Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Alan Lightman

I don't know why we long so for permanence, why the fleeting nature of things so disturbs. With futility, we cling to the old wallet long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighborhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and synagogues and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, in every nook and cranny, nature screams at the top of her lungs that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our own bodies, is shifting and evaporating and one day will be gone.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


D: Why is that one your favorite?
N: Because it coils well. And it's yellow so I can always find it in the shop.

--Talking about extension cords

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cal Newport

Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be addictive. The more you use social media in the way it’s designed to be used — persistently throughout your waking hours — the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom. 

Once this Pavlovian connection is solidified, it becomes hard to give difficult tasks the unbroken concentration they require, and your brain simply won’t tolerate such a long period without a fix. Indeed, part of my own rejection of social media comes from this fear that these services will diminish my ability to concentrate — the skill on which I make my living.

. . . . .A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.

~From Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It. New York Times, November 19, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Jerry Isaak

“Technology and social media have fundamentally changed the nature of solitude and remoteness. Now our peers and online communities may travel everywhere with us on our smartphones. They are an ever-present audience generating pressure on our decisions in ways that were not possible in a predigital era. For many young people this is the only reality they have ever known.”

~Jerry Isaak, college professor and American Mountain Guides Association ski guide who has studied the role of social media in backcountry decision-making, in Avalanche educators grapple with social media’s influence on backcountry travelers’ decision making, Denver Post 10/10/2016.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ben Mattlin

The perseverance to live fully with a profound disability comes, I think, in part from honestly facing your own powerlessness and frailty, and recognizing how much worse things have been and could still be. This can instill a delight in the now. In living with a disability, you’ve already dealt with much of what other people fear most, and if you come out on the other side you are, by definition, a survivor. The resolve required, and begrudging acceptance of what you can’t change, may bring a kind of wisdom.

~From A disabled life is a life worth living NYTimes Oct 5 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Emily Post

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Louise Penny

Gamache put on his rubber boots and waxed Barbour field coat and went for a walk. He had a lot to ponder and he knew that everything is solved by walking.

--The Cruellest Month (2007)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

John Carlos

"Not every young white individual would have the gumption, the nerve, the backbone, to stand there," he said. John Carlos recounted the conversation they had before going out for the medal ceremony. They asked Peter Norman if he believed in human rights. He said he did. They asked him if he believed in God. Norman, who came from a Salvation Army background, said he believed strongly in God.

"We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat. He said, 'I'll stand with you'." Carlos said he expected to see fear in Norman's eyes. He didn't. "I saw love."

"Peter never flinched [on the dais]. He never turned his eyes, he never turned his head. He never said so much as 'ouch'.

1968 Olympics, Mexico.
Photo by John Dominis

As reported by Martin Flanagan, Sydney Morning Herald, after Peter Norman's funeral services, Melbourne, Australia, October 10, 2006. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were pallbearers at Peter Norman's funeral.

Brandon Keim

“Video games could be expected to have a larger effect than media violence. The player is participating. They’re being reinforced,” says Rowell Huesmann, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. “The important thing is repetition. I think any child can play Grand Theft Auto or a first-person shooter a few times, and it’s not going to have much effect. But if they play day in and day out, over a period of years, any psychologist who understands the power of observational learning is going to find it hard to believe that it’s not going to have a major effect on increasing risk.”

Slutkin and Huesmann believe that violence is contagious, spreading in a manner similar to infectious disease, but with behaviors rather than microbes as the instruments of transmission. Of course, pathogens don’t always cause disease: Many other factors, such as a person’s immune system strength, alter an infection’s course. In keeping with this analogy, first-person shooters weaken the psychological immune system. They change the odds of whether violence takes root or whether a person can resist it.

From What Science Knows about Video Games and Violence February 28 2013, NOVA Next via PBS

Monday, July 11, 2016

Charles M. Blow

We seem caught in a cycle of escalating atrocities without an easy way out, without enough clear voices of calm, without tools for reduction, without resolutions that will satisfy.

This is a time when communities, institutions, movements and even nations are tested. Will the people of moral clarity, good character and righteous cause be able to drown out the chorus of voices that seek to use each dead body as a societal wedge?

Will the people who can see clearly that there is no such thing as selective, discriminatory, exclusionary outrage and grieving when lives are taken, be heard above those who see every tragedy as a plus or minus for a cumulative argument?


I know well that when people speak of love and empathy and honor in the face of violence, it can feel like meeting hard power with soft, like there is inherent weakness in an approach that leans so heavily on things so ephemeral and even clich├ęd.

But that is simply an illusion fostered by those of little faith.

The higher calling — the harder trial — is the belief in the ultimate moral justice and the inevitable victory of righteousness over wrong. This requires an almost religious faith in fate, and that can be hard for some to accept, but accept it we must.

The moment any person comes to accept as justifiable an act of violence upon another — whether physical, spiritual or otherwise — that person has already lost the moral battle, even if he is currently winning the somatic one.

When we all can see clearly that the ultimate goal is harmony and not hate, rectification and not retribution, we have a chance to see our way forward. But we all need to start here and now, by doing this simple thing: Seeing every person as fully human, deserving every day to make it home to the people he loves.

From A Week From Hell [Op-Ed] NY Times, online July 8, 2016 (in print July 11, 2016)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Frank Bruni

The Internet isn’t rigged to give us right or left, conservative or liberal — at least not until we rig it that way. It’s designed to give us more of the same, whatever that same is: one sustained note from the vast and varied music that it holds, one redundant fragrance from a garden of infinite possibility. . . . . .we customize the news we consume and the political beliefs we’re exposed to as never before. And this colors our days, or rather bleeds them of color, reducing them to a single hue.

~How Facebook Warps Our Worlds, May 21 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


N: Oh, wife. You are so nice to me...sometimes.
D: Sometimes? You needed to use a qualifier with that one?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Steve Lewandowski

We all got up and drove quickly to
the farmers' market to buy cases
of broccoli, crates of celery, several
bunches of leeks with a strong smell,
boxes of meaty cauliflower blossoms, dirt
caked beets & a basket of huge carrots.

from Write a poem using the word "suffuse"

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Writers' Almanac

About Eudora Welty's house:
You can tour her house and garden in Jackson [Mississippi] for $5, the house at 1119 Pinehurst Street that Welty moved into in 1925 with her parents when she was 16 and lived in until she died in 2001. The garden was planted by her mother Chestina so that there'd be something in bloom each season. There are larkspur, hollyhocks, and snapdragons for the spring; phlox, zinnias, and blue salvia for the summer; asters, chrysanthemums, and spider lilies for the fall, and camellias and pansies in winter. 
 --"The Writers' Almanac," April 13, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


You know what's great? I can buy my kayak in the same place where I buy my bacon! Also, playground sand! 

--My spouse, expounding upon the virtues of Menards

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Snippets from Colette

Isn't it amazing how many common household items can be used for sewing tricks?

If you have some extra Press'n Seal wrap in your pantry, use it to keep your loose buttons together. You can even punch holes in the sheets and store them in binders. Or just chuck them in a drawer, because you can be confident that all buttons will stay with their mates!

(This tip is going to change my life. -Ed.)

--from Colette's Snippets newsletter emailed on March 29, 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016


The fact only best friend is someone a lot of more to come go back to my house is not so you don't know what to I love you ok so yo face and you

-love letter from Paul, using only QuickType suggestions on iPhone.