Observations 2020-11-01

Observations 2020-11-02

  • Framing a wall.
  • How Empedocles (444 BCE) put songwriters in a list along with prophets, physicians and princes.

Observations 2020-11-03

  • The election. That’s all!

Observations 2020-11-04

  • Being terrified by, and reluctantly using, a powder-actuated hammer tool to affix a wooden baseplate to concrete.
  • Winter brings the pain of dry skin but also the joy of lotion.
  • The older, likely Polish-American man yelling at my friends and me for wearing masks. “It’s a bunch of monkey business!”

Observations 2020-11-05

  • Getting frustrated with drywall. And with deliberately delayed vote counts.

Observations 2020-11-06

  • The multicolored mold in our rotting jack-o’-lanterns.
  • An “oh my god” good groove: “So In Love” by Curtis Mayfield.

Observations 2020-11-07

  • The dancing in the streets, joy that the election was finally called.
    • As my brother put it: “Nobody is celebrating today because they believe that our problems are all.. just solved. Everybody is celebrating that we will now have a chance to solve them.”

Observations 2020-11-08

  • Reading in the park at Casey’s and Basil’s side.
    • Russell on Sparta. I think the thing that draws so many authoritarian dweebs to the myth of Sparta is their fear of pain. It’s appealing to think that one could be trained from birth to tolerate discomfort. If you were raised that way, they subconsciously suppose, life now would be so much easier. I would be numb, superhuman even. But as Russell points out, their desire to be insulated from pain is a bad reason to subject others to austerity. And do you really want to grow up sleeping on straw mats with thistles in them?
  • The tension and collaboration of Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden as depicted in The Trial of the Chicago 7. Two very different visions of activism, each potent and beautiful in their own way, even more potent together.
  • The music in this video about installing drywall.

Observations 2020-11-09

Observations 2020-11-10

  • Basil barking at the painting of the Star Wars (album) cat.
  • The blurry neon colors in the rainy car backup camera feed.
  • The field recordings by Quiet American, including this one of Hmong musicians (beware, autoplay) in Vietnam in 1998 (via Alan Jacobs’ newsletter).
  • The incredible sorta photo, sorta rendering of the inside of a eukaryotic cell. If you were alive in 100 CE, 1800 CE, even 1950 CE, do you think you ever would have imagined we could look inside our bodies this way?

Observations 2020-11-11

  • That Casey gives me, a Jew, the honor of putting the star on her Christmas tree.

Observations 2020-11-12

  • Thinking about petting a cow or a horse on the face where their short fur just barely exists on their flat, broad faces. That is, imagining it, not planning it.
  • That DigiKey, an electronic components distributor, has 3,311,205 CR2032 batteries in stock. And now they have 10 fewer because I bought them for my DrumDial.

Observations 2020-11-13

  • The notion “psychological migration,” as used by Anand Giridharadas to describe how anti-racists have “migrated tens of millions of white people to a new and better and fuller understanding of themselves and of white supremacy” over decades.

Observations 2020-11-14

  • On the internet today, saw a MAGA-head get knocked out. And saw incarcerated people transporting COVID victims to refrigerated trucks.

Observations 2020-11-15

Observations 2020-11-16

  • George Saunders in his latest newsletter:

    “I’m not sure how much this is worth, but I keep thinking that our real issue is a moral-ethical one, and an educational one. We don’t know enough about where we came from and are losing our basic respect for truth. We’re under siege from our own technology, which is eating away at our ability to be comfortable with ambiguity and nuance. What I’m going to commit to, no matter what, is to continue to try to get smarter and kinder and less slothful. And I’m going to continue to believe that the great secret weapon we’ve been given (and have, culturally, been neglecting) is literature—the best means humans have ever discovered for true transformation.”

  • Lomita” by Dig Nitty. (I love this album title: Reverse of Mastery.) [Update 11-20: Erin from Dig Nitty reached out to let me know that the album title I love is a quote from Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose.]

Observations 2020-11-17

  • Regardless of party, I want all politicians to be in touch with the real sadness that exists in so many people’s lives. It’s not abstract. It’s “only the kids can eat tonight.”

Observations 2020-11-18

  • Yet another Anand Giridharadas idea that’s ringing in my mind: while everyone’s experience of pain is different — and we shouldn’t paper over those differences — there are pains that “rhyme” across class/race/life differences. Anand is (and I am) interested in finding ways to talk about rhyming pains and to build solidarity around them.

Observations 2020-11-19

  • The takeout container with Dad’s name spelled “jeef.”

Observations 2020-11-20

  • The professional sand sculptor practicing alone on the cold fall beach.

Observations 2020-11-21

  • The double-edged sword of resilience: we can adapt to seemingly any circumstance, even unimaginably difficult ones, but when we’re adapted we (sometimes) don’t feel as much urgency to change the circumstance that required us to adapt in the first place.
  • Iggy Pop talking about being inspired by Black music, and even playing drums for Maxwell Street musicians, in Gimme Danger.

Observations 2020-11-22

  • Planting garlic with Mom. Getting my hands dirty with real, actual dirt from the ground for the first time in a long time. It felt good, spiritually and tactilely. The moss was mushy.

Observations 2020-11-23

  • Dad chattin’ and the band playin’ on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
  • How Apple’s Xserve design still looks so cool 18 years later.

Observations 2020-11-24

  • Marie Davidson performing “Work It” at the Polaris Music Prize Gala 2019.
    • “This song, it doesn’t talk about capitalism / It’s not about working to make more money / … This song talks about working on yourself.”

Observations 2020-11-25

  • Accidentally brushing my hair into paint primer, giving myself white frosted tips.
  • Dr. John: “Your day is filled with money matters / My day is filled with sound” (“Go Tell the People”).
    • There are unbeLIEVable grooves all over that album, Desitively Bonnaroo. The Meters back him up on it, so, duh. (Thanks Liam for showing it to me.)

Observations 2020-11-26

  • Watching Elf as a family — a triumph of art.

Observations 2020-11-27

  • Refilling Casey’s cats’ food storage container before remembering to pull the scooper out. Faced with a choice between pouring the container back into the bag or shoving my arm in elbow-deep, I chose the latter. But the pressure of the bikkies was too great; I wasn’t able to get a good grip. I poured the container back into the bag, with minimal spillage. My forearm was oiled. The scooper was retrieved.

Observations 2020-11-28

  • Watching woodworking videos and drawing dream console designs all day.
  • Making a concerted effort to use my pinkie more in typing.

Observations 2020-11-29

  • Ripping vinyl albums for Zaid, of which three contained versions of “Hava Nagila.”

Observations 2020-11-30

  • YouTube search showing a video as having been published in 1754.