A video to prompt playtime memories

WIRED (which styles itself with all capital letters) just posted this 40-minute video on its YouTube channel, featuring commentary from the chief curator at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, about the most popular toys each year over the past 50 years.

I love learning about history and culture via oblique avenues like toys, food, clothing, tools, etc. And it’s sort of cool to realize that there’s a “play” museum counterpart to the “work”-focused museum (the Grohmann Museum) my office is in. So many interesting museums to visit in this world!

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In honor of Thanksgiving . . .

Here is a great article from Rolling Stone from five years ago (link HERE)  celebrating the 50th anniversary of Arlo Guthrie’s hilarious 18-minute musical saga recounting the consequences of taking out the garbage after Thanksgiving dinner.

And here is the “video” of that song (just the album cover and the original recording).

The church where Alice lived is now the Guthrie Center. If you’re ever in the Berkshires area of Massachusetts, you can visit it. You can hold your wedding or meeting there, enjoy a concert (with dinner and drinks), or take a yoga class. Every now and then you can even see Arlo Guthrie perform the song that made it famous.

Finally, here is a photo of the original page 25 Berkshire Eagle news story reporting the crime at the heart of Guthrie’s musical legend.

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No one plays here now

Or ever.

I pass this abandoned playground frequently, and during the late summer, as weeds grew up around the play equipment, I often thought about stopping to take a photo. Sometimes in slanted morning sunlight, mist hanging in the weeds among long shadows, the site looked almost haunted.

But the timing for a picture was never right. I was always on my way to places I needed to be. To park and slip through the fence to make my way over to the playground (through the weeds) would have taken like five minutes I never felt I had.

This past Saturday, though, I finally had some extra time and stopped—even though I didn’t really have decent light. Life is always about trade-offs, right? So, better than nothing😄

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Heat Waves😄

The little crinkle-flashes you see along the sidewalk are literally heat waves. There’s a set of vents about seven feet up the wall on the side of our Campus Center building that exhausts (exhales? like the building is alive and cares for us?) warm air.

On the bitterest days of winter this spot, about two-thirds of the way down the block, serves as a way station—an oasis, even—for me and a couple of other professors who need to escape the cold. If we’re walking from the CC to our building and the traffic light turns red as we approach the intersection, we turn right back around and go bask in the warm air under these vents until we get the green light.

Because why would anyone stand at the corner all exposed to the wind when they could linger beneath this vent’s tropical breezes about twenty yards away instead? It’s like getting a big, warm hug of encouragement—Hang in there, you can do this winter thing!—so that when the light changes, we have the fortitude to brave the cold again and hustle across Broadway to our offices.

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Gearing up for Great Books – Nazi VR and Man’s Search for Meaning

In between grading and meetings, today I’m also getting ready to lead the discussion of Viktor Frankl’s classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Wednesday night at MSOE’s Great Books Dinner & Discussion event.

As part of my prep, I found a short film, Nazi VR, which tells the story of Reinhold Hanning, a 94-year-old former SS guard at Auschwitz who last spring was tried and convicted of war crimes (170,000 counts of murder, which covers the number of people who died at the camp during Hanning’s time there). Hanning claimed that because his job did not place him in a position to have seen what was happening at the camp, he could not have known about people dying in the gas chambers and was therefore not guilty of murder.

I had already read articles about this trial last spring and found it fascinating  that forensic VR engineers were able to use current film footage of Auschwitz along with blueprints of the original (now long vanished) buildings to construct a virtual reality reincarnation of the death camp as it would have looked during Hanning’s tenure. The VR model allowed the judge to see what Hanning actually could have seen from his post, and that was convincing enough to lead to the “guilty” verdict.

Here is a very short clip I found on YouTube demonstrating the VR replica. As you can see, the graphics are very similar to what you’d see while playing a video game.

And here is the longer film, clocking in at around 16 minutes. This one also shows VR’s capabilities for 3-D crime scene recreation, which I think is really intriguing because once you’ve done the scan, investigators can return too the scene again and again to examine the evidence, and even use algorithms to calculate bullet direction and pinpoint where shots came from, even superimposing the bullet’s path onto the VR image.

All this is only tangentially related to the philosopy and description of logotherapy at the heart of Frankl’s book, but because he was imprisoned at Auschwitz and spends the first part of his memoir recounting the horrors of that place (and other camps he spent time in), it’s relevant. So I imagine some of this will wind up in my booklet of background materials I always distribute to participants.

In any case, I’m feeling rather pleased with myself for so very efficiently managing to get a blog post up while at the same time prepping for my discussion 🙂

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Salt shadows

Took these pictures yesterday on my way back to the office from a meeting. These leaves must have been frozen to the ground when the wet, slushy snow hit. Then the salt went down, the temperature dropped, the air dried, the wind picked up, and the leaves blew away . . . leaving behind their clear outlines on the white-stained sidewalk.

I walked around with white salt powder smudged all over the front of my black coat yesterday, thanks to leaning into the rear of my car to get my briefcase out first thing in the morning. I’d forgotten that aspect of winter. So it was kind of nice to see salt stains on the sidewalk serving as a frame for the autumn we really didn’t have this year. At least there was something artistic about the effect it created. Unlike my coat, which just looked filthy.

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Daylight savings (robbing Peter to pay Paul)

These first evenings after daylight savings time ends are always disorienting. When you’re used to leaving work under an orange, twilight sky, the abrupt shift to stepping out into darkness is too jarring to make sense of.

For example, my first reaction to seeing this activity outside my building Monday night?

Why is there a FOOD TRUCK in the middle of the street?????

In the unfamiliar after-work darkness, my image processing glitched, translating all the individual elements of this scene—the truck, the street, the “awning,” and the “customers” lined up at the window—into my wildly incorrect gestalt conclusion.

A few minutes later I stopped at a red light on Juneau immediately north of Fiserv Forum. Again, the darkness changed how things presented themselves to me.

Although I drive past here all the time, I really noticed the odd (whimsical?) nighttime colors tonight, especially the purple and orange. The purple makes sense, as it’s one of the colors associated with the arena’s Milwaukee Bucks, but I don’t know the story (if there is one) behind the choice of orange for Fiserv Forum’s signs, both here on the ground (for photo ops) and up flat on the roof (for viewing from the air).

Anyway, it all looked so different and new in the darkness that I felt compelled to take a photo. And now, also, to share 😄

By the way, my post’s title refers to that sleight-of-hand con whereby we “save” daylight for summer by stealing it from winter and leaving us with the long, bitter cold darkness that constitutes life in Wisconsin, November through April.

A bit overly dramatic but completely justified whining! We had a few inches of snow on Halloween, more snow yesterday, and temperatures in the twenties today.

Poor us😩😂

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And the sun came out . . .

Very windy rain showers hit Milwaukee around mid-day today. I took this series of photos from my office window after returning from a couple of meetings around three o’clock.

For some reason the title of a favorite picture book of my younger daughter’s popped into my head. The Rain Came Down is a charming, beautifully structured and illustrated story, highly recommended if you have children in your life around ages 3 to 5, maybe even up to 7 years old. The story introduces various people in a city going about their business and then losing their tempers when a sudden squall hits. Finally, as the sun comes out, they calm down and make nice with each other, bringing equilibrium and equanimity to the still-dripping disorder.

Obviously my little “picture book” blog post today shows only the downpour’s happy ending, so I titled it accordingly 🙂

Posted in Books and reading, Life, Milwaukee, Photography | Tagged | 1 Comment

BMO Tower name goes up

The name was going up on the new BMO Tower in downtown Milwaukee when I took this photo Friday afternoon.

I love all the construction going on around Milwaukee. This city has always felt like the biggest small town in America to me, and I don’t want that to change. On the other hand, I’ve also always believed that things are either growing or dying and that there is no true stasis. Construction equals growth to me, therefore “life,” and a signal that the city going in the right direction. (Because “dying” would be going in the wrong direction 😂)

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What one ponders during meetings

Well, not all the time, of course. But one’s gaze does tend to wander when certain people talk. And if it’s a sunny day, certain areas of brightness and shadow outside the windows do tend to capture one’s attention, especially if the horizontal black lines of the window shades so nicely complement the vertically aligned composition of said areas of light and shadow . . . .

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