Today is the 152nd day of the year 2021

Seems like a good day for a blog post!

One Song Everyday

Building (healthy) habits is not something that comes easily to me, so I always find “do this one thing every day of the year” projects appealing. A few years ago I made a “one second everyday” #1se video and surprised my family with it on the following New Year’s Day. (That was really nice.)

In 2018, after starting a new job, I blogged every day for the first month of the year as a bit of a dogfood exercise.

(And really, I “blog” using internal tools at work most every weekday.)

This year, I am recording a song every day.

Why and What and How

They’re all covers, and they’re all on video. There’s a bit of an About page that I wrote on the first day about why I’m doing this and what I’m trying to learn. It comes down to being OK with not being great at playing and singing, being especially poor at completing songs — playing them all the way through — over the years, and seeing this as a way to make myself accountable (to myself, obvs) for playing whole songs and trying to learn more.

And it’s working. I’m improving, learning about recording, toying around with GarageBand and considering other software, getting out old guitar accessories,

There’s an Index that lists all the songs I’ve done so far from a few different angles, too.

I’ve been meaning to go through and tag some “favorites” but that’s a lot of self-reflection, and I might not be the best judge of this sort of thing, and they’re all good or bad or mediocre or terrible for their own reasons, no favorite children, etc.

Tools and Choices

  • Breedlove acoustic guitar
  • Squire J Mascis Jazzmaster electric guitar
  • Fuzz Factory pedal
  • GarageBand, lots of things
  • Nektar MIDI keyboard
  • Samson C01UPRO microphone
  • black cowboy hat
  • lack of shame

Maybe notable: I’m not posting these on traditional “social” media much at all. I’m just not in the mood this year to give all this content to Google or Facebook or Twitter, or to automate anything like that, though I reserve the right to drop a little snippet in my Insta story from time to time. I’m using for everything, including the video hosting. Some of this isn’t free for customers — it turns out a four-minute song video with multiple tracks is hundreds of MBs? — but I work for Automattic, so I’m using our stuff for free.


Oh, and yes, as an added benefit, I walk around every day knowing how many days have passed this year. Today is the 152nd day of the year.

Any requests?

Leaving behind WebFaction

I started hosting This Website with WebFaction in 2008, just after moving to Rochester, with the plan of also using WebFaction’s notably flexible and well-supported systems to host sites using Django (ReportingOn), and ended up using them for multiple other WordPress sites that came up from time to time, as well as other experiments, side projects, and cron jobs over the years.

It was great!

A couple years back, GoDaddy acquired WebFaction, and although I don’t really have anything against GoDaddy — they’re a much better company since switching CEOs around 2011 (you’ll note their Super Bowl commercials took a couple years to catch up, though) — I decided if I was going to endure any switching of control panels and whatnot, I would do it by switching to host This Website at, where I happen to work these days.

This is the point where a better Automattician might write a point-by-point walkthrough of how they moved their personal blog from another host to, but 1) it wasn’t that hard, and 2) I didn’t take proper screenshots along the way. Suffice it to say that all I really needed to do was mash the export button in WP-Admin on my WebFaction-hosted site and mash the import button on my version.

That’s about it.

OK, OK, so I also had to dig through a decade of bad habits in terms of where I had dumped files and various side projects I had spun up, partially spun down, and left some shred of application standing in my WebFaction admin, just in case I ever wanted to take another run at it.

So where will I house my silly side projects and toy with other programming languages now that I’ve given up my push-this-button-to-launch-a-Ruby-app web host? Heroku. GitHub. My local development environment, now that I’m getting to better know my way around VVV and Docker. (Read as: Copy/paste from documentation and Google the error messages, as always.)

So, thanks for the training wheels and the memories, WebFaction. I’ll never forget the way you burst into flames shortly after I moved my site to your data center.

Days twenty-nine, thirty, and thirty-one: Reflections on trying to blog every day for a month

I didn’t blog every day for a month. I didn’t miss by much, but it’s definitely easier to be disciplined about it at home than it is on the road.

I thought it would be a good experiment, writing slightly longer, compared to a tweet, and it often felt satisfying to mash the publish button. The daily pressure was noticed, though, and reminded me of the year I did one of those one-second-per-day videos. Sometimes you just need to point the camera at the sky; sometimes you just need to jot down some thoughts about jotting down thoughts.

I’m writing this on my laptop on a plane — not on my phone, where I wrote all (I think?) the other posts this month.

Maybe writing those posts didn’t help me separate myself from my phone, but it did give me an outlet for the spare energy of rattling-around thoughts, pithy ideas, and rambling about platforms and projects and photos and it was fun to pull some old file art off my phone.

About Not Tweeting Or Posting On Facebook

Um, many people have spit many hot takes on this topic, and there’s not much I can add. It felt like I was measurably reducing my daily anxiety by not spending much time on Twitter this month. When I did check in from time to time on my laptop during the week (or, admittedly, stealing down to the basement once or twice a day on weekends to get my fix), it was nice to see a joke or two, or someone’s Personal News, and there was that day I unfollowed more than a thousand people, that felt pretty good.

I was still checking news sites multiple times a day on my phone, to feed the “has anything blown up overnight?” monster in my brain, but if you feel overwhelmed and like maybe you need a break from the unrelenting wash of news, then yes, indeed, I would recommend cutting down on Twitter.

And Facebook, sure, although checking in there less was a good reminder that I’ve done a decent job of curating my friends and my feed there, so more often than not, looking at Facebook on my laptop a couple times a day made me feel good.

I kept Instagram on my phone, and although the babies and kids and dogs and meals there have a lot of overlap with my FB feed, I’ve been enjoying Stories.

What now?

Am I going to keep aiming to write a blog post every day? Uhhhhhhmmmmmm hmmmm errrrr… How about I just try to blog whenever I feel like it, whenever I have a thought longer than tweet-length, whenever there’s one of those empty cans making a lot of noise in my head, whenever I want to, more or less, without the long-gone pressure of worrying about my brand or how my work responsibilities and personal opinions (usually about future-of-news stuff) might not always be in alignment.

Am I going to start tweeting again?

Ehhhhhhhhh probably. But I’m going to keep curating pretty hard. I definitely have the thought of making my account private, and/or deleting my old tweets.

It’s tempting to just leave it behind.

Fish tacos, El Pescadito, Mexico City, 2019
Fish tacos, El Pescadito, Mexico City, 2019

Days twenty-seven and twenty-eight

Written on the morning of the 29th, natch.

Whenever I hear the words “business traveler,” I picture someone older than me in a suit. When I travel for work, I see those people, and except for the single-meeting trips where I might wear a suit jacket (honestly, I have no idea what’s a sport coat and what’s a blazer, so use your imagination), I usually look pretty casual and beardy and not businessy.

But there I am, moving through airports, traveling for work, doing my best to feel less like an electron going through a wire and more like a human being experiencing the world.

Even if that experience is trying to be invisible with my headphones on and saying as little as possible to anyone. šŸ˜‰

Days twenty-five and twenty-six

Hey this daily habit thing is challenging!

Whatever I thought I might write about today was just wiped clean because we just watched BlacKkKlansman and it’s going to take a few minutes to recover.

Spike still has some shots left in him, that’s for sure. I remember one time he gave a talk at NYU, in the coffee shop on the ground floor of Tisch, when one movie or another of his was coming out, but he had to get to the Yankees game and was a little impatient with us, short on time, and how many times had he given the same talk to every group of film undergrads who wanted to think of themselves as auteurs.

But there’s Spike, in 2018, saving the signature ride-the-dolly move for the last shot of his movie. Sorry, I guess that’s a minor spoiler for a certain class of nerd.

The tie-ins to the present of the black experience in America, the garbage rhetoric of those whose idea of greatness is whiteness, the clear cross-cut storytelling of what “white power” and “black power” and “black lives matter” mean — somehow all pulled off less heavy-handed than usual — and I even like it when he’s heavy-handed, heck, I cried thick tears at 25th Hour and needed a drink after it to calm down.

Day twenty-four

Part of what I love about Vampire Weekend is the fact that my wife likes their music, too. Spend your life with someone, and it’s nice if there’s not just music you can enjoy together, but music you can enjoy together across multiple states on road trips, for the 19th time, playing on repeat, and maybe if the kids can bounce around in their seats, that’s a plus.

There’s new music from Vampire Weekend (yes, yes, asterisk minus Rostam, fine) for the first time in six years, and it’s lovely enough.

Last time around I spent lots of time with MVOTC early in Genius’s run, and ended up building a spreadsheet out of all of VW’s lyrics from all their albums, looking for narratives and themes and clues to some bigger story, sure I’d heard a snippet of a song referencing some past character. There wasn’t some overarching epic woven through that I could discern, but it was a fun corpus for data science projects that never took shape.

In one of the new songs out today, there’s a completely transparent interpolating (as the kids say) of a song from the prior album, so there’s something to pull apart there, maybe, or it’s just their way of letting us know they still don’t want to live like this, but they don’t want to die.

Day twenty-three

When I was in third grade or so, I thought “23” was going to be the perfect age. I’d be out of college, a successful adult in the world, driving my Maserati or whatever I thought was cool — but not that cool — as an eight-year-old, and living the good life as the founder of Sholin Industries, whatever that was going to be. Business!

Maybe that was the year I wanted to be “a businessman” when I grew up, which no doubt led to grandparents telling me I should go to Harvard, because that’s where you go to become “a businessman.”

I ended up with a Harvard sweatshirt, and it was great.

Was that the same year I wanted to be a lawyer? Because that’s where you go if you want to be a lawyer. And of course, as my own children have entered the “debate every suggestion with ten minutes of pedantry” phase, I wonder out loud if suggestions from adults that children “would make good lawyers” are perhaps no less than 97 percent in jest.

I had a busy day, didn’t check the news much, and only now in the evening read about a shooting today in a bank in my home state. This is the moment where I’d like to check Facebook on my phone to see if my friends and family are all fine — although I’m not sure how useful FB would be for that — or really, to figure out whether I know anyone there.

When you grow up in Florida, every Florida Man story is an opportunity to worry about whether you know the weirdo in question. Usually, you don’t.

Day twenty-two

A busy day of work and parenting, somehow fitting in XBox skating with the boy and measurable progress on the Vargas Llosa book I’m reading (translated into English), but practicing my Spanish has been one of the highlights of my week so far.

I’ve explained hundreds of times, en EspaƱol: Soy de Miami, y cuando era joven, estudiĆ© EspaƱol por muchos aƱos en escuela. Despues, estaba viviendo en Nueva York, y estaba hablando EspaƱol con mis vecinos PuertorriqueƱos y los camioneros Mexicanos a mi trabajo.

(I can go on, often mentioning my wife’s family, or where I practiced Spanish when we lived in Santa Cruz, or Albuquerque, or somewhere else along the way.)

These days I explain that I don’t know much business Spanish, but puedo hablar de comida o familia sin problema, context is everything. And probably repetition.

Day twenty-one

It was so cold today here that I ended up with Tom Waits in my head: “…colder than a welldigger’s ass…”

And I can’t remember now if Diamonds on my Windshield is on Heart of Saturday Night or if I first heard it on the hilarious/sad/underwhelming Beat Generation box set I bought myself (likely with my employee discount) all those years ago, after coveting it for months in the record store.

It had some real gems on it, Ginsberg reading America as the closer, touches from Burroughs, Lenny Bruce (beat??), Kerouac himself reading his own work, implanting his cadence on my memory of some of his favorite words, exposing how much he enjoyed them himself.

But also, for some reason, Tom Waits makes multiple appearances.

Whenever I spot these sorts of oddities, it’s my record store days and my understanding of film rights for music that make me wonder if the same label had the rights to a bunch of it and just flipped through their own catalog for filler.

Need something else tangentially about Route 66? Check Tom’s stuff. Probably something in there about a road.

Day twenty

Yesterday, we watched Temple of Doom with the kids (well, the one who was stubborn enough to stay on the couch and suffer through it with us).

Let me be the last one to tell you, it is as bad as you remember.

I knew I had never really seen the whole movie more than once, because of the part with THE HEART but do you remember…

  • The poorly developed female character?
  • The racism?
  • The other racism?
  • Pretty sure there’s a third racism in there, too?
  • Monkey brains?
  • Bugs?
  • The condescending continuity gaffe of setting this movie before Raiders but then having Indy pull the “brought a gun to a knife fight” trick again?
  • Spielberg and Lucas’s joint excuse that they were going through breakups at the time and things just got really dark?

Today, we made up for it by watching Black Panther and it was glorious.