A lovely week

A week ago yesterday I headed to the salt marsh in Scituate Massachusetts for a writer’s retreat. I didn’t write, but I did walk and take photographs and cook. Friday, I zipped home to take care of some things and had a bit of additional fun that I’ll cover in a couple follow-on posts. Saturday night, it was back to the marsh for another day and a half. Given that messing with the camera was a focus for me, this will be an image-heavy post.

rainy marsh

Last morning on the marsh

dawn on the marsh

Mornings were mostly cool and drizzly,



while sunsets tended towards the spectacular.

The marsh was loaded with great blue herons, great egrets and snowy egrets. National Geographic level.I’m not, but the way to get better is to practice!

NatGeo 1

NatGeo 2

Great Blue Heron

I got one bike ride in with Lotte the Adventure Teckel and during the ride managed to snap a photo of a gorgeous teardrop trailer that I’d been ogling for days. The sailboat reminds me of a Stone Horse – it isn’t a variant, as far as I can tell, but the flush cockpit sure calls that design out. Figuring out the name of the craft, Ataraxia, led to a shallow dive into epicureanism. It’s good to be curious,

Epicurean teardrop camper

On Sunday, K and I went to the Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum; Scituate had (has?) a small industry devoted to harvesting and drying Chondrus crispus as a source of the thickener carrageenan. A small and charming museum that is only open on Sunday afternoons – worth a stop if the timing works for you.

Irish mossing

Next up: Yogi visits Madbury.

Salt marsh vacation

I spent a couple days on a south-of-Boston salt marsh. I’ll let some photos do the talking…

Random commentary:

  • On the ride down I listened to a couple Outside/In (strong recommendation!!) episodes. One, Molto Moleche, was esp relevant. While out fishing (pronounced ‘getting blown around on unfamiliar water, but having fun anyway’), young D and I saw a ton of green crabs.
  • There is such a thing as the Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum. I would like to be in the area some Sunday afternoon – I’d love to take a look at the harvesting history of Chondrus crispus.
  • The birdwatching was great. I can’t imagine how fantastic it is in the fall as birds stream south,

Thanks, host and friends. ‘Twas a wikkid awesome time!


It’s alive!

After a few hours of labor unhacking WordPress, installing and learning a security plugin, cleaning up a woefully out of date side panel, &c, DoaMNH is back in business! Why? Because I am planning on having some adventures and I’d like to document them. The events of the three years since the last post have not increased my confidence regarding 3rd party platforms – the dead link to the service formerly doing business as Storify in the post below is a perfect case in point. I’ll post things to other places (see the alt.tentacles sidebar*), but this here will be the main vein of foolishness. Hang on for more info on the adventures; I have some ‘getting prepped’ posts simmering.

* notable by its absence is Facebook. I have an account, but really, fuck Facebook.


Better late than never, I call your attention (yes, I know you’re aware of it already. pipe down.) to the newsletter phenomenon. Joanne McNeil Wrote an excellent overview and analysis last summer: Tiny Letters to the Web We Miss.

I knew what a blog was in 2002, I knew what it was in 2008, which was slightly different but still definitely a “blog.” Now, I have no idea what the word means any more. It isn’t something that runs on WordPress, because that is now the CMS for almost 20% of the web. It isn’t a place for short links, because that is Twitter. Tumblr and Instagram took over for photoblogs. And those long personal essay/personal rant posts that people would write every once in a while?—?those are happening here on Medium instead of our own websites. Specific products are driving the content.

TinyLetter isn’t driving the content as much as it is driving the newsletter trend. The format can be used for multiple purposes just like blogs used to be. *

If you want to dip your toes, let me recommend Charlie LLoyd‘s 6 and Debbie Chachra‘s Metafoundry. 6, 37: Blur‘s metasequoia section is one of the best things I’ve read in a while. And if you were paying attention while you read Metafoundry 15: Scribbled Leatherjackets you got a glimpse of Dr. Chachra’s thinking on Making (capitalization intended) that ended up, eventually, as Why I Am Not a Maker on the Atlantic’s web site.

A couple other newsletters I enjoy: Sarah Jeong and Parker Higgins‘ 5 Useful Articles (dispatches from the IP/copyright wars) and @(s)laughtercrystal‘s #PortsmouthLOVE Letter (local fun and coolness).

Some thought has been given to a #dailycoolcreature newsletter – no promises, but watch this space for any announcements.

A photo posted by John P (@drhypercube) on

Soylent, alienation and what’s the point anyway?

This rantlet flows out of Nicola Twilley’s excellent post on Aeon, Freedom from food. Go ahead and read it – I’ll wait. <hums tunelessly> Ok, then. I’ll assume that you’re familiar with Soylent (vc) (as opposed to Soyent (hh) or Soylent (it’s peeeopleeee)). Also please take as given that though I’m going to come across as a bit of a purist and perhaps holier than thou, I am neither of those things (I hope). I don’t cook everything I eat from scratch with ingredients I’ve grown or gathered myself – far from it. If nothing else, that’d keep me away from Kittery and a couple of my favorite restaurants. I may even eat too many burritos and falafel wraps – being pressed for time and not wanting to cook is a situation I am completely familiar with.

That being said, I find Soylent(vc) repulsive. It seems to me to embody a lot of what is wrong with our (developed West) trajectory both externally, in our relations with each other and the greater world, and internally, as we try to find some personal meaning as we hang out in this vale of tears.

It’s tough to imagine a more industrialized foodstuff than Soylent. Nicola touches on the length of the supply chain – Australian wool -> factory in Sichuan -> vitamin D2 -> Soylent – and there’s the reductive nutritional fetishism, too. The idea that food is no more than a list of chemicals in the proper quantities and proportions is one that Michael Pollan has argued against, effectively as far as I’m concerned. But there it is – standardization – where it’s at if you are going to manufacture fully industrialized food. Soylent is also having a go at being a fully alienated food. It tries to render invisible its origin in and connection to the world of non-human life (<thinks about the movie and laughs>).

This is perhaps Soylent’s most significant failing: food is the primary means by which we embody and enact our shifting, species-shaping relationship with natural world. Soylent represents an impossible wish to terminate that relationship entirely, to the impoverishment of both sides. *

In spite of the extent to which Western agriculture can be characterized as a way of turning fossil hydrocarbons, in the form of fertilizer, fuel and pesticides, into food, at base it still depends, it ALL depends, on photosynthesis. Knowledge of the way energy flows from the sun to plants to, perhaps, chickens or mushrooms or bees should help us situate ourselves in the web of things; Soylent attempts to efface that understanding. Industrialization has given us many good things, but not everything can or should be industrialized. Yes, I’m familiar with big farms. And yes, I’m familiar with inexpensive (and cheap) food. There’s a continuum here and Soylent is so far out on one of the tails of the distribution it’s not funny.

Soylent also alienates us from ourselves – from our senses and our physical being. It’s fuel. Pour it down fast and free up some time! But “I” am not separate from my body; fatigue, exertion, hot peppers – they all affect my ‘mind’. My senses, though they lie to me, are how I know the world – they are my ways in and out. Are my senses of taste and smell and touch so unimportant that I can toss them over the side when it come to an activity – eating – that keeps me alive? And the recent understanding of each of us as colonial beings – human plus gut biome (plus other communities) – the notion that ‘we’ll fix the bacterial ecosystem disaster in rev 2’ leaves me cold. This personal alienation is one of the many ways I think Soylent has gotten it pretty much perfectly backwards. The point is to enjoy your time to the best of your ability, not to eschew pleasure in favor of time on task. Because that’s the other thing that’s going on here – one frees up time by subsisting on Soylent to do what, exactly? You’ll forgive me if I assume ‘to work more hours’ is one of the choices. Again, don’t get me wrong – the points made about women’s (uncompensated/unvalued) time spent preparing food are well taken. I want more time. More free time. For everyone. More time to cook, if that’s what one wants to do, or to gather or garden, or to walk or to whistle or to hang around a cafe drinking coffee. And I want more ‘present’ time – time when I’m aware and appreciative of the taste of the hot coffee or the smell of the dry goldenrod underfoot or the sound of the catbird in the brush. Soylent seems to me to be the antithesis of being present.

I’m going to end with a quote from another good piece: David Graeber’s What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?

Why do animals play? Well, why shouldn’t they? The real question is: Why does the existence of action carried out for the sheer pleasure of acting, the exertion of powers for the sheer pleasure of exerting them, strike us as mysterious? What does it tell us about ourselves that we instinctively assume that it is? *

Life is for living.

(vc) is my little joke. I see Soylent as flowing out of startup/VC ‘culture’ (such as it is).

No No: A Dockumentary

A couple weeks ago, prompted by this boingboing post, I pointed the car in the direction of Brookline, Mass and headed out for Short Notice Movie Night.

I am not a huge baseball fan, but I am a BIG fan of baseball misfits and weirdos: Bill Lee, Sidd Finch and of course Dock Ellis. Mr. Ellis is most famous for pitching a no-hitter with a head full of LSD – I knew there was more to him than that, but I did not know how much more.

No No: A Documentary is one of the most interesting biographies I’ve seen in a very long time. Ellis, as one of the generation of ballplayers that came up after the majors were integrated, had a lot to say about civil rights and racism; he was wild on and off the field and in the end was someone who circled back to help addicts after he got sober.



The Seventies vibe was palpable and I loved it. I read that No No is now available via the internet streams – HIGHLY recommended. Why post now? As I was heading in to the local big city this AM I listened to a segment on Only a Game: a conversation with Jeffery Radice, who made No No, and Tom Reich, Dock’s agent. On a personal note, the names of some of the Pirates my dad and I saw play at Forbes Field: Roberto Clemente, Willy Stargell, Manny Sanguillen – brought tears to my eyes. Green Weenie 4 evah.

Rock on (in beisbol valhalla), Mr. Ellis.

P.S. Thanks to Lauren for the restaurant recco – tacos and elote, yay!

Donald Richie 1924-2013

Donald Richie died last Tuesday. I was already planning to go to the Music Hall Tuesday night for their presentation of Ran; it seemed an excellent way to honor Mr. Richie’s memory, and so I raised a glass to him on my way to the theater. I learned of Mr. Richie’s work very recently – at a dinner at a brilliant friend’s place, I started talking Kurosawa with another brilliant friend (I’d just watched The Seven Samurai again and was full of enthusiasm). She pointed me at Richie’s book on the director as well as a bio of Kurosawa and Mifune by Stuart Galbraith IV and a fantastic novel, The Last Samurai, that uses The Seven Samurai as both an element in the characters lives and as an organizing theme.

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