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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Today, at work, I began to clean out my desk.

Yes, after being an employee of this firm for over ten thousand days, the company has asked me to leave.

Sort of.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of an upcoming vacation, must be in need of a week’s worth of chaos.

I don’t know why this happens, but it does. I’ve got a week’s vacation scheduled, I remind folks at work that it’s coming, I give ample warning about tasks A and B that must be completed before I can do task C, and then, as if it’s all a big surprise, everything crashes down in the last week—pandemonium, panic, hair-on-fire memos from management asking why task C is “suddenly” at risk—and I’ve got to pull a rabbit out of . . . somewhere . . . to ensure that we do meet our deadlines.

Toss into that week the unending cyclone of Fire and Fury. North Korea. Gaza. Iran. Pruitt. Cohen. Mueller. Net neutrality. Tax code reform. Immigrants. Amazon vs. Seattle. Trump vs. everyone. Even effing volcanoes.

Mix thoroughly, sprinkle it all with a layer of pollen the proportions of which have been absolutely biblical, bake at 350°F for an hour, and serve warm with a generous side of agita. Pairs well with angostura, over-brewed coffee, and tannic reds.

Every. Damned. Time.

Luckily, my irises, after extensive negotiations, have decided to bloom.

And I love my irises.

I grow the beardless, or Dutch, type of iris. They remind me of the Douglas irises of my youth, old friends well-met while hiking the back-country trails in the Point Reyes National Seashore, tramping through the hinterlands, munching on miner’s lettuce and sourgrass, breathing in the mixture of coniferous humus and salt-sea air like a tonic. Not normally one for flowers without fragrance, I make an exception for these happy flowers. In their deep, saturated colors and elegantly curved tricorns I find serenity.

I was upset by their unexpected (and inexplicable) delay. The mild winter? The effects of a changing climate? I don’t know. What I do know is that the blooms of late March/early April, those upthrusting spears surrounded by a spray of thin tapered leaves, they went on strike in February and did not come back to work until this week, when they all decided to show their colors and burst into static fireworks of cool purples trimmed with heady gold.

I never cut my irises for bouquets. I leave them where I love them, in the garden. When they get sad, I pinch them off to encourage a second bloom, and I sometimes trim the bent, broken, or yellowing leaves, but mostly I leave them alone and simply enjoy the fortnight of their display.

Perhaps they knew of my upcoming week of vacation and, knowing the week prior would be a hell, held off until now to help me go the distance without committing murder or career suicide (or both).

Regardless the cause, I’m glad they’re here this week. I need ’em.

k

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Some may find it odd that I, a guy who makes his living dealing with data, computers, bugs, and code, am such a fan of low-tech.

It’s not that I dislike technology—I don’t, and I have the phones, tablets, and game consoles to prove it—but while technology has made the lives of millions safer, easier, and more pleasant, it’s also taken us away from our roots, separating our connection to the physical world around us.

Alexander Langlands, an archaeologist who has worked uncovering Britain’s history for decades, thinks much the same way, and in his book, Cræft, he explores some of the most basic skills in human history, skills that require us to touch the world with our hands, and that are intimately tied to our environments and ecosystems. Through historical context and personal experimentation, Langlands shows us how tasks that, today, we might deem very simple—tasks such as digging a trench, weaving cloth, making hay, and thatching a roof—actually require broad experiential knowledge to master. He uses cræft, the Old English of the word craft, to highlight the change in the word’s meaning over the centuries. (more…)

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Last night we were supposed to go out to a movie. An old-fashioned date night, before I began a two-week on-call stint.

The plan was to go see a screening of the National Theatre’s 2016 production of Hamlet, but it had been one of those loooong weeks, where I was sure it was Friday but it was only Wednesday, and so on. My wife was just as exhausted, and there was no way she was going to make it through a four-hour play in a darkened room. I might have made it to Act IV, but she would have been snoring before the first body hit the floor.

Not to be completely deterred, we opted instead to stay in and watch a movie at home. No primp-n-prep, no travel, no finding a place to park. Plus, we had better lighting, a shorter duration, and cheaper snacks.

We kept with the Shakespearean theme, and opted to screen a play that we hadn’t before seen staged.

“What?!” you say (complete with interrobang). “There’s a Shakespeare play you haven’t seen?”

Yes.  It’s true, it’s true. Even though I love Shakespeare’s works, I must admit that I haven’t seen every play. Since production companies usually concentrate on the popular titles, there’s a fair number of plays I’ve never seen on stage or film.  (more…)

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if you

say it’s “too soon” to talk about guns
say laws and bans wouldn’t stop it
blame it all on mental illness
are against common sense gun control laws
vote for people who refuse to act
pay dues to the NRA
value your right to own an AR-15 over the lives of children
accept slaughter as the “price of freedom”

then you are complicit

bullet-cartridge-ammunition-crime-53224.jpeg

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curling_stones_on_rink_with_visible_pebbleA year ago, I posted about our decision to dump our cable provider in favor of a completely streaming profile.

Overall, this has been a great success. We’ve saved money (over two grand a year). We’ve found that there is a ton of terrific content out there that is available either for binge-fests or weekly installment viewing. We’ve been able to tailor or subscriptions to match more closely our TV and movie predelictions.

All has not been rosy, though. Some networks (cough cough cbs cough) think they’re all that and a bag of chips, and worthy of a subscription all on their own (they’re not). Many others have apps and services, but require a cable or satellite provider to view content, even though they broadcast free over the airwaves.

And then there is the world of sports.

I’m not a sports junkie, but sometimes I feel compelled to watch a Seahawks or Mariners game. For this, I have to put a digital antenna in the window to pick up local broadcasts. Reception is spotty, but the occasional signal breakup is only a minor annoyance so, for me, the lack of sports coverage wasn’t a big deal.

Cue the Olympics. (more…)

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Last year I got a small bonus, and I used it to buy a couple of board games in the “luxury” class (e.g., priced at $100 or more).

The first purchase, Mansions of Madness, was a huge disappointment, as the replayability and the number of supplied scenarios didn’t justify the higher price.

Unfortunately, I was unable to review my second purchase, Gloomhaven, as the release date was repeatedly extended. I ordered it back in March 2017, but the release was pushed out to August, September, November, and then December, but finally it shipped in early January of this year.

It was worth the wait.

(more…)

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