Things That Are So Good That I Can’t Live Without Them: UE Megaboom

Let’s get something straight: I like long showers. They relax me. I waste hundreds of gallons of water while hot (not warm) water rinses my bad decisions and wasted moments far away from me. It’s cheap therapy. And while I’m standing there, with a wonderfully strong GPM hitting me in the back of the neck, I blast music. My family hates it. I don’t care.

Continue reading “Things That Are So Good That I Can’t Live Without Them: UE Megaboom”

We All Come in From the Cold.

I can remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Guns N Roses. It felt like getting hit in the head with a brick — it was so loud, so hard, so good. That first album, Appetite for Destruction, was pretty raw. They were a troubled band and they flamed out pretty quickly, but before they did, they dropped Use Your Illusion I & II. There’s a lot there and a bit of it was popular. But my favorite has always been Breakdown. Maybe because we all feel a little broken down from time to time. Maybe because it’s good songwriting or maybe because it just rocks.

Continue reading “We All Come in From the Cold.”

Things That Are So Good That I Can’t Live Without Them: Field Notes

I have a list on my phone. It catalogs things that I keep using or interacting with, over and over. Even though they are just things, mostly, they are things that make my life better. Simply put, the things I feel passionately about, I feel very passionately about. So, presented in no particular order, here is one of those things:

I’ve always been a note taker and a list maker. It’s become more important as I’ve become older and the synapses have stopped firing as consistently. For that reason, I seldom leave the house without a Field Notes notebook in my pocket. I’m a scribbler and there’s not much organization to most of my notes, just horizontal lines to mark breaks in thoughts.

I recently purchased a Field Notes wallet from Bellroy, who are well known for their long-lasting leather goods. It’s got a magnetic closure to it and a few pockets for business cards or credit cards and things. It’s bulkier than I thought, so time will tell if I end up using it for long.

I like Field Notes so much, I subscribe to their Quarterly Editions, limited edition notebookes in unique covers or purposes. The most surprising thing about a Field Notes book is how often I’ve used the ruler in the back of the cover to help measure something. That’s been quite helpful. The limited editions have often been surprising and wonderful surprises.

Field Notes was also very, very briefly in the publishing business. A few years ago, they published a short story that was really very wonderful. Nicely written, touching, and engaging — and about baseball. I’m not a baseball fan, but I loved the story.

Things That Are So Good That I Can’t Live Without Them: The Balvenie

I have a list on my phone. It catalogs things that I keep using or interacting with, over and over. Even though they are just things, mostly, they are things that make my life better. Simply put, the things I feel passionately about, I feel very passionately about. So, presented in no particular order, here is one of those things:

Let’s talk about Scotland. With its windswept crags and soggy moors, one might wonder why anyone would ever visit. But pull back the hood of your rain jacket just a bit and you will be astounded by Scotland’s rugged and unspoiled beauty. There’s the desolate yet dazzling Glencoe mountain valley, Bond’s fictitious home in Skyfall. The picturesque landscapes on the Isle of Skye provide some of the best coasts in all of the United Kingdom. Or visit the neolithic monuments near the rocky shores of the Orkney Islands and it’s easy to imagine a viking invader, wrapped in furs, approaching youfrom the surf, sword drawn. Scotland the Brave, is also the birthplace of golf (cause of much frustration) and whisky (remedy to that frustration).

While I have a predilection for smoky, peaty Islay malts, one of my favorites is distilled in whisky’s epicenter, Speyside. The Balvenie has been distilled in Dufftown since 1893. It’s one of just a half dozen Scottish distilleries to still floor malt its barley and the only one in the Highlands. The Balvenie has a small offering of regular expressions, but each is rich tasting and luxuriously smooth. Scotch is a drink that appeals greatly to me due to the simplicity of its production, but also because the final product remains in doubt for a decade or more. The success at the end of such a long road makes me appreciate each drop that much more.

 

Things That Are So Good That I Can’t Live Without Them: Apple MacBook Pro, pre-2014

I have a list on my phone. It catalogs things that I keep using or interacting with, over and over. Even though they are just things, mostly, they are things that make my life better. Simply put, the things I feel passionately about, I feel very passionately about. So, presented in no particular order, here is one of those things:

I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, which, if you ask my wife, is the understatement of all understatements. My day job requires me be in front of a screen for most of the work day. When I get home, I write for one of a couple of blogs, which equates to more hours staring at a keyboard — a beautiful, backlit keyboard with black keys to hide dirt and oils and almost the right number of keys and a decent trackpad. I am speaking about the MacBook Pro.

Mine is from late 2013, a sweet spot where they had resolved battery issues in previous models and before they got rid of the old USB ports, which I am still in adamant need of for various things like connecting to my CNC mill. (It’s been a year since this change and I have yet to see the industry follow this “bold” move.) This MacBook Pro is still running fast and strong, despite more than a few drops. Realistically, the time may be coming soon when I have to replace it, which I’m not looking forward to, mostly because of the USB  issue and the rumored elimination of a headline jack. But until that day, I will treasure this battle-tested soldier.

Relationships, Online Friends, and a Death Too Soon

Last February, I got a text late at night. “Dave, call me as soon as you can.”

The moment I saw it, I sat down in the hall where I was walking. That’s not a good message. Not at that time of night. It was never going to be good news. Bad news carries immediacy. Good news, for whatever reason, can wait.

I called. This woman, Alison, who I had met only once, was in tears. Brad, the man in her life, was dead.

We like to think that we know how we’ll react when tragedy strikes or a crisis hits. We imagine we’ll rise to the occasion; be the shining example of behavior, the one everyone else aspires to. I’ll acknowledge that I have done very well in situations like that before. But that night? I was utter crap.

I’d like to say that I said all the right things. That I comforted this woman, was reassuring, and set the situation right. The truth is, despite getting a pretty accurate read on the situation from the timing of the text, I was far from eloquent. I probably said “no fucking way” a dozen times. Maybe more. I’m not sure what else I contributed, but it wasn’t anything that added much. And the phone call went on a heckuva lot longer than it needed to, neither of us wanting to hang up, because ending the call meant we had to begin grieving in earnest. It’s all very trite, I know. Most of us react to death in the same ways. Continue reading “Relationships, Online Friends, and a Death Too Soon”

Why Boy Scout Camp Is the Awesomest

Let’s get something straight upfront. Boy Scout camp, at least the one I attend, is no glitzy affair. The food in the mess hall, where they feed each camper for a couple of bucks a day, isn’t very good. The outhouses sometimes blanket the campsites with a low-hanging layer of stench that can be quite foul. The weather is mostly tough to endure; it’s difficult to sleep when you’re perspiring (but, hey, it is summer). And the open-flapped tents allow raiding parties of raccoons to come and go freely… all night long. Despite all of that, it’s ten of my most favorite days of every year. Here’s why:

1. Everyone is nice.

The Scout Law tells us that we should be cheerful and most people take this very seriously. A held door is acknowledged with eye contact and a thank you. Passing another camper on the trail almost always includes a good morning and a smile. Yes, you may encounter this behavior in the rest of the world, but never as consistently and heartfelt as at Boy Scout summer camp. Continue reading “Why Boy Scout Camp Is the Awesomest”

Things That Are So Good That I Can’t Live Without Them: 13 Angels on My Broken Windowsill Video

I have a list on my phone. It catalogs things that I keep using or interacting with, over and over. Even though they are just things, mostly, they are things that make my life better. Simply put, the things I feel passionately about, I feel very passionate about. So, presented in no particular order, here is one of those things:

I have tried to enjoy BT‘s music and, mostly, it doesn’t do a lot for me. Still, I recognize he’s a big talent and lots of people love him. I appreciate his experimentation and deep level of talent, but seldom listen to his music. When I was writing at Wired, I was asked to do a piece introducing the world premiere of a new video for BT, 13 Angels on My Broken Windowsill. I was sent a link to the video before it launched and was blown away. I think I probably watched it five or six times in a row, just slack-jawed. The very patient and gradual build-up, the power of the breaks, prior to the denoument. But it is so perfectly married with the astral photography and time-lapses, that it’s tough to imagine seeing visuals for the song in any other way. Here is the Wired article.