Books of 2021: The City We Became

I sat down to do a quick blurb about this book, and it turned into an essay.

The tl:dr:

“It has opened my mind and expanded my literary tastes, all while forcing me to grapple with intriguing ideas and wrestle with old prejudices. This is not the kind of reading I could handle every day: the aged mind can only process so may challenges in a compressed time frame. But it is for scaling conceptual heights that I liberated my mind from the workplace, so I will be coming back for my next fix soon.”

The sequel, The World We Make, is on my must-reads list.

Reading: Ode to the Kayendo

Grego, Caroline (2021) The Search for the Kayendo: Recovering the Low Country rice toolkit. American Historical Review, September 2021, 1165-1183

What a now-obscure but unique hand tool tells us about slave life in the South. Dr. Caroline Grego proves that sometimes history is little different than detective work.

Watched: The Adam Project

Watched this on a whim with the family Thursday night, not quite knowing what to expect.

It was a fun evening of suspended disbelief, the best part of which was having TWO characters with Ryan Reynolds’s trademark sarcasm squaring off against each other.

Side note: the film was a subliminal advertisement for British Columbia. I know because I woke up the following morning ready to emigrate to Canada. Well played, Mr. Reynolds: well played, indeed.

Alphabet Street

IMG_4436Public relations people, like attorneys, are judged by the most nefarious deeds of the least-principled members of our craft. I understand why: scum rises, and when it does it obscures behind its oily sheen the principled, hard-working folks who are just trying to help their clients be heard above the din.

Walking one night in Beijing to try and get my 10,000 steps in between monsoonal squalls, I was listening to “Alphabet Street” and the last verse rang through my skull like a massive church bell.

“We’re going down down down
If that’s the only way
To make this cruel cruel world
Hear what we’ve got to say.
Put the right letters together
And make a better day.”
— Prince, Alphabet Street

I heard something in Prince’s lyrics: words can be used to misinform, to manipulate, to hurt, to damage. But they can, and should, be used to heal, and we are obliged to make them do that, even if that effort brings us to injury.

I thought about these lyrics again today when I was posting on Twitter. I fired off an elegantly worded ad hominem at someone who may or may not have deserved it. He fired back. And I suddenly realized that I was doing it all wrong.

So I’ve set aside Twitter, and I’m here on this blog. And even though this is meant to be a chronicle of a very strange retirement, I want to make myself accountable: I’m staying on Alphabet Street. I want the words in here to help and to heal.

And if they ever stop doing that, call me on it. Please.

Patchology: Procrastinating Goldfish Patrol

My Life Scout son Aaron was elected as leader of his patrol in the contingent that our Council assembled to represent Ventura County at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree.

Soon after, the patrol named themselves “the Procrastinating Goldfish Patrol.”

Against all odds, I managed to find them appropriate BSA-regulation patrol patches. As you can see, the patch above shows a goldfish clearly in the act of procrastinating. At the Jamboree, the patrol wore this and all of their other insignia and regalia with slightly snarky pride.

Hoping the BSA can get back into the post-COVID game with a Jamboree in 2023. I won’t be there, and Aaron won’t, either, but at least that gives us a shot at going to one together in 2027.

Home on the Range

My favorite tent ever. Retro look, seven feet long, easy up, easy down, weighs two pounds, fits into a bag the size of a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle, and set me back a whopping $52 delivered.

I should buy two.

 Going boldly.

A tribute to Captain Janeway, obviously.

“The finest organic suspension ever devised” indeed.

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