Tiny Toads

Nothing to do with the post, really, except that there's a toad lawn (step?) ornament.

I saw lots of tiny toads while mowing the yard last night, which made me worry for their well-being. I didn’t want to hurt them in my lumbering giant ways.

And then again I saw one on a sidewalk this morning while walking the dogs. So small — like, he’d fit on a nickel. I only noticed him because he moved.

It occurred to me that this is an interesting choice for the little guy. How does he assess the risks? A dog might see movement and gulp him up with barely a thought, or a cruel child may step on him or otherwise torture him. But I was happy for the chance to enjoy seeing him, and to avoid crushing him.

And so we decide to be seen or unseen, with such limited information.

(PS: I’m aware he might have been a girl toad.)

Slow Down


I decided to slow down today, and it turned out well.

There’s a Rush lyric:

“A driver on the busy freeway / Racing the oblivious cars.”

That’s me. I get caught up in the competition out there. That race. The rat race. I want to win. I want to get home faster. I don’t want to be the sucker waiting in line.

But most of the drivers are oblivious. Or if not, they’re playing the same losing game.

Today I chose to slow down and not compete as much. And it was good.

Less stressful.

I engaged my frugality to help with the attempted behavior modification. The slower I go, the more fuel efficient, and the more dollars saved.

The makers of the $100 Automatic hardware thingamajig for your car emphasize this savings. (I don’t need to slyly connect the dots for you on their motivation in emphasizing the payback for a $100 toy, do I?) I would love to have that device. I love collecting information, and this would be a treasure trove. And it would help re-train myself in driving less aggressively. But for now, I think I’ll work on it with just the aid of logic and reason.

Competition is a funny thing. Not, “haha” funny, but more like frightening in its implications for violence in the face of scarcity.

I’ve embraced capitalism and competition in general, well enough in my life to tread water and even swim against the tide for a time, but I have less taste for it as I grow older.

Winning is stressful. Exhausting.

But I do like to win. I also like being able to define winning on my own terms.

Or what I think are my own terms.

I know I have to dance to other people’s strings at times, but I think I’ve been fortunate in drawing lines, and staying on the side of the line I can cope with.

Or at least cope with so far, anyways.

It helps if you can slow down.

Again, Y’all


Yesterday I wrote about how I’d like y’all to read what I write.

But, why? Is this just about attention seeking?

The goal shouldn’t be simply, “to be read.” It should be to communicate. I’d like to share something with you. For you to get something out of this. It needs to be about you, too.

The great fear is always that I have nothing to say that’s worth reading. That I won’t be able to express anything in the heartfelt and eloquent way I vaguely daydream about.

I mean, sure, I feel special and all that. I was raised in a nurturing middle class home. To think that I mattered, to think that I have something to offer.

Certainly I must have wisdom and brilliance to share. I’m sure I can fix whatever is broken in your life. In your mind. Just listen to me. I’ll tell you how to do it. How you too can be special. How you can be self-actualized or some shit like that. I’ve got it all figured out.

“God the Holy Ghost is calling out to embrace you. I want you to reach deep into your hearts and your pocketbooks and take his hand.”
The Mission

I don’t think it’s the worst thing to be intensely self-involved, as long as you have sufficient awareness about it. Even better if you can have fun with it. But I’m all too aware I’m still deeply in denial about my relationship with the truth.

Anyway. For today I just wanted to highlight a problem with the post that stood out to me. (Never mind the problems with today’s post.)


Hi, y’all.

I’m not really a y’all guy. I’m totally Northern. Although I spent a summer in Memphis once, and I gained some experience with “y’all.” I like y’all.

But it’s not me. Not as long as I live here in the North.

Up here, it’s “you guys.”

So, you guys, I need to write something. I need to keep this thing going.

I continue to struggle with what I might serve to y’all.

I’m really all about me. And, this being my blog, I can make it all about me if I want to. But I want y’all to read it, too, and if this is too self-involved, it will just be me writing to myself. And as much as I’m hung up on myself, I don’t know if I can deal with it: me going on and on and on about me. And if I can’t stand it, where does that leave you?

What I need to do is write. I’m going to start doing that every day, or almost every day. Just like I’ve been getting up almost every day at three o’ clock for an hour on the elliptical, and walking the dogs four to six miles when I get home from work. It feels good. You just have to do it.


I’ll try making the same commitment to writing. Maybe thirty minutes a day for starters. Just writing. Like this, if need be, but hopefully more substantively and interestingly in time.

But it starts with putting the words down, and publishing some of them.

Back to… Back to the Future II

For teenage me in 1985, watching Back to the Future, the trip back to 1955 was a trip into ancient history. The ’50s had such a distinct flavor — at least as portrayed in movies and TV — and back then, thirty years ago was forever ago. Anything that happens before your sixth birthday is forever ago.

Now we’ve travelled thirty years into the real future, to the time of Back to the Future II. In turn, the ’80s turned out to have their own florid signature. We might not have a lot of Cafe ’80s around, the way we do ’50s Grills, but you know the 80s. They would stand out in a decade lineup.

Egyption Ideas of the Future Life

It’s hard to get my mind around the passage of time, that these movies of my youth took place as long ago now as the 50s had taken place, then.

Watching II back in 1989, I didn’t think 2015 would look anything like the movie’s depiction, but it was so far away that I could enjoy the escapism and not be overly concerned with accuracy. Obviously, one way or another, things would be way different in this impossibly distant future, even if we didn’t have flying cars.

I mean, thirty years. I’m surprised we even made it this far.

And then it turns out…

2014 feels pretty much like 1985, with the sole exception of the big hair. Look at all this stuff that hasn’t happened:

  • The aforementioned flying cars
  • Scrolling marquee text on cop visors
  • Reliable weather control
  • All lawyers gone
  • Hydrating pizzas in Black & Decker hydrators
  • Hoverboards
  • Rocketboards
  • Totally intense 3D that attacks you on the street
  • Unattended flying news cameras
  • Thought controlled video games
  • Mr. Fusion
  • Talking clothing
  • Clothing that can make chicken noises
  • Fax machines in every room and closet
  • Some kind of antigravity belt
  • Robot trash cans
  • Gas station robots
  • Dog walking flying robots

Please don’t point out the way any of these things are coming true today. You might be right, but you’re even more annoying. And clearly, these things aren’t commonplace as they were in the movie, right? So shut up and don’t be a pedantic pissant.

I still love the trilogy. The first movie was and is a masterpiece. The second and third have a number of shortcomings that stand out more all the time, but I still enjoy the characters and the adventure and seeing how it all ties together.

I watched it this time with my 8-year-old daughter, which reinforced the culture shock even more. Can you really grasp the second movie if you weren’t of a certain age in the 80s?



And it’s about time for me to start doing more work here.

Know that it is good to work. Work with love and think of liking it when you do it. It is easy and interesting. It is a privilege. There is nothing hard about it but your anxious vanity and fear of failure.

–Brenda Ueland

Some Neal Stephensons

Wired: Mother Earth, Mother Board

Somehow I’ve only now discovered this collection, published in 2012: Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing. I’ve previously read some of the essays — for example the spellbinding tale of cables and wiring, “Mother Earth, Mother Board” — but I’m happy to have a nice “bound” collection on my reader. (I almost wrote ereader, briefly debated if a hyphen was called for, and then decided to skip ahead to a post-e future.)

I’m serious about the spellbindingness of the Wired wiring article. It’s fascinating. You should read it, right now.

In addition to reading new-to-me stuff, I’m looking forward to re-reading old-to-me articles, thanks to these words in the introduction:

Two general approaches could be taken to editing such a volume. One would be to make of it a pitilessly accurate historical record and trust the reader to make allowances for the widely varying levels of maturity, self-regard, and financial desperation that might have figured into the author’s motives while the component pieces were being produced. That might have been an interesting strategy twenty years ago, but now we have the Internet for that.

The second approach, of course, is to conduct a shameless whitewashing of the historical record, picking only the good stuff, and editing even that to make it look better. This, within reason, is what I have done here. Which is not to say that these pieces don’t contain material that might strike the sophisticated reader as dated or jejune; a bit that has been left in because it makes me feel young.

I love the way he writes. When I read that, it thrilled me with the joy of well-placed words and I instantly wanted to share them with you.

(I notice that Neal — or his editors — are still capitalizing the word, “internet.”)

I started reading the first essay, “Arsebestos,” an original for the collection, and it has already motivated me this morning to get off my ass and actually stand at my standing desk. I was familiar with some of the ideas in it, which had shown up in his most recent fiction novel — the disappointing Reamde — but it has re-inspired me to pursue greater health while working.

New Slippers

Retail shopping is probably doomed, judging by a sample size of myself. I couldn’t bring myself to actually travel to a store to pick out slippers, so I ordered a pair online.

I think these ones have promise!


They’re a bit big.