Follow the inconsistencies: one tape, two very different explanations

This morning, I was doing a little rereading of a blog post—the one from September 2, in which I wrote about the first time our Ohio Court of Claims mediation process had been declared a failure. At that point of the saga, the university hadn’t been able to provide me with a copy of the hockey coach tape, and there was nothing left for us to do but bid our adieus and hang up.

Here are the sentences in that blog post that are currently speaking to my soul:

Oh, there’s one other option, I suppose. The university has indicated through their lawyer that the recording may well exist but is damaged, and they sent the following photo of a tape titled “HOCKEY TAPE #2 (EDIT).” (There wasn’t a tape labeled HOCKEY TAPE #1, and the tape that was in the same box was recorded over and unrelated to hockey.) 

“Oh, yeah!” thought I. “The tape that was in the same box!”

Over the course of the summer and fall, I had no idea where university representatives were actually looking for the unposted Oral History Project recordings. I knew they were looking somewhere in University Archives, but I didn’t know the exact locations. If they found a tape, they wouldn’t tell me where it was found.

Granted, I had the Excel sheet listing over 2000 recordings, housed in 22 boxes, which was provided to me by the Office of General Counsel. But those recordings had been described as mostly “back-up records of files that were digitized,” though they said there might also be some originals. In June 2022, several of us had gone through those 22 boxes searching for a tape of Carl Knox’s former secretary. We weren’t yet aware that a tape of Miami hockey coaches had been conducted for the Oral History Project and that it, too, hadn’t been posted online.

Several of the boxes we’d looked through during our visit in June 2022 before I’d heard about the Miami Hockey Coach tape; the CDS prefix stands for Center for Digital Scholarship

Last week, I learned that the university had indeed found Hockey Tape #2 (EDIT) in box CDS 18. We still don’t know where Hockey Tape 1 (EDIT) was found. So when the university’s lawyer was describing another tape in the same box, was he discussing the contents of Miami Hockey Tape #2—the ostensibly unedited tape that was listed on line #1718 of the Excel sheet and the one I requested in December through my public records request?

I now present to you the university’s lawyer’s very detailed explanation of that tape, which he sent to my lawyer on August 9, 2022:

“For the ‘Hockey’ request, the University has identified two tapes. The first tape was recorded over. It is not labeled ‘hockey tape 1’ but it was in the box with the second hockey tape. The second hockey tape is damaged.  Attached is a photo of the damaged tape for your reference. My understanding is that these tapes were not uploaded because the second tape was damaged. My understanding from the University is also that these tapes are a number of years old and that, at the time, the tapes were frequently reused for other projects. Apparently, the first tape only contains footage of a minor child playing a video game, which the University would not normally produce pursuant to a public records request. It is not clear who the minor child is, but it may have been a videorecording that was only made inadvertently, or to test the tape or the videorecorder when the footage was recorded.” 

First, the lawyer’s explanation about the university reusing tapes for other projects is misleading. It’s true that the Oral History Project folks had at one time reused tapes, but only after they were converted to DVD. Also, that practice stopped in June 2007 at the request of John Millard, who oversaw Digital Initiatives.

The big revelation here is that the university played a tape that representatives had ostensibly thought was related to hockey, but that only contained footage of a child playing a video game. Although he doesn’t specify the tape’s title, he does state that it was in the same box as the damaged hockey tape, which we now know was box CDS 18.

Now, I’d like you to compare the lawyer’s remarks with a replay of what Aimee Smart of the Office of General Counsel had written to me last week:

 “We see this request as a duplicate to your request from this past summer. We agree that the inventory log reflects that there is a tape labeled Miami Hockey Tape #2 in box CDS18. However, we searched this box when you made your initial request for the hockey tapes at the end of June 2022. When we reviewed box CDS18, we found one tape labeled Hockey Tape #2 (edit).  There was not a second tape labeled Miami Hockey Tape #2 in that box. In response to your most recent request, University Archives reviewed all the boxes associated with the inventory log to see if it was somehow misfiled in one of them. The tape was not in any of the boxes. John Millard also conducted a thorough search of his department and was unable to locate a tape labeled Miami Hockey Tape #2. Accordingly, we are unable to provide you with a responsive record. Please be aware that we have searched all reasonable locations for the Oral History’s Hockey interview. We have provided you with the only two copies of the interview that we were able to locate. We will deny any further requests for copies of this same Oral History hockey interview.“

So the university’s lawyer said in August that they’d played the second tape but it had been recorded over, while the university said that they couldn’t locate the second tape back in June and that they still can’t locate it even though they’ve searched everywhere.

Same tape, two wildly different explanations. I don’t know who to believe anymore.

Announcing: something new and something that’s growing very old

Let’s start with the fun news: we now have a chat room, a dedicated space on this blog site where you can discuss Tammen-related topics without interference from me. Oh, OK, I’ll be checking in now and then to make sure everyone’s getting along peaceably, but I won’t be approving each and every comment before they’re posted. 

Am I terrified? Oh good Lord, of course I am. Have you seen how some people treat one another online, especially if they’re using a pretend name? But you all seem like wonderful people and we’re going to give it a try. It could be fun! Or it could be a spectacular failure! But there’s no harm in giving it a shot, so OK, let’s do this.

The chat room—named Room 225 Fisher—is currently being field tested. Check it out!

My second bit of news has to do with Miami Hockey Tape #2, the unedited version, which was housed in a box labeled CDS 18 at University Archives. Shortly before Christmas, I submitted a public records request for that recording, and this past Friday, I received a response from Aimee Smart of the Office of General Counsel. 

Long story short: they don’t have it. No, I’m totally serious. They don’t have a tape that someone had typed up on an inventory sheet and placed in a box labeled CDS 18.

Short story long: Once upon a time, there were two hockey tapes that resided in box CDS 18 of University Archives. One had been edited (see line #1716) and the other ostensibly was the raw, uncut version (see line #1718). The tapes had presumably been sitting in that box for a long time…since 2009, perhaps. Still, they weren’t the oldest ones there. A tape from the same box originated in 1988. Another was from 1995. And there weren’t that many tapes in the box to begin with. According to the inventory, only 24 items were stored there, a veritable hodgepodge of mixed media. Some are miniDVs, others are VHS tapes, others are reel-to-reels, and there’s even a hard drive. If anything were removed, I’d think it would have been apparent.

The one-time contents of box CDS 18; the tape that’s highlighted in yellow is inexplicably missing; click on image for a closer view

But when the time came that the two hockey tapes were needed by members of the public—their raison d’être, so to speak—the edited version had been so badly damaged, so utterly destroyed, it was almost as if someone had been angry with it. As you know, it’s unwatchable. As for the other one… well, apparently the other one wasn’t long for this world either. It’s gone. It had seemingly been lifted from the box—it can’t very well leave on its own, right?—and then what? Was it tossed away, plastic case and all, like a paper towel or a leaky pen? Or did the purloiner put it in a place so obscure that people who should know its whereabouts were kept in the dark? 

Here were two tapes of the same interview, with two very different destinies, both equally doomed. And yet, at one moment in time, someone with archival expertise had held those tapes in their hands and determined that they were of sufficient usefulness that they should be inventoried and stored in a box among 22 other items in case someone might need them.

I mean…what are the odds? 

I’m including Ms. Smart’s comments in blue and a few of my thoughts beneath them in black.

************

We see this request as a duplicate to your request from this past summer. 

See, I disagree. Over the summer, we were negotiating over two damaged tapes—Hockey Tape 1, a tape that had turned up at the last minute in an undisclosed location, and Hockey Tape #2, which was in box CDS 18. Both tapes had the word “EDIT” in parentheses next to their titles. In my recent records request, I’m seeking a third tape that had never been mentioned before, and one that was ostensibly unedited and is potentially undamaged. That’s very different.

We agree that the inventory log reflects that there is a tape labeled Miami Hockey Tape #2 in box CDS18. 

OK, cool. Cool cool cool.

However, we searched this box when you made your initial request for the hockey tapes at the end of June 2022. When we reviewed box CDS18, we found one tape labeled Hockey Tape #2 (edit).  There was not a second tape labeled Miami Hockey Tape #2 in that box. 

Wow. Uncool and very troubling. It’s my understanding that University Archives never throws anything away. Also, if someone discarded it, wouldn’t that be a breach of Ohio’s Public Records Act?

In response to your most recent request, University Archives reviewed all the boxes associated with the inventory log to see if it was somehow misfiled in one of them. The tape was not in any of the boxes. 

I sincerely appreciate them looking through all of the boxes, but I still don’t understand how this happened. Again, University Archives, as a rule, doesn’t throw away its records. Also, if the edited tape always looked the way it does in its photo, you’d think they would have treated the unedited tape with even more care as opposed to removing it from the box. Why would someone leave the mangled-looking tape in box CDS 18 and remove the (presumably) decent-looking, unedited tape?

John Millard also conducted a thorough search of his department and was unable to locate a tape labeled Miami Hockey Tape #2. 

Mr. Millard, who oversaw Digital Initiatives for the Oral History Project, is indeed an important resource regarding this question. I’ve recently learned that the Miami Hockey Coach tape had been handed over to Digital Initiatives on June 17, 2009, a full month after the interview had taken place. According to the university, the tape never made it out of Digital Initiatives as a DVD. I would be interested to hear Mr. Millard’s recollections of what happened to that hockey coach tape. I can be reached at rontammenproject@gmail.com to schedule.

Accordingly, we are unable to provide you with a responsive record. Please be aware that we have searched all reasonable locations for the Oral History’s Hockey interview. We have provided you with the only two copies of the interview that we were able to locate. 

I find it interesting that the only two copies that University Archives seems to possess are edited versions. I’ll be searching somewhere else for an undamaged copy. Maybe we can even find the original. 

We will deny any further requests for copies of this same Oral History hockey interview.  

I realize that they’d like me to go away, I really do, but I don’t think they can say this. What if I were to provide a solid lead as to the unedited tape’s location—a location that they haven’t checked yet? Wouldn’t university officials like to find a good version of the hockey coach tape? They’re treating me as if it’s all my fault that a public record that was created to survive the ages has been misplaced or destroyed (the unedited tape) or irreparably damaged (the edited versions).

As for where another copy might be found, as I mentioned earlier, it took a full month before the people in Digital Initiatives received the tape. Where was the tape during that time period and who requested the edits?

I have my ideas, and that’s where I’ll be looking next.

On the extraordinarily, mind-bogglingly stupendous value of editors…and how they just may help us find the interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary

Do we have any editors in the crowd? If so, I’ll bet you’d like to take a whack at that title right about now, wouldn’t you?  Any adherents to William Strunk and E.B. White’s little gem of a book on writing and editing, The Elements of Style, can see that I’ve gone way over the limit on adverbs and adjectives. But I’m sorry…I mean this and I’m ready to break some rules to say so: editors are the bomb.

So, let’s see, let’s see…where were we? The last time we chatted, I was promising not to bother you with any more talk about the interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary unless something really big happened. Well, “really big” happens to be a really subjective phrase. What may seem like a nothing burger to some people can actually be steak tartare to the rest of us. (Or at least to the meat eaters in the crowd.) What’s more, the true appeal of what I’m about to impart to you is that this very big thing has been staring in all of our faces for months and months (and months). (Sorry, Bill and E.B., but I feel the situation calls for a little redundancy as well.)

Allow me to cut to the chase. You know those two hockey tapes that I’ve been in a legal battle over that just ended? The ones that were both in very bad shape, with the second one being totally unwatchable?

What’s that word in parentheses on both tapes?

EDIT.

Edit?

EDIT!

Right. So here’s the thing about the Oral History Project tapes: the folks who converted those tapes to DVDs were IT sorts of people.

They weren’t the content developer types.

It’s my understanding that, for the most part, the Oral History Project recordings weren’t edited—certainly not like the Broadcast News clip in the above link. But issues can and do happen—glitchy little tape problems or inaccuracies with the opening or closing credits or perhaps some issue that an interviewee had with what he or she said on a particular day.

I will venture to say that, on those rare occasions in which an edit or correction needed to be made to an Oral History Project recording, they weren’t made unless those edits or corrections were requested by a coordinator and/or program associate from the Oral History Project.

And the coordinators and program associates from the Oral History Project would have requested the edits after viewing the recording.

To the best of my knowledge, the Oral History Project folks had two ways of viewing the recording: as raw video footage through the viewfinder of their digital camcorder or as a completed DVD on their computers. Generally, they wouldn’t have viewed the recording until after it had been converted to DVD.

Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m saying that the presence of two edited hockey tapes is a strong indication that a DVD had indeed been made of the Miami hockey coaches. It also leads me to pose this question once more: why did Miami University officials send me damaged hockey recordings if there was a perfectly good unedited DVD lying around?

You may be thinking: that’s interesting, but how do we know if the DVD has anything to do with the interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary?

We don’t. But I subscribe to the saying that where there’s smoke, there’s generally fire. For me, if we can get past the smokescreens, we can find the answer.

Fortunately for us, we may be able to cut through the smokescreens soon. This past June, when several of us spent two days in University Archives trying to locate the Oral History Project recordings that weren’t posted to the bicentennial website, I was working from an Excel sheet of over 2000 recordings—many untitled—that university officials had sent me several months earlier. It was practically useless.

Practically. But now, it’s taken on new meaning.

Because after all of the waiting we’d done for “Hockey Tape #2 (Edit),” which has turned out to be utterly destroyed and impossible to watch (a nothing burger, if you will), I see that there’s another Miami Hockey Tape #2—one of the unedited variety, sitting in the same box as the edited tape, which is box number CDS 18 (hello, steak tartare!).

Obviously, university officials have access to the same Excel sheet I have. Why didn’t they send me that tape, the one occupying line 1718, instead of going to all of the trouble of securing a vendor and paying hundreds of dollars to attempt to repair the edited but unusable tape residing on line 1716?

I’ll just let that question hang there until we get a chance to view the unedited tape, which I requested this morning.

Wishing you a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanzaa. Also, Happy New Year—which, on April 19, will mark 70 years since Ron Tammen disappeared.

Also, be sure to try out the new comments box, where you can easily (I think) upload photos of your pets having fun this holiday season!

FAILURE! My wild ride through the Ohio Court of Claims has come to an end

Hello! I’m writing this blog post to let you know that my quasi lawsuit through the Ohio Court of Claims has officially ended with a sputter and a sad little splat. The university has finally produced Hockey Tape #2—sort of. It’s definitely in worse shape than Hockey Tape #1, since it’s only a few choppy images of Miami’s three hockey coaches with no sound. BUT, as I’d told the university’s lawyer during mediation, once they produced both recordings, I would voluntarily dismiss my complaint, and that’s what I ended up doing yesterday evening. Because I’m a woman of my word. And the last time I checked, that’s still a good thing.

It’s been a maddening couple of days in which I’ve been struggling with, in my view, the least user-friendly, nay, the most user-unfriendly computer platform I’ve ever experienced. (Note to Ohio Court of Claims: why do you even have a box for “Comments to Court” if no one from said court ostensibly reads the contents of said box? And why even have a box for “Client Reference Number” when no one seems to know what that is?”)

After the university’s lawyer submitted his motion for the court to dismiss my complaint on Wednesday afternoon, I only had a short window of time in which to submit my affidavit, which I’d been working on for days. 

I submitted that affidavit over….and over….and over, only to receive a “FAILURE” message hours later. My failures ranged from attaching PDFs (Exhibits A-E) that weren’t PDF-y enough, using the “Comments to Court” box to write my comments to the court, and sending my affidavit as a PDF document that had inactive URL addresses that were visible to the eye. The mere presence of an “http” would set that thing off.

Just as I was on my…let’s see…2nd day and 4th try, I think, that’s when the university’s Office of General Counsel sent me those raggedy, soundless images. Brilliant.

There was simply no freaking way that I was going to voluntarily dismiss my complaint without sending in my side of things first. I uploaded my affidavit as a document (Note to Ohio Court of Claims: why don’t you just say outright that the affidavit must be sent as a document, or in your vernacular: Filing, instead of having that confusing “Comments to Court” box?), and clicked on the option to “withdraw” my complaint. I knew I was sending them a mixed message but I didn’t care. I also didn’t know the difference between withdrawing a complaint and voluntarily dismissing a complaint, but I suppose I didn’t care about that either. (I still don’t.)

Some merciful soul accepted my affidavit this time (perhaps out of pity, having seen all of my failed attempts) and they added in the notes that I’d need to submit a form in which I voluntarily dismissed the complaint, which I did.

Here’s my affidavit. And here are my attachments, which you’ve no doubt seen before.

So, I guess this little skirmish has come to an end. I hadn’t planned to write a blog post about it, since it isn’t a big revelation. But I noticed a spike in visits yesterday, so it seems as though at least a few of you are interested in what I might have to say.

I have to say this: I still think that the university archivist had assigned number 10F-4-129 to an Oral History Project DVD and I’m still going to try to find it. I promise to do so quietly unless I discover something big.

Happy Friday to all who celebrate.

The hockey coach tape was produced for the Miami Stories Oral History Project. So why did so many people act so bizarrely as soon as I started sniffing around?

Oh, you guys. I’m tired, bummed, and as emotionally banged-up as a Miami Hockey Coach tape.

Long story short: the university sent me the opening 10 minutes of the hockey coach tape, and in the first few seconds, Miami broadcaster Steve Baker states very clearly that the interview was made for the Miami Stories Oral History Project. So there ‘ya have it. Question answered. 

As you can imagine, I have unresolved questions, mostly of the “why” variety. Because of the university’s weirdly evasive actions and non-responses to my questions concerning Carl Knox’s former secretary and the unposted recordings of the Oral History Project, I’ve been burrowing in this rabbit hole for nearly 2 years of my life (and yours). Because of their foot dragging during my Ohio Court of Claims complaint, I’m several thousand dollars poorer. I mean seriously…why?

The remainder of this blog will be devoted to some of the overriding questions that I’d like to pose to university officials. If you happen to be a university official and you’d like to offer up an answer or two, the comment box is now open!

For the rest of you, I’m really sorry, but I need to vent. Some of these issues you already know about. Others will be new to you. I’m pretty sure I’m in safe territory as far as the mediation is concerned, but as long as it’s true and I have documentation to prove it, I’m going there.

Of course, you’re all welcome to comment too!

Please be assured that, after today, unless we make an extraordinarily newsworthy discovery, I’ll spare you any more blog posts regarding the Miami Stories Oral History Project, Carl Knox’s former secretary, or the three stellar gentlemen we’ve come to know as the Miami Hockey Coaches. 

Here we go!

****************

Dear Miami University,

Can someone please tell me:

Why did the Office of General Counsel wait until June 2022 to inform me about the three boxes of Oral History Project documents sitting in University Archives, when I’d explicitly asked for those records through a public records request In April 2021? Why did they send 11 random electronic documents instead of pointing me to the three boxes which held exactly the types of documents I was requesting?

When I asked people affiliated with the Oral History Project if Carl Knox’s secretary was one of the three unposted recordings mentioned in an interim progress report, why didn’t they answer the question? Instead, they either said something like “I didn’t interview her,” or they flat-out ghosted me.

When I asked the same people which recordings weren’t posted online, why could no one remember a single example? Why couldn’t anyone at least recall the very sad day when the Miami Hockey Coaches tape was damaged so severely that they wouldn’t be able to use the recording?

Why did the OGC feel the need to pull the hockey coaches’ consent forms from their folder in University Archives shortly before I arrived on October 3 to look through those same consent forms? 

What’s more, why did the university wait until that same day, Monday, October 3, to send the mangled “Hockey Tape #2 (Edit)” to be repaired when—let’s see, how do I put this?—I’d thought that they’d already done so weeks earlier? (The tape is still being repaired.) 

Also, when I told the OGC rep about the missing consent forms, why did she claim that I hadn’t told anyone “in person,” otherwise someone would have helped me? Of course I’d told someone in person. Why did she also say that they’d placed the consent forms with the “good” hockey tape “while we wait for the other hockey tape to be repaired,” as if they’d been waiting around for the second tape, as opposed to sending it in that same day? Seriously, what was that about? 

How were university staff able to find the missing hockey coaches interview tape? According to university officials, it hasn’t been entered into ArchivesSpace, and it supposedly hasn’t been given an archive number or accessions number. Seriously, how’d they find it?

If the hockey coaches recording was destroyed as early in the process as the university claims, why didn’t they save the audio backup recording? Public universities, as a rule, are cost-conscious. I’d think they would’ve tried to salvage something from their efforts. They could have at least posted the audio online.

Why on October 13 did the OGC send me a recording of the Miami Hockey Coaches that was missing the first 5 minutes? That oversight makes no sense, especially since we now know that the Miami Stories Oral History Project is mentioned in those 5 minutes.

And finally this: why was a tape titled “Return to Steve” made available to one AGMIHTF researcher during her visit to University Archives earlier this month, yet, when I asked for the tape again for another researcher, OGC stepped in to say that “Return to Steve” is a mini DV cleaner tape, it’s not a public record, and the second researcher can’t have it? Why would a lawyer need to step in to tell me that it was a cleaner tape? Couldn’t an archivist have done that? 

I’ll stop there, though I’m also a little curious who Steve is.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I wish the news had been better, but, as you longtime followers know, it’s all part of the journey.

And now, please enjoy some photos of my boy Herbie, who’s currently on his annual Thanksgiving excursion to his uncles’ apartment in NYC. Tonight we’re staying in a hotel. Herbie loves hotels.

In honor of gaps and holes: how missing numbers and deleted video footage can provide clues to an interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary

On May 1, 2009, roughly two weeks before the hockey coach tape was recorded, the folks in Digital Initiatives were all caught up. Every single recording that had been sent to them thus far, right up to the Stewards of Campus Grounds and Natural Areas, recorded on April 14, had been converted to DVD. That had to feel good, since they’d been running behind throughout the project, and were now heading into the home stretch. The Miami Stories Oral History Project would be pretty much in the rearview mirror at the close of Alumni Weekend in June. 

Of course, more tapes would soon be on the way. On April 29, 2009, three renowned marching band directors had been interviewed, and on May 6, their recording was sent to D.I. (shorthand for Digital Initiatives) to be converted to DVD. The hockey coach tape was the very next recording that was made after the marching band directors and, one day later, the former mayor and police chief of Oxford would be interviewed. So that was the immediate line-up: first the marching band directors, then the hockey coaches, and then the Oxford city officials. (One other recording—that of Marjorie Miller Donovan—had been made the week before the marching band directors, but for some reason her tape was held back from D.I. for a little while longer. We’ll talk about her recording on another day because it offers some interesting clues regarding my current theory about what happened to an interview with Carl Knox’s former secretary.)

As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, once a videotape was converted to DVD, staff members representing the Oral History Project would review the disc for defects and then hand it off to the university archivist, who would assign an archive number. So if the marching band directors were assigned number 10F-4-128 and the Oxford officials were assigned 10F-4-130, what number do you think the archivist would have assigned the tape that was recorded smack dab in between? I’d put my money on 129, right? 

But that’s probably not exactly how things happened. Because that’s not how people generally do their jobs. When an archivist is busy archiving, that person isn’t likely to drop whatever they’re doing to assign a number to a DVD as soon as it lands in their inbox. I can imagine them waiting until at least several DVDs have accumulated—maybe saving that task for a Friday afternoon as a way to ease into the weekend. And if you, the archivist, are assigning numbers to DVDs that are in a pile or box, then the order in which you number those DVDs probably isn’t that crucial. There will be chronological sequences for sure, but not every interview will be numbered in the exact order in which it happened. 

Likewise, as in Marjorie Donovan’s case, tapes weren’t necessarily sent to D.I. in chronological order either. What’s more, the folks in D.I. had been experiencing logjams with incoming tapes, especially at the beginning. I’m sure they weren’t all that concerned if one tape jumped ahead in line before a tape that had been recorded earlier. On January 22, 2008, the university archivist was handed 22 DVDs to number. So yeah…the numbering process was more chronological-ish, especially at the beginning.

Recently, I shared with you my conclusion that the Miami Hockey Coaches recording had to have been assigned number 10F-4-129, which meant that it had to have been made into a DVD. I still feel that way. My logic is that, because the archivist had assigned the Oxford officials’ recording number 130, he had to have assigned the number 129 to the immediately preceding recording, which couldn’t have been anyone other than the hockey coaches. He wouldn’t purposely jump from 128 to 130 with no 129, would he? I mean, what’s the sense in having numbers if you’re not going to follow their, um, numericalness? Do numbers not count for anything? 

And so I submitted a public records request for the DVD labeled 10F-4-129, no matter who was on it. If it was the hockey coaches, that would be really interesting because I’d then want to know why the university has been sending me beat-up tapes when they had a perfectly good DVD. If it turned out to be someone other than the hockey coaches on the DVD, that would be interesting too. (Oh, who am I kidding? That would have been way better. Sorry, hockey coaches, but my hope is that Carl Knox’s former secretary is on that DVD, even if she happens to be sharing it with three or four others.)

The university responded last week. Here’s what Aimee Smart, in the Office of General Counsel, had to say:

“We do not have a responsive document as Archive Space [sic] does not have an entry for 10F-4-129. As a courtesy we have provided you with access to a google drive folder that contains screen shots of our system which shows that the numbers skip.”

Well, thanks, but I already knew that the numbers skip. I could see on the Special Collections web page that the numbers skip. I wrote a blog post about how the numbers skip.

Let’s think about the whole question of ‘skipped numbers’ a little more. Generally, the numbers were assigned more or less chronologically, but sometimes, as mentioned above, they were out of order and occasionally they did skip, especially at the beginning of the project. And when I say that the numbers occasionally skipped, I’m referring to both numbering systems: the accession numbers, which were assigned to a videotape by the computer Athena before the tape was hand carried to D.I., and the archive numbers, which were assigned to the DVDs by the archivist after they were returned from D.I. As far as why the numbers skipped a lot at the beginning, I have no idea. I don’t know how Athena assigned her numbers at the start but maybe the archivist was saving a place for tapes once they were returned, but then changed his mind? Maybe he…no, I got nothing. I don’t know why the numbers skipped so much, especially at the beginning.

So the argument the university is offering up is: There is no number 10F-4-129 in our records, therefore there is no DVD. No ArchivesSpace entry, no DVD. Capiche?

Oh, I capiche all right. But my counterpoint is that, to the best of my knowledge, an archive number was assigned to a DVD before it was entered into ArchivesSpace, and a DVD that wasn’t entered into the ArchivesSpace system could still be sitting in a box somewhere. Comprendez?

Look, I get it. They say that there can’t be a DVD if there’s no archive number and I say that there is most definitely an archive number—not to mention an accession number—so there has to be a DVD. We’ve found ourselves in a circular standoff.

But I’ve looked at both series of numbers every which way and there are distinct patterns—patterns that (imo) support my conclusion that there is a DVD floating around somewhere, hopefully with the number 10F-4-129 written in black marker on its front label. 

Let’s begin with the accession numbers that were assigned by Athena:

  • The last time an accession number was skipped prior to the taping of the hockey coaches happened rather coincidentally on May 19, 2008, exactly one year to the day before the Miami Hockey Coaches recording. Every tape after that date up to May 19, 2009, had been assigned an accession number and was passed along to Digital Initiatives. With the exception of accession number msv00110, which was ostensibly skipped, the same can be said for every tape after May 19, 2009, until the end of the Oral History Project.
  • The timing in which accession number msv00110 would have been assigned to a tape coincides perfectly with the date of the Miami Hockey Coaches recording.
  • If Digital Initiatives received the Miami Hockey Coaches tape, then the Miami Hockey Coaches tape must have been given an accession number. And there is no other possible accession number for the Miami Hockey Coaches tape than msv00110.

As for the university archivist’s archive numbers:

  • The archive numbers indeed skipped at times. In several cases, multiple numbers in a row were skipped. But this practice dropped substantially by the end of 2008. Throughout the entire Oral History Project, there were 31 skipped archive numbers, including (ostensibly) 10F-4-129. Twenty-seven skips occurred before November 2008, and most occurred well before then. 
  • The last time an archive number was skipped before the taping of the hockey coaches occurred on March 26, 2009. The skipped number was 10F-4-116. The next skipped archive number (ostensibly) was 10F-4-129, which coincides perfectly with accession number msv00110 and, therefore, the timing of the hockey coaches recording on May 19, 2009. 
  • After 10F-4-129, there were no more skipped archive numbers. If 10F-4-129 is indeed the same recording as accession number msv00110 (and therefore, the hockey coaches), then there were no skips from March 26, 2009, through the remainder of the Oral History Project. Put another way, at the time that the hockey coaches recording was made, all possible accession numbers and all possible archive numbers were being assigned. There were no additional skips.

Screenshot from a comparison of accession numbers to archive numbers. Numbers in brackets indicate skips. Click on image to see the entire document.

It’s one thing for a skip in numbering to occur on its own, be it a skipped accession number or a skipped archive number. But for a skip in an archive number to coincide with a skip in an accession number at the very same time in which a tape has supposedly entered the queue at Digital Initiatives…that’s very different. It tells me that the tape had indeed entered the system and was converted to a DVD but the DVD, if it still exists, is not where it should normally be.

Picture it sort of like this: You know the classic I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel are working at a candy factory? Their job is to wrap each chocolate as they come through on the conveyor belt. But then things go haywire. The candy starts coming in too fast, and they start missing pieces until, eventually, they start popping as many chocolates as they can into their mouths, not to mention shoving them into their hats and down their shirts. (I just watched it again and Lucy’s face at the end still makes me laugh cry.) 

Let’s say that each one of the unwrapped chocolates entering the conveyor belt was stamped with an incoming “candy” number (similar to a videotape’s accession number) and each one of the wrapped chocolates on its way out had another number on its wrapper (like the DVD’s archive number). Let’s also pretend that you and I are inspectors. My job is to monitor the candy and wrapper numbers at the head of the line and your job is to write down the wrapper number that corresponds to its candy number at the end. (Your job is way harder, but you’re extremely good at what you do.) 

If you see candy coming down the belt without a wrapper, that’s one that got by Lucy and Ethel. Those are the fails, which, in our analogy, would represent a videotape that entered Digital Initiatives but wasn’t made into a DVD. They’d have a candy (accession) number but no wrapper (archive) number.

If, on the other hand, a bunch of the candy winds up in Lucy’s and Ethel’s mouths, then you’ll begin to notice skips preceding the candy numbers that were successfully wrapped. So candy number msv00010 may be united with wrapper number 10F-4-15, but there are no signs of candy numbers msv00001-msv00009 on your inspection sheet. Likewise, if Lucy or Ethel accidentally knocked a wrapper or two or ten on the floor, then you’ll notice some skips with those numbers as well.

Still with me? 

But what if a chocolate is making its way down the conveyor belt, and Lucy wraps it, but the candy and its wrapper never show up at your end? My records show that they were both in line for processing at roughly the same time and that both seemed to make it past Lucy. As far as your inspection sheet goes, both the candy number (msv00110) and wrapper number (10F-4-129) appear to have been skipped at roughly the same time. But another possibility is that, in a moment of panic, Ethel may have grabbed one of the wrapped chocolates and stuffed it into her hat.

When Aimee Smart from Miami’s Office of General Counsel informed me that University Archives doesn’t have a DVD numbered 10F-4-129 because that number isn’t listed in ArchivesSpace, I asked missing-person expert and budding investigator Kira Pierson to pay a visit and have a look at the original tape that they’d sent me of the Miami Hockey Coaches. I wanted to know what the tape looked like physically. Specifically, I wanted to know how they’d even found it if they had no identifying numbers to go by, as they’ve asserted. Supposedly, they couldn’t even look for accession number msv00110, which I’d think would have been helpful. I also asked her to watch at least part of the tape if she had the time. Thankfully, she did have the time. Also thankfully, she recorded several video clips on her phone, which showed the five extra minutes of introductory material that university representatives had decided to leave off of my digitized version.

Cover to the Miami Hockey Coaches tape with no identifying numbers.

On Friday at 1:30 p.m., I’ll be calling in to the final mediation meeting. Other attendees will be representatives of Miami’s Office of General Counsel, Miami’s Ohio-taxpayer-funded lawyer, my me-funded lawyer, and the mediator from the Ohio Court of Claims. In addition to the questions that I plan to ask Miami’s OGC, I plan to thank them. No, seriously. Because if the university had been cooperative at the beginning of this complaint—if at the get-go they’d provided to me the three recordings that hadn’t been posted to the bicentennial website “for miscellaneous reasons,” as described in an interim progress report, we might have never arrived where we are. Ironically, it’s because of their, um, less-than-forthcoming words and actions that I believe we’re much closer to understanding what happened to the interview of Carl Knox’s former secretary.

Miami U officials sent me a hockey coach recording in which the first 5 minutes had been cut

That’s it. That’s the blog post.

Oh, nah, I guess I’ll say a little more. 

Remember the tape of the hockey coaches that I wrote about a month ago—the one that Miami officials referred to as the “good tape,” when in fact the quality was very bad?

I’ve come to learn that the recording that they digitized and shared with me via Google Drive was a little bit shorter than the original version they had. 

This new information comes to us courtesy of Kira Pierson, a friend of the AGMIHTF family who started the inspiringly successful Facebook page Butler County Ohio Missing, now Ohio Valley Missing, and who did some super sleuthing for me yesterday. During her visit to University Archives, Kira watched the original tape as it played on a monitor and took some video clips of it.

The tape was essentially the same as the one on my Google Drive, except the version that Kira watched had about 5 extra minutes at the beginning. In the new part, Miami broadcaster Steve Baker introduces former coaches Steve Cady and William Davidge and then-head-coach Enrico Blasi to listeners and lets folks know what the topic of discussion would be, which was the history of Miami’s hockey program.

Although background noise in the clip interferes with the sound at some points, I was able to decipher enough words to understand that these 5 minutes seem important. First, there doesn’t appear to be a reference to Miami’s Oral History Project. It sounds more like a radio program. In his opening remarks, Baker says “for the next hour or so, you’re going to hear all about Miami University hockey…” which is odd, since the recording I received runs the full 90 minutes. Some of that is in slo-mo, but, um….? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’ll be listening to the damaged tape again and actually timing it while listening. In addition, I’ve submitted a public records request for the missing 5 minutes.

Here’s what I don’t get: University officials had discovered the good tape sometime around September 14, but didn’t share the digitized version with me until October 13. You’d think that that would have been enough time for them to check, then double-check, and maybe even triple-check to make sure the tape they were sending me—the one that was being negotiated through their lawyer and my lawyer in front of a lawyer representing the Ohio Court of Claims office—was the entire tape.

The ‘Miami Hockey Coaches’ interview was made into a perfectly good, perfectly wonderful DVD. So why does the university keep sending me damaged tapes?

Oh. My. Gosh. You guys? Can someone please call the naysayers back in? I’m excited, I think you’re going to be excited, and I think they’re going to be excited too.

You know how the graphic I created on my latest post showed that if an archive number was assigned to an Oral History Project recording, then that recording had definitely been made into a DVD? What’s more, the archive number was assigned by the university archivist AFTER the DVD had been pronounced good and great and free of glitches? It was deemed to be a perfectly good and wonderful and awesome DVD.

WELL. 

As I said in my latest post, I’d recently submitted a public records request for the screenshots for accession number msv00110 in ArchivesSpace, a tracking database used by University Archives, hoping to find out if that number was linked to the tape that I’d surmised was the hockey coaches. Today, I was told that the university doesn’t use the msv numbers for its tracking on ArchivesSpace. 

OK, fine. Whatever.

That’s when I started searching the only other numbers I knew—the archive numbers, which, as I’ve just described here and in other posts, are the numbers that were assigned to DVDs.

The archive number that I deduced must have been assigned to the hockey coach tape was 10F-4-129 because it coincided with the timing in which the hockey coach interview had occurred and the number was missing in the archive numbers posted online for the Oral History Project. 

Think of that for a second: The archive number 10F-4-129 had been assigned to a perfectly good and wonderful DVD by the university archivist, but the title wasn’t listed anywhere online.

If you go to the Special Collections ArchivesSpace page and type 10F-4-129 in quotation marks, nothing will come up. We knew that would happen. But if you type in 10F-4-128 (again in quotes), do you know who pops up? The Marching Band Directors. (You need to click on the “Miami Stories Oral” link and do a command search for the number.) And if you type in 10F-4-130, up pop the Village of Oxford Mayor and Chief of Police. Those two titles probably sound familiar to you since we’ve discussed them before.

According to the latest version of the Progress Log that I have, when the Miami hockey coaches were interviewed on May 19, 2009, the only other interview that was being converted into a DVD at that time were the Marching Band Directors, whose tape had been sent to Digital Initiatives on May 6, 2009. Nearly all other preceding interviews had been converted to DVD and given an archive number by then. The day after the hockey coach interview—May 20, 2009—the Village of Oxford leaders were interviewed. So, again, the archive number for the Marching Band Directors is 10F-4-128 and the archive number for the Oxford officials is 10F-4-130. All of the other numbers after 10F-4-130 are taken by the other interviews, most of which happened after May 20. The Miami Hockey Coaches archive number has to be 10F-4-129, which means that it was made into a good and wonderful and glitch-free DVD. 

So again I ask, why is the university sending me beat-up tapes if there was a perfectly good DVD made? 

It makes me wonder what was actually on that DVD.

I think the hockey coach tape had been successfully converted to DVD…

(and why that matters)

Hi there! Let me open by saying that this post is for all you folks who are willing to go the distance with me, even if you’re not sure where we’re heading, even if you’re really, really tired of hearing about hockey coach tapes. I appreciate you all so much. For the several others who are 100% done with hockey and wish that I would get back to serving up red meat on Ron Tammen, please feel free to grab your things and go. I won’t be offended. Also, while I genuinely enjoy reading people’s comments, please note that I will no longer be approving comments from the naysayers on this matter, including “cynics, complainers, defeatists, downers, killjoys, misanthropes, sourpusses, gloomies, party poopers, and wet blankets.” Those comments don’t really help and they tend to ruin my day.

Besides, I think a girl who’s investigating what could potentially be a 70-year-long cover-up should be allowed to ask a few follow-ups now and again. No one said that this was going to be a stroll through the begonias.

What I’d like to discuss with you is why the Miami Hockey Coaches recording, which we now know for a fact exists, has me turning my rumply-coated, cigar-chomping self around seeking “just one more thing” before I hop in my jalopy and drive away.

First let’s discuss the overall protocol of how an Oral History Project (OHP) tape was made. The Oral History Project involved a ton of interviews with scads of people. As a result, organizers needed to establish a protocol that 1) followed a certain set of university rules and regulations, and 2) kept track of and preserved every recording as it made its way through the process. For every interview that had been scheduled, organizers had a lengthy checklist of things to do and forms to fill out. 

Here’s a graphic I created after distilling down the steps described in the OHP Program Associate Handbook to help us visualize how things generally worked:

On the day of the interview (at the top of our wheel), an important thing on the to-do list involved turning on a digital audio recorder at the same time that the video recorder was turned on. That way, each video would have a backup audio recording in case the video experienced technical difficulties. The OHP rep also needed to get consent forms signed and to fill out a documentation worksheet, which held important operational notes that would come in handy later when developing such things as opening credit slides, metatags, and so on.

After the interview, when the OHP rep returned to the office, they’d put the digital videotape, or DVT, in a box on the Oral History desk, and the consent forms and worksheets in a “to be entered” folder of sorts. The Program Associates Handbook doesn’t say what happened to the audio backup, but I’m sure it had a designated holding place too, just in case they needed it. They also added the date and title of the interview to the Progress Log as well as a Master Interview List, both housed on a shared drive.

The recording was now added to the data entry form on a designated computer, nicknamed Athena, which would assign the recording a tracking number and create a label. An OHP rep would carry the DVT and its tracking label to Digital Initiatives so that the tape could be finalized and converted to a DVD. Consent forms and the documentation worksheet were also moved into a folder indicating their recording was currently at Digital Initiatives.

After the recording was returned from Digital Initiatives, DVDs were examined for glitches and then distributed to various recipients, one being the university archivist, who would assign an archive number. Consent forms and documentation worksheets would then be moved into their respective “finished” folders, which were alphabetized according to a person’s name (consent forms) or the title of the recording (documentation worksheet).

There were other forms too, which we’ll discuss in a second, but in a nutshell, this was the protocol that was adhered to every single time. In the case of the hockey coach tape, we have the signed consent forms, but two essential components of the process haven’t been located among the records at University Archives: the documentation worksheet and the audio backup recording. 

Signs that the so-called Miami Hockey Coaches tape was successfully converted to DVD

The university’s explanation has been that the Miami Hockey Coaches recording wasn’t posted online because one of two tapes had been damaged. (The so-called “good” tape that I watched was in terrible shape, so I can’t wait to see the second damaged tape whenever it becomes available.) This would mean that the DVT had been irreparably damaged before a DVD could be created. When considering the above protocol, I can think of about four opportunities for damage to occur to the DVT: during the actual videotaping, during the trip back to the office, while being hand carried to Digital Initiatives, or during the conversion from DVT to DVD.

I’ve been told that bad things could happen during the conversion process in those days, especially if you walked away from the machinery and a mishap occurred while you were gone. Perhaps that’s indeed how the tape sustained its damage. But here’s my issue: it seems as though the tape had been converted to DVD. 

Here are the clues that the tape had been successfully converted:

First, the Miami Hockey Coaches are listed on what was referred to as the DVD cross-reference form. This form had three versions, one arranged by title, one by tracking number (aka the work panel number aka the accession number), and one by archive number. As I’ve mentioned in another post, I think that the tracking/work panel/accession number for the hockey coach tape was msv00110. The archive number would be assigned by the university archivist after he received the DVD.

Although the Program Associates Handbook doesn’t state when a recording would be added to the form, it would make sense that it would be added when the DVDs had been returned from Digital Initiatives. After all, it’s called the DVD cross-reference form—it’s literally the first word in the title.

Second, the consent forms for the hockey coaches were filed in the folder with the “finished” interviews, which would indicate that they’d made it all the way through the process.

Third, according to the Progress Log, Digital Initiatives had been fully caught up on all of its conversions by May 1, 2009, and their turnaround time was approximately 1-2 weeks after receiving a DVT. By the date of the hockey coach interview, May 19, 2009, there was only one other DVT in the queue: the Marching Band Directors. There was no reason for OHP reps not to forward the hockey coach tape to Digital Initiatives as soon as possible. This was especially true since the big Bicentennial Reunion Weekend was fast approaching—June 18-21 that year—and they were attempting to have as many recordings posted online by then as possible.

Fourth, in a July 2009 narrative report, the hockey coaches were touted as one of the latest interviews conducted by the OHP team. Based on the Project Log’s overall timetable, with one exception, it was taking roughly 28 days between the date of an interview session and the date when that interview had been provided to the university archivist, which means that it was essentially ready to be deployed online. The hockey coach tape should have been successfully converted to a DVD or irreparably damaged—whichever—by June 16, 2009. For them to mention the hockey coach tape in a July report indicates that there were no mess-ups during the conversion.

Fifth, an archive number appears to have been assigned to a recording that corresponds with the timing of the hockey coach tape. That archive number is 10F-4-129. If an archive number exists for the hockey coach tape, we can conclude that it had been successfully converted to DVD. 

Sixth, when I submitted a public records request for the audio backup recording, Aimee Smart, of the Office of General Counsel, provided this lengthy explanation: 

“We do not have a responsive record. The Oral History project originally intended to back-up the interviews with multiple tapes, dvds, etc. However, they made adjustments to the original plans as the project and the budget evolved.  In the case of the audio recording, time and digital storage capacity constraints forced them to only archive the final video file rather than the secondary media on the audio device. Eventually, the memory cards would have been reformatted and reused, recycled or otherwise disposed of as well as the cassette tape.  The original plan also included multiple DVD copies of the final videos for archives and complimentary copies for participants. They felt that it became impractical due to cost and time and because the DVD media proved to be less reliable than they had hoped. Accordingly, they reduced the number of physical copies being made and mostly ceased providing complimentary copies altogether. Instead, they focused more on archiving the final video files online for eventual streaming.” 

I believe the most important words occur in the fourth sentence: “In the case of the audio recording, time and digital storage capacity constraints forced them to only archive the final video file rather than the secondary media on the audio device.” 

In my opinion, if the DVT of three legendary hockey coaches had been damaged prior to its being converted to DVD, they wouldn’t have destroyed their remaining audio backup, despite the time and digital storage capacity constraints. Only after the DVD had been created would they destroy the audio.

What I’m getting at here is that, although the university claims that the hockey coach recording made it as far as step 3 of our wheel and went no further, there are signs that it successfully had achieved step 4 and was nearly ready for posting.

For this reason, I’ve submitted several additional public records requests to try to understand the situation a little better.

One request I submitted over two weeks ago is for the ArchivesSpace screenshots for accession number msv00110. As you may recall, ArchivesSpace is the University Archives’ database for tracking all of its accessions. Here’s what I’m hoping to learn:

  • If the screenshots confirm the accession number msv00110 pertains to the hockey coach recording, that would be consistent with the other OHP records. It would also be telling, since I’d given the university this accession number on August 9, 2022, when they were still trying to locate the recording. Under this scenario, they should have found the tape well before September 14, 2022, when they informed the Court of Claims of its existence.
  • If the screenshots also happen to mention an archive number for the hockey coach recording—such as 10F-4-129, for example—that will indicate that the tape had indeed been converted to DVD.
  • And if ArchivesSpace doesn’t have any records for accession number msv00110? That would mean that there had been a tape labeled msv00110, as assigned by Athena, but they ostensibly don’t have that tape anymore. 

The last option would obviously lead us to ask what was the title of that tape and what happened to it? 

And of course, there’s this pachyderm in the parlour: If the hockey coach tape had been successfully converted to DVD, then why are we messing around with the damaged tapes at all? Where’s the DVD?

See what I mean? More questions.

There’s a Miami Hockey Coach tape, and I just finished watching part one

Oh, you guys. I was mistaken, off-the-mark, and oh so very, very wrong. There really is an interview of Miami hockey coaches that ostensibly was conducted for the Oral History Project. I just watched what’s been referred to as the good tape, and there’s still more to come once the damaged tape is repaired. I’m very, very sorry for leading you all astray and getting your hopes up. I was so hopeful that Carl Knox’s former secretary might appear somewhere, anywhere. But after watching the tape from 00:00:00 to 01:30:32, I can assure you that she didn’t.

Let’s do a quick Q&A, OK?

Oh, that’s a bummer.

It is. I was sincerely hoping that I was right—but nope.

Which coaches were interviewed?

The coaches who were interviewed match the consent forms: broadcaster Steve Baker conducted the interview with Steve Cady, Enrico Blasi, and William Davidge.

Did they look younger?

Yes, they looked great, and I’d say they all looked about 13 years younger. They were also dressed in short-sleeved shirts, which matched the time of year that the consent forms were signed. They were definitely dressed appropriately for May 19, 2009, in Oxford, Ohio.

They actually talked for an hour-and-a-half?

I couldn’t believe it either. Yes, they really, truly did. 

What was the quality of the tape?

Bad. The good tape was unbelievably bad. There were weird slow-mo moments and checkerboard screen moments and it was extremely out-of-sync with the audio for most of the tape, and by extremely, I mean like by minutes versus milliseconds. So you’d be listening to Steve Cady talking but William Davidge would be gesturing and moving his mouth. Thankfully, everything synced up for the last 10 minutes or so of the tape. But the audio ran for 1 ½ hours with only one noticeable jump, so it must have run even longer.

What did they talk about?

You’re posing this question to someone who doesn’t know a lot about hockey, but they talked all about the history of Miami’s hockey program—the building of the program, their philosophy when recruiting student athletes, the cost-saving measures during road trips, the championship games—as well as life and family issues too. The word puck was mentioned at least twice. One story that I found compellingly human had to do with when Steve Cady was coach, and the team was traveling to an away game. Back then, on road trips, players were required to wear a coat and tie to dinner. When they were walking into the restaurant, he noticed that one of his players was still on the bus. So he went back and asked him why. The player said that he didn’t know how to tie his tie. So Steve tied it for him. That was my favorite moment on the tape.

Another story that Steve Cady told had to do with the naming of the new hockey building. He didn’t want the building to be named after him. He really didn’t. You can tell that he’s a modest person. But the first donor, who’d played hockey under him, insisted on it, and he eventually gave in. They all laughed about that. That’s the last story that’s told on part one.

What else did you think about the tape?

I’ve watched a number of the Oral History Project recordings. In my opinion, this one was by far the most interesting. All of the coaches seem like very kind people—super nice. There’s not an obnoxious jerk in the bunch. I can imagine that the hockey players who played for them would have loved them. 

Also, as I was watching it, I was thinking that it must have absolutely killed the people from the Oral History Project to have these legendary coaches telling such amazing stories on a tape that turned out to be unusable. I would have been physically ill—I probably would have puked—if I had to walk into someone’s office and tell them, “You know our Oral History Project recording where a renowned hockey broadcaster spent well over 1 ½ hours interviewing three legendary hockey coaches? Yeah, well, it got damaged really bad. So bad, in fact, that there is no possible way that we can use it.” I also had to wonder: what in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks happened to the tape? 

If the video is so bad, can they just post the audio online?

Well, that’s what I thought too. I would have thought they would have treated the audio backup as if it was Wu-Tang Clan performing “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.” But I recently submitted a public records request for the backup audio, and I heard from the OGC’s Aimee Smart today. Here’s the university’s response:

“We do not have a responsive record. The Oral History project originally intended to back-up the interviews with multiple tapes, dvds, etc. However, they made adjustments to the original plans as the project and the budget evolved.  In the case of the audio recording, time and digital storage capacity constraints forced them to only archive the final video file rather than the secondary media on the audio device. Eventually, the memory cards would have been reformatted and reused, recycled or otherwise disposed of as well as the cassette tape.  The original plan also included multiple DVD copies of the final videos for archives and complimentary copies for participants. They felt that it became impractical due to cost and time and because the DVD media proved to be less reliable than they had hoped. Accordingly, they reduced the number of physical copies being made and mostly ceased providing complimentary copies altogether. Instead, they focused more on archiving the final video files online for eventual streaming.”

Still, don’t you think they should have kept the audio if the videotape was already damaged?

Yeah, I would think so.

And if the video had been damaged later on, wouldn’t they have already converted the tape to DVD, so the damaged tape shouldn’t have mattered at that point?

Great point. So it’s almost as if the damage occurred during some fleeting point in time after they’d destroyed the audio because they’d felt confident in the quality of the videotape, yet before they’d had time to create the DVD, which by then, was usually within 2-3 weeks of taping. Hmmm.

Are you OK?

Oh, thanks. I’m bummed, because I felt as if we were on to something, and you have to admit that there were weirdnesses. But I’ll get over it. After all, we’re trying to find a recording of Carl Knox’s former secretary. I don’t want to waste time looking in the wrong place.

What kinds of weirdnesses?

I mentioned several of them in my recent write-up on the consent forms. Chief among them is how no one from the Oral History Project could name one interview that hadn’t been posted online. Not one. Don’t you think someone should have remembered filming those hockey coaches for over 1 ½ hours and then not being able to use the tape because…[fill in some unbelievably sad and unfortunate story here]. I’m one of those people who remembers ALL of my past mistakes—every single one of them—usually in Dolby vision. If I’d been involved with the Oral History Project, there is no way that that interview wouldn’t have sprung to my mind immediately as one of the most epic technological fails of my career.

Another weirdness was when, early on, I’d asked several Oral History Project representatives if one of the unposted interviews was with Carl Knox’s former secretary. Not one person answered my question. They either told me that they personally didn’t interview Carl Knox’s secretary or they said nothing at all.

There are other weirdnesses too, which I’ll keep to myself right now. 

What’s the plan?

As far as the Oral History Project is concerned, I’m still waiting on the damaged tape, therefore my Court of Claims complaint is still pending. I also have a couple remaining public records requests in mind.

In addition, I’ve heard back from Aimee Smart regarding my request yesterday having to do with Athena and the screenshots for all data fields pertaining to work panel control number 110, or msv00110. Here’s what she said:

“We do not have any responsive records as Athena was the name of the computer they were using for the project and not a software program. During that time period, some internal computers in digital initiatives were given names of Greek gods and goddesses. The computer has since been decommissioned.”

So bah on that too. But make no mistake: we know that Carl Knox’s former secretary was interviewed relatively recently (within the last 20 years or so) by someone at the university, and I believe it was with someone from the library. We also know that University Archives doesn’t throw anything away. And I’ve learned a ton about archival recordkeeping through all of this. 

So I’m down but not out. Not by a slap shot.

*************

Oops, I have one additional question to add:

You said the tape was “ostensibly” conducted for the Oral History Project. Why did you say that?

I used the word ostensibly because the tape begins at the 0 counter with Steve Cady already addressing a question. There’s no mention of the Oral History Project or of Miami’s bicentennial and there are no introductions as there are with the other Oral History Project recordings.