My wife and I did something yesterday that we had not done in years. We went to a shopping mall. It was delightful. There was that unique mall aroma of American consumerism; plastic, fabric, and perfume. Hard to describe, but you know it when you smell it.

I know there’s talk of recession and low consumer confidence, but the parking lots were nearly full, stores had plenty of merchandise, and shoppers were carrying purchases. My eyes saw a much brighter economic story than the ones I had heard. I will borrow the old Yogi Berra meme “No one’s going to the mall anymore – it’s too crowded.”

Over the past few days, we reached a few milestones in the return to semi-normalcy. My wife is putting in more work days at her office building and just left on a business flight to D.C. We ate indoors at a restaurant. I shopped maskless at a home improvement store. Those may not sound like much to those of you who chose to enter the post-COVID wild months ago, but for this hyper-cautious couple, they are significant steps.

One or both of us may eventually get a case of the virus. We trust our vaccinations will keep us out of the hospital. We still fear long COVID and will continue to wear a mask in risky indoor situations. But, for now, we are enjoying the newfound freedom.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.

Leo Tolstoy

Don’t Waste Your Breath

There is a kerfuffle in the Louisville area over some programming changes at one of our local public radio stations. Some people and formats have been dismissed and replaced with new hosts and sounds. If not for social media, it would have happened without my knowledge because I seldom listen to public radio these days, streaming or terrestrial. It has changed so much over the years that I barely recognize it. 

Our local public station’s snazzy logo. (Not jazzy, they’ve dropped jazz.)

I have enjoyed the intelligent quirkiness of public radio since my college days. I have grown older, and leaving has been a slow process. The Radio Reader died. Bob Edwards was fired. Garrison Keillor was fired. NPR news twisted itself into a both-siderism pretzel to treat lies the same as truth. Karl Kasell died. Funding credit announcer Frank Tavares was fired, and hyper-articulating Jessica Hansen was hired. Ira Glass’s vocal fry became the rage. David Dye left The World Cafe. Driveway Moments dwindled. The Splendid Table lost its splendor. Commercial programmer Jarl Mohn tinkered with everything, as he did when he was my boss. The voice of the host of All Things Considered continually reminded me of Kermit The Frog. The Louisville stations spent a small fortune on a five-note audio signature (a jingle) and could have derived similar results by opening it up as a competition among local creators. Before I stopped listening, I was tempted to offer a large money grant during pledge week only on the condition that no local announcer ever again pronounce the letter W as dub-ya.

From moaning over pet pronunciation peeves to grousing about technical shortcomings, the list of my personal irritations seemed endless, none of which were likely to change no matter how much money I pledged. After many years of gritting my teeth, it became evident that I was no longer the target audience for public radio. No honest broadcaster or streaming service will admit to considering the tastes of anyone over the age of 54, with 18 to 49 the sweet spot. I decided to leave rather than complain. Anyway, constantly griping about what the young folks are doing will get you branded as Grandpa Simpson.

As an ex-broadcaster and even a stint as a radio program director, I am keenly aware of the pressure to make changes and how angry listeners get when one plays programming chess with their favorite format or air personality. I have never mentioned my complaints to the local stations. I have dear friends who work there in both on-air and management positions. Besides, many of the things that irk me are at the national level, over which the locals have no control.

So, I left. They won’t miss me, and what I miss, well, that’s been gone for a long time. And that’s OK. I have more choices now than ever before. 

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager photo credit: Cornell Labs

It’s always exciting for a birder to add a new species to a life list. At my breakfast table today, I heard a call that was new to me. I pulled out my trusty Merlin Bird app, and it immediately and repeatedly identified the call as a Summer Tanager.

I searched the dense foliage behind my deck with binoculars but was unable to spot the bird. Now that I know one is in the area, I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

The Summer Tanager is a member of the Cardinal family, so it would be easy to see one from a distance and assume it’s a Cardinal. The call, however, was very distinctive and unmistakable. I may try putting out some orange halves since they are attracted to them, similar to Orioles.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

John Lubbock