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 🙂

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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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“Found Object” — the overhead light in my office

I just noticed that the light fixture on my office ceiling is kind of interesting. I’ve been here twelve years, so how did I not see it before today? Answer: sometimes things don’t register until they’re viewed from an unusual angle. Not until I was putting in eyedrops just now (allergies, windy autumn day) did I realize how cool that light looks when you really LOOK at it. Just thought I’d “share the magic” with you😃

First . . . the light itself.

Then a closeup . . .

And another closeup from a slightly different angle (very slightly), which then registered the colors differently.

The pink and gold area (lavender and green in the photo above) reminds me of beading on a 1920s handbag, but it’s actually a metal grid, like a screen but less “fine,” covering the flourescent bulbs.

Fooling around with images is quick and easy fun, right? Now back to work.

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Gorgeous October sunset!

Taken tonight as I was leaving my office. I wanted to shoot a panorama so you could see the beautiful glow of all that orange light reflected and reflected again off of office building windows and down onto the streets and the MGIC grassy mall area and trees.

But there were several people around and the light was about to change AND a professor from the other side of campus, whom I never get to see anymore, was leaving work, too. So we walked to the parking garage together and had a really nice catch-up conversation.

Still, though, I am seriously regretting the shot that got away!

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Mid-century wall and windows – getting closer to getting it right

This wall of windows at Milwaukee Area Technical College has caught my eye for a long time. Not sure why, but the starkness of the pattern appeals to me.

Previous photos, like the one below taken through my car window last year at the traffic light on 6th Street looking west on Highland, didn’t capture what I “saw.” In this photo, snapped with my phone on the way home from work, the angle and distance from the the wall itself caused the image to portray it inaccurately, not at all the way I saw it, if that makes sense.

I finally managed to geta better picture (below) last week when I was stopped at the traffic light on Highland facing east into 6th Street, right across from Fiserv Forum. But I felt this photo had too many distractions, like the light pole, the shadow, and most of all the different shades/types of bricks.

It’s funny how the hazy late-afternoon sunlight in last year’s color version made the brick in that older photo less attractive than it is in the picture I took a week ago in bright morning sunlight. But in this closer-up version, I don’t like the weird, patchy switch to that other shade of brick. It’s as if they decided to close up a former doorway and replace it with a wall and window. I’m sure there’s some history there.

So . . . sigh. Although using an editing filter to change the photo to black and white solves the brick problem, I really liked last week’s color version better. If only the wall itself could have looked better, I’d have gotten a much nicer photo!

#blamethesubject 🙂

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