Day eight

Every morning, I walk the dog along a variable route on our neighborhood sidewalks and paths, usually along the shores of one, two, or three of our little lakes, depending on the weather, her mood, and how many other dogs we see (and avoid — her behavior around other dogs is… suboptimal.)

In warm weather, there are herons in the area, and I spot them frequently enough that I started using a #dailyheron tag on Instagram. I was a little surprised to see one out today:

Late in 2017 and at least into the spring of 2018, I was using one of my blogs (and the mobile app in which I have typed all these blog posts so far this year) to post some odd black and white over-processed images from some of my morning walks, afternoon soccer practices, and other outdoor moments with the dog or kids.

Honestly? It got a little repetitive, but there were some nice herons mixed in.

This one is the very first image saved on my camera roll on this phone. I’ve lost track of what that means about when it’s from or which generation of phone I shot it with.

Day seven

Did everyone get a sunrise like this today, or is the steam from our friendly neighborhood data centers starting to change our microclimate? Just asking…

I remember waking up to smog-filtered kaleidoscope sunrises in New Jersey, sleeping on floors working on student films my junior year of college. That spring, I learned to love sandbags and c-stands and Jameson and cutting up light.

That was also the spring after I had gone vegan, and getting myself fed on student film sets was a fun sport, as it would be on independent films for a couple years. I had this Mars Attacks hat I irrationally treasured that season — yes, I had enjoyed the movie — we must have seen it at an early screening with some swag handouts — but mostly I just liked hats.

I made myself a little sharpie-and-gaffer-tape label that said “THE VEGAN” in some heavy metal band-adjacent hand, and vigorously taped it to the hat in place of the word “Mars.” The Vegan Attacks.

When I started working on music videos more frequently, I gave up on it a bit, and would dig into second meal pizza without more than a couple thoughts about the dairy involved.

But then again, I spent a large portion of my earnings at vegetarian and vegan restaurants, often taking cabs home, dropping my gear, washing my hands, and going out to the corner vegan diner (RIP Kate’s Joint) in my dirty grip jeans and flannel shirt, to sit at the bar and wait for my takeout country fried tempeh or southern smothered tofu or my unturkey club sandwich.

Day six

At the end we preferred to travel all night, 
Sleeping in snatches, 
With the voices in our ears, saying 
That this was all folly. 

T. S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi

…but also about parenting, probably.

We arrived at Epiphany today with the second child ailing of the stomach bug that kept the first up all night Thursday and home from school on Friday.

We strove on, nevertheless, and took down the decorations, somehow fit everything back in the appropriate containers and closet, and continued polishing off leftovers.

I’m working on a luxurious pork broth for a ramen dinner tomorrow:

(This is pretty much a before picture, taken four+ hours ago when I started simmering the bones.)

The dog loves pork, and the dog loves broth, so she is pleased with this turn of events.

Day five

Weekends can be tricky! But the streak must go on.

There aren’t any tweets in my Notes file today, but this might’ve been a good self-deprecating thought, whether or not it’s original:

Y’know, for someone who likes to avoid conflict, I sure do enjoy replaying every one in my head over and over again.

Photo projects, like figuring out how to recover and host and categorize 15+ years of images from across multiple social networks, are a bit of a cobbler’s children problem for me.

My mom is a photographer, and did portraits and parties for years, but our own family photo archives included a few key albums and the rest flowed through cardboard boxes and closets and offices and filing cabinets from house to house to house.

There were blue boxes of slides, piles and piles of negatives, contact sheets, black and white 8x10s from the early years when our laundry room doubled as a darkroom, and boxes on boxes on boxes of proofs.

So here I am, the cobbler’s child, going through my own digital boxes, trying to track down file names in years-old “to print” folders that have been carried from camera to card to iMac to Flickr to Dropbox to Drive to iMac to send off into some consumer-facing cloud printing system.

A couple years back, in a previous Flickr-panic, I started backing everything up in Google Photos, but not at full resolution.

So, here’s a fun file, one of the oldest that I know I took that’s in our online archives:

It’s a scene from the road on the way back from the job in New Mexico where I met my wife. It’s probably from June 2001, and I think it’s Texas.

That was definitely taken with a film camera. I don’t think I was push processing color then, but who knows, maybe it was some 800 speed stuff. Printed as a proof at Spectra on Avenue A (?) soon after, and scanned on my really crappy flatbed scanner at the time (thanks mom, it was great), as evidenced by the vertical magenta stripe about a third of the way in.

That stripe, in turn, was one of the reasons I started messing around with Photoshop (also thanks mom!), so it’s hard to know for sure how much goofiness I added with filters there.

It must have made its way to Flickr at some point, but this one is old enough it could be on, where I would post a few things around 2001-2002. (I continue to be amazed this site still exists.)

And after that? Did it travel from hard drive to CD to hard drive to USB stick to hard drive to Google Photos? Or is this a copy that was resized (smaller) to upload via 56K baud modem?

I have no idea.

Day four

Me: Has a stubborn cold throughout holiday season.

Also me: Stubbornly consumes a large percentage of the gluten, sugar, and dairy laden holiday foods in the house.

Every time I’ve opened Twitter on my desktop this week, it’s 90 percent people dunking on people and 10 percent AOC dancing. Guess which I prefer?

I’m allowing myself a really limited amount of faves when I open Twitter on desktop. (I usually fave a LOT of tweets.) Kinda feel like cutting it back to one a day and really making a conscious choice about it ugh.

Please enjoy this selfie from the streets of Montreal last August, with a notably full beard, after going almost straight from the family beach vacation to the all-team work meetup.

I’ve been thinking about what to do with all the family photos we have on Flickr and Facebook. More on that another day.

Day two

Back to work means back at my laptop all day, with too easy access to Twitter and Facebook and all the rest, but it was great to spend a bunch of focused time catching up on email and other research after the holidays. has TV commercials now, which is both wild and refreshing:

Meanwhile, here are today’s tweets I would’ve sent from my phone:

This is the most Monday Wednesday ever.

The old Toys R Us jingle in my head like a dirge.

I want to program my keyboard to give me a nice little electric shock every time I rattle the letters “F A C E” into it.

Well, that was upbeat!

Here’s one from the archives: December 2003, making the annual batch of arancini in my wife’s grandmother’s kitchen in Caracas. The boxer is Petunia (rest in slobber).

Day one

It’s the first day of the year 2019, and for Reasons, I have deleted Facebook, FB Messenger, and Twitter from my phone in recent days.

It hasn’t been entirely unpleasant! But also, I have found myself jusssssst the slightest bit thirsty for the incessant flow of information a ridiculously powerful piece of glass in my hand has to offer.

The good news: I’ve spent less time staring at my phone. And when I am, I’m playing lots of chess. Although my rating has collapsed in the last couple days of this winter break.

Today, on my first full day since 2007 without Twitter available on a phone in my hand almost continuously, I couldn’t resist jotting down some tweets.

I’m still writing representative democracy on all my checks.

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, c’mon already Mueller.

I really should’ve waited until my holds came in at the library before taking twitter off my phone.

Staring at my phone and swiping back and forth between screens of apps can give you a little burst of dopamine if you do it fast enough.

Real talk: I spent like three hours playing EA Skate 3 today.

Here is a picture of the dog on or about Christmas Eve. Happy New Year!

Family road trip, Summer 2018

Determined to leave the house, the neighborhood, and the state, we planned a short road trip last week. North or South? West? (There isn’t much East of here.) We considered a “waterfalls of West Virginia” trip. We abandoned a camping plan earlier in the summer. We stepped back from other long-drive plans.

We decided to go North. To Amish Country, Watkins Glen, and the Corning Museum of Glass. Oh, and to stay in a tiny house.


We left the dog and the house and the garden behind, told them all to be good, and took off up Route 15, across the Potomac, retracing our usual path past Cunningham Falls, into the territory in Central Pennsylvania we first drove through on our pre-move trips from Rochester to check out Loudoun County, nine years ago this summer.

Google things like “Amish tour Lancaster” and you end up finding some relatively commercial (I mean, commercial for the Amish is not that much) villages, and some nice farm tour options. The Old Windmill Farm site had pictures of people feeding cows and there were pigs that looked like fun, so that’s where we headed.

The farm tour was so much fun. Yes, we fed the calves from bottles. Yes, the pigs went down a slide. Yes, we held baby chicks, and then their mother gathered them under her wings, just like the song we used to sing the kids when they were babies themselves. Yes, we pet Tim the giant mule. Yes, we fed goats and chickens from our hands. Yes, we held baby bunnies, and yes, the barn cat came when we called and soaked up all the scratches.

Q: “How long did it take to train them to do that?”
A: “About an hour.”

The farmer talked about how they had wound down their dairy operation from a 50-cow spot in a co-op to just what they needed for their family and a little casual raw milk sale here and there. He talked about how his grandfather used to grow tobacco, and now they grow corn and soy, mostly for feed. We learned about how and why they ferment some hay and alfalfa, too.

Q: “How do you stop the chickens from sitting on their eggs?”
A: “Oh, these are bad mothers.”

And then through the craft shack (allllllmost a gift shop, tbqh) and the garden, where the kids helped harvest some potatoes, and we talked about the dry weather and the bugs and all the challenges of Growing Vegetables. 

And then we shared a whoopie pie. When in Rome. Er, Pennsylvania.

We passed through downtown Strasburg, not to be confused with Stroudsburg, which I did! (Ask me about the time I was stranded in the latter for a few hours after working on a student film all night.)

We spent the night in a tiny house.

Tiny House. Prius for reference.

Literally! Like, you’ve heard of Tiny Houses™? We took this from Pinterest to real life, staying at a place that looks like it transitioned from trailer park to Tiny Estates not too long ago. (Thanks to Certifikid!) The kids had fun going up and down the precarious “stairs” to the loft bed, and we enjoyed a few rounds of cornhole and ladder toss and giant jenga in the common area. (It was really nice.)


Expecting rain in the morning, we decided to head for Corning and spend the afternoon at the glass museum. We crossed the Susquehanna a dozen or so times, ate our tiny-house-toasted sandwiches in a fast food parking lot, and the sun came out for the final miles into Corning. Which is… nicer than I remember?

Maybe it doesn’t help my memory that my previous time in Corning was in the absolute dead of Central New York winter, and it wasn’t my all-time favorite newsroom visit. Because, reasons.

But. But! Not only did Corning look lovely in the summer sun, the Corning Museum of Glass was a complete revelation.

Huge, bright, airy, and the first place they send you is a contemporary art wing which was more relatable and timely and evocative and aesthetically comprehensible than anything I’ve seen at the MOCA in Chicago or (uh, a long time ago) at the Whitney in New York.

Also, glass breaking demonstrations. And glass blowing. And fire. So much fire! And glass. So much glass.

This was a highlight. Dude’s name is Jared, and he was pretty casual. I have a pic of him actually blowing glass, but this was way cooler.

After a few hours, the kids were glassed out, so we mounted up the Prius and headed north to Watkins Glen. After discovering our upstairs-from-a-deli Airbnb was almost as goth as that one chandelier with the crows, we decided a walk and some fresh air was in order. TO THE LAKE!

Also, there was some much needed ice cream, and a country-adjacent live band in a park. Hello, small town America, alive and well in Watkins Glen. (Later, we would look up the 2016 election results for Schuyler County.)

I knew a few songs. We kept our distance, let the kids run around, and I danced a little with my ice cream.


A short prelude to our day in Watkins Glen State Park: In July 2008 (not a typo), while living in Rochester, New York, we brought our toddler down to Watkins Glen to hike the gorge and camp for the night. Here’s how it went: We all got wet on the hike, then it rained at dinnertime and I cooked our boil-in-bag rice and Indian food on our single burner camp stove in the rain, then I did laps around the campground loop getting the toddler to sleep, then she coughed once and woke up crying, and we packed up the tent and drove the two hours home with our sick kid to sleep in our own bed.

But the pictures from the gorge hike in 2008 are still fun. So we decided to recreate one of our favorites along the path.

July 2008, Gorgeous in the Gorges, birth of several variants of the nickname “Gorges McGorgeous”
2018, grown.

If you’ve never been, it’s worth the trip. I hesitate to even call it a “hike” because it’s pretty easy.

dat gorge light doe
it’s hard to get this capture wrong, tbqh

The hike was so easy, in fact, that we were pretty much done by the middle of the day, and needed something else to do, lest we get sucked into the orbit of the goth Airbnb. (In all honesty, it wasn’t that bad, and the crooked floors became sort of charming after a few hours of sleep.) 

After a break to pick up some sfogliatelle and cannoli at a neighborhood Italian bakery, we decided to check one more town off our list and took a quick ride over the hill to Ithaca, where we had spotted a science-themed mini golf option at a hands-on museum.

This hole was about centripetal force, I guess?

It was just about perfect. Back to Watkins Glen, one more walk to the lake, and we called it a night.


The day you drive all the way home isn’t supposed to be too adventurous, but we had seen enough of some parts of Route 15, and had eaten enough soggy sandwiches in fast food parking lots, so we decided to take a quick side trip about an hour our of our way to Hershey. Yes, that Hershey. 

If you’re a parent, you’ll understand what I mean when I say one of the highlights was the moment we executed a perfect tag team puke cleanup / potty run in the parking lot of the Chipotle across Chocolate Avenue (not a metaphor) from Hershey Park (also not a metaphor). [SHUDDER]

So we ate Chipotle instead of sandwiches, took a different route, and realized we were down the street from Tröegs brewery, so I made a quick run into the shop there. (Um, this place is huge? And nice? The only brewery I’ve been at this scale is Surly in Minneapolis.

Tröegs shop, the least impressive part of it, but we didn’t have time for a brewery tour and we had already eaten and the kids couldn’t really believe I was stopping for beer after everything that happened in the Chipotle parking lot.

And then we drove home, picked up the dog, and…


Just kidding, there’s no fifth day of the road trip, except that we took the kids to Arcade Fire, their first real rock concert. Did I mention we took them to Hamilton at the Kennedy Center a few days before this road trip? Hello, we are exhausted.