Birthdays and butt-dialing.

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Today is Michele’s birthday. She would be 62 if she were still with us. When she died two years ago of cancer, she left a big hole in our family. After all this time (it seems like it was yesterday), I still miss her terribly, and there are many moments when I ask out loud why she had to leave us, and why won’t she come back. Silly, of course. She’s not coming back, and there are many things I wish I could say to her, to make her laugh, to ask forgiveness, to rededicate ourselves to each other and to our family.

The things she missed out on are many. Things she wouldn’t have missed for the world: the grandkids growing up, Paige’s first child, Paula and Dylan’s wedding. These and more have all happened without her. If there is something after death, I hope she can be with us in some way.


Scantron is that grading system used on standardized tests. The student fills in the appropriate circle on a card that corresponds to the correct answer on the test paper. The card is machine read and saves oodles of time spent on manual grading. When I was a kid, we didn’t call it Scantron (which is a brand name), because the technology was fairly new, but students today all seem to know what it means. They also don’t like this kind of test very much.

As an adjunct “professor” with not a ton of time for grading, Scantron is a godsend. But it’s limited to grading multiple choice and/or True/False questions. If I really want to test a student’s knowledge, I have to add some short answer or open-answer type questions, which takes me back to manual grading of some questions.

Many students are pretty good at guessing on multiple choice tests, but are terrible at pulling up knowledge from nowhere or doing any kind of analysis, much less writing it in any coherent fashion. Even at the college level, most students a poor writers, have little knowledge of history or current news. Which brings up a host of other questions I could discuss, but will leave for another time.


I accidentally butt-dialed Deirdre (Dede) Lovejoy this morning. Dede is a professional actress of some note (The Wire, Lucky Guy, Bones), and the daughter of Marcia Fulmer. She called back. I awkwardly told her it was accidental, and let it go at that.

Accidentally calling someone from your pocket, or butt-dialling, is a completely cell phone phenomenon. It’s not the equivalent of the land-line era “wrong number,” because it’s actually a RIGHT number. Just dialed at the wrong time. What’s the protocol for this issue? Mine is this: If the recipient’s phone has only rung once, I hang up in hopes they will not have gotten a ring at their end, or if they have, they’ll know that one ring indicates it was a mistake. If it’s rung more than once, I will stay on the line and then apologize for accidentally dialing someone.

For some reason, on the iPhone, I’m particularly prone to this. It’s a touch-screen thing. It never happened with physical buttons on a phone. Sometimes progress simply presents us with a new set of problems. 

Introspection

Noted and read an article from the U.K. with headline "Loneliness is as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day." Read the article to see if I am "lonely." Apparently not. Most of the time. But what does it mean that I checked?

March Gallery Show

I'm going to have a gallery show of my photos in March of 2018.  Between 15 and 20 images, some yet to be created I'm guessing.  It will be in my hometown, Elkhart, Indiana, at the Elkhart Art League. I'll have more info as the time approaches. 

End of May

Jim Pickley
Jazz Pianist

You know you're getting older when certain things start happening (no, this isn't one of those joke posts).  One of the most distressing is the increasing frequency of deaths among those with whom you went to high school.  Many of you know I lost my wife two years ago.  It still hurts.  One of my closest friends died exactly seven weeks later.  That still hurts too.  

People you're close to become part of your routine,  They're your "go to" people when you want to talk, laugh or joke about something that happened during the day.  They're a safe haven where you don't really have to worry about whether your shirt has a spot on it or you forgot to shave.  It's all ok with them.  I don't really have that kind of closeness at the moment. I have good friends; people I like a lot, but there's still that hole to be filled.   

Today we found out that Jim Pickley, a high school friend, my co-drum major for the Elkhart High School Band, and brilliant jazz pianist, died from cancer.  He started posting about his condition on Facebook a while back, with the last post being April 30.  He was already in hospice care, and said the pain was pretty bad.  We knew what was coming, but it doesn't make it any less sad.  Jim was a wonderful jazz player, who probably deserved more renown than he ever got, but jazz has always been a largely anonymous endeavor.  I was impressed with his ability when we were both in high school as well as when we both attended the Smith-Walbridge drum major camp during the summer of 1970.  He started banging out wonderful music on the camp's out-of-tune piano, and that's when I realized I would never play as well as he did.  But envy turned pretty quickly to admiration, partly because Jim was such a nice guy you couldn't help but like him.  Rest in peace, Jim. 

Photo Weekend

This weekend I attended a workshop with the interesting, energetic street photographer Valerie Jardin.  It was my first time meeting her, and she was just like she is on her terrific podcast, Hit the Streets with Valerie Jardin.  The weather was not too cooperative with constant rain the first day, but Valerie had a number of dryer alternatives, including visits to the Guthrie Theatre, a farmers' market, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and arts district.  No shortage of interesting backdrops or people.  

Street photography is an interesting sub-genre of photography that has become more popular in recent years with the advent of smaller, quieter digital cameras that produce professional results.  I was actually the Luddite of the bunch with my Canon DSLR, while most of the class were using one or another of the newer Fujifilm mirrorless cameras (Valerie is an official Fujifilm X photographer.) . But it didn't much matter when it came to results.    I learned a lot and enjoyed the weekend.  Will see Valerie again at the Out of Chicago conference in June in Chicago.  

Here's a gallery of some of my better shots from this weekend. 

I may have found my new favorite band.

While doing some research on a project, I ran across a band called Great Big Sea, from Newfoundland.  Celtic flavor, lots of fun.  Check them out. 

Great Big Sea

New tech to play with at the Bristol Opera House.

Sort of. No, it's not this website, or shiny new lights, or a retractable roof, but it's still cool, if a bit daunting.  Karen and I have been working on another improvement to the theatre's web presence (spearheaded by my daughter Demarée Dufour-Noneman last year).  This time it's a new ticketing system that will give Elkhart Civic Theatre a lot more marketing capability and user convenience than we've had for a while.  It will roll out over the next couple of months and won't really affect this season's sales much, and the public won't really see it until sometime in August, but we're excited.  The system has a number of marketing bells and whistles that will allow us eventually to sell season tickets online, remind patrons they have tickets for an upcoming show, and a lot more.  I know this isn't the typical post for a personal blog but I do think it's cool news and will benefit the theatre greatly.  

Starting Anew

This is a brand-new fresh personal website for my pictures, comments, rants, etc.  But largely for my pictures.  It's on SquareSpace, which is different, but I like the way the site work and looks.  I'm not really doing any major programming or web development anymore, and frankly I wanted to get away from it.  WordPress is great, but still feels like work.  This one doesn't as much.  I could be wrong about that, but I'm here for a year, at least.  This particular theme is recommended for online portfolios, and I think it looks good. so far.   

The old blog is here.  I jumped to SquareSpace because I like the way it works but importing the old WordPress blog is more difficult than just starting over.  Yeah, I can import it, but there were too many things to fix in order for it to look right here, and it comprises content going back to 2000 apparently. Hard to believe.