in cogitations

A Black Friday casualty


I regret to inform you that there’s been a death in the Journal Star family. His body was found today in the rain, splayed along the road to 1 News Plaza. We’ll miss him dearly.

PEORIA – Henry Bartholomew Antwerp, 4, of Peoria, Ill., passed away unexpectedly on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, while standing guard along the drive to 1 News Plaza.

A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Grand View Drive pavilion. All groundhogs are invited to attend. Burial will follow at Springdale Cemetery. Visitation for Henry will be from now until Wednesday at the spot of his death (please be aware of traffic.)

Memorials may be made to Keep Eyes on Groundhogs (KEG) and the National Audubon Society.

Henry was born on July 4, 2011, in Peoria Heights, Ill., the son of Karl and Melinda (Peepow) Antwerp. Although never formally educated, he often read the Journal Star as copies would fall from the open doors of delivery trucks racing down the hill. He may have been married, but a groundhog never tells.

He proudly stood guard at 1 News Plaza from October until November 2015, occasionally munching on food near the bottom of the hill, but usually lounging right along the winding drive to the newsroom. He was never one to stand on his hind legs and was never heard whistling in alarm.

Henry was a lifelong member of the Marmot Militia. Being a groundhog was not just his occupation, but a passion.

Most of all, he loved his newspaper family.

He was preceded in death by his parents and is survived by no one but the employees of the Journal Star.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could
if a woodchuck could chuck wood!



The celestial phenomena and you!

The most spectacular [Perseids] since at least 2008,” eh? I packed up some blankets, a tripod, a camera rarely used, a flashlight that has a crank on the side so you’ll never need batteries again, a can of bug spray with a broken top nozzle, a tiny can of Perrier, the girlfriend who loves to sip them.


Ding! It’s that easy when you concentrate on in-the-moment enjoyment and just randomly jam on the camera shutter a few times. Fewer than 19 frames total! We tried reclining in the car with the moonroof open, but there’s not nearly enough sky visible. Leaning against the car while standing is a classic pose for a reason.

And these meteors were plentiful! We called it quits around 1:30 a.m., but not before witnessing a good many bright streaks, faint blips and everything in between for 45 minutes. Fog rolled in midway, adding a very sinister effect when paired with Peoria’s light pollution. My accidental frame was captured and we threw everything back in the car and attempted the deer avoidance dance to get back to beds and not enough sleep.

A perfect night with one hiccup.

I have one/two Micro Four Thirds cameras with lenses and I’m beginning to absolutely hate them. The focusing for most is fly-by-wire – and impossible in darkness. Some controls are physical, but too many are still buried in menus that invoke the light of a million suns with every click. I finally settled on a manual-focus fisheye that got the job done.

It’s been over three years since I became management at the newspaper and ended my shooting days. Time to buy my own dSLR for the first time since 2004. Portability is pointless when an iPhone will do 95% of the time.

Thanks for humoring me with the Perseids, Katie. They appreciated the attention.

katie and me

Please hit “pause”

I’m back in Saugutuck, Michigan on what is ostensibly my birthday weekend getaway. Summer brings the masses to Lake Michigan shorelines, so some carefully hinted birthday language secured us a roof over our heads in a town with no room.

It stormed last night. I could never see a bolt of lightning, but the entire sky canopy blinked on and off like a LifeTouch portrait session. We waited it out and then found the nearest beach. It required an unplanned hike through the woods. I imagined thirsty ticks crawling up my pale chicken legs, which were unnaturally exposed in a pair of shorts. I never wear shorts. Finally, a bright opening in the shadows and we were thrust into sensory overload.   

Beautiful, sure, but the hike back to the car will be all that we remember. No map, poorly marked trails and we’re lost. Stupid lost. We’re amid bros on a disc golf course, too proud to ask for directions. Katie is annoyed (with me) and wants to head back into the woods to pick up the correct trail. I convince her that wandering further out into the unknown is what got us to America in the first place. My way is stupid, but gives us a few more pretty things. 

Back in the car, I managed to get us lost once again.

Episode 108: “Requiem for a Heavyweight”

Pow! Right in the kisser! Requiem for a Heavyweight gives us a first-person perspective of what it’s like to be punched in the face by Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali.) Ouch. But that’s not as bad as sitting beneath a giant swing-arm desk lamp, sweating for a podcast recording. Take a good look in the mirror and then say goodbye to what you see.

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