Archive for March, 2022

The Ballad of High Noon

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

It was the last day of a bluegrass festival I was at one time. The very last day—that morning where all the fun is over and all that’s left is to break down camp and go home. Everyone is tired. Hungover. Sun is already beating down.

Do not forsake me oh my darling

One of the old men we were camping with was breaking down the big giant carport-style tent we all shared. Big job.

On this, our weddin’ day

We saved it for last, so everyone was starting to chip in. That old man, Billy Ray, was very slowly signing this song.

Do not forsake me, oh my darlin’

Pulling stakes, lowering the poles.

Wait, wait along

It’s this low, slow, somber tune from the movie High Noon with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Tex Ritter sings it. That day, a bunch of festival-worn fellas sang it as a way of saying goodbye.

I love the weird washy distant drums in the main recording.

I do not know what fate awaits me
I only know I must be brave
And I must face a man who hates me
Or lie a coward, a craven coward
Or lie a coward in my grave

Oh, to be torn twixt love and duty
S’posin’, I lose my fair haired beauty
Look at that big hand move along
Nearin’, high noon

He made a vow while in state prison
Vowed it would be my life or his’n
I’m not afraid of death but, oh
What will I do if you leave me?

Do not forsake me, oh my darlin’
You made that promise as a bride
Do not forsake me, oh my darlin’
Although you’re grievin’, don’t think of leavin’
Now that I need you by my side

Wait along, wait along

Just one of those memories I’ll never forget.

That Time I Did a Music Video

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

I was in a folk-y band in college-and-beyond called The Missing String Band. We probably played… many hundred?… gigs. Nothing major. Most local and normal Every Wednesday at The Grumpy Troll in Mt. Horeb! Beerfest! Some very strange. Civil War Reenactment! We only have one recording we ever tried and it didn’t turn out amazing and it was never published.

I was in another band, The Groggers, in which we only played… a few dozen?… shows but we actually did get a recording out of. Not as fun as our (rowdy!) live shows, but turned out pretty good. Just the other day I was telling a story and it reminded me of that one time we shot a music video, which I hadn’t thought of in years:

ALT: Four men walk through the woods. One of them throws (litters) a booze bottle. It hits another dude and he’s pissed. He chases after them and there is a bunch of silly fighting. During the fighting, one dude finds a 12 pack of beer and they stop fighting to drink it.

(Keeping a copy on my own server now too.)

The video is technically for an original we did (Scott McCormick wrote it) called “Tear Down These Walls”, but really there are two originals we snuck parts of into the video, plus a classic Wild Rover ending. Kinda cool.

In the world, immoral and unkind
I’ll be here, at the front of the line
Spitting at the devil, making iron mountains fall
So have another shot boys and we’ll tear down these walls

Who’s Quote?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

I have a little website where I’ve collected Quotes on Design for a long time. I don’t keep it up as well as I should, but hey, there are a bunch of quotes on design there. It takes submissions for new quotes.

An observation that has held nearly 100% true:

If someone submits a quote of themselves, it’s dumb and bad. If someone submits a quote of someone else, it’s probably interesting and good.


Saturday, March 19th, 2022

I found this note I jotted down:

Next time you ask for a favor, you should see if you can reciprocate the favor before you even ask.

Seems like something I would write down.

I probably felt stronger about it at the time than I do now. I’m thinking now when you’re in a position of needing a favor, you might not be in the best position to be doling out favors yourself. Still, if the favor is some business thing and not like hey buddy bail me out of jail, seems like a strong move and far more likely you’ll get what you’re asking for.

Seems a bit spiritually similar to how Stephen Dubner signs off Freakonomics episodes:

Take care of yourself, and if you can, someone else, too.


Friday, March 18th, 2022

I enjoyed reading Malcolm Gladwell’s (article? newsletter?) How the Private Golf Clubs of Los Angeles Can Right Their Wrongs, a follow-up to a half-decade old podcast A Good Walk Spoiled about private golf clubs:

After all, the taxes on a decent-sized Beverly Hills half-acre lot might easily exceed $100,000. But the fancy golf clubs of Beverly Hills run in excess of 200 acres. Some more than 300. The taxes on a piece of property that massive must be astronomical! How do private golf clubs stay in business?

If you haven’t listened to the episode (and you should, if not!), I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I give you the answer. It’s obvious. Private golf courses survive in Los Angeles because they don’t pay property taxes.

So a 250-acre golf club should pay $50,000,000 in property taxes in Bevery Hills, but just doesn’t, because of rich people schmoozing. Sounds about right. The land itself, he estimates, is worth a much more staggering $25,000,000,000. He’s got a fun idea for re-developing it into housing and public parks and keeping everyone happy because they get richer at the same time.

I’m sure it will never work. Rich people schmoozing is essentially the most powerful force there is and they like their golf. I suppose it only would if those folks thought it sounded like more fun than golfing, which I suppose they might when they get too old to golf.

I’m no golf course financial expert, but I’ve always found them odd to begin with. You really do have to have this enormous plot of land, and the closer to where people live who can afford the time and money to play golf the better. I grew up in Wisconsin where at the very best you’ll get 6 months of playable time. So this massive investment is totally neutered of any ability to make money half the year. And not just Wisconsin but anywhere with truncated seasons, like all of Canada. Too hot to golf is a thing too. Fortunately for the owners, they can just fire everyone half the year 😑. And if you do it somewhere like Alaska, you’ll be hampered by the simple fact that just not that many people live in or travel to Alaska.

So maybe build it somewhere nicer? Surely California could use some new golf courses? Sure, but I bet the land cost and tax cost are well more than double a Wisconsin golf course anywhere you look. Not to mention California is in a perpetual drought adding yet another dubious ethical angle to all this: golf courses need a boatload of water for all the grass. I imagine the same problem exists in places where water is just harder to come by, say desert heavy states like Nevada or Arizona.

Kinda feels like golf courses are either too expensive (for any number of reasons) or too underutilized (for any number of reasons). I’m wrong though, of course. There are loads of golf courses and for the most part, they seem to do fine if not appear to be raking it in. Speaks to my own general ignorance of how the world works.

Making CSS Custom Properties Easy to Play With

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

Never got around to posting my section of Alex Trost’s fun and charitable Holiday Snowtacular this past December. Here it is!

The Zoo

Saturday, March 5th, 2022

I assume you, like me, have had endless thoughts about other life in the universe. The universe is infinitely big, right? And there are more observable stars than grains of sand on Earth? That’s… uncomfortable. Clearly, there isn’t only other life in the universe but lots of it. So why aren’t we aware of it?

One of my favorite theories is that other life is at such a different scale that we don’t even notice it. Like if you’re a bug born on the branch of a tree and you live three days, do you consider this tree you live on a living creature? No, it’s just the ground beneath your bug feet, largely unchanging in not just your life but your parent’s and children’s lives as well. Similarly, us humans are born on Earth, recent accelerations in climate change notwithstanding, largely Earth is unchanging in the few generations were closest to. But zooming out over a long a longer period of time (and size?), the Earth is very dynamic, with its shifting plates and oceans, weather systems, ice ages, and such. Clearly alive, as it were. As alive as a tree is to us mere humans.

So maybe alien life is either so big (the Earth is a spec of dirt in its toenail) or so slow (the life span of aliens is more like millions of our years) that our version of life doesn’t register on our scales of what we expect life to be.

The most comfortable theory is that life is so extraordinarily difficult to produce that we’re among very very few to ever happen. Plus travel is limited to light speed, so even if we wanted to visit each other, the time that takes is life-prohibitive.

Another fairly comfortable theory is that maybe life isn’t that hard to produce, but that the universe is fairly young, and we just happen to be some of the first to have broken through. So we haven’t met any aliens yet just because they are (all?) trailing us in evolution.

Less comfortable is the Zoo hypothesis. Why haven’t we met any aliens? Because, essentially, they keep us in a zoo.

The hypothesis states that alien life intentionally avoids communication with Earth to allow for natural evolution and sociocultural development, and avoiding interplanetary contamination, similarly to people observing animals at a zoo. The hypothesis seeks to explain the apparent absence of extraterrestrial life despite its generally accepted plausibility and hence the reasonable expectation of its existence. 

Maybe there is lots of life out there, all mingling with each other at cool interplanetary jazz bars and such, but we’re just not invited because there is some consortium of life that intentionally keeps Earth in a zoo. Seems just as plausible as any other theory.