Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wednesday, 8/15

Well, the song choice was interesting, to say the least.

As I've written in here many times before, we live in one of the most densely packed neighborhoods in Marquette. Houses and yards sit right next to each other, and you're quite aware that you live on a block with an awful lot of other people. Even though we live on the second floor of our building, there's a building next to us where people also live on the second (and third) floors. It's maybe 20 feet away from our place. And on warm days, when we have our living room windows open and they have their windows open, we pretty much know what each other is doing.

Normally, that's not a problem, although it has, on occasion, led to some rather, well, interesting moments. Not recently, though. Recently it's led to a lot of loud music being fed into our living room whether we want it or not, courtesy of the people who have the apartment on the second floor in the building next door. And it's usually not good music. Usually, it's just some kind of droning techno-beat with no lyrics. It's not my favorite kind of music, and it's led Loraine to wonder if the people living next door know of these things called “earbuds”.

But not Monday night. Monday night, when it was still 85 degrees at 8pm, I went into our living room to do a little packing for the trip, and after awhile I heard the neighbors fire up their sound system. Except it wasn't the usual droning techno-beat. Instead, it was the same song on repeat, over and over again.

And that's how I was able to listen to “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” either eight or nine times.

I kind of lost track after a while as to how many times it actually played, which is why I don't know exactly the number of times I heard it. Plus, my mind was reeling with other thoughts—why, after weeks of droning techno-beats, was Gordon Lightfoot all of a sudden on the main stage? And why on a constant repeat? Was the person next door (a college student) studying the sinking of the ship, and needed a little mood music? Were they learning to play it for some reason, and just needed to hear it over and over? Did they put the song on and then pass out, not realizing it was on repeat?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Alas and alack, there was not a repeat performance last night. In fact, there wasn't any music from next door last night, even though our windows were still open. I don't know if the neighbors weren't home, or just not in the mood for blaring out their tunes, or were just embarrassed by the non-stop Gordon fest from the previous evening. Or, just maybe, they took Loraine's hint and looked up the word “earbuds” on Google. Either way, I was spared both the droning techno-beat AND a Gordon Lightfoot marathon.

It was a different way to spend a Tuesday night.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tuesday, 8/14

We leave for Germany two weeks form today (yikes!). And since I haven't used my big camera, my Nikon, since we visited Loraine's parents in May (double yikes), and since it's the camera I usually bring to Europe, I went out this weekend to see if I still knew how to use it.

Luckily, I think I do. But you get to judge for yourself. What did I see when I sent out Sunday? Well, I saw turtles with hats--

I saw a baby stroller in the strangest of places--

I saw one of my favorite old things in Marquette, the remaining part of the only ore dock that survived the Great Fire of 1868--

I saw a hidden message from construction workers with a pop culture-tilted sense of humor--

I saw one of my favorite views in Marquette--

I saw something more people should be using--

I saw that the monarch butterfly population in Marquette seems to be thriving--

And, sadly, I saw a sign of things to come--

I guess, in all, that I haven't forgotten how to use my camera. Good thing, too, as it gets pressed into service big time two weeks from today!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Monday, 8/13

A bunch of little things today to start the week--

First of all is a weird thought that popped into my head yesterday afternoon while eating an apple—do you leave the stem in when eating an apple, or do you twist it out? I don't know why the thought popped into my head; it just did. I personally twist the stem out. I don't know why; I mean, I could eat an apple with the stem in it. It wouldn't bother me at all. But for whatever reason, I always twist the stem out.

I guess I'm just weird like that.

And in regard to twisting the stem out of an apple—is/was there some kind of weird thing that goes along with how many twists it takes to get the stem out of the apple? You know; like if it takes four twists you'll kiss four people this year, or something strange like that? I seem to remember something along those lines from when I was a kid, but I don't remember any of the details. So if YOU know if I'm remembering this correctly or if I've just moved myself one step closer to heading off the deep end (a distinct possibility), let me know.

And thanks.

Secondly, I would like you to read this paragraph--

“In this paper, we develop a cascadic multigrid algorithm for fast computation of the Fiedler vector of a graph Laplacian, namely, the eigenvector corresponding to the second smallest eigenvalue. This vector has been found to have applications in fields such as graph partitioning and graph drawing. The algorithm is a purely algebraic approach based on a heavy edge coarsening scheme and pointwise smoothing for refinement. To gain theoretical insight, we also consider the related cascadic multigrid method in the geometric setting for elliptic eigenvalue problems and show its uniform convergence under certain assumptions. Numerical tests are presented for computing the Fiedler vector of several practical graphs, and numerical results show the efficiency and optimality of our proposed cascadic multigrid algorithm.”.

My question is this—did you understand it? Please say no. Please say that only a genius (or, in the case of the person who wrote it, a lineman for the Baltimore Ravens who's a math scholar) can understand it. Because, you know, if that's something most people understand and I don't; well, then, I even dumber than I thought I was.

And that's quite dumb!

Finally, while I haven't watched it yet, I've had several people tell me they viewed this weekend's “Ryan Report” with the world's biggest dork as a guest. And not one of those people said their TV blew up during the I'm guessing that's a good thing!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday, 8/10

I wonder how many names I'll butcher tomorrow?

That's a thought that always pops into my head anytime Finish-Line Announcer Jim makes an appearance, as he will tomorrow at the Ore-to-Shore. I mean, there are people coming across the line all the time, usually in groups of three or four. Their names pop up on a computer screen and then are replaced by names from new people coming across the line. So that only gives me a second or two look at the name, decide how I'm gonna pronounce it, and then spit it out.

So to whomever gets their name mispronounced tomorrow, I apologize in advance. I really do!

Actually, after 20 years of finish line announcing at both the Noque and the O2S, I feel fairly confident that I'll get many more names correct than I'll screw up. Practice, after all, does help, and I've had p[plenty of practice over the years. But I think I've also had good training in the matter in another way. After all, I used to host a telethon on TV, a telethon where I'd have to read pledges from people throughout the U.P. And if you can correctly read names from throughout the U.P., I'm guessing you can read names from anywhere in the world.

Wish me luck!

If you have the chance, you should make sure you get to one of the mass starts for the race tomorrow in Negaunee. They're like nothing you've ever seen; each has over 1,000 riders getting their race underway at the sound of a gun and a trumpet. It takes over five minutes for all of them to go by, and it's just an amazing sight. The Soft Race race (with, ahem, a dork announcing the start) begins at 9 at Lakeview School, while the Hard Rock gets underway at 945 in downtown Negaunee.

Trust me—you won't be disappointed!

And with that, I have to head to work to put together a couple of CDs of music to play during the festivities. Have yourself a great weekend, and like I said, if you have the chance, check out part of the race!

(PS—don't forget that if you're up REALLY early and you're REALLY bored Sunday morning, the episode of “The Ryan Report” that I'm on airs Sunday at (I think) 730. It will, thankfully, also be available for viewing online, so if you aren't up early and/or bored Sunday, you can watch it at a normal time. I'll share the link once it's available).

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thursday, 8/9

The skunks are back.

Those of you who’ve been reading these ramblings since the days of the dinosaurs may remember an ongoing “problem” Loraine and I discovered when we moved into our current apartment eleven years ago. Well, actually, we discovered two things—that drunk college students can make a lot of noise, and that, for some strange reasons, skunks seem to like our tightly packed little urban neighborhood. At least once a week for the first couple of years we lived here we would be treated to that olfactory wonder known as skunk spray wafting through the buildings, not a very nice treat when it’s warm out and you want to leave your windows open to let in a little air. Then one year, after road construction tore apart our neighborhood, the skunks seem to disappear. We had hoped it would be for good. . .

Unfortunately, it was not.

Almost a dozen nights now this summer we've had our windows open, enjoying a cooling breeze and wondering how many times the you can hear a gaggle of drunk college students go “woo hoo” in unison. And almost a dozen times I've had something tickle my nose, something that within seconds had me rushing to shut the windows.


I have no idea why (or how) skunks like our neighborhood. Like I said before, it’s a very tightly packed urban neighborhood; the houses are right next to each other, there aren’t a lot of big yards or trees, and there’s more concrete than grass & dirt. If I had to pick out one section of Marquette where I would guess skunks wouldn’t like to go it’d be ours. But apparently there’s something magical in our little section of the city, and it keeps drawing those wonders of nature back time and time again.

Aren’t we lucky?

I have no idea if this is now a permanent change to our neighborhood, or if there's just a plucky family of homesteading skunks that decided to give the area a try, soon to move on. I’m certainly hoping it’s the latter; after all, this is something you don’t want to have to deal with this on a nightly basis. You can shut noisy college students out with earplugs. I have yet to figure out anything that keeps the smell of skunk out of your nose.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday, 8/8

Kids these days.

I have a younger co-worker, who's in his mid 20s. He was talking to a compatriot of his; she's in her mid 20s, as well, and they were discussing a couple of people they were both hoping to interview. Since she's new to the area he was giving her a few pointers, which included this gem--

“They're in their early to mid 40s, which means they're on the cusp of being old”.

Yup. Kids these days.

I have to admit that my first reaction was to (literally) do a spit take. I was drinking tea and laughed so hard some shot out of my mouth. So if you happen to come into the station and see a stain caused by blueberry-acai tea...well, I apologize in advance. I couldn't help myself.

My second reaction was what I assume anyone at or past their early to mid 40s would do or say, and that was to shake my head at the wonder of it all. Yet I shouldn't be surprised.  I can't say this with any certainty, but something along those lines may have popped into my brain when I was in my mid 20s. Back then, I probably thought that anyone in the early to mid 40s was about to be old. And I was wrong. Really really wrong.

After all, when you get to be my age, you realize that it's actually people in their 60s or 70s who are really, really old.

That's a joke; after all, you're only as old as you feel. And I can see why someone in their 20s might feel like someone in their 40s is getting old. But I would also point out to people in their 20s that they themselves will one day be in their 40s—in fact, it'll happen much quicker than they think—and maybe they might want to modify what they're thinking.

Of course, there's no way anyone in their 20s would believe what I was saying. It's just one of those things you have to experience for yourself before you realize it's true. Maybe it's something you can't comprehend until you yourself have jumped over the cusp of being old.


I'm sure my co-worker has no idea that what he said was so funny, at least to me. But who knows—maybe, when he's in his early to mid 40s and on the “cusp” being old, he'll have a co-worker who makes a comment like he made, and he can then sit in his office, shake his head, and mutter that wonderful phrase--

“Kids these days”.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tuesday, 8/7

I suppose I should get out & visit the park at least once. After all, it is named for part of my family.

I've been spending a lot of time riding the Iron Ore Heritage Trail this summer, and if you're familiar with the trail you know the park to which I'm referring. Just past where you cross County Road 492 right outside of Marquette, and the trail turns from pavement to gravel, you'll notice a bench and a sign pointing toward the “Schwemwood Park” trail-head. I usually keep going past it, but I really should stop one day and check it out.

After all, I'm part of the extended Schwemin family for whom it's named.

The park was donated to Marquette Township by my late great Aunt Evelyn (my grandfather's sister)15 or so years ago. It was the last part of the old Schwemin family farm that hadn't yet been sold off to & developed by Walmart, Michael's, and Starbucks (a process that was actually started by my parents, when they started their auto repair facility (now Lafayette Collision) 40 years ago). Right behind the strip malls & big box stores sits several acres of trees & trails, not something you'd expect in an insanely busy commercial district.

That's probably another reason I should actually pay it a visit.

And here's a third reason—I actually spent the first few years of my life just a couple of hundred feet from the park. In fact, even though I would have no memory of it, I probably was on the land quite a few times. You see, my parent's first home was on the edge of my mom's family's farm. The house, in fact, sat pretty much where the back driveway to Walmart is now located. For the first four or so years of my life I lived there, and have seen pictures of a young me in the woods behind the house So who knows—maybe I've been in the park, and just didn't know it.

I just haven't been there since it actually BECAME a park.

So on one of these trips I may have to take a few seconds, hop off my bike, and take a stroll through the trails. After all, there is a bit of history behind it, and unlike many of the historical things I study, it's actually a bit of family history.

And you don't get the chance to do that that often.