Saturday, 27 June 2020

INSIDE VOICE #10: “you don’t know if you’re doing it right. no one knows if they’re doing it right.”

I’ve been a fan of Mike Doughty since his Soul Coughing days and his new Ghost of Vroom project brings back the his earlier found art/jazz collage vibe to effectively comment on the craziness of navigating a pandemic from an small room in NYC.

In Counterpart J.K Simmons struggles to navigate a post-pandemic world exuding German-ness; doppelgängers, bureaucracy, science, and the parallel but different lives between East & West Berlin. Counterpart is at its best when you’ve lost track of which world you’re in.

If Counterpart makes you long for something more immersive, perhaps try It’s Winter a video game fully embracing Kafka-esque bureaucracy, isolation, and the persistence of banality in a small Soviet apartment building.

For about a week in our suburban home, all six of us were playing Little alchemy 2. It’s a refreshingly simple and engaging game. It works great in any browser, on any device, and there’s no need to set up an account or download an app. It’s very easy to spend hours calmly and fruitlessly attempting combinations. Among my competitors, it sparked conversations on naming animals in German, philosophy, and numerous questions about how to make cheese.

There have been many series highlighting the ridiculously niche competitions humans have created. We are the Champions. bests them all. Primarily due to highlighting the diversity of competitors across these amusing endeavors and while it’s shot with the seriousness of Chef’s Table, the narration is full of smirks. My fingers are crossed for a kubb episode in season 2.

Miquel Marquez

Saturday, 20 June 2020

INSIDE VOICE #9: This Land is My Land

For years now, comparisons of the US to individual European states has troubled me. Primarily because in terms of GDP, population, and geographic size, the individual US states make for a more apples-to-apples comparison than the entirety of the union.

So, why in the midst of this global pandemic are we still comparing US as a whole against smaller countries?

The ‘a-ha’ I had this week that helps me better understand the lopsided comparison:

“the borders between US states wouldn’t close.”

Probably not anyway.


Finland vs Wyoming


“Even though some of the lands west of the line were to remain part of Germany, Belgium claimed sovereignty over the trackbed and the stations.”


Turns out, like Australia, New Zealand is its own continent.

The continent of Zealandia.

I suppose, just cuz we can’t see land, doesn’t mean it’s not there, waiting for us to put it to use.


Compared to Atlantropa‘s vision of literally bringing Europe and Africa closer together by draining the Mediterranean Sea thus creating new habitable land, this idea to run a 55-mile dam across the Bering Strait project seems almost minor in environmental impact and quaint in the implied US-Russia relations.


“Austenasia’s emperor, Jonathan Austen, 25, has had to follow the shelter-in-place guidelines imposed by Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the other side of his front door.”


“To call the ending an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It’s so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don’t know the secret anymore.”


Oh, apropos of nothing, the family designed and presented me with a flag for Father’s Day.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

INSIDE VOICE #8: Just Look Around

The researchers stated that the impact generated an environmental calamity that extinguished life, but it also induced a vast subsurface hydrothermal system that became an oasis for the recovery of life.

So, not only do we know exactly where the asteroid hit, we can also see the consequences of it in the K-Pg boundary in the sedimentary all over the globe.

It’s one thing to have a theory, an explanation, a story (e.g. “a giant asteroid killed the dinosaurs“).

It’s quite another to definitively say;

“Oh, right there – that crater on the tip of the Yucatán that’s where it hit.”


“Oh, that line of silvery-chalk on that cliff – then. Lots of dinosaurs below, none above – anywhere in the world.”

It’s powerfully humbling for two reasons.

  1. Mortal human scientists confidently unwound time 66 million years just from looking closely at rocks around us
  2. And, if you’re reading this, you’re related to something that survived the impact.

And every world-shaking event in-between.

As are each of your neighbors.

As is whomever you’re currently in a Twitter-war with.


An Autonomous Zone has been declared within the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone.

“the most elaborate artist’s signature ever conceived.”


RIP Christo.


Last weekend, one of the teenagers and I set up a RetroPie. $130 (including a pair of SNES-compatible controllers) and a day of fiddling around gets you console emulators from the 1980s and 1990s.

Of the dozens of games we’ve been introducing the kids to, Pac-Man, Mario Bros, Tetris, Pole Position have seen frequent play. Despite their giant pixels and their tinny MIDI soundtracks.

There’s also been tears and deep frustration with how fragile and unreliable bringing the past into the future can be.

For example;

  • Space Invaders doesn’t recognize any of the buttons on the controller as red fire button on the classic Atari joysticks. Thus, making it almost as unfun as the hacked version of Donkey Kong I found where no barrels are thrown at Mario.
  • Star Wars Pod Racer doesn’t recognize the controller’s D-pad, which means you’re reliant on walls & cliffs to keep you on course. There’s not enough of them to do so.
  • The teenager doesn’t recognize any of the players in any of the versions of Madden. It’s not been played since this realization. Really makes me consider the different layers fandom can live at; sport-level, team-level, coach-level, player-level.
  • There’s already been a family-wide Mortal Kombat II tournament. The parents, despite familiarity, did not fare well. The 6yr old, surprisingly well.
  • The coarse pixels in Pole Position are so large on today’s HDTVs you can barely recognize the shapes as race cars.


Sometimes we get lucky and the past continues to be compelling and engaging well into the future.

Other times, the world changes enough over time, the past no longer fits.

In my current household, Ole & Lena jokes, nor any joke with a punchline deriding the Polish has ever been spoken. Despite them being a regular feature of my childhood home, along with even less acceptable variations (and far more subtle insensitivities).

Yes, just as we’ve stopped repeating these jokes (cultural artifacts), and other subtly disrespectful phrases (e.g. anything with the descriptors ‘Dutch’ or ‘left-handed’), statues (also cultural artifacts) of figures promoting division and exploitation need to be taken down.

Their coarseness no longer represents our cultural aspirations.


On the Media is doing a fantastic job covering the cultural implications of police these last couple weeks.

I highly recommend these two segments:

Both resonated highly with me, as did this proposal to unbundle the police.

I’m much more comfortable having the roles currently fulfilled by the police fall under Health and Human Services than Public Safety.

It feels like this change makes for a more prevention-oriented approach (less reactive, less violent) leading with trust and collaboration rather than with mistrust and conflict.

If the only way to make black lives matter is abolishing the policing as we know it, it’s long over due.


“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” – Carl Sagan

Saturday, 6 June 2020

INSIDE VOICE #7: 400 years of beer innovating around tax law

In Europe, the growing conditions for beer ingredients – barley, oats, wheat, hops – are comparatively pretty narrow relative to grapes and other cereal grains. While beer traditions, and very intriguing ones, do exist outside of England, Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. I’m focusing on these 4 countries for right now as they’ve been the most influential on our current beer styles.

Beer & bread share 75% of the ingredients. Bavarian monks were still allowed beer during their fasts and American colonial records frequently referred to beer as ‘liquid bread’.

Different cultures at different times have placed beer at a different point in the ‘vice’ – ‘food’ spectrum. From not taxing it because it was liquid bread to a complete prohibition.

Most cultures generally land someplace in the middle, “beer is so popular that taxing it will help us pay for this war” (in the case of the US, that was the Civil War).

But to tax it, you must first define what ‘beer’ is.

This is where things get interesting.

Today, we use ‘beer’ to generally refer to any malted grain-derived beverage containing alcohol.

Within ‘beer’ there are two major branches distinguished by where in the fermenting vessel the yeast activity is located.

In ales, it’s at the top.

In lagers, it’s at the bottom.

But this wasn’t always the key distinction. At one point in history, ‘beer’ and ‘ale’ were two very different beverages. While that point could very well be just a decade ago in Texas,

We’ll go a little further back.

About 400 years back, in Europe.

At this time, a beverage balancing the malt sweetness with hops was called ‘beer’.

And a more traditional beverage balancing it with gruit was called ‘ale’.

What is gruit?

Gruit is a combination of bitter herbs and spices usually containing; bog myrtle, yarrow, and rosemary.

Some records also mention heather, ginger, juniper, caraway, and cinnamon.

Gruit as a mixture was monopoly by the Catholic Church. This meant, the Catholic Church controlled the collection, composition, and sale of gruit to local brewers. Occasionally, they would license those rights to local municipalities. This is the earliest known tax on beer.

The Catholic Church was so serious about maintaining this monopoly that in 1381 Frederick the Archbishop of Cologne decreed that all brewers must buy gruit from the Episcopal Gruit house and the importing of hopped beer was forbidden.

This monopoly on gruit drove brewers to find other bittering agents.

And they found that in hop flowers.

Hops, previously considered a noxious weed, turned out to be more potent at bittering beer, as well as improving shelf-life, more reliably consistent, and bypassed the Catholic Church’s taxes.

By 1450 hop farming was well underway in the Netherlands and across Northern Europe. The adoption of hops by brewers coincided with growing frustrations with the Catholic Church all culminating with Martin Luther and the Reformation.

Between 1487 and 1520 both Bavaria and the Netherlands had established laws declaring that only hops could be used in beer. No other herbs.

In 1516 there’s an English record declaring:

“Hop and Reformation, bays, and beer, came to England in all the same year”

As early as 1350 the Dutch were brewing a 75% malted oats and 25% malted wheat beer.

50 years later, in 1400, malted barley was introduced and gradually gained on the oats, and by 1550 malted barley made up 25% of the recipe.

This 50% oats, 25% wheat, 25% barley combination describes the ‘koyt’ one of the few traditional Dutch beer styles. I bring this up for 4 reasons:

  1. Koyt is considered one of the styles straddling this ‘gruit’ / ‘hop’ beer transition.
  2. A barley, wheat, oats combination is the basic grain bill for beers in the popular hazy NE IPA style.
  3. Nobody enjoyed it at the time. During the Dutch Golden Age, beer from elsewhere in Europe was so preferred, a 75% tariff was placed on beer imported into Holland.
  4. Colonial America…

In the early 1600s, the Dutch colonized modern day New York, from Manhattan up to Albany.

They brought their oat & wheat brewing traditions with.

There is a record of my 10th great-grandfather paying for his rented farmland with bushels of wheat, oats, and rye.

No doubt the rest of it went to supplying local bakers and brewers (who paid a licensing fee of 6 beavers per year).

Grain was so plentiful and beer so popular that a law at the time stating the minimum amount of malt used for beer calculates to a 7% ABV.

Further down the coast, the English in Virginia were far less successful in translating their barley-based brewing traditions to the New World. Eventually, they gave up, switched to tobacco.

They would then trade that tobacco for malt and beer from the Dutch.

This helped supply the Dutch West India Company’s global trade network with tobacco while bypassing the English crown’s taxes on colonial tobacco.

Eventually the crown got wise to the fact that colonists were smuggling tobacco, as well as molasses and sugar for rum. So in 1764 the Sugar Act outlawed all rum and liquor. Driving the colonists to switch to beer and cider. It wasn’t just in the colonies that England looked to pay off the Napoleonic wars, it was also at home.

The story of beer tax law in England is best told through the rise and fall of the Porter style.

All of this is in thanks to Ron Pattinson’s amazingly comprehensive research into English commercial brewers.

In 1790 Parliament increased the tax on malt. At this point, a Porter was 100% brown malt (with likely a smokey, toffee, tobacco, nutty profile) and 7% ABV.

Over the next 10 years, an incremental reduction of malt reduced the ABV by 2% and had some other consequences.

The newly introduced ‘pale malt’ had greater sugar extraction despite being more expensive, brewers started switching over. It appears the drop in ABV was less concerning to the drinking public than the paler color, so brewers started adjusting the color with whatever they could get their hands on – liquorice juice?

Which caused Parliament to restrict the ingredients to barley, hops, yeast, water.

Only 300 years after the Dutch and Germans, but whatevs.

This drove to the invention of the drum roaster and black malt, which could, with just a percentage or two provide the opaque black color Porter drinkers were expecting.

Quickly followed was brewers adoption of the alcohol hydrometer to measure sugar extraction, which quantified just how poorly brown malt performed against pale malt.

And over the next 60 years, ingredient restrictions were lifted, first allowing sugar and then allowing rice, corn, and unmalted grain.

By 1900, a recipe for Porter looks very different than one century earlier. It now includes dark invert sugar and corn. No longer a toffee and tobacco, but coffee and caramel one.

Increased taxes and supply shortages through the wars cut Porters ABV in half again and by 1950 it was completely out of fashion. Many breweries dropped their Porter all together, while keeping the higher ABV Stout.

Bavarian law; barley, hops, water, (yeast) for bottom fermenting beers.

Top-fermenting beers can use wheat and rye, but they can’t call themselves ‘beer’, and these ingredients are taxed at a higher rate (strangely like Texas a decade ago).

Reinheitsgebot adoption by all brewers across Germany was a precondition of Bavaria joining the Weimar Republic in 1918 and again in 1949.

This obviously gave preference to Bavarian bottom-fermenting barley-only beers you might be familiar with like; Oktoberfest, Doppelbock, and Pilsners.

While discouraging equally traditional northern German styles like Berliner Weisse, Gose, and Gratzer. These heavily wheat-based styles are only recently being re-discovered by craft brewers globally.

Our last stop of the night is Belgium.

Belgium taxed brewers on how much grain could fit in their brewing system, so economical brewers would buy the smallest system they could and then reach the intended alcohol content by adding caramelized sugar later in the process.

This incentive to hit higher ABVs than the brewing system could comfortably support was amplified in 1919 with the Vandervelde Act which outlawed distilled spirits in Belgian cafes.

Brewers filled the void by introducing styles like the Golden Strong, Dark Strong, and Tripel with ABVs approaching and sometimes passing 10% with a complexity and drinkability that could compete with cocktails and beer imported from elsewhere in Europe.

So, yea, I do think Minnesota’s lame packaging restrictions will change.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

INSIDE VOICE #6: Uncomfortably Close

After MPR read the headline, the 9 year old immediately asks:

“Hey Google, what’s third degree murder?”




On Sept 11, 2001, a dozen years into the militarization of local police departments, I was working for a startup an old skyscraper on the north end of the Chicago Loop. The CEO survived the Bosnian civil war prior to immigrating.

We sat stunned watching the live coverage. I can still remember him dismissively observing, as he walked out of the room:

“It’s not a war, get back to work.”

Instead, we all went home.

One by one, over the next two weeks, we took better jobs.

If I was a DINK today, leaving Chicago in the driver’s seat of a U-Haul seeking balance – fully aware I could live anywhere – I might keep driving and try my luck in Absaroka.


In the Days After I’m predicting more regionalism and while I’ve personally noticed an increased sensitivity to out of state license plates, I did not expect this:


Turns out I’m the reason there’s only sliced and shredded cheese in the house:

“I feel like, if I buy you blocks of cheese you’re just going to eat them like a woodchipper.”



An Ongoing List of the Unexpected Global Pandemic Impacts to a Homebrewer’s Supply Chain

  • Kegerator’s CO2 tanks unable to get refilled.
  • Preferred yeast strains out of stock.
  • Fewer neighbors are swinging by to have growlers refilled.
  • Mistaken for an end-of-days survivalist while pushing four 5-gallon jugs of water through the grocery store aisles.


Jen says to the oldest child:

“If you turn that broken plastic toolshed into a chicken coop, we can have chickens.”

…a couple hours later he comes to me all excited…

“The internet says you should start with 2-3 more chickens then you want to end up with.”

The neighbor around the block has four chickens.

I asked them how many conversations about death they’ve had with her kids.

Smiling cautiously,they reply:

“All four made it through the winter.”

INSIDE VOICE #5: …initiating connection…initiating connection…

For their mental health, we’ve been strongly and persistently encouraging the teenagers to make in-person plans with their friends. Provided they stay outside and don’t climb on each other – we’re cool.

Ensuring in-person social interaction is far tougher for the elementary school kids, as coordination still happens through parents.

Turns out, asking about comfort levels of previously banal activities with a parent of your kid’s friend inside a global pandemic is more awkward than asking, “Do you have guns in the house?”

I mean, at least new mothers practice asking each other that question in neighborhood ECFE classes.

I’m going to start couching the question in Pixar movies:

“Oh, hi, um, yes, just wondering, how you feel about our kids playing together outside. Are you more:

or are you more:

It’s cool either way,…oh you haven’t seen Monsters Inc? Fun movie. Makes for some timely conversations. Twist at the end. Yea, for sure it’s on Disney+.


The kids, before their distance learning started, would mock me working. They’d put their arm in the air like a T-Rex at an invisible standing desk, taunting, “I’m Dad. Type. Type. Type.”


I’ve been (near exclusively) listening to Mike Doughty, specifically his The Question Jar Show album, these past couple months. I find a great calm in his voice and his presence. The Halloween treat in the last verse of Grey Ghost is complete magic to me. Every. Single. Listen.

Turns out, I’ll listen to him do just about anything, including comfortably type on an IBM Selectric.


By the way, I’d like to take this moment to formally nominate Andrew “Scrap” Livingston’s upright bass for: Instrument Most Embodying the All the Feels of 2020

Autumn morning.

Inside the Loop.

Suburbs of grey flannel suits

Streaming among the tallest towers,

As they look away.

A voice in my head whispers:

“See, you can hide anywhere, if you want to.”


I thought it was odd the brewery credited their illustrator and design firm on the label.

Doubly odd, I recognized the design firm. My friend Jon started out there nearly 20 years ago. Jon tells me, the brewery owner and the designer firm owner have known each other since childhood.

That’s so great.

Where can labels are increasingly works of art, it’s fantastic to see credit given, whatever the situation.

Cheers to more artists getting credit on beer labels.

And to life-long friendship.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

INSIDE VOICE #4: “No, just very, very improbable.”

According to Kevin Stroud over at The History of English Podcast, the reason we speak English is in part due to the Black Death. The plague was an indiscriminate killer, peasants, scholars, royalty alike.

At this point in our story in the mid-1300s (which is one of my most beloved Stroud-isms), French and Latin were the the languages taught and spoken in England’s upper class. English was for peasants. Yet, after the plague, not enough French and Latin scholars remained. So, English was taught and took hold.


If Google really wants their Assistant to be part of our family, it’s going to need to inherently recognize and respond to the casual nicknames we give it (e.g. “Hey Googs”) and know when the question that follows is mocking, rhetorical and a joke for the people within earshot.


“Were I actually living inside the simulation hypothesis…I’d spend the rest of my life figuring out what I can’t do.” – Chuck Klosterman, What if We’re Wrong?: Thinking about the Present as if it were the Past.

“What if We’re Wrong” asserts that Time is continuously and aggressively deeming our work, our art, our efforts, insignificant and eroding them into dust.

Like so much sound and fury.

Chuck wants you to take this as license to push hard against the outer bounds of your work just as aggressively. To delight in the challenge and throw caution to the wind. Cuz it’s the only chance we’ve got at being remembered the day after tomorrow.


Futures Wheel is my current favorite lightweight scenario planning tool. Some may comment that it’s nearly indistiguishable from mindmapping. There is a difference. Mindmaps are stupid.


I like to start with a highly-controversial statement that feels ridiculous and just out of reach something like:

“10 Years After COVID-19 Pandemic, Americans are Healthier.”

Then answer the question, “What does this mean for the world around us?” and continue to innocently ask that recursively working your way around a circle.

Maybe start a branch with:

  • People with even a slight sniffle stay home, which means…
  • Substantially higher & more unpredictable utilization of sick days (even with working from home), which means…
  • the govt covers sick days on behalf of employers, which means…
  • health care is disconnected from employers, which means…
  • increased taxes (Huh).

We could do another branch with:

  • People eating healthier, which means…
  • Less carb consumption, which means…
  • Alcohol popularity decreasing, which means…
  • Local craft breweries go bankrupt (Argh! Wait! Wut!).

Maybe a third with:

  • People no longer commute, which means…
  • Fewer cars on the road, which means…
  • Less air and water pollution, which means…
  • Wildlife comes in closer, which means…
  • More human-animal incidents (argh, that’s how this all started)

Jeebus, FUTURES WHEEL sure can make you anxious about what comes next faster than an episode of Fortitude.


…In dialectal Norwegian, “kveik” is two different nouns. One is female and means yeast, while the other is male and means to breathe new life into something…the act of kindling a fire. – Lars Marius Garshol, Historical Brewing Techniques


Back in March, we took friend and multi-book author @HopeJahren’s advice and started some seeds. Today, it’s a massive 12×4 raised garden that the 9 year old checks every morning between breakfast and starting his school day.

We’ve lost lots from the seedlings to the garden bed. Plant Dr. Jahren says that’s OK. Trying to have some grace, considering this is my first garden in 33 years and I’ve read nothing on how to make it successful (library’s closed).

The boy is confident we’ll have lots of pumpkins, corn, tomatoes and peppers. Though, this morning he handed me the radish seeds says he’s not so confident in the canteloupe.

The Dutch settled in modern day New York and brought their knowledge of brewing with oats, rye, wheat with them. The English (and Scots), with their barley-exclusive brewing practice, settled further south in Virginia and struggled to grow barley. So, they switched to tobacco and traded it for malted barley and finished beer from the aforementioned Dutch.

In addition to the primary benefit of trade itself, this had the secondary effect of supplying the Dutch West India Company’s global trade network with tobacco while simultaneously starving the English crown of the tax revenue.


“We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.”

Saturday, 16 May 2020

INSIDE VOICE #3: “liter’s a kilogram, metric doesn’t rhyme”

With work shifting to video conferencing, rather than in-person meetings, we’ve lost the signaling of accessories – fountain pens, fancy bags, stickered laptops. So, inspired by the back of my iPad (that no one sees any more) and NASCAR paint-jobs, I created my own fake background for Zoom.

Unfortunately, without a physical green screen, the MacBook doesn’t have enough reality distortion to keep me from disappearing into the matrix (yes, I’m the black smudges in the above image).


Day and night

are in equilibrium

along the equator.

Further north, clocks

were invented

to continually remind us of long summer days.


“OK, it’s a line-by-line reboot of Good Neighbours, but instead of suburban London, it’s set on the 97th floor of Central Park Tower.”

“Didn’t Tom plow the front yard under in the opening scene?”

“Good point. We’ll need to move it to the penthouse floors so we have enough space.”


Jelle's marble runs

Until quarantine is over, Jelle’s dirt track marble racing is the only sport that matters.


Despite all the 5Ks I’ve run, I’m against adopting the metric system for a single reason:

The metric system is completely devoid of a personality.

It’s key feature is scaling (“watch me as I only move the decimal point!”, “ooooh ahhhh”).

The metric system is the thing of science fiction – a perfectly engineered utopia confidently asserting every imperfection can be perfectly traced with pixels. If only we could scale the pixels small enough.

Measuring is a human-centric practice and the US system is full of human-centricity:

  • inch
  • hand
  • foot
  • Smoot
  • mile
  • anything base-12 (hint, count knuckles)

It’s also full of units rich with human culture;

  • yard (how stuff is taxed)
  • bushel (how grain is sold)
  • stone (how potatoes and animals were sold)
  • gallon (how wine and beer is sold)
  • barrel (how everything is sold from cranberries to butter to oil)

I’m pretty sure one reason we care about oil is that it’s still traded in barrels. We understand a barrel. Every time the news mentions oil, we imagine millions of literal barrels of oil packed tightly together somewhere. It’s one small way we convince ourselves we understand that world, even though our experience is only with far smaller quantities.

Like the gallon.

In the United States, two kinds of pint are used: a liquid pint and a less-common dry pint. Each of these pints is one eighth of its respective gallon, but the gallons differ. — Wikipedia

Wait. Whut? How can the gallons differ? I thought I knew and understood…you know…gallon. Milk and gas and all.

Turns out, there’s a corn gallon or dry gallon that well, I’ll let Wikipedia continue to explain (emphasis mine):

The dry gallon is not used in the US customary system – though it implicitly exists since the US dry measures of bushel, peck, quart, and pint are still used.

I hope you feel a sense of calm.

Finding out there’s an invisible unit of measure that many common units are derived from but is not itself used, this can be unsettling. Or it can be calming like a puzzle piece sliding into place, expanding our understanding of the world. I hope you found the latter.

Oh, there’s also a 40 ounce French Canadian pint.

I’m off to drink in Montreal. Later milliliter.


minimialism is officially over.

it’s too much fun (by fun I mean a blend of delight and relief) to realize the tools and supplies needed for your latest project are already in your possession.


  • having an inventory of malt, hops, and yeast means I don’t need to wait for a delivery. Boom start brewing.
  • both fountain pens ran out of ink today. Right before I hit re-order on Amazon, I found a box of cartridges. Boom back to work.
  • one of the teenagers wanted to bake a carrot cake, we had all the ingredients. No grocery list or trip to the store required. Boom start mixing.

minimialism (defined for these contexts as: not having unused surplus lying around) is great when transaction costs are extraordinarily low. Getting stuff you don’t have is easy in that environment.

right now, transaction costs have spiked to all-time highs.

as have chest freezer sales.


Saturday, 2 May 2020

INSIDE VOICE #1: “Cassandra, are you showing me the future or just being difficult”


“Hey Google, how do you make gin?”

“I’ve found a recipe for ‘how do you make gin?’. Would you like the ingredients or instructions first?”


“OK, now playing dance hits of 2010s on Spotify.”

For all their promises of convenience, Google Assistants are at best undelightful and at worst mildly frustrating. And, Google provides the most consistent, expected results of all internet-connected devices. For substantially worse misbehavior, follow @internetofshit

If you’re not familiar, internetofshit is this era’s Fucked Company (which was that era’s

My current internetofshit schadenfreudlich delight is the remote cat feeder that stopped functioning because….the company quietly went out of business. Then they came back to ask for more money.

Or maybe it’s the scooter company that fired everyone via an automated Zoom call.

Or maybe it’s the sleep analyzer that stopped analyzing sleep data because…the company quietly when out of business. Oh, wait that was a decade ago.

History sighs. Repeats self.

If you’ve the stomach to watch more than your WiFi-enabled grill ignore ‘OK Google, off, OK GOOGLE! OFF! OFF! Shit! Shit! Shit!’, join me reading Peter Zeihan’s geopolitics newsletter.

He’ll calmly whisper horror stories into your ear things like;

  • “the current world order is slowly dissolving into pre-WWII territory disputes…you’ll probably be OK.”,
  • “oil’s going negative and there’s no way for you to profit from it” and
  • “…but that is where the similarity between the hardworking, morally upstanding people of Iowa and the turgid pile of frigid confusion that is Minnesota ends.”


  • playing foursquare on the driveway,
  • planting a huge garden from seedlings,
  • watching early seasons of the Amazing Race as a family,
  • 1000 piece puzzle after 1000 piece puzzle,
  • trimming the neighbors pine tree with a 20 foot pole saw,
  • still being asked to declare my favorite thing of the week every sunday night for 2020’s ‘jar of awesome’.

When my grandkids ask their parents about the COVID-19 pandemic, I hope this is what they recall.


Prior to the pandemic, we had a family calendar where we played Tetris with our respective commitments. These days, family logistics is more of a game of Clue between video conferencing apps, devices, and commitments.

  • Microsoft Teams on the iPad = Work
  • Skype on the MacBook = Drums lessons
  • FaceTime on the iPhone = Piano lessons
  • Zoom on the MacBook Air = Clarinet lessons
  • Google Meet on the Chromebook = 8th Grade Band
  • Google Classroom on the other Chromebook = 6th Grade Band
  • Vidyo on the MacBook = Speech therapy


Rumspringa is a subtly sophisticated mechanism.

It gives youngins a opportunity for independence while opening a controlled channel of experimentation, innovation, and cultural education to the wider community. It also exposes the entire community to a existential threat in a controlled enough way cultural antibodies can be generated.

The risk is both for the individual and the community. The goal is both survive. But even if the youngin flees to the English, the community will persist.

And, either way there’ll be discussions how to use TikTok for Business at the next Elders meeting.


Speaking of work on the iPad, April marks month 24 of the iPad Pro as my primary machine. I see no reason to go back to a laptop. I’m almost tempted to double-down and switch to my iPhone as my primary machine (you know, like the vast majority of the rest of the world).


This weeks winner for both Best Capturing the Current American Drinking Zeitgeist and Worst Dad Joke is, Anchor Brewing’s “Seltzer in Place“.


In more optimistic beer news, Other Half Brewing in NY, announced a global beer collaboration, “All Together. Other Half is developed an IPA recipe and is asking breweries around the world to produce it and contribute the proceeds to support the hospitality industry in their local area.

Here in MN; Modist, Wild Mind, Black Stack, and OMNI are participating. BTW, Wild Mind delivers free within the 494/694 loop.

Saturday, 25 April 2020


Thanks to MusicMayhem [1] our Fridays are now marked by 90 minutes of music trivia against our neighbors. Last week the two teenagers of the house competed on their own – three teams in one house. This week we came back as a singular force to achieve 2nd place overall. While all have our strengths, though an overall blindspot is hip hop 2005-present. We are still trying to replicate our 1st place win on March 24th.



When you move, in this Zoom call you half-disapper into the stylish apartment asserted by your fake background.

In that moment, I don’t know which to believe.


My friend Lewis sent me a photo of the Brussels Beer Project’s Nørd Bliss beer [2]. After backwards engineering a recipe from the label.

It’s a strange beast;

  • no boil,
  • protein gulping enzyme addition,
  • scandanavian yeast,
  • no bittering hop addition,
  • one single hop.

As luck would have it, I had everything on hand to recreate it.

It’s delicious;

  • coconut,
  • mango,
  • prickly pear

Easily the most fun beer I’ve brewed in years.

If you’re interested in a collaboration – even a virtual one – reply with your idea and we’ll go from there.



Somewhere, there’s an angsty teen novel being written with the working title, “The Summer of Nothing.” In a decade, it’ll be considered that generation’s Catcher in the Rye.


I’m keeping a running list of my predictions of the cultural consequences of this crisis, using McLuhan’s Media Tetrads as the framework. I’m most excited for the fine dining speakeasys.


I entered a virtual kubb league. By the time you read this I will have played against someone in across the metro, down in Arkansas, and over in Sweden. Playing against a opponent on Facebook Messenger adds a level of absurdity to an already absurd game. Still got stuck in a six kubb grind for 20 minutes.

6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B 6i 0B


With my recent cognitive surplus [3], I’ve been diving deep, deep into my ancient family history. Somehow, my 11th great-grandfather has bent history in towards himself in some small way as multiple sources praise him similarity:

“He is entitled credit for never swerving from allegiance to Dutch government which is more than can be said for his English neighbors who proved themselves to be traitors to the colony which they fled from persecution.”

I seem to have found a glitchy corner history not written by the victors.