Misc for June 23, 2014


What a week! I’ve been so pleased (and, honestly, a little overwhelmed) by response to my first letter. Thank you. It’s all been so good, let’s keep the ball rolling and focus on good this week…

When you receive this I’ll be past day five of single parenting, while J helps with some family business down south. Doesn’t that sound like a very elegant euphemism of some kind? It’s not.

I’ve had the very good fortune of having tons of help with childcare from the force of nature some of you know as Auntie Kay (my mom). Her knees may not agree, but I like to think I’m doing her a favor—despite the clickbaity headline on this article at The Alzheimer’s Site, “new research reveals that women who take care of their grandchildren one day a week are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.”

Most websites are using insidious lazy headlines to draw clicks. You won’t believe what happens next!

Jake Beckman is doing the Internet a very good service. His Twitter account (@SavedYouAClick) diffuses these stupid headlines with humor and accuracy. Best account I’ve followed on Twitter in months (except yours). He was interviewed at Vice. And if you’re not on Twitter you can see his work here.

Good work:

Some of the good in my week came from seeing the hard, consistent work of three very deserving colleagues be recognized and rewarded. You know who you are: congratulations again.

Good eats:

Another colleague returned from New York last week with raves about Lidia Bastianich’s Becco on 46th Street between 8th and 9th. Inspired by their visit and the as-yet unfulfilled promise of the three three thriving cherry tomato plants in my backyard, I made Lidia’s Pasta with Baked Cherry Tomatoes. It was summery and awesome.

Good works and good eats:

This great idea from from Federal Donuts in Philadelphia really captured my imagination. Their core business (fried chicken and donuts) produces nearly 1,000 pounds of high quality chicken bones and backs each week. So they’ve created a partnership with Philly’s Broad Street Ministry Hospitality Collaborative:

We want to turn our practically free chicken stock into tasty soups that you can buy. And we’ll donate 100% of the profit from every bowl to Broad Street’s Hospitality Collaborative.

They’re running a Kickstarter to fund the effort, and I highly recommend you join me in supporting the project.

Good thoughts:

Jonathan Carroll has written some of my favorite booksbooks that blow my socks off (humblebrag: he also once wrote me an unsolicited email about a project I started long ago and I treasure his encouragement like that of a family member).

He’s a wise writer. Earlier I came across a passage of his that’s a few years old, but speaks to me now in a timeless, urgent way.

“I firmly believe in small gestures: pay for their coffee, hold the door for strangers, over tip, smile or try to be kind even when you don’t feel like it, pay compliments, chase the kid’s runaway ball down the sidewalk and throw it back to him, try to be larger than you are— particularly when it’s difficult. People do notice, people appreciate. I appreciate it when it’s done to (for) me. Small gestures can be an effort, or actually go against our grain (“I’m not a big one for paying compliments…”), but the irony is that almost every time you make them, you feel better about yourself. For a moment life suddenly feels lighter, a bit more Gene Kelly dancing in the rain.” — Jonathan Carroll

Pretty good. I hope your life feels lighter this week, be it from your own or others’ small gestures.

Oh! By the way: a friend dared me to let a typo slip in to this week’s letter, just to practice the art of excellence/progress over perfection. I won’t admit to including one purposefully, but let’s agree to chalk any typos (past, present, or future) up to that.

Talk to you soon.