Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour

Following notes in several places - most crucially a promo on television - Kris and I joined "Earth Hour" last night.

From 8:30 - 9:30 we turned off the lights. We lit all kinds of candles in the living room. I got out my uke and plunked. We talked, we sang (sort of), I played in the candlelight. It was a pleasant hour and a good way to remind us of how much electricity we do use.

I noticed that the town wasn't dark for that hour - I wonder if any towns in Kansas went dark for "Earth Hour" or if it's too Al Gore.

We liked it. We talked about doing it on a regular basis. If we do, we'll have to schedule it and make sure we live up to our schedule. Regardless, it was a pleasant way to put earth first, even if just for an hour.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Surviving the Day

We all seemed to have survived the day, and what a strange day it was.

Around 1 I went out to get to Scott's and to check on snow removal at Bethany Church. This is what the video looked like:

I'm actually pretty proud of this, considering I couldn't see what was on my screen when I was recording the video.

From the church yard I walked east to Scott's. Someone headed west on his bicycle. Lan Nelson was heading west, said that the home's pickup had gotten stuck in the street and he decided walking would be easier. A few hardy souls were out at store, but overall Scott's was kind of empty.

After getting fresh water and Cheerios for an ailing wife (strange flu like symptoms), I headed home. Then north to the campus to see what was going on there. The Sandzen was open - that was unexpected. Ron Michaels had come to work. I was the only visitor.

To the office. I broke virgin ground when I entered the lower level of Presser Hall. Home again.

What was strange was how quickly the uncovered sidewalk was drying out. The remaining bits of slush and snow melted quickly and where ever pavement was exposed, it dried. Unfortunately, no one was clearing things at the college. We'll have to see how it is tomorrow when Messiah has dress rehearsal.

The other thing that amused me about our response to the snow: the vast numbers of homeowners who had to have their drive cleared. Patty Karstad, for example, had a fellow with a plow attached to the front of his Grasshopper come and clear her drive. Later, her garage was open and the car might have been taken out.

But it seems as if this is the most important thing for many people: to get the drive cleared so that you can get the car out if you want to get the car out.

Here's some before and after pictures from the day before the snowstorm and the afternoon after.

Video Experiment Continues

This short piece is part of my experiementation with the new video equipment the college purchased for the Pearson scholar visits.

Here the experiment centers on the shotgun microphone we bought to go along with the camera. You can tell how sensitive the mic is by the way it picks up the cat squeaks. Unfortunately, it also picks up lots of ambient noise.

On Thursday we'll have our first test of this microphone under actual performance conditions. I'll set up and someone else will run the new video camera when Jimmy Sjöblom presents his first public presentation on sustainability.

Stuck in the Snow

It's Saturday morning, the week we make our final push to Easter performances, and we're stuck in the snow.

The cast can't get back, the set isn't done, and the director is feeling a bit blue. It feels as if he should call off all other activities and focus only on getting this thing done. But that may just be snow talking.

Oh yeah, and on Wednesday the Rotary club is supposed to go clean the highway. But the weather isn't going to let that happen without a fight - and the club President isn't happy with the constant slide from one meeting day to the next. It doesn't work for recruitment.

Oh well, maybe it's just the snow talking, right. A feeling of depression at long grey days followed by a life disrupting snow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In the Evening

By the evening the weather had come round, much less wind, beautiful cloud formations, a gorgeous sunset.

I've been so busy today that I haven't kept up with anything. I know the composting conference is on the campus, but I haven't had any contact. I'm still working at getting the final props, costumes, and set pieces for Easter. Did well today, and think I have a line on a suit coat that's big enough for our big guy.

One of the things I saw today as I was antique shopping was that men's suit styles haven't changed much from 1899 to today. Except for that unfortunate period of the 1970s when we thought that double knit was suitable and something called leisure suits would qualify as a suit.

"Easter" is coming along, just as Easter is coming along. Hope we'll see broad support in the community, since this play is just the opposite of the kind of play complained about in the News Record.

Updates on the Composting Conference if I have any tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Incredible Wind

I was out with the college's new video camera this morning, trying to manipulate the switches and settings in order to get the image to look as it ought. I did OK, but the white balance wasn't quite right.

The video below, now posted on Youtube, shows the new flag. I've covered over the wind noise.

I'm still learning the controls and a I need a "warm balance" card to get the white balance right - however - even with that, the thing about this video is how unstable it is. I had a difficult time standing still.

I don't remember a day when the gusts were quite as strong as they were today. Still, I didn't see major damage - but I haven't gotten out much. I'll see what's up during my evening promenade.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Post on Old Issues

I got a comment yesterday on a blog post from June of 2007. That is old, stuff that's way dead.

I wouldn't bring it up - and maybe this post belongs in the Interpersonal Communication blog I'm posting to - but I think there is something here to discuss.

Frankly, I was offended by the post. What offended me was a kind of condescending tone that assumed I knew nothing about the newspaper business, and certainly nothing about the newspaper business in a small town/rural newspaper.

Trouble is, I do know some. I may not know enough to run one profitably, but I do some thing about newspapers.

The point is, we often tend to assume that all others are neophytes who know nothing about our situation. Therefore, when we respond to others we tend to respond to them as if they were in need of schooling - rather than as adults responding to adults and differing in opinion.

The post in question - and the comment - can be found here. The dispute is the News Record's absence from Leonard's introduction - and their blaming the college for their lack of coverage.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Union Street, west of Chestnut, down at the edge of Peterson Estates, there's a big square boxie building going up. As soon as I get the photo out of the phone I'll post a photo.

I'm not sure what's going on. It looks like a barrack, but I suspect it is a four unit apartment.

What are we building around here? I wonder if we've give good thought to the existing housing stock that isn't selling. Maybe there is a big demand for cheap apartments in town, but I haven't heard much that leads me to believe we do

Petty Annoyances

I was out on my daily walk, listening to an older episode of "This American Life." The episode is called "Music Lessons," and it's one of the best. David Sedaris describes his father's attempts to make a family jazz trio out of his children. Sarah Vowell discusses what she learned from band. Ann Lemont tells the incredibly touching story of a member of her church learning to love, the small miracle that love can be.

I was enjoying Sedaris' recounting of guitar lessons in Raleigh, NC when he made a remark that caught my attention. "The teacher gave me some purple mimeographed sheets . . ."

Those weren't purple mimeographed sheets, David, They were ditto sheets. This is a ditto machine, or spirit duplicator. It was made by the ditto corporation. Mimeograph was a totally different process - much messier - and less flexible.

My first "journalistic" effort was a ditto'd news paper, published periodically, in 1969, at Augustana College. Called "Period," and sold with a brash and uncompromising commitment to making stuff up, it was duplicated on the English department's ditto machine - though I bought the colored ditto masters with proceeds from each issue. It sold for a nickel - a nickel being the dividing line between greed and stupidity - according to the editor. When run by the staff it was a glorious success. When run by me it was mediocre.

Anyway - it was made on a ditto machine. I didn't really learn the ins and outs of mimeography until I got to my first parish - and it was the end of the era of mechanical reproduction.

This is a mimeograph machine. But people younger than, I'd guess, 30, have no recollection of mimeography or dittography. Those between 30 and 40 have only vague recollections. Soon this will all be dead media (I found the image of the ditto machine on the Dead Media Archive at the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU.

Sad to think that this part of my work life will soon be museum exhibit. Too bad Sedaris didn't know the difference between ditto and mimeograph.

Sarah Vowell committed an egregious error that drives me nuts. It's becoming common now, and may soon slip into common usage and even acceptability. During her tale of her high school music career she used the phrase, "begs the question" to mean "raises the question."

It's a phrase that gets a heap of abuse. "Begging the question," however, has not meant "raising the question, and doing so with some urgency." That's what Vowel took it to mean, what many English speakers use it to mean. And while I'm usually not one to insist that words and phrases must retain their denotative meaning world without end, amen, I think I'll make an exception for this.

Mignon Fogarty (a.k.a. Grammar Girl) agrees. "Begging the Question" is the name of a logical fallacy, "in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises" as the Wikipedia puts it.

I wish folks would stop using "beg the question," "begging the question," etc. as synonymous with "raising the question." "Raising the question" works fine - and if people would use "beg the question" properly we might think more clearly, more logically.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Now's the time to start getting ready, and I'm happy to report that the Midsommar Committee is hard at work. They have a new web site, at Midsummers Festival dot org. There isn't much content there yet, but it's a very nice interface.

I suggested that we try to get this young woman here for Midsommar.

She's from up north, sings in English and Swedish, plays guitar, knows the old songs and the new ones. The video above is her singing a song from Chess - which was written in English so far as I know - in Swedish. He name is Elina Järventaus Johansson. I think she has a very pretty voice and I'd love to see her come, if that's at all possible.

I don't know what the committee has planned, and I trust that they'll do the very best that can for the festival. I'm just putting in my two cents worth.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Changes to the Blog

I've added a short, one question poll to the bottom of the page and a click on video bar at the right. I'm trying to keep up, but it's getting harder every day.

Tomorrow is Read Across American Day - Dr. Seuss' birthday. Do something Seussical. I'm going to the Children's Center to read with the kids.

Trehy's Tea Emporium

Irene Neilson has put the Stockholm up for sale. That's pretty sad news for Lindsborg.

Who knows how long it will take to sell. Maybe it will go right away, maybe it will hang on as the Stockholm for quite some time.

In the meantime Bethany College student Chris Trehy is managing the tea room and doing business as Trehy's Tea Emporium.

Chris, a psychology major, told me he came from a long line of folks involved in retail food trade, and that he wanted to give it a try while he could. He sublets the restaurant from Irene for Thursday - Saturday noon meals and does dinners when he has customers who want dinners.

The noon menu is limited - a delicious tomato soup, two open face sandwiches (the exact sandwich varies), desert, and, of course TEA. Lots and lots and pots and pots of tea.

A little on the pricey side for some pocket books, this is definitely not your fast food emporium. It is the place to have "slow food," food lovingly prepared when you order it and served with all the aplomb a Dutch boy can demonstrate. Did I mention that Chris is Dutch and going back to Holland for graduate study? He's Dutch and going back to Holland for graduate study.

Because he's Dutch he understands Tea better than any of us who've not been schooled. The Dutch invented the tea house, you know. Because he's European he has a certain sensibility that most Americans enjoy when they go to Europe. He's not rushed, and won't rush you.

Go and enjoy the cuisine. And the tea. And the deserts.

And tell Chris I sent you.

Augie Choir

It's been that kind of a week - too busy for words.

"The Augie Choir" was hurr, they scribbled on the board outside our HCL/North Central self study meeting room. Prior to that they were all at Messiah Church for a meal. This is the end of the blessing for the meal.

Then a great concert in Presser Hall, with a substantial crowd - particularly for a Thursday night. Perhaps the most impressive part of the evening was the improvisation. I'd never heard a choir do improvisation before.

The Chamber Singers improvised on the tunes "I just went down to the river to pray" and "Amazing Grace." The results were amazing and grace filled. Charlotte Anderson told me that she talked with Dr. Hurty about this technique, and the choir learned it in Sweden. "It's one Swedish thing I want to bring back to the states," I think Charlotte said that she recalled Hurty telling her.

The concert was excellent. At the end the choir gathered in a circle and sang "By the Mighty Mississippi" - a serious musical version with lots of well planned mockery along with it. I was in the middle of the circle. The song ends with choir members kicking off a shoe. The shoes mostly flew my way.

I was there to capture video of the event. I captured it, but it isn't worth playing. The sound it awful. I really need to replace that little camera with something better. We'll see if that happens.

So, thanks, Augie choir. I lost an evening of rehearsal to you, but it was well worth it.