Observations 2021-01-01

  • The high-pitched patter of the rain falling on icy snow.

Observations 2021-01-02

  • Shopping at Lowe’s for what felt like an entire year, all of 2021.

Observations 2021-01-03

  • At 6AM: Basil peeing outside with light fluffy snow falling all around him. Angelic.

Observations 2021-01-04

  • It seems like digital platforms should be required to set up a user data trust plan with governments when they reach a certain size. Some services grow to be huge cultural caches and it’s not right that their parent companies have unilateral control over them. End-user license agreements don’t seem like enough.

Observations 2021-01-05

  • The Senate wins in Georgia! It had been so long since the Senate felt within reach, I had forgotten how crucial it was. Thankfully Stacey Abrams and others hadn’t.

Observations 2021-01-06

  • Chuck Schumer thanking police for returning the Capitol to its “rightful owners” after the attempted insurrection of the afternoon. At first, that struck me as weird, since congresspeople aren’t the “rightful owners” of that building; the People are. But in that congresspeople are the People’s representatives, and the insurrectionists are no one’s representatives but their own, the Capitol was returned to its rightful owners. The insurrectionists don’t get to speak for all of us. They don’t get to selfishly seize the government or any symbol of it. If they reflected on America and weren’t blinded by racist anger, they’d see that.

Observations 2021-01-07

  • The ornate, carved wooden boxes in which the Electoral College votes are kept.

Observations 2021-01-08

  • The permanence of Tr*mp’s Twitter ban is what makes it feel relieving. A temporary suspension, yet another “You better get your act together!” slap on the wrist, would have felt like authorities still don’t understand the threat.
  • Watching interviews of Capitol insurrectionists, feeling disturbed about how they think they’re helping. It’s one thing to cope with and understand people who are trying to harm; it’s another to cope with people who harm while claiming they want to help. (Of course, I don’t believe their intentions are really so good. But even the lip service they pay to a helping spirit is disturbing.)

Observations 2021-01-09

  • The concrete coring service called Core-Vette Concrete Coring Service.
  • Pouring water into my cupped hands for Basil to drink while Casey drove us down the highway.
  • An essay, “An Engineering Argument for Basic Income” by Scott Santens:
    • “We wouldn’t create a life support system on a space station where in order to receive oxygen, one would need to work to obtain it. Life support is life support. Dead people can’t work. So make sure people get oxygen so they can stay alive. Living people will do much more work than dead people.”
    • If your main objection to universal basic income is that it will disincentivize people from working, you ought to reflect on whether the fear of death is an acceptable incentive to dangle in front of people in the first place.
      • (I would also say to those critics: Do you work because you fear poverty? If you have savings, you probably don’t. You probably work because it’s fulfilling, or because you want more than the bare minimum your savings would offer. So what makes you so different from people without savings, whom a UBI safety net would save from death?)
    • Too much of an engineering mindset can confine our vision to the internal concerns of engineering, ignoring the ideas and pleas of real people. But I think Scott’s essay is interesting and convincing.

Observations 2021-01-10

  • Casey and me replacing the lightbulbs in our rented cabin with warmer ones because we’re light connoisseurs.
  • The moss on the roof of the cabin next door.
  • Walking on a frozen lake with Casey and, separately, Basil in a doggie backpack.
  • Taking my pumpkin pie fate into my own hands — finally eating some after a holiday season without any.

Observations 2021-01-11

  • Casey’s birthday!
    • The apostrophe a local bakery put on her cake: “Casey Rock’s!”
  • Tom Junod, poetic as ever in The Atlantic.
  • The distinction between Republican “gamers” and “breakers” as described in “The American Abyss,” a helpful lens.

Observations 2021-01-12

  • Kitch-iti-kipi spring.
    • The crystal-clear, still turquoise water.
    • The sharp fallen trees in the water’s rim, like pirate ship bowsprits.
    • The huge, prehistoric-looking trout in the basin’s depths.
    • The sand swirling around the outlet of the spring.
  • I Love You” by Lou Reed (via Dad).
  • Feeling frustrated that “Big Tech” is suddenly (as of a few years ago) a flagship issue of the Right, because I don’t think they sincerely care or deeply reflect on how tech platforms work and what their consequences are. Nor are they the people who stand to be hurt the most by it all. (For more sincere criticism I look to Evgeny Morozov, Liz Pelly, and Peter-Paul Verbeek, among others.)
    • I have a feeling and a hope that when it comes down to the real work of reigning in tech, young “digital native” congresspeople and leftist academics will do the bulk of the legwork.

Observations 2021-01-13

  • The water passing underneath the frozen creek’s surface.
  • The sticks encased in ice — popsicles.
  • The waterfall flowing into a volcano mouth-esque ring of ice, which I imagine has built up over the whole course of winter, one water droplet freezing upon another.
  • The meticulous phonetic accuracy of Jar Jar Binks’s subtitles in the Star Wars prequels.
  • Stars seen through the little rectangular window in our rented cabin bedroom.

Observations 2021-01-14

  • The thrill of reading “Wilco” in Bob Dylan’s Chronicles.
  • The rocks suspended in ice at the lakeshore, as if the waves picked them up and froze in place.

Observations 2021-01-15

  • Learning that Amazon sometimes personalizes not only ads and search results for you, but also prices, based on the maximum amount they expect you would pay based on your past shopping habits.

Observations 2021-01-16

  • The massive TV playing a Spanish-language game show in the closed, otherwise dark panadería.

Observations 2021-01-17

  • The diehard forum users who, fifteen years into the reign of social media, still visit their favorite e-bulletin homes every day. Respect.

Observations 2021-01-18

  • Mom, spontaneously: “I love the word pizazz.”

Observations 2021-01-19

  • How if you really believed in American spirit of ingenuity, you wouldn’t be afraid of universal basic income (or other poverty alleviation measures), because you’d trust that people are motivated to innovate and explore and expand the frontier by an internal drive, not by the fear of losing healthcare or housing or food.
  • Awaiting the inauguration with a hearty mix of fear and excitement.
  • How fun it is to find rhymes you mean, rather than rhymes for rhymes’ sake.

Observations 2021-01-20

  • Accidentally staying up long enough to watch the sun rise, and then to watch Trump leave the White House, get on Marine One, bloviate on a tarmac, get on Air Force One, and fly off into the clouds to “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, surreally, with silence from the onlooking pundits.
  • The tiny rabbit tracks in the snow in our yard.

Observations 2021-01-21

  • Playing music with Liam, Jim, Sima, Dad, and Sammy.

Observations 2021-01-22

  • Playing music with Liam, Jim, Sima, Dad, and Sammy again.

Observations 2021-01-23

  • The sound of guitar strings creaking as the midday sun comes in and heats up the room.
  • A livestream show from Constellation to celebrate the vinyl and CD release of Love Is The King.

Observations 2021-01-24

  • Something I wish we (the grand, societal We) talked about more: the Wilco song “We Aren’t the World.”
  • A delicious meal from Liam’s new food project, Isfahan.

Observations 2021-01-25

  • The electricians who, in response to each of my questions, seemed only to grow in their effortless, dull hatred for my being.
  • Running in to a coworker of the racist paint store employee on the street, and him apologizing for his coworker’s awful comment.

Observations 2021-01-26

  • Paying my union dues.
  • Buying $1,000 of flooring glue.
  • The woman in a snowsuit clearing snow off her Honda cube car.
  • Jason and me rewarding ourselves with a new, heavy-duty air compressor hose for four months of studio renovation work.
  • The huge, gong-like blade mounted on a concrete cutting service’s trailer.
  • Feeling ashamed to admit I’m one of those people who doesn’t clear snow off the roof of their car, opting to let it fly off in the wind. Ideally not in front of other drivers.

Observations 2021-01-27

  • Love Is The King sitting next to Harry Styles on the Billboard vinyl chart (and at number one on the indie music chart). 😱
  • Loving Ludwig’s new reproduction of their legendary Speed King kick drum pedal.
  • My neighbor Irwin’s advice to me about our newly purchased table saw: “Never lose your fear of it.”
  • Thoughts on the GameStop stock craze (rules of thumb, and also I’m not a financial advisor):
    • (1) Don’t invest money you can’t afford to lose.
    • (2) Don’t buy high unless you can really reasonably expect it to rise even higher.
    • (3) Don’t put too many eggs in one basket — a diversified portfolio is much safer.
    • Bonus: Tradable shares should probably be abolished. It would do a lot to make the economy more efficient and more accessible to everyone. See Another Now by Yanis Varoufakis.

Observations 2021-01-28

  • Applying the aforementioned glue… with pain.
  • The guitar-playing and rhythm section on Michael Chapman’s album Deal Gone Down.
  • The little actor monkeys in Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.

Observations 2021-01-29

  • What would a palm reader read in my palms now that they’re covered wood finish, flooring glue, and aliphatic petroleum distillate?
  • An imaginary scenario from fifty years into the future: “Grandpa, why do you always have a surgical mask in your pocket?”
  • The leathery feel of the rotten lemons in our kitchen.
  • The video of assisted living facility residents drumming on big green exercise balls.

Observations 2021-01-30

  • The neighbor cross-country skiing in the falling snow.

Observations 2021-01-31

  • Digging my car out of the snow with my bebooted feet.