Someday I’ll be Scrooge?

Was cleaning up last weekend as the holiday season began and realized I never did something I promised my parents: posting Lori’s iPhone video of my supporting role in last year’s NPR holiday-party radio-style (but not on radio) performance of A Christmas Carol. It was a blast. I needed a haircut.

Also! My video of Lori’s reindeer-dance number. We’re really something.

And a few Instagrams from last year:




Didn’t get any photos from this year’s party, which was last night and a lot of fun after a tough week (seems like they always are, why is that?), but a colleague did take a nice shot of the NPR headquarters gingerbread house.

The art of metadata

I wrote a whole post about how book cover T-shirts, especially carefully constructed ones, can be great — until you get to the author name. The metadata that is so valuable and deserved on the book feels so awkward and overbearing on the shirt. In a product with art at its soul, when do you hold tight to the metadata and when do you gain by running free of it?

Then WordPress ate the post. Totally gone. I began to try to rewrite the post, but I wrote too much of it while still sleepy this morning and the words didn’t come back. There were too many words this week, and I lost track of which ones were mine and in what order they sat. Also, the post was the first in a while where I felt like writing, and I was sad to lose it.

So, this is what you get. The art of metadata is the art of summation and connection. Too much and too forward and the T-shirt is awkward. Too little and too far from the database and the post is gone. Hard to win.

There are still days…

Wayne Thiebaud began painting pies in 1962, and he built his career on these works. Every once in a while these days, the New Yorker or Times catches up with him. I always feel the urge to blog them, not because I know much about Thiebaud but because I love pie and feel a kinship.

In 2009, he did a mouth-watering cover for the former called “Pumpkin Cloud,” which introduced me to his work and made me blog all about him. In 2010, I loved a quote he gave the latter about working quite naturally through painting “misalignment,” part of a longer, interesting profile.

This fall, the New Yorker visited him at a dessert shop.

He subsequently found other subjects—city streets, melons—but his current show, at Acquavella Galleries, includes new work on the old theme. As Thiebaud put it, there are still days that start with the thought: This morning, I’d like to paint a pie.

The couch-to-breath program


We didn’t freeze. That was the side win in our SOME Turkey Trot against hunger this year. Last year, Thanksgiving morning was as cold as it gets in Washington. Maybe not record-setting, but close enough. This time, the morning was cold but not too cold. Success against hunger *and* nature.

I’m about three weeks into the Couch-to-5k program. Five, really, but two weeks in the middle lost to vacation and work travel. (I never found a gym at Caesars, and I doubt anyone ever has.) The program builds endurance, and I want that strength in two areas: legs and, more importantly, lungs.

This year, my time got a little worse…

  • 2004: About 45 minutes
  • 2005: About 45 minutes
  • 2006: About 41 minutes
  • 2007: About 39 minutes.
  • 2013: 42:26
  • 2014: 43:50

…but I felt better. At the end of the race (and the next day), my legs still had juice in them, and, again more importantly, I didn’t need last year’s immediate hits off the inhaler. Progress versus the asthma, finally.


Lori: “You look like an undercover cop.” And she was right: track pants, a windbreaker over a hoodie, and a stocking cap. Give me a walkie-talkie and I’m a supporting character on The Wire. But a man must run — and a man must be warm. And I am that man. Or at least working to become him.


I owe Lori a lot for encouraging me to run, not just once a year but several times a week. She ran the whole course this year and posted a great time. She definitely deserves it. Looking forward to new courses in the spring.

Revising what we know about baseball — maybe, hard to say

Great archival photos on almost always impress and often raise questions. What was the story behind the scene? Who were the people? Where was the location? What does the location look like now?

But sometimes the photos raise historical questions, with meaning for what we know about our past. So, I can’t stop thinking about a baseball picture that Shorpy posted the other day. Copied with permission:

“1910. ‘Dalton All-Star baseball team — Elm Street Field, Dalton, Penna.’ 8×10 glass negative by George F. Purdon, scanned by Shorpy Labs.” Link.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 2.05.46 PM

A few commenters have begun to try and identify the teams represented in the photo, but they haven’t gotten very far. One commenter guesses the players are from teams in the Ohio-Pennsylvania League, a minor league that had teams come and go all over that region during that period.

But the commenters have no confirmation, and the players’ identities are mysteries — including the man in the middle, the man holding a catcher’s glove and mask, the man who appears to be African-American and playing on an all-star team of otherwise white men in a time of segregated ball.

So unexpected and awesome.

And I have so many questions. How much interracial baseball was there in 1910? We know it sadly didn’t exist in the majors for decades more, but to what extent did it exist in the minors? We do know various Cuban players were in the minor leagues at the time. Is the man in the middle Cuban?

We’ll likely never learn answers, but I hope we do. The Web’s a big place.

Thankful for family and friends


Especially during this long weekend.

For my mom, who made a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey! The sides! The pies! For my dad, who helped me move a giant cabinet from the Cooper basement — no easy feat as you can’t go up the basement stairs — to my apartment. For my brother, who was also an excellent mover and for him and his girlfriend who are raising a terrific dog who’s my new friend.

For Lori who went all around town with me this weekend and who makes turkeys answer hard questions (stay tuned). For her family who welcomed me to their home for a great Thanksgiving meal — Thanksgiving #2! — and who are the most entertaining people to watch Hallmark Channel holiday movies. (“But I’m just a poor girl from Buffalo!” says the lead actress, who is — and sounds — quite Irish.) For their dog Charlie, who’s good to me.

For Jeff and Mollie, who threw a fun and delicious house-smoker to start the weekend. For the Gonzaga friends who brought food, drink or much-needed cheer. For the MARC conductor who, after I ran to catch the train to Jeff’s, turned down my cash for a ticket with a “Happy Thanksgiving.”

Cover Lay Down has a good new mix. “It’s Thanksgiving, and just in time, too: breakneck momentum takes over this time of year, until routines long established begin to fray around the edges; maybe we need a few days off to rethink our priorities.” How Can I Keep From Singing stands out for me.

The end of ‘Family Almanac’

Tucked in the quieter reaches of the Post‘s site this weekend is Marguerite Kelly’s final — after 35 years — “Family Almanac” column. It’s a winner.

Although drugs, alcohol and our own blood chemistry have caused many problems in many families, others are of our own making. We work too much or not enough. We marry before we should or divorce when we shouldn’t. We have our babies too early or let our eggs get too old. We watch a loved one die too soon and another live too long. And then there are the parents who abuse their partners or their children while others watch this abuse and say nothing at all. Life isn’t perfect because we’re not perfect, either. But what we do and say to our children — and what we don’t do and don’t say — can decide how well they will live out their lives.

Photos: First trip to Vegas

Everyone has a first trip to Las Vegas. A weekend at the tables. A bachelor or bachelorette party. A old-friends high-rolling reunion. Swingers. The Hangover. For me, this week, my first trip was a public radio conference.

At first blush, this circumstance seems ridiculous: public radio executives holding their annual conference in Las Vegas — at Caesars Palace, no less. But look a little closer and the situation makes sense. Caesars is one of the biggest supporters of Nevada Public Radio and a significant supporter of public media at large. And while all of the casinos may want your wallet at the tables (and in the room services, minibar and other fees), decent room rates make Vegas an affordable conference town for budget industries.

So, I went to Vegas. Didn’t hit the tables or the slots. But saw some sights. Had a nice view of The Mall on the way out of Washington and then Air Force One landing at McCarran International on the trip home. In the meantime, attended the conference sessions, explored Caesars, walked the strip, gawked like a yokel, and sang Frank and Elvis songs to myself.



Continue reading

Chasing randomness and form