Thoughts for the week's end

At 40, I haven’t yet reached “get off my lawn“, and I’m fairly sure I never will. That said, I have firmly and unabashedly established myself as “why aren’t you wearing a coat?” and “put on a hat, it’s freezing outside!


I’m nearing the half-way mark of The British are Coming, the first of a trilogy covering the American Revolution. It’s been very readable so far and I did not expect to be this captured by the story. War is obviously so much more complex than the sparse history lessons we get in high school.

The thought I keep going back to is how much communication was required and how absolutely slow it was—especially when transatlantic. I was similarly fascinated during Moby Dick at how whaling vessels at sea for years might trade letters from general mail bags intended for someone on the ship or where that ship was heading.

And in degree, all this will hold true concerning whaling vessels crossing each other’s track on the cruising-ground itself, even though they are equally long absent from home. For one of them may have received a transfer of letters from some third, and now far remote vessel; and some of those letters may be for the people of the ship she now meets.

Moby Dick, Chapter 53 – The Gam.

So of course I now want to read a history of mail delivery. I searched a bit and landed on this bibliography of material in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries National Postal Museum Branch, which has a large list of books that seem topical.

The one that immediately stood out is Alvin Harlow’s Old Post Bags: the Story of the Sending of a Letter in Ancient and Modern Times, written in 1928. There’s barely any information about Alvin Harlow or the book online, but the description is right on, so I’ve ordered a used copy and we’ll see where that takes me. 📮


Out of 59 total, this is only the fourth US presidential election we’ve experienced through Twitter and (effectively) Facebook. It’s just the sixth since more than half of the US had internet access. And it’s the sixteenth (effectively) that can be considered televised, though really only the eleventh since 24 hour news became a thing and the sixth since Fox News and MSNBC arrived to compete with CNN.

What does that mean? I’m thinking it’s along the lines of: we receive an onslaught of information daily, we haven’t really figured out how to process that information as a collective, we don’t appear to be getting better at it, and campaigns will just keep doing what they do to take advantage of that.


I reread The Butter Battle Book this week after a very interesting conversation about politics and super PACs and whether it was okay to do what it takes to win this election with the tools at hand even if you disagree with them in principle.

It remains a very good book.


This new research on the effectiveness of espresso grind size was surprisingly interesting to read even though I skipped a bunch of the math.

In a nutshell: a coarser grind may provide a more consistent flavor even though it’s widely accepted (assumed?) that a finer grind leads to a better extraction and taste. The authors acknowledge that taste can’t be objectively measured, and that coffees may need to change accordingly, but they make an interesting case for what a reduction of coffee bean use by 25% would mean financially and ecologically.


In Twitter’s early-ish days, Brizzly was a site that—among other things—provided explanations (with an API!) for topics that were trending. I’d like something similar for music charts—like, why is the 1983 song, Break My Stride, suddenly charting in Sweden?

Also, I didn’t realize that Brizzly came back! This time around: “Type what you’d like to say in the box and it instantly disappears when you send it.”


It’s interesting how when we first started Happy Prime, the total number of items that were even available to focus on was like 5. A couple years in and I look around and realize the number of items grew quickly.

My immediate reaction is that a larger number of items should lead to more stress. My counter-reaction is that the variety of those items has probably helped inspire confidence that things are working and thus less stress.


In a locked down train station, a homicide detective conducts an interview with a tormented monkey.

If you have 17 minutes and a strange and endearing fascination with David Lynch, “What Did Jack Do?” is for you.

You’re welcome. 🙊

Reactions on “Thoughts for the week's end”

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Unexpectedly, I’m really enjoying these posts! I added The British Are Coming to Goodreads, although who knows when I’ll have time to get through it.

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