Observations 2019-01-01

  • The shimmery green tint on the black feathers of Hayden’s roosters.
  • My growing mastery of the duvet cover replacement process.
  • Helping Casey put her Christmas decorations away. She will not tolerate a post-Christmas wreath.
  • The 7 Days Out episodes about Westminster (basically Best in Show), Eleven Madison Park, and the League of Legends conference.
  • An innovation for 2019: tortilla chips in wasabi.

Observations 2019-01-02

  • My disdain for sugary Yoplait yogurt.
  • The monster Wait But Why post about Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface company that wants to give us the intellectual abilities of AI so we’re better able to defend ourselves against robots in the future.
  • Watching ice cubes melt in a hot water kettle.
  • Tatsu Ramen in LA’s adorable website and neon sign and great ramen.

Observations 2019-01-03

  • The well-dressed, wealthy-looking guy slurping apple sauce out of one of those children’s apple sauce pouches on the street in LA.
  • The booming crystal business on Melrose Avenue.

Observations 2019-01-04

  • Riding Lime scooters with Sammy.
    • Wearing no helmet, being terrified of cars.
    • They go fifteen miles per hour.
    • We are now ostracized from our community.
  • The vegetarian fried chicken and waffles at Sweet Chick (!).

Observations 2019-01-05

  • How I thought I was above my wisdom tooth antibiotic’s [12-27-18] “common side effect” of diarrhea. I was wrong.
  • The hum of the fridge sounding exactly like “Adam+Eve Connection” by Deerhoof.
  • FaceTiming Mom from the hot tub at our ridick Airbnb.
  • The amazing footage of the Captain and Tennille on The Midnight Special.
  • Being afraid of swirling a spoon in mugs ever since I saw Get Out.
  • How some might accuse the Left of whataboutism by defending Rep. Tlaib’s use of “motherfucker” with evidence of Republicans’ use of profanity. But it would only be whataboutism if we believed profanity (in informal settings) is wrong and that we ought to direct people’s attention away from our own wrongdoing. We have no such belief. We like swearing (in informal settings) and we know that Republicans do, too. But they claim that they don’t and so we’re speaking out about their bad-faith arguments.
  • Dave Davies following me on Twitter after I liked one of his tweets (?!)

Observations 2019-01-06

  • Confusing the sign of the horns hand gesture with the love-you hand gesture, both in emoji and in real life.
  • Hiking Runyon Canyon with Uncle Danny.
    • My still-healing wisdom tooth sockets throbbing from the exertion.
  • The txt[.]fyi publishing platform (similar to write[.]as).

Observations 2019-01-07

  • Taking out the trash with my waste-management-loving ten-year-old cousin, Charles—his favorite activity.
    • The inspiring design and engineering of his Bruder toy garbage trucks.
  • The last show of Dad’s four-night run at Largo.

Observations 2019-01-08

  • Rehearsing at SOUND CITY (!) with our special Jimmy Kimmel band.
  • The talk radio show that was entirely in Spanish except for occasional interjections of “chicken nugget” in English.

Observations 2019-01-09

  • Playing “I Know What It’s Like” and “Don’t Forget” on Kimmel!
  • Prospecting for mochi balls in a pint of Halo Top Mochi Green Tea ice cream.

Observations 2019-01-10

  • The poodle with red painted nails at security at LAX.
  • Remembering that the goal isn’t to hoard everything you have, but instead to spend it at a reasonable rate.
  • Meeting Casey’s perfect new dog, Basil.
  • Relocating a beetle from the bathroom wall to the basement garage, a move that upset my mom (does not want beetles in basement) but which technically satisfied her request of removing the beetle from the bathroom.

Observations 2019-01-11

  • Casey’s birthday!
    • Shopping at the Squishable pop-up store.
      • The huge, cowperson-esque hats on the mall cops.

Observations 2019-01-12

  • My hands, ravaged by bites from Basil.
  • Hearing “Rock ’n’ Roll Singer” by Sun Kil Moon on a playlist and admiring the part where he holds a note as long as he can.

Observations 2019-01-13

  • Getting rear-ended on my drive home. Sitting in the car, unsure of what to do, in the middle of California Avenue. The other driver being nice and apologetic and reasonable. A piece of her bumper stuck in my bumper.
  • Dan the bartender gingerly pouring a drink only at the loudest points of a free jazz trombone solo at Hungry Brain.
  • Steve Marquette playing guitar with a spoon.

Observations 2019-01-14

  • The power cord trailing behind a person’s electric cart at Jewel.
  • The charming, surly, 1999-y design of Dale Harris Software’s website (keyhut[.]com).

Observations 2019-01-15

  • Talking to a class of percussion students at Senn High School about drumming, professional playing, and life after high school. I braced myself to be ignored/ridiculed/pied in the face but they were engaged and sweet.
    • A student with special needs playing badass fills with a drumstick balanced on his head.
  • Watching Free Snacks’ debut show (download their mixtape, freesnacks.bandcamp[.]com).
  • Feeding carrots to Basil.

Observations 2019-01-16

  • Resolving to screenshot important text messages because, yeah, the messages stay in your phone, but not really in a way where you can access/revisit them.
  • Sammy and me having dinner with a beloved former babysitter of ours along with her sweet husband and adorable kids.
  • The maudlin Staples (store, not Mavis) hold music.

Observations 2019-01-17

  • Cooking sesame tofu stir fry with Sammy. Being proud that it was edible, whereas the last meal we cooked together (pad thai) gave us insta-diarrhea.

Observations 2019-01-18

  • Basil pooping on my bedroom rug.
  • The Damned’s cover of “Help!”
  • The audibleness of the snow falling in the dumpster at Hungry Brain.

Observations 2019-01-19

  • Sucking Smartfood white cheddar popcorn dust out of a wound in my finger caused by Basil.
  • Zaid’s physical therapist, Lyju, in the running for sweetest, most gentle person of all time.
  • Guest DJing with Sammy on the Minimal Beat radio show (thanks to Shawn).
    • The DIY space that hosts the radio station being full of Magic: The Gathering tournament players in matching hoodies.

Observations 2019-01-20

  • The poet Marty McConnell reciting this line at a reading: “Every bomber is a suicide bomber.”
  • How even if you got everyone on Earth to be courteous and generous, you’d still run into situations where others have to put some other person’s interests above yours, e.g. a private driver cutting you off to get their client to the airport in time, or a tour manager making your life hard as a hospitality person because they need to make sure their artist is happy. That could be a cause for pessimism, since it means that no matter how hard we try to get everyone to be nice to each other, there will still be moments of conflict. But it could also be a cause for optimism, since it means that in at least some of the cases where someone treated us like crap, they acted that way because they had a constructive obligation to someone else, not necessarily because they wanted to make your life worse. (You’re collateral damage, not the target—what everyone wants to hear.)
    • Of course, even if those conflicts are unavoidable, we can always try to navigate them in a better way. The driver can wave thank-you. The tour manager can be more polite.

Observations 2019-01-21

  • Taking Basil to puppy school.
    • He pooped on the floor.
  • This tweet, pointing something out I’ve thought about a lot since 2016: “I can’t believe we live in a world where a teenager— any teenager, good kid, bad kid, debate team, burnout, rebel, dork— would wear a slogan marketed by the president of the united states of America on their clothes. How is that not the corniest fucking thing in the world?” (@EricLabRat).

Observations 2019-01-22

  • Wilco & co. field trip day to the Blackhawks game.
    • The invisible ink stamp they use for re-entry at the United Center, classier than typical black ink.
    • In a fancy suite, the extra-tall mason jar full of ranch dressing for crudités.
    • Spending more time on the dessert cart than the game.

Observations 2019-01-23

  • The rectangular box of light on the wall coming from the back of the Pac-Man arcade machine.

Observations 2019-01-24

  • The Follow The Sun compilation of overlooked ‘70s Australian rock/folk on Anthology Records / Mexican Summer.
    • Mexican Summer’s pleasant, functional website.
  • Yuval Noah Harari’s Economist essay (“Moving Beyond Nationalism”; findable on Google cache) debunking some of the arguments against globalism and offering simple, concrete questions to ask politicians.
  • How Basil is startled by seemingly any noise except music.

Observations 2019-01-25

  • The smell of the air from a fan inflating a blow-up planetarium.
  • The person wearing a yo-yo in a belt holster.

Observations 2019-01-26

  • The flock of balloons floating away (seen from a sixth floor).
  • government[.]github[.]com

Observations 2019-01-27

  • Cooking a delicious, nutritious, vegetarian taco dinner with Casey.
  • The crystals and incense in the shops in Humboldt Park (a la 1-3-19).

Observations 2019-01-28

  • The post office truck stuck in the snow (it got free).

Observations 2019-01-29

  • The frozen tree branches clinking.
  • How the books were installed in the new library on the North Side before the building was even finished. (It was heartening.)
    • Who picked the books?
  • Every few months, getting a message from a student in an Eastern European country whose textbook uses my face as an example of a teenaged American blogger. Sometimes these pictures come with no context.

Observations 2019-01-30

  • The second coldest day in Chicago history.
  • Water seeping through trim on our ceiling.
    • Our contractor friend sawing off the leaky pipe, giving the resulting open end its own, dedicated bucket.
    • Emptying the stopgap bucket every six hours.

Observations 2019-01-31

  • Worrying that we’re already on the road to accidentally electing Howard Schultz because we seem to talk about him more than we talk about other, non-billionaire, non-dilettante candidates. i.e., we’re doing the 2016 thing.
  • Wondering what happened to the call for a Congressional Digital Service (like the Executive Branch’s U.S. Digital Service).
  • Another Evgeny Morozov Guardian article from 2018, emphasizing the importance of cities: “Our digital future [is] mostly an interplay of two conflicting dynamics: one of data extractivism – propelled primarily by big tech’s dependence on new sources of data; and one of data distributism – propelled by all those opposed to big tech’s rapid ascendance. […] To be credible and effective, the leftwing distributist agenda needs to overcome a great obstacle: citizens’ falling trust in the state as a vehicle of advancing their interests. […] The distributist left, thus, should not balk at proposing ambitious political reforms to go along with their new data ownership regime. These must openly acknowledge that the most meaningful scale at which a radical change in democratic political culture can occur today is not the nation state, as some on the left and the right are prone to believe, but, rather the city.”