


5
Aug 21

Faster than Olympians

I’d like to tell you about a great adventure on the day, but the truth of it is that there was the office, and then there was enjoying the evening in the backyard, and then enjoying the Olympics into the night.

Two weeks of Olympics following three weeks of Tour de France, mean a lot of televised sports. And the Vuelta a España starts next week. And then you’re into football season. Honestly, being in a safety-first, approach to going to as few places as possible has done wonders for my sports viewing this year.

I’m getting bored with it.

I did update my 404 page today. I noticed, to my great chagrin, that there was a broken link in my missing page. That’s mortifying. Better that I found it myself, rather than someone pointing it out. The error had been there for an embarrassingly long time. I can only assume that means that people don’t run across the 404 page that often.

But isn’t that exciting? I tested links! I moved tables! I saved and refreshed and changed some language!

That is a full on Thursday!

I wanted to share this amazing track event we discovered this evening. It is, in fact, from a few nights ago. Perhaps we missed it, or maybe NBC, burdened by time zone problems covering the Olympics half a world away, couldn’t figure out where to show what’s being called “the greatest race ever” many hours later. I wanted to share it, but NBC has limited where their programming can be shared, and where their pre-rolls can run. It’s a business model, I guess.

Here’s a video you can see on my humble little site. I did the math, we’re going faster than the world record hurdlers. We had better gearing, and fewer hurdles.

It was to be a 90-minute ride. Before we’d gotten through the second neighborhood on the route The Yankee had a problem with her aerobars. She got that resolved, and it allowed her to go faster. So, before we’d gotten through the third neighborhood on the route she dropped me.

Just as I caught back up to her, some 15 miles later, we called it just a bit early, right about the time I shot that video. Sometimes, catching back on feels like the greatest race ever.