Monday, July 31, 2023

Eli 22.0!

Eli is twenty-two today. I started writing about him when he was Eli 1.0, I think, first at Gone Gold, then here for the last eighteen years.

Good grief, that's a long time.

I don't have a picture yet, because he's been in Boston for a few days, but I'll take one when he gets home tomorrow night.

One of the many things Eli has always done for me is make me want to be a better person. He also makes me want to grow, because he grows so quickly it's all I can do to keep up with him, and I don't want to be left behind. 

The arc of his life is so improbable you'd think I made it up. All I did, though, was pass it along.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Friday Links!

They're real, and they're spectacular: College Football All-name Team 2023

From Wally, and it's a tough read: What Really Happens to the Clothes You Donate. Terrific images: Tom Kidd portfolio

From Jussi, and a food scientist weighs in on salmon in the dishwater (go to the 18:10 mark): Debunking Crazy WATERMELON Cement Hack & Cooking in a DISHWASHER

From John W., and they're brilliant: The Uncomfortable --a collection of deliberately inconvenient objects.

From C. Lee, and it's remarkable: Japanese AI travel bag for visually impaired sparks global interest. It's going to get ugly: What countries will heat up the most in a 2°-warmer world? Reprehensible: Is Universal Studios Landscaping or Strike Busting? A fascinating bit of history: With Reagan As Union President, Actors Walked Off Job In 1960. How That Strike Foreshadows What's Going On Now. Very true: Why Upgrading a Gaming PC Right Now is Almost Pointless. This is going to be very, very difficult for all sides: Google says it’s developing tools to help journalists create headlines, stories. Fascinating: The gravitational interactions that have helped us dodge 60-hour days

Usable Misses

Golf: 77 on Friday. Best round of my life, mentally aces, totally focused for almost 4 hours. Played so well I was another person, basically. 
Golf: 4 days later, play like I'm in second grade. Can't hit a ball. Mentally useless. Utter disaster.

It's interesting how much like life golf can be at times. On Friday, every ball I hit was usable, even the balls I missed. I didn't have a single non-usable miss the entire round. On Tuesday, none of my misses were usable, due to a combination of awful ball striking and trees.

In life, I tend to discount the notion of a usable miss. If I don't do something very well, I tend to negatively grade myself. I'm trying hard to add the notion that there are usable misses in life, too, and when I get one, I should be satisfied and cut myself some slack. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023


I was asked today if this is my license plate:

It is not. My personalized license plate would just say "NO."

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

That Smell Lingers

It's been clearly established over the last two decades in this space that I don't like garlic. Never did, and I like it even less now. The world runs on garlic, so it's unfortunate, but there's nothing I can do about it. 

In normal operations, I won't see garlic, and it won't be in the house. When Eli 21.11 is home, though, he likes to cook, and he likes garlic. 

Last night, he was sautéing garlic. A lot of it, seemingly. Enough for the entire world for the next several years, at least. It was an overwhelming smell, a mix of desperation and despair. Because he knows how I feel about garlic, he opened the kitchen window to bring in some fresh air. 

Unbeknownst to him, I'd already opened two big windows in the adjoining room, but that's a different story entirely. 

Within seconds after he opened the window, a leaf blower was turned on by someone in an adjoining yard. A high-powered, excruciatingly loud leaf blower. Eli burst out laughing, looked at me, and said "Which one?"

It was Scylla and Charybdis, or having to make Sophie's choice when you want both children to die.

Monday, July 24, 2023


I went out on Saturday night, and Eli 21.11 stayed home and made a nice salmon dinner with rice. 

"I need to show you the rice cooker," I said, because I noticed there was a pot with rice residue in the sink. "Then you can just put it in and forget it."

"Pretty easy either way," he said.

"I wonder if I could cook salmon in the rice cooker," I said. "There's a vegetable tray, so it seems like you could just put in rice, put in salmon and the vegetables in the tray on top, and cook everything at the same time."

"Wait, salmon in the rice cooker?" he asked. "I don't think it would work, because everything cooks for a different length of time. Why not use the oven?"

"That's okay," I said. "I can just use the dishwasher.


"I know that's definitely a thing," I said. "I've read about it for years."

"People will do anything to avoid using the ***damn oven," he groused. "It's ridiculous."

"If that bothers you, you're really going to hate hearing about people cooking salmon on their car's engine," I said. 


[I checked later, and salmon in the rice cooker is definitely a thing.]

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Friday Links!

Leading off, and it's amazing: Octopuses sleep—and possibly dream—just like humans

This is relatively pointless, yet also irresistible: OpenBenches is an interactive map of park benches

From C. Lee, and Supreme Court Justices are clearly not grammarians: Guns and Grammar, or How to Read the Second Amendment. Agghhh: Air France Passenger Found Blood And Diarrhea Under His Seat. An obituary: Milan Kundera, Czech novelist known for ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being,’ dies. Don't we all: Generative AI Goes 'MAD' When Trained on AI-Created Data Over Five Times. They've quite a lot of work to do: San Francisco protestors are disabling autonomous vehicles using traffic cones. This is absolutely stunning: Osaka Celebrates Star Festival with River of 40,000 LED Lights Evoking the Milky Way. This is excellent: FINAL FANTASY IV AND THE INFLUENCES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN

From David Gloier, and it's fantastic: ‘Mindblowing’: how James Webb telescope’s snapshots of infant universe transformed astronomy

From Meg McReynolds, and if you ever wanted to see Primus cover "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and make a claymation video of the song, ding ding ding! Primus - The Devil Went Down To Georgia (Official Music Video).

An Official Diagnosis

"I'm about to sound like an old man," Eli 21.11 said. 

"It's overdue," I said.

Eli is an instructor at goalie camp this week, and he's teaching kids from 8-16 years of age. He's been in this camp for eleven years--five as a camper, and six as an instructor. He's the senior instructor now, and it's his swan song, because going away to Oxford means this is his last year. 

"Kids have zero social skills now," he said. "It's so different from when I started instructing. In the locker room, they don't talk to each other. All they do is watch YouTube and TikTok videos on their phones. I don't think they even know how to interact anymore."

"That's why you didn't have a phone until sixth grade," I said. "And if I'd had my way, it would have been seventh grade."

"I thought it was ridiculous," he said, "but my kids won't get phones until they absolutely have to."

"Congratulations," I said. "You have Old Man Disorder (OMD)."

When he was a kid, I never looked at my phone when I was with Eli, and he didn't have one, so we talked constantly. We talked about everything, from every possible angle, and one of it would have happened if we'd been on our phones instead. Instead of digesting content, we were creating our own experience. I'd like to think it's one of the reasons Eli's so comfortable around everyone. 

I don't know what happens to kids who have no social skills when they go to college, or try to get a job. I mean, I have no social skills, but I'm the life of the party compared to lots of young people nowadays.

Everyone being on their phones all the time makes us less unique individually, because we're all having the same experience. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

They say 60% of new restaurants close within the first year

During a lengthy session of Arabian Nights last night, shots were fired in my direction. 

Metaphorically, of course. In the United States, that clarification is necessary. 

Specifically, my dislike of garlic was mentioned, which could more accurately be described as "loathing." Anyway, this brought up an excerpt from an article in Bon Appétit where the seemingly ideal man was considered unsuitable as a partner because of his base food habits. 

Blandness, as it were. 

The phrase "tepid palate" was mentioned, and this immediately turned into a restaurant idea. What about all of the older people who have stomach issues and acid reflux and a thousand other digestive complaints? Where is the mild, unassuming food they need to make it through a day without complaining endlessly about their stomachs? Where can they go when they want to eat out?

The Tepid Palate. That's where they go.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023


I forgot to mention yesterday that I read Violeta as part of the Summer Reading Challenge, and it's a magnificent piece of writing. I've read Isabel Allende before, but I don't remember anything quite like this. It's been a long time since I read a book with so little friction. It flows like water. 

Eli 21.11 bought a shirt in Guatemala for $30. Hand-embroidered, and every shirt's unique because the seamstress just uses what she has on hand every day. It's one of the most striking shirts I've ever seen, which  may not come through in the picture, but all the colors are beautiful together. Here's the back:

She doesn't sell through the web, which is too bad, because if I could buy shirts like this, I would care more than I do about clothes (current caring = zero). 

Monday, July 17, 2023

A War of Words

Dirty tricks abound in the Summer Reading Challenge.

It's standard procedure now for both of us to have a book to open when the other walks into a room. There are allegations of late-night reading, long after the other participant is asleep. Most notably, there's a scoring question. 

I have a huge lead, on paper. What I don't know is whether Eli 21.11 is updating the completed sheet with all his books. There may be a 2 a.m. mail-in ballot dump at any time. 

Smack talk abounds. 

"You're not catching me," I said to him yesterday. "No chance."

"Two words," Eli said. "Audio books."

"Wait, those don't count," I said. 

"Of course they do," he said, "and I listen to them every time I'm in the car."

I'm battling an evil genius. 

This morning, he came up the stairs. 

"I did the math, " I said. "Audio books are only worth 30 pages an hour. It's not nearly enough."

"If that's what you need to tell yourself to get through the day, do it," he said. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Friday Links!

From jdv, Barbenheimer is coming (I had this idea with Eli 21.11 and didn't even realize it was a thing): 20,000 AMC Moviegoers Are Ready for the “Barbenheimer” Double Feature.

An interesting burger idea: The 20-minute freezer trick for juicier burgers

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this must be happening all over the southern half of the country: Why Are Squirrels ‘Splooting’ on Hot Days? 

From C. Lee, and it's about time: Those 10,000 5-star reviews are fake. Now they’ll also be illegal. There's always an underclass: AI Is a Lot of Work. I hope this pans out: One shot of a kidney protein gave monkeys a brain boost. Oh, good grief: It may not be safe to mail checks anymore. U.S. Postal Service shares tips to fight rise in crime. The level of tracking (everywhere now) is incredible: How Your New Car Tracks You. What a great idea: Meet the Companies Literally Dropping ‘Irish’ Pubs in Cities Across the World. Interesting: Why Do Pro Gamers Use 24-Inch Monitors (Ex Semi-pro gamer gives opinion)

From jdv, and it's much more interesting than the headline: Can Chess, with Hexagons?

From Wally, and it's fascinating: Can Chess, with Hexagons?


Eli 21.11 said he discovered something interesting about countries.

Based on his experiences in Central America and Southeast Asia, he said if you want to see the nicest and safest parts of a country, head to the coast. That's where the tourists head, and countries have a huge incentive to keep those areas safe. Plus more people in the coastal areas are employed, because there are more opportunities. 

The interior cities, in contrast, are "super gritty." Even in a country as small as St. Lucia, which is only 14 miles wide, if you get in a few miles from the beach, it's very different (and significantly less safe). It was the same in Guatemala, which he said was totally safe until you go to the large cities in the interior. 

He stays in Airbnb's instead of resorts, because he wants to experience the people who live in a country instead of the people visiting. He still wants to be safe, though, so he's conscious of location. 

It's interesting to learn about traveling from your son. I've been in three countries. He's been in thirty. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

A Funny Game

We went to our local public golf course and played nine holes on Monday. 

I hit fifteen balls on Sunday for the first time since last September. Eli hit a few more but hadn't played since August.

It was going to be ugly, obviously, but it's much more fun to play than practice, and it was a nice day, so off we went. 

Three holes later, when Eli was even and I was +4, everything was going about as I expected. 

Then, something quite strange happened. I started hitting every ball flush, and every delicate shot with the right amount of force. I made putts. I went -2 for the next five holes, which I've never done on that course, or any course, for that matter. 

Even with a three putt bogey on the last hole, I was -1 for the last six holes, and generally hit the ball better than I've ever hit it in my life. 

Eli wasn't quite as good late as he was early, but our best ball was still -2. 

It's a very odd feeling to have your best round of the summer be the first. Golf is the strangest game. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Lost in the Shuffle

We were sitting on the couch yesterday, catching up on the one million things we haven't talked about in the last two months.

"Hey, whatever happened to the Fulbright?" I asked. "Did you not get it? I thought you were such a strong candidate, because you'd already worked in Colombia."

"Oh, I got it," he says. "Didn't I tell you?"

I started laughing. "I thought I told you!" he said, and he started laughing, too.

He couldn't accept it, because the offer from Oxford only allows deferral for family emergencies, but it was still a nice acknowledgement of all the work he's done over the last four years.  

Monday, July 10, 2023

In Praise of Poison Ivy

Hypothetically, if someone in your family believed they had been exposed to bedbugs and had bites that might be bedbugs, and if that person in your family was coming home for two months, in addition to exhaustively researching bedbug containment, you might also do this:

Hypothetically, of course. 

It might also turn out to be poison ivy, hypothetically, and so every single possession quarantined in the garage in sealed trash bags could be taken out and life could resume as normal. 

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a reminder that Charles M. Schultz was quite a badass: Why Charles M. Schulz Gave Peanuts A Black Character (1968)

This is remarkable: Archaeologists may have found ruins of fabled entrance to Zapotec underworld

From C. Lee, and oops: Sony’s confidential PlayStation secrets just spilled because of a Sharpie. That didn't take long: Amazon Is Full of AI-Written Novels That Don’t Make Sense. This was also expected, although still annoying: AI is filling up the internet with garbage spam sites. I don't see how this will work: Netflix turns to South Korean writers and crews as Hollywood strikes. But they feel exploited too. I have so many good memories of National Geographic: National Geographic lays off its last remaining staff writers. This is an interesting read: You’re Stress-Eating Because Your Brain Literally Thinks It Isn’t Full Yet. The Digital Antiquarian with another terrific article: A Dialog in Real Time (Strategy)

From Wally, and Usain Bolt is certainly perfect: If the cap fits… people with names that match their jobs. This feels impossible today: Uniting America: How FDR and Henry Stimson Brought Democrats and Republicans Together to Win World War II.

From David Gloier, and it's alarming: Massive peak collapses may reshape Himalayas. I wondered about this: Yes, Airline Flights Are Getting Bumpier: Here’s Why

1984, With Benefits

Google sent me my monthly timeline today. 

I leave location services on to make Google Maps accurate, which is a huge privacy no-no, but I don't care. I'm basically a boring person, except in my own head. If anyone wants to bore themselves to death by looking at the data from my timeline, good luck and godspeed.

What I didn't know until this afternoon is that Google has a timeline for me all the way back to 2013. 

I saw it for the first time today, and it was fun to see all the separate locations I've been in the last ten years. Then I clicked on one of the dots and it got even more interesting, because I could also see the route I took to that destination. I clicked on a dot near Eli's school and was treated to a trip I took to P. Terry's on a Friday afternoon in October 2013, which is where I'd hang out until a few minutes before school let out. I have incredibly fond memories of sitting in P. Terry's and designing Gridiron Solitaire, then picking up Eli and us going off do something fun together.

It was just dots connected by lines on my screen, but it hit me pretty hard. In a good way. 

I could see us drive up to Grand Rapids from Austin in June of 2016, tracing across the country like the curving of a bow. It was just Eli and me, because Gloria was staying behind for two weeks to finish up the house, and Eli had to be in Grand Rapids for a goalie camp. 12+ hours of driving both days, and we managed to turn it into an adventure, like we've always been able to do.

Orwellian? Absolutely. Also wonderful? Absolutely. 

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Guatemala (part two)

The early part of the path up to base camp (I forgot to include it yesterday). It got steep, but it was gently sloping and beautiful here:

I don't know how close they got to the volcano, because I don't have all the pictures yet, but here's an excellent view from a distance:

This photo is just amazing in its beauty:

Tortillas at base camp:

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Guatemala (part one)

Eli 21.11 sent pictures from Guatemala. They spent the first day in town, then begin hiking up to the Acatenango volcano, which is 13,000+ feet above sea level.

Here's a picture of the famous Santa Catalina arch (it's in the very back):

This is from a market in the town they stayed in the first night:

Base camp was at 12,000 feet:

A very good boy they met on the trail:

Monday, July 03, 2023

They Did Not Receive a Promotion

All I want is audio from the marketing meeting that pitched this product:

I just want to hear someone say "What we need is a flamingo wearing a bikini top and a hula skirt, holding a beer and a beach umbrella. We won't be able to keep them on the shelves!"

With the matching male with sunglasses, hat, and surfboard, of course.

There's a warehouse somewhere with 150,000 of these in excess storage. At least.

Autocorrect is a Malaprop Machine, Vol. 1

 "My phone is about to die in the diaper."

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