this week i

published on price differences between employer-sponsored coverage and government reimbursement should medicare age be lowered

had an apple, kitchen, twine, a straw hat, suitcase, and some time. parallel worlds, north south, yours mine? (banksy with apple, apfelschuss, budget magritte, panning for apple, jongleurfehler, red onion snowflake, appelle, i hear the orchard, sauce seance, yorick roar once more, apple newton)

learned the d in covid stands for disease. john maynard and milton (middle town) keynes from norman cahagnes. soba japanese for buckwheat

read longitude, a sword in the stone tale of mariners measuring east-west distance

every day at sea, when the navigator resets his ship's clock to local noon when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, and then consults the home-port clock, every hour's discrepancy between them translates to another fifteen degrees of longitude

surveyors and cartographers used galileo's technique to redraw the world.  and it was in the arena of mapmaking that the ability to determine longitude won its first great victory.  earlier maps had underestimated the distances to other continents and exaggerated the outlines of individual nations.  now global dimensions could be set, with authority, by the celestial spheres.  indeed, king louis xiv of france, confronted with a revised map of his domain based on accurate longitude measurements, reportedly complained that he was losing more territory to his astronomers than to his enemies

the discovery of longitude, the perpetual motion, the universal medicine

what a time to sit for a portrait

the total world census of marine timekeepers grew from just one in 1737 to approximately five thousand instruments by 1815


this week i

read the zoo hypothesis explanation of the fermi paradox (where is everybody?)

if the oldest civilization still present in the milky way has, for example, a 100-million-year time advantage over the next oldest civilization, then it is conceivable that they could be in the singular position of being able to control, monitor, influence or isolate the emergence of every civilization that follows within their sphere of influence. this is analogous to what happens on earth within our own civilization on a daily basis, in that everyone born on this planet is born into a pre-existing system of familial associations, customs, traditions and laws that were already long established before our birth and which we have little or no control over

fall asleep to tea candles.  fund the irs!  squirrels live in a world of frogger.  chalk underused in all societies.  seal emoji works with echo chamber arf

received dose one.  howard asked me not to get shot on the last day of the war.  pertinacious: pertinent & tenacious.  screed: screamed creed

view contemporaries as heirs to three centuries of turbulence, a species-wide convulsion precipitated by the industrial revolution.  every culture severs from singular thoughts of food insecurity.  this moment the cambrian explosion of our animal.  the line between pre-history and written antiquity matters less than the steam engine, darwin defeats caesar.  cities densen, unrecognizable from our parents' childhood, theirs before them, repeat another ten.  the surface of quaternary earth evaporates beneath our feet.  a dozen generations disrupted, passing batons across barrel falls

watched george on george and unmasked

the epitaph i'd like?  "jeez, he was just here a minute ago!" 

art doesn't have a finish line


this week i

fell photobomb victims thursday: eleanor underhill signed cds, played friend of the devil on banjo like guitar. robitussin seltzer, bbq meatballs
friday: palm up palm down dnd, takeout ten minutes before closing, ceiling tile constellations of our own making on sauce defense beach towels
saturday: brushed teeth after bourbon, five coffee bangs, bloody mary from first waiter in a year, pizza honey, pizzuchini, pizza gorgonzola, fini!
sunday: three accidents before asheville, cayenne latte detour, antique emporium, dinoworld deux, still thinking about the quilt, neon coat waits too


read a christmas carol

"at this festive season of the year, mr. scrooge," said the gentlemen, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

"are there no prisons?" asked scrooge

darkness is cheap

"you don't believe in me," observed the ghost.

"i don't," said scrooge.

"what evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your own senses?"

"i don't know," said scrooge

"why do you doubt your senses?"


and i release you.  with a full heart, for the love of him you once were

a man laden with christmas toys and presents.  then the shouting and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made on the defenseless porter!  the scaling him, with chairs for ladders, to dive into his pockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him round the neck, pommel his back, and kick his legs in irrepressible affection!

a crutch without an owner

it was a game called yes and no, where scrooge's nephew had to think of something, and the rest must find out what, he only answering to their questions yes or no, as the case was.  the brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed, elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes, and lived in london, and walked about the streets, and wasn't made a show of, and wasn't led by anybody, and didn't live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a market, and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear.  at every fresh question that was put to him, this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter and was so inexpressibly tickled that he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp


this week i

crossed the virginia-tennessee border friday: two detours, two bright horses, afton to fancy gap, hardee's farts, boiled mush, glyph santa
saturday: no milk at farmer's market, co-op glen echo aesthetic, dried fruit tea cold? grilled tuna, circled junaluska, best holiday agreed not easter
sunday: clingman's dome, albright old grove forest like rashomon, log looked like in praise of shadows door of koizumi, grilled shrimp
monday: pine trail mountain view vertical ascent, cornbread surplus, toasted pecans, grilled steak salad with champion tomato sauce gnocchi
tuesday: broccoli stunk up the joint, incense too, kilt bagpipe march, pizza bus parking lot, two free mouth rinse cup-sized beers, sunroof ice cream
wednesday: root-exposed trail, windows crash sad face, avocado toast avec runny eggs sans garlic powder, two local newspapers argued over obelisk

read junichiro tanizaki's pamphlet of aesthetics: in praise of shadows

how unlucky we have been, what losses we have suffered, in comparison with the westerner.  the westerner has been able to move forward in ordered steps, while we have met superior civilization and have had to surrender to it, and we have had to leave a road we have followed for thousands of years

ceramics are by no means inadequate as tableware, but they lack the shadows, the depth of lacquerware.  ceramics are heavy and cold to the touch; they clatter and clink, and being efficient conductors of heat are not the best containers for hot foods.  but lacquerware is light and soft to the touch, and gives off hardly a sound.  i know few greater pleasures than holding a lacquer soup bowl in my hands, feeling upon my palms the weight of the liquid and its mild warmth.  the sensation is something like that of holding a plump newborn baby.  there are good reasons why lacquer soup bowls are still used, qualities which ceramic bowls simply do not possess.  remove the lid from a ceramic bowl, and there lies the soup, every nuance of its substance and color revealed.  with lacquerware there is a beauty in that moment between removing the lid and lifting the bowl to the mouth when one gazes at the still, silent liquid in the dark depths of the bowl, its color hardly differing from the bowl itself.  what lies within the darkness one cannot distinguish, but the palm senses the gentle movements of the liquid, vapor rises from within forming droplets on the rim, and the fragrance carried upon the vapor brings a delicate anticipation.  what a world of difference there is between this moment and the moment when soup is served western style, in a pale, shallow bowl.  a moment of mystery, it might almost be called, a moment of trance

japanese ghosts have traditionally had no feet; western ghosts have feet, but are transparent

light is used not for reading or writing or sewing but for dispelling the shadows in the farthest corners, and this runs against the basic idea of the japanese room


this week i

estimated the expansion of affordable care act subsidy eligibility under the american rescue plan act

redeemed an ode to a roadside diner, we pirouetted past midnight mass.  mise en place at one a.m., then grilling et seule petite waffle-ironing around three, copeland's corral nocturne on the l.p.

watched a handful of george carlin's hbo specials

here's another bunch of pus-headed telephone cretins: these self-important techno-dicks who walk around with these hands-free telephone headsets and earpieces.  mr. self-important doesn't want to be too far from the phone in case henry kissinger calls.  he's got the dalai lama on line two.  i say, "hey, spaceman, as long as your hands are free, reach over and fondle my balls, would you?"

i have no ending for this so i take a small bow

received the rejects from laura's birthday surprise.  next time i'll buy her a lava lamp chandelier

read the pine barrens by john mcphee

the contents of this book originally appeared in the new yorker and were developed with the editorial counsel of william shawn and robert bingham


settlers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries found these soils unpromising for farms, left the land uncleared, and began to refer to the region as the pine barrens


the woods have an undulating sameness, and the understory - huckleberries, sheep laurel, sweet fern, high-bush blueberry - is often so dense that a wanderer can walk in a fairly tight circle and think that he is moving in a straight line


caleb earle, company clerk in a furnace town called martha, kept a semi-official diary from march 31, 1808, to april 27, 1815.  it is terse and sporadic, averaging about sixty-five short entries a year, but it is the only contemporary record of life in a pine barrens town.  martha furnace was built in 1793, a few miles southeast of jenkins.  the furnace has long since collapsed, and a large earth-covered mound remains where a high double-walled pyramid of bricks once stood.  the spillway runs back to a broken dam on the oswego river at martha pond.  there were about fifty houses in the town, a central mansion, a school, and a small hospital - all interspersed with stands of catalpa trees, which were planted throughout the town and are about all that remains of it.  with the exception of the furnace mound, there is not a trace of a structure in martha now.  the streets are bestrewn with green and blue glittering slag, but they are indistinguishable from the sand roads that come through the woods from several directions to the town, and if it were not for the old and weirdly leaning catalpa trees, it would be possible to pass through martha without sensing its difference from the surrounding woodland.

january 4, 1809 - frost stopped furnace wheel several times

january 7, 1809 - ore teams hauled hay.  blew the furnace out at eight o-clock p.m.  all hands drunk.

april 20, 1809 - at twenty-five muntes past two o-clock p.m., put the furnace in blast.  delaney and cox fillers.  hedger putting in the ore.  donaghau banksman.

the voters drank metheglin (mead and water with a zest of herbs), cider royall (highly concentrated cider), mimbo (rum and muscovado sugar), straight rum, whiskey, gin, beer

new jersey pirates hauled so many of these ships into the pine barrens rivers that british hulls and scattered timbers are still in the riverbeds.  there is a dam at penny pot, on the great egg harbor river, that was made from salvaged ship timbers.  it was built to be nothing more than a cranberry dam, but it has in it seventy-five thousand dollars' worth of teak.  one new jersey sailor went out to sea in a small whaleboat with nine other men and came back into the mullica river with a british warship and a british brig, which were auctioned, like most of the new jersey prizes, at the forks, near batsto

mollie, according to miss kite, was "good-looking and sprightly, which fact, coupled with an utter lack of sense of decency, made her attractive even to men of otherwise normal intelligence."  when billie and all of their children were killed in a fire, mollie said cheerfully, "well, they was all insured.  i'm still young and can easy start another family."

pineys put salt over their doors to discourage visits from the witch of the pines, peggy clevenger..a man saw a lizard and tried to kill it by crushing it with a large rock.  when the rock hit the lizard, the lizard disappeared and peggy clevenger materialized on the spot and smacked the man in the face

a forest fire moves in a v, lick the wake of a ship.  the point of the v is called the head fire, and if it gets up into the tops of the trees it is also called a crown fire.  the sides of the v, which burn slowly outward, are called lateral fires, and they have to be fought by men with back tanks and shovels, for if lateral fires get far enough out to catch a wind of their own with fresh fuel in front of them, they can become new head fires

it is because of fire that pines are predominant in the pine barrens.  there is thought to be a progression in the development of any forest from pioneer species to climax trees.  most ecologists agree that if fire were kept out of the pine barrens altogether, the woods would eventually be dominated by a climax of black oaks, white oaks, chestnut oaks, scarlet oaks, and a lesser proportion of hickories and red maples.  in some areas, oaks dominate now.  fire, however, has generally stopped the march of natural progression, and the resulting situation is one that might be called biological inertia - apparently endless cycles of fire and sprouting.  fire favors the pine trees because they have thick bark that provides insulation from high temperatures, and also because burned ground is just about perfect for pine seedbeds.  oaks lose vigor when they are repeatedly burned.  they develop heart rot, and they die.  scarlet oaks go first, then chestnut oaks, then white oaks, then black oaks.  blackjack oaks are an exception and after a fire come back strong.  in an area where a fire has been extremely hot, the pines die and the blackjack oaks put out basal sprouts that grow to be the predominant trees in that section.  but, for the most part, fires are not that intense, and, working in behalf of the pitch and shortleaf pines, they clear out the competition

"the snappers grab the ducks by the feet and pulls them right under there, and in two or three minutes they drown and the snappers eats them.  the snappers catch big ducks."  snapping turtles in the pine barrens are sometimes a foot and a half long and almost as wide.  they weigh fifty pounds.  pineys trap them in fykes, and fry their delicious white meat

frogs are ventriloquists

when prospective buyers actually came to see the land, promoters tied pears and apples to the limbs of pine trees and stationed fishermen in small boats in pine barrens lakes with dead pickerel on the ends of their lines and instructions to pull the fish out of the water every ten minutes