I’m a fortunate person to have been loved by people in my life, but a grandparent’s love – my grandma’s love specifically – is a different thing altogether.

Sometimes it was protectiveness, sometimes hopefulness, sometimes it was intense pride. Sitting here now I can’t actually picture her saying the words “I love you” out loud – it just wasn’t her style – but man, was it something I felt in my bones. She wanted so much for me. I really do hope she knew I turned out ok. 

I struggled for a while to find a photo that reminded me of how I’ll remember her. I’ll always picture her the way she was in my early teen years: in flats, jeans, black and gold handbag, and her red windbreaker. I swear she wore that thing until it was threadbare. So much so that I can’t even imagine if and when she gave it up. In my mind, she had it right until the end and only gave up wearing it because it stopped fitting. 

I had a million first things with her. My first fish. My first Budweiser. My first tear-off lottery ticket. My first “talk”.

She spent so much time talking on the phone. To friends, to her sisters, to the rest of the family. Always with the gossip. I suppose that’s the way.

She was loud. She was outgoing. Her laugh would fill a room. She’s the kind of person that makes you want to be funny just so you could hear her laugh. It was the kind of laugh you could hear loud and clear over the clang of a horseshoe pit and Hank blaring on the radio. She never lost her Western PA accent and I loved her for all those idiosyncrasies.

  • “Taired”
  • “Faire” engine
  • Going “futher”
  • Referring to my wedding as “not some hillbilly stomp”

I swear she must’ve been 4’10” on a good day but she never seemed small. She was fiercely independent. At times she was captain of the boat or driver of the dump truck. She was the queen of proving people wrong out of spite. 

She also had the habit of finding the most hilarious birthday cards. You’d often get one and think “did she stock up in a major way back in the 80’s? Is she just running out her personal inventory? How does one know how many cards to keep on hand is enough?”  It seemed like she did eventually run out and her cards got more modern overnight which was a subtle but sad thing to me. A change in traditions can be like that. Like when her Christmas decorations got smaller and smaller over time. I know she was mostly just wearing down over time – her body and her energy finally starting to fail her little by little.  Growing up, she had this elf that perched on a ladder pretending to hang garland on the tree. It was a fixture. I’m probably makling it up, but I remember it hanging around for years after her full size trees gave way to a table top fiber optic facsimile. She wasn’t sentimental, and in the end I’m convinced she gave away just about everything. I like to think she saw it as making sure everyone had the things they cherished or that she hoped they lived a second life somewhere else. Probably not. She probably just wanted less stuff cluttering up her house. So it goes. 

Some of my favorite moments with her weren’t overt. Like the time she pulled the RV over on the way to the lake because she wasn’t happy with the clothes I had. We went to Walmart and bought a few things. I cherished the polo shirts we got in particular. I must’ve worn them a hundred times that school year. I’m pretty sure one of them was in my school pictures. I didn’t come from much but she raised me to have self respect and confidence. She was proud of me. Always proud of me. Or like the times she’d read something in the paper that made her think of me. She’d cut the article out and drop it in the mail. I loved the idea of getting those and wondering to myself what about me triggered the thought. She could be opaque in that way when she wanted to. And maybe I ultimately loved that? I wish I had acknowledged it more.

Time is a cruel bitch. It takes a living, breathing, three-dimensional person and reduces them to a series of flashbulb moments. 

I’ll always remember asking up in her couch to the smell of breakfast and coffee and sound of the spoon rattling around in those Corelle coffee mugs. The fact that she’d always buy the specific cheese I liked from this nothing deli in town. The fact that she’d always make my birthday cake with buttercream icing – my favorite – and leave me a little tub on the side to indulge. I’m pretty sure it was for dipping graham crackers but I definitely took a spoon to it if we’re being honest. I’ll remember riding between her and my Grandpa on the bench seat of their dump truck. I’ll remember her every time I make a packet of Lipton noodle soup.  I’ll remember me and my Grandpa heading out for minnows before dawn and coming back to a fisherman’s breakfast before we hit the water. Raspberry jelly toast and butter 4 lyfe. I’ll remember countless days on the boat. I’ll remember the deafening sound of the motor and the waves breaking – too loud to talk l, but watching her face when the light was still weak and everything glowed. One of those rare moments of not knowing what she was thinking. 

They don’t make ‘em like they used to. But there are a lot of us that know that and will try to pass on whatever we can. 

Thank you Gram, for so many of those flashbulb moments and good times and good lessons. I love you always. 

Scenes From an Airport

Scene: man and woman getting off a flight. They hug stiffly. The kind of hug where you actually hug but your ass is way out in the breeze the whole time.

Woman: this weekend was so fun


W: We should do this again 


W: Well, it was so good to see you


They seem to simultaneously realize every person getting off the plane goes to the same exit. They shrug, make an awkward sound, and towards the parking garages together. 

End scene.

Editor’s note: Despite the man’s obvious “enthusiasm”, I do not think they had a good time nor do I think they intend to do this again.

Snow Day

We spent the night of Halloween standing around the neighbors’ fire pit catching up and telling jokes. At one point midway through the conversation, we all noticed a big wet flake float down in the middle of the group. Everyone froze mid-conversation looking like they’d just seen a ghost, wondering if they were imagining things. It wasn’t long before the flurries were really flying. I went to bed not thinking much of it, but we woke up to some real snow.

Away we go, I guess?

Endless Summer Vacation

Apropos of nothing, what follows is a track by track recalling of my experience with Miley Cyrus’ newest Album, “Endless Summer Vacation”

The title should’ve been “So Much Better Than Younger Now“.

  1. this is Dua lipa. Not in a bad way? Kinda reminds me of when Taylor was trying to be Lorde for a minute
  2. strong beach house energy. This song is a VIBE 🤙🏼 
  3. hell yes. Also beach house energy? I love songs like this that are almost like a waltz with that tempo that drones on
  4. not bad, but forgettable. +1 for harmonica
  5. Miley does the “throaty singer” thing as good as anyone right now. It’s fine.
  6. Not feeling it
  7. I might warm up to this one. I like the “max everything” approach to the production, but I can’t tell if it grates at me or not.
  8. Solid. The spacey synth is pretty killer. The vocals also have a cool shimmery thing going on in the chorus.
  9. I dig the beat in general. Sia is on this and it legit sounds like a Sia song
  10. I don’t mind it, but it doesn’t grab me or anything
  11. What an absolute gigantic, massive flex to create a song that’s about how you have your life together and you don’t have problems to occupy your time anymore. Very girl boss
  12. You cannot convince me that this song isn’t somehow an interpolated version of “In the Arms of the Angels”. You can’t take Sarah McLaughlin from us, Miley. I appreciate the earnestness in this, but it’s not why I’m putting on a Miley album tbh. I’m probably not in the target demo here though…
    1. Not a ton to be said about the demo version of a song on its original album. It’s a little self indulgent IMO. 


It’s November sixth, but the month and day are just placeholders. We’re short on time and everyone knows it. It was 73 degrees today and people were out in throngs. Tending to their yards. Walking dogs. Talking with neighbors. Anything to cling on to those last bits of our outside lives.

The sun claws its way over the horizon like a kid climbing out the side of a pool. It relieves itself of any duties related to warming us. We’re on our own for a bit. We’re trading in our blue skies and puffy clouds for skies the color of concrete and clouds like boulders. 

Sun shining through wooded area

Kottke has written about this transitional time before – he (and Vonnegut apparently) call it Stick Season. 

What’s going on right now and will continue into mid-to-late December is “stick season”. All the beautiful fall foliage has fallen off of the trees and we’re left with not-so-beautiful sticks until the snow flies regularly enough to call it winter.

He links it to a feeling of depression, but I guess I’m fortunate to not feel that way. I always get excited for these transitional periods where things are changing. We end DST and sunset abruptly changes on us, bringing us into our pseudo-nocturnal lives. It’s a shock to the system. We’re forced to change up our routines and knock the rust off. Maybe things take a little longer and require more planning, but we adjust. We’ll be more intentional and what we want to do and where we’ll do it. Maybe we’ll take more time to be reflective. 

Sun sets over farmland

Bring it on, I say. I’ve got enough coffee and books and firewood and stories to last us until Spring.

Twilight sky

Blogging is… back?

So Twitter got bought – like, actually got bought – and people are pissed. And rightfully so. Musk seems like either a lunatic or completely in over his head but either way, the outcome is the same – people are bailing. It’s kind of a shame, because Twitter is the only social network I ever cared about over the long term. Every time I notice that my account has been active since November of 2007, it catches me off-guard a bit. Think about what’s happened in your life over the past 15 years. Like, actually think about it.

twitter profile snapshot

Anyway, it seems like people are trying to form new networks elsewhere. A bunch of people are moving to Mastodon, but that seems like that’s way too fiddly to work for most peoples’ needs. And that was always the biggest value of Twitter; people were accessible and it was totally frictionless to use. I’m skeptical that people are going to leave in meaningful numbers, but I’ll be sad if it really does go that way. I’ve made a lot of friends there over time, and the instant nature of it is really compelling.

One possible upside is that people seem to have a renewed interest in blogging. I’ve been a huge fan of feed readers since way before Twitter, but it’s been sort of a ghost town for years. But over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed it’s been so much busier and I kinda dig it. It feels old school. It makes me realize how nice long-form writing can be. Tweet threads and screen-shotted notes have been a means-to-an-end sort of hack all along and I won’t miss them.

Anyway, I’m writing here for the first time in ages. I have no idea if it’ll stick. Habits are a hard thing to break and even harder to make, so who knows?

Rotate 90 Degrees

A couple weeks back, I got a new Toyota 4Runner.

It's amazing and I love it. 

Below is a photo of the audio control panel on the steering wheel.

I do not love it.

Take a close look at the direction of the arrows here. Things like this make me crazy. I’m sure someone somewhere had good reasons for laying things out this way, but whoa does this break my mental model for UI to an audio player.

Volume is almost always represented as moving up and down, which makes you think those controls would be on the top and bottom of the audio control.

Aside from that, progress through an album or playlist is usually represented as a left-to-right progression. If that’s unclear, imagine iTunes’ Cover Flow.

“But wait!” you might say. “Playlists are organized vertically all the time!”. And I would say you’re right – they are. But the “up” button in this case doesn’t go back in the playlist – it goes forward. So hitting the “up” button actually progresses downward through a vertically-oriented playlist.

I trust that you, dear reader, are now also scratching your head along with me. Be right back, I’m going to go search for ways to hack these controls.

Streamers are the New Talk Shows

It all started with a tweet.

When I originally Negaoryx’s tweet, I ignored it. In the cover photo, I noticed the girl was a streamer and the clip had something to do with Breath of the Wild. I scrolled by casually, but it started getting retweeted and quoted enough that it finally caught my attention.

I watched the video and got a kick out of the host’s personality, so I decided to check out her stream. She was playing The Last of Us at the time and I’d always wanted to play it. I checked in periodically over the coming days. It was really cool to watch the play through, but there was also something really cool about the community aspect of the whole thing. The host and chat stream interacted like old friends. It was… weird?

Around the same time, I was really into playing Apex Legends and was enjoying the subreddit on the topic. I kept seeing the same pro players’ names coming up in threads, so I decided to check out Dizzy’s stream. As it turns out, watching someone be incredibly good at something you do as a novice is at once both humbling and awe-inspiring. Because Dizzy is a pro player, I eventually branched out began watching streams of his teammates. Like before, I was really drawn in by the banter between all the players.

Through sheer force of will, eventually Twitch’s algorithm got me hooked on Ninja and Tim the Tatman. Today, they’re probably my most-watched streams. I put them on all the time in the background while I’m doing things around the house or even when I’m busy working. Thinking about it, it’s not surprising those guys would resonate so much for me. They’re the best hosts of the bunch. Their streams are full of wise cracks, self deprecating humor, shit-talking, and in-jokes. It really is like hanging out with buddies.

My theory is that this is almost a new-wave replacement for talk radio. I remember in the early 2000’s every office worker seemed to have a radio on their desk playing whatever morning talk shows were on their favorite stations. These streamers serve exactly the same function for me. It’s the perfect place to stop by and have a few laughs.

(and maybe steal some strategies along the way)