Tag Archives: WGOM featured

First Monday Book Day: X

My family is often teasing me about my penchant for books that are "a surreal puzzle box". (A phrase from a cover blurb on some book I bought that has caught the family's collective imagination). And, if you had to assign one letter to embody that idea, it would have to be X, right? The classic algebraic unknown.

So, it tickled me that I read two different books with that letter as the focus of their title this week. Both were intricate structures and worth reading in my humble estimation.

The Story of X by Sarah Rose Etter - X is the narrator, the unknown is the self and the self is a woman. Sometimes horrifying, sometimes infuriating, sometimes loving and ecstatic.

Biography of X - by Catherine Lacey - X is an artist, the recently deceased spouse of the narrator, the unknown is the other, the other is society. This is an incredibly intricate and layered book, complex and ambitious.

As it is July 1, it has now been exactly 15 years since I finished my PhD research, stopped working 70 hours a week in the lab and started my reading spreadsheet. Time for some book facts!

1,021 books read (not counting re-reads) - 68 books/year

642 books of fiction (novels, novellas, graphic novels)
219 collections (comics, short stories, poetry)
160 non-fiction books

682 physical books (67%)
173 audiobooks
166 e-books

431 women or non-binary authored books (43%)
144 translated works

2024 Summer Mix Nominations

All right, citizens, it's that time of year. Toss your nominations below.

1. The theme is "Summer". You're free to interpret that as you'd like.
2. Put your nominations in a Spoiler box.
3. You may nominate up to 3 songs. Any further nominations will be ignored.
4. Unless we get an insane amount of nominations for some reason, everyone's first choice is automatically in. The rest of the mix will be filled out with the other nominations.
5. Like a Supreme Court justice and porn, I don't know the exact time when a song becomes too long to include, but I can tell you that 15 minutes is probably a bit too long...

WGOM Summer Mix 2015
WGOM Summer Mix 2016
WGOM Summer Mix 2017
WGOM Summer Mix 2018
WGOM Summer Mix 2019
WGOM Summer Mix 2020
WGOM Summer Mix 2021
WGOM Summer Mix 2022
WGOM Summer Mix 2023

Lounge Lizards

We have this bottle of dark rum we got to try a recipe we didn't care for all that much and another one that we did. The rum is a Dominican brand called Ron Alegro (the affordable Anejo, not the spendy XO), I don't know much about rum but I sampled this at Total Wine and Liquor and it was pretty smooth and sweet so it went home with me. Anyway, we wanted to try some more rum cocktails so we started looking around for other recipes. We experimented with a couple that could make it into the rotation and finally settled on a favorite - the Lounge Lizard, a variation of the classic Cuba Libre combining rum, lime and Coca-Cola. The Lounge Lizards adds a twist of nutty sweetness with the addition of a little Amaretto to the mix. Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 oz dark rum
1/2 oz Amaretto
4 oz Coke
Squeeze of lime

This one you can just mix in a highball glass with ice and serve. Excellent for sipping on the veranda.

The Rally Cocktail

If you find yourself torn between coffee or an after dinner drink, or you find your energy flagging on a Saturday night but you want to rally, or when, as JJ Cale put it, your day is done and you want to ride on, coffee-based cocktails might be just the thing. The last couple of times I've partied with my work colleagues at a hotel bar the espresso martini was all the rage.

One of the more famous coffee drinks is the Dude's signature beverage, the white Russian. There are, of course, different approaches to making coffee cocktails and many variations to explore, I think some dark rum and coffee mixing may be in my near future.  Some of these cocktails use coffee liqueur like Kahlua, which has rum as its base spirit, in the mix and others use straight coffee, but the recipe we tried uses an espresso simple syrup that's just equal parts espresso and sugar. We had some Cafe Bustelo in the kitchen so that's what we used.

It was a bit later than usual last weekend when we got around to settling down in the ultra lounge to catch up on some TV. We had at least a couple of hours of programming to watch and we were already a little tired. That's when Mrs. Twayn, who was perusing her iPad, found a recipe for the espresso Old Fashioned. We had a few each, felt nice and relaxed and still managed to stay awake for Welcome to Wrexham, a new episode of Hacks, and (most of) a Saturday Night Live recording. Here's the recipe:

2 oz bourbon (I'm liking Old Forrester these days) or rye
1 oz espresso simple syrup
4-6 dashes orange bitters
Orange peel or slice

Plop ice into a mixing glass, add liquid ingredients and stir.
Strain into short glasses filled with ice, squeeze the orange peel or slice over the top and drop it in.
Enjoy in moderation, you are still old and need your sleep.

FMD: Bucket List Artists

The theme of my selections this week has been my notion of a “4-Hour Bucket List” — artists I would happily drive four hours in one direction to see if that was the closest show to my area.

The inspiration was an artist I first saw after COVID, am thinking I may have missed my opportunity. Fortunately, I’ll be seeing him for a second time in a couple weeks, at which point I’m fairly certain he’ll be the oldest performer I’ve bought a ticket to see: Willie Nelson , who just turned 91 on Monday.

So, let’s see your bucket list artists. Who is on your bucket list?

On doing things, not great but better than not at all

So, in the interest of living life I've decided to do things. My last fitness? post centered around the new class of drugs and the results I've seen. I was kinda shocked with the response from the community. Many thanks to all of y'all for gentleness and grace which brings me around to the second edition of On Doing Good, Not Great.

A good friend lives in Vegas and last spring we went out for 5 days to get lost in the desert, gamble, see some art, and catch up with old friends. We had a great time doing some of the more tourist stuff you can do in a tourist city. At one point I asked my man how he found living in Vegas.  He just chuckled and said, "I love it, there is always something happening in town that I'm not going to go to". I hadn't summed up living in Nawlins* quite like that but it hit home. We got back form Vegas and we decided to do some more things that were out of our comfort range.

I decided that I don't want to work for the current set of clowns I work for and signed up for the first of 4 semesters of Chemistry. Whoa Nelly. I'm taking names and calculating moles but it's not without great effort. Thermodynamics isn't really my friend but we're on speaking terms. (in truth, math is my main hurdle - I can hack the algebra but any calculus results in much swearing) I'm currently sitting on a 99% for lecture and a 96.75% for lab (GD post lab questions due at midnight when lab ends at 10 pm .... I'm a tired old man....GOML) I'm pleasantly surprised with. my ability to learn new things again - funny sometime I stopped applying myself and .... welp .... here I am.

I went to 2 concerts in 2 weeks - nutty for me now, but I once went to at least a show a month. In my youth I went every weekend to see a punk band lay waste to my future hearing. (BTW, Kurt Vile is in pretty great form right now....)

Today I went way outside my comfort zone and joined an Aikido Dojo and got my ass handed to me. I'm not sure how long I'll practice but the initial course is 6 weeks. I'm going to see it out even though I'm pretty sore (in a great way, minus the hard roll I took on my left knee). Dr. Chop asked me to describe my first experience with Aikido and I think full contact yoga sums it up nicely.

For a long stretch, not helped by the pandemic but definitely there before covid, I felt like life was happening at me. Taking the drug has reduced my mass by nearly 21%. No joking, that's EEEFFFFFFing bananas (though, to be fair to me, I still don't see it...). I would never have thought of practicing a martial art before the jab.

I have no idea where any of this goes. Maybe I get through the chemistry and I lack the will or desire to go further. Maybe I won't be able to walk tomorrow because I'm old and frail. But I do know that I've reconnected to doing things and that feels pretty great.

Anywho, I hope y'all are finding joy in these uncertain times.


*no one says this

Road Bling #1 – What Am I?

From biking in the area, and the Running-All-Hartford-Streets project I began on Jan 29th, I've collected numerous items I call "road bling" - shiny metal objects that I use to make race-medals for various events with friends.   Several of these are of unknown function.  This series is to let you engage in investigative forensics on these road/street enigmas.

What Am I? 

Bo’s Running Hartford

One of my friends recently completed running all of the streets of West Hartford - took her from Jan-Nov last year.  She used a map+spreadsheet to track her work and plotted it out on a map of the city.  Cool project.

Yesterday, during my run, I decided to run all of the streets of H’istan.  So I found a good street map of the city, went to FedEx, and had them print it out poster size: https://themdc.org/app/uploads/2022/09/HartfordStreetMap2022.pdf

This morning, I began my challenge in SoWendHa (South West-End Hartford), and did 3.2 miles covering 5 complete streets and parts of 8 others.  This neighborhood is predominantly Puerto Rican, Portuguese, and Brazilian.  My finds included some historical curiosities, awesome road bling, and a Portuguese bakery with almond-crusted croissants.

In thinking about the overall task, I’m looking for completeness (every street, entire street) as well as efficiency (not covering the same stretch more than necessary), but I need to take into account that I can only do 3-5 miles each time out.

If the city streets were perfect squares, and tiled the plane perfectly, I could take inspiration from something like the Dragon Curve (which doesn’t cross it’s own path).  Four of these, each rotated 90 degrees, completely tiles the plane. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_curve

But a city is not a perfect plane - has dead ends, boulevards, greens, cul-de-sacs, islands, curves, roundabouts, etc.  And I need to return to my car after each segment.

When I go to a museum, in order to see each piece of art, I follow a simple pattern of go to the left, until a room is completed, then take the next left turn, etc.  This gives me completeness, but would not take into account segment lengths.

Any thot’s on how to approach this?