Thoughts for the week’s end

Song number one is not a fuck you song
I’ll save that thought until later on
You want to know if there’s something wrong?
It’s nothing
It’s nothing

Fugazi, Song Number One

I’m not sure how I made it this far without listening to Fugazi, and maybe I’m forgetting something, but I think I did.

This week I listened to their first few albums and had a blast. Music like this always brings back the best memories of playing in rock and roll bands. Sometimes I’m not sure I had a great reason for stopping. I know my day job “demanded” a lot—I worked too much and got paid too little. Was it that I was broke and tired of driving my crappy car into the city every week for rehearsal? Of all the things I wrote about, why don’t I ever explain that!?

And how on earth is the Myspace page still up! There’s a throwback photo for you. 😂

Jeff posted about his comfort meal—grilled cheese and tomato soup with hard-boiled eggs—and asked for others’.

I’ve been thinking all week about my answer. There are a lot of great foods, but nothing that really pops into my brain as “comfort”. That said, I have a lot of great memories around grilled cheese and tomato soup (without the egg, which I should definitely try).

There’s a good chance Michelle and I made that for dinner at least 3 times a week when we first met. It was one of our meals of choice while hosteling in Ireland and is always a right answer. Once for St. Patrick’s Day we actually ordered Brennans bread and Knorr tomato soup mix from Ireland so that we could actually recreate the experience.

The photos I had on Instagram from that day are now on, which is nice. One perfect meal, which is absolutely comforting, is:

I very much enjoyed Om’s post, “Dealing with not knowing“. Please go read it and I will also steal a quote from Edvard Munch that he used:

I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

Edvard Munch, on why he painted the Scream

I am never going to look at that painting the same way again.

I’ve done well this week at maintaining focus. Last week’s “find a single focus” has started working pretty well.

First, I’ve paid a lot of attention to the way I think things should go and the way that things do go.

One example is that I often think I should start working by 8am in order to have a productive day and wrap things up by 5pm. But in reality, I’m never ready to sit and start working at 8am. I’d also like to be a bit more mindful to how the day begins. After accepting that, I moved how I thought about my schedule around and the days have started much nicer.

So thumbs up to accepting the reality of a 9am start when that’s when you start every day.

And second, I tricked my brain! Last week’s bookmark moving has completely paid off. Instead of reactionary visits to COVID dashboards and news sites, I have to go hunting for them. This usually causes me to just turn back to what I was doing, which is a welcome change.

Happy Friday—it’s pizza night. Stay safe and home. 🍕

Thoughts for the week’s end

“Find a single focus.”

Is what I wrote down on a few pieces of paper this week. Sometimes in large text! The repetition is starting to work. I’ve been closer to focused as the week goes on, but there is also just a lot going on!

The News and our collective reactions to The News has been the most detrimental to my focus and I changed a few things that have made an immediate impact.

  • I moved the Twitter icon to a different area of the screen on my phone. This causes me to hesitate before opening and I think reduced the number of times I went through with it.
  • I removed the app icons for The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The NY Times from one of the main screens (Android) so that now if I want to look at them I have to go hunting among all of the other apps. This process reminds me that it’s okay to avoid them for periods of the day and I usually stop.
  • I removed my COVID-19 and Regular Reads bookmark folders from the bookmarks toolbar. I was using those as quick shortcuts to various graphs and news sites. Because they were quick shortcuts, I… drum roll… quickly visited them!—frequently. Now that they are off screen, I am visiting them much less.
  • I re-added Twitter to my block list, something I first tried in January. This makes it harder for me to visit Twitter and reduces the amount of time I spend on it.

These are all strategies that help delay the delivery of updates. Just because things are happening in the world doesn’t mean I need to know them now. There’s nothing actionable I can do anyway!

I am grateful the population density of Pullman means daily walks outside can still happen in a responsible way without much effort.

We’ve been averaging 3 or so walks around the neighborhood each day. Luckily we have a nice (quaint?) primitive trail system a couple blocks away that can get us off pavement for a bit.

I only knew part of the Dry Fork Creek Natural Area’s backstory until I looked up that article just now. So great!

When I walked downtown to drop off our city bill the other day, the neighborhood seemed super quiet, which is a weird thing to think about a neighborhood that is already super quiet. I don’t doubt I’m projecting.

The espresso machine is fixed! Except it wasn’t the espresso machine.

Michelle cleaned the machine and replaced the silicone ring. We tried a thousand different grind settings, watched videos on proper tamping, started deciding there was just no hope, etc, etc…

Then, I decided to try and clean the grinder just in case there was something going on with that. I made it sparkle, but we still had bad coffee. And at some point, all of the coffee started tasting like garbage—except for the moka pot, which is proving to be exceptionally resilient.

And then! I finally looked up some troubleshooting info on Baratza’s website and saw that the plastic around our ring burr was in fact missing a few pieces. This explained the unknown plastic pieces I saw when I opened up the grinder. 🙂

These missing plastic pieces were causing (I think) the ring burr to be very unstable. This meant that it wobbled or otherwise moved around while the machine was grinding and the grind came out coarser than normal and super inconsistent.

I ordered a new ring burr from Baratza, received it a couple days later, and voila—beautiful, fine grinds. And espresso is back!

Baratza sets an excellent example. They make great grinders. Every piece of the grinder can be ordered on the web. And they included a “Don’t Dump It – Fix It!” sticker with the shipment that is going on the laptop. 🙌🏻

I enjoy Björk so much.

This week I found myself working chronologically through all of her standard albums, ignoring the live and remix releases.

Often, I’ll get my fix just by listening to Post. Army of Me is such a great opening track. I also find myself at Debut again and again—once again, Human Behavior is such a great opening track.

I’ve realized this week that I absolutely love Homogenic. There’s so many layers and the album just feels good all the way through.

When listening to Vespertine, I remembered that I somehow ended up listened to it while looking out the airplane window over Iceland one time and it was an almost magical soundscape. The next time I flew over Iceland I was very excited for the repeat.

I decided this time around that Medulla is the strangest album—though I really enjoy Who Is It and Triumph of a Heart.

Volta is a lot more fun than I remember and I’d like to hear her redo “Declare Independence” with a heavy metal backing band for some odd reason.

Biophilia is calming—there’s a perfect track for this era, “Virus”.

Vulnerica is excellent for brain getting work done.

And I’m not sure what to think of Utopia, it is getting late, but it feels similarly calming to Biophilia.

Anyhow. One day I’ll give her the same treatment I did Steve Earle 8 years ago. I need to revisit that post and fix all the Rdio links.

The first day of Spring came this week, the earliest it’s arrived in 124 days. We were lucky to have sun and I was lucky enough to go for a walk outside in a t-shirt.

I hope anyone reading this is doing well!


Thoughts for the week’s end

More than anything right now I want it to be warm enough that we can open all of the windows and the house can just take a nice deep breath.

I have worn my light jacket more than my heavy jacket in the last week while walking around the neighborhood and I’ve started using it as a relative happiness measure. Spring is almost here!

My favorite part about this jacket (or “technical hoodie”) is how I wasn’t even looking for one, but it was 50% off on a clearance rack, fits perfect, and is exactly what I need for non-rainy fall and spring days.

Of course somehow I’ve also found myself wearing a heavier hoodie over a long sleeve t-shirt when at home this week, which makes no sense at all.

I didn’t mention last week that I do realize people all over the world use a moka pot every day without a recipe. Dump pre-ground coffee into the basket until it’s kind of full, fill the base with water, screw the top on and put it on the stove.

I have no idea how this works for other people! I’ve failed miserably every time I try to be nonchalant about it. So I’m okay having a “recipe”. 😂

Tweeting is to talking what polling is to voting.

I really enjoyed Jill Lepore’s commentary in The New Yorker this week, “The Problems Inherent in Political Polling“.

Max von Sydow passed away. I didn’t recognize his name at first, but when I saw his face, I immediately remembered him (among many other roles) as Karl Oskar from The Emigrants, a movie that follows a 19th century Swedish family during their preparation for emigration to the United States. I read the book during our trip to Sweden last year and had a lot of fun using it as an imaginary gateway into what things may have been like.

I have a whole separate draft post recording how I’ve been processing COVID-19, so I’ll leave most of it out of here. But of course there are words to say.

Even though our county does not yet have a confirmed case (is it possible to confirm what you don’t test?), we are taking the approach of participating in social distancing. It seems to be the best thing to do early—even before you are at risk—to help the community at large. It worked in St. Louis in 1918.

That SARS-COV-2 appears to often be spread by people who do not show any symptoms helps solidify that as the right decision. Even as relatively low-risk carriers, we could increase the risk to our community.

Which means… tonight we had our first ever remote book club via Zoom! It worked out really, really well—much better than I expected. Still great people, still great conversation.

One thing I started to pick up on is how interesting it is to see everyone’s face at once. When you’re sitting around a table or on a couple of couches, you’re often turning your head to look at who is talking and not catching all of the reactions. I’m not sure which is better, because in person reactions are definitely more… personal? But it’s pretty cool.

Our book was Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers. It was an interesting and quick read, though I’m always wary of reading his books. I feel like a statistic repeater when I’m done.

“Did you know?”, “Did you know?”.

And then I’m not sure if I really know or if I’m just repeating statistics. Which is actually great for the thesis of the book because when I read Gladwell, I default to accepting that he’s writing the truth.

It was still a fun read and we had some great discussion around almost every chapter. So I’m happy to have read it, but I’m still wary of Gladwell. 😂

Today Happy Prime will have its first ever Friday lunch online instead of meeting downtown. It will be a bummer not to hang out in person, but I’m also interested to see how it goes.

Happy Friday! 🍻

Thoughts for the week’s end

This is the first presidential election in which there will be people eligible to vote who were born after the first presidential election in which I was eligible to vote.

I’m learning that your 40s are full of fun stats!

I didn’t vote in 2000, probably because I was lazy. One of the reasons I was probably lazy is because I thought Al Gore would carry Illinois anyway.

I did vote in 2004 for write-in candidate Ralph Nader. I knew Kerry would carry Illinois anyway, I wanted to try and support a more-than-two party system, and I generally liked Nader and the Green Party.

Nader is the last white male candidate I’ve voted for in a presidential election or primary.

  • 2008: Obama, my Senator from Illinois. So much hope! I don’t remember voting in the primary.
  • 2012: Jill Stein, as a poorly researched protest vote against the Obama administration’s drone use. But hey, it was the Pacific Green Party! This was before she (maybe?) became a foreign agent. And Obama was going to carry Oregon anyway.
  • 2016: Hillary in the primary, which apparently didn’t count because Washington democrats still held caucuses even though the state sent out primary ballots. Hillary in the general election.
  • 2020: Warren in the primary—I sent my ballot in a little over a week ago; the primary happens on March 11. That vote will count this time, though Warren dropped out this week, so any delegates will go elsewhere. It appears I’ll be voting for either Bernie or Biden in the general election.

“I stood in that voting booth, and I looked down at my name on the ballot and thought, ‘Wow kiddo, you’re not in Oklahoma anymore.’”

That’s a pretty endearing statement from Warren. I’m looking forward to the good work she’ll continue to do.

These illustrations of one star reviews in US National Parks (via Doug) are great. I have been to (I think) 8 of these parks and endorse none of the “reviews”—Capitol Reef bland!?—though I do appreciate the accurate description of the (also stunning) Grand Canyon as a “very, very large hole.”

In Stephen J. Pyne’s How the Canyon Became Grande, he covers how much of a wasteland the Grand Canyon was considered to be and how everyone pretty much avoided it for many, many, many years.

We subscribed to our local print paper for the second time since moving to Pullman. The website is just so not conducive to reading and, unlike larger metro area papers, you can get through it in 15 minutes over breakfast. And now I know the fire truck activity down the street the other day was a stove fire.

Bonus: our landlord writes a frequent opinion column and it’s good!

The espresso machine is on the fritz, so I’m using the moka pot for afternoon coffee while we wait for a replacement silicone steam ring. I was very happy to see I had written up a working recipe when we moved into this house a couple years ago and were blessed with a gas stove.

And sure enough: same coffee, same grind, same amount, perfect result!


Thoughts for the week’s end

The new Best Coast album, Always Tomorrow, is a nice rock album. I get some fun hints of Whitechocolatespaceegg era Liz Phair.

When I schedule a post in Gutenberg, leading zeros are stripped from the input for minute. This happens only in Firefox, which appears to treat input type="number" as an actual integer. Chrome seems to treat it as numeric, but accepts a string.

I reported the issue a little while ago, but ran into a nice article that explains why the Gov.UK design team went back to input type="text".

I hadn’t realized that inputmode="numeric" was a thing and I only vaguely remember seeing the pattern attribute before. Cool stuff!

I wrote up a silly question wondering if a roof spoiler would do anything to prevent heat loss. Jake responded with a great—”Spoiler alert”—and let me know it’s not a thermodynamics problem, but a heat exchange problem. He then lent me this super cool Etekcity Lasergrip 1080 pyrometer which I’ve been using to measure the temperature of pretty much every surface in the house.

I still want to sit down and do some math at some point, but the craziest thing I found is how most of our windows seem to do a pretty good job of being almost the same temperature as the walls on the inside. But! The skylight is always only a few degrees warmer than the outside temperature. So the nice window that lets in daylight appears to be allowing heat to just stream on through it as well.

So my guess is now that replacing that skylight would do more than a roof spoiler. Also, I’m buying one of these pyrometers because it’s super fun.

Another silly question hit my head that same day. How quickly does light pollution disappear?

It seems like it should be as simple as “at the speed of light”, but how far does that light have to travel before it doesn’t affect our theoretical view of the night sky given that our eyes would magically adjust immediately? Does light even work that way? I’m guessing milliseconds (microseconds?).

It’s fascinating to think that so few of us who live in or near cities have had the opportunity to see the Milky Way. And how upside down our world might feel if it appeared all of a sudden.

If I was the authoritarian mayor of a town.

Cars with GPS controlled speed limiters would be permitted on city streets. Others could park in lots at the edge of town and take a bus or tram to the center. The closer cars get to city center, the closer to walking speed the speed limiter is set. It would take you 5-10 minutes to drive through the center of a small town, and that’s okay.

A draft plan to reduce Pullman’s very car-centric Main Street down to two one-way lanes rather than three was approved by city council. I hope progress continues. It’s amazing how much land is dedicated to the movement of cars.

We watched David Byrne’s True Stories last weekend and it was so great. The general commentary on consumerism still fits after 34 years. The mall scene is a good preview.

When I posted a clip from the movie in Slack, Phil shared Byrne’s performance of I Wanna Dance With Somebody. It too is very well done and I’ve had the song in my head for almost a week now.

After watching that video, I looked up Byrne’s record label, Luaka Bop, and found both Bremer/McCoy’s Utopia and Domenico Lancellotti’s The Good is a Big God nice listens during the day. Marketing on band shirts works!