I wish I had listened in my 20s when they told me about running and lifting weights. I’m happy I found these things but it does make one yearn for what might have been. As always, the Germans have a word for that: sehnsucht.

Finished reading: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell 📚

A stunning book with language and characters that will sit in my mind for years to come. There’s so much here to live but what stands out from all the rest is the character of Agnes. O’Farrell’s ability to make her at once a “weird witch” and a passionate lover and a grieving mother is a stroke of genius.

Because we know the story, the power comes from the details of how these people move through their world. Their concerns and interests and patterns are fascinating even in their simplicity. O’Farrell’s language makes it all feel grounded in a natural world which isn’t ambivalent but is instead comforting in its lack of fickleness.

I don’t reread many books but I might circle back to this one sooner than any other.

Hard to Ignore

This short, crystalline essay by Roget Lockard does a lot to wipe off the vaseline on the lens of how we see ourselves. Specifically, it espouses that them I am repeatedly discovering of our society’s lack of community.

Yesterday, I mentioned elsewhere that I recently was introduced to the idea of the Third Place. It’s precisely the concept I was hedging around when I wrote about wanting to build some kind of arts center here in Owensboro.

It’s the same feeling I get when I talk about wanting a return to the free-form and broad reach of the very best forums of the Internet we used to know. These were places were the esoteric, the universal, and the profound could all commingle into a connecting network. A community.

This is no new discovery. However, it’s more evidence that all these threads around me, like my fascination with the social life of trees, my rediscovery of theatre, my reading and writing, and even my wanderlust all seem to distill down to some core disconnect. As Lockard explains, finding and building community is the only solution.

Cold Cardinal

I’m making good progress on this script. Probably two-thirds of the way through. Maybe half. It’s been nice to have some focus time to work on it and spin around it without squeezing it in between work and all the rest.

It's Always Family

Finished reading: Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey 📚

I don’t know if the authors had this ending plotted out from the beginning or not. It doesn’t really matter. The achievement of this series was to tell a story that had enough hard science, enough realpolitik, and enough woo-woo aliens while still being able to stay focused and driven by the human characters.

This final volume in The Expanse series gave me a chance to see how families can change, adapt, and find each other again. That feels like the greatest triumph. There were parents who let their children down, parents who got a second chance, and children who found parents where none were to be had. Through all the millions of miles of space and the machinations of a handful of political systems, humans finding connection in ways that matter is what won.

This is a more than worthy finale to one of my favorite science fiction series. I suspect I’ll reread this from start to finish in a few years.

Sitting on a bench, having just done a workout, wondering why my scale said I gained 8 pounds in three days when I notice a gray hair. Not on my head. No, no. In my armpit. So, yeah, turning 46 is all they promised it would be.

I used GIthub’s VS Code in the browser yesterday to do some work. The problem I see with this whole workflow is that I can’t see my changes. I can run tests, linting, etc. via some CI pipeline but I just want to see how my new HTML is working. What’s the vision for that?

Let me Smell Your Baby

When my wife was pregnant, I read in several parenting books that men connect with their babies primarily via smell and that women tend to react more strongly to sound. In our very small sample size of one, I’d say that rang true for our family. To this day, I still find myself smelling my friend’s and family’s babies.

This new research says that it might be because the baby’s smell makes me feel calm and docile and lowers my aggression. As someone who suffers from anxiety and temper control, this is likely an extremely soothing stimulus/response cycle for me.

As that article points out, this kind of research is very hard to reproduce and prone to many kinds of biases. Also, just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right. Confirmation bias is one of the strongest biases. It also seems like this leans in to certain gender narratives that we have which haven’t really been borne out by serious research.

But, I’m no scientist. Just a storyteller and an actor. So, this kind of thing sticks in my head as a detail that sits below the actions of any character I might write or portray. File this one away as character background.

I love stumbling across a song I haven’t listened to in a while and needing it on repeat. Today’s version of that is Songs: Ohia’s “Just Be Simple”

The bookshelves are finally coming together.

A little mini-project that popped in my head this evening: imissyoursmell.com

If you are trying to reach me by phone, too bad.

What’s the current best way to do Remote Desktop between two Macs? It’s been a while since I needed this setup but I’m there now.

I was hoping that this feature would be part of the Universal Control features that are promised for Monterey but it doesn’t seem that will happen.

Working on my first new script in many years. It’s a very personal piece. I’m not sure how well it actually play. The characters seem to have found themselves quickly. Their voices and demeanors have jumped right out. Even the complexity between them has been immediate.

It’s the question that’s haunted me for years. Round tortilla chips or triangle tortilla chips?

Nutrition is a Weird Beast

I just spent a bit of time trying to identify the simplest foods possible to meet some macros for the shred program I’m starting on Monday.

The nutrition calculator gave me the numbers in this image.

I tried to simplify that down to as few foods as possible just to get a sense of things. Two pounds of chicken breast would get me 200-225g protein and about 900-950 calories. Two cups (cooked) of white rice would give me 76g of carbs and 340 calories. Let’s say we add some (3 tbsp) butter to the rice for about 34g of fat and 300 calories. Probably 2 tbsp of olive oil to sear the chicken for 27g of fat and 238 calories.

That all adds up to:

  • Protein: 225 g (950 cal / 52%)
  • Carbs: 76 g (340 cal / 19%)
  • Fats: 61 g (528 cal / 29%)
  • Total Calories: 1828 cal

I’d probably choose some other fats like coconut oil and that’s way too much butter but the chicken will have some fat in there. Also, I might sometimes prefer black beans to rice and they would have a little more protein. Still, this comes in closer than I expected when I first started looking at the numbers.

Now the trick is how to hit these kinds of numbers with anything that looks remotely like variety or, god forbid, something green.

The sky after a long day of putting up fence.

If you need to bliss out with generative ambient space sounds, this video is the one you want. Some sweet Vangelis sounds in here with a tasteful traffic sound sample and lots of delicious beeps and boops.

I’m watching Star Trek: Discovery - S3E7 - a character just said “Your methods and motives are clouded, even to you.” Guess I’m sending these writers a check for the therapy session instead of my actual therapist.

New additions at the farm

The Power of Teachers

Our short run of shows for the Little Women play ended yesterday. It was a warm, sweet, and tender play. The relationships between the sisters really stood out as the heart of the show. I stand in awe of how those women brought that dynamic to life.

It didn’t hit me that the show had ended until this morning. In the middle of a workout, I just started crying remembering the laughs, the frustration, the breakthroughs, and the discoveries we made along the way. Theatre has that impact on you.

Rare in life are the opportunities we have to be vulnerable and creative with a group of near strangers. It is truly one of the oddest forms of creative expression. However, there is a magic bond that forms between the cast which exists for only a brief, shining moment. If you try to hold on to it for too long, it slips through your hand like an alchemist clutching quicksilver.

For me, specifically, this show represents the first real stage experience I’ve had since I was in high school. I had a walk-on part in a production about 15 years ago but that was more of a goof than an actual role. So, I’ve given some thought to what might connect then and now. What ties together these two parts of my life separated by almost 30 years?

The answer is a teacher. In high school, I was a football player. It’s probably the reason I got my scholarship to Darlington. But, I hated it. I was injured, tired, and bored. Somehow, my English teacher David Powell convinced me to try out for a play called The Lark. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never seen a play nor did I know anyone who had.

David encouraged me to explore it as a way to understand some of the literature that I loved, namely Shakespeare. Presumably, he saw something in me that I didn’t know existed. That’s the superpower of a great teacher. Sure, there’s the ability to educate but more than that is the ability to recognize that which is not yet evident. It’s a clairvoyance that borders on the miraculous.

My grandmother was a performer in the years before I was born. She created a children’s TV show for the local station in our hometown. She did vaudeville-style variety shows and made puppets and even starred in a few musicals in our local theatre. But, that mostly happened before I was old enough to see it.

So, maybe it was in my blood. Even if it wasn’t, after that first day at rehearsal in 1992, I knew that I was hooked. I wrote one-acts and acted in plays and even helped direct a production of The Foreigner. But, it all fell away in college. A misguided attempt to “put away childish things.” Still, that thrill of the stage never goes away.

Fast forward to 2020. Like many of you, the pandemic made me look around and think about how I might better spend my time. On a lark, I enrolled in acting classes at the local community college. A friend of mine is a professor there and said they had recently hired a passionate, energetic young teacher to lead the drama program. It was fortuitous timing.

I might never know what Grae Greer thought when a large, 45 year old man with a family and a full-time job showed up on the first day of class. If nothing else, there must have been some curiosity. Whatever those thoughts were, in the following weeks, we would discover a shared love of the language and the performance. We would fall into that rhythm that a talented teacher and an engaged student can find.

We pushed each other. We agreed and disagreed. But, most of all, she welcomed me with open arms and nudged that part of me that went dim some time ago. She poked at it and brought it back to life in only the way that a true educator can do.

Grae and David are separated by a half a lifetime of experience but their willingness to engage me with honesty and curiosity is what each of us should strive for in life. Open, opinionated, smart, questioning, energetic, and with a high standard for excellence, they are the people who we run into in life that ask us to find the better part of ourselves and run with it. In short, they are educators.

All of that culminated in the run of shows over the last two weeks. It was an unmitigated pleasure to be a part of this cast and this show. I can’t wait for the next one. I wish that all of us find a teacher who can show us the way.

I’ve just started rereading Alastair Reynolds’s Revelation Space. I had forgotten how great this book is. So many intriguing ideas and tantalizing thoughts about long history and how the human psyche might perceive it. 📚

From this fall’s adaptation of Little Women at OCTC.

📷