Combining a few favorites…

Combining the mystery of the Hoh Rain Forest (where we spent a wonderful dark and rainy day last spring), the writing of Meghan O’Rourke (a lyrical favorite of mine), and the meditations on silence of George Prochnik (blogged about here a couple times previously), here’s “Lessons in Stillness From One of the Quietest Places on Earth” in case you missed it earlier this month.

THE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK stretches down coastal Washington and east toward Seattle on a thumb of land known as the Olympic Peninsula, some 60 miles long by 90 miles wide. Around a three-hour ride by car from Seattle, it feels much farther, as if you have passed into an otherworldly realm. Within it are volcanic beaches scattered with the remains of massive Sitka spruces, evergreen-crowded mountains, broad, flat valleys and the Hoh Rain Forest, through which 12 miles of hiking trails and the glacier-formed Hoh River run. The Park, in total nearly a million acres, is home to what may be the most complex ecosystem in the United States, teeming with big-leaf maples, lichens, alders, liverworts, Monkey flowers, licorice ferns, club mosses, herbs, grasses and shrubs of remarkable abundance.

I’d believe it. A picture from our walk in the Hall of Mosses…

‘A microaggression against Cheerio fans’

So says friend Melissa as she sends this picture from somewhere during her recent journeys in East Asia, and she’s not wrong. First of all, there are lots of kind of Cheerios these days. They’re all over the map, and many sound flat-out unappetizing: pumpkin spice, very berry, peanut butter chocolate, ancient grains, and even fruity, which would seem to be the Fruit Loops of Cheerios. (I am, however, interested in the dark chocolate crunch.) Also, appreciating plain Cheerios is an art form, a finding of truth requiring the most refined palette. I’ve argued as much for the last 37 years. So, let us not forget a truth about the Loops. Says Melissa, “Fruit Loops aren’t even good. And they are all the same flavor.”

The best parts of Black Friday

This Bryce Harper garden gnome that looks nothing like Bryce Harper but is all kinds of creepy, especially as you imagine it lurking in your garden.

This anti-snoring solution that has made the 2017 list of Oprah’s favorite things. The device listens to snoring and then inflates under your pillow as you sleep, pushing your head around until the snoring stops. The video is great.

This $200 toaster that says “TOAST” on the side. How else will you know what to do with the machine? But the idea of clamps for holding bread slices is great. I say this as someone who’s recently been toasting mini-English muffins.

Mind-boggling process

But it makes John McPhee’s work so good. Via Lindsay.

The process is hellacious. McPhee gathers every single scrap of reporting on a given project — every interview, description, stray thought and research tidbit — and types all of it into his computer. He studies that data and comes up with organizing categories: themes, set pieces, characters and so on. Each category is assigned a code. To find the structure of a piece, McPhee makes an index card for each of his codes, sets them on a large table and arranges and rearranges the cards until the sequence seems right. Then he works back through his mass of assembled data, labeling each piece with the relevant code. On the computer, a program called “Structur” arranges these scraps into organized batches, and McPhee then works sequentially, batch by batch, converting all of it into prose. (In the old days, McPhee would manually type out his notes, photocopy them, cut up everything with scissors, and sort it all into coded envelopes. His first computer, he says, was “a five-thousand-dollar pair of scissors.”)

 

Never tired of Dusty Baker quotes

In the Post, on struggling Nats catcher Matt Wieters:

Before the game, Nationals Manager Dusty Baker — going out of his way to point out that he is a non-Catholic, and therefore not necessarily qualified to say so — speculated that Wieters is spending this month in purgatory. Purgatory, in Baker’s baseball-driven mind, is that place where a hitter is “behind the fastball and ahead of the curveball.” In other words, no man’s land.