Feb 23

‘Hey kind friend’

I’m in the middle of the three longest days of the week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday and Friday will be postscript and epilogue. But yesterday was 10 hours, today was 10 hours and tomorrow is 12 hours. Tonight, tonight I had a bowl of soup for dinner at 9:30.

It isn’t the hardest work in the world, or overly demanding, but the hours do accumulate.

Also, despite my best efforts, no amazing anecdote emerged from the day. No outlandish story, discovery or incredible sequence of events fell into my lap. No astounding coincidence, tale with a surely fabricated punchline or other incredible thing happened. It was a Tuesday, he said, grateful that he did all of the ironing on Monday.

Some things from Mastodon, which is where all the cool kids are now that Twitter is sliding int its news inedible pot of broth.

Saw this on campus today and picked one up.

It’s a getting-on-our-feet first issue, 10 pages. Heavy on design, light on copy, but rich in information.

You wonder about the practical feasibility of research like this. It seems like we should have this and a few verifying elements of research and then, ya know, implement it.

But the corporate bosses don’t read studies like that, I’d bet.

Every time you turn around archeology is discovering a new not-so-small discovery that resets our understanding of what we understand. It says a lot about what we don’t yet understand, and all of the things there are to learn.

If you click through the link, and wait out the preroll ad, there’s a fantastic NPR package here.

I can’t go all the way to Charlottesville for a photo exhibit, but if I was at the University of Virginia, I would definitely spend some time with those displays.

It is once again time to clean up the browser a bit. These are some tabs I’ve been holding on to for … quite a while, as it turns out. Too good to close and never be found again — and bookmarks being a different, quixotic enterprise altogether, I guess — I’m collecting them here.

This one is dated 2021. Is it possible I’ve had it opened for that long?

A self-made millionaire and CEO shares 5 ‘quick tests’ he always uses during job interviews to decide whether to hire:

Having these quick tests in your back pocket helps you make smarter business decisions. Why? Because the more we think about something, the more our minds will try to play tricks on us. We second-guess, we let doubt and fear creep in, we hesitate, we overthink. The purpose of the five tests below is to get past all of that and get back to the truth that you’ve known deep down all along.

This is especially true regarding two of the most important decisions that managers at my company, Compass, make: When to hire someone, and when to pass on them.

All of those will strike you as general, but not incorrect.

I stumbled upon this sometime early last year and thought, “Clearly anyone can do this.”

I just need some canvas. (And paint. And artistic talent.)

This was a much more recent, perhaps realistic, find. Buckwheat chocolate chunk cookies:

I am a chocolate chunk girl all the way because they melt into the cookie so much better. In contrast, chocolate chips hold their chip shape even after they are baked due to their waxy coating. I also love the size variation that the chunks give. This recipe also doesn’t make you choose between milk chocolate or dark chocolate because it has both! The inner kid in me loves milk chocolate way too much to leave it out, and I think the sweetness balances out the bitterness from the dark chocolate perfectly. Always use good-quality chocolate — especially when it is the star ingredient.

This recipe yields a slightly thin cookie with the crispiest golden edges and a gooey center — just how a chocolate chip cookie should be! It calls for mostly all-purpose flour, with a touch of buckwheat flour. This addition adds a delicate texture and a hint of nuttiness. Lastly, a finish of flaky salt on top adds the perfect amount of crunch. Flaked salt just makes everything better — what can I say?

Say “Pass the cookies, please!”

Because of an impulsive decision to close some shopping sites, a decision no doubt brought on by a distinct lack of cookies available as of this writing, I am now down to just 30 tabs on my phone’s browser.

Today we also return to the Re-Listening project, which is where I’m working my way through all of my CDs, in order of acquisition. Not reviews, but sometimes memories, and most often an excuse to revisit music — most of it great!

This installment brings us to the late spring or early summer of 1997. I bought my second Indigo Girls CD. The first was the double-live “1200 Curfews,” this was a studio record, and “Shaming of the Sun” solidified my love for the band. I saw them that May and, thanks to the web, I can see the setlist.

Thin Line
Power of Two
Don’t Give That Girl a Gun
It’s Alright
Shed Your Skin
Get Out the Map
Scooter Boys
Everything in Its Own Time
Shame on You
Southland in the Springtime
Cut It Out
Chiapas Bound
Here I Am
Closer to Fine

Nine of those songs are on this record. I wish I could remember if I’d already bought it by then. Probably so. (I also saw them the next year, in Atlanta. I’ve seen the Indigo Girls more than anyone else, I imagine, and almost always as a two-piece.) It became their highest-charting album, at least in the United States. It hit number 7 on the Billboard 200.

The most important memories from this record would come still a decade later. The first two tracks are songs The Yankee and I sang together on a long car ride.

This is important because I don’t really sing in front of people, or sing with people outside of church. But it had been a good week and the sun was bright and the road was long and we were actually using an actual map.

Sometime later she made me a mix CD and that song is on there, too. We’ve also seen the Indigo Girls together twice, in Atlanta and Indianapolis. But for Covid, we would have seen them in Nashville too, just to round out the map a bit more.

The still-intriguing thing about this record is that it still fits at any time. Also, there’s a lot of message music on here. Protests and the like have never especially appealed to me, or sent me away, but the messaging is obvious, even to me. When I first got this I was still mostly taken by Emily Saliers’ incredible writing, even as I was starting to pay more attention to Amy Ray’s background vocals.

It was the next record when I would really learn to dive into everything Ray did. They compliment one another so well, of course. At the time, what Saliers wrote, the way she played, it all felt so true and intently earnest. And sometimes brooding and mysterious.

I just wasn’t hearing Ray yet, which seems hilarious in retrospect. (I have her entire catalog now, and I’ll ramble on and on about it in future installments, I’m sure of it.)

Those harmonies!

That’s why you sing along with a pretty girl, even if you’re not in the habit of making such a small thing about yourself available.

Feb 23

‘Only tomorrow leads the way’

Got up this morning in time to ride my bike. I got in 18 miles and about 1,500 feet of climbing. That makes four consecutive days of riding, and the rest of today, and tomorrow, and Thursday, as rest days. So tomorrow and Thursday are rest days. Little morning rides like that feel, later in the day, like they didn’t even happen.

The 2023 Zwift route tracker: 73 routes down, 51 to go. And, this weekend, three big climbs.

Later in the day, I taught someone had to tie a tie. Then he did it on the first try. Looked good, too. I’m not entirely convinced he wasn’t beginning some elaborate ploy, but if not, it was a big part of my contribution to the day.

Let’s close some tabs! These are things sitting on my phone. Some of them are too good or useful to X and forget. So we’re memorializing a few here each week. PSA: Do your browser a favor, and choose good tabs.

I don’t need this one anymore, because we had to replace some baking sheets. Some things are beyond cleaning, some things just need to be replaced. Marie Kondo speechs are being delivered. But maybe you’re not there. Maybe you’re here. How to clean a baking sheet in 3 easy steps:

Although cleaning a baking tray seems like it requires plenty of elbow-grease, it’s not that hard to do. All you need are a few household items that you’ll find in your kitchen, that will save you time and effort of scrubbing. Best of all, you don’t even need to spend a fortune on expensive cleaning products.

Anyway, that’s an old, ollllld tab. This one I found at the beginning of this month.

There’s something to this sort of material I’m profoundly interested in. I haven’t been able to understand, yet, precisely what I’m after, but it is somewhere at the intersection of culture and history and tradition of food and foodstuffs. This semi-profile dips into some of that.

They call her the godmother of Southern seeds for a reason:

“When you say her name in our community, all this love comes up — a standing ovation every time, from all the young’uns and friends who sit at her feet, whom she has blessed,” said Bonnetta Adeeb, of Ujamaa Seeds. Ms. Wallace has advised Ujamaa, a collective of Black and Indigenous growers focusing on culturally relevant seed, which just introduced its second online catalog.

Witnessing this traction is joyful for Ms. Wallace, and even a little surprising, in the best way — particularly set against the backdrop of the last century’s sharp decline in Black-owned American farms, to fewer than 1 percent today.

“The seed world is a particularly white aspect of the sustainable agriculture movement,” she said. “Where Black people were coming in at all to farming was in CSAs and that aspect of the food system — not to grow seed.”


In the way that the South’s population has evolved, so has the Southern Exposure seed list. Alongside Doe Hill golden sweet bell pepper, a pre-1900 Virginia family heirloom, is Pimiento Lago Agrio, an Ecuadorean sweet pepper with two-inch, pumpkin-shaped fruits. An Acorn Community member whose mother is from Latin America volunteered with Ecuadorean seed-saver groups, forging the connection.

“We realized that, just like the European immigrants spread their versions of different vegetables around, that the current immigrants have communities and varieties,” Ms. Wallace said. “We’re trying to make that a part of the web of American heirlooms we offer.”

I’ll figure out what it is I’m after one day. Precisely what(ever) it is, I bet Ms. Wallace has known for quite some time.

These are lovely. But when I see things like 11 of the most remote homes in the world I wonder, ‘How expensive is it to ship these materials — and get whatever machinery is required — in and out of there?’

If you’ve ever had the—completely reasonable—desire to get away from it all, perhaps the more appropriate retreat is one of the world’s many remote homes. Spread throughout the globe, these homes are often accompanied with views of near untouched nature. What’s more, isolated properties make it easy to disconnect from the distractions of everyday life while embracing simplicity and solitude. Below, AD rounds up some of the most stunning examples of remote homes, from small villages set atop mountains to islands with just one home on them. These 11 far-flung abodes prove that sometimes the most beautiful thing one can experience is the feeling of truly being alone.

Anyway, that’s a terrific collection of photographs. And that’s enough tab closing for one day. Wouldn’t want to get below 40 tabs on my phone’s browser. (I have 43 tabs still open.)

Two consecutive days of the Re-Listening project? Why, yes, you see, I had to drive to campus — we live 4.5 miles away — on Sunday and that’s somehow another fortnight in the car. What it really means is that between Friday and this morning, I worked through two CDs, and started a third. Time flies when you’re stuck at every single red light. And that’s fine, because it allows us to magically transport to, let’s say April 1996 or soon thereafter, when the Dave Matthews Band released “Crash.” Just last week we touched on the debut Under the Table and Dreaming. They sold six million copies of that, but this sophomore effort was even bigger. They moved seven million units by the end of the decade, just about the time that sales get all blurry and don’t we need a more modern metric anyway?

The record went to number two on the Billboard 200. Debuted there, behind Hootie and next bested by The Fugees (which is coming up for us soon) and it stayed on the chart for two years. They released five singles over the next 11 months. All of them charted, two — “Too Much and “Crash Into Me” — climbed into the top 10.

Here’s a jam of #41. It’s one of my god-sister-in-law’s (just go with the nomenclature) favorite songs.

That’s a 21 minute performance from 2009, and I thank you for sticking around. The album version has a modest run time of 6:39. The original song was somewhere in-between. There is, I think, an awful lot of jam compositions on this record and I would like to thank the entire music industry for hearing this, seeing the sales, and resisting the urge to remake this in countless ways for the next eight years.

Here’s the two-man performance of “Let You Down” with Tim Reynolds. (Their duo-live show will come up in a later installment of the Re-Listening project.)

We played this at our place, a lot. I’m not sure if I liked this more, or my roommate did. Maybe Charlie just tolerated it, but I have great memories of the sun coming through the pines and the blinds, listening to this on his stereo or mine, grilling out, hosting friends, having a ball.

It would have been midway through the spring quarter. We’d just had spring break, which was kind of a farce, but everything else was clicking into place nicely. I was broke, but tuition was still (comparatively) affordable. I was hanging out with a minor superstar and I knew it. One of the few things I did know, actually. It was a great time. And that’s a great gift of time. Left to think about it, you can come up with the difficulties of a time long past. But it is, somehow, a bit easier to blur some of those out. And you get to choose! I’m choosing the carefree moods of that spring. This record was a big, big part of the soundtrack. I can smile on that the rest of the night. I might, even!

Up next in the Re-Listening project, probably Thursday, more overly polished rock ‘n’ roll with no particularly overwhelming impressions.

Feb 23

Seriously, I want this bread, very much

I walked into the studio this evening for the news recordings and watched two young women deliver the news. A young man did a weather forecast, which he we wrote and produced over in the atmospheric sciences. Another person delivered a tightly written around-the-world segment. They have two co-directors of news, and they each pitched to pre-recorded packages to stories they’ve recently produced. It’s all quite impressive.

The impressive part, to me, though, was one of the young women sitting at the news desk. One has been there a few times and she does a nice job with it. The other, this was her first time anchoring. After, I told her, a not insubstantial part of what we do at the desk is about delivering with confidence and poise, control and power. Her face fell a little bit right then. But, I said, a very interesting thing happened as you went through that show just now, your poise and confidence grew with each story you read through.

She was pleased. Everyone was.

Please enjoy the weekly effort at reducing the number of files I have open in my browser. It seemed a good week to have a theme, so let’s have a theme! The theme is food. Bookmark these links for yourself, but, whatever you don’t, don’t just leave these open in your browser.

This one is a recent discovery. Please don’t share this one with anyone I know, lest they make it and I have to eat it and learn it is, in fact, amazing.

Chocolate peanut butter skillet brownie.


1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips, plus more for topping
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 10 to 11-inch oven-safe deep saute pan/skillet over medium heat. Add the butter. Once melted, turn off the heat and whisk in the sugars until dissolved. Whisk in the eggs, making sure to quickly combine them so they don’t cook. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder and salt. Add it to the skillet and stir until combined and on lumps remain. Stir in the chocolate chips. Dollop the peanut butter all over the batter then swirl it in with a knife.

Bake the brownie skillet for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is just barely set. You don’t want to overcook it! When it comes out of the oven, you can sprinkle with chocolate chips if you wish.
Let cool slightly then serve topped with vanilla ice cream.

Feel free to copy it from here, saving yourself the postmodern angst of having to scroll through 500 words and a ton of photos to get to the good stuff. Ironic, I know, and you’re welcome.

If you want something more healthy, 10 fruits you should eat every week, according to a dietitian:

Did you know research published in 2018 in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mSystems shows that eating up to 30 different kinds of plants in a week can positively benefit your gut microbiome? Having a healthy gut can improve heart health, boost immunity and even benefit mental health. Eating more fruit is an easy way to increase the number of plants you’re eating in a week to keep your gut bacteria happy—and these 10 fruits pack in a plethora of health benefits with every bite.

From increasing your fiber count to boosting your body with crucial vitamins and antioxidants, here are the fruits recommended to consume every week, backed by experts and research.

Now if I can get two or three more refrigerators I can keep all of these fruits close at hand.

When we went to Washington in June of 2021 — our first non-family anything since Covid began — we discovered the Cottage Bakery in Long Beach. At that time I wrote:

I discovered the joy of a locally made bread I’ll never be able to try again, one so full of flavor and appeal that I described it as a sommelier does a wine (with a lot of complimentary adjectives). They describe it as “A multigrain bread we developed for that special beach flavor! Sweetened with honey and molasses and full of whole grain taste.”

They’re underselling the bread.

It is called Willapa harvest bread. Sadly, they don’t ship across the country. But this bread, y’all. So I started looking for the recipe. A recipe. Any recipe. I think this might be close to what I’m after. Now I just need to try it. Honey molasses whole-wheat bread:

Tested size: 12 servings; makes one 9-inch loaf

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup bread flour (may substitute all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (regular or low-fat)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease the inside of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the whole-wheat and bread flours, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, oil, honey, molasses and buttermilk in mixing bowl. Stir for 75 strokes, so all the dry ingredients are moistened, then pour into your loaf pan, spreading the batter evenly.

Bake (middle rack) for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is evenly browned and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a moist crumb or two.

Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

If you want to sweet talk the nice people at the Cottage Bakery in Washington state and see if they’ll share a few tips with someone a.) not in the bakery business and b.) well removed from their customer base …

Closing those three, I now have 40 tabs open on my phone browser. I seem to be stuck on that number.

It is time for another visit to the Re-Listening project. This is a stroll down memory lane, all of my CDs, in order, in the car. Today we’re somewhere in early 1997. Live’s fourth album came out that February. I liked the third one, everyone did, so I got the fourth one. The first single came out in January and it was immediately a big draw for an early 20-something.

The memory I have with that song is an open road and an odometer needle that points just a hair over toward the right. I don’t know if I’ve ever noticed the string section at the end. It stuck out to me on this listen. It’s a dissonance that doesn’t really work, at least from here.

But back then, that song went to 35 on the US Radio Songs chart, topped the Alternative Airplay chart and made it to number two on the Mainstream Rock chart. This was the most successful single on the record, and that makes sense. When you listen to the whole thing, by the time you get to the 10th track, or May, when this was released, you couldn’t be faulted for thinking this entire record was produced on a dare.

Try as I might, and this is of course a silly thing, I can’t think of a memory of listening in this in the daytime. I did used to make most of my long trips in the darkness, but that’s a weird lack of recollection on my part.

Of the whole record, this is the second, and other, lasting song on the album that captures my attention. It’s a stripped down and live performance of Live, from November, 1997. Or maybe it was April. Some international dating conventions are tricky.

“Secret Samadhi” topped the weekly charts, and the album finished at 42 on the year-end chart. It was certified double platinum in Australia, Canada and the US, but the misses outweigh the hits for me.

These days, after allllll of their internal drama, Live, with nine records in the catalog, is still touring, though the only original member is lead singer Ed Kowalczyk. When is an old band a new band? How long can a band swap out players and use the same name? This is, admittedly, a lame Theseus’ paradox, but it is hard to imagine Live without Kowalczyk.

In our next visit to the Re-Listening project we’ll check out a breakthrough smash from a little band from Gainesville, Florida.

But, for now, I have to go rock out iron a dress shirt for tomorrow.

Jan 23

The view stretched on for miles

So there I was, 11 p.m., huffing and puffing through my third bike ride of the day. OK, second ride, but third route. Still, “third ride” sounds more maniacal. I rode 39 miles this morning in London.

After a day at the office, an evening in the studio and delicious leftovers for dinner, I went to Zwift once more. Just naked mile collecting, really. I have three spreadsheets. Well … had three spreadsheets. This was the butt of a mild joke today. It was an implied joke and those are the ones that stick with you. So this evening I consolidated the three files into one single document. One part of the spreadsheet compares my top months, mileage-wise.

This morning, I topped my previous best, May 2016, when I had time to pedal and numbness to pedal through. But I realized that if I did juuuust a few more miles, I would get to a pleasing number. So I did that this evening, riding in Zwift’s made up world of Watopia. For some reason the photo capture part of the app didn’t work this evening, which is a shame. I had a great wide shot of some Mayan temples. That part is odd, since I wasn’t riding in the Maya region of Central America and modern Mexico, but rather on an island in the Solomons, some 7,000-plus miles away.

But this evening, when it was done, I set a new best, humble as it is. I tabulated a chart showing January in the saddle. That blue line, if I can stay above it throughout, would give me a record-setting year, in terms of miles. The red and green trendlines show slightly more ambitious goals.

The purple line is where I am now.

So, not a bad January.

Another part of my spreadsheet presently ranks out the best Februaries. None of them are impressive and it shouldn’t be hard to post a new superlative. I’ll start on that after a rest day or two.

The 2023 Zwift route tracker: 53 routes down, 67 to go.

Let’s clear out a few tabs. This is the feature where I link to things I’ve been keeping in a browser somewhere. Rather than have this stuff disappear forever, I can reference them here. (Blogging! I know! So wild!) Some of these are absolutely worth the effort. The last several weeks I’ve shared a bunch of pages that I’ve held open for a long time. This one here, however, is just from last fall.

Bryan Collins’ 101 design rules:

Musings, ramblings, and principles that I’ve shared with my team and randomly on Twitter. Reminding yourself of the principles that ground you is simply a good practice. Here are mine.

1. Design is hope made visible.

2. You can live your life as the result of history and what came before, or you can live your life as the cause of what’s to come. You choose.

3. When talent doesn’t hustle, hustle beats talent. But when talent hustles, watch out.

4. When you work only for money, without any love for what you do in and of itself, your work will lack energy. People will feel that. So give every project everything you’ve got, at every moment, every time.

5. A good philosopher will say: “Know thyself.” A good shopkeeper will say: “Know thy customer.” A good designer will say: “Know both.”

This might be one of the last things I opened on Twitter. And it is worth seeing. There are 96 more chestnuts for you there, should you follow the link above.

This one, meantime, has been sitting on the phone for quite some time. In hatboxes, pouches and bags lie the items that define us:

In Carson McCullers’s novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), Mick, a teenage girl, owns an old hatbox that she keeps hidden under the bed. The box contains personal valuables, ‘three mystery books her Dad had given her, a compact, a box of watch parts, a rhinestone necklace, a hammer, and some notebooks. One notebook was marked on the top with red crayon – PRIVATE. KEEP OUT. PRIVATE – and tied with a string.’ This strange assortment of things is of little material value, but of immense sentimental importance. The hatbox is her own small space, where she keeps the things that make her who she is.

Many people own such a shoebox, a drawer or some kind of chest in which they keep the things that are of strangely intimate value. The idea of these small spaces that contain things of high personal value is an overlooked part of Western culture.

Honestly, this is a good starting place, but there’s no reveal or resolution here. I was so hoping for one, something that might help to explain “Why do I have several of these?”

Know what I have several of? Tabs! These came from my phone, where I am now down to 39 tabs.

We return to the Re-Listening project, and while we are still somewhere in the late 1990s as I play all of my CDs, in order, this one is from 1995. It is also a cassette-to-disc upgrade, so I am glossing over this.

So today we’re on to Edwin McCain’s “Honor Among Thieves.” I like him, saw him live a few times in venues both big and small. I enjoyed the music because the South Carolina style appeals to my musical sensibilities of the time. “Solitude” made its way onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and landed in the top 40 of the Mainstream Rock Tracks, Top 40 Mainstream and Adult Top 40 charts. Also, this is the one where Darius Rucker came on to sing for his friend. It has never not been funny that McCain wound up singing harmony to his guest on his own debut single. But, Rucker was set to become Elvis at that moment, so it made sense in more ways than one.

If you look up live performances of that song, McCain has slowed it down over the years, and it works pretty well. I imagine he’s on stage thinking, “I still have to sing this song?”

Just one more, since we’re glossing over the cassette-to-CD set. I was reading something recently about someone learning how to write songs, and how to write pop songs. As I listened to this record again I found myself thinking about how that could apply to McCain’s debut. It can get fairly narrow in places here, though his work blossomed over the next few records. There are still one or two standouts on this record, and this time through, it felt like “Jesters, Dreamers & Thieves” has aged the best.

Here’s a 2004 live performance. The song was a decade old, and they let Craig Too Cool Shields take his sax out for a little spin.

We’ll hear a bit more from Edwin McCain soon. I think I have two more of his records that will show up in the Re-Listening Project.

But, coming up soon, probably tomorrow, is some wildly successful power pop. Hey, it was the nineties.

Jan 23

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

It was a shame that Robby Novak had to grow up. (He’s 18 or so now.) They ended that amazing series so he could concentrate on being a kid, and that makes perfect sense in every respect of course. Still, you might have found yourself hoping that they’d pass the torch. You could have written a storyline about that — a storyline of positivity, of course.

I remember when I was first introduced to this interview, some 12 or so years ago, perhaps. It came to me as part of a conversation about the larger message, the work incomplete, and the issue at hand. All of that was, and is, true. And the interview is remarkable. The first thing you notice is the composition of the shot. But it won’t be the last thing you notice.

This was an important interview, absolutely worth your time. Go ahead and bookmark it if you can’t watch it all right now, but do watch it. And then, maybe, like me, be grateful that we have places available to dip our toes into such important source material.

The world needs more three-day weekends. I say that with all of the respect today deserves. There are a great many important people and ideas to celebrate. We could only benefit by having more opportunities to acknowledge and learn, and our communities would be better for the service. Having a few more four-day work weeks would be a nice byproduct, sure, but that’s not the point I’m after here. I figure one a month, March through October, would be a fine civic contribution.

And, on some of those days, we’d even have nice weather. Law of averages and all that. Saturday we had some sun early. It was gray and cold all day Sunday. It rained most of today. The next seven days we’ll be between 28 and 53 degrees. We might get some sun two or three of those days. We might get some snow or rain on three of those days.

Ninety more days until spring.

We played a few hands on dominos yesterday afternoon. The cat, who only swatted at the tiles one time, managed to eek out a win.

Which makes this as good a place as any to put this week’s installment of the most popular feature on the blog. It’s time to check in with the kitties.

A few days ago I was able to catch Phoebe in shadow and light. It’s a moody image, both dark and mysterious and bright and shiny. Also, stay away from her tennis ball.

Poseidon has placed an order online for a deliver, and he’s spending a fair amount of time waiting on the delivery guy to bring it to him.

I guess he didn’t spring for the overnight delivery. Smart cat.

He got a bit trapped the other night. This cat, that always wants to go outside — they’re strictly indoor pets — has to have his under-the-cover time to keep warm, you see. And if a fuzzy blanket has been deployed Phoebe will find her way to sit on it. So Saturday night …

He looks thrilled by that development, doesn’t he? Look at those eyes. He’s positively delighted to find his blanket time being intruded upon. He allowed me to take three quick photos before he left in disgust.

This is the section where I’m sharing things that, judged too good to close, have been sitting in open tabs for far too long. Today’s first tab features a poem. I ran across it near the end of 2021. That’s a long time to have a tab open, in my estimation. (But I’ve got older tabs, though, as you’ll eventually see.) Lovely poem though.

Keep Your Faith in Beautiful Things

Keep your faith in beautiful things;
in the sun when it is hidden,
in the Spring when it is gone.
And then you will find that Duty and Service and Sacrifice—
all the old ogres and bugbears of —
have joy imprisoned in their deepest dungeons!
And it is for you to set them free —
the immortal joys that no one —
No living soul, or fate, or circumstance—
Can rob you of, once you have released them.

It was written by Roy Rolfe Gilson, Spanish-American War veteran, newspaperman, author and, finally, an Episcopal rector. Born in Iowa, in 1875, Rev. Gilson died in 1933, and is buried in Maryland, where he had served in a parish. He wrote for papers in Michigan. He’s quoted in his obituary. “The best known of my works is ‘In the Morning Glow‘, and is not a child’s book, but an attempt to preserve in words something of that exquisite loveliness of the American home as it has been in its simplicity, and never more beautiful than when seen through the eyes of a little child, to whom the father is a hero and the mother a heroine, and even the toy soldiers have an identity and name.

“It is never the bizarre or unusual that makes me wish to work, but the poetry and comedy in everyday life, in the common lot … If my stories are idyllic, it is not because I wish to write pretty things, but because I have a friendly eye for those secret quests on which we pass each other disguised in foolishness, but wearing beneath a lovely raiment of dreams.”

You can read the entire book, which he published in 1908, at that link.

(So I guess I’ll have that tab open for a while … )

(I just read the first chapter — sweet and innocent and charmingly sentimental, but you knew what was coming. I’ll be reading the rest.)

If memory serves, I googled this because of something I read in a Quora answer about some job interview techniques. I’d never heard of this, neumonic, or seen the concept spelled out, and so it seemed like something to learn about.

The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.

More: What is the STAR method?

The STAR method is an interview technique that gives you a straightforward format you can use to tell a story by laying out the Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

By using these four components to shape your anecdote, it’s much easier to share a focused answer, providing the interviewer with “a digestible but compelling narrative of what a candidate did,” says Muse Career Coach Al Dea, founder of CareerSchooled. “They can follow along, but also determine based on the answer how well that candidate might fit with the job.”

I suspect this structure is useful in some circumstances. But in others, well, there are a lot of odd interview … let’s call them techniques … out there.

And now I can close these two tabs, meaning on one of my phone’s browsers I now only have … 40 tabs open. Progress!

I had a 30-mile ride on Saturday, including some outrageous (for me) power numbers. To be honest, I am not yet clear on how to interpret these things. Occasionally my watts look more impressive than others, and I’ll google them, just to see how they all measure up. On those days, I have almost-weekend-warrior sort of numbers.

For instance, Saturday I hit 1,048 watts on a sprint. What’s that mean? It means I was standing up and going hard while simultaneously trying to keep my bike in the trainer. That’s pretty close to my recorded maximum. Apparently world-class sprint track cyclists can touch 2,200 watts. So … I’m not that guy.

But then I was going up a hill and looked at the watts in the HUD graphic and …

That’s on a climb and, for me, impressive. I am in no way a climber, but I have lately been getting over small punchy hills in an almost-timely fashion. I’ve just had brief moments of good legs the last few days, basically. There’s something to be said for riding a lot. And that something is “Your legs will feel tired all of the time, but when you get them moving … ”

2023 Zwift route tracker: After today’s 25-mile ride I have completed 34 of the routes on Zwift, and there are 86 to go.