Musings

I'm just copying my father

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Still Forgotten

First Published: 2019 March 3

Draft 1

Wow, I really didn’t catch up at all. So, today I need to catch up with everything. Wooo.

Still Forgotten

First Published: 2019 March 3

Draft 1

Wow, I really didn’t catch up at all. So, today I need to catch up with everything. Wooo.

Research

First Published: 2019 February 25

Draft 1

On this day, I received help from the amazing librarians at Grinnell in both learning how to search for music papers and how to read microfilm.

Metric Prose First Attempt

First Published: 2019 February 25

Draft 1

As each month slowly passes by, I find that I will think in rhymes and rhythms that obey the poems I should ink. And so today I thought I’d try to write a post like that. But wow, it’s hard conveying thoughts when each beat has a place.

Missing Days

First Published: 2019 February 25

Draft 1

I forgot to write for a little more than a week. Whoops.

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2019 February 25

Jeremiah 17:7: “ Blessed are those who trust in the LORD; the LORD will be their trust”

Draft 1

Today’s readings speak about trusting the Lord, for better and for worse. Should we trust in the Lord, we are told that we will be cared for in times of sorrow. However, we are also told that those times of sorrow will come If we are weeping now, laughter will come to us.1 If we are laughing now, however, we will weep later.2

Now, this isn’t to say that we should be in a perpetual state of weeping, with hopes that our joy will come later.3 Rather, we are to remember that the good in our lives will comes to an end, just as the bad will.


  1. Luke 6:21B

  2. Luke 6:25B

  3. though that would make a convincing argument for instilling Catholic guilt

Diving Update

First Published: 2019 February 15

Draft 1

Today was the second and final day of the Conference Championship diving meet. I placed fourth. I threw my 203a for the first time, and it went pretty well. All in all, it was a fun season.

Diving Update

First Published: 2019 February 15

Draft 1

Today was the second and final day of the Conference Championship diving meet. I placed fourth. I threw my 203a for the first time, and it went pretty well. All in all, it was a fun season.

Last Practice

First Published: 2019 February 14

Draft 1

Today was my last practice before Conference. My coach decided it would be a really short practice. Hopefully I do well tomorrow.

Diving Update

First Published: 2019 February 14

Draft 1

Today I learned that if I give my toenail the choice of sticking to me or staying on a diving board, it will choose the diving board.

Ballad Update

First Published: 2019 February 14

Draft 1

So far I’ve written a ballad every day except two, and each has had at least three stanzas. Yay!

Forgetfulness

First Published: 2019 February 11

Draft 1

Sometimes I realize that I am forgetful.1 Today, it was realizing that I had purchased some Celtic music while abroad that I still hadn’t converted to MP3. So yay! I now have four new hours of music to listen to. Today is a good day.


  1. yes, I do often forget that

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2019 February 10

Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!’”

Draft 1

Today’s readings speak about the nature of God’s relationship with us. As Isaiah was, we are to be awed and fearing.1 As Simon was, we are to be unquestioning,2 and again, fearful.3

But this is not all that the relationship is. For just after Isaiah speaks about his unworthiness, he is made pure.4 And when Simon and his partners too followed God, they are exhorted, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”5 All in all, that’s nice to think about. We can trust wholly in the Lord our God, and he will make us pure and worthy.


  1. Isaiah 6:5 “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’”

  2. Luke 5:5 “Simon said in reply, ‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.’”

  3. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’

  4. Isaiah 6:7 “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it. ‘See,’ he said, ‘now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.’”

  5. Luke 5:10B

Diving Update

First Published: 2019 February 09

Draft 1

As many of you know, I dive. I also dive poorly very often. Most of the time this is me making a mistake in the air1 and hitting the water hard.

Once, it was hitting the board. Today, it was my foot slipping on an inward dive. As a result, my chest and leg are now scratched up. On the plus side, it did spark a moral dilemma among some friends.2


  1. generally forgetting to think

  2. it’s a long story

Family Appreciation

First Published: 2019 February 09

Draft 1

I realized I haven’t written recently about how much I love my family. They’re all amazing for so many uncountable reasons, and I’m so glad that they claim me as one of them.

Poor Choices

First Published: 2019 February 09

Draft 1

Sometimes I procrastinate. Sometimes I do that too much. That’s a poor choice.

Late Nights

First Published: 2019 February 09

Draft 1

Late nights tend to mean that I don’t write my musing after them. I should really plan those ahead

Notes on Counterpoint

First Published: 2019 February 05

Draft 1

Counterpoint comes from the fact that the notation was points, which would move counter to each other. To make a two part improvisation based on a chant, it’s fairly easy. One voice sings the chant. The other sings a third above or below the chant, ending cadences in unison.

Letter to the Editor

First Published: 2019 February 5

Prereading note: this also appears in the S&B

Draft 4:27 January

I am a white, heterosexual man from a high socio-economic status background who grew up in rural Iowa. More specifically, I grew up in Grinnell, Iowa. While attending Grinnell College, one important task I’m frequently asked to accomplish is acknowledging my privilege. This is due in large part, I believe, to the fact that Grinnell College prides itself on social justice. Social justice requires understanding not only problems, but also the underlying inequities that cause the problems. An underlying issue can come up in multiple, otherwise unrelated events. One such underlying issue is elitism at Grinnell College. Two examples of this are visible in student complaints towards the administration’s stances on unionization efforts and the Redmond-Brownell family donating money.

A quick fact before I get going. Fewer than 30% of adults in Iowa have a bachelor’s degree or higher.1 That is, because most2 students at Grinnell College will receive bachelor’s degree, we are in the top third of the state in at least one important measure of social status. So, when thinking about how we interact with the community, the privilege we have as college students cannot be neglected.

Now then, growing up in Grinnell, one of my clearest recurring memories of the educational system is how socio-economic class affects both how students are treated and how they act. For those readers who may be unaware, there are a number of wealthy families in Grinnell, many of whom have direct connections to the faculty of Grinnell College. There are also a large number of students, more than 35%, who qualify for free and reduced lunches.3

I vividly remember hearing students in the second category speak about how they could never belong at Grinnell College. The statements tended to focus on how they felt difficulty connecting with peers from higher socio-economic families. Since students from Grinnell, Iowa who tend to attend Grinnell College also tend to come from higher socio-economic classes, Grinnell College seems to many in the Grinnell educational system enrolled mainly by students from high socio-economic status families. If they had difficulty relating to students who attended the same schools, lived in the same general area, and did many of the same activities, how could they relate to people who shared none of these. Of course, we all know that there are a large number of students at Grinnell College who are not from high socio-economic class backgrounds. But, there exists a problem in making young, potential first-generation college students in the area see this.

Here enters the Redmond-Brownell family. For those new to the area, the Redmond-Brownell family is a local family that owns their own business. The business is profitable, and they use the money they make to improve quality of life in the city of Grinnell and the surrounding area. However, their business is based in selling parts and accessories to firearms, which many students and alumni find problematic.

Ignoring where the money goes for a moment, there are two key points to note. First, Brownells4 employs many local workers. Second, some members of the Grinnell community are sustenance hunters, people who rely on hunting to feed their families. I hope that it isn’t hard to see how protesting Brownells as a company, and gun companies as a concept could and almost should be taken as saying that the way that these people feed their families is wrong. I also hope it isn’t difficult to see how that could be alienating to a potential student.

If we don’t ignore where the money goes, however, we see that the money donated does not benefit their family or business interests. Instead, it was used to create the Ignite Program, which offered college students the chance to teach a one day class to local young students, which, to me, is one of the best examples of social justice at Grinnell College. The Ignite Program is a free, one day workshop which includes food for the students. It takes students in Grinnell and surrounding communities, many of whom could never see themselves at Grinnell College, and shows them that Grinnell College is a place they could belong. Many of the students I knew who felt that they could never belong at Grinnell had never been in an academic building, because they already knew that they didn’t belong, so saw no point in confirming that fact.

By protesting the Redmond-Brownells’ funding of the Ignite Program, the College community was implicitly agreeing with these students. Removing that program would do nothing except make it harder for students in the local community to feel that they could belong at Grinnell College.

Moving on to the union, I’ll start with my own personal biases. To me, a union should protect exploited or easily exploitable groups. Unions that do not should not exist, as they weaken the idea of unions, and make it harder to immediately sympathize with them. As I mentioned above, by definition, being at Grinnell College is a sign of privilege, especially in Grinnell, Iowa. Regardless of the other identities Grinnell College students have, in their identity as a student at Grinnell College, they come from a place of privilege. By striving for a union, College students are weakening the system of a union.

For instance, one of the claims of the Union was that students at Grinnell are underpaid. Right now, the wage in the Dining Hall is $9.78 for the workers, and $10.24 for student leaders.5 For reference, minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25. If you’re a student whose parents work minimum wage jobs, think of how alienating hearing complaints that $10 an hour isn’t enough to support a single student can be. More importantly, Iowa is an “at-will” state, where employees can be terminated “at will” by an employer. While expressing intent to join or create a union should be one of the protected groups, suing for wrongful termination costs more than families can afford. For that reason, being able to push for a union, knowing that a job is secure while doing so, is in and of itself a sign of incredible privilege in Grinnell, Iowa.

So in conclusion, just as I, should be aware the privilege different identities I have bring, so too should the whole student body all reflect on how being a member of the Grinnell College student community grants us privilege, especially in conjunction with the city of Grinnell, Iowa.


  1. https://www.iowadatacenter.org/quickfacts

  2. https://www.univstats.com/colleges/grinnell-college/graduation-rate

  3. http://db.desmoinesregister.com/iowa-free-reduced-meals/?searchterms%5Bcol1%5D=grinnell&searchterms%5Bcol2%5D=

  4. their company

  5. https://www.grinnell.edu/admission/financial-aid/affording-grinnell/student-employment

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2019 February 03

Jeremiah 1:4: “The word of the LORD came to me:”

Draft 1

Today’s three readings exhort us to three different calls. In the first, the Lord speaks to Jeremiah, urging him to strength by saying “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.”1 We too are called to trust the Lord to protect us from harm and lead us to salvation. The second exhorts us that “And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing”2 In the Gospel, Jesus drives his countrymen to anger by speaking truths to them.3

In all of these we see God’s command. God is Love, so of course we need love to be anything, for what are we without God? And, though we should not test Him, we are called to stand for what is right and true, as God urges Jeremiah to do. Finally, we are to take the love and trust we have and do as Jesus does, speaking the uncomfortable truth even at risk to our own safety.


  1. Jeremiah 1:19

  2. 1 Corinthians 13:2

  3. When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. (Luke 4:28)

Diving Update

First Published: 2019 February 02

Draft 1

Today, all three of the men attempted to end the meet with the same dive, 405C. One of us1 has thrown the dive at numerous other meets, so it went well, as was to be expected. One of us2 had never attempted this dive before, so it went better than expected. One of us3 had tried it a few times before, so the dive went as mediocrely as to be expected.

In addition, I attempted 205 again. This time I tried it twice, the first was ok, the second one went way over! I almost threw a triple. That’s exciting.

Otherwise, the meet went pretty well. I had some dives I’ve never done quite as well, and a lot of dives I’ve done as well before.


  1. not me

  2. also not me

  3. me!

Ballad Rules

First Published: 2019 February 01

Draft 1

As I mentioned yesterday, this month I’m trying to write a limerick a day. Now, this means that I actually need to know how to write them. The rules of a limerick are apparently really flexible, which is sad. Maybe I’ll choose a different type of poem.

I think I’ll instead do the ballad form. That is ABCB, where the A and C lines have 8 syllables, and the B’s have 6 syllables. Since it’s a folk tradition, the rules are pretty vague from there. So, since for the daily sonnet I wrote 14 lines, I should probably try three stanzas of 4 lines, so that I have a smaller number of lines to write.

Maybe next month I’ll try a nonet.1


  1. Other options include this,this,the time that this may be, or this

Monthly Reflection

First Published: 2019 January 31

Draft 1

My role model for this writing1 reflect each month on the month, especially in relation to writing. This month for writing was interesting.

I failed to write the most days I’ve ever done. Conversely, I still have an average of one post a day.

I also set a goal of writing a sonnet every day. While I did not quite reach the goal, I did write2 24 sonnets, which is good enough for me. I learned that I can write about the everyday events in my life, which is nice.

Next month, I will try to write the posts more consistently for their day. I will also try to write a limerick a day, as that should hopefully be less time consuming.3


  1. tries to

  2. I think

  3. although I have gotten better at writing sonnets

Cold Day Reflection

First Published: 2019 January 30

Draft 1

One of the important things I learned abroad is that I procrastinate. One of the important things I learned today is that academics don’t feel real if I’m not in academic settings.1 But, that’s ok. I can always make up what work I didn’t get ahead on in the next few days.


  1. maybe that’s why I procrastinated so much abroad

Spem 1st Try

First Published: 2019 January 30

Draft 1

This year, the Grinnell Singers is performing Thomas Tallis’1 work Spem in Alium.2 This piece has 40 parts. Grinnell Singers has3 40 people. So, I’m on my own part.

We tried singing it. It went ok. Thankfully, the piece is old enough that it’s mostly three note chords throughout, so I could sound not completely wrong. C’est la vie.


  1. I never know whether that gets another s

  2. which I recently learned was mentioned in 50 shades of grey

  3. approximately

Cold Days

First Published: 2019 January 28

Draft 1

I know how snow days work. More or less, it’s when the snow has fallen in such a way that the roads are unsafe to travel. Now, however, Grinnell has a cold day. That is, it’s too cold for the College to feel safe having class. I’m confused.

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2019 January 27

Nehemiah 8:9B: “Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not lament, do not weep!”

Draft 1

Today’s Gospel reading speaks about Jesus’ return to Galilee, where he reads a passage from the Prophet Isaiah. Here, we see the Lord telling the congregation that, in the words of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, “in accordance with the Scriptures” he has come and fulfilled the words. All in all, it’s one of the more straightforward Gospels, at least to me.

But, as the first reading points out, “today is holy to the Lord.” We should live each day knowing that the Lord loved us so that he took the form of a man and suffered death on a cross for us.

Motivation

First Published: 2019 January 27

Prereading note: in the interest of my attention span and available time, I left out a lot of the discussion, as well as a lot of the reasoning I have for feeling this way. Mea culpa.

Draft 1

To many people,1 there are two kinds of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. And, to most of these same people, it’s believed that intrinsic motivation is better. Mostly, this is because external sources may lead you astray or not exist to keep you working, or so the theory goes.

However, I claimed that I am extrinsically motivated. The inevitable straw-man argument came out, namely that since I choose what to listen to, I must be intrinsically motivated. But, that’s not what I was saying. What I was saying2 is that, in my experience so far, I choose activities because of external motivators. Continuing, I’ve realized I even stop doing activities when3 external motivations disappear.

The most clear examples I can think of are why I joined the two choirs I sing at in college. For one, an audition choir, I received an email in June from the director saying that it would be a shame to let the hard work my high school choir director had put in go to waste.4 While getting a signature for that ensemble, my advisor told me that I should also join the early music group. Once in both, I received more external motivation to remain in them than I can think of easily.

Whenever I5 expressed that I felt I brought the average quality of singer down in the first ensemble, I was told that I was a valued member of the ensemble. Whenever any other early musician learns that I play the cornetto, they6 express astonishment, as it’s known as a hard instrument.

And, the final point to making extrinsic motivations work7 is that I’ve learned where to seek external motivators. When I want to feel as though I’ve done a good job, I know where and who to talk to. When I want an excuse to not do something, I do the same. So, while to some, it may seem that I am intrinsically motivated, it helps me live my life better knowing that I am extrinsically motivated.


  1. these weasel words show that I don’t want to claim it’s true

  2. and believe

  3. positive

  4. it parsed a lot better in the email

  5. rightly

  6. for some reason

  7. for me

Another Bus Ride

First Published: 2019 January 26

Draft 1

Yesterday was another long bus ride. I should really remember to finish my posts before getting on them, because they drain me far too much. But, as it was, so it appears to continue to be.

Learning Continuo

First Published: 2019 January 26

Draft 1

I learned that for a class I am taking about historical improvisation, I need to learn continuo.1 As is to be expected, most of this is scarcely notated, with the assumption that it’ll be composed to fit the performer that day. Unfortunately, as I mentioned to the professor, keyboards and I are not friends.

So, I proposed that I could do continuo on the gothic harp, as I know how to play it.2 But, the gothic harp, as one might expect, is not a chromatic instrument. It has seven notes to an octave, which can be tuned. However, that’s really hard to do in the moment. Hypothetically, I could use my opposite hand to raise a note, but that’s apparently not allowed, as continuo playing needs both. This means that I’ll be learning continuo this semester.


  1. the bass part

  2. and because it’s fun to play

Diving Update!

First Published: 2019 January 24

Draft 1

I learned two new dives! 4041 on one meter, and 4052 on three meter. They went varyingly well, depending on how well I jumped. But, they’re both in for this weekend, which is terrifying and exciting.


  1. inward two flips

  2. inward two and a half flips (known colloquially as the concussion dive)

Last Day of Break

First Published: 2019 January 22

Draft 1

The last day of break always fills me with mixed emotions. On one hand, it’s always a change, which is scary. On the other, I really miss academics, and the pressure of needing to accomplish tasks. So, I tend to feel mixed, though more positively than negatively.

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2019 January 21

John 2:3-5: “When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Draft 1

Today’s readings are a set that my family has always enjoyed. Mostly, it’s due to the non-sequitur in the Gospel. Mary says that there’s no wine, Jesus says it isn’t his problem, and then solves it anyways.

It also leads nicely into the joke I’ve always enjoyed telling friends when they ask why Mary is such a big deal in the Catholic Church.1 Jesus is a good Jewish boy. Good Jewish boys listen to their mother. Mary loves us and listens to all of our prayers. So, if you pray to Mary, Jesus has to listen.

Of course, I have no idea how accurate this joke is theologically, but I hope.


  1. other than the whole mother goddess being adopted from prior pagan traditions

Diving Update!

First Published: 2019 January 21

Draft 1

Today I pr’d again, though by far less. My coach says I missed my entries, which is true.

Diving Update!

First Published: 2019 January 18

Draft 1

I pr’d by 50 points in diving today, which was approximately 17%! I’m very excited about this.

Sad Reality

First Published: 2019 January 18

Draft 1

Today, I got to watch my little brother at one of his last high school swim meets. During it, he lost his goggles as he started his 100 butterfly. And then he set a new personal best, by a not-insignificant margin. It’s sad when that happens, because now there’s an incentive to dive goggleless.

Fall Behind

First Published: 2019 January 16

Draft 1

Sometimes people fall behind. I am a person. Therefore sometimes I fall behind. Such is the nature of life.

Crowded Bus Rides

First Published: 2019 January 16

Draft 1

As I mentioned a little bit ago, bus rides make it hard for me to focus. When the bus is totally full, as it was, I find myself completely unable to be productive. So, sadly, the posts were not written. C’est la vie.1


  1. la vie

Questionable Bread

First Published: 2019 January 13

Draft 1

We’re getting ready to return to Grinnell. As a result, we decided to clear out our food. We had around two pounds of bread, a pound of brown sugar, salt,1 and a packet of yeast. So, I decided to make bread.

With the one packet of yeast added to most of the flour, I dumped in the very precise measurements of “#1” salt and brown sugar. That being accomplished,2 I added water to the flour. As I realized that there was still far too much flour, I found out we also had extra milk. So, I added more flour, and I3 added milk to the flour, and continued to work.

I then got bored while kneading, so picked up the dough and kneaded as I walked and visited other rooms. After letting it rise for 2.5 hours,4 I rekneaded, and let rest for the entirely unreasonable length of 3 minutes.5 I put it in the oven and walked away for ten minutes.

When I returned, the bread looked more like a cake. It had risen quite nicely. Of course, it wasn’t browning, even after 30 minutes, so I bumped the temp from 350 to 400.6 It still didn’t brown, but did turn a nice light brown colour.7

Reviews from housemates were positive. As for myself, I’d give it a solid neutral. As my father would say, “#1”8


  1. stolen from another room

  2. sometimes Latin class pops up in the worst ways

  3. I’ve been told I comma splice, so rather than change the problem, I just make sure to have more independent clauses

  4. I was so forgetful

  5. I’m impatient

  6. F because I love small changes and hate water-based systems

  7. wow that’s a bad sentence. Also, a break was taken before writing this sentence because I realized I’d forgotten the bread in the oven

  8. la vee

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2019 January 16

Isaiah 40:1: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.”

Draft 1

Today’s readings, as are to be expected from the day of the Lord’s baptism, are rather joyful. To me, the line which best sums up this week’s message is the first of Isaiah Chapter 40. The readings focus on the comfort and knowledge that the Lord has come, loves us, and chooses us each and every day.

In the Gospel itself, I love the fact that Luke makes it clear that “the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form,”1,2 while the other two synoptic Gospels only state that the Spirit descends. For me, at least, part of the faith that is so important is the physical nature. As we’re taught about sacraments, they’re physical manifestations of internal realities. Unlike other Christian faiths, we believe that the Body and Blood is truly present in the Eucharist.


  1. Luke 3:22A

  2. emphasis mine

Remember How to Breathe

First Published: 2019 January 12

Draft 1

These past few days, my coach has commented that my hurdle has been suffering since coming back from abroad. I couldn’t remember what I had been doing differently, other than what I was still doing.1 Today, I remembered that I modified my breathing while diving abroad, and tried that again today. It worked! Hooray.


  1. walking instead of prancing

Timelapses

First Published: 2019 January 11

Draft 1

In a class I took last semester, Creative Cartography, one of the ways we experimented with making maps was via timelapses. I very much enjoyed the process, and repeated it later in the making of the growing of my beard.1 When I shaved my beard, I again tried a timelapse. And, recently, I tried doing so while working on a doodle that I enjoyed.

It’s a really fun process, and it’s a good way for me personally to do activities more mindfully. If you haven’t tried making them in the past, I’d recommend trying to make one, as it’s very rewarding.


  1. referenced here.

Tortilla Recipe

First Published: 2019 January 10

Prereading note: I’ve realized that I’ve begun to use this blog more and more as a way to remember recipes so that I won’t forget them.

Draft 1

Yesterday, I made tortillas.1 They were favorably reviewed.

The recipe is:

  1. Mix flour, salt, sugar, and oil together.

  2. Add enough water

  3. Mix and knead

  4. Press into small shapes

  5. Put on a very hot pan that’s been lightly oiled

  6. Flip often until cooked

  7. Serve while warm


  1. in the same way that I make almost any food: almost certainly not traditionally, but as close as I get

Commando Review

First Published: 2019 January 09

Draft 1

Today, I had the lovely pleasure of watching the 1985 classic American film Commando, staring Arnold Schwarzenegger with 20 or so other members of my team. All in all, it was a great movie for why we chose it.

The plot was straightforward enough that the chatting and constant interjections didn’t make it hard to follow. The dialogue was dumb, but punny. The set was destroyed often. There was a high body count. So, what more could you really ask for in a college men’s athletic movie night?1


  1. that is a rhetorical question. There are a lot of things that could have been better

Trouble With Double

First Published: 2019 January 08

Draft 1

Today, as with most days for the next few weeks, I dove. Our goal was to run through every dive, with the added hope that I might be able to put inward two and a half back in.1 Instead, I remembered why I hate inwards.

In front category dives, I tend to have an easy time. Regardless of how I ride the board, I can generally save it.

In back dives, I just need to remember to swing my arms. And, I do that often enough.

For reverse, I always know that I’ve gotten off the board too quickly.

But, for inward, the only element I really need to throw a quickly rotating dive is a good toe drive. That is, I need to throw my feet back as they come up from the board. Throwing my feet is scary, and makes me think I might hit the board.2 So, today’s inward double attempts were interesting.

On the first, I underthrew just enough that I landed in what the lifeguard called a “#1”3 The second I underthrew to the point that it turned into a one and a half, because I knew I wouldn’t make it, and I’ve never been horribly fond of hurting my back.4 After recognizing this problem and addressing it through an inward dive,5 I thought myself ready to again attempt inward double. Instead of it being under, I had a wonderful toe drive. In fact, I rotated so well that I was able to kick out at the double above the board.

Unfortunately, this meant that I was over on the dive, and it didn’t feel pleasant. Had it been a leadup for inward two and a half or double on one meter, it would have been great. As it was, however, it was just painful. But, tomorrow is another day, and another chance to try again.


  1. for those of you who know my personal life, that dive is the dive that caused my (allegedly) only concussion

  2. no, I’ve never even gotten too close to the board

  3. it hurt a little

  4. contrary to popular opinion

  5. which was very, very over

Baking Competition Prep 4th Attempt

First Published: 2019 January 07

Draft 1

As those of you who’ve been following the progress of the baking competition might know, I’ve been working hard to perfect my recipe. Now that I’m at the training trip, I thought it important to try making the recipe here, as the oven and stove might behave differently. Oddly enough, the butter seems to behave differently, though that may just be my failure to cook.

I’ve learned that if you boil butter, it will eventually incorporate a lot of air. If you wait until that point to fold in chocolate, you end up with a more stable final project. It received positive reviews from all, including my alleged competition.

For the sake of not trying to remember, below is the recipe.

  1. Combine 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon flour in a bowl.

  2. Mix until fully incorporated

  3. Grease a cupcake tin and wipe1

  4. Melt 1/2 stick butter in pan, stirring often

  5. When butter has boiled and begins to rapidly expand in size, remove from heat

  6. Stir in 2.7 oz bittersweet chocolate pieces, and when fully mixed, add the egg mixture.

  7. Once fully incorporated together, pour into muffin tin and cook at 350 F.

  8. Remove from oven when the sides have begun to pull away and feel mostly solid when touched.

  9. While still warm, flip onto plate to remove from trays.


  1. the wiping makes the end result smoother

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2019 January 6

Isaiah 60:4A: “Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you.”

Draft 1

Today’s readings focus on the first time that we see people recognize the Lord in his human incarnation.1 And, as the other readings point out, this is the answer to Isaiah’s prophecy, that “[Jerusalem’s] light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon [it].”2 And, perhaps because I went to a Mass in Haitian Creole, where the priest made a point of mention that the Mass is the same in any language, other than the words themselves,3 that’s the part of the readings I’ve focused on.

The first reading tells us that all will gather and come to see the Lord. And, as the Mass is the same in every language, we can truly be a catholic4 church, one where all can join in the song.5 In this way, the message of today’s readings is especially relevant to the random happenstance of life. It’s nice when that happens.


  1. I think? At least in the book of Matthew

  2. Isaiah 60:1

  3. he phrased it better, but I am bad at turns of phrase

  4. little c because universal

  5. yes, I did sing along. No, I did not know the words

First Meet

First Published: 2019 January 05

Draft 1

Today was my first dive meet of the year, and also my first meet since studying abroad. Interestingly, I performed as well as I’ve ever done in the past. It may just be that the judge1 was hoping to make me feel better about myself, which is likely the answer. We’ll find out in around two weeks.


  1. don’t ask

Making Pizza

First Published: 2019 January 04

Draft 1

Today I made pizza with some friends. It came out really well, which is always satisfying. And, I reaffirmed my knowledge that I really don’t need help making bread anymore.

I tried to follow a recipe that was given to me, but realized I had nothing to measure water or flour with. I guestimated my 12 oz. of water, then just decided that I knew the right texture, so could use flour to that result. I put in too much oil and sugar, but no one seemed to notice or care. So, turns out I can make pizza dough. That’s nice, and I might never actually follow a bread recipe again. We’ll see what happens

Boiling Water

First Published: 2019 January 03

Draft 1

I don’t have the mental energy tonight to figure out a real recipe. Instead, here is a recipe for boiled water. This is often used in such dishes as pasta and pasta-related dishes.

Ingredients:
Water: 1 Quart
Salt to Taste

Pour water and salt together in a large pot. Put on high heat until water begins to form bubbles that disturb the surface. Remove from heat.

Bus Rides

First Published: 2019 January 03

Draft 1

For nearly 2/3 of this day, I was on a bus. While bus rides are conducive for many activities, in my experience, they tend to be very harmful to writing, especially digitally.

Packing

First Published: 2019 January 1

Draft 1

Today I packed for a ten day trip. It’s odd how much less impactful that packing feels now that I’ve left for a semester. Weird.

Ending 2018

First Published: 2018 December 31

Draft 2

As I finish this post in the early hours of the morning, 2018 is officially over. And, as of the end of this post, this blog has 125 posts, which is a surprisingly nice and round number for being completely unplanned.1 So, I thought I’d use this to look back at 2018.

2018 was a really fun year for me. Due to it being late, and my having been up for a while, I don’t remember most of it. However, looking back, five big positive events for me this year were: medaling at the Conference Swim and Dive meet, joining the Track and Field team, beginning the bagpipes, going to London,2 and finally having a trimmed beard.

Of these, I think the final will prove to be the most impactful on my life in 2019.3 Since I reflected on five big changes in 2018, I feel like I should also list five things that excite me about 2019, which are:4 learning the accordion, figuring out what I’m going to do after college, being a senior, watching my little brother’s final high school memories being made, continuing to grow at the instruments I’m already taking.

Of course, three5 of the items that were most memorable to me about 2018 as I was writing this post weren’t things that I knew would be happening at the beginning of the year.6 So, more than anything, I’m excited to find out what new and wonderful events will change my life in 2019. In the7 words of the immortal Caesar, venio, video, vivo. In English, that would be:sayI come, I see, I live. If I can’t fail to be pretentious on New Year’s Eve, then when? Anyways, best of luck to anyone reading this, and a happy end of the Christmas Season.

Draft 1

Today marks the end of 2018. As of the end of this post, I’ve posted 125 posts, which is a surprisingly nice and round number.8 2018 was a really fun year for me.

Looking back, some big changes include: medaling at the Conference Swim and Dive meet, joining the Track and Field team, beginning the bagpipes, going to London,9 and finally having a trimmed beard.

Of these, I think the final will prove to be the most impactful on my life in 2019. Since I reflected on five big changes in 2018, I feel like I should list five things that excite me about 2019: learning the accordion, figuring out what I’m going to do after college, being a senior, watching my little brother’s final high school memories being made, continuing to grow at the instruments I’m already taking.

Of course, three10 of the items that were most memorable to me about 2018 as I was writing this post weren’t things that I knew would be happening at the beginning of the year. So, more than anything, I’m excited to know that I don’t know what new and wonderful things will happen to me in 2019.


  1. just three more to a nice one in base 2

  2. obviously

  3. who knows how serious I’m being? Not me!

  4. again as they come to me

  5. ish

  6. bonus points to anyone who knows which three!

  7. modified

  8. just three more to a nice one in base 2

  9. obviously

  10. ish

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 December 30

Luke 2:52: “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.”

Draft 1

Today’s readings, as the name of the day would suggest, all focus on family. The first reading focuses on one family, the prophet Samuel’s. We learn that he is offered as a “perpetual nazirite,” or holy one.1

The second reading explains what Paul sees as an ideal family.

Finally, the Gospel speaks of one of the only instances of the Holy Family where all is not perfect. The young Jesus goes missing after Passover, and is found at the Temple. This reading comes from Luke, and like most of Luke, I really enjoy it.

The reading tells us that children are inquisitive, and that is a good trait. It tells us that mothers should show concern for their children. It doesn’t say much about a father’s role, but the reading can’t do everything. And, like much of the dialogue in the Bible, it contains some dialogue that seems hard to picture actually happening.


  1. 1 Samuel 22

Dumb Regrets

First Published: 2018 December 29

Draft 1

As some of you may know, I dive. And, as a result of this, I’ve learned the numbering system for diving. It’s fairly straightforward. For example, 103 means front one and a half. Each time the final number increases by one, the number of half-rotations does as well. So, 104 is front double, and so on. Now, this brings us to a topic of debate among my teammates and I. Should front 5 and one half be 111 or 1011? While in London, I heard that one of my teammates knew someone who threw the dive, so I could’ve asked what the number was. But, I forgot, and now don’t know the number. However, some research I’ve never tried to do before now suggests that the answer is 1011, which is fine, just wrong.

Learning Something

First Published: 2018 December 28

Draft 1

As some of you may know, as a way to kill time and attention, I sometimes draw celtic knotwork. Today, I tried to make a shape that included some interesting breaks. Unfortunately, I realized that the shape required more than one line. To remedy this, I tried some different patterns before asking my father.

After a quick Google search, we learned that1 the number of lines required for a knot is the greatest common divisor of the length and width of the knot. Unfortunately, that didn’t end up being incredibly useful for my piece, but it’s still cool to learn.


  1. for a simple rectangle

Finishing an Audiobook

First Published: 2018 December 27

Draft 1

For the past two weeks or so, I’ve been listening to a long audiobook. Unfortunately, other than a transatlantic flight, I’ve had very little time where my ears are free and the rest of me is not. That is, these past two weeks, either I’ve been unable to listen to something, because my ears are otherwise occupied, as in meetings and conversations, or I’ve also been able to use the rest of my body. Again, that is, I can use my hands to make music, or my eyes to read a book. Since I can’t read a book while listening to one, I couldn’t do that. Nonetheless, it was very fun.

While I still don’t love audiobooks, I understand some of the appeal. Had I still been in London, with my long commutes, I think the audiobook would have been more useful. Nonetheless, I’m mostly just glad it’s over.

Baking Competition Prep 3rd Attempt

First Published: 2018 December 26

Draft 1

Today I tried baking again. Instead of the attempts I’d made before, where I made one full-size cake, and asked for others to compare to no reference, today I made 5 small recipes and had comparisons from there. The five recipes I tested were: the original, browned butter and coffee, browned then cooled butter and coffee, just coffee, and just browned butter. I had two amazing friends who were willing to taste test for me.

Sadly, one person’s favorite1 was the other’s least favorite: browned butter and coffee That was the browned and coffeed recipe. Both found the browned, coffeeless recipe a close second, so that appears to be a good choice. However, the original was also one’s favorite and the other’s third favorite. So, I’ll probably try those two recipes on Saturday, as I have a chance to talk to the judge again.


  1. as is often the case

Christmas 2018

First Published: 2018 December 25

Draft 1

Merry Christmas! Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. It was amazing. And, as my sleep schedule is pushing me to bed earlier and earlier, I am reminded of the quote “#1”

Christmas Eve

First Published: 2018 December 24

Draft 1

Christmas Eve has always been a weird day to me. Mostly, this is because I accept that1 days start and end at sunset. That’s the reason for Vigil Masses and such. However, Eve means the evening before. So, the idea of Christmas Eve just seems weird to me. The evening before Christmas is technically the 23.


  1. for liturgical purposes

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 December 23

Luke 1:45 “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Draft 1

Today’s Gospel, as befits the eve of Christmas Eve, is very focused on the coming of the Lord. The first reading tells how Bethlehem will be where “one who is to be ruler in Israel” comes from.1 The Gospel takes place right after Mary accepts the angel telling her that she will become pregnant.

Her cousin Elizabeth sees her and recognizes what child she carries. The Gospel ends with the message I hear in different variations almost daily from friends and others who profess the Christian faith. However, none speak it2 as well as Elizabeth does, as befits one consumed by the Spirit. We are told many things by the Lord. We are told that we will be blessed if we believe.

Of course, we also know that believing requires doing. Without this belief, Mary could have believed that the angel was from God and still said no. But instead, because she believed and trusted in the Lord, she accepted the angel’s request, saying “May it be done to me according to your word.”3


  1. Michah 5:1

  2. in my opinion

  3. Luke 1:38

Baking Competition Prep 2nd Attempt

First Published: 2018 December 22

Draft 1

Today, I tried the recipe again. It came out more solid, though less strong flavored, and with a texture described as “#1” All in all, I’d say it’s marginally better.

Baking Competition Prep 1st Attempt

First Published: 2018 December 21

Draft 1

As I mentioned before, in a few weeks I’ll be competing in a baking competition. So, today I tried making the recipe for the first time. Reviews were generally positive, though many commented that the flavor was almost too strong. Given that I remember the recipe having a strong chocolate flavor before browning the butter and adding coffee, that would make sense. So, next time I make it, I’ll have to also try adding on the whipped cream and strawberries.

Right now, I need to think of a way to lighten the dish, as most reviewers found it too strong. I hope that adding the whipped cream will be enough to lighten it. Tomorrow should tell me.

First Hours

First Published: 2018 December 20

Draft 1

As in one of my first posts, I’m using this as a space to reflect on my time back home. Not much has changed at Grinnell, other than some new faces showing up and some old faces not being there. The codes to some doors I need to use have changed, others have stayed the same. All in all, these first few hours back in Grinnell are far less shocking than the same in London.

Home

First Published: 2018 December 19

Draft 1

I made it home! That’s about all I have the energy to say right now

Atonal Preomposition, Chord Progressions

First Published: 2018 December 18

Prereading note: If you look at the html, you may notice that this is labeled “#1” There is a first essay about this, but it’s nearly 2000 words and needs some cleaning. It’ll be good for a day I don’t feel like writing

Draft 1

Yesterday, my brother and I were eating together. While doing so, I flipped through my notebook, because he and I were bored. I saw that I had made a map of all 24 major and minor chords, connected by the movements of a single note in a triad.1 I was wondering if there was a better way to represent it than the interlocking circle I’d made. While the answer appears to be no,2 it still sparked an idea.

Today, we3 made a program to auto-generate a chord progression that moves along the three valid Neo-Riemannian steps, P,R, and L. As is often the case, none of the code in the initial working model ended up in the final. Using the input of the beginning chord and desired number of changes, it pseudo4-randomly5 generates a progression. One example that I just generated, using 25 chords from CM is: CM->Cm->EbM->Cm->CM->Am->CM->Am->CM->Am->CM->Cm->AbM->Abm->AbM->Abm->AbM->Abm/G#m->EM->Em->GM->Gm->EbM->Ebm->EbM. If you’d like to hear what that sounds like as generated by a midi keyboard, or if you’d like to try the program yourself, feel free to mail me at .


  1. so, Am can become CM (A-G), FM (E-F) or AM (C-C#)

  2. or at least without 3 dimensions

  3. loosely using “#1” here

  4. I assume

  5. I observed and was told

Jameson Distillery Tour

First Published: 2018 December 17

Draft 1

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to tour the old Jameson Distillery in Dublin. Our tour guide was wonderful and knowledgeable.1 I learned a lot about how whiskey, and particularly Jameson, is made


  1. including knowing Iowa’s State capitol, bird, flag, and a few other things

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 December 16

Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you,”

Draft 1

Today, we hear the prophet Zephaniah speak about the coming of the Lord. Obviously, since we are in Advent, the Gospel does as well. However, while John’s call to the people is focused on the glory and fear the Lord will bring when he descends, the first reading focuses on the positive aspects. The people are told to “shout for joy!” and “sing joyfully.”1 We hear that the coming of the Lord will bring joy and salvation.

This is really the part of the Word I feel we don’t talk about enough. Yes, there are rules we are to follow. Yes, we are called to take up our crosses. Yes, we are to love as Jesus loved.

But, the Lord also forgives us. He brings us safety. And, in these cold days while we await the coming Lord, the joy of his love should keep us warm.


  1. Zephaniah 3:14a

Guinness Brewery Tour

First Published: 2018 December 15

Draft 1

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to experience the Guinness Brewery Tour. As it was self-guided, it felt more like a museum than a tour, but that’s not too important. It was really fun, and I’m very glad I did it.

What Comes Next?

First Published: 2018 December 14

Draft 1

As you might know, I started this blog in part because of assignments and people wondering what I was doing while abroad. Now, abroad is over. The assignment is also concluded. Should I stop writing daily?

I think I won’t, if only because I enjoy the idea of knowing that I’ve written something each day. Likewise, I’ll also continue my list of 5 things each day that were nice and out of the ordinary

And So We Make An End

First Published: 2018 December 13

Draft 1

For those of you who are unaware, last spring Grinnell College’s Collegium Musicum1 performed a piece entitled “The Cries of London.” As the piece comes to a close, each of the independent parts begins singing “and so we make an end,” until the entire group is singing it, and then the piece ends. Only partially because of the title, I’m feeling that song as extremely relevant to me right now.

Last night at diving, I had to say goodbye to the wonderful and amazing people I’ve met at diving this semester. They expressed sadness that I would be gone, and assured me I’d be back soon.2 A couple of them shared contact information with me, so maybe we’ll stay in touch.

Today, I took my final at Queen Mary. It was3 worth all of my grade in the class, so I hope I did well.

Today, I also had my last class of the semester. And, as I write this document, I’ve just finished packing4 my stuff into its suitcase. Oddly, other than the pile of books I’m going to have to fit into my backpack, I don’t appear to have gained many things. It’s also odd because it only took around 45 minutes to pack all of my belongings. In contrast, it took around 3 hours to pack and remove all of the items from my room last semester. But, my semester here is coming to an end. Potentially never again will I be in London, and almost certainly never again will I be living here. I’m excited to be home, if only so that the next phase of my life begins.

As this page in my5 journal turns over, I begin a new one. In fact, I’m going to look at my first few posts, to see if there’s anything that I thought about then that I’m thinking about now.

In my journal, I mentioned that I would miss seeing some friends.6 I’m certainly excited to see them, especially since some of them will be abroad in the spring.

On my first post, I said that I would be sharing “updates about travel, my life abroad, and whatever else happens to be on my mind when I sit down to write.” I certainly did some of those, whether the reviews of shows that I saw, the places I went to,7 or the random things I wrote about.

In my second post, I said that “London feels a lot like Grinnell so far,” and that’s still certainly true. Of the six points mentioned, the first is still somewhat true, though I’ve learned how to use Google Maps without data, the second I’ve managed to avoid doing again. I’ve still only heard bagpipes twice and only seen them once. London weather is now8 far warmer than Grinnell, so I debate wearing a jacket some days. I was able to find a Catholic church.9 Finally, underground is still easy, buses are still magic that takes you from a-b.

My third post10 deals with street music, and I’ve lately seen far more accordions. I take that as a sign that I’m really supposed to learn them next semester. Also, tonight as I left the end of semester dinner, there were two guys walking around playing Christmas carols on the alto saxophone, which was nice. I was a public musician once, which was when we were on a train coming home and had a long stop at a station. Some train employees came and listened and said they appreciated it when I finished, which was nice.

Finally, my fourth post deals with how I thought I would journal. I said I’d be on social media a lot, which was true. I stopped updating Facebook about this, mostly because I stopped being proud of what I’d written. I managed to11 do this daily. And, I did continue the hybrid journal. As a printed document, the digital portion was around 100 double sided pages, and the analog one is currently around 120 pages. So, that’s nice to know. I also continued to have more free time than I wanted, which was kind of nice. I needed time to destress and decompress, if only from city life, and had that chance. That meant that I may not have made it to every single concert or museum that I could’ve gone to, but I’m ok with that, especially since I’ve never really loved museums.12

So yeah, while I’m not headed home just yet,13 I am done with the Grinnell in London program, and that feels nice.


  1. early music group

  2. one of them commented that they’ve felt much more comfortable wiping out since I showed up which was a little less nice but

  3. is

  4. most of

  5. both metaphorical and literal

  6. and obviously my family

  7. sometimes

  8. apparently

  9. well, two churches

  10. yes I intentionally hrefed them all differently

  11. with one exception

  12. I could write about that sometime

  13. my amazing older brother came to visit and we’re going exploring!

Theatre Final

First Published: 2018 December 12

Draft 5: 12 December

One lens that is useful for viewing Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy, Macbeth, is the lens of loyalty. When viewed through that lens, the show seems to be a cautionary tale about the nature of disloyalty. While disloyalty may have temporary gains, it will ultimately damn you and be the cause of your undoing. But we may also learn about the show through his word choice. Shakespeare, as every young student learns, invented many words. And, as a poet, he is more deliberate than most in his repetitions of words. More than that, however, Shakespeare uses words in conjunction with others. So, we can see both how Shakespeare sees loyalty, and how his characters see it by looking at where in the show the four utterances of “loyal” occur.

The first utterance of loyalty occurs during the exposition of the show, when the audience learns about the thane of Cawdor’s rebellion against the King of Scotland. Here, however, this loyalty is negated by the prefix “dis.” A wounded and vulnerable Ross explains that “Norway himself, / With terrible numbers, / Assisted by that most disloyal traitor / The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict” (Macbeth, 1.2). Macdonwald, the “disloyal traitor”, is not seen to profit at all from his rebellion and disloyalty. While he may have had fleeting increases to station or wealth under the “Norweyan banners” he fought under, he nonetheless quickly loses both these new advantages and his own life. Here, Shakespeare first introduces the audience to loyalty through the consequences of its absence. Although loyalty is rewarded later in the show, Shakespeare chooses to begin the show with the idea that disloyalty brings death. However, Shakespeare quickly brings in this lighter side of loyalty, as King Duncan commands Ross to “with his [Macdonwald, ex-Thane of Cawdor’s] former title greet Macbeth” (ibid). Because “brave Macbeth” delivered victory to the Scots (ibid), he gains a title.

Sadly, this gain of title ultimately becomes Macbeth’s downfall. The witches hail him in turn as “thane of Glamis,” “thane of Cawdor,” and “king hereafter” (1.3). While Macbeth is aware of being thane of Glamis, he finds the other propositions ridiculous. Paul Ready’s performance at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse displays his shock clearly. Despite being as disoriented as the audience from the shadows and music, he retorts that “to be king / Stands not within the prospect of belief, / No more than to be Cawdor” (ibid). When Ross proclaims that “He (Duncan) bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor,” Macbeth is confused, questioning why “Ross dress[es] [him] / In borrow’d robes” (1.3). As he had just a few lines before noted that becoming king was as ridiculous a preposition as becoming thane of Cawdor, his appointment seems to justify the witches as truthful beings. Banquo’s remark: “can the devil speak true?” seems ignored by Macbeth. In this way, Shakespeare also promotes the idea that even seemingly loyal followers may become disloyal if given the proper incentives. Macbeth, who before now seems to have no reservations about living and dying as nothing more than thane of Glamis, now begins to set his sights higher. He will no longer be satisfied with anything less than the title of King of Scotland, and will stop at nothing to reach this goal.

The second time we see loyalty mentioned is again in the presence of the king. In this way, the idea that loyalty belongs to a king is again expressed through its use near Duncan. Interestingly, this is also the last time that Duncan and Macbeth are seen on stage together. Macbeth rebuts Duncan’s assertion that “more is thy [Macbeth’s] due than more than all can pay” with his own claim that “the service and the loyalty I [Macbeth] owe, / In doing it, pays itself” (1.4). Macbeth follows this immediately with the claim that Your highness’ part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne (ibid). In this way, we see an optimistic view of the monarchy. The king and his servants both have a role. The king is to support his sworn servants, giving them both labors to accomplish, but also the means to fulfill these decrees. Once fulfilled, he is to take the fruit of the labors, a visible display of loyalty, raising their status simply through his acknowledgement of a job well done. His servants, by comparison, are to bring glory to their family by honoring the king and helping their country. When this covenant is fulfilled from both sides, we see the bountiful reign of Duncan, and the reign that we hope Malcolm will restore. When the code is not followed, however, we see what happens in the reign of Macbeth. Slowly but surely, every piece of the trust between a king and his people is eroded and destroyed, until his death goes unmourned.

Macbeth also makes the interesting claim here that loyalty and service are inherently tied. Ready’s Macbeth truly seems to believe this, as is clear in his next mention of loyalty, “who can be ... Loyal and neutral, in a moment?” (2.3). However, for a character as heartless as Macbeth, the idea that service and loyalty are intrinsically tied makes an odd sort of sent. As someone who has no morals of his own, being able to demonstrate potentially non-existent internal feelings through wholly external action would be highly desirable. Conversely, as we see later in the show, faith without action seems unbelievable and false to Macbeth.

This scene of loyalty also plants the idea that Macbeth will betray Banquo in the minds of the audience. Immediately after accepting Macbeth’s assertions of the role of a king, Duncan turns to Banquo and praises him, saying that “Noble Banquo, / that hast no less deserved... let me hold thee to my heart” (ibid). Here we see the idea planted in Macbeth’s head that Banquo is a threat to the throne. Paul Ready plays that scene well, looking at Philip Cumbus’s Banquo as though he has become less of a faithful ally in his eyes.

As we see Duncan only briefly after this scene, it is not odd that we don’t hear any mentions of loyalty. But, once Duncan is dead, with Macbeth ready to claim the throne, we hear him again utter the word “loyal.” When Macduff rebukes Macbeth for killing the murderers of the king, Paul Ready’s Macbeth furiously replies: “Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, / Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man” (2.3). The mention here is interesting, if only because it’s again uttered by Macbeth. Despite being the character who holds the least faith in the show, he’s the one who literally professes loyalty the most. The emotion Ready brings to the line makes the audience believe that Macbeth truly believes that you cannot be both “loyal and neutral” (ibid). As we see in the rest of the show, that may be true. Even though Macbeth kills his king, he still sees loyalty as a force that inherently drives someone to action. From both of the mentions of loyalty Macbeth makes, it becomes somewhat clear that he sees that loyalty can only be demonstrated through external displays.

In the scenes that follow, especially the murder of Banquo, we see that Macbeth no longer understands the reciprocity needed for loyalty. Just two short scenes after Macbeth notes that loyalty and neutrality are inherently opposed, we see Banquo acting fairly neutrally. That is, while Banquo may be serving the commands that Macbeth is giving to him off-stage, he is not defending the realm from the rebellion brewing from Duncan’s children in England and Ireland.

After giving Banquo leave to go ride with his child, Macbeth remarks that “My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, / Mark Antony’s was by Caesar” (3.1). This comparison is interesting for a few reasons. First, Macbeth references another of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Antony and Cleopatra. Second, it describes himself as Mark Antony and Banquo as Caesar. In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony is rebuked more than once by Caesar. Caesars accusations can be contained with the idea of weakness, which is ultimately shown as true. Caesar ultimately defeats Antony in battle.

The third reason this comparison is interesting is because of loyalty. Caesar’s loyalties never shift, while Mark Antony’s loyalties shift towards Egypt. This shift ultimately results in his fighting Rome, while Caesar begins and ends the play defending the Roman people. For that reason, Macbeth seems to be aware that he has broken faith, while Banquo has not. So, not only has Banquo been described as held “to [Duncan’s] heart” while the former king still reigned (1.4), Macbeth acknowledges “that dauntless temper of [Banquo’s] mind,” after he admits to Banquo that Macbeth will need his assistance with dealing with the rebellion, but Macbeth also has in his mind the words of the witches, that Banquo’s children will inherit (3.1). To me, Ready’s Macbeth saw these both of these strands connecting and where they intersected.

If Banquo uncovered that Macbeth was a murderer, he would stand to claim the throne. Macbeth cannot take this risk, so he orders the death of his companion. After the death of one of the most faithful characters in the show, we never hear the word “loyalty” in Scotland again.

Instead, at the end of the show we hear the final mention of loyalty in England. Macduff approaches Malcolm, hoping that he will reclaim the throne of his father. Malcolm, however is wary of the Scotsman, and tests Macduff. As one of the reasons Malcolm claims to be unworthy of the throne, he claims that he “should forge / quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, / Destroying them for wealth” (4.3). His later recanting of these falsehoods, claiming that “[his] first false speaking / was this upon [himself]” (ibid). However, before he recants, his placement of the word “loyal” still speaks volumes about what Shakespeare thinks of the concept.

For one, he claims that destroying people for wealth is unjust, which is a direct contrast to the reign of Macbeth, who seems to believe that force of arms justifies everything he does. He also describes the subjects he would “forge quarrels” against as “good and loyal,” as these two concepts are intrinsically linked to each other (ibid). Just as Macbeth cannot see a world where loyalty does not stir a heart to action, Kit Young’s Malcolm seems unable to pull the concepts of goodness and loyalty from each other. Potentially this is simply due to the horrors that he had felt.

Good and bad are opposites. Killing his father, the king was bad and disloyal. Therefore, in the mind of Young’s Malcolm, it seems that goodness and loyalty must too be linked. Malcolm confirms this during his recantation, saying that he “at no time broke [his] faith, would not betray / The devil to his fellow and delight / no less in truth than life” (ibid). In these words, we see that Malcolm also ties his idea of loyalty to truth. In saying that he both refuses to betray his people and that he loves truth as much as life, he posits that loyalty and truth are intrinsically linked. Again, this could stem from the life he had lived. Had he not had the nobility turned against him, believing that he had killed his father, he may never have made the connection between loyalty, truth and openness. In direct contrast to Macbeth, it seems that Malcolm takes the view of loyalty as something that is tied to intrinsic factors, rather than extrinsic actions. Of course, as the show’s ending shows, like his father, he still rewards actions. He names the men who served him “earls, the first that ever Scotland / In such an honour named” for their work in defeating Macbeth (5.8).

Through his four mentions of loyalty, Shakespeare grounds the show Macbeth in four of its most pivotal scenes. We see the scene that explains and justifies the entire plot, the scene where Macbeth becomes king, the scene where Macbeth is shown as irredeemable, and the scene where Malcolm accepts his destiny with the word “loyal.” In such a way, Shakespeare draws the close listener in to further appreciate the message he is sending. But, more than that, he uses loyalty in conjunction with other ideas to explain what it means to the different characters.

We see that to Ross, disloyalty comes from rebellion. Therefore, it seems that he may take the view that loyalty is the default state, and that without acting disloyally, people inherently act loyally. To Macbeth, who can’t seem to comprehend the idea, loyalty seems to be wholly based on external actions. In that way, it seems almost opposite Ross’s view, in that disloyalty takes no effort, while loyalty is difficult. Finally, we see the new king’s view, which is that loyalty is good and honest, and goodness and honesty are needed for loyalty. In his eyes, we see what may be the most honest view of loyalty, which is neither fully passive nor fully active. Instead, like all ideals in life, it is difficult and multifaceted.

Draft 4: 11 December

Shakespeare, as every young student learns, invented many words. And, as a poet, he is more deliberate than most in his repetitions of words. One lens that is useful for viewing his Scottish tragedy Macbeth is through the lens of loyalty. When viewed through that lens, the show seems to be a cautionary tale about the nature of disloyalty. While disloyalty may have temporary gains, it will ultimately damn you and be the cause of your undoing. More than that, however, Shakespeare uses words in conjunction with others. So, we can see both how Shakespeare sees loyalty, and how his characters see it by looking at where in the show the four utterances of “loyal” occur.

The first utterance of loyalty occurs during the exposition of the show, when the audience learns about the thane of Cawdor’s rebellion against the King of Scotland. Here, however, this loyalty is negated by the prefix “dis.” A wounded and vulnerable Ross explains that “Norway himself, / With terrible numbers, / Assisted by that most disloyal traitor / The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict” (Macbeth, 1.2). Macdonwald, the “disloyal traitor”, is not seen to profit at all from his rebellion and disloyalty. However, he may have had fleeting increases to station or wealth under the “Norweyan banners” he fought under, but nonetheless, he quickly loses both these new advantages and his own life. Here, Shakespeare first introduces the audience to loyalty with the consequences of its absence. Unlike later in the show, where we see the idea of loyalty as rewarded, he chooses to begin the show with the idea that disloyalty brings death. However, Shakespeare quickly brings in the lighter side of this coin as King Duncan commands Ross to “with his [Macdonwald, ex-Thane of Cawdor’s] former title greet Macbeth” (ibid). Because “brave Macbeth” delivered victory to the Scots (ibid), he gains a title.

Sadly, this gain of title ultimately becomes Macbeth’s downfall. The witches hail him in turn as “thane of Glamis,” “thane of Cawdor,” and “king hereafter” (1.3). While Macbeth is aware of being thane of Glamis, he finds the other propositions ridiculous. Paul Ready’s performance at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse displays this clearly. Despite being as disoriented as the audience from the shadows and music, he retorts that “to be king / Stands not within the prospect of belief, / No more than to be Cawdor” (ibid). When Ross proclaims that “He (Duncan) bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor,” Macbeth is confused, questioning why “Ross dress[es] [him] / In borrow’d robes” (1.3). As he had just a few lines before noted that becoming king was as ridiculous a preposition as becoming thane of Cawdor, his appointment seems to justify the witches as truthful beings. Banquo’s remark: “can the devil speak true?” seems ignored by Macbeth. In this way, Shakespeare also promotes the idea that even seemingly loyal followers may become disloyal if given the proper incentives. Macbeth, who before now seems to have no reservations about living and dying as nothing more than thane of Glamis, now begins to set his sights higher. He will no longer be satisfied with anything less than the title of King of Scotland, and will stop at nothing to reach this goal.

The second time we see loyalty mentioned is again in the presence of the king. In this way, the idea that loyalty belongs to a king is again expressed through its use near Duncan. Interestingly, this is also the last time that Duncan and Macbeth are seen on stage together. Duncan fears that he has failed as a liege lord and states that “more is thy due than more than all can pay,” as he feels that he has failed to give Macbeth what is owed to him as a faithful servant who defended the kingdom (1.4). Macbeth rebuts this assertion with his own claim that “the service and the loyalty I [Macbeth] owe, / In doing it, pays itself” (ibid). Macbeth follows this immediately with the claim that Your highness’ part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne (ibid). In this way, we see an optimistic view of the monarchy. The king and his servants both have a role. The king is to support his sworn servants, giving them both labors to accomplish, but also the means to fulfill these decrees. Once fulfilled, he is to take the fruit of the labors, raising their status simply through his acknowledgement of a job well done. His servants, by comparison, are to bring glory to their family by honoring the king and helping their country. When this covenant is fulfilled from both sides, we see the bountiful reign of Duncan, and the reign that we hope Malcolm will restore. When the code is not followed, however, we see what happens in the reign of Macbeth. Slowly but surely, every piece of the trust between a king and his people is eroded and destroyed, until his death goes unmourned.

Macbeth also makes the interesting claim here that loyalty and service are inherently tied. Ready’s Macbeth truly seems to believe this, as is clear in the next mention of loyalty. However, for a character as heartless as Macbeth, the idea that service and loyalty are intrinsically tied makes an odd sort of sent. As someone who has no morals of his own, being able to demonstrate potentially non-existent internal feelings through wholly external action would be highly desirable. Conversely, as we see later in the show, faith without action seems unbelievable and false to Macbeth.

This scene of loyalty also plants the idea that Macbeth will betray Banquo in the minds of the audience. Immediately after accepting Macbeth’s assertions of the role of a king, Duncan turns to Banquo and praises him, saying that “Noble Banquo, / that hast no less deserved... let me hold thee to my heart” (ibid). Here we see the idea planted in Macbeth’s head that Banquo is a threat to the throne. Paul Ready plays that scene well, looking at Philip Cumbus’s Banquo as though he has become less of a faithful ally in his eyes.

As we see Duncan only briefly after this scene, it is not odd that we don’t hear any mentions of loyalty. But, once Duncan is dead, with Macbeth ready to claim the throne, we hear him again utter the word “loyal.” The mention is interesting, if only because it’s again uttered by Macbeth. Despite being the character who holds the least faith in the show, he’s the one who literally professes loyalty the most. When Macduff rebukes Macbeth for killing the murderers of the king, Paul Ready’s Macbeth furiously replies: “Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, / Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man” (2.3). The emotion Ready brings to the line makes the audience believe that Macbeth truly believes that you cannot be both “loyal and neutral” (ibid). As we see in the rest of the show, that may be true. Even though Macbeth kills his king, he still sees loyalty as a force that inherently drives someone to action. From both of the mentions of loyalty Macbeth makes, it becomes somewhat clear that he sees that loyalty can only be demonstrated through external displays.

And, in the scenes that follow, we see that Macbeth does not see loyalty as a two way path anymore, seen taken to the extreme in his killing of Banquo. Just two short scenes after Macbeth notes that loyalty and neutrality are inherently opposed, we see Banquo, whose actions do not appear to be directly serving Macbeth. That is, while Banquo may be serving the commands that Macbeth is giving to him off-stage, he is not defending the realm from the rebellion brewing from Duncan’s children in England and Ireland.

After giving Banquo leave to go ride with his child, Macbeth remarks Remove? act that “My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, / Mark Antony’s was by Caesar” (3.1). This comparison is interesting for a few reasons. First, Macbeth references another of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Antony and Cleopatra. Second, it describes himself as Mark Antony and Banquo as Caesar.

In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony is rebuked more than once by Caesar. Caesars accusations can be contained with the idea of weakness, which is ultimately shown as true. Caesar ultimately defeats Antony in battle.

The third reason this comparison is interesting is because of loyalty. Caesar’s loyalties never shift, while Mark Antony’s loyalties shift towards Egypt. This shift ultimately results in his fighting Rome, while Caesar begins and ends the play defending the Roman people. For that reason, Macbeth seems to be aware that he has broken faith, while Banquo has not. So, not only has Banquo been described as held “to [Duncan’s] heart” while the former king still reigned (1.4), Macbeth acknowledges “that dauntless temper of [Banquo’s] mind,” after he admits to Banquo that Macbeth will need his assistance with dealing with the rebellion, but Macbeth also has in his mind the words of the witches, that Banquo’s children will inherit (3.1). To me, Ready’s Macbeth saw these different strands connecting as he saw where they intersected. two saws?

If Banquo uncovered that Macbeth was a murderer, he would stand to claim the throne. Macbeth cannot take this risk, so he orders the death of his companion. After the death of one of the most faithful characters in the show, we never hear the word in Scotland again.

Instead, at the end of the show we hear the final mention of loyalty in England. Macduff approaches Malcolm, hoping that he will reclaim the throne of his father. Malcolm, however is wary of the Scotsman, and tests Macduff. As one of the reasons Malcolm claims to be unworthy of the throne, he claims that he “should forge / quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, / Destroying them for wealth” (4.3). His later recanting of these falsehoods, claiming that “[his] first false speaking / was this upon [himself]” (ibid). However, before he recants, his placement of the word “loyal” still speaks volumes about what Shakespeare thinks of the concept.

For one, he claims that destroying people for wealth is unjust, which is a direct contrast to the reign of Macbeth, who seems to believe that force of arms justifies everything he does. He also describes the subjects he would “forge quarrels” against as “good and loyal,” as these two concepts are intrinsically linked to each other (ibid). Just as Macbeth cannot see a world where loyalty does not stir a heart to action, Kit Young’s Malcolm seems unable to pull the concepts of goodness and loyalty from each other. Potentially this is simply due to the horrors that he had felt.

Good and bad are opposites. Killing his father, the king was bad and disloyal. Therefore, in the mind of Young’s Malcolm, it seems that goodness and loyalty must too be linked. Malcolm confirms this during his recantation, saying that he “at no time broke [his] faith, would not betray / The devil to his fellow and delight / no less in truth than life” (ibid). In these words, we see that Malcolm also ties his idea of loyalty to truth. In saying that he both refuses to betray his people and that he loves truth as much as life, he posits that loyalty and truth are intrinsically linked. Again, this could stem from the life he had lived. Had he not had the nobility turned against him, believing that he had killed his father, he may never have made the connection between loyalty, truth and openness. In direct contrast to Macbeth, it seems that Malcolm takes the view of loyalty as something that is tied to intrinsic factors, rather than extrinsic actions. Of course, as the show’s ending shows, like his father, he still rewards actions. He names the men who served him “earls, the first that ever Scotland / In such an honour named” for their work in defeating Macbeth (5.8).

Through his four mentions of loyalty, Shakespeare grounds the show Macbeth in four of its most pivotal scenes. We see the scene that explains and justifies the entire plot, the scene where Macbeth becomes king, the scene where Macbeth is shown as irredeemable, and the scene where Malcolm accepts his destiny with the word “loyal.” In such a way, Shakespeare draws the close listener in to further appreciate the message he is sending. But, more than that, he uses loyalty in conjunction with other ideas to explain what it means to the different characters.

We see that to Ross, disloyalty comes from rebellion. Therefore, it seems that he may take the view that loyalty is the default state, and that without acting disloyally, people inherently act loyally. To Macbeth, who can’t seem to comprehend the idea, loyalty seems to be wholly based on external actions. In that way, it seems almost opposite Ross’s view, in that disloyalty takes no effort, while loyalty is difficult. Finally, we see the new king’s view, which is that loyalty is good and honest, and goodness and honesty are needed for loyalty. In his eyes, we see what may be the most honest view of loyalty, which is neither fully passive nor fully active. Instead, like all ideals in life, it is difficult and multifaceted.

Draft 3: 11 December

Shakespeare, as every young student learns, invented many words. So, when he reuses words, there is certain to be a reason for that use. One lens that is useful for viewing his Scottish tragedy Macbeth is through the lens of loyalty. When viewed through that lens, the show seems to be a cautionary tale about the nature of disloyalty. While disloyalty may have temporary gains, it will ultimately damn you and be the cause of your undoing. More than that, however, Shakespeare uses words in conjunction with others. So, we can see both how Shakespeare sees loyalty, and how his characters see it by looking at where in the show the four utterances of “loyal” occur.

The first utterance of loyalty occurs during the exposition of the show, when the audience learns about the thane of Cawdor’s rebellion against the King of Scotland. Here, however, this loyalty is negated by the prefix “dis.” A wounded and vulnerable Ross explains that “Norway himself, / With terrible numbers, / Assisted by that most disloyal traitor / The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict” (Macbeth, 1.2). Macdonwald, the “disloyal traitor”, is not seen to profit at all from his rebellion and disloyalty. However, he may have had fleeting increases to station or wealth under the “Norweyan banners” he fought under, but nonetheless, he quickly loses both these new advantages and his own life. Here, Shakespeare first introduces the audience to loyalty with the consequences of its absence. Unlike later in the show, where we see the idea of loyalty as rewarded, he chooses to begin the show with the idea that disloyalty brings death. However, Shakespeare quickly brings in the lighter side of this coin as King Duncan commands Ross to “with his [Macdonwald, ex-Thane of Cawdor’s] former title greet Macbeth” (ibid). Because “brave Macbeth” delivered victory to the Scots (ibid), he gains a title.

Sadly, this gain of title ultimately becomes Macbeth’s downfall. The witches hail him in turn as “thane of Glamis,” “thane of Cawdor,” and “king hereafter” (1.3). While Macbeth is aware of being thane of Glamis, he finds the other propositions ridiculous. Paul Ready’s performance at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse display this clearly. Despite being as disoriented as the audience from the shadows and music, he retorts that “to be king / Stands not within the prospect of belief, / No more than to be Cawdor” (ibid). When Ross proclaims that “He (Duncan) bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor,” Macbeth is confused, questioning why “Ross dress[es] [him] / In borrow’d robes” (1.3). As he had just a few lines before noted that becoming king was as ridiculous a preposition as becoming thane of Cawdor, his appointment seems to justify the witches as truthful beings. Banquo’s remark: “can the devil speak true?” seems ignored by Macbeth. In this way, Shakespeare also promotes the idea that even seemingly loyal followers may become disloyal if given the proper incentives. Macbeth, who before now seems to have no reservations about living and dying as nothing more than thane of Glamis, now begins to set his sights higher. He will no longer be satisfied with anything less than the title of King of Scotland, and will stop at nothing to reach this goal.

The second time we see loyalty mentioned is again in the presence of the king. In this way, the idea that loyalty belongs to a king is again expressed through its use near Duncan. Interestingly, this is also the last time that Duncan and Macbeth are seen on stage together. As a conversation between a monarch and his successor, there are few that could be better. Duncan fears that he has failed as a liege lord and states that “more is thy due than more than all can pay,” as he feels that he has failed to give Macbeth what is owed to him as a faithful servant who defended the kingdom (1.4). Macbeth rebuts this assertion with his own claim that “the service and the loyalty I [Macbeth] owe, / In doing it, pays itself” (ibid). Macbeth follows this immediately with the claim that Your highness’ part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne (ibid). In this way, we see an optimistic view of the monarchy, as well as a good send off between a once and a future king. The king and his servants both have a role. The king is to support his sworn servants, giving them both labors to accomplish, but also the means to fulfill these decrees. Once fulfilled, he is to take the fruit of the labors, raising their status simply through his acknowledgement of a job well done. His servants, by comparison, are to bring glory to their family by honoring the king and helping their country. When this covenant is fulfilled from both sides, we see the bountiful reign of Duncan, and the reign that we hope Malcolm will restore. When the code is not followed, however, we see what happens in the reign of Macbeth. Slowly but surely, every piece of the trust between a king and his people is eroded and destroyed, until his death goes unmourned.

Had the king died of another cause, these lines could have been seen as a call to the life as king that Macbeth should live. But, as he did not, they almost seem a list of what Macbeth avoids doing while in command.

Macbeth also makes the interesting claim here that loyalty and service are inherently tied. Ready’s Macbeth truly seems to believe this, as is clear in the next mention of loyalty. However, for a character as heartless as Macbeth, the idea that service and loyalty are intrinsically tied makes an odd sort of sent. As someone who has no morals of his own, being able to demonstrate potentially non-existent internal feelings through wholly external action would be highly desirable. Conversely, as we see later in the show, faith without action seems unbelievable and false to Macbeth.

This scene of loyalty also plants the idea that Macbeth will betray Banquo in the minds of the audience. Immediately after accepting Macbeth’s assertions of the role of a king, Duncan turns to Banquo and praises him, saying that “Noble Banquo, / that hast no less deserved... let me hold thee to my heart” (ibid). Here we see the idea planted in Macbeth’s head that Banquo is a threat to the throne. Paul Ready plays that scene well, looking at Philip Cumbus’s Banquo as though he has become less of a faithful ally in his eyes.

As we see Duncan only briefly after this scene, it is not odd that we don’t hear any mentions of loyalty. But, once Duncan is dead, with Macbeth ready to claim the throne, we hear him again utter the word “loyal.” The mention is interesting, if only because it’s again uttered by Macbeth. Despite being the character who holds the least faith in the show, he’s the one who literally professes loyalty the most. When Macduff rebukes Macbeth for killing the murderers of the king, Paul Ready’s Macbeth furiously replies: “Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, / Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man” (2.3). The emotion Ready brings to the line makes the audience believe that Macbeth truly believes that you cannot be both “loyal and neutral” (ibid). As we see in the rest of the show, that may be true. Even though Macbeth kills his king, he still sees loyalty as a force that inherently drives someone to action. From both of the mentions of loyalty Macbeth makes, it becomes somewhat clear that he sees that loyalty can only be demonstrated through external displays.

And, in the scenes that follow, we see that Macbeth does not see loyalty as a two way path anymore, seen taken to the extreme in his killing of Banquo. Just two short scenes after Macbeth notes that loyalty and neutrality are inherently opposed, we see Banquo, whose actions do not appear to be directly serving Macbeth. That is, while Banquo may be serving the commands that Macbeth is giving to him off-stage, he is not defending the realm from the rebellion brewing from Duncan’s children in England and Ireland.

After giving Banquo leave to go ride with his child, Macbeth remarks act that “My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, / Mark Antony’s was by Caesar” (3.1). This comparison is interesting for a few reasons. First, Macbeth references another of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Antony and Cleopatra. Second, it describes himself as Mark Antony and Banquo as Caesar.

In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony is rebuked more than once by Caesar. Caesars accusations can be contained with the idea of weakness, which is ultimately shown as true. Caesar ultimately defeats Antony in battle.

The third reason this comparison is interesting is because of loyalty. Caesar’s loyalties never shift, while Mark Antony’s loyalties shift towards Egypt. This shift ultimately results in his fighting Rome, while Caesar begins and ends the play defending the Roman people. For that reason, Macbeth seems to be aware that he has broken faith, while Banquo has not. So, not only has Banquo been described as held “to [Duncan’s] heart” while the former king still reigned (1.4), Macbeth acknowledges “that dauntless temper of [Banquo’s] mind,” after he admits to Banquo that Macbeth will need his assistance with dealing with the rebellion, but Macbeth also has in his mind the words of the witches, that Banquo’s children will inherit (3.1). To me, Ready’s Macbeth saw these different strands connecting as he saw where they intersected.

If Banquo uncovered that Macbeth was a murderer, he would stand to claim the throne. Macbeth cannot take this risk, so he orders the death of his companion. After the death of one of the most faithful characters in the show, we never hear the word in Scotland again.

Instead, at the end of the show we hear the final mention of loyalty in England. Macduff approaches Malcolm, hoping that he will reclaim the throne of his father. Malcolm, however is wary of the Scotsman, and tests Macduff. As one of the reasons Malcolm claims to be unworthy of the throne, he claims that he “should forge / quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, / Destroying them for wealth” (4.3). His later recanting of these falsehoods, claiming that “[his] first false speaking / was this upon [himself]” (ibid). However, before he recants, his placement of the word “loyal” still speaks volumes about what Shakespeare thinks of the concept.

For one, he claims that destroying people for wealth is unjust, which is a direct contrast to the reign of Macbeth, who seems to believe that force of arms justifies everything he does. He also describes the subjects he would “forge quarrels” against as “good and loyal,” as these two concepts are intrinsically linked to each other (ibid). Just as Macbeth cannot see a world where loyalty does not stir a heart to action, Kit Young’s Malcolm seems unable to pull the concepts of goodness and loyalty from each other. Potentially this is simply due to the horrors that he had felt.

Good and bad are opposites. Killing his father, the king was bad and disloyal. Therefore, in the mind of Young’s Malcolm, it seems that goodness and loyalty must too be linked. Malcolm confirms this during his recantation, saying that he “at no time broke [his] faith, would not betray / The devil to his fellow and delight / no less in truth than life” (ibid). In these words, we see that Malcolm also ties his idea of loyalty to truth. In saying that he both refuses to betray his people and that he loves truth as much as life, he posits that loyalty and truth are intrinsically linked. Again, this could stem from the life he had lived. Had he not had the nobility turned against him, believing that he had killed his father, he may never have made the connection between loyalty, truth and openness. In direct contrast to Macbeth, it seems that Malcolm takes the view of loyalty as something that is tied to intrinsic factors, rather than extrinsic actions. Of course, as the show’s ending shows, like his father, he still rewards actions. He names the men who served him “earls, the first that ever Scotland / In such an honour named” for their work in defeating Macbeth (5.8).

Through his four mentions of loyalty, Shakespeare grounds the show Macbeth in four of its most pivotal scenes. We see the scene that explains and justifies the entire plot, the scene where Macbeth becomes king, the scene where Macbeth is shown as unredeemable, and the scene where Malcolm accepts his destiny with the word “loyal.” In such a way, Shakespeare draws the close listener in to further appreciate the message he is sending. But, more than that, he uses loyalty in conjunction with other ideas to explain what it means to the different characters.

We see that to Ross, disloyalty comes from rebellion. Therefore, it seems that he may take the view that loyalty is the default state, and that without acting disloyally, people inherently act loyally. To Macbeth, who can’t seem to comprehend the idea, loyalty seems to be wholly based on external actions. In that way, it seems almost opposite Ross’s view, in that disloyalty takes no effort, while loyalty is difficult. Finally, we see the new king’s view, which is that loyalty is good and honest, and goodness and honesty are needed for loyalty. In his eyes, we see what may be the most honest view of loyalty, which is neither fully passive nor fully active. Instead, like all ideals in life, it is difficult and multifaceted.

(2282)

Draft 2.4: 11 December

Loyal 4: Near the end of the show, we see the final mention of loyalty. Macduff approaches Malcolm, hoping that he will reclaim the throne of his father. Malcolm, however is wary of the Scotsman, and tests Macduff. As one of the reasons Malcolm claims to be unworthy of the throne, he claims that he “should forge / quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, / Destroying them for wealth” (4.3). His later recanting of these falsehoods, claiming that “[his] first false speaking / was this upon [himself]” (ibid). However, before he recants, his placement of the word “loyal” still speaks volumes about what Shakespeare thinks of the concept.

For one, he claims that destroying people for wealth is unjust, which is a direct contrast to the reign of Macbeth, who seems to believe that force of arms justifies everything he does. He also describes the subjects he would “forge quarrels” against as “good and loyal,” as these two concepts are intrinsically linked to each other (ibid). Just as Macbeth cannot see a world where loyalty does not stir a heart to action, Kit Young’s Malcolm seems unable to pull the concepts of goodness and loyalty from each other. Potentially this is simply due to the horrors that he had felt.

Good and bad are opposites. Killing his father, the king was bad and disloyal. Therefore, in the mind of Young’s Malcolm, it seems that goodness and loyalty must too be linked. Malcolm confirms this during his recantation, saying that he “at no time broke [his] faith, would not betray / The devil to his fellow and delight / no less in truth than life” (ibid). In these words, we see that Malcolm also ties his idea of loyalty to truth. In saying that he both refuses to betray his people and that he loves truth as much as life, he posits that loyalty and truth are intrinsically linked. Again, this could stem from the life he had lived. Had he not had the nobility turned against him, believing that he had killed his father, he may never have made the connection between loyalty, truth and openness. In direct contrast to Macbeth, it seems that Malcolm takes the view of loyalty as something that is tied to intrinsic factors, rather than extrinsic actions. Of course, as the show’s ending shows, like his father, he still rewards actions. He names the men who served him “earls, the first that ever Scotland / In such an honour named” for their work in defeating Macbeth (5.8). (415) (total 1839)

Draft 2.3: 11 December

Loyal 3: The third mention of loyalty, oddly enough, comes soon after Macbeth brutally murders Duncan, along with members of Duncan’s staff to remove suspicion. The mention is interesting, if only because it’s again uttered by Macbeth. Despite being the character who holds the least faith in the show, he’s the one who literally professes loyalty. When Macduff rebukes Macbeth for killing the murderers of the king, Paul Ready’s Macbeth furiously replies: “Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, / Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man” (2.3). The emotion Ready brings to the line makes the audience believe that Macbeth truly believes that you cannot be both “loyal and neutral” (ibid). As we see in the rest of the show, that may be true. Even though Macbeth kills his king, he still sees loyalty as a force that inherently drives someone to action.

In the scenes that follow, we see that Macbeth does not see loyalty as a two way path anymore, which can be seen taken to the extreme in his killing of Banquo. Just two short scenes after Macbeth notes that loyalty and neutrality are inherently opposed, we see Banquo, whose actions do not appear to be directly serving Macbeth. That is, while Banquo may be serving the commands that Macbeth is giving to him off-stage, he is not defending the realm from the rebellion brewing from Duncan’s children in England and Ireland.

After giving Banquo leave to go ride with his child, Macbeth remarks act that “My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, / Mark Antony’s was by Caesar” (3.1). This comparison is interesting for a few reasons. First, Macbeth references another of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Antony and Cleopatra. Second, it describes himself as Mark Antony and Banquo as Caesar.

In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony is rebuked more than once by Caesar. Caesars accusations can be contained with the idea of weakness, which is ultimately shown as true. Caesar ultimately defeats Antony in battle.

The third reason this comparison is interesting is because of loyalty. Caesar’s loyalties never shift, while Mark Antony’s loyalties shift towards Egypt. This shift ultimately results in his fighting Rome, while Caesar begins and ends the play defending the Roman people. For that reason, Macbeth seems to be aware that he has broken faith, while Banquo has not. So, not only has Banquo been described as held “to [Duncan’s] heart” while the former king still reigned (1.4), Macbeth acknowledges “that dauntless temper of [Banquo’s] mind,” after he admits to Banquo that Macbeth will need his assistance with dealing with the rebellion, but Macbeth also has in his mind the words of the witches, that Banquo’s children will inherit (3.1). To me, Ready’s Macbeth saw these different strands connecting as he saw where they intersected.

If Banquo uncovered that Macbeth was a murderer, he would stand to claim the throne. Macbeth cannot take this risk, so he orders the death of his companion. (489) (total:1424)

Draft 2.2: 11 December

Loyal 2: The second time we see loyalty mentioned is again in the presence of the king. In this way, the idea that loyalty belongs to a king is again expressed through its mention near the king. Interestingly, this is also the last time that Duncan and Macbeth are seen on stage together. As a conversation between a monarch and his successor, there are few that could be better. Duncan fears that he has failed as a liege lord and states that “more is thy due than more than all can pay,” as he feels that he has failed to give Macbeth what is owed to him as a faithful servant who defended the kingdom (1.4). Macbeth rebuts this assertion with his own claim that “the service and the loyalty I [Macbeth] owe,/In doing it, pays itself” (ibid). Macbeth follows this immediately with the claim that Your highness’ part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne (ibid). In this way, we see an optimistic view of the monarchy. The king and his servants both have a role. The king is to support his sworn servants, giving them both labors to accomplish, but also the means to fulfill these decrees. Once fulfilled, he is to take the fruit of the labors, raising their status simply through his acknowledgement of a job well done. His servants, by comparison, are to bring glory to their family by honoring the king and helping their country. When this covenant is fulfilled from both sides, we see the bountiful reign of Duncan, and the reign that we hope Malcolm will restore. When the code is not followed, however, we see what happens in the reign of Macbeth. Slowly but surely, every piece of the trust between a king and his people is eroded and destroyed, until his death goes unmourned.

Macbeth also makes the interesting claim here that loyalty and service are inherently tied. Ready’s Macbeth truly seems to believe this, as is clear in the next mention of loyalty. However, for a character as heartless as Macbeth, the idea that service and loyalty are intrinsically tied almost makes a macabre sense. As someone who has no morals of his own, being able to demonstrate internal feelings through action would be highly desirable. Conversely, as we see later in the show, faith without action seems unbelievable and false to Macbeth.

This scene of loyalty also plants the idea that Macbeth will betray Banquo in the minds of the audience. Immediately after accepting Macbeth’s assertions of the role of a king, Duncan turns to Banquo and praises him, saying that “Noble Banquo, / that hast no less deserved... let me hold thee to my heart” (ibid). Here we see the idea planted in Macbeth’s head that Banquo is a threat to the throne. Paul Ready plays that scene well, looking at Philip Cumbus’s Banquo as though he has become less of a faithful ally in his eyes. (493) (total = 935)

Draft 2.1: 11 December

Loyal 1: The backstory to the show, which drives the entirety of the plot, is the Thane of Cawdor’s rebellion against the King of Scotland. The mention of this betrayal in Act 1 Scene 2, is also where we first see a character described with the word “loyal.” Here, however, this loyalty is negated by the prefix “dis.” Ross explains that “Norway himself, / With terrible numbers, / Assisted by that most disloyal traitor / The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict” (Macbeth, 1.2). Macdonwald, the “disloyal traitor”, is not seen to profit at all from his rebellion and disloyalty. While he may have had fleeting increases to station or wealth under the “Norweyan banners” he fought under, he quickly loses both these new advantages and his own life. Here, Shakespeare begins with the dark side to the moral of loyalty. Unlike later in the show, where we see the idea of loyalty as rewarded, he chooses to begin the show with the idea that disloyalty brings consequences. However, Shakespeare quickly brings in the lighter side of this coin as King Duncan commands Ross to “with his [Macdonwald, ex-Thane of Cawdor’s ] former title greet Macbeth” (ibid). Because “brave Macbeth” delivered victory to the Scots (ibid), he gains a title.

But, this gain of title ultimately becomes Macbeth’s downfall. The witches hail him in turn as “thane of Glamis,” “thane of Cawdor,” and “king hereafter” (1.3). While Macbeth is aware of being thane of Glamis, he finds the other propositions ridiculous. Paul Ready’s performance at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse display this clearly. Despite being as disoriented as the audience from the shadows and music, he retorts that “to be king / Stands not within the prospect of belief, / No more than to be Cawdor” (ibid). When Ross proclaims that “He (Duncan) bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor,” Macbeth is confused, questioning why “Ross dress[es] [him] / In borrow’d robes?” (1.3). As he had just a few lines before noted that becoming king was as ridiculous a preposition as becoming thane of Cawdor, his appointment seems to justify the witches as truthful beings. Banquo’s remark: “can the devil speak true?” seems ignored by Macbeth, though we later see that this is not true. In this way, Shakespeare also promotes the idea that even seemingly loyal followers may become disloyal if given the proper incentives. Macbeth, who before now seems to have no reservations about living and dying as nothing more than thane of Glamis, now seems to have set his sights higher. He is now no longer satisfied with anything less than the title of King of Scotland, and will stop at nothing to reach this goal. (442)

Notes: 11 December

I need approx 500 words per mention of loyal. So let’s just try that

Draft 2: 11 December

At the core of Shakespeare’s famous Scottish tragedy Macbeth is the struggle between loyalty and a desire for power. Shakespeare carefully weaves a narrative that shows how being disloyal may be temporarily effective, but inherently leads to its own failure. Despite only having the word “loyal” uttered four times in the show, two of which are modified versions of the word, the entire plot centers around these utterances.

The backstory to the show, which drives the entirety of the plot, is the Thane of Cawdor’s rebellion against the King of Scotland. Act 1 Scene 2 has the first utterance of the word “loyal.” Here, however, it is negated by the prexis “dis,” as Ross explains how “Norway himself, / With terrible numbers, / Assisted by that most disloyal traitor / The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict” (Macbeth, 1.2). Macdonwald may have temporarily had gains under the rule of the “Norweyan banners” he fought under, but quickly Macbeth ends his life. Here, we also see the other idea that Shakespeare introduces in the show, the idea that loyalty itself is something that brings reward. Since Macbeth had been loyal to the king in defending the land, Ross is sent to “with his [Macdonwald, ex-Thane of Cawdor] former title greet Macbeth” (ibid).

Macbeth becoming Thane of Cawdor is the motivation that leads him to trust the witches, as Banquo remarks, “What, can the devil speak true?” after the witches’ utterance of “hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!” was initially remarked by Macbeth are “borrowed robes” (1.3). In this way, Shakespeare has the plot begin with Macbeth’s loyalty being rewarded. He reverses the idea in the final act, where Macbeth’s disloyalty ultimately results in his death.

The next time that we see Duncan, he confirms this idea of loyalty deserving reward. Duncan states that he has failed as a liege lord, for “more is thy due than more than all can pay,” as he feels that he has failed to give Macbeth what is owed to him as a faithful servant who defended the kingdom. Macbeth, however, gives the view of fealty that is common to traditional heroes, namely that “The service and the loyalty I [Macbeth] owe,/In doing it, pays itself” (1.4). He follows this immediately with the idea that Your highness’ part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne (ibid). That is, the king’s role is to support his sworn servants, both by giving them work to do and in receiving the fruits of their labour. They in turn are to support the king, both by following his orders, and in helping Scotland. Shakespeare shows us how this can work mutually beneficially, as in the reign of Duncan and the assumed reign of Malcolm. However, he also shows us how this can be destructive, when one party doesn’t follow this code, as in the murderous reign of Macbeth.

Oddly, despite the “service and loyalty [he] owe[s]” to Malcolm (ibid), Macbeth very soon after that scene kills the king. To hide his murder, he also kills members of Duncan’s party to blame them. Despite Macbeth being the most disloyal of characters, he utters two of the four mentions of the word. Here, he remarks that sayWho can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, / Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man (2.3). This line can be performed in thousands of different ways. An actor could perform the line as if Macbeth is afraid and trying to cover his tracks. Alternatively, they could perform the line as though affronted at the accusations that are (rightly) leveled at him. Paul Ready at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse speaks this line incredulously, as if even Macbeth, a murderer, cannot understand how a person could see themselves as loyal and not act. Even though he killed the king, he still sees loyalty as a force that inherently drives someone to action.

In fact, this idea of loyalty driving a soul to action is likely why he ends up killing Banquo. Macbeth remarks in the third act that “My Genius is rebuked; as, it is said, / Mark Antony’s was by Caesar” (3.1). This comparison is interesting for a few reasons. First, it references another of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Second, it describes himself as Mark Antony and Banquo as Caesar. In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Antony, despite being the protagonist, is rightly rebuked by Caesar. Caesar accuses him of becoming weak, and ultimately defeats Antony in battle. Finally, Caesar’s loyalties never shift. While Mark Antony defects to Egypt, ultimately fighting Rome, Caesar begins and ends the play defending the Roman people. For that reason, Macbeth, in addition to anger that Banquo’s offspring would inherit the throne, is also afraid that Banquo may uncover his deceit. Macbeth cannot risk being seen as a performer as regicide, so Banquo must die before “that dauntless temper of [Banquo’s] mind” could uncover his murder (3.1).

Unfortunately for Macbeth, his reign is still cut short by murder. Malcolm is approached by Macduff, who hopes to follow the king’s son in restoring the throne. Malcolm, wary at the idea of retaking the throne, especially as the call comes from a Scotsman, denies his abilities, stating that he “should forge / Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, / Destroying them for wealth” (4.3). This fear of taking the throne seems odd in the show, especially since Macbeth, who has done many of these actions, never once feared becoming a tyrant. Quickly, Shakespeare illustrates to the audience that Malcolm would be a just ruler, as he claims that he “At no time broke [his] faith, would not betray / The devil to his fellow and delight / No less in truth than life” (ibid). In this, we see that the idea of loyalty is tied directly to the idea of truth and faith. Malcolm would not be disloyal to his people, including through deception.

978 words

Draft 1: 11 December

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a show about loyalty and fealty, and the inevitable conflict when these two forces come into opposition. First, we should examine what we mean by both of these words. Loyalty is what is felt towards peers and lessers, a mutual understanding that you will offer protection. Fealty, on the other hand, is offered to a superior as a promise that you will serve. One crucial theme running through Macbeth is that loyalty to Scotland and fealty to Scotland are not one and the same.

Act 1, Scene 2, has Ross first utter the word loyal, though here it’s modified by the preposition dis. He speaks about how “that most disloyal traitor,/The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict,” then concludes that Macbeth, who earlier was named “the worthy thane of Ross,” slew the traitor. Here we see loyalty and fealty to Scotland as one and the same. Macbeth is loyal to Scotland, defending her from the invading “Norweyan banners.”1 However, he also exhibits his fealty to Scotland, as he puts his life on the line at the command of the King. Macdonwald, the now-dead Thane of Cawdor, showed neither loyal nor fealty. He rebelled against the crown, and pledged his allegiance to Norway.

Two scenes later, Macbeth and Duncan discourse on the difference between loyalty and fealty. Duncan states that he has failed as a liege lord, for “more is thy due than more than all can pay,” as he feels that he has failed to give Macbeth what is owed to him as a faithful servant. Macbeth, however, gives the view of fealty that is common to traditional heroes, namely that “The service and the loyalty I owe,/In doing it, pays itself,” then immediately follows with what fealty and loyalty mean. Namely, that is Your highness’ part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne. That is, the king’s role is to accept and honor the works that his lessers do, and they in turn are to support the king. When both the king and the people support the other, we have the reign of Duncan, and what is hoped for in the reign of Malcolm. When this mutual growth doesn’t exist, we see what happens in the reign of Macbeth: death and sorrow for all.

The third time the word loyalty is used is in Act 2 Scene 3, when Macbeth speaks of the people he’s just murdered to hide his first regicide. Here, the idea of loyalty is used as a counterpoint to the idea of neutrality, as Macbeth asks “Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, / Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man.” This line could be done a variety of ways. Paul Ready’s Macbeth at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse speaks this line incredulously. Macbeth seems legitimately amazed at the idea that someone could hold these contradictory feelings in them at once.

The final time the word “loyal” is uttered is in Act 4, Scene 3. Here, Malcolm speaks about how he would fail as a king. He would “forge / Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, / Destroying them for wealth.” Of course, we quickly find out that he does not mean this. Instead, he would be a good king for Scotland, and used these words to test whether Macduff truly had his and Scotland’s best interests at heart.

Draft 0: 10 December

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a show about loyalty and fealty, and the inevitable conflict when these two forces come into opposition. First, we should examine what we mean by both of these words. Loyalty is what is felt towards peers and lessers, a mutual understanding that you will offer protection. Fealty, on the other hand, is offered to a superior as a promise that you will serve. One crucial theme running through Macbeth is that loyalty to Scotland and fealty to Scotland are not one and the same.

Act 1, Scene 2, has Ross first utter the word loyal, though here it’s modified by the preposition dis. He speaks about how “that most disloyal traitor,/The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict,” then concludes that Macbeth, who earlier was named “the worthy thane of Ross,” slew the traitor. Here we see loyalty and fealty to Scotland as one and the same. Macbeth is loyal to Scotland, defending her from the invading “Norweyan banners.”2 However, he also exhibits his fealty to Scotland, as he puts his life on the line at the command of the King. Macdonwald, the now-dead Thane of Cawdor, showed neither loyal nor fealty. He rebelled against the crown, and pledged his allegiance to Norway.

Two scenes later, Macbeth and Duncan discourse on the difference between loyalty and fealty. Duncan states that he has failed as a liege lord, for “more is thy due than more than all can pay,” as he feels that he has failed to give Macbeth what is owed to him as a faithful servant. Macbeth, however, gives the view of fealty that is common to traditional heroes, namely that “The service and the loyalty I owe,/In doing it, pays itself,” then immediately follows with what fealty and loyalty mean. Namely, that is Your highness’ part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne. That is, the king’s role is to accept and honor the works that his lessers do, and they in turn are to support the king. When both the king and the people support the other, we have the reign of Duncan, and what is hoped for in the reign of Malcolm. When this mutual growth doesn’t exist, we see what happens in the reign of Macbeth: death and sorrow for all.

Draft -1: 9 December

Shakespeare, like all great writers for the stage, uses his staging notes as a way to inform his own views of characters and plot. The clearest example of this is the fact that Shakespeare doesn’t believe that Macbeth is truly the rightful ruler of Scotland. To truly justify this claim, I will also look at two other Shakespearian tragedies: Antony and Cleopatra and Othello.

Antony and Cleopatra, a show about a group of rightful monarchs exercising their rights, has a variety of flourishes. Throughout the five acts of the show, Shakespeare calls for a grand total of nine flourishes. Othello, which has no royalty, has no flourishes. Macbeth itself has five flourishes. However, these flourishes are never given to Macbeth, only his predecessor and successor.

In Act 1, Scene 4, Duncan receives two flourishes. The first happens as the scene begins, and he enters the stage. The second occurs as Duncan leaves. Through these two flourishes, Shakespeare clearly states that Duncan is the rightful authority in the realm, as he calls for flourishes in his other shows at these similar moments.

Shakespeare does not dispute Macbeth’s force of arms or leadership on the battlefield. When Macbeth is first seen, in Act 1 Scene 3, Shakespeare calls for a “drum within,” as Macbeth enters. The witches comment, “a drum! Macbeth doth come,” which echoes Iago in Othello.

In Act 2, Scene 1 of Othello, Iago proclaims “The Moor! I know his trumpet” after Shakespeare calls for a “trumpet within.” By doing this, Shakespeare has two of his antagonists comment on the marching symbol of the titular protagonists. In doing so, he also links his protagonists to martial calls, in Othello, a trumpet, and in Macbeth a drum.

Late in Macbeth, during the siege on Castle NAME, Macbeth again is given drums as he prepares to battle the enemy forces in Act 5, Scene 4. However, Malcolm, the late king’s son and future king, receives “drums and colours” three times, twice while marching to kill Macbeth, and once when he has confirmation of Macbeth’s death.

In fact, immediately after we watch Macbeth leave the stage to die, Malcolm enters in Act 5, Scene 8 to a flourish. In case it wasn’t immediately clear what Shakespeare meant to say, when Macbeth’s severed head is brought on stage, the ensemble proclaims “Hail, King of Scotland!” and a flourish sounds. As Malcolm leaves to be “crown’d at Scone,” the show ends, and the musician is instructed to end the show with a flourish.

We can contrast the death of a monarch in Macbeth with Cleopatra’s death scene at the end of Antony and Cleopatra. Immediately after Macbeth dies, we hear a flourish announcing the true king, yet Caesar, who before this point had received 5 flourishes announcing his entrances and exits, is not given a flourish when he enters to see the dead queen. Through that, Shakespeare makes the point that the death of a rightful monarch is not a joyous occasion, even when the monarch is opposed to your own interests. Macbeth, as a false king, deserves nothing but scorn.

Draft -2: 9 December

Antony and Cleo: 2.5 Cleo wants music 2.6 Pompey and Menas enter w instruments 2.7 Music plays 2.7 sennet sounded, egyptian bacchanals, 1.1, 2.2x2, 2.6, 2.7 w drums, 4.4 “trumpets flourish”, 4.6, 5.2x2 flourishes Come thou monarch is a shakespeare original

Argument: Shakespeare wants the audience to know that Macbeth isn’t a rightful king, and makes it clear through the use of flourishes. Othello, which doesn’t concern any royalty, doesn’t have any flourishes. Antony and Cleopatra, on the other hand, has lots of flourishes. 1.1: Antony and Cleo enter, 2.2: Antony announcing he’ll fight before being greeted by caesar, 2.2: Caesar, Antony, Lepidus exit, 2.6: Pompey and Menas enter w drum and trumpet, Caesar, Antony, Lepidus, Enobarbus, Mecaenas enter from other door, 2.7: flourish bc they’re saying goodbye before exiting, 4.4: Captains and soldiers enter, 4.6: Caesar, Agripa, barbus enter, 5.2: Caesar, Gallos, Proculeius, Mecaenas, Seleucus, etc enter, 5.2: Caesar exits.

(2k words needed)

Draft -3: 8 December

I can’t believe I deleted my draft again. Oh well, I only had the first draft, so it’s fine. I’m comparing use of music in 3 Shakespeare tragedies: Macbeth, Othello, and Antony and Cleopatra.

Macbeth: Flourishes called for five times: first time Duncan enters and leaves stage (1.4), when malcolm enters after macbeth dies (5.8), when macbeth head is brought out, and when he leaves to end the show. Hautboy (1.7) to signal the horrible thing happening at castle Macbeth. Hecate speaks in rhyme. Song: come away, come away. this guy claims that come away come away (all of hecate really) doesn’t count as Shakespeare, so we’ll ignore it. 4.1 has more hautboys, during the scene with witches and ghosts. Idk if that’s included in the not real bit, so I’ll assume it is since I don’t remember those lines from the performance.

1.3 calls for a drum- witches prepare for macbeth 5.2 calls for drum and colours- marching to kill mac 5.4 again drum and colours, same thing 5.5 drum and colours as macbeth preps for war 5.6 as macduff enters to kill beth 5.8, with flourish is drum and colour

Othello: canakin clink (2.3) was likely a popular drinking song. claims original. based off of folk song (2.3) poor soul not Shakespeare original, but version by him 4.3 Iago noticing othello trumpet (2.1) “The Moor! I know his trumpet.” 3.1 cassio brings musicians, they get thrown away 5.2 emilia and willow song


  1. 1.2

  2. 1.2

Prepping For Finals

First Published: 2018 December 11

Draft 1

As some of you might know, this is my finals week here at Grinnell in London. Somehow, it’s also my easiest ever finals week. In total, I had one paper, one homework assignment, two presentations, and one final to do this week. Of these, I’ve finished one presentation, done all of the prep work for the other, done1 most of the work on the paper, started the homework assignment, and studied for the final. It’s weird how different finals week feels without the stress of having a bunch to do. It’s weirder not being surrounded by people who are at least as stressed as you, almost in a competitive way. But, I’ll get back to Grinnell just in time for that part of finals week, so I guess I have that to look forward to


  1. hopefully

Caroline, or Change

First Published: 2018 December 10

Draft 1

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to see Caroline, or Change at the Playhouse Theatre. There were some pieces of the show that I really loved, like the long scene about how much the world will miss JFK, and the dinner scene, where I realized that if my paternal grandfather had been alive at a Hanukkah table, he might have expressed similar sentiments.

But, overall the show fell flat for me. Partially this is my fault, because when two singers are singing different words, I can’t hear either. Since the show was written very operatically, that meant that I couldn’t understand much of what went on at all. I also didn’t love the melodies that the composer used, but that’s neither here nor there.

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 December 9

Luke 3:4 “He went throughout (the) whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

Draft 1

Today marks the second week of Year C in the Catholic Church. Year C is nice because it focuses on Luke’s Gospel. For those of you who don’t know, each of the Gospels is written for a particular group. There’s a cute mnemonic I use to remember it.

Matthew is for the Jews,1 John focused on no one,2 Mark and Luke both exist, and Greeks and Romans both existed. That’s where it breaks down a little, and I have to remember that Luke is happy, and Mark is power-focused, and then I remember again.

The focus of each of the Gospels is on a different aspect of Jesus’ life. Matthew is nice because he focuses on the dogmatic aspects and how the Lord fulfills the prophecies in the Old Testament, John is nice because he’s the least focused, Mark is nice because you see the miracles Jesus performs/ But Luke is my favorite, because he focuses on truth.

Anyways, today’s line was picked because, at the end of the day, that’s the job we’re all called to do. We are called to go and forgive, and let those who don’t know the Word of God hear it. We are called to be a force of repentance, helping “all flesh ... see the salvation of God.”3


  1. yay rhyme!

  2. yes it’s forced

  3. Luke 3.6

How I Practice

First Published: 2018 December 8

Draft 2: 8 December

Earlier this week I was asked to reflect on how I practice. I can boil my practice routine down into three pieces: making non-practice time useful, impromptu practice, and scheduled practice.

Non-practice time being useful is probably the bit of how I practice music that is weirdest to others. It’s somewhat like The Music Man, where I visualize what I would want the piece to sound like, but there’s more to it. For example, when I know I’ll be unable to practice cornetto for a while, I’ll make a special point of listening to different professional cornettists so I can evaluate what of their playing I like and dislike. The variety is also important, so that you can figure out what separates you from any given professional as well as what separates you from all professionals in performance. I also sometimes listen to recordings I’ve made of myself, though I am loath to do so.

When I talk about how I don’t always practice music, something that people will comment is that I play instruments a lot. And, sure, that’s true. But, playing the hurdy gurdy or hammer dulcimer shouldn’t really help me play cornetto, especially since the instruments are so different. However, much like how lifting improves performance in most athletic endeavors, I’ve found that playing any instrument, or even just listening to music, helps you with every instrument you play. I have no clue why this is, but it’s been incredibly helpful for me to understand. So, when I’m at Grinnell and bored, I’ll start playing one of the many instruments I have access to and know how to play. Here in London, I’ll pull out my ukulele or penny whistle, or even just headphones while I’m on the endless subway rides. The idea of using wasted time sort of flows into my other kind of using wasted time method.

For instance, when I practice bagpipes 1 I often just use the practice chanter silently. The important piece of bagpipes is having quick and sure fingers, so just fingering the practice chanter is often all that I need to improve. When I don’t even feel like doing that, I’ll often visualize the music that I’m supposed to be learning. Sometimes that’s me playing the melody in my head,2 sometimes it’s me thinking of fingerings, and still other times it’s just me thinking of the sound of the instrument. One important thing about playing is knowing how you want the instrument to sound. Sometimes I do feel like playing though, such as last night while waiting for trains to arrive. There, I practiced playing my penny whistle. It was time I wasn’t able to be otherwise productive in, so I used it for music.

That idea of music at whenever time is more or less how my impromptu practicing works. The only difference between it and how I practice instruments above is that the impromptu practices are me trying to learn something, rather than just playing by ear or memory. That is, when I’m playing like I talked about in the wasted time section, I’m usually playing melodies I already know by heart or just fiddling around on the instrument. When I’m impromptu practicing, I’m trying to learn something new. It’s an odd distinction, but it works for me.

Finally, there’s “dedicated” practice time. When I have a large block of time,3 I’ll tend to work on multiple instruments. Multiple here means however many I’m planning on performing on within the next 3 months while at school, exist within easy reach at home when there, or with me while abroad. So, I’ll pick an instrument4 and start playing it. This semester, that’s tended to alternate between cornetto and bagpipe, and those are really the two I’ll focus on in dedicated time. It happens when I’ve set aside a piece of time to go and practice at a space. I almost never use the fully allotted time, except for when I have an activity on the other side of it, because then I inevitably want to keep practicing.5

So, that’s how I practice.

Draft 1: 6 December

Today, I was asked to reflect a little on how I practice. The prompt came because I was asked how I know what I should focus on when I practice, especially since6 people teaching lessons never tell you to stop working on something. I said something along the lines of “Don’t forget the old exercises, but stop focusing on them/trying to improve them,” and that’s pretty true for me. I never really stop playing pieces that I’ve learned before.

Sometimes, this is as simple as me playing the first line of a piece that I last worked on two years before because my mind gets caught there, since some of the warmup I do stays the same. Other times, it’s listening to old recordings of myself, so that I can hear how my playing has changed.7 Even other times, I’ll play old things when I feel too discouraged, as a sort of diagnostic “is it the piece or me that isn’t working today?” questionnaire. It’s about 50/50 which one it will be. Finally, sometimes it’s just that I’ll see the piece as I page through my folder. So, I never really stop thinking about a piece.

But, that’s not the whole of how I practice. So, I don’t immediately shred the idea of the pieces I’ve played before. What do I do instead?

There’s a couple pieces to the way I practice, which vary based on my opportunities. The worst part of my time in London has been my difficulty with finding space to practice in. So, I can’t always8 practice the instruments I learn with sound. Thankfully, depending on the instrument, that’s not a huge issue.

For instance, when I practice bagpipes 9 I often will just use the practice chanter silently. The important piece of bagpipes is having quick and sure fingers, so just fingering the practice chanter is often all that I need to improve. Other times that I can’t practice, as I mentioned above, I’ll listen to old recordings of myself. But, I don’t do that a ton, for obvious reasons.10 Instead, I’ve found11 that listening to experts and professionals play is another way to improve. So, when I know I’ll be away from the cornetto for a bit, I’ll make a special point of listening to different cornettists, so that I can evaluate what of their playing I like and don’t dislike. The variety is also important, so that you can figure out what separates you from any given professional as well as what separates you from all professionals in playing. But, that’s not always a great time, because sometimes I like to listen to other music that the instruments I play.

That’s where the weirdest part of my practicing comes in. I’ve found that when I work on any instrument, my performance on every instrument improves. I think it’s a lot like weight-lifting for sports. Yes, you’re probably better off spending any given hour practicing a sport, rather than lifting. But, if you’re not sure which sport you’ll be competing in, or can’t practice that sport for whatever reason, lifting will still improve your athletic performance. Likewise, because every instrument I play has some sort of expressive device that differs from the others I play, I can focus on playing musically and expressively, even when reading music. Somehow working on penny whistle flourishes helps me work on cornetto articulation.

Finally, when I really don’t feel like practicing at all, I’ll visualize music.12 That is, I think about the piece I’ll be performing, while I’m walking around, or sitting, or just bored, and think about what it would sound like in a perfect world. As much as The Music Man claims that it works, I’m surprised more people don’t try it.

But, all this is more accurately titled “how I don’t practice,” so I should probably explain how I do. When I have a large block of time,13 I’ll tend to work on multiple instruments. Even when I don’t I sometimes try two or three.

Anyways, I’ll pick whichever instrument I think needs the most care,14 and start playing it. This semester, that’s tended to alternate between cornetto and bagpipe, and those are really the two I’ll focus on in dedicated time.

Oh, that’s also another difference: the idea of dedicated practice and free practice. I’ll come back to that later. So, I’ll start on one of the instruments. When I become unable to play it, because of either mental or physical exhaustion, I’ll switch to the other. This will continue until I run out of time or mental energy to do any more playing.15 Then, I’ll be done.

Of course, that’s in the dedicated time. That is, the block of time I’ll set up and say “I’ll be going here for this time frame to do this.”16 At other times, I’ll just be finding myself in need of a way to occupy myself, and I’ll just start playing because I can. There’s a place for both, and I think it’s important, especially for me, to have both forms of practicing. Anyways, that’s how I practice.


  1. the instrument that everyone loves to hate

  2. often just a short phrase

  3. larger than 30 minutes

  4. the one think will be the hardest, or easiest, or I’ll be performing on soonest, or randomly (depending on the day)

  5. good old confirmation bias

  6. in my experience

  7. thankfully, usually for the better

  8. or even often

  9. the instrument that everyone loves to hate

  10. poor recording, music I don’t always love, poor quality of player

  11. after being explicitly instructed to do so by teachers

  12. ok, I’ll visualize it a lot anyways

  13. larger than 30 minutes

  14. or I think will be the hardest, or easiest, or I’ll be performing on soonest, or randomly (depending on the day)

  15. anymore?

  16. I don’t normally take the amount of time I plan on, and when I do, I tend to need more

Northumbrian Pipe Museum Review

First Published: 2018 December 7

Draft 1

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Morpeth Chantry and Northumbrian Bagpipe Museum. While I wouldn’t recommend a trip to Morpeth just for the museum, the city was lovely, and I would highly recommend seeing it.

The museum itself was about the size of a typical exhibit in a full-sized museum, which was a little disappointing. More disappointing was the lack of examples of how the instrument sounds or chances to make it sound myself. They did have a cool thing where they’d rigged a set of the pipes to a piano keyboard so you could play a tune and make it sound, but it was broken.1

However, they’re a completely different beast from either Scottish war pipes or uilleann pipes. They’ve got a closed chanter, and are bellows driven, and look really cute. All this is to say: if anyone has2 a set of Northumbrian Pipes in need of a home, I promise to love and care for them.


  1. which was sad

  2. for whatever reason

The Dilemma of Digital Diaries

First Published: 2018 December 6

Draft 12(?): 4 December 2018

The internet forces change on almost every aspect of human life. These changes can be controversial, especially in literature. Particularly for diaries, the idea shifting from analog to digital formats seemed risk-filled in the early days of the internet.1 But, while the shift in diaries from ink to bits is not inherently problematic, it can alter the form of both diary forms: those meant for the author’s consumption and those meant for public consumption. Many see that public diaries turn into social media posts and blogs, while private diaries turn into password-protected blogs or word documents.

The transition of private diary from analog to digital is a straightforward process. Instead of penning out the words on a paper, the author types the words on a document or webpage. Because of the nature of digital transcription, future archivists will be unable to note handwriting, margin notes, struck words or images drawn. However, a variety of benefits are gained in the switch. For example, if the journal is stored online, the author can access it from anywhere, not only in a single book. It is also far easier to encrypt via software than to cypher by hand. Furthermore, storing the diary digitally allows for easier search, as modern word processors has automated search capabilities. Finally, digital media often save metadata such as location, when words are typed, and what edits are made. These data are not the same as handwriting and margin notes, but can still inform the future reader about the author. While the private digital diary may lose some of the forms that readers can use to learn about the author through how they write, alternate forms of gathering knowledge that are unique to digital media arise to replace them.

The digital public diary, on the other hand, is far more contentious. When discussing the intersection of social media and diaries, it’s important to define both terms. A diary is a work that “focuses on expressing the reality of a contemporaneous account of the author’s passage through time.”2 Meanwhile, Wikipedia defines social media as “interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.”3 Within these two definitions, we see that the two appear to have some, but not total, overlap. Each definition contains a component crucial to understanding its distinction. For diaries, that component is “contemporaneous account of the author’s passage through time;” for social media, it’s the word “interactive.” Obviously, not all social media are contemporaneous, nor even accounts of authors’ passages through time. One social media with no account of time is Wikipedia, as its social media entry mentions. Because of this distinction, we see that claims of social media being modern diaries are not inherently true. That is, while social media can be diaries, it does not need to be.

However, some social media, such as Instagram, do function as a type of diary where people post photos with attached captions for public viewing. These status updates are reminiscent of the letter-diaries of James Boswell and Frances Burney, which were read aloud and shared between friends and family. However, Instagram-as-public-diary lacks the crucial component of social media: interaction. People cannot enter into dialogue with the author as in a fully interactive Wikipedia page. Rather, they can comment in ways that clearly come from other entities. So, while diaries themselves are not social media, they can inhabit a social medium. That is, a diary on Instagram is not a social medium, while Instagram itself is.

But this doesn’t address the question of how digitizing public diaries can affect their content. Specifically, many users of Instagram have two profiles: a public profile with information to show that they live a fulfilling life filled with culturally normative behavior, and a private profile (known as a “finsta”) designed to show a small group of peers that they live an exciting life that defies cultural norms. In such a way, the writer of a public diary is now able to appear both societally acceptable and rebellious to different parties, simply by choosing which profile to post on. Likewise, a reader is able to see two disparate views of the author.

The platform itself can also affect the nature of the content. Due to Instagram’s image-centric nature, the focus of a Instagram-hosted diary will be photographic memories of life. In contrast, a Wordpress-diary will focus more on textual accounts of life, due to its text-centric nature. This diversity of platform gives an unprecedented level of choice to authors in how they record their thoughts, especially since they are able to use multiple platforms.

The change of diaries to digital format does not occur without changes to the medium itself. But some of these changes in form can aid future readers in understanding the person they read about, just as other changes can be hindrances. Imagine if we not only had the personal thoughts of Burney written in letters, but photos that she found important coupled with captions explaining why. And, by making diary production digital, authors are now able to choose exactly how to best express their thoughts, which reveals more about themselves.


Whoops

First Published: 2018 December 5

Draft 1

Today, I was planning on posting my final diary essay. Unfortunately, I never saved the document, and apparently closed it. So, I lost the 12 drafts that I wrote, and only have the final draft. Goes to show what your professors always tell you: save early and often. But, I still have the final draft, which I’ll probably post tomorrow when I’m feeling less annoyed at myself.

Christmas Concert

First Published: 2018 December 4

Draft 1

Tonight, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Chandos Chamber Choir Christmas Concert at Christ1 the Holy Redeemer Church. In addition to hearing some lovely early music carols, as well as some modern takes on those early songs, there were also some audience sing-alongs. It was great fun, especially because I didn’t know all of the carols. Sadly, they didn’t have the audience sing my two favorite carols,2 but that’s life.

Overall, the concert was a great experience. The choir was good, and the brass quintet was spectacular. They served mince pies, so I had my first ever, which apparently means I get to make a wish. Since finals week is coming up, I’m sure you can guess what I wished for.


  1. wow that’s a lot of C words

  2. Veni, Veni Emmanuel and Angels We Have Heard on High

Creative Cartography Final Project

First Published 2018 December 3

Draft 2

One of the classes I’m enrolled in while abroad is Creative Cartography.1 The goal of the class is to explore the different ways that maps can express information and authorship. For a final project, we were assigned the task of creating our own unique map of London. So, being a musical child like I am, I decided to make my end product something auditory.

While discussing with my professor, we had many potential ideas. But, what ended up seeming most fruitful was a one hour walk, where I would follow a series of strangers, logging myself with a stopwatch. Every time that I made a turn, I would start a new lap on the watch. By the end of the hour, I’d accumulated 426 times, so 425 turns. Along with that, I had GPS data tracking my movements and a heart rate monitor that was linked to that GPS.

To create the music, I then needed to find a way to convert the raw data into something musical. I decided to create a melody that could be played solely on the white notes of the piano, rather than other scale options, for a variety of reasons. Had I chosen a pentatonic scale, the data would be harder to express. Had I chosen a chromatic scale, the final piece would have sounded incredibly atonal.

So, I assigned the time in seconds that I had lasted before turning as the basis for the melody. If I walked for less than a second, I would make the melody note an A, for 1-1.99, B, and so on through the scale. Of course, I knew that some of my turns would last seven or more seconds, so I would then repeat. That is, If it took 7-7.99 seconds, I would still have an A. But, in doing so, I would obscure a lot of data.

To combat this, I decided that I would use multiple voices in the final piece. I chose ninth chords, because they have an interesting lack of resolution to them that I thought might allow my music to feel more natural, especially as they tend to have forward movement that is needed when imagining a walk. If the turn would last for less than seven seconds, it would be the root of the chord, seven to 13.99, the third, and so on through the ninth. I assumed that I would then be able to uniquely identify each number of seconds. But, I ended up having ten turns that lasted more than 35 seconds. I decided that I would simply deal with that problem by ignoring it, looping at 35 seconds.

I then had to choose the way that each ninth chord would be constructed. I decided that I didn’t want diminished fifths from the bass, because I didn’t feel like it. My watch was accurate to the .01 seconds, so I kept that in mind.

To decide whether the third would be major or minor, I looked at the fractional time. If it was less than .5, I would make it minor. Otherwise, the third would be major.

The fifth was perfect.

The seventh was major if within .25 seconds 0. That is, from 0-.24 fractional seconds, it would be major. .25-.74 was minor, and .75 and up was again major.

The ninth was determined by the final digit. If the fractional second was even (.00,.02,.04...), it would be major. Otherwise, it would be minor.

By doing this, I constructed a lot of chords that don’t exist in the diatonic world. Of course, then I needed to find a way to automate the calculation of the data, because manually computing 426 data points sounded like a horrible idea, especially since I wouldn’t have the time. So, I automated the production of each note of the chord. I then plotted the melody and bass line, deciding that each chord would be root position. What was left was four voices. Using the principle of parsimonious voice leading,2 I crafted each of the lines by hand. I then uploaded the midi data to a synthesizer, where I mixed the levels a bit until I was satisfied. I did nothing with dynamics or fading because that seemed to detract from the music itself. For tempo, I chose 120 as that is the typical person’s cadence. For voicing, I made sure that the bass was always the lowest and that the soprano was always the highest. The other voices, because of how I wrote them, progressed steadily higher throughout the piece. It creates an interesting effect of growing movement. Happily, it resolves on a CMaj7,9 chord, which fits the C diatonic scale.

If you want to listen, it’s currently hosted on Soundcloud.

Draft 1

One of the classes I’m enrolled in while abroad is Creative Cartography.3 The goal of the class is to explore the different ways that maps can express information and authorship. For a final project, we were assigned the task of creating our own unique map of London. So, being a musical child like I am, I decided to make my end product something auditory.

While discussing with my professor, we had many potential ideas. But, what ended up seeming most fruitful was a one hour walk, where I would follow a series of strangers, logging myself with a stopwatch. Every time that I made a turn, I would start a new lap on the watch. By the end of the hour, I’d accumulated 426 times, so 425 turns. Along with that, I had GPS data tracking my movements and a heart rate monitor that was linked to that GPS.

To create the music, I then needed to find a way to convert the raw data into something musical. Although I’d initially thought of using either a chromatic or pentatonic scale, as those each have their own benefits, I ended up deciding to use the C Ionian4 mode as my basis for melody. There has to be a better way to say that. Maybe: I decided to use the diatonic scale with no accidentals. I decided to create a melody that could be played solely on the white notes of the piano. That’s better.

So, I assigned the time in seconds that I had lasted before turning as the basis for the melody. If I walked for less than a second, I would make the melody note an A, for 1-1.99, B, and so on through the scale. Of course, I knew that some of my turns would last seven or more seconds, so I would then repeat. That is, If it took 7-7.99 seconds, I would still have an A. But, in doing so, I would have obscured a lot of the data.

So, I decided that I would have multiple voices. I chose ninth chords, because they have an interesting lack of resolution to them that I thought might allow my music to feel more natural. So, if the turn would last for less than seven seconds, it would be the root of the chord, seven to 13.99, the third, and so on through the ninth. I assumed that I would then be able to uniquely identify each number of seconds. But, I ended up having ten turns that lasted more than 35 seconds. I decided that I would simply deal with that by ignoring it, looping at 35.

Then, I had to choose the way that each ninth chord would be constructed. I decided that I didn’t want diminished fifths from the bass, because I didn’t feel like it. My watch was accurate to the .01 seconds, so I kept that in mind.

To decide whether the third would be major or minor, I looked at the fractional time. If it was less than .5, I would make it minor. Otherwise, the third would be major.

The fifth was perfect.

The seventh was major if within .25 seconds 0. That is, from 0-.24 fractional seconds, it would be major. .25-.74 was minor, and .75 and up was again major.

The ninth was determined by the final digit. If the fractional second was even (.00,.02,.04...), it would be major. Otherwise, it would be minor.

By doing this, I constructed a lot of chords that don’t exist in the diatonic world. Of course, then I needed to find a way to automate the calculation of the data, because manually computing 426 data points sounded like a horrible idea, especially since I wouldn’t have the time. So, I automated the production of each note of the chord. I then plotted the melody and bass line, deciding that each chord would be root position. What was left was four voices. Using the principle of parsimonious voice leading,5 I crafted each of the lines by hand. I then uploaded the midi data to a synthesizer, where I mixed the levels a bit until I was satisfied. I did nothing with dynamics or fading because that seemed to detract from the music itself.

If you want to listen, it’s currently hosted on Soundcloud.


  1. those of you who’ve read through the archive may know that I’ve written about an assignment for this class before

  2. minimizing movement between chords

  3. those of you who’ve read through the archive may know that I’ve written about an assignment for this class before

  4. or D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian, or B Locrian

  5. minimizing movement between chords

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 December 2

Luke 21:27 “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Draft 1

Happy first Sunday in Advent, New Liturgical Year, and First Night of Hanukkah! Advent has always been my favorite season in the Church. It helps that I have really 5 options: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time. But, Advent has always been nice because it’s the period where we wait for a wholly positive event to occur. Unlike Easter, which saves our souls at the cost of the Lord’s life, Christmas is nothing more or less than a celebration of the birth of our Savior.

And yet, the Gospel today is not about Christ the meek child being born to a virgin, surrounded by shepherds. Instead, it’s a reference and prophesy about the Lord’s next coming. It tells us that we must stay awake and vigilant, and not be snared by the problems of our life. And really, that’s what Advent is about. It’s a preparatory season where we assess ourselves and begin to hope that we could be worthy to welcome the baby Jesus into the world.

It’s interesting reading today’s readings, because they fall really nicely in a chronology. The First Reading talks about the first coming of Jesus, the season we celebrate in just a few weeks. The Psalm and Second Reading tell us the message Jesus often spoke, that we are to be holy and loving through all that we do. Then, the Gospel talks about the second coming. It’s a great reminder of the way we are to view Advent, which is a celebration of the Lord’s birth, life, and second coming.

Polymer Review Part 4

First Published 2018 December 1

Draft 1

As I mentioned yesterday, today we’re talking about crystals. Polymers are known as semi-crystalline, because they have both crystalline and amorphous sections. Some might wonder why polymers can’t be wholly crystalline.1 As I2 have mentioned before, polymers are weird because more or less all of their strength comes from the inter-molecular forces that hold them together, as opposed to normal matter, which I have no clue how it works apparently. Anyways, if a polymer is fully crystalline, it doesn’t have any entanglements with other polymer chains, and so will become a powder, because each polymer is wholly self contained. So, in short, they can it just isn’t useful.

Semi-crystalline3 polymers are especially useful when used in applications where the Heat Distortion Temperature (HDT) is useful, because for most crystalline polymers, the HDT is far larger than the Tg. Another way to increase the HDT of a polymer is through addition of glass particles. Those increase stiffness, and effectively just shift the modulus of the material directly upwards. Since amorphous polymers lose strength so quickly around Tg, the addition of glass does nearly nothing. However, crystalline polymers lose strength more slowly, so the addition of particles is helpful.

Crystals in polymers form as lamellae, the ordered regions within a polymer. Lamellae clump together into spherulites, which are what looks like the crystal in a polymer. In order for crystals to form, the polymer must not be atactic.

Polymers can only crystallize when below Tm, because that’s what Tm means. When below Tm, polymer crystallization rate is affected by two factors: nucleation and growth.

Nucleation is the formation of the spherulites. It occurs more quickly the further below Tm you get, until Tg is reached, because then the polymer can’t move. Other ways to increase the rate of nucleation include strain/shear stress. In a wholly homogenous polymer, the polymer will spontaneously crystallize, but that is slow. Most polymers have a nucleating agent added to them, commonly sorbitol. But, almost anything in a polymer, including dyes, other polymers, and glass particles can also act as a nucleation point. In general, the more nucleation points there are, the smaller the final size of a spherulite.4 Small spherulite size can be beneficial, especially if it can be made smaller than the wavelength of light, so a bottle can be see through.5 The rate of nucleation increases as T drops until Tg.

The other factor, growth, is exactly what it sounds like. Once nucleated, the spherulites grow. Their growth rate is fastest somewhere between Tm and Tg, though closer to Tm. This is because as T increases, the flexibility of the polymer chain increases. That makes it easier to align, but also easier to unalign. So, by plotting the two rates together, you can find the optimal temperature to cool to in order to let a polymer crystalize.

If, after cooling below Tg, you realize the polymer needs to be more crystalline, then you can anneal it. That is, you can raise it above Tg so that the polymer can form into crystals.

Fun fact: although incredibly regular, the chain stiffness of polycarbonate is such that it is not crystalline in consumer uses because of the time required.


  1. I was one of those

  2. hopefully

  3. which may here-fore be referred to as crystalline

  4. this is also why Chem lab told me to cool my solution very slowly to make collecting crystals easier. If I could do it slowly enough, only one crystal would form

  5. optically transparent

Polymer Review Part 3

First Published 2018 November 30

Prereading note: I actually looked in my notes for this one!

Draft 1

Today we’re talking about the factors that affect Tg and Tm. Factors that affect Tg will affect all polymers, while the factors that affect Tm will only affect semi-crystalline thermoplastics.

There are four main kinds of factors that affect Tg: intramolecular forces, intermolecular forces, chain length, and timescale.

The intramolecular forces that affect Tg are: chain stiffness, side groups, and cross link density. As chain stiffness goes up,1 Tg goes up. This is because as the amount of energy it takes to rotate along a bond2 increases, so too does Tg. As side groups become bulkier, they increase Tg, for the same reason. As cross-link density goes up, so does Tg, This is because it’s hard to rotate around a link, because the side group is suddenly large. Also, if cross-link density isn’t 0, there is no Tm.

The intermolecular forces that affect Tg are: side group dipole moments,3 side group chain length, and plasticizers. As the side groups become more polar, Tg goes up, because it draws the different polymer chains closer together. For that same reason, as side groups become longer, Tg goes down, because it keeps them further away. For that same reason, plasticizers also tend to lower Tg.

Third, assuming the molecular mass is less than Me,4 the increase of molecular mass will increase Tg. Above Me, there is effectively no difference in Tg for chain length.

Finally, everything in polymers is time dependent. This makes sense when you think about how free energy diagrams work. At any temperature above 0K, there’s some energy. Given enough time, any bond can rotate, because it’ll at some point be able to overcome its energy barrier. Heating it just makes that happen faster. So, Tg decreases as the time-scale you view it from increases. This also works in reverse, so a polymer that’s being stressed at high rates will remain solid at higher temperatures than one that is not.

In order of importance, the intramolecular forces are more important than the intermolecular forces are more important than the other two in governing Tg.5

So, assuming cross-link density is 0, eventually the polymer will become viscous.6 This is affected mainly by the same factors that influence Tg, which is why they have the relationship I talked about in Polymer Review 2. As interactions between the chains goes up, Tm goes up. As chain stiffness goes up, Tm goes up. As branching7 goes up, Tm goes down. As delta S8 goes up, Tm goes down. To explain this, Tm can also be expressed as delta H9 divided by delta S10. Turning a crystal, which is highly ordered, into a liquid, which is not, increases the entropy of the state a lot. So, somehow that also works in reverse? This part is where the physics goes beyond me.

To lower delta S, you can orient the polymer more. This leads well into crystals which is almost certainly the topic of tomorrow’s post.


  1. usually because you have bulky groups or groups that have double bonds and whatnot (really anything that increases the rotational energy required)

  2. which yesterday we said is what Tg means

  3. I think this is just polarity

  4. according to my professor

  5. Tm

  6. side group frequency

  7. change in entropy

  8. enthalpy

  9. entropy

Polymer Review Part 2

First Published 2018 November 29

Prereading note: as with the rest of these posts, it’s written mainly from memory, and will1 be consulted and fixed for accuracy before examinations.

Draft 2: 30 November

Corrections (since I looked at some notes):

  1. Below Tg, the molecule is only able to vibrate. Above Tg, the molecule is able to rotate at each of its bonds. Above Tm2 or Tv3, the molecule is able to move, and flows through a process known as reptation.

  2. Tm is double Tg for symmetric polymers,4 and 1.5 for the rest.

  3. Polymers with crosslinks are thermosets, which are like epoxies and what most rubbers are, and elastomers, which are less tightly cross-linked thermosets.

  4. Tm is where crystallization can begin in a polymer. I’ll probably think about how that works tomorrow.

Draft 1

Polymers are super cool, for a variety of reasons. The one that I’m thinking of today is that they take all of the things that you get told in chemistry class exist but don’t matter, and then suddenly make them matter. The two examples of that I’m thinking of are the fact that the main force holding polymers together is their Van Der Waals interactions, which is the force I’ve5 always been able to ignore as non-significant for a material. The other is that polymers treat all energy as energy. That is, the temperature that a polymer needs to be at to behave as a liquid is lower if mechanical energy is supplied.

Speaking of, there are a few phases that polymers exist in. I’ll briefly discuss them from lowest to highest temperature.

At the coldest, a polymer is in what’s known as the “glassy” state. Here, it is solid, brittle, and the chains are held rigid.

When you heat up, you’ll eventually reach the glass transition temperature, Tg. This is the temperature range where the polymer would be described as “leathery.” It also corresponds to a quick drop in modulus.6 This is due to the fact that below Tg, the energy needed to break the Van Der Waals bonds is higher, because the polymer is moving less. Once you reach Tg, however, the polymers move enough on their own that the Van Der Waals forces effectively disappear. The only thing that gives the polymer strength then is the entanglements, which we talked about yesterday as Me. Above Tg, you’re in the rubber phase. This is where a polymer behaves a lot like what we think rubber does. And, right near Tg, the material exhibits a lot of damping.

After Tg, you reach what’s known as Tm, which is the temperature where the polymer stops acting like a solid, and begins acting like a fluid. Apparently it’s only melting when crystals do that, so that isn’t what happens to many polymers. One interesting tidbit is that polymers that are crystalline7 will have a Tm equal to 1.5x the Tg in Kelvin.

The information about Tm only applies to thermoplastics, polymers that don’t have chemical crosslinks. If a polymer has crosslinks, it never reaches the viscous phase. Instead, it stays at the “rubber plateau” for modulus until the material ultimately burns.8

The other thing to note that is different about amorphous and semi-crystalline polymers is that the drop at Tg is much larger in amorphous polymers than in semi-crystalline, because Tg is where amorphous regions fail, while Tm is where the crystalline sections fail. So, since a semi-crystalline polymer has a much smaller composition of amorphous polymer, it loses less strength.


  1. hopefully

  2. for semi-crystalline

  3. for amorphous

  4. polymers that have two side groups that are the same I think

  5. so far

  6. which is basically strength

  7. and maybe amorphous?? I’m not totally sure

  8. i think

Polymer Review Part 1

First Published 2018 November 28

Prereading Note: I’ll apologize in advance for what will likely be most of my posts until the end of the semester. Of all the classes I’m in, only one has a final, my class on polymers. So as a way to review, I’ll be describing different concepts here, if only so that I know that I know them.

Draft 3: 11 December

I was wrong on calculating Mw.1 To calculate Mw, you do as I said, and take the chains, 10 of 10 and 10 of 100. Multiply the number of chains by their mass, and sum them (total: 1100). Divide the mass sums of each chain length by the total mass (1/11,10/11). Multiply these numbers by the sum mass of each length (1/11*100+10/11*1000) We end up with a Mw of approximately 920, which now that I look at it, seems much more reasonable.

Mn just is the arithmatic mean of the masses. To find it, you sum the mass of all of the chains and divide by the number of chains that are measured.

To find Mw, you can also sum each chain multiplied by the square of the mass and then divide by the sum of chains multiplied by masses.

Mw

Draft 2: 30 November

Me is the molecular mass required for entanglements to form, as well as the molecular mass between the entanglements apparently, which is really weird and I should reconfirm this with the textbook.

Draft 1

Today, I’ll be discussing the different ways of measuring the mass of a polymer. As far as I remember, there are only four that are relevant to me for the final: Mn, Mw, Mz, and Me. I’ll discuss each one in turn, first with how you calculate it, and then what it is used for.

So, first is Mn. Mn is the number average molecular mass of a polymer. As such, like Mw and Mz, it’s only useful for thermoplastics. To calculate Mn, you divide the mass of each polymer chain by its numerical representation, then sum all of those. So, if you have 10 chains with a mass of 10, and 10 with a mass of 100, it’s 10/2+100/2 = 55 for Mn. Since Mn2 is the molecular weight most concerned with the number of short chains, it’s good for telling you about how a polymer will yield, especially once it begins to crack.

Next is Mw. Mw is the weight average molecular mass, and is the most common/useful of them. To calculate Mw, you divide the mass of each polymer chain by its mass representation, then sum all of those. So, in the initial example, 10 chains of 10 and 10 chains of 100, you would get 100+1000=1100, and then 100/1100+1000/1100 = around 92. So, we immediately see that Mw is more easily measured, because it’s easier to measure the mass of a polymer than the number of chains. Mw is most relevant for the processability of the polymer, especially its flow in the molten state.

Mz is weird. Like Mw, it weights the mass, but it takes it the next step, and does the square of the mass. Mw is relevant mostly in governing die swell, also known as melt-elasticity.

Finally, we have Me. Me is the measure of the mass between entanglements. Off the top of my head3 I don’t know how this is measured. But, it’s mostly useful for knowing how strong the polymer will be in the rubber phase.4

So, yeah. There’s four major ways to say the mass of a polymer. Oh! Also, the difference between Mn and Mw is known as the Molecular Weight Distribution, MWD. That tells you how much strain softening will occur. A larger (broader) MWD will lead to more strain softening.

In conclusion, polymers are weird. Hopefully by the end of these posts you’ll understand why if you don’t already.


  1. and likely Mz

  2. as you’ll learn later

  3. and at a cursory glance at the textbook

  4. the rubber phase I’ll talk about probably tomorrow

Bat Out Of Hell (Singalong) Review

First Published: 2018 November 27

Draft 1

Tonight, I had the wonderful opportunity to see Bat Out Of Hell at the Dominion Theatre. It was an odd show for a lot of reasons.

Plot wise, it definitely felt like Peter Pan. There were some fun fourth wall breaks, including the orchestra coming out with broken instruments. It was really fun, especially as a sing-along.

Pinter at Pinter Review

First Published: 2018 November 26

Draft 1

Today, I had the wonderful fortune of watching “Pinter at the Pinter,” a series of Pinter shows at the Harold Pinter Theatre. It was confusing. Apparently I don’t really understand absurdism. But, such is life.

The stage was fantastic, and spun. The lighting was minimal, but well executed. The ukulele playing was mediocre, which was sad. All of the other sounds were beautifully done, whether as subtle or blatant effect

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 November 25

Revelations 1:8 “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.’”

Draft 2

Today is the last Sunday in the1 year, the Feast of Christ the King.2 It’s a great way to end the year, especially because we get a line from my3 favorite book, Revelations.

We also get to use today as a way to reflect on the year we’ve had, and whether we’ve lived this Year of Grace4 as if Christ was “King of the Universe.”5

Since I’m preparing for the end of my semester and time abroad, the ending of the year is the first of a lot of endings I’m going to have to be ready for. But, that’s neither here nor there.

Draft 1

Today is the last Sunday in the6 year. It’s the feast of Christ the King.7 So, today is the day we celebrate the idea of Christ as the “one who is and who was and who is to come” as a part of the Trinity.

And, we get a reading out of the book of Revelations, which is always nice in a reading. But, today, as the last day of the year, so it’s time that I think about endings. My liturgical year has almost ended, and so the Year of Grace has too. I wonder what Pope Francis will decide next year will be.


  1. liturgical

  2. of the Universe?

  3. tied for

  4. wow it would be embarrassing if I got the wrong year here

  5. that’s also the title that always feels the most awkward for me to say, because it feels anachronistic (it took me way too long to remember that word) to me

  6. liturgical

  7. of the universe?

Rolls

First Published: 2018 November 24

Draft 1

I’ve realized lately that one of the biggest problems I’m beginning to have in my life is that everything means more than one thing. So, for instance, the title of this post, “rolls”, could refer to one of two things, both of which are applicable to today, which is odd.

The first and most obvious of these is the food kind. Small little loaves of bread. Today, I decided to try making rolls out of normal bread dough. But, since I measured exactly nothing, I can’t give the recipe.

The oven was set to its hottest temperature, probably 2501 and I kneaded the dough around 5 times over 3ish hours. It baked until crunchy, and was then drizzled with butter.

The other kind of roll is the musical roll. Although wikipedia defines music roll differently, in the Celtic Folk tradition, a roll is a way to break up notes. As you probably know about bagpipes, they can’t play staccato or tongued notes.2 So, to differentiate between a half note and two quarter notes, supplementary notes are played between them. A roll is where you play the note, the note above it, and the note below it, in a quick fashion. There’s more to it than that, especially in terms of spacing, timing, and etc. but that’s a basic3 summary. I worked on making my rolls on the penny whistle4 today.


  1. in non-freedom units because I’m in the fallen empire

  2. as always, if I don’t mention the type it’s Scottish

  3. and inaccurate

  4. because of course an instrument you can articulate also uses these

Baking Competition

First Published: 2018 November 23

Draft 2 (23 November)

As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I enjoy making food, and I enjoy competing. Somehow1 my coaches throughout life have found out these two facts. This is the first time that a coach has connected the two, however.

So, in a little over 6 weeks,2 I’ll be competing against nominally the entire diving squad, though, like many diving meets, it looks like most people aren’t there to win. Therefore, I need a winning recipe.

Baking competitions are a lot like diving. A perfectly baked cookie will bring in less points than a good cake, because the cake is harder. So, I need a recipe that balances ease, apparent difficulty,3 reproducibility, taste, and appearance. If I didn’t care about the apparent difficulty, I’d likely just make my toffee chip chocolate cookies. But, they seem too easy.

So, I think I’ll try to make “Chocolate Budino” or, at least a variation on that recipe. Now, like many people, I found out that youtube4 cooking videos exist, and fell in love with them. They have some interesting tips for how to improve chocolate baked goods, which I’ll likely try to incorporate. But, this is definitely something I shouldn’t put as much internal pressure on myself as I have.

Draft 1 (21 Nov)

I was informed last night that in a little over a month, I’ll be participating in a baking competition. Now, as I’ve mentioned more than once, I like to make food. I’ve also mentioned that I like competition, so this should be a great thing for me.

But, here comes the hard part: what do I make? My initial idea was to make my chocolate toffee cookies,5 but with a few modifications.

I’ve begun watching youtube food videos, and I understand wholly why people watch them. It’s super entertaining and informative. A few highlights from what I’ve learned is that you can brown butter to add more flavour6 to food, and that you can add espresso powder to chocolate foods to make them taste more deep.

So, I’d planned on browning the butter in the cookies,7 and adding some coffee in as well. However, I also realized that I had chicory coffee at home, and wondered if that might not be a better profile, since it would be a little nuttier.

But, as a wise friend helped me realize “Good cookies are good. Great cookies are good. Awesome cookies are great.” What he meant was that people tend not to discriminate too finely between different levels of cookie. I agreed, and so thought about what else I could make.

Bread was eliminated for much the same reason, because there’s not a huge difference in how a normal person perceives a good to great loaf, and I don’t know that I can make an excellent loaf 100% of the time.8 So, since the challenge began with someone’s banana bread recipe, it was suggested I do that.

But, banana bread for me has always just been a good comfort food. So, like with cookies, it’s not something that can really show how amazing I am at baking.

Then, I remembered that I used to make a recipe called “Chocolate Budino.” It’s effectively a chocolate pudding cake, and, when served warm, acts somewhat like a chocolate lava cake. So, as above, I may add in browned butter and espresso to make it more rich, but that seemed like a good way to distinguish myself.

Then the options arose again. I could either make it small, as in a cupcake mold, or large, the size of a 8" cake or so.9 There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so I was not sure which I’ll do.

Then the question became one of serving the cake. I could present it on its own, but that lacks a lot of the cool factor that we love when we bake. So, I decided I’d add some sort of side to the dessert.10

I like fruit, especially strawberries, so I decided I’d do strawberries on the side. But, then the question becomes how, and I was unsure.

Next, people suggested ice cream. But, I’m trying to showcase my talents, so buying ice cream is out. Making ice cream is a pain, and no-churn ice cream is fake.

So, I realized what I really wanted was something creamy. Hmmm, whipped cream.

I thought about what I tended to associate with chocolate and strawberries, and it’s mint. So, I thought I’d do a fresh mint whipped cream, and serve that with mint and strawberry.

Then the question returned to the size. As another friend pointed out, a cake sized budino would be more easily decorated, as well as looking more professional.11 So, I realized that I could do a full size cake, cut a nice slice out of it, and have a strawberry on the top, along with a sprig of mint and the cream. I’m still not sure where the cream will go, but I envision it along the side of the cake slice, with the cake topped with some sort of decorative strawberry flower. Maybe the cream could have a slice leaning on it with the mint sprig.

So, in conclusion, I try way too hard.


  1. probably because I’m horrible with secrets

  2. I think. I refuse to check

  3. I dream of a 5211A equivalent

  4. this is a noun that isn’t a proper noun

  5. as mentioned in this post

  6. yes I’m British now, deal with it

  7. not in the toffee, since that’s already browned

  8. especially since I’ll be in a scary kitchen

  9. yes an 8" cake is 8", but it made sense that the time

  10. no I’m not taking it too seriously, I just refuse to lose

  11. man I have no clue how to write the words there. Do you say “as well as” and then a gerund? or a regular verb? or what

Thanksgiving Abroad

First Published: 2018 November 22

Draft 2 (22 Nov)

For those of you in America, today is Thanksgiving! As my high school math teacher used to say, “Thanksgiving is the best holiday;” while I don’t agree necessarily, it is a nice sentiment. But, I learned that Thanksgiving isn’t a thing in the UK. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense, just that it hurts.

At around 1:30 this afternoon, I realized that, time zones included, if I were home I would have just finished the first knead of my bagels. Instead, I had just finished one class, and was preparing to attend another.

Of course, bagels aren’t the most common Thanksgiving tradition.1 When I mentioned last night that I make bagels for the holiday, one of my diving teammates asked, “Oh, so your family’s Jewish?” I don’t think that’s why, but it’s certainly why I have the cookbook.

I’m just kind of bummed. At the Thanksgiving dinner that the lovely Grinnell in London staff set up, we had turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, something resembling stuffing, and cranberries. Due to a mistake, we didn’t have pumpkin pie. But, as I ate it, I just realized how little the food on Thanksgiving means to me. It’s always been more about the feeding others, at least for me, and the companionship and fellowship. The food is great and all, but I prefer the fact that I’m sharing the food with my friends and family. So, from across the pond, a happy Thanksgiving to everyone who’s celebrating.

Draft 1 (21 Nov)

Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Or, at least, Thanksgiving being celebrated today is an American custom. Here, on the other side of the pond, nothing really seems notable about it. I’ll still have all of my classes, and none of my traditions from home.

Now, before I start talking specifics about the traditions, I’d like to talk a bit about my traditions in general. At some point or points in my early life,2 I was assigned the homework of bringing a list of family traditions to school. Of course, I didn’t really think we had any.

As I look back, I realize we have many, and I’ll probably write about them later. But, I realized we also didn’t have as many as I’d like. We used to make pasta and bread, and don’t any more. We used to have large groups of people, and don’t anymore.3

So, as Thanksgiving approached my freshman year, I had an idea. Since people had been bugging me about making bagels,4 and I had a lot of friends who couldn’t make it home for Thanksgiving, I suggested to my family that we host a large party for it.

They agreed, and so the schedule began. I awoke at around 6am to begin the different bagel recipes.

We made three kinds of bagel dough: a normal bagelly dough, a Guinness dough,5 and a tequila dough.6 Within the initial dough, we made regular, poppy seed, everything, cinnamon, and blackberry.78

Of course, when you have around 200 bagels to make and shape, it’s great to have friends come. So, my 7 or so helpers and I made the outrageous number of bagels. As the crowd arrived, the bagels were ready, so people ate them. And, as friends had to depart for whatever reasons, they were able to take the bagels with them.

That’s another nice tradition that I’m glad for. My bagels fed not only the Rebelsky Family Thanksgiving Extravaganza,9 but also the Women’s Basketball House, and some others.

After bagels, we ate and played board games through the end of the day.

Last year functioned similarly, though I actually have a schedule!10
6:30 AM: Bagel Bonanza (100 cups of flour!) Begins!!!11
7:00 AM: Breakfast begins (pancakes)12
3:00 PM: Dinner!13
5:00 PM: Dessert14
6:30 PM: Games!15

The bagels we made were: regular, cinnamon, cinnamon raisin,16 salt,17 poppy seed, everything, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry,18 apple and cinnamon,19 asiago,20 Rosemary, and Rosemary and olive oil.21

In total, we went through more than 100 cups of flour, and more than 400 bagels. It was great! I still have no clue where they all ended up, though I know that some left with everyone I could make take some.

But anyways, this year that will not be happening, which is sad. Hopefully next year it will again.


  1. for some reason

  2. middle and high school

  3. help which of the two no mores is correct

  4. side note, never tell people you know how to make anything that’s that much effort

  5. guess what the secret ingredient was

  6. can you guess this one?

  7. because we couldn’t find blueberries

  8. I think that’s all

  9. which I believe is what it was called in 2017

  10. also list of bagels!

  11. I started around 6 so that if anyone showed up then they could enjoy it

  12. for the helpers

  13. breakfast ended before then, but no scheduled events took place

  14. I don’t know if Dinner ended then or not

  15. this didn’t end. Some say you can still hear the players arguing about a loophole in the rules

  16. i.e. take cinnamon and add raisin

  17. which were disappointing imo

  18. no you have too many berries

  19. i.e. take cinnamon and add apple chunks

  20. for some reason

  21. an oilier rosemary

New Beginnings

First Published: 2018 November 21

Draft 2

Today was a new beginning for me! I began my second paper journal since arriving in London. Thankfully, it was a duplicate of the first, so I’m able to see what’s changed.

For instance, where I spilled almond oil on it at the beginning of the semester,1 it’s still oily. The pages have gotten darker, the cover has faded, and it’s showing signs of use.

The new one, on the other hand, still looks nice. I can’t wait to see if this one fills, and what it fills with.

Additionally, I got ahead on blogging for the first time!2

Draft 1

Today, is the 21 of November. I like the 21sts of the months, because that’s when solstices and equinoxes.3 In many cultures, the equinox or solstice is a day of new beginning.

Today was a new beginning for me! I began my second paper journal since arriving in London. Thankfully, it was a duplicate of the first, so I’m able to see what’s changed.

For instance, where I spilled almond oil on it at the beginning of the semester,4 it’s still oily. The pages have gotten darker, the cover has faded, and it’s showing signs of use.

The new one, on the other hand, still looks nice. I can’t wait to see if this one fills, and what it fills with.


  1. don’t ask

  2. YAY!

  3. it should really be spelled equinoces in my opinion but

  4. don’t ask

History of Keyboards

First Published: 2018 November 20

Draft 1

This afternoon and evening, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a series of talks, workshops, and concerts for the “History of Keyboards” event at Queen Mary.

It began with a pairing of a cardiologist and pianist, who are each using the other for their research. The cardiologist is using the pianist to see if music can affect cardiac pacing. The musician is composing pieces based off of the irregular heartbeat recordings from the cardiologist.

Later, I got to see, hear, and play with a harpsichord, clavichord, and forte piano, as well as learn how they work. Finally, I got to see some of the cool new developments in the piano world, the coolest of which in my opinion is the Magnetic Resonator Piano. I also got to meet the creator,1 of the instrument, and he seems amazing as well.

The Magnetic Resonator is an addition that can be placed onto an existing piano. As far as I can tell and understand, it uses electromagnets to send vibrations into the strings2 at the frequency the string vibrates, as well as the hypothetical harmonics.3

It was a great time, and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to attend.


  1. inventor? maker?

  2. because they’re ferrous and magnetically moveable

  3. because piano strings have a non-zero thickness, they slowly get sharp as you play through their harmonic progression. They’re also not in tune with themselves but

Company Essay

First Published: 2018 November 19 Prereading Note: As this was an assignment with a corresponding word count, each draft ends with a word count.

Draft 4 19 Nov

Steven Sondheim has used much of his career to push against traditional ideas of what a musical should be. Throughout his shows, he subverts traditional musical theatre ideals such as love, marriage, and idealism. In Company, he not only subverts the idea of how love should be portrayed, but he also dispenses with the idea of linear plot. He does not even stop there. Sondheim and Furth’s Company moves even one step beyond atemporal theatre, dispensing on the idea of a moving plot almost entirely. Instead of presenting a narrative of growth and change, Company instead presents a narrative of reflection, with little sense of time passed between scenes. As staged by Marianne Elliott, Company is a show in two pieces: the recurring thread of a dreaded 35th birthday, and a series of vignettes showing Bobbie’s relationship with her married friends.

The birthday party is staged four times in the initial script, at the beginning and end of each act.(Sondheim & Furth 3,71,75,117). Elliot chooses to add a fifth staging in the middle of the first act. Additionally, rather than staging each birthday the same way, each time we see Bobbie celebrating her birthday, the scene has changed. By staging each birthday differently, Elliot drives the idea of Company as a reflective, rather than actioned show. Each time Bobbie remembers the scene, she’s in a different mental state, and so remembers it differently.

The show opens with “(Bobbie’s) empty apartment” (3). She is holding balloons spelling the number 35 and a cake sits on the table. The other actors “enter from various parts of the stage (in the production, also from the audience) and group themselves around (her) apartment,” where they speak about the nature of gifts they have brought for the celebration, and almost all exhort her to “just take (the present) back” (4,5). From the dialogue of her friends, delivered “intoning”, it is clear from the very beginning that what we are seeing is a recollection of the birthday party, not the actual party.

Later in the act, we see the initial room scaled down, complete with a cupcake and small balloons. Bobbie squeezes through the doorway, as she can no longer simply walk through. As this staging is not present in the initial script, there is no dialogue here. Instead, Bobbie simply looks at the mini bottle of bourbon and, shrugging, drinks it. It’s clear that she’s meant to be more accepting of her age now than she was just a few minutes ago, when the show began. Of course, it is tempered from the fact that she’d just finished smoking marijuana with friends (36-50). Given that marijuana is known to cause hallucinations, it makes sense that the most dream-like of the birthday parties would show up while she’s “stoned” (36).

To close the first act, Bobbie stands outside the set, which before had only happened between scenes, or as a way for characters to break into scenes where they didn’t belong (mostly during musical interludes). This time however, Bobbie is still meant to be holding the audience’s attention, as a spotlight is left on her. In the initial script, it calls for “all the birthday guests (to look) at (Bobbie) as in Act One, Scene One” (71), while the production has a doppelganger be the object of her friends’ attention. In this way, it shows that Bobbie has finally begun to distance herself from her memories. She can now see what was, without forcing herself to define it as what is.

The second act begins like the first, with Bobbie entering an empty white room. Unlike the first scene, however, Bobbie is forced to deal with oversized, comically large balloons. She deflates them, and her friends come in and begin to sing about how wonderful she is. When Bobbie moves, however, her friends do not change their blocking to reflect it. By leaving the blocking as if she hadn’t moved, choreographer Liam Steel reminds the audience that Bobbie is looking back on the memories. Her friends are gesturing to the memory of her, which both she and her friends can see. However, the audience, as observers, cannot.

The second act progresses until, as expected, the birthday scene arises again. Interestingly, the initial script calls for Bobbie to be observing the stage “unbeknownst to us” (118) while the show has Bobbie watching from upstage, in the same undefined space that she had occupied at the end of the first act. Of course, both shows have the same intent. Bobbie is watching the stage, hoping to avoid her friends.

The turnaround that this scene represents is a great way to see that nothing has changed during the duration of the show. Rather than Bobbie being in the room before her friends appear, her friends are in the room waiting for her to appear. But, when she fails to enter, they leave and she enters. In such a way, we see that the scene was reversed, and we’re back to where we began.

But, there’s far more to this show than simply the birthday sequences. While the birthdays provide a framework and regrounding to remind the audience that the show is repeating, the vignettes are where it truly becomes obvious that we are living in a dreamscape. The show opens to a single, solitary, white room. It is ringed with neon lights, and Bobbie enters. As her friends appear, they crowd the stage.

But, after the party has ended, rather than simply dropping a curtain and changing the scenes, Elliott and Bunny Christie’s set draws the audience into the transition. A small hallway floats in from stage right, and Bobbi enters it, then begins to fumble with keys, giving time for the entire set to shift and another room to appear. The fact that each room and set is wholly self contained after that reinforces the idea that, since memories feel self contained, so too do the rooms. The few times that we see people occupying space outside of neon rimmed rooms is almost always during a musical interlude, which is clearly not meant to represent the remembered reality.

Speaking of music, rather than most musicals’ approach to music, where it appears to grow naturally from the dialogue, such as a love-lost man musing about the beauty of his love, and slowly shifting to song, the music in Company starts and ends abruptly.

The first musical break occurs in the first scene, as a mockery of the traditional musical opener (7). Rather than having some portion of the cast or a dedicated story teller open the set by explaining the show, we hear and see dialogue and blocking as if a play until everyone suddenly begins to sing that “there was something we wanted to say” (10). The next time we have a musical break happens much the same.

Bobbie is sitting, confused and somewhat frightened by the display her friends are presenting they spar. Suddenly, Joanne enters and begins to sing. The couples join in, as if nothing is odd, but Bobbie looks as confused as the audience feels. This seems to happen throughout the entire show, where the audience sees Bobbie realizing that the songs her friends sing are not truly a part of the memory, but have been joined because she links the ideas.

Throughout Company, the audience is slowly pushed into the idea that the show is not taking place in the present. Rather, the entire show is designed to force the audience into the realization that the show is a representation of an aging woman’s view of what she’s missed by not marrying. Rather than making it an easy ending, where she either realizes that she regrets it, or doesn’t, Sondheim, Furth, and Elliot leave the audience to question whether Bobbie will seriously begin to seek a relationship In all five of the couples we see, Bobbie sees elements she wishes to embody, but also elements she hopes to never see. In such a way, the show gives the audience a more real view of a thirty five year old’s view of the pros and cons of marriage than the typical musical theatre. She is able to understand both how she would and would not benefit from marriage.

1374

Draft 3 19 Nov

Steven Sondheim has used much of his career to push against traditional ideas of what a musical should be. Throughout most all of his shows, subversive elements to the status quo of musical theatre occur. In Company, this takes the role of its totally non-linear story. However, not content to merely dispense with the normal idea of a linear progression through time, Sondheim and Furth take the show one level further, dispensing on the idea of a moving plot almost entirely. Instead of presenting a narrative of growth and change, Company instead presents a narrative of reflection, with little sense of time passed between scenes.

Marianne Elliott’s staging of company is a show in two pieces, a birthday support structure, with vignettes interspersed for flavor. The support structure comes from the five times we see Bobbi’s birthday, once at the beginning and end of each act and once in the middle of the first act. As a note, the initial script calls for only four birthday sequences (Sondheim & Furth 3,71,75,117). However, rather than staging each birthday the same way, each time we see Bobbi celebrating her birthday, the scene has changed. In doing so, the show drives home the point that it is meant to be a travel through Bobbi’s mind, with her looking at her celebration of 35 years changing based on how she feels.

The show opens with “(Bobbi’s) empty apartment” (3). She is holding balloons spelling the number 35 and a cake sits on the table. The other actors “enter from various parts of the stage (in the production, also from the audience) and group themselves around (her) apartment,” where they speak about the nature of gifts they have brought for the celebration, and almost all exhort her to “just take (the present) back” (4,5). From the dialogue of her friends, delivered “intoning”, it is clear from the very beginning that what we are seeing is a recollection of the birthday party, not the actual party.

Later in the act, rather than oversized balloons, we see the initial room scaled down. Bobbi squeezes through the doorway, rather than being able to simply walk in. As it was not in the initial script, there is no dialogue here. Instead, Bobbi simply looks at the mini bottle of bourbon and, shrugging, drinks it. This acceptance of her situation comes right after scene four, where in the midst of smoking with her friends, her exes sing a song about how horrible she is (40-50). Given marijuana’s propensity to cause people to hallucinate, it makes sense that the least real of the memory sequences would be shown here.

Finally, to close the act, Bobbi stands outside the set, which before had only happened between scenes, or as a way for characters to break into scenes where they didn’t belong (mostly during musical interludes). This time however, Bobbi is still meant to be holding the audience’s attention, as a spotlight is left on her. In the initial script, it calls for “all the birthday guests (to look) at (Bobbi) as in Act One, Scene One” (71), while the production has a doppelganger be the object of her friends’ attention. In this way, it shows that Bobbi has finally begun to distance herself from her memories. She can now see what was, without forcing herself to define it as what is.

Of course, the second act begins and makes us forget this is the case. Bobbi enters, as she did in Act One. Unlike the first scene, however, Bobbi is forced to deal with oversized, comically large balloons. She deflates them, and her friends come in and begin to sing about how great she is. However, when she leaves the center, where they’ve been gesturing, they continue to gesture to where she was. This blocking helps to remind the audience that Bobbi is looking back on the memories. Her friends are gesturing to the memory of her, which both she and her friends can see. However, the audience, as observers, cannot.

As expected, the show ends how it had begun and ended up to this point, with Bobbi celebrating her birthday. Interestingly, the initial script calls for Bobbi to be observing the stage “unbeknownst to us” (118) while the show has Bobbi watching from upstage, in the same undefined space that she had occupied at the end of the first act. The turnaround is interesting, however. Rather than her being there, and her friends appearing, her friends are there without her. When she fails to enter, they leave and she enters. The mirroring of staging shows us that nothing has really changed in the show. We see that nothing has changed from beginning to end.

But, there’s far more to this show than simply the birthday sequences. While the birthdays provide a framework we can analyze the show through, the vignettes are where it truly becomes obvious that we are living in a dreamscape. The show opens to a single, solitary, white room. It is ringed with neon lights, and Bobbi enters. As her friends appear, they crowd the stage.

But, after the party has ended, rather than simply dropping a curtain and changing the scenes, Elliott and Bunny Christie’s set draws the audience in. A small hallway floats in from stage right, and Bobbi enters it, then begins to fumble with keys, giving time for the entire set to shift and another room to appear. The fact that each room and set is wholly self contained after that reinforces the idea that, since memories feel self contained, so too do the rooms. The few times that we see people occupying space outside of neon rimmed rooms is almost always during a musical interlude, which is clearly not meant to represent the remembered reality.

Rather than most musicals, where the music appears to grow naturally from the dialogue, such as a love-lost man musing about the beauty of his love, and slowly shifting to song, the music in Company starts and ends abruptly.

The first musical break occurs in the first scene, as a mockery of the traditional musical opener (7). Rather than having some portion of the cast, or a dedicated story teller open the set by explaining the show, before inviting the audience in, we hear and see dialogue and blocking until suddenly everyone starts singing about the fact that “there was something we wanted to say” (10). The next time we have a musical break happens much the same.

Bobbi is sitting, confused and somewhat frightened by the display her friends are presenting they spar. Suddenly, Joanne enters and begins to sing. The couples join in, as if nothing is odd, but Bobbi looks as confused as the audience feels.

Throughout Company, the audience is slowly pushed into the idea that the show is not taking place in the present. Instead, the entire show is built to force the audience into the realization that the show is nothing more than a representation of an aging woman’s view of what she’s missed. Rather than making it an easy ending, Sondheim, Furth, and Elliot leave the audience to question whether Bobbi will seriously begin to seek a relationship In all five of the couples we see, Bobbi sees elements she wishes to embody, but also elements she hopes to never see. In such a way, the show gives the audience a more real view of a thirty five year old’s view of the pros and cons of marriage.

1247 Words

Draft 2 19 Nov

Steven Sondheim has used much of his career to push against traditional ideas of what a musical should be. Throughout most all of his shows, subversive elements to the status quo of musical theatre occur. In Company, this takes the role of its totally non-linear story. However, not content to merely dispense with the normal idea of a linear progression through time, Sondheim and Furth take the show one level further, dispensing on the idea of a moving plot almost entirely. Instead of presenting a narrative of growth and change, Company instead presents a narrative of reflection, with little sense of time passed between scenes.

Marianne Elliott’s staging of company is a show in two pieces, a birthday support structure, with vignettes interspersed for flavor. The support structure comes from the five times we see Bobbi’s birthday, once at the beginning and end of each act and once in the middle of the first act. However, rather than staging each birthday the same way, each time we see Bobbi celebrating her birthday, the scene has changed. In doing so, the audience becomes confused as to the reality of the show. Is the goal to see the five ways that Bobbi’s birthday could go, as she reflects on the future? Is it the way that she remembers it based on how she’s feeling at that exact moment? Or, is it a reflection on the slowly deteriorating mind of a woman attacked from all sides? The show doesn’t seek to answer this question.

As exciting as each of the birthday sequences is, the vignettes are where the life of the show comes through.

Ok so predraft time again so i don’t keep flow of consciousness writing

Company tells non linear story This is expressed through the scenes that have no relation or reference to each other, the birthday parties. So what? it’s cool idk im sure something will come when I get there Wait i need an argument. Because "non linear story" is sort of a given, maybe yeah company is about reflection.

Moving on.

The staging of the vignettes supports the thread of remembered experience far better than the birthday parties, though. Every part of the performance suggests this sort of memory, from the staging, to the blocking, to even the dialogue.

When Bobbi (restarting so it’s clean)

Draft 1 18 Nov

Much of what low level analyses of a show attempt to do is explain what happens in the show. At a first glance, that makes sense. When describing an event to people, we have an innate desire to make it fit a narrative story. Things begin, cause other events, and then end.

Of course, theatre is often seen as a way to reflect life. Unlike life, we get happy endings, which resolve the problems and assure the audience that everything will work out. Like life, however, things begin.

Well, that is, in most theatre. Sondheim, Furth, and Elliott’s Company: A Musical Comedy, on the other hand, does not attempt to convey a narrative. Instead, it presents a series of vignettes, few of which seem to occupy any chronology. In fact, many of the vignettes overlap each other, just as our own memories overlap and rewrite information. Company: A Musical Comedy attempts to use its plot not to advance or tell a story, but rather as a reflective view of a 35 year old woman’s tangle with her relationships.

The clearest way to see that the show is meant to convey a sense of recollected time, rather than transpired time, is in its use of a looped narrative. Throughout the show, we see Bobbi’s 35th birthday party a total of 5 times, despite the script only specifying 4.

However, rather than having the celebrations remain constant, the script calls for them to change. The show opens with “(Bobbi’s) empty apartment.” (Sondheim & Furth 3) She is holding balloons spelling the number 35 and a cake sits on the table. The remainder of the ensemble “enter from various parts of the stage (in the production, also from the audience) and group themselves around (her) apartment,” where they speak about the nature of gifts they have brought for the celebration, and almost all exhort her to “just take (the present) back.” (Sondheim & Furth 4,5)

The next time we see the birthday celebration is at the end of the first act. Bobbi stands outside the set, which before had only happened between scenes, or as a way for characters to break into scenes where they didn’t belong (mostly during musical interludes). However, this time, Bobbi is still meant to be holding the audience’s attention, as a spotlight is left on her. In the initial script, it calls for “all the birthday guests (to look) at (Bobbi) as in Act One, Scene One,” (Sondheim & Furth 71) while the production has a doppleganger be the object of her friends’ attention.

In between these two pictures of her 35th birthday party, we are exposed to a series of vignettes. In the first, Bobbi is at the home of one of the couples. She enters by walking through a doorway into another self supported neon room. It’s clear that she’s digging through her memory for the “key” to unlock the memory from her struggles. When she opens the room, she takes her seat and the lights open on the room.

She chats with friends, until the musical interlude, where Joanne enters and speaks about the joys of being in a stable, committed relationship. (Sondheim & Furth 26) The rest of the ensemble joins in, until the song ends. As if nothing had happened, the scene resumes.

The next scene simply has Bobbi chatting on the porch to a different couple. There is nothing to suggest whether this happened before or after the initial scene. This happens a few more times, and then we see the act closing party.

There are only two constants to the entire act. First, Bobbi always has a drink of bourbon in her hand, and second, she’s always in the same red dress. The reset of the characters go through costume changes.

When the second act begins, it looks a lot like the first. However, this time, Bobbi is forced to deal with oversized, comically large balloons. She pops them, and her friends come in and begin to sing about how great she is. However, when she leaves the center, where they’ve been gesturing, they continue to gesture to where she was.

Later in the second act, rather than oversized balloons, we see the initial room scaled down. Bobbi squeezes through the doorway, rather than being able to simply walk in.

The show ends as it did the second act, with Bobbi not celebrating her birthday while her friends do. This time, however, there is no other Bobbi. Instead, all of her friends are there awaiting her arrival, so as to wish her a happy birthday. As she fails to arrive, however, they grow demoralized and leave.

Only once she is sure that her friends have departed does she enter the room. She sees the candles her friends had left burning, and, rather than try to extinguish them with her breath, as she had each of the prior times, she uses a fire extinguisher. Of course, there is still one candle burning after this. She blows it out, and the lights fall from the stage.

843 words

Draft 0 18 Nov

Sondheim, Furth, and Elliott’s Company: A Musical Comedy attempts to use its plot not to advance or tell a story, but rather as a reflective view of a 35 year old woman’s tangle with her relationships.

Throughout the show, we see Bobbi’s 35th birthday party a total of (4? 5?) times. From memory, there’s the first one, the one with the friends facing the fake Bobbi, the one where the balloons are gigantic, which i think was the second act opener, the one where the entire room is tiny, and the ending one. So that would be five times. Great.

Throughout the show, we see Bobbi’s 35th birthday party a total of 5 times. Each of the times we see the celebrations, they have changed. The first time we see the party, Bobbi enters a white room, ringed in neon.

She is holding balloons spelling the number 35 and a cake sits on the table. Slowly, her friends enter. They speak about the nature of gifts they have brought for the celebration, and almost all exhort her to “just take (the present) back.” (Sondheim & Furth 5)

The second time we see Bobbi’s celebrations is at the close of the first act. She stands outside of the self-enclosed set, clearly meant to show that she is reflecting, rather than remembering. This impression is reinforced by the view the audience is presented with. We see a second Bobbi, facing upstage so as to hide her face.

This Bobbi appears to be participating in the party.

When the second act begins, Bobbi again enters the single solitary room. This time, however, there are gigantic balloons, which she viscously deflates.

Later in the act, she enters the room, which has become shrunk to less than half the size. As she has in each scene, she takes a drink of bourbon. This time it is from a minibottle, which she drinks straight.

The show ends as it begins, with Bobbi celebrating her birthday. As with the first act’s closer, she stands in the undecorated piece of the stage, and looks at her peers. This time, however, there is no other Bobbi. Instead, all of her friends await her arrival, so as to wish her a happy birthday. As she fails to arrive, however, they grow demoralized and leave.

Only once she is sure that her friends have departed does she enter the room. She sees the candles her friends had left burning, and, rather than try to extinguish them with her breath, as she had each of the prior times, she uses a fire extinguisher. Of course, there is still one candle burning after this. She blows it out, and the lights fall from the stage.

Word Count: 452



Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 November 18

Mark 13:31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Draft 2

Today’s readings are fun for me because they’re more mystical than normal. But, despite the allegories and metaphors, there are some facts we can pull out. First, eventually mankind will reach its end. Second, we don’t know when it will be. Third, the Lord will protect his people when the world does end. Fourth, the Lord will endure, as will his works.

Personally, I appreciate the reminder that time is limited. Regardless of when the deadline is, it still exists. And, as often happens when I realize the existence of deadlines, it makes me more aware of the people in my life. So, today is a great day to remind those you love that you do, those you trust that you have faith in them, and those you hated that you forgive them. The Year of Grace is almost over, and so we should think about where we’ve come in the past year.

Draft 1

Today’s readings tell us two important things. First, eventually mankind will reach its end. Second, we don’t know when it will be. I guess also third, the Lord will take care of us, and fourth, he’ll still be here.

It’s a nice reminder that, try as we may to prevent it, we can’t control the future. Every single one of us has free will, and the ability to make each day the best or worst that it could be. But, everyone else also gets to make that choice.

Chocolate Factory Review

First Published: 2018 November 16

Draft 1

Today I had the amazing experience of touring a chocolate factory. It was great and informative, and we got free samples of chocolate, including 100% dark.

What We Don’t Write

First Published: 2018 November 16

Draft 1

For some reason, writing that title made me think of the song by Jon Svetky, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”.1 But, as I wrote a post for today, I got more than 500 words in when I realized it wasn’t something I could post.

Most of the time, I know that I won’t be able to post a writing before I even start it. Or, in some cases, I get a paragraph or so in before I realize that it shouldn’t be published.

But, maybe because of discussions I’ve had with my class in the Diary course I’ve been taking, I reflected today on what we don’t write. Obviously, despite my disclaimer, I’m not going to post things that I think will reflect horribly on me in my immediate future. So, I’m not going to write about how much I may hate a certain person, or how frustrated I am about a certain event that I have the wrong amount of control over, because it doesn’t help me at all to write about it.2

But, there are other things that don’t go here. As one of my classmates mentioned, we don’t mention the everyday. Of course, since I’ve been scraping the barrel sometimes to get a post, I do mention some of the everyday.

We don’t mention what we’re ashamed of. Obviously, this is something that is different now from the typical image of a diary. Here, I’m publishing my work with the expectation of others reading it, much like early diaries. So, I can’t put personal information that might be hurtful to someone near me, because that’s unfair to them.

All this is to say, I’ve realized that, much as my inspiration did in his third essay, I can’t always publish how I feel, because it may not be appropriate to the facts and realities of relationships I have. Anyways, before I start sounding maudlin,3 I’ve realized how helpful it is for me to force myself to write something every day, and to publish it, even if I’m not ready to release it. This has definitely been4 a good way for me to grow myself, both in terms of introspection and presentation.


  1. also apparently a book by Raymond Carver

  2. no, despite how it sounds, the second example is not targeted at anyone

  3. hopefully before

  4. and hopefully will continue to be

I did it

First Published 2018 November 15(ish)

Draft 1

As I mentioned a while ago, I’ve been meaning to go to the London Uillean Piper’s club. I finally made it.

It was really fun, and I’m glad I went once, if only for the chance to try the instrument. However, since I didn’t get back until nearly 12:15 in the morning, I don’t think it’s going to be something I go to again. But, I’m glad I had the chance to try it once

Fear of Heights

First Published 2018 November 14

Draft 1

One of the things I tend to forget is that I have somewhat of a fear of heights. More than that, I have a fear of jumping off tall heights. Maybe that isn’t a fear, the more that I think about it, and just a reasonable reaction.

Nonetheless, since I was never afraid of one meter, seldom of three, and not at all afraid of jumping off of five meter platforms, I decided that I would try jumping off of the 10 meter platform tonight. I got to the 7 meter, and began climbing up to the 10.

I didn’t realize how close to the roof I was, especially since it seemed so high before I started. Wow that was scary.

But, I jumped. I was in the air way too long. And then I hit the water. Next week I’ll try going in head first.



Walking Blind

First Published: 2018 November 13

Draft 1

As most of you alleged readers know, I have somewhat bad vision. And, since we live in the future, we have wearable technology that corrects for that. Most of the time, I correct my vision with glasses. On occasion, I correct it with contacts. And then there are the nights like tonight.

While going about my day, I paused in my room to do some homework.1 Upon preparing to leave the dorm for a talk about maps that shaped America,2 I realized I couldn’t find my glasses. So, knowing that I knew how to get to the talk fine without seeing detail, I set off.

London is a much different city with poor vision. Crowds of people, who normally I didn’t register, suddenly seemed so much more sinister. My own shadow, distorted by street lights, gave me pause, as I thought I had a pursuer.

But, I made it to the talk safe, oddly enough. Today was nice, if only to remind myself both how blessed I am to have correctable vision, and how even the smallest of changes can drastically affect how we see the world.


  1. and take a nap

  2. so British, I know



Company Review

First Published: 2018 November 12

Draft 1

Tonight, I had the lovely fortune of seeing George Furth and Steven Sondheim’s Company performed at the Gielgud Theatre. It was a show where the main character’s sex was flipped. No longer about Bobby, this show was about Bobbi.

It was incredibly enjoyable. The set mostly took the form of small, modular pieces which were surrounded by neon lights. They moved back and forth and up and down stage, and in some instances even up and down vertically. The music was beautiful, as is to be expected.

Interestingly, the orchestra was above the actors, rather than in a pit. The actors and actresses all performed brilliantly.

As to the production itself, for most of the show I’m unsure how different it was from the original script. I went in mostly blind, as I do for most musicals. However, I had seen a recording of the song “Barcelona.”

In this version, where the main character sleeps with a man, rather than the original which had the genders switched, there were some differences in how I felt as an audience member. Despite the fact that the staging seemed almost identical, it’s interesting how different some of the lines and blocking felt when delivered from a person of the opposite sex.

Overall, it was very enjoyable



Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 November 11

Mark 12:44-44 “ A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.’”

Draft 1

Today’s Gospel gives the message that I’ve always had the hardest part reconciling with the teachings we see in daily religious life. The Lord says that the widow’s gift, though small, means the most, as she has the least to give.

As a Catholic, I am taught that faith is a call to action. The sentiment that “faith without action is dead” is not an uncommon one. So, why is it that we see good deeds done by the faithless as anything but the miracles that they are?

When a faithful person performs a good deed, it shouldn’t be remarkable. They are simply doing what their soul tells them to do. When they make the choice to not do good, it takes an effort. But, someone who doesn’t believe doesn’t have that call. For those without faith, if we believe that faith is what calls you to action, there is no call to do good.

And yet, the faithless still do good. To me, that’s the most beautiful part of life



Failing

First Published: 2018 November 11

Draft 1

Assuming anyone actaully reads my daily posts, they might have noticed that yesterday, for the first time in more than 70 days, I didn’t update. In a way, it was sort of a relief. I knew that at some point, I wouldn’t be able to update every day, so getting it out of the way was a relief. I had visited Belgium to see a friend, and didn’t find the time to make a post. I also didn’t write for NaNoWriMo, but since I was well ahead of schedule,1 I’m not too worried. Anyways, now I have the difficult decision: do I keep with one a day, or do I write two today?

I’m unsure which I’ll do




Reading Week Review

First Published: 2018 November 9

Draft 1

Today is Friday. It’s also the Friday ending what my host university calls “Reading Week.” As class ended last week, my professor made a note of that, before commenting that little to no reading happens during reading week.

I planned on reading during reading week. But, Monday turned into Tuesday turned into today, and I did no studying. Somehow, I even read less of my pleasure reading than I tend to do. But, I did destress, which is important, since I didn’t realize how ragged I’d been running myself. So, I guess I read the right amount?



Exponential Growth

First Published: 2018 November 8

Draft 1

As I mentioned earlier, I’m doin NaNoWriMo this year. But, I’m also competitive with myself. So, around four days in, I figured out how I’d challenge myself. Each day, I’ll not only write more,1 but also increase the rate with which I’m writing more. Since I didn’t think ahead, that means that each day I need to write more than 3% more than I did the day before. So, by the end of the month, I’ll have around five thousand words to write a day.

On the bright side, if I can do it, I’ll have certainly made papers in the future much easier.


  1. like a try hard



Book of Mormon Review

First Published: 2018 November 7

Draft 1

As I mentioned earlier, I saw the Book of Mormon a little bit ago. It was a fun show, and somewhat interesting.

I already knew the main storyline, plot, and music, because I live a life in proximity to musical theatre. Sadly, I remember only a few bits from the actual production.1

First, it was interesting that, other than Jesus, who had what I think was meant to be a California Surfer accent, all of the characters spoke with East Coast accents. Second, I didn’t realize how explicit the innuendo was in “Baptize Me.” Finally, the characters were almost over the top in how stereotypically American they sounded and acted at times. It was an interesting reminder that America is viewed differently from the outside looking in as from the inside looking in. Overall, however, it was a wonderful production. The cast and crew did a great job.


  1. for some reason it was overshadowed by a different show I saw



La Bayadere Review

First Published: 2018 November 6

Draft 1

Tonight I had the wonderful opportunity to see La Bayadere at the Royal Opera House.1 It was odd.

Apparently in ballet, unlike theatre, you’re supposed to read what’s going to happen ahead of time. I did not. I was confused.

I did like the second act, though. There were a couple of dances with the whole chorus that were super fun and made nice lines and shapes.

Overall, while not a fan of opera, at least I have another piece in the music to theatrical story spectrum. It begins with symphony, then sound painting, then ballet, opera, musical, then non musical theatre. Yay.


  1. I’m cultured now



Baking Bread Abroad

First Published: 2018 November 5

Draft 2

As I mentioned in an earlier post,1 I used to make bread a lot. But, since coming abroad, I haven’t made bread once. It’s a travesty, I know. To rectify this horrible occasion, on one of the worst anniversaries in British history, I made some bread.

Of course, I had to make adjustments to my general recipe. First, I tend to use five pounds of flour at a recipe. For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t going to do that.

So, I went with my normal way of making things, eyeballing. I poured in maybe too much yeast, but it’s yeast so it doesn’t matter. I then poured in most of the flour we had, poured in some water, and realized that it was far too much water. I realized that, while I had almost no “bread” flour, I had plenty of self-raising flour.

For those of us who don’t know what self raising flour is, it’s flour with a leavening agent mixed in.2 Since I didn’t really need one, having yeast and all, I was tempted to throw in some vinegar, to get rid of the leavening. But, since I couldn’t find vinegar, and didn’t feel like putting in the effort, I just went for it.

And, about an hour and a half into rising, I realized that I didn’t really want to wait until tomorrow to eat it, so I made it a semi-knead bread. I just kneaded it, and gave up on rising, so threw it in the oven. As I remember from this summer, I can’t let it sit for 90 minutes, so I’ll come back in the future, but since I’m not editing the draft any other way, it’ll be in this draft.

After cooking for around 20, it looked risen but still too pale. I set another timer for 10 minutes, and threw in more water.

Looked cooked, so out it came. After letting it cool, I opened it, and it smelled bready. It tasted like bread, and that’s the general goal

Draft 2

As I mentioned in an earlier post,3 I used to make bread a lot. But, since coming abroad, I haven’t made bread once. It’s a travesty, I know. So, tonight I decided that I would make a loaf of bread, if only to assure myself that England is part of the real world.

Of course, I had to make adjustments. As I mentioned in the recipe, I tend to use five pounds of flour at a recipe. For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t going to do that.

So, I went with my normal way of making things, eyeballing. I poured in maybe too much yeast, but it’s yeast so it doesn’t matter. I then poured in most of the flour we had, poured in some water, and realized that it was far too much water. I realized that, while I had almost no “bread” flour, I had plenty of self-raising flour.

For those of us who don’t know what self raising flour is, it’s flour with a leavening agent mixed in.4 Since I didn’t really need one, having yeast and all, I was tempted to throw in some vinegar, to get rid of the leavening. But, since I couldn’t find vinegar, and didn’t feel like putting in the effort, I just went for it.

And, about an hour and a half into rising, I realized that I didn’t really want to wait until tomorrow to eat it, so I made it a semi-knead bread. I just kneaded it, and now I’ll wait again for it.

Draft 1

As I mentioned in an earlier post,5 I used to make bread a lot. But, since coming abroad, I haven’t made bread once. It’s a travesty. So, tonight I decided that I would make a loaf of bread, if only to assure myself that England is part of the real world.

Of course, I had to make adjustments. As I mentioned in the recipe, I tend to use five pounds of flour at a recipe. For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t going to do that.

So, I went with my normal way of making things, eyeballing. I poured in maybe too much yeast, but it’s yeast so it doesn’t matter. I then poured in most of the flour we had, poured in some water, and realized that it was far too much water. I realized that, while I had almost no “bread” flour, I had plenty of self-raising flour.

For those of us who don’t know what self raising flour is, it’s flour with a leavening agent mixed in.6 Since I didn’t really need one, having yeast and all, I was tempted to throw in some vinegar, to get rid of the leavening. But, since I couldn’t find vinegar, and didn’t feel like putting in the effort, I just went for it.

It’s raising right now, so we’ll see how it goes.


  1. I still don’t know how to do this

  2. apparently baking powder, also salt for some reason

  3. I still don’t know how to do this

  4. apparently baking powder, also salt for some reason

  5. I still don’t know how to do this

  6. apparently baking powder, also salt for some reason

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 November 4

Deuteronomy 6:5 “Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Draft 1

The Gospel today spoke to me for the same reason that it speaks to many people. It’s an incredibly simple command that Jesus lays out. Instead of having hundreds and hundreds of rules and laws, there are only two.1

You are to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength. And you are to love your neighbor as yourself. Wow that sounds nice and easy to understand and completely impossible to follow.

What does loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, and strength mean? How do we love Him?

And when we start asking those questions, we realize why there are so many rules and laws in both the Jewish faith,2 and also in the Catholic faith.3 It’s the same reason that we can’t just say “I’ll write a novel,” and instead need to break it into smaller steps. People aren’t good at big picture projects. Dedicating our lives to a cause is the biggest picture any of us can do, but without frameworks to help us, we either find ourselves paralyzed with indecision,4 or led down dark paths, forged with the best of intentions. Of course, there is the slight chance that we do brighten the world, and make it a better place.

But, to steal an analogy given to me, the Church provides an interstate. It guarantees that if you don’t ever get off the interstate, you’ll go to heaven.

There’s nothing stopping you from driving down the country roads and side streets, and you’ll likely see more exciting vistas than if you stay on the interstate. But, you always run the risk of your car breaking down before you get to where you’re going.


  1. or one depending on your interpretation

  2. where the sayings came from

  3. the one I’m familiar with

  4. as many aspiring authors are



Missing Time

First Published: 2018 November 3

Draft 2

People who know me might know that I’m somewhat flighty. Despite this, I really try to build my days around touchstones, or events that are required at a certain place and time. This works nicely in a majority of my life, as academics and extracurriculars provide this. Somehow, having anything to do in a day makes me keep track of the entire day so much better.

But, some days don’t have any events. Even Sundays, where I attend Mass, don’t feel like an event, because there are multiple options for time. These past two days in particular, I feel as though time has simply passed me by. I don’t really know where the last 48 hours went, though I know they must have gone somewhere. Such is life I suppose.

Draft 1

Normally I keep my days very structured. While it isn’t the structure that most people think of,1 I have the entirety of my days flow around focal points, as a way to orient myself. So, when I have days with no imposed structure, they tend to disappear.

Today is a great example of this. I woke up at nearly 11 am, because I had no reason not to. Over the next hour and a half, I apparently wrote.2 After that, I think I watched a tv show until 5, when I helped people make dinner, and then did activities with friends. But, the day still feels as though it’s barely started. I don’t like this feeling.


  1. i.e. plans of minutae

  2. based on my journal

Font!

First Published: 2018 November 2

Draft 2

Today I began mapping the keystrokes on my keyboard to Celtic knots. I’ve mapped around a quarter of the letters,1 and have been able to begin drawing with what I’ve made. It may not have been one of my most productive four hours in terms of benefit to the world or self, but it was productive in the sense of losing myself to the project, if only for a bit.

Draft 1

Today, I made a font!

Technically.

Maybe.

Let me check the definition.

Maybe? I’m unsure what I made. I guess: I made a series of images that correspond to the letters on the computer keyboard.

Technically, even if I were to call it a font, I’m missing most of the characters. The characters I’ve mapped are: A,C,D,E,F,G,Q,R,T,W,X,Z,a,b,c,d,e,f,g,q,r,s,t,w,z,z, (space),1,2,3,4,!,@,#,$. What I made was a Celtic knot generation font. So, each letter had a different symbol attached to it, so that I could make the knots I’ve been drawing more easily and quickly. It was a semi-productive way to kill four hours, and I’m not quite done yet,2 but I had a good time.


  1. A,C,D,E,F,G,Q,R,T,W,X,Z,a,b,c,d,e,f,g,q,r,s,t,w,z,z, (space),1,2,3,4,!,@,#,$.

  2. I don’t have every case covered for things I may want to draw



NaNoWriMo

First Published: 2018 November 1

Draft 1

As many of you know, today is All Saints Day. Coincidentally, that means that today is also the first of November. Now, in addition to being the month dedicated to a focus on men’s1 mental health, November is also NaNoWriMo.2 And, since I lack most of the time consuming activities I have at Grinnell,3 I have more free time here. So, I decided I’d try to write 50,000 additional words this month, or around 1700 a day. Now, according to my quick and dirty approximation, I’ve written approximately 750 words a day for these posts.

That’s a shame. I guess that I’m going to have to triple my daily word count, since this isn’t an excuse for me to stop posting, and I don’t want to subject others to the horror of my attempts at creative writing.


  1. lack of

  2. National Novel Writers Month

  3. sport, ensembles, (most of) my instruments, much of the studying, a job, etc

Feeling Lucky

First Published: 2018 October 31

Draft 2

If I’ve learned anything these past few days, it’s that I broke a mirror a little more than seven years ago. For those of you who don’t have superstitious family, legend says that breaking a mirror causes seven years of bad luck. Now, I’m not saying this as a comment about my lack of luck these past seven years. As far as I can remember,1 I’ve had a pretty great seven years. However, these past few days have been somehow so much better.

To begin: yesterday afternoon I found out that I had won the Hamilton lottery.2 Of course, this was a slightly double-edged sword,3 because I was seeing Book of Mormon earlier in the afternoon. But, when I went to the first show, it was great. I got free gummis, and had a great view of the stage.

After the show, I checked my email. I found out that I had been accepted to a reception at Parliament a professor had applied for on my behalf. That’s super exciting.

Then I went to Hamilton. I was in the middle of the front row, and was tall enough that I could still see most of the show. At the end of the show, I got to take a photo with the conductor!

I love taking photos with techies, because they’re always so much nicer than actors when I ask to take photos with them. So, here’s to another seven years of apparently good luck.

Draft 1

Apparently I broke a mirror a little over seven years ago. Now, this isn’t to say that I have had poor luck before this, but these past few days I’ve felt uniquely lucky. First, yesterday I found out that I had won the lottery for Hamilton.4 Today at Book of Mormon,5 I was given free gummi bears. Then, I found out that I had a great view of the stage for the show. When I left the show, I learned that I would get to attend a reception at Parliament in two weeks. At Hamilton, I learned that I was in the center of the front row. Then, to end it, I got to take a photo with the conductor! Overall, life is going great.


  1. not that my memory means much. I have great selection bias for memories

  2. i.e. I got the chance to purchase two front row tickets for 10 pounds each

  3. cue small violins

  4. i.e. I had the chance to purchase two front row tickets for ten pounds each

  5. yes I was watching two shows

Concert!

First Published: 2018 October 30

Draft 2

A few days ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to see Resonet at the Brighton Early Music Festival. Now, I didn’t know it at the time, but, despite the fact that England is smaller than Iowa, it takes longer to get from point a to point b. And, I also was unaware that Brighton was on the southern edge of the country. All this is to say that what I thought would be a .5-1 hour trip ended up being an almost 5 hour round trip to get to the concert.

The show was medieval music, featuring Resonet together with Brighton Early Music Choir.1 The choir was nice, but not extremely notable, which is to be expected from community choir. Resonet’s director played a citola, and did so with equal parts grace and style. That is, at times he played with flourishes and showmanship, and at others, very subdued and calm. Their percussionist seemed to have the perfect backdrop for every piece, from a gong to a dulcimer. Although I was promised a hurdy gurdy that never appeared, the instrumentalist on recorder and bagpipes was stunning.2 The final instrumentalist played recorder and shawm and did so wonderfully.

As for the singers, the baritone had the voice made for singing love songs. The soprano was clear and pure, and the countertenor slotted perfectly between the two.

But, as is becoming the case more and more, much of my enjoyment of the show did not come from the scripted portions. I met a wonderful older woman3 who I chatted with for a good half of an hour or so. The interactions I can make like that are part of why I love music and cities.

I also got a chance to speak with the conductor about his citola, the piper about his pipes, and the dulcimist4 about his dulcimer. It was all great fun, and well worth being out too late.

All in all, it was a great time, and I forgot how nice it is to watch live music in a small5 space.

Draft 1 (28 October 2018)

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to see Resonet at the Brighton Early Music Festival. Those of you with a grasp of English geography may know that Brighton is 2 hours by public transit from London. I did not, but do now.

The show was medieval music, featuring a group and the Brighton Choir. The choir was nice. The group’s director played a citola, and did so with equal parts grace and style. Their percussionist seemed to have the perfect backdrop for every piece, including a dulcimer. Although I was promised a hurdy gurdy that never appeared, the instrumentalist on recorder and bagpipes was stunning. The final instrumentalist played recorder and shawm and did so wonderfully.

As for the singers, the baritone had the voice made for singing love songs. The soprano was clear and pure, and the countertenor slotted perfectly between the two.

But, as is becoming the case more and more, much of my enjoyment of the show did not come from the scripted portions. I met a wonderful older woman6 who I chatted with for a good half of an hour or so. The interactions I can make like that are part of why I love music and cities.

I also got a chance to speak with the conductor about his citola, the piper about his pipes, and the dulcimist7 about his dulcimer. It was all great fun, and well worth being out too late.8


  1. wow I wish Grinnell had an early music choir

  2. I’m still annoyed that there wasn’t a hurdy gurdy

  3. which should be unsurprising to anyone familiar with early music, as older people are the overwhelming majority of attendees

  4. this is the term I choose to use, regardless of correctness

  5. i.e. not multiple tiers of people

  6. which should be unsurprising to anyone familiar with early music, as older people are the overwhelming majority of attendees

  7. this is the term I choose to use, regardless of societal norms

  8. though I am writing this on the trip back, and may feel differently when I arrive

The Height of the Storm Review

First Published: 2018 October 29

Draft 1

Tonight, I had the wonderful fortune of seeing The Height of the Storm at Wyndham’s Theatre. It was a very confusing show, layering time, subjective and objective realities colliding within a fracturing mind. It hit me very powerfully, although I haven’t had to watch someone around me undergo it. I have felt some of the deja vu that the show plays with, especially when thinking about my grandparents.

The stage was interesting. When I first saw it, I felt a little nauseous, because it felt almost as if a two point perspective drawing made in three dimensions. However, as the show progressed, it began to feel more and more natural.

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 October 28

Mark 10:47 “On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.’”

Draft 1

Today’s gospel shows us that even when the world is against us, Christ is for us. Bartimeaus1 calls to the Lord. People around him mock him, and yet he persists. But when the Lord answers him, he doesn’t ask for all his problems to be solved. Rather, he asks for divine intervention only in the part of his life which needs it, his loss of sight.

To me, that’s the other part of the message of today’s gospel. We are told that we can ask God for help, and that He will answer, even if those around scorn us. But, we should ask him only for what we cannot ourselves, or cannot via mortal means, accomplish.


  1. which the reading informed me means son of Timeaus

Writing a Song

First Published: 2018 October 27

Draft 2

Like I’ve mentioned before, I1 compose. But, that composition is always alyrical or setting words to music. But, today on the bus I was playing with the2 ukulele.3 Someone asked me to sing a song about them, so I tried to make one up.

Unsurprisingly, I thought it was better than those around me. A heckler told me that I needed rhymes. There I remembered I do horribly under pressure. But, as I pushed through, I remembered how to think of rhymes and rhythms in real time.

Then the ride ended and we got off the bus.

So, on the journey home, my mind was running with creative song ideas. Since pop country is the furthest acceptable genre from pure country music allowed in rural Iowa, I decided that I would write in that genre. The fact that there aren’t many genres that you can do4 with male voice and ukulele helped me come to that conclusion/

As I started writing though, I’d get stuck about one couplet5 into each set of lyrics. Every so often I’d end up with a whole verse6 before realizing that I had nowhere to go with the lyrics.

Finally, I got a verse and chord progression that sounded nice and left me room to grow.7 Now all I need is another verse, a chorus, and a second set of verses. Easy.8

Draft 1

Like I’ve mentioned before, I9 compose. And, today on the bus I was playing with the ukulele.10 Someone asked me to sing a song about them, so I tried to make one up.

I thought it was ok, until someone yelled that it needed to rhyme. I then learned that I can’t think of rhymes when put under pressure.11 But, right as the ride ended, my creative flow kicked in. That meant that my head started thinking of music.

And, since everyone loves a good country song,12 my mind started thinking of country music. But, I can’t write a normal country song. Despite living in what the Census defines as a “rural” area, I didn’t have the experiences that a country song tends to need. I didn’t have a dog that I loved and lost, or a heartbreak, or an unhealthy relationship with alcohol or a car. To rebut the comment about singing anyways, I can’t be that fake. My high school friends would find out.

So, about one couplet13 into each set of lyrics, I’d get stuck. Finally, I got a whole verse out. Now I’m stuck. But, I figured out the melody,14 which is good because I tend to forget melodies. So, I’ve got four lines, a melody, and a chord progression. If I can just get four more lines and a chorus, I’m cooking.


  1. attempt to

  2. because there’s only one in my life

  3. as I always do when given an instrument

  4. well, do well at least

  5. two lines

  6. four lines

  7. yay!

  8. ?

  9. attempt to

  10. as I do when given an instrument

  11. so there goes my rap career

  12. don’t lie, Take Me Home, Country Roads is the best song around

  13. two lines

  14. and wrote it down, which is more important

Stonehenge

First Published: 2018 October 26

Draft 1

Today, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Stonehenge. It’s definitely not a monument I had ever planned on visiting, so the fact that I went to it is really cool to me. It’s certainly more impressive and large than the mental image I had before seeing it.

Also, I brought my ukulele with me today, and while at a pub, was told that I could play it if I wanted. While playing John Denver’s beloved Take Me Home, Country Roads, an elderly man at the bar joined along in singing. It was great!

Alumni Events

First Published: 2018 October 25

Draft 1

Today, I had the opportunity of attending the Grinnellians in London1 alumni meetup. It was really interesting. After an hour or so of socializing, we were given a talk about Global Grinnell, and its initiatives.

I found it interesting that the focus was solely on English2 people we were bringing to Grinnell. When I asked about things that did not fit into this catagory, I was given a few examples in the social studies division, and theatre. I find it odd that we don’t do anything with S and M3 in a Global Grinnell, especially since more and more students are majoring in those disciplines. But, maybe I just phrased my question badly.


  1. separate from Grinnell in London

  2. or, as I was corrected, writing

  3. since Grinnell doesn’t have the TEA of STEAM

Doubting Myself

First Published: 2018 October 24

Draft 1

As I’ve mentioned more than a few times, I do music. However, I doubt myself a lot when it comes to music. Part of this is that I have a bad ear, especially among my music friends.

Now, this isn’t a disparagement of myself in an attempt to get sympathy. Rather, it’s a prelude for what follows. As we all know, it’s horrible when you have a song stuck in your head. As I’ve learned, it’s even worse when the song is written in Irish Gaelic, and so you can’t search for the song by lyrics. But recently, I realized that the worst way to have a song stuck in your head is a melody that you haven’t heard.

That is, a tune started playing in my head, coming from the sounds I’ve heard and wanted to hear. But, although I believed the melody was a certain series of notes, I didn’t believe that it would be true, and so changed the notes when I transcribed it. When I eventually played it back to myself, I realized I’d written a different melody.

It took me just ignoring my mind, and trusting my instincts to get the melody I’d heard. And, now the tune isn’t stuck in my head anymore. Yay!

Defining Diary

First Published 2018 October 23

Draft 7: 23 October 2018

Consider the word diary. What does that concept encompass? Is a series of thoughts about life, such as Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations a diary? Or, would an autobiography be considered a diary? Through a series of dichotomies, the form of a diary is more easily shaped. While there are many paths, this tree will be explored only in the route that leads to a diary. Other limbs are pruned in the interest of time.

The first division in this tree is that of reality. Writing either has a goal of portraying reality, which is writing realis, or does not, writing irrealis. However, addressing reality can be a goal of a work even if it isn’t the the sole, or even primary goal. As long as a goal of the work is the representation of reality, the work falls into the realm of writing realis. As diaries nominally take the form of a chronicle of life, they are concerned with reality.

Within writing realis, another dichotomy can be drawn. This new dichotomy is the break between writings that are concerned about a single person, writings solus, and writings that are not, writings multis.

In the interest of fairness, there is a reasonable rebuttal to this dichotomy. Many works are not entirely about a single person, but contain sections that are. Should these writings, therefore, lie somewhere between a writing solus and writing multis? In this example, the key to understanding the dichotomy lies in the scope of observation. While the work at a whole would be a writing multis, the sections concerned with a single person are writings solus.

This idea of the classification of works changing based on the scope they are viewed through is important piece in defining a diary. Certain sections of a diary may place focus off of the author, and therefore belong as writings multis, but the diary as a whole has its focus on the author, and so belongs as a writing solus.

We again cleave the category of writings realus solusque. Writings solus are either presented as written by their subject, writings sui, or presented as written by another, writings alius. The important distinction to make here is the word “presented.” Although a “blurb” (short pre-informative piece explaining a person’s expert status before a presentation) may be written by its subject, it is still phrased in the third person as a literary convention. As a diary is generally seen to be a record of self, it belongs in writings sui. Here, we see Meditations fall off the branch of diary, as it is written in the second person as a form of address, rather than the first person style of sui.

All writings sui either attempt to convey the passage of time, as writings tempus do, or do not, as writings atempus do. Although a given entry in a diary may not convey the passage of time, and therefore be a writing atempus, the chronicling of dates conveys the passage of the subject’s life, making the diary a writing tempus.

The final division to define diary is that of chronology. Writings tempus can be written after the bulk of their narrative has occurred, in writings praeter, or written as the narrative progresses, writings iam. That is, autobiographies are written as a retrospective account of life, as if weaving the threads of an author’s life into a coherent tapestry. Diaries, as a contrast, may attempt to weave this tapestry, but as they chronicle events as they occur, the tapestry woven lacks a pattern. So here again, although each entry in a diary may be a writing praeter, as it presents the threads of the day after they’ve occurred, in a neatly bundled piece of time, each entry is written before the tapestry as a whole can be seen, making it writing iam.

By exploring the definition of the literary form of “diary,” the value of dichotomizing writing becomes apparent. Through finding the definition of a form through defining what it is not, it becomes easy to decide whether a work belongs in that form. That is, to see if a writing is a diary, one must simply ask whether it meets the requirements above: if the work focuses on expressing the reality (realis) of a contemporaneous account (iam) of the author’s (solus suique) passage through time (tempus), we will call it a diary. If not, we will choose another term.

Draft 6: 23 October 2018

Consider the word diary. What does that concept encompass? Is a series of thoughts about life, such as Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations a diary? Or, would an autobiography be considered a diary? Through a series of dichotomies, the form of a diary is more easily shaped. This tree will be explored only in the route that leads to a diary. Other limbs are pruned in the interest of time.

The first division in this tree is that of reality. Writing either has a goal of portraying reality, which is writing realis, or does not, writing irrealis. However, addressing reality can be a goal of a work even if it isn’t the the sole, or even primary goal. As long as a goal of the work is the representation of reality, the work falls into the realm of writing realis. As diaries nominally take the form of a chronicle of life, they are concerned with reality.

Within writing realis, another dichotomy can be drawn. This new dichotomy is the break between writings that are concerned about a single person, writings solus, and writings that are not, writings multis.

In the interest of fairness, there is a reasonable rebuttal to this dichotomy. Many works are not entirely about a single person, but contain sections that are. Should these writings, therefore, lie somewhere between a writing solus and writing multis? In this example, the key to understanding the dichotomy lies in the scope of observation. While the work at a whole would be a writing multis, the sections concerned with a single person are writings solus.

This idea of the classification of works changing based on the scope they are viewed through is important piece in defining a diary. Certain sections of a diary may place focus off of the author, and therefore belong as writings multis, but the diary as a whole has its focus on the author, and so belongs as a writing solus.

Again we cleave this twice divided category. Writings solus are either presented as written by their subject, writings sui, or presented as written by another, writings alius. The important distinction to make here is the word “presented.” Although a “blurb” (short pre-informative piece explaining a person’s expert status before a presentation) may be written by its subject, it is still phrased in the third person as a literary convention. As a diary is generally seen to be a record of self, it belongs in writings sui. Here, we see Meditations fall off the branch of diary, as it is written in the second person as a form of address.

All writings sui either attempt to convey the passage of time, as writings tempus do, or do not, as writings atempus do. Although a given entry in a diary may not convey the passage of time, and therefore be a writing atempus, the chronicling of dates conveys the passage of the subject’s life, making the diary a writing tempus.

The final division to define diary is that of chronology. Writings tempus can be written after the bulk of their narrative has occurred, in writings praeter, or written as the narrative progresses, writings iam. That is, autobiographies are written as a retrospective account of life, as if weaving the threads of an author’s life into a coherent tapestry. Diaries, as a contrast, may attempt to weave this tapestry, but as they chronicle events as they occur, the tapestry woven lacks a pattern. So here again, although each entry in a diary may be a writing praeter, as it presents the threads of the day after they’ve occurred, in a neatly bundled piece of time, each entry is written before the tapestry as a whole can be seen, making it writing iam.

By exploring the definition of the literary form of “diary,” the value of dichotomizing writing becomes apparent. Through finding the definition of a form through defining what it is not, it becomes easy to decide whether a work belongs in that form. That is, to see if a writing is a diary, one must simply ask whether it meets the requirements above. If the work focuses on telling a contemporaneous account of the author’s passage through time, it is a diary.

Draft 5: 23 October 2018

Consider the word diary. What does that concept encompass? Is a series of thoughts about life, like in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations a diary? Or, is every autobiography a diary? Through a series of dichotomies, the form of a diary is more easily shaped. This binary-branching tree will be explored only in the route that leads to a diary. The other limbs are pruned from this discussion.

The first division in this tree is that of reality. Writing either has a goal of portraying reality, which is writing realis, or does not, writing irrealis. Of course, just because addressing reality is a goal of a work doesn’t mean it’s the sole, or even primary goal of the work. As long as the goal of addressing reality is a goal, it falls into the realm of writing realis.

Diaries nominally take the form of a chronicle of life, and are thus concerned with reality. Within the division of writing realis, another dichotomy can be drawn. This new dichotomy is the break between writings concerned about a single person, writing solus, and the writing that is not, writing multis.

Now, a rebuttal as to the validity of this dichotomy may be posed. Most works are not entirely about a single person, but do contain sections that are. In this example, the key to the dichotomy lies in scope. While the work at a whole is a work multis, the sections concerned with a single person are writing solus.

Now, this idea of works changing based on scope is an important piece in defining a diary. Although certain sections of a diary may place focus off of the author, and therefore belong as writings multis, the diary as a whole has its focus on the author.

Again we cleave this twice divided category. All writings solus are either presented as written by their subject, writings sui, or presented as written by another, writings aliud. The important distinction to make here is the word “presented.” Although a “blurb” (short pre-informative piece explaining a person’s expert status before the aforementioned presents) may be written by its subject, it is still phrased in the third person as a literary convention. As a diary is generally seen to be a record of self, it belongs in writings sui Here, we see Meditations fall off the branch of diary, as it is written in the second person, as a form of address.

All writings sui either attempt to convey the passage of time, as writings tempus do, or do not, as writings atempus do. Although a given entry in a diary may not convey the passage of time, and therefore be a writing atempus, the form as a whole conveys a passage through the life of the subject, making it a writing tempus.

The final, and most difficult to convey division is that of chronology. Writings tempus can be written after the bulk of their story has occurred, writings praeter, or written as the story takes place, writings iam. To explain, autobiographies are written as an account of life, trying to weave the threads that had occurred in the author’s life into a coherent tapestry. Diaries, as a contrast, attempt to weave a tapestry without a pattern, chronicling the events as they occur. Although each of the entries may be writing praeter, since the writing is not attempting to outline the whole of the author’s history into a coherent thread, rather simply chronicling the events as they occur, the diary as a whole remains writing iam.

By exploring the definition of the literary form of “diary,” the value of dichotomizing writing becomes apparent. Although a dreaded prospect by many, the idea that genres can be grouped into mutually exclusive categories makes defining a given work as belonging to that genre easier. So, to see if a writing is a diary, one must simply ask whether it meets the requirements above. If the work focuses on telling a contemporaneous account of the author’s passage through time, it is a diary.

Draft 4: 23 October 2018

Of all of the writing that is, was, or will be, only two kinds exist. All writing is either non-fictive (concerning itself with reality) or fictive, which does not. Now, to address the inevitable rebuttal of writing that concerns itself somewhat with reality, imagine a lamp. A lamp is either lit or not. Even though it may not burn its brightest, it still burns, and is lit, or is completely extinguished.

Diaries nominally take the form of a curriculam vitae, and are thus concerned with reality. Within the division of non-fictive writing, another dichotomy can be drawn, that which is biographical (concerned with a single person’s life), and that which is not. Again, a rebuttal as to the nature of this dichotomy may be posed. There are writings that contain a series of biographies. Each of the biographies within the whole are biographical, while the sum work is not. In such a way, a writing can be biographical or not, depending on the scope with which it is viewed.

Oddly, the question of scale makes the defense of a diary as biographical more tenable. Certain entries in a diary may focus on others, but the diary as a whole still focuses on the author.

Again we cleave this twice divided category. All biographical writings either find themselves as narrative (expressing the life through time), or not (expressing life atemporally). Many non-narrative biographies take the form of a “blurb,” or short pre-informative piece explaining a person’s expert status before the person presents. At the peak of the genre, the blurb expresses no notion of time, only of accolades. Again, although any given entry in a diary may be non-narrative, the diary as a whole conveys the life of an author through time.

Up to now, the divisions of writing into a tree have not followed typical genre listings. This next division, however, is a common one. Narrative biographies are either autobiographical or not. That is, narrative biographies are either written by the subject or not.

Here, the objection may be raised that the division between self and not should be placed above that of narrative, since blurbs are often written by their subject. However, since blurbs are written in the third person, tend to convey only publicly available knowledge, and portray the subject as a platonic ideal, good blurbs look the same, regardless of authorship.

Now, one of the less controversial pieces of typical diary writing is that a diary is written by a self about a self. This lends it nicely into the autobiographical category, and sets up for the final binary division of writing needed to specify the diary.

All autobiographies are either retrospective, concerned with chronicling the events before them, or not, and are concerned with recording the events as they happen. Here, we again confront the issue of scale. While each entry of a diary is written retrospectively, the diary as a whole is not. That is, although entries are written after the events, the aftereffects of the events recorded occurs after the entry is scribed.

With these divisions in mind, a a diary is a non-retrospective, autobiographical, narrative, biographical, non-fictive piece of writing. Now, the question may be raised as to the purpose of defining a diary, and what goals were meant to be achieved. As today’s political climate shows, without consistent definitions, no debate can be fruitful. In giving a specific definition for diary, a more fruitful debate as to the merits of diary as a form can be explored.

Draft 3: 23 October 2018

If we look at all writing that is, was, or will be, there are only two kinds of writing. There’s non-fictive writing, writing that concerns itself with reality, and fictive writing, which does not. As a metaphor, think of a lamp. A lamp is either lit or not. If it is slightly lit, it is still producing light.

Diaries nominally take the form of a curriculam vitae, and are thus concerned with reality. All writing concerned with reality is either biographical (concerned with a single person’s life), or not. Now, here a potential division can occur. What about, for instance, a series of biographies? To me, each of the biographies should be seen as their own work. In such a way, a writing can be biographical or not, depending on the scope with which it is viewed.

But, since diaries are a single person’s record of their own life,1 it seems fair to say that diaries are still biographical. Now, all biographical writing is either narrative or not. A narrative biography is concerned with expressing a life through time.

Many non-narrative biographies take the form of a “blurb,” or short pre-informative piece explaining a person’s expert status before the person presents. While each entry in a diary may be non-narrative, the diary as a whole conveys information through time.

Now, the divisions so far have been fairly novel.2 All narrative biographical non-fictive writings are either autobiographical (focusing on the life of the author), or not. Now, some might argue that a blurb can also be autobiographical or not. However, since blurbs are written in the third person, and tend to convey only publicly available knowledge, a good “autobiographical” blurb should be indistinguishable from a good non-autobiographical blurb.

So, since a diary, as mentioned above, is a writing by a self about a self, it is autobiographical. Finally, all biographies are either retrospective, where the idea is to record events after they’ve happened, or not. Now, again we run into the problem of scale. While each entry of a diary is written retrospectively, the diary as a whole is not. That is, although entries are written after the events, more events take place and are recorded after the writing. In general, the diary takes place contemporaneously.

And so, a diary is a non-retrospective, autobiographical, narrative, biographical, non-fictive piece of writing. In the interest of length, the rest of the tree remains unfilled, though it is fillable.

Draft 2: 19 October 2018

Diaries, like many aspects of stereotypical female adolescence, are a nebulous concept.3 But, like any scientist, I hate undefined concepts.4 So, I’ve been thinking about what a diary really is.

I tried defining it a few different ways. First was through exclusion. In A Brief History of Diaries, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is considered a diary, as is a shopkeeper’s logbook. Both of those didn’t seem to fit what I would consider a diary, but I couldn’t figure out why.

Then came the idea of5 splitting all types of writing into binary divisions. It took a few tries, but I think I’ve gotten something that works. Of course, writers hate dichotomies,6 so I needed to make sure that each category was a real dichotomy.

If we look at all writing that is, was, or will be,7 there are only two kinds of writing.8 There is writing concerned with reality,9 and writing that isn’t concerned with reality.10 Of course, an immediate push back to this would be “what about writing that is partially concerned with reality?” That’s non-fictive. It is concerned with reality. It’s like saying “a room either has some form of lighting, or it doesn’t.” Dimmer lighting, or lighting only in one corner still satisfies.

Obviously,11 diaries have a focus on reality, so they are non-fictive. Next, all non-fictive writing is either focused on a single entity, with the rest of creation12 serving as a backdrop to it, or not doing that.

It may be helpful to give examples of writing in each category. In the biographical category, there are diaries and biographies. In the non-biographical category, we see things like epic poetry.13

So if I ignore that, all writing concerned with reality is either narrative or not.

BREAK

Narrative writing is writing concerned with telling a story. Think about a typical biography. Conversely, there are non-narrative writings, such as instruction manuals.

Within narrative writing, there is autobiographical and not. Autobiographical writing is writing concerning the author. So, a member of an ethnic group writing an ethnography of the group, or authors writing about themselves.

Finally, all autobiographical writing is w

To me, a diary14 is a non-retrospective, autobiographical, narrative, biographical, non-fictive piece of writing. In order, I’ll explain each of these pieces, from least to most specific.

As a person who’s taken Linguistics, I understand the importance of grouping things into dichotomies. As an artist, I understand the frustration of false dichotomies. So, I’ve attempted to group all writings into mutually exclusive categories. First is fictive and null-fictive writing.

Confusingly, my definitions are based the opposite way here. Null-fictive writing is writing concerned with portraying reality, while fictive writing is not.

All writing concerned with reality either has a singular entity at its focus: biographical, or not, null.

All biographical writing is either narrative: biographies and whatnot, or null: blurbs.

All biographies are either autobiographical: about self, or not: all other biographies.

Finally, all biographies are either retrospective: all the action takes place before writing, or not: diaries.

Draft 1: 17 October 2018

What’s a diary? To me, a diary15 is a non-retrospective, autobiographical, narrative, biographical, non-fictive piece of writing. In order, I’ll explain each of these pieces, from least to most specific.

As a person who’s taken Linguistics, I understand the importance of grouping things into dichotomies. As an artist, I understand the frustration of false dichotomies. So, I’ve attempted to group all writings into mutually exclusive categories. First is fictive and null-fictive writing.

Confusingly, my definitions are based the opposite way here. Null-fictive writing is writing concerned with portraying reality, while fictive writing is not.

All writing concerned with reality either has a singular entity at its focus: biographical, or not, null.

All biographical writing is either narrative: biographies and whatnot, or null: blurbs.

All biographies are either autobiographical: about self, or not: all other biographies.

Finally, all biographies are either retrospective: all the action takes place before writing, or not: diaries.


  1. at least in common definitions

  2. at least as far as I could see

  3. what differentiates a horse from a pegasus from a unicorn? If a unicorn has wings grafted on, does it stay one?

  4. well, hate’s the wrong word, maybe “am uncomfortable with”

  5. like a good little linguistics child

  6. not that they’re special, just that the two English people I said the idea to were immediately hostile, and I’ve never tried grouping music into categories, although the pushback to the Hornbostel–Sachs doesn’t seem to be very major to me (although I’m also almost 60 years late to that fight [wow the 1960’s are more than 50 years away] so what do I know)

  7. as far as I can guess

  8. ooh maybe this would make an opening line

  9. non-fictive writing

  10. fictive writing

  11. wow, the more I write the more I realize how dangerous that word is. Just because I’m finding something obvious as I write about it doesn’t mean that everyone ever will

  12. another word I’m realizing may be taken differently than intended

  13. ok so this one may be a bad kind of dichotomy, because it seems completely arbitrary. I can’t think of anything that I couldn’t argue isn’t concerned with a single entity unless I don’t allow breaking, which doesn’t work later. I also got into the whole internal dialogue of “if you believe that God is completely incomprehensible, and that we only see aspects, and every religion sees its own aspect, why do you believe you’re in the ‘One, Holy ... Church’?”

  14. in order from most to least specific

  15. in order from most to least specific

Antony and Cleopatra Review

First Published: 2018 October 22

Draft 1

Tofay I had the wonderful opportunity to see Antony and Cleopatra as performed at the National Theatre. It was really well-staged and lit. The sounds were amazing, with one exception.

In the script, it calls for the predecessor of the oboe and bassoon to be playing, as it’s an eerie sound. Instrad, the show chose to use cello. It was certainly a different effect, and not one that I personally was a fan of. But, overall, the sounds were fantastic.

The show was a modern adaptation, and was skillfully executed. The stage continually amazed me, and was hard for me to even comprehend how it some of the changes might be done.

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Published: 2018 October 21

Draft 1

Isaiah 53:11 “Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.”

Today is the 29 Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B.

Today’s first reading speaks about how someone will bear the sins and burdens for others. In doing so, he will “justify many.”

I don’t know why, but I really appreciate the imagery in the first reading.

Citation Styles

First Published: 2018 October 20

Prereading note: Draft 0 of this post is much more rambly and ranty than normal.1

Draft 2

A common comment about internet subculture is that it fractals infinitely. That is, within any interest group, you can always find divisions, going down as far as you’re willing. So, I feel better about complaining about this niche dispute, that of citation. There are two normal ways of citing in academic writing.2 There’s in-text, and there’s footnoting. For a variety of reasons, I find footnoting to be the objectively better form.

To me, the most important part of an essay is the flow of the prose. I’d much prefer to read an essay with a poorer argument, but a better cadence and rhythm.3 Footnoting encourages this flow, because shifting citations doesn’t affect the cadence of a sentence. Conversely, if an in-text citation changes position, or if the citation itself changes, the cadence of the sentence changes.

Second, in-text citations serve as a distraction. If you know me at all, you probably know that I’m incredibly distractible. When I see an in-text citation, I’m reminded of the fact that the argument comes from somewhere else, and feel an urge to read the initial argument. Or, at the very least, I stop reading the paper for a second, and start seeing the paper. That is, I stop seeing the symbols as a dialogue with the author, and start seeing blobs of ink on paper.

A third reason is completely arbitrary and subjective. In-text citations are associated with poor quality prose for me, if only because they were required in my formative years. We would be required to use all of the different kinds of citations,4 regardless of which would flow better.

Finally, footnotes allow the author to make notes that may not be useful in the argument, but could still be useful to the reader. In almost all of the semi-academic5 reading I’ve done, the footnotes contain information that was useful to me as a student, even though it didn’t have any direct relation to the core thesis. If using in-text citations, one is forced to either leave out the information, try to work it into the argument, or use footnotes and in-text citations. I have problems with each of these options.

The first option, excluding the information, makes the reading harder for a reader, and often contains prose that has sent me down wonderful educational explorations. The second, working it into the argument, bloats the prose and renders the initial argument harder to discern. The third option, that of mixing both styles, is just ugly to me.

Now, a fair complaint here is that in-text citations don’t deal with parenthetical expressions, and so focusing on that is unfair. Another complaint may be that good writing doesn’t need asides, as all relevant information should be in the text.

I’d dispute both of these responses. To the first, I believe that6 an option that is more robust while not sacrificing any usability7 is a better option. To the second, I believe that it presents a limited view of good writing. If in doing research on a topic, and finding that a certain path of inquiry may be interesting, but no longer relevant to the central argument, putting the information in a footnote can help a future scholar. I know that footnotes have also been useful to me in understanding the main text. When I was unsure about the meanings, I was able to consult footnotes to read what they meant. However, to rebut the response that the information should just go in a real parenthetical,8 if I don’t need to read the information, then the parenthetical adds words that I have no need to read.

So, in conclusion, I much prefer reading my citations like this9 than like this (Rebelsky 2018).

Draft 1

There are two normal ways of citing in academic writing.10 There’s in-text, and there’s footnoting. For a variety of reasons, I find footnoting to be the objectively better form.

For me, the most important part of an essay is the flow of the prose. I’d much prefer to read an essay with a poorer argument, but better flowing prose. Footnoting allows this very easily, because shifting citations doesn’t affect the cadence of a sentence at all. Conversely, if an in-text citation changes position, the cadence of the sentence changes.

Second, in-text citations serve as a distraction. If you know me at all, you probably know that I’m incredibly distractible. When I see an in-text citation, I’m reminded of the fact that the argument comes from somewhere else, and feel an urge to read the initial argument.

A third reason is completely arbitrary. In-text citations are associated with poor quality prose for me, if only because they were required in my formative years. We would be required to use all of the different kinds of citations,11 regardless of which would flow better.

Another reason is that footnotes allow the author to make notes that may not be useful in the argument, but could still be useful to the reader. In almost all of the classics and linguistics semi-textbook12 reading I’ve done, the footnotes contain information that was useful to me as a student, even though it didn’t have any direct relation to the text. If using in-text citations, one is forced to either leave out the information, try to work it into the argument, or use footnotes and in-text citations. I have problems with each of these options.

The first option, excluding the information, makes the reading harder for a reader, and often contains prose that has sent me down wonderful educational explorations. The second, working it into the argument, bloats the prose and renders the initial argument harder to discern. The third option, that of mixing both styles, is just ugly to me.

Now, a fair complaint here is that in-text citations don’t deal with parenthetical13 expressions, and so focusing on that is unfair. Another complaint may be that good writing doesn’t need asides, as all relevant information should be in the text.

I’d dispute both of these responses. To the first, I believe that14 an option that is more robust while not sacrificing any usability15 is a better option. To the second, I believe that it presents a limited view of good writing. If in doing research on a topic, and finding that a certain path of inquiry may be interesting, but no longer relevant to the central argument, putting the information in a footnote can help a future scholar. I know that footnotes have also been useful to me in understanding the main text. When I was unsure about the meanings, I was able to consult footnotes to read what they meant. However, to rebut the response that the information should just go in a real parenthetical,16 if I don’t need to read the information, then the parenthetical adds words that I have no need to read.

So yeah, footnotes are great and I hate in-text citation.

Draft 0

One thing that I’ve begun to notice in a lot of English essays,17 is the tendency for the titles to be alliterative. And, that’s something that frustrates me for a few reasons. First,18 the titles tend to be much harder to speak aloud. Second, they tend to be less descriptive. But, that’s not the point of today’s post.

Rather, it’s an internal complaint about my own inability to write an assigned essay. As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t tend to find myself unable to write anything. Rather, it tends to be the issue of writing the correct thing. And yet, with a paper that’s currently assigned, I find myself with the problem of being unable to find anything to write about.

I’ve tried to force myself to write anything, and it’s been some of the most strained, painful writing I’ve done in a while. There’re probably many reasons for this. I’m going to try to go through them, and see if I can’t resolve them internally. Partially it’s due to the fact that the prompt for the essay is so vague as to allow almost all writing, while specific enough to limit any of the pieces of critical analysis I would’ve enjoyed doing.19 Partially it’s that this week’s meeting of the class felt painful to everyone involved. Partially it’s that I have so many other assignments, which are so much more fun to do. Part of it is that I’m not allowed to cite the way that I prefer,20 and am instead forced to use in-text citations.

Now, I guess an aside, I should mention why I hate in-text citations. Or, I could just write today’s post about that. Yeah that sounds better than whining. I’ll still leave this as Draft 0 in the interest of full disclosure.21


  1. apparently I’m slowly shifting into my inspiration

  2. at least as far as I’ve seen

  3. and is part of the reason I have a problem with a lot of academic writing, which ignores the importance of this

  4. using titles, author names, and page numbers in varying locations both in the general prose, and also in the parentheses

  5. i.e. works that are meant for use in by academics, but aren’t meant to be published in a journal and can be done as somewhat pleasurable reading

  6. in general

  7. which feels the case to me in footnotes

  8. i.e. in parentheses

  9. Rebelsky 2018

  10. at least as far as I’ve seen

  11. using titles, author names, and page numbers in varying locations both in the general prose, and also in the parentheses

  12. i.e. works that are meant for use in a classroom, but aren’t tertiary, and rather are the author’s own research

  13. ooh is that the right word here? They aren’t in parentheses, but it feels right so I’ll keep it

  14. in general

  15. which feels the case to me in footnotes

  16. i.e. in parentheses

  17. especially mediocre ones

  18. I still find it odd that I was conditioned to use “first” instead of “firstly” in such a short time

  19. so really anything on music

  20. i.e. with footnotes

  21. or something

Writer’s Block

First Posted: 2018 October 19

Draft 2

One of the most dreaded occurrences in a writer’s life is writer’s block. Now, I never really have that problem. I never look at a blank page thinking “I have nothing to say.” What I get instead,1 is the idea that nothing I have to say can be expressed in less time than I want to spend expressing it.

That happened a few times for me today. I’m working on another paper about diaries,2 and in theory working on a paper about theatre. My creative juices are flowing, just not how I’d like. I thought about trying to teach what I’ve learned in my Polymers class, but that seemed like the wrong idea for a Friday.3 So, I decided that I would write about writer’s block. Of course, as I did so, I realized that I could do a journalling prompt that I’d been given, and so did it. It’s in Draft 1, if you’d like to read it. I expect this will happen again.

Draft 1

In what’s likely to be the first of many installments, today I couldn’t think of anything to write. Now, other days that has also been true. Somehow I persevered and found a topic to write about. Not so today.

Anywho, time to try out some writing prompts I’ve been given. One is to describe an old barn as if you are an old man whose recently learned that his son died in the war, but not mentioning the son, war, or death. Here we go!

The barn looked much like it always had, and yet somehow different. The bright red had faded over the years, into the color of dust. Strange how dust was featuring so much in his mind today.

The doors creaked when you opened them, as if they’d been forgotten about over the years of milling the field. Vines had started growing up the sides, unchecked by their normal pruning.

What used to seem as a deep, dark black roof had shifted overnight. Whether it was the dust in the air or something else, they’d faded almost instantly into a grey, almost unnoticeable color.

Ok wow that was a downer. But, I got almost 200 words out of that whole shebang.4 So yeah, if I run out of things to write about in the future, I’ll likely try creative writing prompts. Sorry in advance to future readers.


  1. like today

  2. stay tuned!

  3. the fact that it would have been effort to get the notes was a contributing factor

  4. more if we include the text following, like this

Silly Putty and Pitch, or What I’ve Been Learning

First Posted: 2018 October 18

Draft 1

So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking a class on polymers. And, so far I’ve learned1 that the most important property of a polymer is its “glass transition temperature.” That is, the temperature when it changes from being stiff to being not stiff.

Different polymers behave differently after the glass transition temperature. Some become rubbery. Some, the more crystalline ones, stay stiff. Some turn into a liquid.2 Some probably do something else.

But! Apparently that temperature is also time dependent. That’s weird to me, since melting doesn’t feel like the sort of thing that is affected by time. But, the longer that the time frame is, the more like a liquid a polymer acts, and the shorter, the more like a solid. So, for short enough time frames, things with a glass transition of very low can remain undeformed at high temperatures. Contrastingly, pitch, which my professor describes as “hard and brittle,” flows over long enough time frames.

So, that’s why silly putty is stretchy when you stretch it, breaky when you smash it quickly, and pancakes if you let it sit. I thought it was cool.

Post Script: As I reread the title, I now am thinking of a musical piece featuring silly putty. I’ll keep y’all updated on the future of that.


  1. among other things

  2. also apparently only crystals melt

Sinister Diary

First Posted: 2018 October 17

Draft 2

Today I began another form of record keeping: a “Sinister Diary.” Now, for those of you who don’t know,1 sinister is the nominative masculine singluar Latin word for left.2 So, what is a “left diary”? It’s just a diary that I’m writing with my left hand.

In my diary making class, we talked about different ways of sparking creative journal keeping. One of these is to make a diary entry with your non-dominant hand. Now, I have always wished I could write ambidextrously, so this was a good spark to me.

Of course, calling anything written in my left hand’s3 penmanship implies that that written in my right hand is “dextrous.” Dextrous is the British form of the American “dexterous,”4 coming from the Latin “dexter,” meaning right5 or skillful or proper.6

Now, far be it from me to describe anything written I do as skillful, but it’s certainly easier to read than my left-handed writing. Also, I ran into another problem while writing sinisterly.

When I was a young, impressionable freshman,7 I took Latin.8 I had the brilliant idea to write all of my Latin with my left hand, so as to embed it more deeply in my mind.9 Of course, the professor shut that idea down on the grounds of legibility.10 But, today, when I tried writing with my left hand for the first time in a while, I noticed that I was thinking of the Latin11 translations for a lot of what I was writing. This continued to the point where I began thinking, and even writing in in12 Latin. As bad as it was, it was certainly fun.

So, I think I’ll continue my sinister diary, if only to have that as a conversation starter.

Draft 1

Today I began another form of record keeping: the “Sinister Diary.”13 Now, for those of you who don’t know,14 sinister is the Latin15 word for left.16 So, what is a “left daily allowance”?17 It’s just a diary that I’m writing with my left hand.

In my diary making class,18 we talked about different ways of sparking creative journal keeping. One of these is to make a diary entry with your other hand.

Of course, calling anything written in my left hand’s19 penmanship implies that that written in my right hand is “dextrous.” Dextrous is apparently the British form of the American “dexterous.”20 Dexterous comes from the Latin “dexter,” meaning right21 and also skillful or proper.22

Now, far be it from me to describe anything written I do as skillful,23 but it’s certainly easier to read than my left-handed writing. Also, I ran into another problem while writing sinisterly.

When I was a young, impressionable freshman,24 I took Latin. I had the brilliant idea to write all of my Latin with my left hand, so as to embed it more deeply. Of course, the professor shut that idea down on the grounds of legibility.25 But, today, when I tried writing with my left hand for the first time in a while, I noticed that I was thinking of the Latin26 translations for a lot of what I was writing. This continued to the point where I began thinking in27 Latin. But, I did certainly enjoy it.

Hence, I’ll be continuing my sinister diary.


  1. most likely, if you’re right handed, haven’t taken Latin, and lack pedantic friends

  2. sinister,sinistra,sinistrum

  3. lack of

  4. apparently I’m becoming British more than I thought. Next thing you know I’ll be spelling it oxydized

  5. like the hand

  6. I shamelessly use wiktionary

  7. as opposed to the young, impressionable junior that I am now

  8. no this story doesn’t end poorly

  9. the inner workings of my mind are a mystery even to me

  10. or, more precisely, the lack thereof

  11. and also Spanish because my mind groups things oddly

  12. broken

  13. ooh, does the go in the quotation? If so it should be capitalized

  14. so, if you’re right handed, haven’t taken latin, and also not pedantic

  15. latin?

  16. sinister,sinistra,sinistrum

  17. also, note that diary comes from the word for daily allowance

  18. liberal arts are weird

  19. lack of

  20. apparently I’m becoming British more than I thought. Next thing you know I’ll be spelling it oxydized

  21. like the hand

  22. I shamelessly use wiktionary, like all real scholars

  23. I might make the claim about my music, especially when asked

  24. as opposed to the young, impressionable junior that I am now

  25. or, more precisely, the lack thereof

  26. and also Spanish because my mind groups things oddly

  27. broken

Platform Diving

First Posted: 2018 October 16

Draft 1

Today, I tried platform diving for the first time. For those unaware,1 there are two types of competitive diving.2 There’s springboard3 and platform.4 I got to try 1, 3, and 5 meters today. It was much different than springboard, and I kind of like it more. We’ll see how the rest of the semester goes.


  1. i.e. most everyone

  2. ignoring like freediving and SCUBA and whatnot

  3. the thing that bounces, which I do

  4. which is a concrete platform

Twelfth Night Review

First Posted: 2018 October 15

Draft 2

Today, I had the incredible opportunity to see Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub’s adaptation of Twelfth Night at the Young Vic Theatre. It compresses the entire show into 90 minutes, including all of the1 musical interludes From the opening until the curtain call, I was almost overwhelmed with joy.

Now, onto a description of the show itself. The show opens with an old man handing out jerk chicken.2 At least I hope that was part of the show, and it wasn’t just a random stranger giving me food.3 The set is a beautiful one point perspective feeling city street. In the middle of the thrust, a van is parked. The show begins with the van slowly moving upstage while mourners come out and soulful saxophone plays. However, that is the first and last time the show is anything less than overwhelmingly energized.

The biggest uniting thread in the show, other than the comic ridiculousness, is the women’s chorus. After every major plot point, they come out, singing “What’s the word on the street?” before explaining what just happened, in case we had somehow missed it.

Then, when Malvolio sings his song about becoming Count, it felt like the quintessential musical number, but something I couldn’t name was missing. All of a sudden, he does a magic trick and has a cane in his hand, and the chorus comes out in top hats. The tap dancing interlude that follows was exactly as fun and cheesy as it4 sounds. That was a hallmark of the show, honestly: the cheesy, over the top fun.

Another musical highlight for me was the scene where Viola5 and Andrew are preparing for the fight. I had equal parts Rocky and Meatloaf coursing through my head in the song, where the cast starts air punching and jump-roping to fast paced electrical guitar and strong drums.

I left the show the happiest I’ve been after a theatre production in a while. And really, what more can I say? If you get a chance, I would highly recommend watching it

Draft 1

Today, I had the incredible opportunity to see Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub’s adaptation of Twelfth Night at the Young Vic Theatre. It, like all good adaptations, takes the best parts of the original show and leaves out the bad. From the opening until the curtain call, I was star struck for the entire show.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, I sometimes just have a great time. As the diving coach mentioned, I have an expression of joy when I’m doing things I enjoy, there diving. This weekend, I had the chance to climb around Arthur’s Seat, and had a great goofy grin on. And, tonight, my cheeks were almost sore from how much I was smiling.

Now, onto a description of the show itself. The show opens with an old man handing out jerk chicken.6 At least I hope that was part of the show, and it wasn’t just a random stranger giving me food.7 The set is a beautiful one point perspective feeling city street. In the middle of the thrust, a van is parked. The show begins with the van slowly moving upstage while mourners come out and soulful saxophone plays. However, that is the first and last time the show felt anything but energized to me.

When Malvolio sings his song about becoming Count, it felt like the quintessential musical number, but something I couldn’t name was missing. All of a sudden, he does a magic trick and has a cane in his hand, and the chorus comes out in top hats. The tap dancing interlude that follows was exactly as fun and cheesy as it8 sounds. That was a hallmark of the show, honestly. It was a cheery, fun, lively show.

Speaking of the chorus, they were another highlight of the show. After every major plot point, a women’s chorus came out, singing “What’s the word on the street?” before explaining what just happened, in case we had missed it.

But, throughout the show, every actor was as over the top as they could possibly be without making it into a farce.

Another musical highlight for me was the scene where Viola9 and Andrew are preparing for the fight. I had equal parts Rocky and Meatloaf coursing through my head in the song, where the cast starts air punching and jump-roping to fast paced electrical guitar and strong drums.

I left the show the happiest I’ve been after a theatre production in a while. And really, what more can I say?


  1. many

  2. which was delicious

  3. which, now that I think about it, wouldn’t have affected me taking it

  4. hopefully

  5. spoiler?

  6. which was delicious

  7. which, now that I think about it, wouldn’t have affected me taking it

  8. hopefully

  9. spoiler?

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

First Posted: 2018 October 14

Draft 1

Wisdom 7:7b “I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.”

Today is the 26 Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B.

Today’s first reading tells two important things. First, if you pray to the Lord for help, he will aid you. Second, wisdom is the ultimate treasure anyone can have.

The second reading echoes this sentiment, calling that “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”1 To me, this is such a meaningful statement. The word of God is what caused creation to be, is what breathes life into all of creation, and is what calls us each day to follow Him more closely. I know I don’t do it enough, but I do really appreciate the time I spend listening and reading the Word.


  1. Hebrews 4:12a

Getting Lost

First Posted: Day beginning 2018 October 13

Draft 1

Today, I was planning on posting about my trip to a museum. But, I’m also in Scotland.

Since I was in Scotland, I decided that I should try to take the opportunity ot listen to some Scottish Folk music. Last night, my friends convinced me not to go. So, tonight, I decided to go.

Of course, it turns out every pub operates on the “Folk Music Friday” “Standard Pop Saturday”1 realm for music, so finding folk music was hard. I did end up being able to find a single pub with it, around a mile away.

By 23002 I was feeling tired, and so routed myself home. After a short walk, I found that the hotel I had routed myself was a different version of the hotel that I was staying at. So, I routed myself to the correct one. Then, at 2326, the unthinkable happened: my phone died. I became slightly worried.

But, I found out that people were very willing to respond to “hello, do you know how to get to the train station?”3 Of course, I soon learned that there were two train stations. Thankfully, my gut did tell me the right one, so I began heading. Somehow I ended up on a gradually curving set of streets which led me in a circle.

Talk about disappointing. I was so excited to see familiar sites, only to realize that it was where I had just been. Eventually, I found my way to the train station, although it was much larger than I remembered. I found a hotel, which had a map and a very helpful man who was willing to draw directions to my hotel. I found a familiar site finally, and made my way home.

Highlights: two drunk men, who “aren’t from around here” asking everyone near me for directions to the train station. But, I did hear some music, even though it was a little disappointing. I also managed to take more than 30000 steps, which is a lot for me.4 Time for some sleep.


  1. i don’t know if either of those are real, but I liked the alliteration in the first, so forced the second

  2. 11pm

  3. I knew my hotel was near the train station, so assumed I could find it from there

  4. it helps that I also climbed Arthur’s Seat

Playing with GarageBand

First Posted: 2018 October 12

Draft 2

Today, I was on a five hour train ride. While on the ride, I was doing some homework on the iPad that Grinnell College lent me for the semester. Then, having finished the homework, I decided to play around on the iPad. I saw that the iPad came with GarageBand, so I thought I’d play with it. It was fun!

I forgot how much fun it can be to make musical sounds with synthesizers. Of course, it took around three hours to make a just under three minute long piece,1 but that’s still less time than composing, recording, and then post processing. It wasn’t great, but people who’ve listened to it have responded more positively than neutrally. If you’d like to hear it, feel free to email me at flyingrebelpipes@gmail.com.

Draft 1

Today, I was on a fiveish hour train ride.2 While on the ride, I was doing some homework on the iPad that Grinnell College lent me for the semester.3 Then, having finished the homework, I decided to play around with an app on the iPad. I saw that the iPad came with GarageBand, so I thought I’d play around with it. It was fun!

I forgot how much fun it can be to play around with synthesizers. Of course, it took around three hours to make a just under three minute long piece,4 but that’s still less time than composing, recording, and then post processing. It wasn’t great, but people who’ve listened to it have responded more positively than neutrally. If you’d like to hear it, feel free to email me at flyingrebelpipes@gmail.com.


  1. not a song, which I talk about somewhere earlier

  2. as I’ve mentioned multiple other times, I’m apparently not supposed to say where in case terrorists are targeting me (because apparently the many devices I carry with automatic location setting don’t exist) so I won’t share my location.

  3. I love my class

  4. not a song, which I talk about somewhere earlier

Homesickness

First Posted: 2018 October 11

Draft 2

One of my biggest concerns about studying abroad was how homesick I might get. For those of you unfamiliar,1 I’ve lived my entire life in the same beautiful city2 of 8000 or so people. This semester, I decided that I would spend a semester of my life 4100 miles away, in a city of many millions.

I was expecting some culture shock, which I wrote about earlier. But, I was also expecting to get homesick, if only because all of my friends told me I’d feel that way.

Now, the only time I’ve ever been truly homesick was, strangely enough, at a camp at Grinnell College.3 But, I’d never spent so much time away from family, friends, and familiar surroundings. And, the first night, I worried a lot about how homesick I might feel, to the point that I began to feel a little homesick.

But, in the 43 days that have followed,4 that’s the only homesickness I’ve felt. I’ve still got another 70 or so, but I don’t think it’s going to suddenly come on. So, yay! No homesick for me.

Draft 1

One of my biggest concerns about studying abroad was how homesick I might get. For those of you unfamiliar,5 I’ve lived my entire life within the same beautiful city.6 Then, I decided that, just for funsies, I would spend a semester of my life 4100 miles away.

I was expecting some culture shock, which I wrote about earlier. But, I was also expecting to get homesick.

Now, the only time I’ve ever been truly homesick was, strangely enough, at a camp at Grinnell College.7 But, I’d never spent so much time away from family, friends, and familiar surroundings. And, the first night, I worried a lot about how homesick I might feel, to the point that I began to feel a little homesick.

But, it’s been 44 days8 and that’s the only homesickness I’ve felt. I’ve still got another 70 or so, but I don’t think it’s going to suddenly come on. So, yay! No homesick for me.


  1. and unable to use google

  2. gotta love Iowa definitions

  3. more details may come in the future, if I feel introspective but have nothing else to write about

  4. also, I just realized I’d almost forgotten my daily beard photo. Thank goodness for this post

  5. and unable to use google

  6. gotta love Iowa definitions

  7. more details may come in the future, if I feel introspective but have nothing else to write about

  8. also, I just realized I’d almost forgotten my daily beard photo. Thank goodness for this post

Thinking About Drafts

First Posted: 2018 October 101

Draft 3

As I mentioned in an earlier post,2 I plan to leave every draft of every post visible for all eternity.3 All of those drafts have come from a4 continuous writing,5 except in the case of the assignments I have posted, which have taken a few days.6

But, just because I’ve published7 a post doesn’t mean that it’s finished. I’ve left posts before I was satisfied because I was too tired to continue.8 Since my self defined obligation is writing daily, not writing well daily, it’s fine.

Nonetheless, a certain part of my personality9 demands satisfactory writing out of me. So, I may go back and update old posts. If so, I’ll make a note about the fact that I’ve edited them, and also add in the date of first publication, since that will become relevant afterwards.10

Draft 3

As I mentioned in an earlier post,11 I plan to leave every draft of every one of my posts visible for all eternity.12 All of those drafts have come from a single writing stint, except in the case of the assignments I have posted, which have taken a few days.13

But, just because I’ve published14 a post doesn’t mean that it’s finished. I’ve more than once left a post not because I was satisfied, but because I was too tired to continue.15 Since my self defined obligation is writing daily, not writing well daily, it’s fine.

Nonetheless, a certain part of my personality16 demands satisfactory writing out of me. So, I may go back and update old posts. If so, I’ll make a note about the fact that I’ve edited them, and also add in the date of first publication, since that will become relevant afterwards.17

New question: what about the drafts of my written assignments that I wrote earlier than the day that they were posted? I think I’m just going to ignore that in the past, and make an effort to remember in the future. Great.

Draft 2

As I mentioned in an earlier post,18 I’m leaving each draft of my posts up for all eternity.19 But, just because I’ve published20 a post doesn’t mean that it’s finished. I’ve more than once left a post not because I was satisfied, but because I was too tired to continue.21 Since my self defined obligation is writing daily, not writing well daily, it’s fine.

Nonetheless, a certain part of my personality22 demands satisfactory writing out of me. So, I may go back and update old posts. If so, I’ll make a note about the fact that I’ve edited them, and also add in the date of first publication, since that will become relevant afterwards.23 Now the question becomes: do I alert my24 readers about the changes. Advantages: looks like I’m writing even more, lets people see what polished me looks like. Disadvantages: spams other people, I’m not even sure if I want to remember. So, I think I’m not going to make notices when I revise a post, unless there’s a significant reason to. Woo25 good job writing by the seat of my pants26 take two.

Draft 1

As I mentioned in an earlier post,27 I’m leaving each draft of my posts up for all eternity.28 But, just because I’ve published29 a post doesn’t mean that it’s finished. Very often, I’ve left the post unsatisfied, but more tired than able to continue writing. So, I publish it and call it good enough.

But what happens when I decide to revise a post later? Should I just add another draft number to the top? Do I make a note after the draft, like “revised this date”? Ooh, does that mean I should start writing when each draft is written? I think I’m actually going to start doing that. Whoops, instead of solving an issue I just made another. Actually, this works. Now I can just add to new drafts, or even at the top of the page, updated this date. Great job writing at the speed of thought.


  1. the date format that makes the most sense

  2. it makes the sense that disclaimer is the first post with drafts, but I’m still surprised

  3. barring any unforeseen circumstances, or the foreseen ones listed in the post

  4. nominally

  5. i.e. I get distracted while writing, but the computer never closes and the document is never saved because I like to live dangerously

  6. because I am good student

  7. for a liberal definition of publishing

  8. sometimes I start too tired. Those tend to be the really short posts

  9. the Type A part

  10. I’m not going to do so ahead of time because that takes energy, and isn’t worth the effort right now, and I’ll probably forget to in the morning

  11. hmm I guess it makes the most sense for my disclaimer to be my first post that has drafts, but it was still a surprise

  12. barring any unforeseen circumstances, or the foreseen ones listed in the post

  13. I think

  14. for a generous definition of publishing

  15. sometimes I start too tired. Those tend to be the really short posts

  16. the type a part

  17. I’m not going to do so ahead of time because that takes energy, and isn’t worth the effort right now, and I’ll probably forget to in the morning

  18. hmm I guess it makes the most sense for my disclaimer to be my first post that has drafts, but it was still a surprise

  19. barring any unforeseen circumstances, or the foreseen ones listed in the post

  20. for a generous definition of publishing

  21. sometimes I start too tired. Those tend to be the really short posts

  22. the type a part

  23. I’m not going to do so ahead of time because that takes energy, and isn’t worth the effort right now, and I’ll probably forget to in the morning

  24. alleged

  25. Whoo? I have no clue how to spell that sound and refuse to look it up

  26. I swear that’s a metaphor I’ve heard

  27. I’m not going to look up which one

  28. barring any unforeseen circumstances

  29. for a generous definition of publishing

Growing the Beard

Draft 1

In popular media, there’s an expression:1 “growing the beard.” It tends to mean that a show2 has begun to become more serious as it progresses.

While abroad, I’ve begun growing the beard myself. Now, this isn’t to say that I’m not still the joyful, carefree child that I was before I left. I’m growing a literal beard.

The reasons for this are varied. First, I enjoy having a beard, since it means that shaving takes far less time.3 If I only shave my neck,4 I can shave and be done in less than a minute. Even when also doing my cheeks,5 it still takes less than a few minutes. When I have to shave my whole face, it takes a fair amount more time.

Partially, it’s that I feel a much greater need to use shaving cream when doing my whole face. My neck doesn’t need it anymore,6 so if I only need to trim my neck, I can save all the effort there.

Partially, it’s that when I shave my face, I have much higher standards. With my neck and cheeks, I’m satisfied with “less hair than before, looks vaguely like I care.” But, when I’m shaving my whole face, I want it to be smooth. The last time I counted, it took,7 5 strokes with the grain, 5 strokes perpendicular to the grain, and 15 strokes against the grain, all on my very close cutting razor. That’s a lot of time, and it means that I inevitably cut myself at least once.

So, other than convenience, there’s the fact that I like the way I look with a beard. I continually get told I look far younger when clean shaven, so this way I don’t. Tying into that reason, it’s also a way of mapping my time.

Every one of my friends8 has at one point or another expressed to me that my beard has an ideal length. That generally comes in the form of “your beard is the wrong length,” but. So, while in London, I’m also taking a daily photo of my beard growth to document its progress. I take a photo in a different place everyday, as a way to motivate me to remember where I am.

Next, and most practically, we’ve passed the summer solstice. Days are getting shorter. Nights, therefore, are getting longer. In theory it’s getting colder.9 Having a beard means that I’ll keep warm as the days get colder.

So, the reasons are: convenience, appearance, documentation, and warmth. I think that’s all the reasons I’m growing it out, but I also tend to make up reasons as asked, so it’s possible that more have existed in the past, or will in the future.


  1. well, many expressions. This is one of them

  2. or other medium

  3. after shaving for the past 7 years (I think 7, maybe 8 by now)

  4. because fashion says not to have hair on your neck

  5. because apparently that’s another area

  6. although it does feel nice when I use it

  7. for each 1-3 inch section

  8. note: if you haven’t and consider me a friend, I also have confirmation bias here, so don’t worry, we’re still friends

  9. it was 20 degrees (F) cooler here than in Iowa when I left, so I just accept that temperature isn’t real

Misty Review

Draft 1

Today, I had the immense fortune of seeing Arinzé Kene’s “Misty” at the Trafalgar Theatre. Misty1 tells the story of a man writing a theatrical work. Throughout the process, he deals with internal doubt, lack of support from friends and family, and pressures from the theatre administration. It was an incredible experience, and not one that I can otherwise summarize.

The set began basically, with a cube-like shape on the stage. Where its shadow might go, the stage was roughened. Throughout, the stage and set are changed mostly through lighting.

The sounds of the show came both from prerecorded audio and from two live musicians. At times, it was difficult to tell what was prerecorded, and what was being done live, which was also true of the performance itself.

Though serious, the show was at many points incredibly funny. Though funny, many of the jokes still pointed to deeper issues.

Overall, it was an experience I would repeat in a heartbeat


  1. as far as I could tell

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

Draft 2

Mark 10:15 “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Today is the 27 Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B.

The main focus of today’s readings is marriage,1 but the line that stuck out to me was in the optional section of the Gospel. After exhorting the Pharisees that divorce is not from God, he talks to his disciples. Jesus tells the disciples that they must have faith like a child. For most of my life, this was one of the pieces of the Gospel I had the hardest time believing. As I look back, I realize it’s mostly that I have a problem with unquestioned faith. To be more precise, I have a problem with being told not to question my faith.

More importantly, I remember being a child. I questioned everything. And I do mean everything. I asked the normal questions, “why is the grass green,” “why is the sky blue,” and so on. I also2 asked slightly odder questions, including many about my faith. I don’t think that I was not a normal child in that regard. But, I did trust that whoever I was asking would know the answer, and tell me the truth.

That’s what having the faith of a child means to me. Children don’t blindly follow, but they do follow. They question, but they trust in answers. There’s a sense of joy that comes with every question, and a sense of peace that comes with every answer.

Draft 1

Mark 10:15 “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Today is the 27 Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B.

The main focus of today’s readings is marriage, but the line that stuck out to me was in the optional section of the Gospel. Jesus tells the disciples that they must have faith like a child. Now, this is a belief that I’ve had a lot of trouble accepting the explanations for in my life. The way I tend to hear it expressed is that we should believe unquestioningly.

But, I remember being a child. I questioned everything. Questions like “Why is the sky blue? Why is grass green?” and so on were a constant feature in my life. And to me, that’s what child-like faith is about. It’s not blindly following, it’s questioning everything, to really learn about it. There’s a blind trust that the person answering your questions knows the answer,3 and that the person answering will tell the truth.4 And, there’s a sense of joy and wonder when we learn something new. I still remember the constant sense of excitement I used to get whenever I learned something new. So, faith like a child means questioning everything, not nothing.


  1. at least, I thought so, and the priest’s homily and the bulletin both said so

  2. assuming I remember correctly

  3. and since the Church believes that God knows everything, the faith isn’t misplaced

  4. which hopefully isn’t theologically controversial to say God does

10/10

Draft 1

Today was1 the annual 10/10 celebration at Grinnell College. It’s weird being further away from it than I ever have been before. Apparently in years past, students in my program would host an event for the Grinnell students in Europe. That didn’t happen this year. I wonder if that’s another 10/10 tradition that’s gone forever.


  1. is?

A Broken Nose

Prereading note: There’s mentions of injury and blood, so if you don’t want to read about that, avoid today.

Draft 1

As some of you know, I’m somewhat1 non-risk-averse.2 And, that often results in some fun stories.

My favorite stories are probably: the time I scalped myself,3 the time I set my hair on fire,4 the time I bled through fiberglass,5 and the time that I found out that all of the not brown6 in my eye can fall to the bottom if I hit my eye correctly. Today, I get to have a new one! The time I broke my nose.

All things considered, it’s somewhat surprising to me that I’ve never broken it before. But, I was learning new skills today, and then misinterpreted a direction. I was on my hands, trying to learn a handstand forward roll, when I heard “go into a ball”. Now, I normally just pull my legs to my chest when I’m supposed to do that, so I did.

As you might expect, that threw me off balance. My knee came crashing down, and I heard a crunch. There was a lot of blood coming out.

But, small blessings still exist. I didn’t get any other injuries. Because of how I fell, my nose didn’t get bent out of place. I was surrounded by friends who helped me mop up the blood and start recovery.

But, I can now report on what a broken nose feels like.7 It felt almost entirely like an ice cream headache. My nose still hurts to touch, but that’s fine. Up at the bridge, it was really slidy, and I could move it from side to side and up and down.8 Here’s hoping it heals well!


  1. read: I still don’t believe in injury

  2. I hope I hyphenated that correctly

  3. maybe a future post

  4. which, honestly, was pretty cool

  5. honestly, a surprisingly funny story

  6. the green

  7. yay!

  8. yes mom, I stopped doing it after medical advice advised me to not do it

What’s a Day?

Draft 1

The concept of a day is an interesting one. Should it be based on sunrise, sunset, midnight, noon or sleep? Until today, I was operating under the idea of midnight, since that’s what the law says. Today, since I forgot about time, I’m using the idea of sleep cycles. So, this.

Diving!

I dove for the first time in London today, and it was great. I forgot how much I love diving. After my second dive, the coach said “wow you look really happy up there.” Sorry this is so abrupt, but my legs hurt from pole dancing,1 and I’m tired. Can’t wait to be diving with the team again though.


  1. will be discussed in the future

Class Day Two

Today, I had the second day of my class. It went much better than the first. At one point, someone else was unsure of what functional groups was on the molecule, and I made a new friend by telling him.1 I feel much more like I belong.

But, the whole experience made me realize some things. For as quickly as I got over it, there was a non-zero amount of time where I seriously considered dropping the class, and finding something else to take instead. If I, a stereotypically normal STEAM2 person, who never feels out of place in STEAM classes, or really any classes at my home school,3 felt out of place because I didn’t know something, how much worse must it be for people who come in already feeling like they don’t belong?

I don’t know, and I’m pretending that my experience with this is comparable to those who are from traditionally underrepresented groups. Instead, this really showcased for me the importance of the different outreach programs that exist to encourage these groups to continue with STEAM.

But, before I ramble on too much, I did really enjoy this class. I’m really excited to learn about polymers, and I hope that I’ll be able to take some of the knowledge back with me.4


  1. GC Organic Chemistry still haunts me

  2. Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture (yes I’m from Iowa, how’d you know?), and Mathematics

  3. almost typed University. London is getting to me

  4. not that I think it’ll get confiscated at the border, just that I’m not sure if it’ll be relevant to my life at any point while the memory is fresh

Dance Nation Essay

Prereading Note: This is being written for a class, and began as an adaptation from this post. Each draft will also end with a word count, as there is a requirement there.

Draft 6

Love, loss, dance, and werewolves all feature prominently in Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at the Almeida Theatre, which follows a children’s dance squad as they prepare for national tournaments. The show places a large emphasis on the sexualization and sexuality of young women, as well as their adolescence. Recommended for ages 16 and over, the show artfully weaves the lives of adults into their childhood recollections, creating a layered effect that both alienates and invites the audience.

Clearly, this dichotomy of alienation and invitation was a goal of both Barron and Director Bijan Sheibani, as every aspect of the show pushes the audience into this. From the cast’s age, to Samal Blak’s set design, to Lee Curran’s lighting, the show leaves the audience in a constant state of confusion of time, space, and location.

The show begins with a blank set, and so the review follows. Before the show, the crowd sees a curtain lit to the nebulous phase between translucence and transparency. A mirrored wall behind can barely be made out, with lights running up the seams. As the show opens, the curtain drops, never to be seen again. Mirrors make up the entirety of the back wall, with lights strung between each. Throughout the show, these mirrors put the audience on stage, forcing them to see and therefore confront themselves in the scenes to follow.

These mirrored panels turn and twist about throughout the show, changing first into the black glitter of a dance backdrop. Blak is not content to merely use the panels as typical dance decoration, however, and later turns them into doors, a wolf head, a flowered field, and even a bathroom stall.

Blak artfully uses the panels as their own set of dichotomies: they serve as both entrances and exits, both bridging and breaking points between scenes, and as a way to both demarcate and join different sections of the stage.

In addition to the dichotomy of welcome and disaffection towards the audience, Blak plays with the dichotomy of set and prop. Throughout the show, actors bring in the set pieces and props, which are pushed to the side, rather than being removed from the stage. The stage begins to feel more and more cramped as the wings fill, and it’s clear that the dancers feel the same way. Dance is slowly consuming their identities, and it’s up to them to decide how to deal with it. Curran’s lighting artfully weaves into Blak’s set. Every recurring source of lighting is used at different times to conversely bring the audience in or push them away. The most striking of these recurring lights is the portrait of the moon. The moon is used to both draw the audience into the story of Irfan Shamji’s Luke, but also to push them away during the “girls”’ rebellion dance.

As a final note about the set, all along the walls of the stage are trophies from dancers past. Brendan Cowell’s Dance Teacher Pat chooses to use these trophies to symbolize the show’s meaning of success. Not only does Cowell point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers those dancers, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. One of the panels turns and shows us a shrine dedicated to the dancer, another of Blak’s masterful uses of the panels. All of the dancers begin paying homage to the dancer. This is the first of many times throughout the show that the cast speak about how winning (here becoming noticed and recruited) is the only important aspect of dance.

To quote a common sports saying, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” What the show quietly but insistently points out, however, is that there is a constant culling in this mindset. Despite being a championship team, no one remembers the rest of the star’s team. Slowly but surely, in memory and in action, the weak are culled. Only the strong remain.

In the first scene, Miranda Foster’s Vanessa gets injured and is never heard from again. Near the end of the show, another dancer makes a mistake and quits dance forever as a result. These actions, along with monologues, showcase a dangerous aspect of not only children’s athletics, but also of society. Weakness and failure are not used as opportunities for growth, but rather as signs of inherent deficiency. And, since the weak get culled, any mistake means you no longer belong. But of course, weakness is not only physical. When Shamji’s character tells us about his nostalgia for car rides home with his mother, we never again are given the chance to view him as anything but a surface for the other actors to push ideas off of.counterpoint for other characters.

In addition to the theme of growth, both physical and emotional, Barron adds a message about a woman’s role. As the show culminates, Karla Crome’s Amina is placed in the unenviable position of choosing between the sport she loves and the people she loves. She is vilified for making the choice that lauded and celebrated men make in other theatrical shows. Here, Barron finally outright states a woman’s role: women are expected to exist solely for the benefit of those around them. The show had alluded to this before, with mentions of the actors bonding over shared trauma, where their growth comes from helping each other.

However, beautiful lights and sights, touching messages, and heartfelt acting isn’t the measure of a successful show. There were countless times during the show where I felt myself forgetting that I was in a crowd, watching a group of grown adults acting as prepubescent children, and instead saw myself as a spectator at these competitions, or a person watching some children as they grow and learn. The separation from life, if only for a few moments, is truly what makes a show worth seeing. The Almeida’s staging of Dance Nation certainly suspended me in time.

Draft 5

Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at the Almeida Theatre follows a dance squad of ten to twelve year olds as they prepare for national tournaments. The show places a large emphasis on the sexualization and sexuality of young women, as well as their adolescence. Recommended for ages 16 and over, the show artfully weaves the lives of adults into their childhood recollections, creating a layered effect that both alienates and invites the audience.

Clearly, this dichotomy of alienation and invitation was a goal of Director Bijan Sheibani, as every aspect of the show pushes the audience into this. From the cast’s age, to Samal Blak’s set design, to Lee Curran’s lighting, the show leaves the audience in a constant state of confusion of time, space, and location.

The show begins with a blank set, and so the review follows. Before the show, the crowd sees a curtain lit to the nebulous phase between translucence and transparency. A mirrored wall behind can barely be made out, with lights running up the seams. As the show opens, the curtain drops, never to be seen again. Mirrors make up the entirety of the back wall, with lights strung between each. Throughout the show, these mirrors put the audience on stage, forcing them to see and therefore confront themselves in the scenes to follow.

These mirrored panels turn and twist about throughout the show, changing first into the black glitter of a dance backdrop. Blak is not content to merely use the panels as typical dance decoration, however, and later turns them into doors, a wolf head, and even a bathroom stall.

Blak artfully uses the panels as their own set of dichotomies: they serve as both entrances and exits, both bridging and breaking points between scenes, and as a way to both demarcate and join different sections of the stage.

In addition to the dichotomy of welcome and disaffection towards the audience, Blak plays with the dichotomy of set and prop. Throughout the show, actors bring in the set pieces and props, which are pushed to the side, rather than being removed from the stage. The stage begins to feel more and more cramped as the wings fill, and it’s clear that the dancers feel the same way. Dance is slowly consuming their identities, and it’s up to them to decide how to deal with it.

Curran’s lighting artfully weaves into Blak’s set. Every recurring source of lighting is used at different times to conversely bring the audience in or push them away. The most striking of these recurring lights is the portrait of the moon. The moon is used to both draw the audience into Irfan Shamji’s Luke’s story, but also to push them away during the “girl’s” rebellion dance.

As a final note about the set, all along the walls of the stage are trophies from dancers past. Brendan Cowell’s Dance Teacher Pat chooses to use these trophies to symbolize the show’s meaning of success. Not only does the Cowell point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers them, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. One of the panels turns and shows us a shrine dedicated to the dancer. another of Blak’s masterful uses of the panels. All of the dancers begin paying homage to the dancer. This is the first of many times throughout the show that the cast speak about how winning (here becoming noticed and recruited) is the only important aspect of dance. To quote a common sports saying, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” What the show quietly but insistently points out, however, is that there is a constant culling in this mindset. Despite being a championship team, no one remembers the rest of the star’s team. Slowly but surely, in memory and in action, the weak are culled. Only the strong remain.

In the first scene, Miranda Foster’s Amina gets injured and is never heard from again. Near the end of the show, another dancer makes a mistake and quits dance forever as a result. These actions, along with monologues, showcase a dangerous aspect of not only children’s athletics, but also of society. Weakness and failure are not used as opportunities for growth, but rather as signs of inherent deficiency. And, since the weak get culled, any mistake means you no longer belong. But of course, weakness is not only physical. When Shamji’s character tells us about his nostalgia for car rides home with his mother, we never again are given the chance to view him as anything but a counterpoint for other characters.

In addition to the theme of growth, both physical and emotional, Barron adds a message about a woman’s role. As the show culminates, Karla Crome’s Amina is placed in the unenviable position of choosing between the sport she loves and the people she loves. She makes the choice that is lauded and celebrated when men make in theatre, and is vilified for it. Here, Barron finally outright states a woman’s role: women are expected to exist solely for the benefit of those around them. The show had alluded to this before, with mentions of the actors bonding over shared trauma, and growth from helping each other.

However, beautiful lights and sights, touching messages, and heartfelt acting isn’t the measure of a successful show. There were countless times during the show where I felt myself forgetting that I was in a crowd, watching a group of grown adults acting as prepubescent children, and instead saw myself as a spectator at these competitions, or a person watching some children as they grow and learn. The separation from life, if only for a few moments, is truly what makes a show worth seeing. The Almeida’s staging of Dance Nation certainly suspended me in time.

Draft 4

Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at the Almeida Theatre follows a dance squad of ten to twelve year olds as they prepare for national tournaments. The show places a large emphasis on the sexualization and sexuality of young women, as well as their adolescence. Recommended for ages 16 and over, the show artfully weaves the lives of adults into their childhood recollections, creating a layered effect that both alienates and invites the audience.

Clearly, this dichotomy of alienation and invitation was a goal of Director Bijan Sheibani, as every aspect of the show pushes the audience into this. From the cast’s age, to Samal Blak’s set design, to Lee Curran’s lighting, the show leaves the audience in a constant state of confusion of time, space, and location.

The show begins with a blank set, and so the review follows. Before the show, the crowd sees a curtain lit to the nebulous phase between translucence and transparency. A mirrored wall behind can barely be made out, with lights running up the seams. As the show opens, the curtain drops, never to be seen again. Mirrors make up the entirety of the back wall, with lights strung between each. Throughout the show, these mirrors put the audience on stage, forcing them to see and therefore confront themselves in the scenes to follow.

These mirrored panels turn and twist about throughout the show, changing first into the black glitter of a dance backdrop. Blak is not content to merely use the panels as typical dance decoration, however, and later turns them into doors, a wolf head, and even a bathroom stall.

Blak artfully uses the panels as their own set of dichotomies: they serve as both entrances and exits, both bridging and breaking points between scenes, and as a way to both demarcate and join different sections of the stage.

In addition to the dichotomy of welcome and disaffection towards the audience, Blak plays with the dichotomy of set and prop. Throughout the show, actors bring in the set pieces and props, which are pushed to the side, rather than being removed from the stage. The stage begins to feel more and more cramped as the wings fill, and it’s clear that the dancers feel the same way. Dance is slowly consuming their identities, and it’s up to them to decide how to deal with it.

Curran’s lighting artfully weaves into Blak’s set. Every recurring source of lighting is used at different times to conversely bring the audience in or push them away. The most striking of these recurring lights is the portrait of the moon. The moon is used to both draw the audience into Irfan Shamji’s Luke’s story, but also to push them away during the “girl’s” rebellion dance.

As a final note about the set, all along the walls of the stage are trophies from dancers past. Brendan Cowell’s Dance Teacher Pat chooses to use these trophies to symbolize the show’s meaning of success. Not only does the Cowell point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers them, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. One of the panels turns and shows us a shrine dedicated to the dancer. another of Blak’s masterful uses of the panels. All of the dancers begin paying homage to the dancer. This is the first of many times throughout the show that the cast speak about how winning (here becoming noticed and recruited) is the only important aspect of dance. To quote a common sports saying, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” What the show quietly but insistently points out, however, is that there is a constant culling in this mindset. Despite being a championship team, no one remembers the rest of the star’s team. Slowly but surely, in memory and in action, the weak are culled. Only the strong remain.

In the first scene, Miranda Foster’s Amina gets injured and is never heard from again. Near the end of the show, another dancer makes a mistake and quits dance forever as a result. These actions, along with monologues, showcase a dangerous aspect of not only children’s athletics, but also of society. Weakness and failure are not used as opportunities for growth, but rather as signs of inherent deficiency. And, since the weak get culled, any mistake means you no longer belong. But of course, weakness is not only physical. When Shamji’s character tells us about his nostalgia for car rides home with his mother, we never again are given the chance to view him as anything but a counterpoint for other characters.

In addition to the theme of growth, both physical and emotional, Barron adds a message about a woman’s role. As the show culminates, Karla Crome’s Amina is placed in the unenviable position of choosing between the sport she loves and the people she loves. She makes the choice that is lauded and celebrated when men make in theatre, and is vilified for it. Here, Barron finally outright states a woman’s role: women are expected to exist solely for the benefit of those around them. The show had alluded to this before, with mentions of the actors bonding over shared trauma, and growth from helping each other.

However, beautiful lights and sights, touching messages, and heartfelt acting isn’t the measure of a successful show. There were countless times during the show where I felt myself forgetting that I was in a crowd, watching a group of grown adults acting as prepubescent children, and instead saw myself as a spectator at these competitions, or a person watching some children as they grow and learn. The separation from life, if only for a few moments, is truly what makes a show worth seeing. The Almeida’s staging of Dance Nation certainly suspended me in time. 973.

Draft 3

Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at the Almeida Theatre follows a U13 dance squad as it prepares for nationl tournaments. The show places a large emphasis on the sexualization and sexuality of young women, as well as their adolescence. Recommended for ages 16 and over, the show artfully weaves the lives of adults into their childhood recollections, creating a layered effect that both alienates and invites the audience.

Clearly, this dichotomy of alienation and invitation was a goal of Director Bijan Sheibani, as every aspect of the show pushes the audience into this. From the cast’s age, to Samal Blak’s set design, to Lee Curran’s lighting, the show leaves the audience in a constant state of confusion of time, space, and location.

Before the show, the crowd sees a curtain in the murky realm between translucence and transparency. A mirrored wall behind can barely be made out, with lights running up the seams. When the show opens, the curtain drops, never to be seen again. Mirrors make up the entirity of the back wall, with lights strung between each. Throughout the show, these mirrors put the audience on stage, forcing them to see and therefore confront themselves in the scenes to follow.

These mirrored panels turn and twist about throughout the show, changing first into the black glitter of a dance backdrop. Blak is not content to merely use the panels as typical dance decoration, however, and later turns them into doors, a wolf head, and even a bathroom stall.

Blak artfully uses the panels as their own set of dichotomies: they serve as both entrances and exits, both bridging and breaking points between scenes, and as a way to both demarcate and join different sections of the stage.

Blak also did a wonderful job of bridging the dichotomy that is set and prop. Actors carried in the set pieces, or pieces that they worked with remained a part of the show. Throughout the show, the detritus of the dance studio slowly grows and takes over the wings of the stage. The stage begins to feel more and more cramped as the wings fill, and it’s clear that the dancers feel the same way. Dance is slowly consuming their identities, and it’s up to them to decide how to deal with it.

Curran’s lighting artfully weaves into Blak’s set, encouraging this dichotomy. Every recurring source of lighting is used to bring the audience in, as well as push them away. One of these is the recurring motif of a moon. The moon is used to both draw the audience into Luke’s story, but also to push them away during the “girl’s” rebellion dance.

A final note about the set, as means to transition into the acting, all along what is meant to be the ceiling of the room are trophies from dance competitions past. Sheibani and Brendan Cowell’s Dance Teacher Pat choose to use these trophies as a way to symbolize the show’s meaning of success. Not only does the Cowell point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers them, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. One of the panels turns and shows us a shrine dedicated to the dancer. All of the dancers begin paying homage to the dancer. This is the first of many times throughout the show that the cast speak about how winning (becoming noticed and recruited) is the only important aspect of dance. To quote a common sports saying, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” What the show quietly but insistently points out, however, is that there is a constant culling in this mindset. Despite being a championship team, no one remembers the rest of the star’s team. Slowly but surely, in memory and in action, the weak are culled. Only the strong remain.

In the first scene, Miranda Foster’s Amina gets injured and is never heard from again. Near the end of the show, another dancer makes a mistake and quits dance forever as a result. These actions, along with monologues, showcase a dangerous aspect of not only children’s athletics, but also of society. Weakness and failure are not used as opportunities for growth, but rather as signs of inherent deficiency. And, since the weak get culled, any mistake means you no longer belong.

As the show culminates, we see Karla Crome’s Amina placed in the unenviable position of choosing between the sport she loves and the people she loves. She makes the choice that is lauded and celebrated when men make in theatre, and is vilified for it. Through this, Barron adds her final message to the show: women are expected to exist solely for the benefit of those around them.

However, beautiful lights and sights, touching messages, and heartfelt acting isn’t the measure of a successful show. There were countless times during the show where I felt myself forgetting that I was in a crowd, watching a group of grown adults acting as prepubescent children, and instead saw myself as a spectator at these competitions, or a person watching some children as they grow and learn. The separation from life, if only for a few moments, is truly what makes a show worth seeing. The Almeida’s staging of Dance Nation certainly suspended me in time. 887.

Draft 2

Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at the Almeida Theatre follows a U13 dance squad as it prepares for nationl tournaments. The show places a large emphasis on the sexualization and sexuality of young women, as well as their adolescence. Recommended for ages 16 and over, the show artfully weaves the lives of adults into their childhood recollections, creating a layered effect that both alienates and invites the audience.

Clearly, this dichotomy of alienation and invitation was a goal of Director Bijan Sheibani and Set Designer Samal Blak.

When first allowed on stage, the crowd sees a curtain in the murky realm between translucence and transparency. A mirrored wall behind can barely be made out, with lights running up the seams. When the show opens, the curtain drops, never to be seen again. Mirrors made up the entire back wall, with lights strung between each. Throughout the show, but especially in the beginning, these mirrors put the audience on stage, forcing them to confront themselves in the scenes to follow.

These mirrored panels turn and twist about throughout the show, changing first into the black glitter of a dance backdrop. Blak is not content to merely use the panels as typical dance decoration, however, and later turns them into doors, a wolf head, and even a bathroom stall.

The use of the panels as entries and exits, to bridge and break scenes, and at the end as a way to recognize the disjointed nature of both the show and life is sublimely achieved. Each of Blak’s set choices felt masterfully laid out.

Lee Curran’s lighting of the show is also incredibly helpful for setting and moving the scenes along, as well as making the minimal set feel larger. When Irfan Shamji’s Luke is on the car ride home with his mother, the moon in the upper right of the stage tells us of the long day he’s had, and connects us to the other dancers, who each have their own memories of the night. As the drive continues, orange lights flow by their faces, reminding the audience of their movement. When Ria Zmitrowicz’s Zuzu has a breakdown, the lights become harsher and harsher until a realization comes through.

But, these few examples are not truly representative of the lighting for the show. There were countless times during the show where I felt myself forgetting that I was in a crowd, watching a group of grown adults acting as prepubescent children, and instead saw myself as a spectator at these competitions. The acting was obviously a key piece of this, but Curran’s lighting was certainly an aspect of this. The lighting during each dance montage was as if pulled directly from a dance routine. Aline David’s choreography added to this effect, as did Moritz Junge’s costuming. Marc Teitler’s sounds added to the dichotomy that Blak and Sheibani used.

Blak also did a wonderful job of using set as prop, and prop as set. Actors carried in the set pieces, or pieces that they worked with remained a part of the show. In the wings of the stage grew the detritus of a dance studio throughout the show, reminding the audience that dance is never far from a young dancer’s mind. As the show progresses, the stage becomes more and more cluttered, just as the depth of the characters’ experiences do.

A final note about the set, as means to transition into the acting, all along what is meant to be the ceiling of the room are trophies from dance competitions past. Sheibani and Brendan Cowell’s Dance Teacher Pat choose to use these trophies as a way to symbolize the show’s meaning of success. Not only does the Cowell point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers them, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. One of the panels turns and shows us a shrine dedicated to the dancer. All of the dancers begin paying homage to the dancer. This is the first of many times throughout the show that the cast speak about how winning (becoming noticed and recruited) is the only important aspect of dance. To quote a common sports saying, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” What the show quietly but insistently points out, however, is that there is a constant culling in this mindset. Despite being a championship team, no one remembers the rest of the star’s team. Slowly but surely, in memory and in action, the weak are culled. Only the strong remain.

In the first scene, Miranda Foster’s Amina gets injured and is never heard from again. Near the end of the show, another dancer makes a mistake and quits dance forever as a result. These actions, along with monologues, showcase a dangerous aspect of not only children’s athletics, but also of society. Weakness and failure are not used as opportunities for growth, but rather as signs of inherent deficiency. And, since the weak get culled, any mistake means you no longer belong.

As the show culminates, we see Karla Crome’s Amina placed in the unenviable position of choosing between the sport she loves and the people she loves. She makes the choice that is lauded and celebrated when men make in theatre, and is vilified for it. Through this, Barron adds her final message to the show: women are expected to exist solely for the benefit of those around them. 907.

Draft 1

I had the opportunity to see Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at the Almeida Theatre, a show that follows a U13 dance squad as it prepares for national qualifying tournaments. The show places a large emphasis on the sexualization and sexuality of young women, as well as the struggles of adolescence.

The stage opens with mirrors facing the audience. These mirrors put the audience on stage, and force them to confront themselves in the scenes to follow.

When first allowed on stage, the crowd sees a curtain in the murky realm between translucence and transparency. A mirrored wall behind can barely be made out, with lights running up the seams. When the show opens, the curtain drops, never to be seen again. Mirrors made up the entire back wall, with lights strung between each.

Throughout the show, the once mirrored panels turn and twist about, becoming anything from doors, to black glitter decoration, to a wolf’s head, to a bathroom stall. The use of the panels as entries and exits, as a way to bridge and break scenes, and, at the end, as a way to recognize the disjointed nature of both the show and life is fantastic. Each of Samal Blak’s set choices felt masterfully laid out.

Lee Curran’s lighting of the show is also incredibly helpful for setting and moving the scenes along, as well as making the minimal set feel larger. When Irfan Shamji’s Luke is on the car ride home with his mother, the moon in the upper right of the stage tells us of the long day he’s had, and connects us to the other dancers, who each have their own memories of the night. As the drive continues, orange lights flow by their faces, reminding the audience of their movement. When Ria Zmitrowicz’s Zuzu has a breakdown, the lights become harsher and harsher until her realization comes through.

Continuing to mess with the set, the show did a wonderful job of playing with set as prop and prop as set. Actors tended to carry in the set pieces, or pieces that they worked with remained a part of the show. Always in the wings of the stage were the detritus of a dance studio, reminding that it’s never far away, especially in the minds of the dancers. As the show progresses, the stage becomes more and more cluttered, just as the depth of the characters’ experiences do.

A final note about the set, as means to transition into the acting, all along what is meant to be the ceiling of the room are trophies from dance competitions past. Director Bijan Sheibani and Brendan Cowell’s Dance Teacher Pat choose to use these trophies as a way to symbolize the show’s meaning of success. Not only does the Cowell point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers them, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. One of the panels turns and shows us a shrine dedicated to the dancer. All of the dancers begin paying homage to the dancer. This is the first of many times throughout the show that the cast speak about how winning (becoming noticed and recruited) is the only important aspect of dance. To quote a common sports saying, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” What the show quietly but insistently points out, however, is that there is a constant culling in this mindset. Despite being a championship team, no one remembers the rest of the star’s team. Slowly but surely, in memory and in action, the weak are culled. Only the strong remain.

In the first scene, Miranda Foster’s Amina gets injured and is never heard from again. Near the end of the show, another dancer makes a mistake and quits dance forever as a result. These actions, along with monologues, showcase a dangerous aspect of not only children’s athletics, but also of society. Weakness and failure are not used as opportunities for growth, but rather as signs of inherent deficiency. And, since the weak get culled, any mistake means you no longer belong. 686 words.

Reflections on Today’s Gospel

Prereading Note: Sundays will probably be reading responses, and I’ll start each one with the line that stands out most to me.

Draft 2

Mark 9:40 “For he that is not against us is for us.”

Today is the 26 Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B.

The first reading has Joshua1 telling Moses to rebuke the men who the spirit is speaking through. Moses tells him that he wishes that everyone could be so chosen.

Jesus continues this in the gospel, where the line that stuck out most to me occurs. While it paints the world in the exact same set of two groups that toxic personalities do,2 he does so in the opposite way. Not to let this be confused for assuming that no harm will befall you, or that we should trust everyone and everything, Jesus then tells what to do with identified enemies. In short, remove them. Whether a body part or a fellow human, it’s our duty to remove them when they lead us to sin.

However, the point of everyone who isn’t against you being for you is certainly an important piece of the Gospel. I’m as guilty as anyone else3 in grouping people who aren’t clearly on my side as enemies. This comes out most clearly4 in my faith. I often group think of5 people who have different faiths than me as being wrong, and even evil, even though their faith is doing for them what faith is supposed to do for all of us: bringing us closer to God, and helping us to help the world. Today’s Gospel called me to be better, which is all that I can ever hope for

Draft 1

Mark 9:40 “For he that is not against us is for us.”

Today is the 26 Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B. I really enjoyed the readings, but of course, felt a call from them.

The first reading has Joshua6 telling Moses to rebuke the men who the spirit is speaking through. Moses tells him that he wishes that everyone could be so chosen.

Jesus continues this in the gospel, where the line that stuck out most to me occurs. While it paints the world in the exact same set of two groups that toxic personalities do,7 he does so in the opposite way. Not to let this be confused for assuming that no harm will befall you, Jesus then tells us what to do with identified enemies. In short, remove them. Whether a body part or a fellow human, it’s our duty to make the world the best it can be.

I’m as guilty as anyone else in grouping people who aren’t clearly on my side as enemies. This comes out most clearly8 in my faith. I very often do group people who have different faiths than me as wrong, even though their faith is doing for them what faith is supposed to do for all of us: bringing us closer to God, and helping us to help the world.


  1. one of Moses’ (Moses’s?) “chosen men”

  2. if you’re not with us you’re against us

  3. if not more so

  4. at least to me

  5. and often tell

  6. one of Moses’ (Moses’s?) “chosen men”

  7. if you’re not with us you’re against us

  8. at least to me

Orchard Visit!

Draft 1

Today, I got to go to an orchard! It was very fun. I learned that plums grow on trees,1 British people call zucchini2 something other than that,3 and I can climb a tree4 without getting anything on a set of dress clothes. Also, pear juice is great.

Only downside, I’m sleepy now. Have a great night y’oall!


  1. it’s not that I didn’t think they did, it’s just that I didn’t think about it

  2. or cucumber? I’m still not entirely convinced that they’re different

  3. nope, I have no clue what it was

  4. and get caught in it multiple times

Basic Flatbread Recipe

Draft 2

As I mentioned in a previous post, I bake bread.1 In response to that post, a reader asked about other kinds of bread I bake.2 So, I thought today I would write about my flatbread recipe.3

All things considered, it’s not much different than the basic bread recipe.4,5 It also contains between 3 and four ingredients.6 It follows below. As before, it is adapted from this website’s book.

Basic Flatbread Recipe:

Ingredients:
5 pounds flour.7
10 cups water.8
2 heapingish tablespoons salt.9 2 heaping tablespoons yeast.10

Dough Directions:
Mix all ingredients together.
Cover, but not airtight.
Let sit until at least doubled.
Optionally: refrigerate at any point after mixing. This delays souring.
Once risen, I tend to pick up and drop the container holding the dough to deflate it, but that’s mostly just because it’s fun to watch. I have no clue what the effects are on the dough.
Cover airtight.

Baking Basics:
Flour the dough.
Pull out volume of dough desired.
Using plenty of flour, stretch until at desired thinness.
Note: If it begins shrinking, let stand for a few minutes then try again.
Put into oven preheated to hottest temperature for a while.11
Pull out when dry.
Serve.

Draft 1

As I mentioned in a previous post, I bake bread. Now, in response to that post, a reader asked about other kinds of bread I bake.12 So, I thought today I would write about my flatbread recipe.

All things considered, it’s not much different than the basic bread recipe.13 It also contains between 3 and four ingredients.14 It follows below. As before, it is adapted.

Basic Flatbread Recipe:

Ingredients:
5 pounds flour.15
10 cups water.
2 heapingish tablespoons salt.16 2 heaping tablespoons yeast.17

Dough Directions:
Mix all ingredients together.
Cover, but not airtight.
Let sit until at least doubled.
Optionally: refrigerate at any point after mixing. This delays souring.

Baking Basics:
Flour the dough.
Pull out volume of dough desired.
Using plenty of flour, stretch until at desired thinness.
Note: If it begins shrinking, let stand for a few minutes then try again.
Put into oven preheated to hottest temperature for a while.18
Pull out when dry.
Serve immediately19


  1. or at least, I used to bake bread and still know how to

  2. the actual comment was “Didn’t you start making flatbread? Is that worth mentioning?”

  3. I also didn’t have anything else on my mind

  4. I don’t really feel like I should link the same post multiple times(?)

  5. although arguably all things considered almost every (food) recipe isn’t that different, since they alI give directions for how to prepare food, and compared to say, how to write a novel, they give more similar information. But I digress

  6. because yeast is optional after batch one (and even at batch one if you like to be risky)

  7. the reasoning is given in the first bread post

  8. astute readers may notice that there is more water here

  9. I like my flatbread a little saltier than my regular bread, but that’s just me

  10. or not

  11. I generally hope for thirty minutes, but any amount of time (including while it’s heating) works

  12. the actual comment was “Didn’t you start making flatbread? Is that worth mentioning?”

  13. I don’t really feel like I should link the same post multiple times(?)

  14. because yeast is optional after batch one (and even at batch one if you like to be risky)

  15. the reasoning is given in the first bread post

  16. I like my flatbread a little saltier than my regular bread, but that’s just me

  17. or not

  18. I generally hope for thirty minutes, but any amount of time (including while it’s heating) works

  19. or not

First Day of Class!

Draft 2

As those of you keeping up with my life may know, today was my first day of class at the British University I’m studying1 at this semester.2 It looks to be a really fun class! The professor seems nice and helpful,3 the topic seems interesting,4 and the students seem nice.5 Unfortunately, felt a lot like I did when I would visit a class back in the days of the college search.6

For those of you who aren’t in the college search, who finished that ordeal long ago, or who simply don’t understand what I’m talking about, a frequent part of many campus visits is a chance to watch a class take place. You get to see students interact with each other and a professor in a somewhat live environment. But, since you7 tend to visit these classes near the end of the term, there’s a lot of context behind many statements that don’t make sense.

That’s more or less how I felt here. The major is apparently fully tracked here, and only about 30 members strong. So, each of them takes every class together, and takes the same class. In effect, they have more continuity and similar educations to each other over the entire year of class they’ve had than Grinnell has in its one year Organic Chemistry sequence.8

The professor would say things like “So-and-so mentioned this last spring, so can anyone remember (related topic)?”9 Also, I don’t really know much10 about Material Science.11

But, this isn’t to bemoan my fate. As I mentioned above, I’m still incredibly excited to learn about polymers! Sure I may not have the same prior experience as the other students in the class, but that’s half the fun!

Draft 1

As those of you keeping up with my life may know, today was my first day of class at the British University I’m studying12 at this semester.13 It looks to be a really fun class! Unfortunately, I felt a lot like I did when I would visit a class back in the days of the college search.14

For those of you who aren’t in the college search, or who finished that ordeal long ago, or who simply don’t understand what I’m talking about, a frequent part of many campus visits is a chance to watch a class take place. You get to see students interact with each other and a professor in a somewhat live environment. But, since you15 tend to visit these classes near the end of the term, there’s a lot of context behind many statements that don’t make sense.

That’s more or less how I felt here. The major is apparently fully tracked here, and only about 30 members strong. So, each of them takes every class together, and takes the same class. In effect, they have more continuity and similar educations to each other over the entire year of class they’ve had than Grinnell has in its one year Organic Chemistry sequence.

The professor would say things like “So-and-so mentioned this last spring, so can anyone remember (related topic)?” Also, I don’t really know much about material science. Overall, this class should be a really fun way for me to learn a lot, and prepare me for the real world! I’ll have to learn the information, and also the expected prior knowledge. It’ll be a great time!


  1. partially

  2. the anti-terrorism sheet the other place I’m studying at made us read says not to post identifying information on the internet

  3. although he did comment on the fact that I was taking a lot of notes

  4. and some of the information I learned in my summer research. Weird how the things you learn on a tangent come back as the subject later on

  5. not that my description really means anything, since that just means they didn’t threaten or attempt physical harm on me, or tell me to be quiet without reason (and yes, me talking is reason)

  6. wow what an adventure that was

  7. or at least I

  8. where in Organic 2, the professor might have to say “oh, Prof. So-and-so forgot to cover this. Ok here’s a quick explanation”

  9. which is also super cool and I love that the professor knows that much about what his colleagues do.

  10. or really anything

  11. and I’ve forgotten terms like “Van Der Waals”

  12. partially

  13. the anti-terrorism sheet they told us to follow says not to post identifying information on the internet

  14. wow what an adventure that was

  15. or at least I

Pasta and White Sauce Recipe Recipe

Draft 1

Since coming to London, I’ve been trying new and exciting recipes.1 One of these, the focus of tonight’s post, is pasta in white sauce. There are a few reasons for this.

First, I like pasta. It’s a good comfort food and it’s hard to make badly. Second, I like milk based products. Third, I like being able to pretend I made something, more than just dumping something into a pot.

So, the recipe:

Ingredients:
Pasta
Butter
Cheese2
Flour
Milk
Salt

To Make Sauce:
Put approximately equal portions of butter and flour in a pan over medium to low heat.
Mix until it begins to brown.
Add milk and cheese.
Stir, adding more milk as needed.
Add salt to taste.
To Make Pasta:
Salt water.
Cook Pasta.
Drain Pasta.
Put Pasta in Sauce.
Serve.


  1. for very loose definitions of both words

  2. I’ve found that a little bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano goes a long way here

The Importance of Being Earnest Review

Prereading note: I find myself beginning to put my words to the page1 as the time quickly approaches midnight. As a result, I apologize for any roughness in this posting.

Draft 1

Tonight, I had the wonderful fortune of seeing The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vaudeville Theatre. Overall, the show was enjoyable, though different from what I had expected.

What was2 a show of subtlety and wit became, instead, a loud and forceful and exuberant farce.

From the beginning, I should have known it would be so, as the curtain onstage had a quote from Oscar Wilde:3 “If one tells the truth, one is sure sooner or later, to be found out.” As the show begins, a piano and accompanying orchestra play loudly and beautifully, as the stage slowly lights, and the once opaque curtain becomes transparent. The curtain opens, and we get a chance to see Algernon playing the piano. From his first actions, it is clear that this will be a show, not of subtly implied innuendo, but rather over the top theatrics and staging.

The blocking was continuously adding a second thread to the show. At the beginning, when Jack and Gwendolen are flirting during the conversation, their blocking is theatrical and beautiful. In scene three, the three servants add another layer to the show, reminding us both of the existence of the stage behind us, as well as the motion of life.

The lighting was continuously sublime. As peaks and valleys in action happened, so too did the lights subtly do so. In the second scene, as the day progresses, the stage left light slowly rose from perspective, and the fog on the stage cleared as well. It was a beautiful way to suggest the passage of time. In the third scene, where we see the world from the other side, just a short time later, the sun is facing from stage right. The little details like that made this production eminently enjoyable


  1. or digital analog of that at least

  2. from my reading of the text

  3. author of the show

Basic Bread Recipe

Draft 3

In my first year of college I gained1 the moniker of “bread guy.”2 Now, this was not an unforeseeable outcome. I baked3 bread almost every day, and tended to have the same problem: by the time I finish making bread,4 I don’t really want it anymore, since I would’ve been smelling it for the time it took to cook.5,6

This problem should have an easy resolution. I would just give it to my friends!7 Of course, sometimes my so called “friends” wouldn’t want to eat the bread I made.8

I know, It’s ridiculous to me too. Who wouldn’t want bread?

Nonetheless, I would need to get rid of the bread another way. My next step would be to find the people who occupy the hard to define mental space of people you know, but have no emotions attached to.9 Once I found them,10 I would also offer bread. That also didn’t have a 100% success rate, which hurt less.

Sometimes, I would just walk around campus and hand it out11 to whoever I saw, and sometimes I would just leave it in public spaces near people who volunteered to dispose of it for me. Nonetheless, I made a lot of bread and got known for it.

Now, the moniker served another purpose.12 The CS13 department14 at Grinnell College15was16 growing rapidly, so there were many students who might assume I was related to a member of the department.17 I assumed18 that being known as “slightly odd person who feeds us” was better than being known as “child of very odd, grumpy, and sarcastic person,” if only because I was being described as my own entity in the first.

But anyways, back to what’s important: bread. My recipe is adapted from this website’s book. I tend to make the dough in a 3 gallon ice cream container from Kilwins, as my family somehow acquired many of them. It exists below.

Basic Bread Dough:

Ingredients:
5 pounds flour19
8-9 cups water20
2 heaping tablespoons yeast21
2 lightly heaping tablespoons kosher salt22
Note: if making a second batch, if you leave the dough that is leftover in the container, you can skip the yeast.23

To Make Dough:
Add all ingredients together.24
Mix until it seems to be one coherent blob of dough.25
Cover, but not airtightly, and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size.26
Then, cover airtight27 for up to two weeks28 The longer you let it sit, the more sour it will be.29

To Cook:
Sprinkle flour on top of dough.30
Pull out a piece of dough the volume of bread you want.31
Generously coating with flour, gently fold it over itself until smooth everywhere except one spot.32
After placing the bread with the spot down,33 quickly score the surface of the dough with a razor blade, aiming for around half an inch deep.34
Put onto a stone in an oven preheated for around 30 minutes at 350 F35 with a stone and a baking tray36 inside, the tray beneath the stone.
Pour water onto the baking tray.37
Let cook until bottom is hollow when tapped, or properly golden brown.38
If in doubt, a few extra minutes never hurts, and often helps.39
Pull out and let cool.40

Draft 2

In my first year of college I gained the moniker of “bread guy,”41 Now, this was not an unforeseeable outcome. I baked42 bread almost every day, and tended to have the same problem: by the time I finish making bread, I don’t really want it anymore, since I would’ve been smelling it for the time it took to cook.43,44

This problem should have an easy resolution. I would just give it to my friends! Of course, sometimes my so called “friends” wouldn’t want to eat the bread I made.

I know, It’s ridiculous to me too. I would need to get rid of the bread another way. My next step would be to find the people who occupy the space of “people I have no feelings towards but am aware of their existence and believe they feel the same about me.”45 Once I found them,46 I would also offer bread. Sometimes, I would just walk around campus and hand it out47 to whoever I saw, and sometimes I would just leave it in public spaces near people who volunteered to dispose of it for me. Nonetheless, I made a lot of bread and got known for it.

Now, the moniker served another purpose. The CS48 department49 at Grinnell College50was51 growing rapidly, there were many students who might assume I was related to a member of the department.52 And, I figured being known as “slightly odd person who feeds us” was better than being known as “child of very odd, grumpy, and sarcastic person,” if only because I was being described as my own entity in the first.

So, bread. My recipe is adapted from this website’s book. I tend to make the dough in a 3 gallon ice cream container from Kilwins, as my family somehow acquired many of them. It exists below.

Basic Bread Dough:

Ingredients:
5 pounds flour
8-9 cups water
2 heaping tablespoons yeast
2 lightly heaping tablespoons kosher salt
Note: if making a second batch, if you leave the dough that is leftover in the container, you can skip the yeast

To Make Dough:
Add all ingredients together.
Mix until it seems to be one coherent blob of dough.
Cover, but not airtightly, and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size.
Then, cover airtight53 for up to two weeks54 The longer you let it sit, the more sour it will be.

To Cook:
Sprinkle flour on top of dough.
Pull out a piece of dough the volume of bread you want.
Generously coating with flour, gently fold it over itself until smooth everywhere except one spot.
After placing the bread with the spot down,55 quickly score the surface of the dough with a razor blade, aiming for around half an inch deep.
Put onto a stone in an oven preheated for around 30 minutes at 350 F56 with a stone and a baking tray57 inside, the tray beneath the stone.
Pour water onto the baking tray.58
Let cook until bottom is hollow when tapped, or properly golden brown.59
Note: I guess you can add extra water whenever, I just don’t because I’m lazy.
If in doubt, a few extra minutes never hurts, and often helps.
Pull out and let cool.

Draft 1

My freshman year of college, I was nicknamed “the bread guy,”60 Now, this was not an unforeseeable outcome. I baked bread almost every day, and ran into my usual problem with baking bread. By the time the bread would be finished cooking, I wouldn’t really want to eat it anymore, since I would’ve been smelling it for the time it took to cook.61

So, I would need to get rid of it somehow. Thankfully, instead of just setting it on fire,62 or otherwise wasting it, I would give it to friends. Of course, sometimes my so called “friends” wouldn’t want to eat the bread I made.

I know! It’s ridiculous to me too. So, I would need to get rid of the bread another way. Generally this meant finding the random people you know that you wouldn’t consider friends63 and offering them some fresh baked bread. Sometimes, I would just walk around campus and hand it out64 to whoever I saw, and sometimes I would just leave it in public spaces near people who volunteered to dispose of it for me. Nonetheless, I made a lot of bread and got known for it.

There was a motive behind getting this nickname. I knew that, since the CS65 department66 was67 growing rapidly, there were many students who might assume I was related to a member of the department. And, I figured being known as “slightly odd person who feeds us edible home made food” was better than being known as “child of very odd, grumpy, and sarcastic person,” if only because I was being described as my own entity in the first.

So, without further ado: my basic bread recipe. It is adapted from this website’s book. I tend to make the dough in a 3 gallon ice cream container from Kilwins, as my family somehow acquired many of them.

Basic Bread Dough: Ingredients:
5 pounds flour
8-9 cups water
2 heaping tablespoons yeast
2 lightly heaping tablespoons kosher salt

To Make Dough:
Add all ingredients together.
Mix until it seems to be one coherent blob of dough.
Cover, but not totally, and let sit at room temperature for a time lasting between: just barely doubled68 or up to 2 weeks.69
The longer you let it sit, the more sour it will be.

To Cook:
Sprinkle flour on top of dough.
Pull out a piece of dough the volume of bread you want.
Generously coating with flour, gently fold it over itself until smooth everywhere except one spot.
Putting that spot down,70 quickly score the surface of the dough with a razor blade, aiming for around half an inch deep.
Put onto a stone in an oven that has been heating for around 30 minutes at 350 F71 with a stone inside, and a baking tray72 beneath it.
Pour water onto the baking tray.
Let cook until bottom is hollow when tapped, or properly golden brown.73
If in doubt, a few extra minutes never hurts, and often helps.
Pull out and let cool.


  1. and lost

  2. the nickname apparently spread outside of my friendgroup(s), and when I’ve mentioned that I used to bake a lot of bread, I’ve had college friends exclaim “Oh! So you were the bread guy!” and then express displeasure over having missed meeting me until I became boring. (Dear Mom, I apparently was cool)

  3. I really feel like the past tense of bake should be “boke”

  4. or a lot of things if I’m being honest

  5. apparently many people feel the opposite about these sorts of things

  6. no, despite the fact that I’ve made upwards of 50 gallons of bread (because how else would you measure bread dough?) I still don’t know how long it takes to cook. It led to a problem this summer

  7. Yay friends!

  8. and wow it hurts the ego

  9. I really hope that’s a group of people others have in their mental spaces

  10. or messaged them

  11. more often when I made little breads (which are objectively adorable)

  12. yay for forethought and multiple advantages

  13. Computer Science

  14. I really hope I’m using the right nomenclature here, I wouldn’t want another snarky musing written about me

  15. Best school in Iowa(the best state)!

  16. is?

  17. not incorrectly

  18. foolishly

  19. yes, one bag of flour. I cook on the principle of “needing more than two tools to measure everything is a sign of poorly scaled recipes”

  20. depending on humidity and how long you plan to let the bread sit

  21. or not. It’s yeast, it grows. The more you add the faster it grows. The less, the slower

  22. wow that’s such a vague measurement. I guess slightly better than “enough” but really, just add enough that the dough tastes right.(Disclaimer: I’m not responsible for injuries resulting in dough consumption). Apparently raw flour is dangerous. But, what’s life without a little danger?

  23. also your dough will start more sour, which if you want that is good

  24. should I have said: add all ingredients to container? Eh

  25. blob is a very technical term

  26. because buildup of pressure can mean your house being covered in dough. According to many sources, that’s a bad thing

  27. or not if you’re lazy

  28. I assume you could go longer, but you know, it’s bread dough, it’s pretty easy to tell when it’s gone bad

  29. duh

  30. it makes me feel so cool

  31. i.e. loaf size, roll size, big loaf size, small loaf size, big roll size... (I’m not the best at knowing the size of things)

  32. it’s hard to explain but easy to do

  33. generally on parchment paper

  34. the most fun part

  35. no C because I don’t use metric when I bake

  36. I recommend one you don’t particularly care about

  37. which is why no to the caring

  38. if you grab the loaves enough the heat stops hurting

  39. don’t take that too far and just leave for 3 hours. Once it starts looking browner than gold it’s almost certainly done

  40. mmm, bread

  41. the nickname apparently spread outside of my friendgroup(s), and when I’ve mentioned that I used to bake a lot of bread, I’ve had college friends exclaim “Oh! So you were the bread guy!” and then express displeasure over never having met me. (Dear Mom, I have made friends)

  42. I really feel like this should be “boke”

  43. apparently many people feel the opposite about these sorts of things

  44. no, despite the fact that I’ve made upwards of 50 gallons of bread (because how else would you measure bread dough?) I still don’t know how long it takes to cook. It led to a problem this summer

  45. I really hope that’s a group of people others have in their mental spaces

  46. or messaged them

  47. more often when I made little breads (which are objectively adorable)

  48. Computer Science

  49. I really hope I’m using the right nomenclature here, I wouldn’t want another snarky musing written about me

  50. Best school in Iowa(the best state)!

  51. is?

  52. not incorrectly

  53. or not if you’re lazy

  54. I assume you could go longer, but you know, it’s bread dough, it’s pretty easy to tell when it’s gone bad

  55. generally on parchment paper

  56. no C because I don’t use metric when I bake

  57. I recommend one you don’t particularly care about

  58. which is why no to the caring

  59. if you do it enough it stops hurting

  60. the nickname apparently spread outside of my friendgroup(s) even, and when I’ve mentioned that I used to bake a lot of bread, I’ve had college friends exclaim “Oh! So you were the bread guy!” I promise it’s real

  61. no, despite the fact that I’ve made upwards of 50 gallons of bread (don’t ask why that’s my measurement) I still don’t know how long it takes to cook. It led to a problem this summer

  62. which happened once, and was a complete accident

  63. I really hope that’s a group of people others have in their mental spaces

  64. more often when I made little breads (which are objectively adorable)

  65. Computer Science

  66. I really hope I’m using the right nomenclature here, I wouldn’t want another snarky musing written about me

  67. is?

  68. approx. 4-8 hours

  69. don’t ask how I know

  70. generally on parchment paper

  71. no C because I don’t use metric when I bake

  72. I recommend one you don’t particularly care about

  73. if you do it enough it stops hurting

Toffee Recipe

Draft 3

There are some recipes I make mostly as an excuse to make others. Among those is toffee. Nowadays, I mostly1 make toffee when I’m making chocolate toffee cookies.2 This is not a recipe for the cookies,3 but only for the toffee.

Now, you may notice the preface of “nowadays” for how I make toffee lately. At first, I made toffee for its own sake. The first time I made it, I made it for one of my older brother’s friends. What follows is the fruit of my painstaking4 trials into making toffee.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 white granulated sugar
1 dash vanilla

Directions:
Put butter in large sauce pan (at least 6x the volume of the butter) over low heat.
When butter is mostly melted, add sugar and vanilla, and mix until well incorporated.
While cooking, it should expand to a much larger size. When it does so, continue stirring until it reaches hard crack,5 or, once you’ve made it a few times, until the aroma and color is correct.
Pour into a well greased sheet pan
Let cool until solid.
Break into pieces.
Serve however you intend to.

Draft 2

When I was younger, one of the first recipes I taught myself6 was toffee. Now, this was not an unprompted decision. A friend of my brother remarked on the expense of it, and after looking at the price, I thought it unreasonable, given how simple the recipe is. And, after much experimentation with other recipes, I’ve found one that works for me. Here it is:

1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 white granulated sugar
1 dash vanilla

Put butter in pan over low heat.
When butter is mostly melted, add sugar and vanilla.
Cook, stirring occasionally until it begins to grow in size.
Continue cooking until when you drop a little into a glass of room temperature water, it cools to a hard, crunchy ball,7 then pour onto a greased sheet pan.
Let cool until solid.
Break into pieces.

Draft 1

When I was a young lad,8 I learned how to make toffee. Now, this was not an unprompted decision. One of my brother’s friends really liked toffee, and I learned this when I received an email from a candy company.9 He asked me how much it would cost to purchase some, and I thought the price looked ridiculous. When I looked up the recipe, it seemed simple enough to make. And, it is!10 So, a recipe for Toffee:

1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 white granulated sugar
1 dash vanilla

Put butter in pan over low heat.
When butter is mostly melted, add sugar and vanilla.
Cook, stirring occasionally until it begins to grow in size.
Continue cooking until the correct color, then pour onto a greased sheet pan.
Let cool until solid.
Break into pieces.


  1. read: exclusively

  2. because sometimes I’ll start making toffee and realize what I’ve done. The only solution is cookies.

  3. but one is probably forthcoming

  4. read: really delicious

  5. Wikipedia suggests that means 295-309 F, or 146-154 C. If you drop it into a glass of water, it should form hard balls or threads that snap, rather than bending.

  6. as opposed to being shown

  7. hard crack

  8. my father took me into the city

  9. I never know how much background information to give, but this feels like the wrong amount

  10. Yay!

Making a Mixtape

Draft 2

I couldn’t think of anything to write today. But, I was listening to a lot of music today, so I thought I’d try to make a mixtape. The theme is inspiration, specifically academic inspiration.

Front Side:
Anthem by Harry Chapin
Anything I’m Not by Lenka
Corner of the Sky from the Pippin (New Broadway Cast Recording)
Country Dreams by Harry Chapin
Cover of the Rolling Stone by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
Dammit Janet by the Rocky Horror Cast
Dancing Queen by ABBA
Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

Back Side:
Grey Seal by Elton John
A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles
Heartbeat (It’s a Love Beat) by the DeFranco Family
How Far I’ll Go from Moana
It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me by Billy Joel
Kelly the Boy from Killane by the High Kings
Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
Long Goodbye by the Nadas
Mo Ghile Mear by Celtic Thunder

Explanation: Like Chapin’s protagonist, who’s “looking for an anthem”, I start by searching for motivation to start a paper. But, within seconds of writing a paper, I realize that it’s hard to be “Anything I’m Not”, and I’m hoinh to procrastinate. I’ll go find my “Corner of the Sky” to hang out at until I have the motivation to work. While in the “Country(,) Dreams” of avoiding responsibility come into my head. But, if I want to make it “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone”, I’ll need to get to work, and “Dammit Janet”1 I can’t think of anything. I just want to be “Dancing (to) Queen”, not writing this paper. But I know that if I “Don’t stop Believing” and write this paper, I might have time to go out.

I can’t really work “Grey Seal” in here, but it’s a good next song. As I look at the clock, unsure of whether the 6 is an AM or PM, I realize it’s been “A Hard Day’s Night”. And, as the deadline approaches, our heart may start pumping out of control. But, if we remember that “Heartbeat (It’s a Love Beat)” you can tell yourself that it’s not panic, it’s love of the topic.

As the paper continues, I often wonder “How Far I’ll Go” in trying to finish the paper. What’s the tenuous connection I hope the professor won’t latch on to.

Each paper and assignment is still somehow different from the one before. But, as Billy Joel points out, “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me”. Every work is different, but the same in principle.

“Kelly the Boy from Killane” is just a bop.

As I’ve mentioned a lot so far, as a deadline draws near, students often feel nervous, like they’re “Living On A Prayer”. And, as we look at the work we have left in the semester, and the time left to do it, we may have to say a “Long Goodbye” to our friends until the work we all have is resolved.

But, we have hope that we’ll make it through. “Mo Ghile Mear” is a song of hope, so it seems fitting to end the list.

Draft 1

As I’ve mentioned in many other posts, I like music. So, I decided that I would make a mix tape today. Cassette tapes apparently hold 60-90 minutes of music, so that seems like a good length to shoot for. I’ll assume 30 minutes per side, since I’m feeling unambitious.

Next I need a theme. I think today’s theme will be inspiration. It’s the point in the semester where it seems that inspiration is needed.2 Of course, inspiration comes in a variety of places. So, I’ll start with “Anthem” by Harry Chapin.3 I’ll follow it with Lenka’s “Anything I’m Not”.4 5 Next is “Corner of the Sky” from the Pippin (New Broadway Cast Recording) 6 Following that will be “Country Dreams” by Harry Chapin.7,8 Next: “Cover of the Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.9 After this: “Dammit Janet” by the Rocky Horror Cast.10 Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t throw some ABBA in, so next is Dancing Queen.11,12 Continuing the theme of powerpop from older generations’ childhoods, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.13

Backside: “Grey Seal” by Elton John.14 It was so tempting to put another Harry Chapin song here,15 but instead, “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles.16 And: “Heartbeat (It’s a Love Beat)” by the DeFranco Family.17 Following that, “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana.18 Next: since I realize I’m missing Billy Joel, “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me”.19 “Kelly The Boy from Killane” as performed by the High Kings follows this.20 Returning to nostalgia I have no right to have, “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi.21 And, following that, a song by an Iowa group,footnoteyay! “Long Goodbye” by the Nadas.22 Finishing off the playlist, “Mo Ghile Mear” as performed by Celtic Thunder.23

Time to give the playlist a24 listen, then revise/add comments. To begin: I started with Harry Chapin’s “Anthem,” because it has a strong driving beat, which helps focus, and it has lyrics that I appreciate. Also, the background instrumentation feels much sparser than most of his songs, which I appreciate.

Anything I’m Not follows, as it too has a strong pulse. Unlike Chapin, Lenka has25 a much more cheerful outlook. The song ends with an idea of escaping, and becoming free, which fits in so well with the next song.

Corner of the Sky is my favorite Pippin song, and one of my favorite musical theatre songs. Like many graduates of my high school, I have fond memories of watching our choir director sing this song at our senior choir concert. The song helps keep me focused when I really need to get work done.26 It speaks about finding where you belong, which the next Chapin song, “Country Dreams” does as well.

Unlike in the Pippin song, Chapin fully accepts that he’s given up on his dreams. But, he’s accepted that, and still keeps on trucking. Especially as deadlines approach, knowing that you’ve got something, even if it’s not what you want, is all you can sometimes ask for.

But, we still dream big, and so to do Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s in “Cover of the Rolling Stone”. Of course, once you’re at the top, there’s always something that can go wrong. A car could break down outside of a house, and you might need to go into a creepy house to get your way back to civilization.

Of course, that’s nonsense, but “Dammit Janet” from Rocky Horror Picture Show has the strong beat that we appreciated in the first songs, and speaks of Brad’s27 goal to achieve.

Next, “Dancing Queen” by ABBA starts with the line that students dream of during studies.28 After 20 minutes of concentration, I need something to lighten my spirits.

Of course, the next song, “Don’t Stop Believing” speaks to me every time I know I don’t have enough time to finish an assignment. Somehow, I’ll make it through. And there ends the front side.

In the time it takes me to switch our metaphorical cassette tape over,29 I need a quick and lively introduction. Elton John’s “Grey Seal” gives that to me. Then, since homework is still continuing, “A Hard Day’s Night” goes through my head when I’ve been inside a building working on an assignment, and am not sure which 6 the clock is pointing to.30 And, as the deadline approaches, our heart may start pumping out of control. But, if we remember that “Heartbeat (It’s a Love Beat)” you can tell yourself that it’s not panic, it’s love of the topic.

As the paper continues, I often wonder “How Far I’ll Go” in trying to finish the paper. What’s the tenuous connection I hope the professor won’t latch on to.

Each paper and assignment is still somehow different from the one before. But, as Billy Joel points out, “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me”. Every work is different, but the same in principle.

There’s nothing special about “Kelly the Boy from Killane”, it’s just a motivational song.

As I’ve mentioned a lot so far, as a deadline draws near, students often feel nervous, like they’re “Living On A Prayer”. And, as we look at the work we have left in the semester, and the time left to do it, we may have to say a “Long Goodbye” to our friends until the work we all have is resolved. And, like any good playlist, it ends with hope. Specifically, hope that someone will come set us free. Here, “Mo Ghile Mear” stands in nicely.


  1. for the purpose of this essay, assume I have a muse whose name is Janet

  2. at least to me

  3. 3:56

  4. 3:18. Total time: 7:14

  5. and apparently this mixtape will be in alphabetical order

  6. 2:57. Total time: 10:11

  7. sorry, this may be a Chapin heavy playlist. I’ve been listening to a lot of him lately, so it’s on my mind

  8. 4:48. Total time: 14:59

  9. 2:54. Total time: 17:53

  10. 2:47. Total time: 20:40

  11. one of the songs that I listened to for the 15:30 of continuous CPR I was to do

  12. 3:51. Total time: 24:31

  13. 4:09. Total time: 28:40

  14. 4:01

  15. bonus points to whoever knows what song it is

  16. 2:33. Total time: 6:34

  17. 3:10. Total time: 9:44

  18. 2:43. Total time: 12:27

  19. 2:57. Total time: 15:24

  20. 3:29. Total time: 18:53

  21. 4:11. Total time: 23:07

  22. 3:06. Total time: 26:13

  23. 2:55. Total time: 29:08

  24. minimal

  25. to me

  26. the alleged point of this tape

  27. and later Janet’s

  28. Friday night and the lights are low/looking out for a place to go/where they play the rock music

  29. since I don’t know where I would find, make, and play a real cassette tape

  30. if my mother is reading this, I always go to sleep promptly at 10:00 pm and wake at 8:00 am

Wicked Review

Draft 1

Today, I had the great pleasure of seeing Wicked on stage. It was, as you might expect, absolutely fantastic. The stage was beautiful. The lighting was sublime.

Will He or Won’t He?

Draft 1

Today, as you might have noticed, is Thursday.1 On Thursdays,2 I’ve kept meaning to go to a Baptist Church somewhere in London, but haven’t for a variety of reasons.

So, there’s a reason for me to be at the Baptist Church, and it isn’t that I’ve had a sudden change of faith. Instead, there’s an Irish Bagpiping group that meets there every Thursday night. They’re an Irish Bagpiping group in the sense that they play the Irish Bagpipes,3 not the “normal” Scottish Pipes.4 Uilleann Pipes are objectively better as an instrument in many regards. So, I’ve been excited to try them, but haven’t yet.

The first week I was here, they didn’t meet, as it was Summer vacation in London. The second was the same. Last week, I was locked out of my dorm, so needed to find a way back into it.5 And this week, some members of the group decided to do a movie night, so I attended that instead.6 Maybe next week?


  1. well, as of writing this, it’s AD 2018, 20 September

  2. Thursday’s?

  3. Uilleann Pipes

  4. Great Highland Pipes

  5. spoilers, I got in

  6. it was fun

Footnote Frenzy

Prereading note: while writing a different post,1 I ended up needing to deeply nest some statements. I realized2 that I had spent around equal time setting up the prereading note to actually writing the post, so I decided to just turn the note into its own post. As a result, that’s Draft 0. Also, since I needed to make sure my3 footnotes parsed, I relabeled Draft 2 as 2/3, since it’s unclear which is the correct term.4 Draft 4 remains as such.

Draft 4

Like many bad authors,5 I rely a lot on gimmicks.6 Also like bad authors,7 I blatantly stole my gimmick from someone else.8 If it isn’t clear from the eight9 footnotes I’ve already used, my gimmick is footnotes, and nested ones in particular. As I mentioned in a previous post,10 I can’t have nested footnotes.11 Instead, I12 use nested sets of punctuation.13 So, when I had a chance to expand the list of nested parentheticals14 I use, I was happy.15 So, my list of nesting symbols16 now goes: footnotes,17 parentheses,18 square brackets,19 then angle brackets.20 Unfortunately, after that, there are no more brackets21 that I can find,22 so23 I used short and long dashes,24 then two asterisks25 when I needed26 to go one layer deeper in my nesting.27 I don’t28 like the way that they look,29 so I hope I don’t need to nest my footnotes more than five30 layers deep.31 And, as I read through this draft,32 I did find that the different punctuation helped me to parse the statements slightly more easily. However, long and short dashes don’t quite look different enough for me to parse at first glance, so it’s a good thing I33 won’t need to use them often. Anyways, the 86 footnotes34 of the piece contain a total35 of 1415 words within its footnotes. That’s nearly 70% of the entirety of the words written.36 Whoops.

Draft 2/3

Like many bad authors,37 I rely a lot on gimmicks.38 Also like bad authors,39 I blatantly stole my gimmick from someone else.40 If it isn’t clear from the six41 footnotes I’ve already used, my gimmick is footnotes, and nested ones in particular. As I mentioned in a previous post,42 I can’t have nested footnotes.43 Instead, I44 use nested sets of punctuation.45 So, when I had a chance to expand the list of nested parentheticals46 I use, I was happy.47 So, my list of nesting symbols48 now goes: footnotes,49 parentheses,50 square brackets,51 then angle brackets.52 Unfortunately, after that, there are no more brackets53 that I can find,54 so55 I used two asterisks56 when I needed57 to go one layer deeper in my nesting.58,59 I don’t60 like the way that they look,61 so I hope I don’t need to nest my footnotes more than three62 layers deep.63 And, as I read through this draft,64 I did find that the different punctuation helped me to parse the statements slightly more easily.

Draft 1

Like many bad authors,65 I rely a lot on gimmicks. Also like bad authors,66 I copy my gimmick from someone else.67 So, when I had a chance to expand the list of nested parentheticals68 I need, I was happy.69 So, my list of nesting70 now goes: footnotes,71 parentheses,72 square brackets,73 then angle brackets.74 Unfortunately, after that, there are no more brackets75 that I can find,76 so77 I switched to using two asterisks.78 I don’t really like the way that they look,79 so I hope I don’t need to nest my footnotes more than three80 deep.

Draft 0

Prereading note: Yay! I finally used more nesting.81 It now goes: Footnote,82 parentheses,83 square brackets,84 then angle brackets.85 Unfortunately, after that, there are no more brackets that I can find.86


  1. which will be posted (and rewritten) next time that the situation is valid

  2. about ten minutes in

  3. nested

  4. and I already have far too many footnotes

  5. and hopefully some competent (since that’s a bar I’m not sure I would consider this post at) authors (writers?)

  6. or at least one gimmick

  7. but great artists (according to someone)

  8. as the title suggests, my father’s “Daily Musings”

  9. nine including this (assuming no more drafts)

  10. no, I have no internal consistency for which words are hyperlinked. In all honesty, it’s what feels right as I type the command

  11. i.e. a footnote that has a footnote as its referent (the thing that sends you to the note [I think?]) or its reference (the thing you get sent to [or switch this explanation with the one above, if needed])

  12. as mentioned in the linked post

  13. which before today was limited to ([])

  14. which isn’t really the right term, because I use more than parentheses

  15. yes, the nesting of strings (references? I’m not really sure what the right word is here) is actually something I feel joy about

  16. since I find a string of parentheses in in succession hard to read (like the example here(see (if not do you see yet?) how hard it gets?)(hopefully) demonstrates), but different shapes in succession (like this [or this]) easier (still not always easy though) to read

  17. Like this! (ooh meta)

  18. seen in the footnote above’s “ooh meta,” or in most of the prior (or the following [with some exceptions]) footnotes

  19. I think they’re called square brackets (although they aren’t square [unless by square we mean Merriam Webster’s first definition <which, oddly, refers to the tool, not the shape>])

  20. which makes no sense as a name (since all brackets have angles [other than parentheses I guess <although it could be argued that they just have a lot of angles -but that feels like needless pedantry –although I guess all pedantry is supposed to be needless **because of the word “excessive”**– that I don’t know enough math for->, but they’re not too important <unless you actually follow the convention of parentheticals -but not the convention of avoiding their usage->]. Wikipedia calls them “pointy brackets”[which is kind of funny], so maybe I should too) in my opinion

  21. that I know (or at least strongly believe) are supported on the platforms I write and publish my work (if you can call it that)

  22. maybe there’s a reason for that

  23. as you might have seen

  24. I know one of them is an “em dash,” but I’m not sure which

  25. astereces? Given that it comes from Latin asteriscus, maybe not. CS people allegedly call them stars, which is much easier

  26. read: wanted

  27. if I were a bird, I would be so warm

  28. didn’t, and likely will not

  29. mostly because I feel like two asterisks feel less like a divider and more like two arbitrary characters

  30. not including the footnote itself

  31. wow five feels so much more freeing than three

  32. wow this essay is getting so meta

  33. hopefully

  34. that number was changed at the very end of the (writing of the) piece to reflect reality, and does not include nestings

  35. as above

  36. ibid

  37. and hopefully some competent (since that’s a bar I’m not sure I would consider this post at) authors (writers?)

  38. or at least one gimmick

  39. but great artists (according to someone)

  40. as the title suggests, my father’s “Daily Musings”

  41. seven including this (assuming no more drafts[which was wrong])

  42. no, I have no internal consistency for which words are hyperlinked. In all honesty, it’s what feels right as I type the command

  43. i.e. a footnote that has a footnote as its referent (the thing that sends you to the note [I think?]) or its reference (the thing you get sent to [or switch this explanation with the one above, if needed])

  44. as mentioned in the linked post

  45. which before today was limited to ([])

  46. which isn’t really the right term, because I use more than parentheses

  47. yes, the nesting of strings (references? I’m not really sure what the right word is here) is actually something I feel joy about

  48. since I find a string of parentheses in in succession hard to read (like the example here(see (if not do you see yet?) how hard it gets?)(hopefully) demonstrates), but different shapes in succession (like this [or this]) easier (still not always easy though) to read

  49. Like this! (ooh meta)

  50. seen in the footnote above’s “ooh meta,” or in most of the prior (or the following [with some exceptions]) footnotes

  51. I think they’re called square brackets (although they aren’t square [unless by square we mean Merriam Webster’s first definition <which, oddly, refers to the tool, not the shape>])

  52. which makes no sense as a name (since all brackets have angles [other than parentheses I guess <although it could be argued that they just have a lot of angles **but that feels like needless pedantry**>, but they’re not too important <unless you actually follow the convention of parentheticals **but not the convention of avoiding their usage**>]. Wikipedia calls them “pointy brackets”[which is kind of funny], so maybe I should too) in my opinion

  53. that I know (or at least strongly believe) are supported on the platforms I write and publish my work (if you can call it that)

  54. maybe there’s a reason for that

  55. as you might have seen

  56. astereces? Given that it comes from Latin asteriscus, maybe not. CS people allegedly call them stars, which is much easier

  57. read: wanted

  58. if I were a bird, I would be so warm

  59. and no, I will not use em dashes, since I still don’t know whether ems are the long or short dash (- or –), or how long and short dashes differ. If I ever learn, I may incorporate them (whoops, the draft above disproves this)

  60. didn’t, and likely will not

  61. mostly because I feel like two asterisks feel less like a divider and more like two arbitrary characters

  62. not including the footnote itself

  63. or I can learn to use dashes and em dashes (ooh I could use both of those to get two more layers free [shoot I’m writing another draft])

  64. wow this essay is getting so meta

  65. and hopefully some good ones

  66. but great artists (according to someone)

  67. as the title suggests, my father’s “Daily Musings”

  68. which isn’t really the right term, because I use more than parentheses

  69. yes, that is actually something I feel joy about

  70. since I find a string of parentheses in order hard to read, but different shapes (like this [or this]) easier to read

  71. Like this! (ooh meta)

  72. seen in the footnote above “ooh meta,” or in most of the prior footnotes (or the following [with some exceptions])

  73. I think they’re called square brackets (although they aren’t square [unless by square we mean Merriam Webster’s first definition <which, oddly, refers to the tool, not the shape>])

  74. which makes no sense as a name (since all brackets have angles [other than parentheses I guess <although it could be argued that they just have a lot of angles **but that feels like needless pedantry**> but they’re not too important]. Wikipedia calls them “pointy brackets”[which is kind of funny] so maybe I should too) in my opinion

  75. that I know (or at least strongly believe) are supported on the platforms I write and publish my work (if you can call it that)

  76. maybe there’s a reason for that

  77. as you might have seen

  78. astereces? Given that it comes from Latin asteriscus, maybe not. CS people allegedly call them stars, which is much easier

  79. mostly because it feels less like a divider, and more of just two random characters

  80. not including the footnote itself

  81. yes, that is actually something I feel joy about

  82. like this! (ooh meta)

  83. like the footnote above’s line “ooh meta,” (or like this [or any of the following explanatory footnotes])

  84. I think they’re called square brackets (although, they aren’t square [unless by square we mean Merriam Webster’s first definition <which, oddly, refers to the tool, not the shape>])

  85. which makes no sense as a name (since all brackets have angles [other than parentheses I guess <although it could be argued that they just have a lot of angles> but they’re not too important]. Wikipedia calls them “pointy brackets”[which is kind of funny] so maybe I should too)

  86. maybe there’s a reason for that

Digital Diaries

Prereading note: this post was written as an assignment, so drafts 4-61 lack much of my snark and2 will read much more like an academic essay. In the final draft, I hope to have restored some of the charm3 that I tend to have in my writings.

Draft 7

Diaries today are becoming more and more of a digital phenomenon. That is, people are deciding to record their thoughts on computers, rather than paper. This transition from analog to digital is not wholly uncontroversial.

Many people have a distrust of digital diary keeping. However, their objections almost always orient around the alleged fragility of digital diaries.

For those unfamiliar with the Internet, online storage can seem horribly fragile. Unlike a bound book, which can last indefinitely,4 digital diaries require constant upkeep. If written in a word processor, a blog5 post could become unreadable if the file format becomes obsolete or unused.6 But, most blogs are, as the name suggests, hosted on the Internet.

A second concern is that posts on the web may be pulled down or somehow become unavailable.7 The fact that two different agencies,8 both make constant backups of the Internet is seen as a lackluster response.9 And, unlike physical diaries, anyone can access any blog from anywhere and anytime, which frees the researcher from needing the funds to go to the specific library where a diary is held, or find a way to have a copy made. The copies are automatically made to every computer accessing the site.

Since these backups exist so widely, it is far less likely that we will undergo a similar loss to the burning of the Library of Alexandria or the burning of the linguistic library in Brazil.10 Had the files in the library been digital, they would have been hosted in a different site from the physical artifacts, preventing that horrible loss of knowledge.

That tragedy calls out the most important problem with preferring physical media over digital media. Yes, you can duplicate a physical document. If you don’t care about the exactness of the replicated document,11 it is a fairly trivial process12 to transcribe a backup.13 But, as the recent burning of the Brazilian library shows, even vitally important documents aren’t always backed up.14 The Internet, however, backs up everything.

And to me, the heart of digital diary and the Internet is reflected by this fact: neither promises permanence, only equality. Every work hosted on Wordpress, for instance, is equally likely to be there in fifty year’s time.15 The famous and forgotten will both exist in perpetuity. Therefore, to me, the arguments against online diaries, especially now, some 20 years after the first published arguments, are nothing except baseless fear of the future.

Draft 6

Diaries are becoming a digital phenomenon. That is, people are deciding to record their thoughts on computers, rather than paper. This transition from analog to digital is not wholly uncontroversial.

Many people have a distrust of digital diary keeping. However, their objections almost always orient around the alleged fragility of digital diaries.16

For those unfamiliar with the Internet, online storage can seem horribly fragile. Unlike a bound book, which can last indefinitely, digital diaries require constant upkeep. If written in a word processor, a blog17 post could become unreadable if the file format becomes obsolete or unused. But, most blogs are, as the name suggests, hosted on the Internet.

A second concern is that posts on the web may be pulled down or somehow become unavailable. The fact that two different agencies,18 both make constant backups of the Internet is seen as a lackluster response. O’Sullivan complains that “the Wayback Machine does not have word or subject search capabilities,”19, which would hold merit if not for the fact that physical diaries and libraries also lack subject search without the work of dedicated stewards. Additionally, blogs all have word search capabilities, as modern browsers contain that feature. And, unlike physical diaries, anyone can access any blog from anywhere and anytime, which frees the researcher from needing the funds to go to the specific library where a diary is held, or find a way to have a copy made. The copies are automatically made to every computer accessing the site.

Since these backups exist so widely, it is far less likely that we will undergo a similar loss to the burning of the Library of Alexandria or the burning of the linguistic library in Brazil.20 Had the files in the library been digital, they would have been hosted in a different site from the physical artifacts, preventing that horrible loss of knowledge.

That tragedy calls out the most important problem with preferring physical media over digital media. Yes, you can duplicate a physical document. If you don’t care about the exactness of the replicated document, it is a fairly trivial process to transcribe a backup. But, as the recent burning of the Brazilian library shows, even vitally important documents aren’t always backed up. The Internet, however, backs up everything.

And to me, the heart of digital diary and the Internet is reflected by this fact: they don’t promise permanence, only equality. Every work hosted on Wordpress, for instance, is equally likely to be there in fifty year’s time. The famous and forgotten will both exist in perpetuity. Therefore, to me, the arguments against online diaries, especially 15 years after the publishing of O’Sullivan’s article, are nothing except baseless fear of the future.

Draft 5

Diaries today are becoming more of a digital phenomenon. That is, more and more people decide to record their thoughts on digital displays, rather than analog records. However, this transition from analog to digital is not wholly uncontroversial.

Many people have a distrust of digital diary keeping. But, examination of these objections tends to show that they are rooted in either classism or appeals to tradition. They almost always find themselves orienting around the alleged fragility of digital diaries.21

And, for those unfamiliar with the Internet, online storage can seem horribly fragile. Unlike a bound book, which can last indefinitely, digital diaries require constant upkeep. If written in a word processor a blog22 post could plausibly become unreadable if the file format becomes obsolete or unused. But, most blogs are, as the name suggests, hosted on the Internet.

A second concern is that posts on the web may be pulled down or somehow also become unavailable. The fact that the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine23 or Google’s own caching system both make constant backups is seen as lackluster. O’Sullivan complains that “the Wayback Machine does not have word or subject search capabilities,”24, which would hold merit if not for the fact that physical diaries and libraries also lack subject search without the work of dedicated stewards.. Additionally, digital diaries all have word search capabilities, as modern browsers all contain that feature. And, unlike physical diaries, anyone can access any blog from anywhere and anytime, which frees the researcher from needing the funds to go to the specific library where a diary is held, or find a way to have a copy made.

Thirdly, since these backups are spread over many different servers, it is far less likely that we will undergo a similar loss to the burning of the Library of Alexandria or even the very recent burning of the linguistic library in Brazil.25 Had the files in the library been digital, they could have been more easily duplicated, and would have been hosted in a different site from the physical artifacts, preventing that horrible loss of knowledge.

That tragedy calls out the most important problem with preferring physical media over digital media. Yes, you can duplicate a physical document. If you don’t care about the exactness of the replicated document, it is a fairly trivial process to transcribe a backup. But, as the recent burning of the Brazilian library shows, even vitally important documents aren’t always backed up.

The Internet, however, backs up everything. Yes, we may not have a guarantee that this generation’s Beowulf will survive if not printed. However, even many of the manuscripts from that time are still gone.

And to me, the heart of digital diary and the Internet is reflected by this: they don’t promise permanence, only equality. Every work hosted on Wordpress, for instance, is just as likely to be there in fifty year’s time. The famous and forgotten will both exist in perpetuity. Therefore, to me, the arguments against online diaries, especially 15 years after the publishing of O’Sullivan’s article, are nothing except baseless fear of the future.

Draft 4

Diaries, like many written records, are becoming more and more of a digital phenomenon. That is, more and more people decide to record their thoughts on digital displays, rather than analog records. And, like the other forms becoming digital, the transition from analog to digital is not wholly uncontroversial.

For many reasons, people have a distrust of digital diary keeping. But, even a mild examination of most of these objections shows that they are deeply rooted in either classist thoughts or appeals to tradition. They almost always find themselves orienting around the alleged fragility of digital diaries, regardless of the factuality of these claims.26

For those unfamiliar with the Internet, online storage can seem horribly fragile. Unlike a bound book, which can last indefinitely, digital diaries require constant upkeep. If written in a word processor, for instance, a blog27 post could plausibly become unreadable if the file format becomes obsolete or unused. However, since nearly old computers are still functional, and old operating systems are constantly being ported to new machines, it is unlikely that we will ever have files that we truly cannot open. They may be difficult to interpret, but no more so than damaged manuscripts.

A second concern is that posts on the web may be pulled down or somehow also become unavailable. The obvious rebuttal to this statement, namely the Internet Archive28 or Google’s own caching system is seen as lackluster. O’Sullivan complains that “the Wayback Machine (the Internet Archive) does not have word or subject search capabilities.”footnoteDiaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan p.71 That argument would hold merit if not for the fact that physical diaries lack search capabilities, and libraries holding them do as well. What searching methods are available come only when dedicated people add them.

However, the lack of searching capabilities is never seen as a flaw in traditional diaries. Unlike physical diaries, anyone can access any blog from anywhere and anytime, which frees the researcher from needing the funds to go to the specific library where a diary is held, or find a way to have a copy made. They can also search, since every modern web browser has search and find capabilities.

Additionally, since these files are spread over many different servers, it is far less likely that we will undergo a similar loss to the burning of the Library of Alexandria or even the very recent burning of the linguistic library in Brazil.29 Had the files in the library been digital, they could have been more easily duplicated, and would have been hosted in a different site from the physical artifacts, preventing that horrible loss of knowledge.

That tragedy leads to the third problem with preferring physical media over digital media. Yes, you can duplicate a physical document. If you don’t care about the exactness of the replicated document, it is a fairly trivial process to transcribe a backup. But, as the recent burning of the Brazilian library shows, even vitally important documents aren’t always backed up. What guarantee does a random, insignificant citizen of the world have that anything they write will ever be relevant to historians?

The most honest answer is that they don’t. Most likely nothing any given blogger has to say won’t be relevant. Nonetheless, the Internet protects and safeguards it. Yes, it is true that we may not have a guarantee that this generation’s Beowulf will survive if not printed. However, even many of the manuscripts from that time are still gone. The Internet makes it more likely that the unimportant words will live on.

And to me, that truly is the heart of digital diary keeping, and by extension, the internet. They doesn’t promise permanence, only equality. Every work hosted on Wordpress, for instance, is just as likely to be there in fifty year’s time.30 The famous and forgotten will both exist in perpetuity. Therefore, to me, the arguments against online diaries, especially 15 years after the publishing of O’Sullivan’s article, are nothing except baseless fear of the future.

Draft 3

Diaries, like many written records, are becoming more and more of a digital phenomenon. That is, more and more people31 are turning, not to their notebooks, but to their keyboards when they decide to put to paper32 what’s in their mind. And, like these other records, the transition from analog to digital is not wholly uncontroversial.

For many reasons, people have a distrust of digital diary keeping. But, even a mild examination of most of these objections shows that they are deeply rooted in either classist thoughts or appeals to tradition. They almost always find themselves orienting around the alleged fragility of digital diaries, regardless of the factuality of these claims.33

For those unfamiliar with the Internet,34 online storage can seem horribly fragile. Unlike a bound book, which can last indefinitely,35 digital diaries require constant upkeep. If written in a word processor, for instance,36 a blog37 post could plausibly become unreadable if the file format becomes obsolete or unused. However, since every currently obsolete file storage38 currently has an interpreter, it is unlikely that we will ever have files that we truly cannot open. They may be difficult to interpret, but no more so than damaged manuscripts.

A second concern is that posts on the web may be pulled down or somehow also become unavailable.39 The obvious rebuttal to this statement, namely the Internet Archive40 or Google’s own caching system is seen as lackluster. O’Sullivan complains that “the Wayback Machine (the Internet Archive) does not have word or subject search capabilities.”41 That argument would hold merit if not for the fact that physical diaries lack search capabilities, and libraries holding them do as well. What searching methods are available come only when dedicated people add them. Regardless of the search capabilities, the files42 still exist. Unlike the physical diaries, however, we can access43 any blog from anywhere and anytime,44 which frees the researcher from needing the funds to go to the specific library where a diary is held, or find a way to have a copy made.

Additionally, since these files are spread over many different servers, it is far less likely that we will undergo a similar loss to the burning of the Library of Alexandria45 or even the very recent burning of the linguistic library in South America.46 Had the files been digital, they could have been more easily duplicated, and would have been hosted in a different site from the physical artifacts.47

That leads to the third problem with preferring physical media over digital media. Yes, you can duplicate a physical document. If you don’t care about the exactness of the replicated document,48 it is a fairly trivial process to transcribe a backup.49 But, as the recent burning of the Brazilian library shows, even vitally important documents aren’t always backed up. What guarantee does a random, insignificant citizen of the world have that anything they write will ever be relevant to historians?

The fairest answer is that they don’t. Most likely they won’t be relevant. Nonetheless, the internet protects and safeguards it. Yes, it is true that we may not have a guarantee that this generation’s Beowulf will survive if not printed.50,51 But, we have a much higher chance that any thought of a random individual will be as accessible to future generations as that epic.

And to me, that truly is the heart of digital diary keeping, and by extension, the internet. They doesn’t promise permanence, only equality. Every work hosted on Wordpress is just as likely to be there in fifty year’s time.52 The famous and forgotten will both exist in perpetuity. To me, the arguments against online diaries, especially 15 years after the publishing of O’Sullivan’s article, are nothing except baseless fear of the future.

Draft 2

Diaries, like many written records, are becoming more and more of a digital phenomenon. And, like these other records, the transition is not wholly uncontroversial. For many reasons, people have a distrust of digital diary keeping. However, these objections are almost always classist, unreasonable, or Ludditical. They almost always find themselves orienting around the alleged fragility of digital diaries, regardless of the factuality of these claims.53

For those unfamiliar with the digital world, online storage can seem horribly fragile. Unlike a bound book, which can last indefinitely,54 digital diaries require constant upkeep. If written in a word processor, for instance,55 the blog post may can hypothetically become unreadable if the file format becomes obsolete or unused. However, since every currently obsolete file storage56 currently has an interpreter, it is unlikely that we will ever have files that we truly cannot open.

A second concern is that posts on the web57 may be pulled down or somehow also become unavailable. The simple rebuttal of the Internet Archive58 or Google’s own caching system is seen as lackluster. O’Sullivan complains that “the Wayback Machine does not have word or subject search capabilities.”59 That argument would hold merit if not for the fact that physical diaries lack search capabilities, and libraries holding them do as well. Regardless of the search capabilities, the files still exist. Unlike the physical diaries, we can access all of the blogs from anywhere with an internet connection, which frees the researcher from having to find the funds to go to a library where a diary comes from.

Additionally, since these files are spread over many different servers, it is far less likely that we will undergo a similar loss to the burning of the Library of Alexandria60 or even the very recent burning of the linguistic library in South America.61 Had the files been wholly digital, they could have been more easily duplicated, and would have been hosted in a different site from the physical artifacts.

That leads to the third problem with physical over digital media. Yes, you can duplicate a physical document. If you don’t care about the exact document,62 it is a fairly trivial process to transcribe a backup.63 But, as the recent burning of the library shows, even drastically important documents aren’t always backed up. What guarantee does a random, insignificant citizen of the world have that anything they write will ever be relevant to historians? The short and long answer is they don’t. Most likely they won’t be relevant.

Nonetheless, the internet protects and safeguards it. Yes, we may not have as good of a guarantee of this generation’s Beowulf surviving on parchment if it isn’t printed out.64 But, we have a much higher chance that the random thoughts of a random individual will be as accessible to future generations as that epic.

That truly is the heart of the internet. It doesn’t promise permanence, it promises equality. Every work hosted on wordpress is just as likely to be there in fifty year’s time.65 The famous and forgotten will both exist in perpetuity. And that, along with the different archiving methods, brings to the next point. This is the first time in human history where we can not only see what was written, but pinpoint to the exact second when a piece is written, edited, or deleted. Diary studiers point to the spread of the clock as a phenomenon leading to the rise of the diary and see this as a good change, and yet don’t feel the same way about the rise of digital media. To me, this is, especially 15 years after the publishing of O’Sullivan’s article, nothing except baseless fear of the future.

Draft 1

Diaries, like many written records, are becoming more and more of a digital phenomenon. And, like these other records, the transition is not wholly uncontroversial. For many reasons, people have a distrust of digital diary keeping. However, these objections are almost always classist, unreasonable, or Ludditical. They almost always find themselves orienting around the alleged fragility of digital diaries One common complaint about digital diaries is their alleged fragility.66

For those unfamiliar with the digital world, they can seem horribly fragile. Unlike a bound book, which can last indefinitely,67 digital diaries require constant upkeep. If written in a word processor, for instance,68 the file may become unreadable if the software becomes obsolete or unused. However, almost any old file system has seen some sort of official use, and so interpreters exist. It’s unlikely that we will ever have files that we truly cannot open.

A second concern is that posts on the web69 may be pulled down or somehow also become unavailable. The simple rebuttal of the Internet Archive70 or Google’s own caching system is seen as lackluster. O’Sullivan complains that “the Wayback Machine does not have word or subject search capabilities.”71 That argument would hold merit if not for the fact that physical diaries lack search capabilities, and libraries holding them do as well. Regardless of the search capabilities, the files still exist. It is far less likely that we will undergo a similar loss to the burning of the Library of Alexandria72 or even the very recent burning of the linguistic library in South America.73 Had the files been wholly digital, they could have been more easily duplicated, and would have been likely hosted in a different site from the physical artifacts.

That leads to the third problem with physical over digital media. Yes, you can duplicate a physical document. But, as the recent burning of the library shows, even drastically important documents aren’t always backed up. What guarantee does a random, insignificant citizen of the world have that anything they write will ever be relevant to historians? Even if it isn’t, the internet protects and safeguards it. Yes, we may not have as good of a guarantee of this generation’s Beowulf surviving on parchment. But, we have a much higher chance that the random thoughts of a random individual will be as accessible to future generations as that epic.

That truly is the heart of the internet. It doesn’t promise permanence, it promises equality. Every work hosted on wordpress is just as likely to be there in fifty year’s time.74 And that, along with the different archiving methods, brings to the next point. This is the first time in human history where we can not only see what was written, but pinpoint to the exact second when a piece is written, edited, or deleted. We no longer can question which draft of a manuscript is older.


  1. hopefully

  2. ibid

  3. read snark

  4. barring exposure to fire, water, or neglect, pestilence, degradation of ink, or simply just being lost

  5. a neologism, short for “web log”

  6. though MSDos(.? The old operating system emulator) existing does throw some doubt on that idea

  7. not that diaries are ever burned or otherwise destroyed intentionally

  8. the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and Google

  9. the fact that there is no similar analog equivalent remains unstated

  10. I.e. the exact material, penmanship, and so on

  11. though more effort than printing or backing up a digital file

  12. or, heaven forbid, scan and upload it

  13. all joking aside, I find it absolutely horrible that some languages are now completely gone from the collective human knowledge

  14. barring the author deleting it

  15. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan

  16. a neologism, short for “web log”

  17. the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and Google

  18. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan p.71

  19. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan

  20. a neologism, short for “web log”

  21. a constantly updating archive of the internet

  22. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan p.71

  23. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan

  24. a neologism, short for “web log”

  25. a constantly updating archive of the internet

  26. barring the author destroying it

  27. especially in younger generations

  28. that expression may not work as well here

  29. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan

  30. shoot, is this a capitalized thing?

  31. barring exposure to fire, water, or neglect, pestilence, degradation of ink, or simply just being lost

  32. an unlikely scenario, but one that is mentioned

  33. a neologism, “shortening web log”

  34. to the best of my knowledge

  35. a much more believable scenario

  36. a constantly updating archive of the internet

  37. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan p.71

  38. and physical remnants

  39. almost

  40. assuming an internet connection

  41. if we accept ancient history as real

  42. /hrefhttps://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/09/news-museu-nacional-fire-rio-de-janeiro-natural-history/Seen Here

  43. given how cheap cloud storage is today

  44. I.e. the exact material, penmanship, and so on

  45. or, heaven forbid, scan and upload it to the internet

  46. though the fact that the Library of Congress is printing out every tweet (for instance) makes this much less likely in my mind

  47. not to mention the fact that we also don’t have many of the works from that time period, which may have been even better than Beowulf

  48. barring the author destroying it

  49. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan

  50. barring fire, water, neglect, pestilence, degradation of ink, or simply just being lost

  51. an unlikely scenario, but one that is mentioned

  52. to the best of my knowledge

  53. a much more believable scenario

  54. a constantly updating archive of the internet

  55. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan p.71

  56. if we accept ancient history as real

  57. I.e. the exact material, penmanship, and so on

  58. or, heaven forbid it, scan it and upload it to the internet

  59. though the fact that the Library of Congress is printing out every tweet (for instance) makes this much less likely in my mind

  60. barring the author destroying it

  61. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and Blogging Bloggers Who Blog Them

  62. barring fire, water, neglect, pestilence, or degradation of ink

  63. an unlikely scenario, but one that is mentioned

  64. a much more believable scenario

  65. a constantly updating archive of the internet

  66. Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers who Blog Them. C. O’Sullivan p.71

  67. if we accept ancient history as real

  68. barring the author destroying it

Othello Review

Draft 1

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Othello at the Globe Theatre. In a wonderful turn of events, I was a groundling.1 I was right next to the stage, and even leaning on it for the piece of the play after intermission.

Sadly, the set and lighting didn’t blow me away. The lights were fixed and immobile, and the set more or less was as well. What I can comment on, however, was the music.

The show began with natural trumpets,2 which was nice. Come the scene where Cassio becomes drunk, they are replaced with valved trumpets. Before the first intermission, they bring out the cornetti,

In the second act, the cornetti play lamentations as the piece falls to its tragic fate. The ending dance, however, returns with the beautiful jazz trumpeting. Other instruments included a lute during the drunk scene, played masterfully by Iago, drums and other percussion played by instrumentalists, and whistles.

Finally, as is requested by Shakespeare, there is singing. The drunken songs sounded drunk and merry. The whole cast song at the end was sung brilliantly.3 But, the song that struck me hardest was Desdemona and Emilia’s duet of the Willow Tree. They flowed between two part harmony and unisons flawlessly and beautifully. I stood entranced for the first4 time in the show. Nothing existed for me except the two flowing voices and the story they told.

And truly, that’s all that I can ask of a show. There was a moment where time stood still, and I found myself drawn, not into the story or characters, but simply into a place where I feel what the characters feel. Even in professional theatre, those moments can be hard to come by, but the cast brought me nearly to that point time and time again, and to the point in the soulful duet. But, as all good things do,5 it too came to an end.


  1. one of the people standing on the floor

  2. trumpets without valves or keys

  3. and, if I know anything, Baroquely

  4. for those of you unaware, I am not myself a Shakespeare fan for a variety of reasons, which may come in a future musing

  5. like Desdemona

Today’s Gospel

Draft 3

Today’s Gospel1 reading features one of the two lines that I find most striking in the Gospels.2 Jesus exhorts Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”3

Peter, the man who4 Jesus loved and trusted so much so that he entrusted the Church to him, is called Satan.5 To me, this truly shows two of the important pieces of my Catholic faith: we are to act and speak as we see true, not always meekly or gently, and that we are to love the sinner and hate the sin. Jesus doesn’t reproach Peter in soft words, or calmly. In fact, he doesn’t even do it kindly. In no uncertain words, he tells Peter that he is sinning.

Nonetheless, 6 days later, he takes Peter to the mountain where he meets with Elijah and Moses.6 Even though the Gospels don’t mention it, clearly Jesus forgave Peter for his actions, and Peter tried to accept this change.

This reading particularly speaks to me in today’s climate. We tend to take neither of the two messages we are told to take. We don’t tell the people we love to their faces that what they are doing is wrong.7 We also don’t do the other side of the message, and forgive those who do wrong. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I judge quickly and quietly, then discount anything that someone who has spoken out of ignorance has to say. Today’s reading was a good reminder to me that I need to try harder to love, even when it’s hard.

Draft 2

Today’s Gospel8 reading features one of the two lines that I find most striking in the Gospels.9 Jesus exhorts Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”10

Peter, the man who11 Jesus loved and trusted so much so that he entrusted the Church to him, is called Satan, the great betrayer. To me, this truly shows two of the important pieces of my Catholic faith: we are to act and speak as we see true, not as we see convenient, and that we are to love the sinner and hate the sin. Jesus doesn’t reproach Peter in soft words, or calmly. Nonetheless, 6 days later, he takes Peter to the mountain where he meets with Elijah and Moses.12 Even though the Gospels don’t mention it, clearly Jesus forgave Peter for his actions.

Overall, this reading speaks to me, especially in today’s climate. We tend to take neither of the two messages we are told to take. We don’t tell the people we love to their faces that what they are doing is wrong.13 We also don’t do the other side of the message, and forgive those who do wrong. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I judge quickly and quietly, then discount anything that someone has to say.

Draft 1

Today’s Gospel reading features one of the two lines that I find most striking in the Gospels. Jesus exhorts Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”14

Peter, the man who15 loved and trusted so much so that he entrusted the Church to him, is called Satan. This is truly the best example of Jesus saying that we are to love the sinner, even if we abhor the sin. Moreso, it points out to me that we have the responsibility to help those around us who make mistakes. 6 days later, he takes Peter to the mountain where he meets with Elijah and Moses.16 Even though the Gospels don’t mention it, clearly there was some conversation during those 6 days where the misunderstanding was resolved.


  1. 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B

  2. the other comes during the Easter season

  3. Mark 8:33

  4. whom? I’m not wholly sure how whom is used in the modern English language

  5. the great betrayer

  6. Mark 9:2

  7. the “people we love” is important, because there’s no shortage of telling those we don’t know or care about that we disagree with them

  8. 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B

  9. the other comes during Easter

  10. Mark 8:33

  11. whom? I’m not wholly sure how whom is used in the modern English language

  12. Mark 9:2

  13. the “people we love” is important, because there’s no shortage of telling those we don’t know or care about that we disagree with them

  14. Mark 8:33

  15. whom? I’m not wholly sure how whom is used in the modern English language

  16. Mark 9:2

Sleep Days

Some days you go to sleep, anxiously awaiting the coming morning and day. Other days you wake up, counting down the moments until you can go back to sleep.

There are many factors that can influence both of those, from what’s happening in your life at a macro scale,1 at a micro scale,2, and how much sleep you’ve gotten the night3 before.

Today I remembered that sleep you miss is at least as important as the other two. I didn’t sleep enough, and so today wasn’t as fully experienced as it could be. I’m hoping tomorrow will be better.


  1. such as career outlook

  2. what your plan is for the day

  3. or nights

Playing the Ukulele

Draft 1

As you many have gathered from my prior post, I play the ukulele.1 There are two reasons I thought it important to bring with me on my trip to London. First, it’s the smallest instrument I know2 that can play chords and harmony, which is nice when I want to sing along with a backing.

The other reason is that I have minimal difficulty playing melodies on it. Whether I’m plucking out an old familiar melody to decide how to accompany it, playing along to my singing new melodies, or picking out new melodies, I can do them all with relative ease. Part of this is that the instrument is tuned to four of five pentatonic notes3 as its four strings. This also means when I want to play something with the dominant as the low note, it’s fairly easy to do, as the pentatonic scale a fourth below C still uses 4 of the 5 notes. The only difference is F instead of E.

All in all, the ukulele is a fun and easy instrument. I would highly recommend anyone to learn it.


  1. I’ve already mentioned the different thoughts surrounding the naming of what you do to instruments

  2. even for very generous definitions of know

  3. for the normal pentatonic scale starting at C

Arranging for Bagpipes Part 2

As you may remember from my last mention of this topic, some songs are very difficult to arrange for bagpipe. Today, I was lucky enough to find a song that was easy.

I found myself today with the best problem an artist can have: a hyper focused muse. I could not focus on anything else until I had set the hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing” to bagpipes. Unlike the anthem that I previously discussed, this son was far easier. It’s pentatonic,1 and only occupies an octave, from the dominant to the dominant. As you may remember, the bagpipe has a range of an octave and a second starting from the subdominant. So, I put the song in the key of d, added a few grace notes, and was done. It’s nice when things go well.


  1. 5 notes to an octave

Small Changes

Draft 2

By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m currently studying in London.1 As a result, much of the typing I’m doing here is being done on keyboards with the UK’s key layout.2

Some of these changes make complete sense to me, like the fact that the pound symbol3 is much easier to type.4 Unfortunately, it’s Shift-3, not Shift-4.5

Other changes are slightly harder for me to deal with unconsciously. Next to the single quote key ’, they added in a key for pound and tilde. Instead of shift-single giving you double, it instead returns the @ sign. Thankfully, shift-2 therefore gives us ".6 Additionally, backslash is next to the left shift key, and the vertical line7 is shift backslash.8 Where the backslash should9 be, there is nothing. Those changes have messed me up more than once when typing a password.10

I’m also switching to using more Windows machines.11 Commands, especially in the browser I use, are sometimes very different, which is an adjustment. Overall though, those are the main changes I’ve really noticed.

The moral of the story is that I apparently don’t notice the big differences,12 but I do notice the small ones.13

Am I missing the forest for the trees? I prefer to think that I’m missing the branches for the leaves. I still see that I’m in society,14 and even the mutually intelligible15 part of the world,16 but not the differences between here and home,17 except where they’re a little different,18 as many are beginning to be in this lovely start of fall.19 Also, as much as I wish I could claim this whole article was a set up for that autumn20 metaphor, it was completely unplanned.

Draft 1

I’m currently studying in London. As a result, much of the typing I’m doing here is being done on keyboards with the UK’s key layout.21 Some of these changes make complete sense to me, like the fact that instead of a dollar symbol22 being Shift-number, it’s the pound symbol.23,24 Unfortunately, it’s Shift-3, not Shift-4.

Others are slightly harder for me to deal with. Next to the single quote key ’, they added in a key for pound and tilde. Instead of shift-single giving you double, it instead returns the @ sign. Thankfully, shift-2 therefore gives us ". Additionally, backslash is next to the left shift key. That’s messed me up more than once when typing a password.25

I’m also switching to using more Windows machines.26 Commands, especially in the browser I use, are sometimes very different, which is an adjustment. The moral of the story is that I apparently don’t notice the big differences,27 but I do notice the small ones. Am I missing the forest for the trees? I like to think I’m missing the branches for the leaves. I can still see that I’m in society,28 and even the mutually intelligible29 part of the world,30 but not the difference between here and home,31 except where they’re a little different.32 Also, as much as I wish I could claim this whole article was a set up for that autumn33 metaphor, it was completely unplanned.


  1. for those of you on the other side of the pond, that’s why I haven’t been visible

  2. I assume, given that it would make sense for each country to have their own keyboard layout.\sarcasm

  3. £

  4. fun fact: LaTeXdoesn’t recognize typing the pound mark, and instead requires the command of \pounds

  5. the $ in USA keyboards

  6. so the @ and " signs basically just traded position

  7. which I have never once known the purpose of

  8. like in the US

  9. based on prior experience

  10. hmmm does saying I use a shift key in multiple passwords give away some security? Especially since using capital letters is a recommendation, I doubt it.

  11. which is sad

  12. noise, people, the fact that a road was torn up, pipes underneath were fixed, and the road was operational again within 3 days of them beginning, the weather, the food, everything else I’m forgetting because it’s slipped my mind

  13. keyboard layout, computer commands, ending statements in yeah instead of nothing

  14. the forest

  15. to me, a monolingual Midwestern American

  16. the trees

  17. the branches

  18. the leaves

  19. autumn

  20. fall

  21. at least I hope that I’m not just surrounded by psychopaths

  22. $

  23. £

  24. fun fact: LaTeXdoesn’t recognize typing the pound mark, and instead requires the command of \pounds

  25. hmmm does saying I use a shift key in multiple passwords give away some security? Especially since it’s a recommendation, I doubt it.

  26. which is sad

  27. the noise, people, the fact that a road was torn up, pipes underneath were fixed, and the road was operational again within 3 days of them beginning, the weather, the food, everything else I’m forgetting because it’s slipped my mind

  28. the forest

  29. to me, a monolingual Midwestern American

  30. the trees

  31. the branches

  32. the leaves

  33. fall

Why I Dive

Draft 2

When people find out that I dive, a frequent question is why. There are a variety of reasons for that. The most common1 reason for this is that I don’t look like a diver. That is, many people seem to think2 that I am much larger than the average diver. The other reason people seem disbelieving is that I’m not too terribly flexible. I don’t disagree with either assessment, but they don’t affect my choice for one key reason: I dive because I enjoy it, not because I dream of being the best. If my size becomes a limit for how fast I can spin, that’s fine because I don’t need to be throwing 407B.3 Another reason I enjoy diving is that people really seem to appreciate watching the dives where I fail.4 If I’m being honest, I’m one of them.

Draft 1

When people find out that I dive, a frequent question is why. There are a variety of reasons for that. The most common5 reason for this is that I don’t look like a diver. That is, many people seem to think6 that I am much larger than the average diver. The other reason people seem disbelieving is that I’m not too terribly flexible. Both of these are valid reasons for me to not dive, but they don’t stop me. Instead, I dive because I enjoy it, and I never expect to be great at it. If my size becomes a limit for how fast I can spin, that’s fine because I don’t need to be throwing 407B.7 I dive because I enjoy it.


  1. given

  2. not incorrectly

  3. inward (face board and flip in) 3 1/2 pike (straight legs)

  4. in person and in recordings

  5. given

  6. not incorrectly

  7. inward (face board and flip in) 3 1/2 pike (straight legs)

Dance Nation Review

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to watch Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at the Almeida Theatre. The show follows a U13 dance squad as it prepares for national qualifying tournaments. What follows is a review.

Draft 3

The show speaks about the sexualization and sexuality of young women. As I share no part of that experience, my review will focus on other aspects of the show.

As many of you know, I was a techie1 in high school. Perhaps because of that, or perhaps because something about the medium of live theatre really allows the technical aspects to shine forth, I tend to focus a lot more on the technical theatre aspect than the acting. My reviews2 will also likely focus on these.

When we are first allowed on stage, we see a curtain in the murky realm between translucence and transparancy. We can barely make out a mirrored wall behind us, and lights running up the seams. When the show opens, the curtain drops. I was struck by the paneling of the stage. Mirrors made up the entire back wall, with lights strung between each. Throughout the show, the use of the lights as a way to demarcate different areas of the stage and different characters was masterful. However, the panels do not remain mirrors. The first piece of the show that struck me was the paneling of the stage.

Throughout the show, the panels turn and twist about, becoming anything from doors, to black glitter decoration, to a wolf’s head, to a bathroom stall. The use of the panels as entries and exits, as a way to bridge and break scenes, and, at the end, as a way to recognize the disjointed nature of both the show and life is fantastic.

The lighting of the show is also incredibly helpful for setting and moving the scenes along, as well as making the minimal set feel larger. When Luke is on the car ride home with his mother, the moon in the upper right of the stage tells us of the long day he’s had, and connects us to the other dancers, who each have their own memories of the night. As the drive continues, orange lights flow by their faces, reminding the audience of their movement. When Zuzu has a breakdown, the lights become harsher and harsher until her realization comes through.

Continuing to mess with the set, the show did a wonderful job of playing with set as prop and prop as set. Actors tended to carry in the set pieces, or pieces that they worked with remained a part of the show. Always in the wings of the stage were the detritus of a dance studio, reminding that it’s never far away, especially in the minds of the dancers. As the show progresses, the stage becomes more and more cluttered, just as the depth of the characters’ experiences do.

A final note about the set, as means to transition into the acting, all along what is meant to be the ceiling of the room are trophies from dance competitions past. In my experience as an athlete, leaving mementos of victory where they are always visible is meant one of two ways. Either the coach wants to say “you’re a part of a program with past success, and with hard work you can be a part of that too,” or “winning is all that matters. The teams that aren’t up here don’t belong in our memories because they were a failure as a team and as people.”3 This show chose to take the second approach, and took it to the comical extreme that some coaches take it. Not only does the coach point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers them, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. One of the panels turns and shows us a shrine dedicated to the dancer and all of the dancers chant her name. This is the first of many times throughout the show that the coach and dancers talk about how winning4 is the only important aspect of dance. To quote a common sports saying, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” What the show quietly points out, however, is that there is a constant culling of winners. No one the rest of the star’s team. Slowly but surely, in memory and in action, the weak are culled. Only the strong remain.

In the first scene, a dancer gets injured and is never heard from again. Near the end of the show, another dancer makes a mistake and quits as a result. These actions, along with monologues, showcase a dangerous aspect of not only children’s athletics, but also of society. Weakness and failure are not opportunities to grow, but rather signs of being inherently inability. And, since the weak get culled, any mistake means you no longer belong.

All in all though, it was a very enjoyable show.

Draft 2

The show speaks about the sexualization and sexuality of young women. As I never went through that, my review will focus on other aspects of the show.

As many of you know, I was a techie5 in high school. Perhaps because of that, or perhaps because something about the medium of live theatre really allows the technical aspects to shine forth, I tend to focus a lot more on the technical theatre aspect than the acting. My reviews6 will also likely focus on these.

When we are first allowed on stage, we see a curtain in the murky realm between translucence and transparancy. We can barely make out a mirrored wall behind us, and lights running up the seams. When the show opens with the curtain dropping, I was struck by the panels of the stage. There was a string of lights between each mirror. Throughout the show, the use of the lights as a way to demarcate different areas of the stage and different characters was masterful. However, the panels do not remain mirrors. The first piece of the show that struck me was the paneling of the stage.

Throughout the show, they turn and twist about, becoming anything from doors, to black glitter decoration, to a wolf’s head, to a bathroom stall. The use of the panels as entries and exits, as a way to bridge and break scenes, and, at the end, as a way to recognize the disjointed nature of both the show and life is fantastic.

The lighting of the show is also incredibly helpful for setting and moving the scenes along. When Luke is on the car ride home with his mother, the moon in the upper right of the stage tells us of the long day he’s had. As the drive continues, orange lights flow by their faces, showing the audience how they’re moving through time. When Zuzu has a breakdown, the lights become harsher and harsher until her realization comes through.

The show did a wonderful job of playing with set as prop and prop as set. Actors tended to carry in the set pieces, or pieces that they worked with remained a part of the show. Always in the wings of the stage were the detritus of a dance studio, reminding that it’s never far away, especially in the minds of the dancers. As the show progresses, the stage becomes more and more cluttered.

A final note about the set, as means to transition into the acting, all along what is meant to be the ceiling of the room, there are trophies from dance competitions. As an athlete, leaving trophies where they are always visible has in my experience been meant in one of two ways. It either is left to say:“we have a history of hard work and success. Keep that alive,” or “these trophies represent the years we remember and care about. The years without trophies are failures, and the athletes are too.” This show chose to take the second approach, and took it to an almost comical extreme. Not only does the coach point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers them, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. One of the panels turns and shows us a shrine dedicated to the dancer. This is the first of many times throughout the show that the coach and dancers talk about how winning7 is the only important thing. The show quietly points out that there is a constant culling by no one remembering the rest of the team. The show systematically culls the weak from its ranks. Only the strong remain.

In the first scene, a dancer gets injured and is never heard from again. Near the end of the show, a dancer makes a mistake and quits as a result. These actions, along with monologues, showcase a dangerous aspect of children’s athletics, but also of society. Weakness and failure are not growth experiences, but rather signs of being inherently weak. And, since the weak get culled, any mistake means you no longer belong.

All in all though, it was a very enjoyable show.

Draft 1

The first piece of the show that struck me was the paneling of the stage. When the curtain drops to begin the show, the back wall is composed of mirror panels. Throughout the show, the panels are turned and become anything from doors, to black glitter decoration, to a wolf’s head, to a bathroom stall. Throughout the show, the use of the panels as entries and exits, as a way to bridge and break scenes, and, at the end, as a way to recognize the disjointed nature of the show and life is fantastic.

The lighting of the show is also incredibly helpful for setting and moving the scenes along. When Luke is on the car ride home with his mother, the moon in the upper right of the stage tells us of the long day he’s had. As the drive continues, orange lights flow by their faces, showing the audience how they’re moving through time.

In terms of the show itself, the show is set in a dance academy featuring the parts of youth athletics I was so incredibly fortunate to miss out on. These preteens are being told that their future success in life depends wholly on how well they perform at a single show. The coach8 reinforce the idea that it really doesn’t matter whether you’re having fun.9 All that matters is being the best and winning. Weakness isn’t tolerated, and the weak are culled out.

From the first scene, where a dancer gets injured and is never heard from again, through to the end, where a dancer makes a mistake and, as a result, quits dance forever, the idea of mistakes as being reflective of character flaws, and that character flaws (and by extension, those who hold them) should be hidden.

All along what is meant to be the ceiling of the room, there are trophies from dance competitions. As an athlete, leaving trophies where they are always visible can be meant in one of two ways. It can either be: “we have a history of success, and y’all are going to be a part of it,” or “we only care about you if you win.” As you might guess, this show chose the second approach, and took it to an almost comical extreme. Not only does the coach point out the one year with no trophy by saying no one remembers them, he then mentions the next year, where a dancer was recruited to become a professional. He fully tells both the dancers and the crowd that the only important thing about dance is being the best. Even the rest of the famous dancer’s group is forgotten. Only the strong remain.

Returning to painting the scene, the show did a wonderful job of playing with set as prop and prop as set. Actors tended to carry in the set pieces, or pieces that they worked with remained a part of the show. Always in the wings of the stage were the detritus of a dance studio, reminding that it’s never far away.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable show.


  1. person in theatre who isn’t an actor

  2. because I plan on doing this for every show they take us to

  3. no that isn’t something I’ve been directly told, just the overall message I received when discussing past parts of the program

  4. becoming noticed and recruited

  5. person in theatre who isn’t an actor

  6. because I plan on doing this for every show they take us to

  7. becoming noticed and recruited

  8. and to some extent the other dancers

  9. in my opinion the entire reason to do childhood activities

A Pierogi Recipe: Or Why I Pronounce Ukulele the Way I Do

Draft Two

At first glance, today’s title may seem like a non sequitur.1 What do pierogi2 have to do with the ukulele?3 No, this title isn’t4 written as an intentional non sequitur to spark my creative energies. Rather, I realized that the same thought processes inform my choice of both making pierogi and pronouncing ukulele.

To understand what I mean by that, at the bottom of today’s essay are two pierogi recipes.5 One of them is a recipe I found online,6 and the other is the recipe I used last time I made pierogi.7 As a bonus, I also include the gluten free pierogi dough recipe I used.8

If you’ve read the recipes, you might notice a few differences between the two recipes.9 The biggest difference to me is in the dough.10 They use both sour cream and water in their dough, while I don’t use either. My reason for this comes from my formative years, when I learned to make pasta. According to my teacher,11 Italian pasta dough12 only contains salt, egg, flour, and oil.

Since that dough has worked for everything I ever needed a dough for,13 I never felt the need to use other pasta doughs.14 So, when I made my pierogi, I just made dough the way I always do.15

Now, by this point you might be asking what making dumplings has to do with the pronunciation of ukulele.16 To me, they’re two reflections of the same universal truth: people adapt everything they learn to fit into their prior knowledge and experiences.

In IPA17 notation, the word ukulele is pronounced18 /?uku?ll/, which contrasts to the SAE19 pronunciation of /ju?k?lejli/. This is due to the nature of word movement through languages. When a word is assumed into a new language, it20 change its pronunciation to align to the new tongues phonological rules. In Hawaiian, there is no schwa,21 while SAE uses the schwa almost exclusively in unstressed syllables. Additionally, SAE almost never begins words with vowel /u/22. So, when the Hawaiian word entered the SAE lexicon, the /j/23 was added, to make it align with the rules of the language.

Now, both of these changes to the word are fine and natural, at least to me.24 But, I’ve heard and seen complaints about the both how to pronounce ukulele, and, indirectly about how to make pierogi. To be specific, I’ve been told that the way I pronounce the word “ukulele” is wrong, since the word is pronounced differently in the language of origin. Additionally, there are many people who feel that changing a culture’s recipe25 is wrong.26

To me, both of those erase the idea of positive change, which is makes the world beautiful and exciting. Should I stop calling what I make pierogi because I don’t use an “authentic” recipe?27 Should I try to relearn the phonological system of my native tongue to accommodate a single word?28 I personally don’t think so, and that’s where today’s title comes. Both the way I make pierogi and the way I pronounce ukulele come from the background and mental connections I made before encountering the idea.

Draft One

At first glance, the title may seem like a non sequitur.29 What do pierogi30 have to do with the ukulele?31 No, this title isn’t32 written as a non sequitur as a way to spark my creative energies. Instead, while reflecting on my recipe for pierogi, especially in context with “authentic” recipes I’ve read, it occured to me that I feel similarly about pierogi and the pronunciation of the word ukulele.

To understand what I mean by that, below are two pierogi recipes. One of them is the recipe I found online,33 and the other is the recipe I used last time I made pierogi.34 As a bonus, I’ll also put in the gluten free pierogi dough recipe I came up with.35

So, you might notice a few differences between the two recipes.36 The biggest difference to me is in the dough. They use both sour cream and water in their dough, while I don’t use either. This mostly comes from when I first learned how to make pasta. According to the person teaching me,37 Italian pasta dough38 only has salt, egg, flour, and oil.

Since that dough has worked for everything I ever needed a dough for,39 I never felt the need to change it. So, when I made my pierogi, I just made dough the way I always do.

Now, by this point you might be asking what that has to do with the pronunciation of ukulele. To me, they’re two reflections of the same universal truth: people adapt everything they learn to fit into their prior knowledge and experiences.

In IPA40 notation, the word ukulele is pronounced41 /?uku?ll/, which contrasts to the SAE42 pronunciation of /ju?k?lejli/. This is due to the nature of word movement through languages. When a word is assumed into a new language, it43 change its pronunciation to align to the new tongues phonological rules. In Hawaiian, there is no schwa,44 while SAE uses the schwa almost exclusively in unstressed syllables. Additionally, SAE almost never begins words with vowel /u/45. So, when the Hawaiian word entered the SAE lexicon, the /j/46 was added, to make it align with the rules of the language.

Now, both of these changes are fine and natural, at least to me. But, I’ve heard and seen complaints about the second,47 and indirectly about the first.48 To be specific, I’ve been told that the way I pronounce the word “ukulele” is wrong. Indirectly, there are many people who feel that changing a culture’s recipe49 is wrong.50 To me, both of those erase the idea of change, which is at the heart of what makes the world beautiful and exciting. Should I stop calling what I make pierogi because I don’t use an “authentic”51 recipe? Should I try to relearn the phonological system of my native tongue to accommodate a single word? I personally don’t think so, and that’s where today’s title comes.

Recipes

From Internet

For the dough:

Filling:

Since pierogi making instructions, like most dumplings, are effectively just “make dough,” “make filling,” “put filling in dough,” I elide them here.

From Memory

For the dough:

For the Gluten Free Dough:52

Filling:

To make the filling, boil the potatoes, mince garlic and fry with onion in olive oil until caramalized. Drain potatoes when soft, then add everything together, mixing well.

To make the dough, all ingredients but flour in a bowl, then slowly add flour until solid enough to handle. Move onto a floured workspace and add more flour until the correct consistency.


  1. Lat. “it does not follow”

  2. Eastern European potato dumplings

  3. A Hawaiian lute probably based off of a Portuguese lute

  4. and wasn’t

  5. also, for those of you who have asked for my recipe

  6. available here

  7. as best as I can recall/with mistakes I realized at the time fixed

  8. for those of you who may want that for whatever reason

  9. no, the fact that my filling has far more fat isn’t the relevant portion here, despite the fact that it absolutely makes it taste better

  10. it helps that every recipe for pierogi acknowledges that you should substitute the filling for your own favorite

  11. I don’t remember who, but I assume one of my parents

  12. read: good pasta dough

  13. especially as a base for other additions to the dough when I feel creative

  14. with the exception of adding pepper, because I always put pepper in savory things with salt, which comes from an earlier formative experience

  15. which really means just eyeballing everything and assuming it will work

  16. you also might be wondering if I’m getting hungry writing about this, and the answer is absolutely

  17. international phonetic alphabet

  18. in Hawaiian

  19. Standard American English

  20. tends to

  21. upside-down e

  22. the ou in you

  23. like the y in you

  24. and descriptivist users of language (read: most linguists)

  25. especially when you don’t belong to that culture (and no, I don’t identify as Eastern European)

  26. for reference: this site is one example, and this site offer some perspectives

  27. side note: what defines authentic?

  28. or pronounce everything as if it belongs to its original language

  29. Lat. “it does not follow”

  30. Eastern European potato dumplings

  31. A Hawaiian lute probably based off of a Portuguese lute

  32. and wasn’t

  33. available here

  34. the recipe came from my spur of the moment actions

  35. for those of you who may want that for whatever reason

  36. no, the fact that my filling has far more fat isn’t the relevant portion here

  37. I honestly don’t remember who, but I assume one of my parents

  38. read: correct pasta dough

  39. especially as a base for other additions to the dough

  40. international phonetic alphabet

  41. in Hawaiian

  42. Standard American English

  43. tends to

  44. the ou in you

  45. like the y in you

  46. how to pronounce ukulele

  47. making pierogi

  48. especially when you don’t belong to that culture

  49. for reference: this site is one example, and this site offer some perspectives

  50. side note: what defines authentic?

  51. as an aside, I find it odd that people say gluten free doughs require tons of extra effort. Yes, with bread or things that need to trap gasses in them to rise, it’s difficult to get the correct blend of protiens, but for something like a dumpling shell, as long as it’s not water soluble and is neutrally flavored, it probably will work

  52. that means 5 pounds before you peel them

Arranging for Bagpipe

Prereading note: I definitely have far more footnotes here (59 in total, 34 in the final draft) than normal (between 1 and 17 in total, and between 1 and 10 in the final draft) in my blog thus far. I have no clue why I felt the need for so many notes while writing this post, but they feel pretty needed. Additionally, since nested footnotes are apparently so frowned upon in different style circles that my editor doesn’t support them at all, nested notes will go in (), and if I doubly nest, I’ll use other [], and will continue to add as needed.

Draft 2

This spring, I started learning the Scottish bagpipes.1 While learning the bagpipe, one of my cross-country running friends2 asked me if I would be willing to play the (United States’) National Anthem3 at the Grinnell team’s only home meet, the Les Duke Invite. That meet is today, and (I think) just ended at the time of my writing this post. Obviously, I was unable to be there. But, their mentioning of the idea did spark me to try to find a bagpipe arrangement for The Star-Spangled Banner.4,5 Initial searches were fairly fruitless, with what versions I could find sounding nothing like the anthem I knew.6 I found a forum discussing this, and they concluded that the anthem is unplayable on the bagpipes.

Now, those of you who know me may know that I don’t take being told something is impossible well.7 It feels like a challenge. Some of you may also know that I8 compose music. The brilliant9 part of my mind thought that I would be able to arrange the piece for bagpipes. Obviously,10that wouldn’t fit the song,11 which requires an octave and a fifth range,12, and some chromatic notes.13 But, you can always drop and raise octaves to fit a piece in. Additionally, my teacher mentioned offhandedly that there are chromatic fingerings for the bagpipe. So, I worked off of a version of the piece in the key of G.14

There I ran into my first problem: I have no clue how to play a C natural on a bagpipe, which was required in the second half of the piece.15 But, more importantly than that, it was centered around G,16 which those of you familiar with harmonics may see is dissonant to A.17,18

When I asked a friend of mine who plays bagpipes,19 he told me that, in his experience, people would play the second half of the song,20 because the first half isn’t doable. That’s when I suddenly realized that there’s a modulation in the middle of The Star Spangled Banner.21 With that in mind, I transposed the end of the piece to D major, which worked pretty well.22 I then put the initial half back in the song.23 I expected some cognitive dissonance from the24 modulation in my version of the piece, but it was fairly minor. And, since the piece was centered around D, it fit in nicely with the harmonics of the instrument.

Then came to the part of arranging for bagpipe that I struggle with: adding the embellishments. The bagpipe plays a continuous note, so to break up repeated notes,25 small chirpy notes are played to break the sound. There are many kinds of embellishments, including grace notes,26, doublings and half doublings,27 and many others. As you might expect from a musical tradition lasting centuries, there’s a lot of theory behind deciding what embellishments go where28 which I don’t know and can’t easily find only. So, I put in embellishments that I knew29 and looked right where they were, then tried playing through. Nothing looked or sounded horrible to me, but I also don’t know enough to know if anything I do would be horrible. So, now I have a version of the National Anthem of the United States of America that fits entirely on the bagpipe. If anyone wants it, feel free to drop me a message at flyingrebelpipes@gmail.com. My only request if you end up using the piece is that you send me a recording of yourself playing it.

Draft 1

This spring, I started learning the bagpipe.30 While learning the bagpipe, one of my cross-country running friends31 asked me if I would be willing to play the (United States’) National Anthem32 at the Grinnell team’s only home meet, the Les Duke Invite. That meet is today, and (I think) just ended at the time of my writing this post. Obviously, I was unable to be there. But, their mentioning of the idea did spark me to try to find a bagpipe arrangement for The Star-Spangled Banner.33 Initial searches were fairly fruitless, with what versions I could find sounding nothing like the anthem I knew. I found a forum discussing this, and they concluded that the anthem is unplayable on the bagpipes.

Now, those of you who know me may know that I hate being told that something is impossible. It feels like a challenge. Some of you may also know that I34 compose music. I thought I would be able to arrange the piece for bagpipes. Obviously,35 that wouldn’t fit the song,36 which requires an octave and a fifth range,37, and some chromatic notes.38 But, you can always drop and raise octaves. So, I worked off of a version of the piece in the key of G.

There I ran into my first problem: I have no clue how to play a C natural on a bagpipe. But, more importantly than that, it was centered around G,39 which those of you familiar with harmonics may see is dissonant to A.40,41 When I asked a friend of mine who plays bagpipes,42 he told me that, in his experience, people would play the second half of the song,43 because the first half isn’t doable. That’s when I suddenly realized that there’s a modulation in the middle of The Star Spangled Banner.44 With that in mind, I transposed the end of the piece to D major, which worked pretty well.45 I then put the initial half back in the song.46 I expected some cognitive dissonance from the47 modulation in my version of the piece, but it was fairly minor. And, since the piece was centered around D, it fit in nicely with the harmonics of the instrument.

Then came to the part of arranging for bagpipe that is scary to me: adding the embellishments. The bagpipe plays a continuous note, so to break up repeated notes,48 small chirpy notes are played to break the sound. There’s a lot of theory behind where what embellishments go where49 which I have no clue about. So, I put in embellishments that I knew and looked right where they were, then tried playing through. Nothing felt horrible to me, but I also don’t know enough to know if anything I do would be horrible. So, now I have a version of the National Anthem of the United States of America that fits entirely on the bagpipe. If anyone wants it, feel free to drop me a message at flyingrebelpipes@gmail.com. My only request if you end up using the piece is that you send me a recording of yourself playing it.


  1. I read somewhere (I think it may have been a quotation in one of the Rebelsky Family Bookclub Books) that some people recommend saying that they began playing, rather than learning, a new instrument. Their logic is that otherwise it becomes unclear where the learning stops and the playing starts. Personally, I prefer studying in that sort of context, but since that brings connotations of serious or academic purposes for learning, rather than my source of desire to learn (usually the feeling of “Ooh Shiny!” I find myself feeling when I see a new instrument),I still use learning, since I would say that I’m learning when I practice, and playing when I perform

  2. I hope that the runner would agree with the term friend

  3. I just realized that I have no clue whether or not the United States National Anthem needs a possessive. I feel like it should, since it is the National Anthem of the United States, but I don’t think I ever see it phrased that way

  4. also, I just figured out a good way to avoid the issues of both the possessive (as above) and my tendency to refer to the song as “The National Anthem”, which is only accurate for a small subset of the world

  5. new problem though, do you capitalize the “The” in the title if it’s in the middle of the sentence? I assume yes, since it’s a part of the title

  6. I don’t link them because some people might take it as an attack, and I didn’t save them, so I don’t have them easily available

  7. some of you may be calling this an understatement

  8. try to

  9. read: petty

  10. to those of you who know that the bagpipe is a 9 note diatonic instrument starting on the subdominant in the key of D Major (if the prior statement made no sense, that’s ok, it’s just music jargon saying the bagpipe plays a[transposed] version of nine white piano keys, starting on an F[the key right before the three black keys next to each other])

  11. another clever way to avoid the issue of naming

  12. I think

  13. I know this one. In the key of G, it requires a C natural and a C#

  14. my logic being that the piece scored in D looked like it fit in the natural range of the pipe worse than the piece scored in G

  15. hey! I did it again

  16. which should have been obvious at the time, but I tend to avoid thinking big picture when I’m working out of spite

  17. the note the drones play in

  18. to the people who will point it out, I know in higher harmonics A and G are both in the same series, but the A’s are a major second above and a minor seventh below the G, which isn’t consonant

  19. I chose play intentionally, since he performs fairly regularly, and is far more experienced than me

  20. starting at “and the rocket’s red glare”

  21. no, the use of C natural instead of C# and the fact that the piece is centered on D in the first half and G in the second didn’t occur to me. For why, please see footnote 16

  22. there were only a few notes that didn’t fit well, and they’re minor notes that I didn’t notice the change for, probably because so many people use them as a place to improvise a little

  23. which had earlier required a non-insignificant amount of octave switching, but not an undue amount

  24. lack of

  25. or add spice between different notes

  26. which are any of D, E, F only if preceding an E, and high G

  27. a high G grace note before the pitch being played, then the lowest grace note higher than the pitch being played, or the aforementioned without the high G, respectively

  28. as far as I can tell from being told that in nearly those exact words

  29. and felt comfortable playing

  30. I read somewhere (I think it may have been a quotation in one of the Rebelsky Family Bookclub Book) that some people say playing, not learning a new instrument, because otherwise it becomes unclear where the learning stops and the playing starts. Personally, I prefer studying in that sort of context, but since that brings connotations of serious or academic purposes for learning, rather than my goals (usually less of a goal and more of a “Ooh Shiny!” feeling inside when I see a new instrument), I still use learning, since I would say that I’m learning when I practice, and playing when I perform

  31. I hope that the runner would agree with the term friend

  32. I just realized that I have no clue whether or not the United States National Anthem needs a possessive. I feel like it should, since it is the National Anthem of the United States, but I don’t think I ever see it phrased that way

  33. also, I just figured out a good way to avoid the issues of both the possessive (as above) and my tendency to refer to the song as “The National Anthem”, which is only accurate for a small subset of the world

  34. try to

  35. to those of you who know that the bagpipe is a 9 note diatonic instrument starting on the subdominant tuned to D Major(if the above words made no sense, it’s ok, they’re effectively just jargon saying the bagpipe is a [transposed] version of nine white piano keys, starting on an F[the key right before the three black keys next to each other])

  36. another clever way to avoid the issue

  37. I think

  38. I know. In the key of G, it requires a C natural and a C#

  39. which should have been obvious at the time, but I tend to avoid thinking big picture when I’m doing things out of spite

  40. the note the drones play in

  41. yes, I know in higher harmonics they may eventually be consonant, but the A’s are a major second above and a minor seventh below the G, which isn’t consonant

  42. I chose play intentionally, since he performs fairly regularly, and is far more experienced than me

  43. starting at “and the rocket’s red glare”

  44. new problem, do you capitalize the “The” in the title if it’s in the middle of the sentence? I assume yes, since it’s a part of the title

  45. there were only a few notes that didn’t fit well, and they’re minor notes that I didn’t notice the change for, probably because so many people use them as a place to improvise a little

  46. that required a fair amount of octave switching, but not an undue amount

  47. lack of

  48. or add spice between different notes

  49. as far as I can tell from being told that in nearly those exact words

Riverwalk

Draft 2

Today, I went on a riverwalk. Nominally, it was to fulfill an academic assignment. Since the assignment was vague,1 I chose to journey between the London Aquatics Centre2 and the River Thames.3 I found that 4 you can walk the entire distance from the Aquatic Centre to the Thames entirely along different rivers and streams.5 I had a great time during the walk! A part of me really wanted to go all the way to the English Chanel, but I knew that was a poor choice. For one, it would have been far longer than a 90 minute walk. Second, it’s really hard to decide where a tributary ends and where the real river6 ends. Finally, the footpath that would have let me walk along the Thames was closed. Nonetheless, it was a great time. If you want to see my journey at 60x speed,7 you can find it here. If you want to see it at 15x speed,8 along with fun information, you can find it here.

Draft 1

Today for a homework assignment, I went on a riverwalk.9 I chose to go from the London Aquatics Center10 to the River Thames.11 I found that you can go the entire distance from the Aquatic Centre to the Thames without ever leaving the river.12 It was a really fun walk. It was tempting to walk to where the Thames meets the Chanel, but I was unable to for two reasons: that would have put me well over the maximum time of 90 minutes, and the footpath following the Thames was closed.


  1. take a walking journey of between 45 and 90 minutes between two historic locations

  2. the site of the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics Swimming and Diving Events

  3. allegedlythe largest river contained entirely in England

  4. assuming you don’t make mistakes (which I did) and are ok trespassing(only for a short distance to avoid crossing an overpass)(which I was not)

  5. and even one lock!

  6. apparently the correct term is actually “main stem”

  7. 20 fps and 3 seconds between shots

  8. 5 fps and above

  9. the assignment was to record a journey (by foot) of 45-90 minutes in length

  10. home of the Summer 2012 Olympics and Paralympics

  11. the largest river contained entirely in England

  12. if you don’t make mistakes and have to backtrack (which I did)

Musing on Music

Draft 3

I’m almost always listening to music, even if only inside my head. There’s something sublime about music’s ability to transport me from wherever I am and whatever I’m doing into a different place. Although every song doesn’t send me to the same place, or even the same place for each song, they always send me somewhere.

People ask me what kind of music I like1, and it’s a fair question. I’m a music major, I listen to a lot of music, and it’s a normal question. Nonetheless, I can only ever answer that I listen to almost everything. It’s both the most and least factual statement I can make.

The statement is filled with fact because there is no genre, artist, or even song that I completely refuse to see the merit of listening to. Every song has its place, and even if I don’t love every aspect of a piece2, I still can recognize why its loved. Even if I can’t think why a song is loved, I can see its belonging in a situation, whether as ambiance or as transition.

For a very similar reason, the statement is totally devoid of fact. That is, there is no song that I always love. Songs that I love in most circumstances are unbearable in others. As much as I love soft lilting pieces, I recognize that they don’t belong in most people’s pregame3 playlists. And, as much as I love heavy electronic beats, I understand that most people don’t use them as lullabies4.

Even If I don’t like a song though, I always prefer music to its absence, which may be one of my defining traits. If given the option between music or no music, there are nearly5 no situations wherein I would not prefer music. Music is the joy of life, and it’s a joy that I refuse to do without.

Draft 2

There’s something sublime about music’s ability to transport me from wherever I am and whatever I’m doing into a different place. Although every song doesn’t send me to the same place, or even the same place for each song, they always send me somewhere.

People ask me what kind of music I like6, and it’s a fair question. I’m a music major, I listen to a lot of music, and it’s a normal question. Nonetheless, I can only ever answer that I listen to almost everything. It’s both the most and least factual statement I can make.

The statement is filled with fact because there is no genre, artist, or even song that I completely refuse to see the merit of listening to. Every song has its place, and even if I don’t love every aspect of a piece7, I still can recognize why its loved. Even if I can’t think why a song is loved, I can see its belonging in a situation, whether as ambiance or as transition.

For a very similar reason, the statement is totally devoid of fact. That is, there is no song that I always love. Songs that I love in most circumstances are unbearable in others. As much as I love soft lilting pieces, I recognize that they don’t belong in most people’s pregame8 playlists. And, as much as I love heavy electronic beats, I understand that most people don’t use them as lullabies9.

Despite the fact that I may hate a song though, I still won’t refuse to listen to it. I always prefer music to its absence. That may be one of my defining traits. If given the option between music or no music, there are nearly10 no situations wherein I would not prefer music. Even if I may prefer silence to the exact song being played, that’s only because I’m always singing something to myself.

Draft 1

I love music. There’s something sublime about its ability to transport me from wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, into a different place. Every song doesn’t send me to the same place, and the same song may not send me to the same place twice, but they always send me somewhere different.

However, people ask me what kind of music I like11. My usual answer of “anything” generally isn’t well received. Nonetheless, it’s both the truest and least true statement I can make.

It’s the truest because there is no genre, artist, or even song that I completely refuse to see the merit of listening to. Every song has its place, and even if I don’t love every aspect of a piece, I still can recognize why its loved.

It’s the least true statement I can make for the same reason. There is no song that I would always want to listen to. Songs that I love in most circumstances are unbearable in others.


  1. or prefer, or is my favorite. For my purposes, they’re effectively the same

  2. or even most aspects

  3. or meet

  4. yes, both of those are real examples of music choices I make

  5. I say nearly only because I’m sure there exists a situation, even if I can’t think of one

  6. or prefer, or is my favorite. For my purposes, they’re effectively the same

  7. or even most aspects

  8. or meet

  9. yes, both of those are real examples of music choices I make

  10. I say nearly only because I’m sure there exists a situation, even if I can’t think of one

  11. or prefer, or is my favorite. For my purposes, they’re effectively the same

Disclaimer

Pre-reading note: I’m writing this post1 as I tend to write my papers. That is, a very rough sketch, a more polished draft, and so on until I have the quality I want2 in my writing. Since I’m not too embarrassed of my (lack of) writing ability, I thought I’d post my drafts here as well3. I’ll leave the final draft on the top, with the lower drafts in order from newest to oldest underneath.

Draft 4

Those of you following this blog closely may note that this is the eighth blog post I’ve made since starting the blog. Starting one week ago today, I began writing daily. While I don’t feel the need for a disclaimer at this exact moment4, I think it wise that I craft one sooner than later

You may ask why I feel this need5. To answer, I would reply that disclaimers are a good way to distance oneself from their work. I have in the past6 expressed views and beliefs I personally don’t ascribe to because I believe that they are not being given their fair share of time. Even though playing the Devil’s Advocate hasn’t come back to haunt me yet, I know that people tend to believe what you write is what you believe7, so I want to lessen the probability of misunderstandings. Additionally, my views often change over time. Since I’m not sure if I’ll believe everything I write in the future, it seems smart to say that my thoughts may change now rather than later.

Now that I’ve explained, why I’m writing my disclaimer, I should probably write it. I could copy my disclaimer from my inspiration’s blog site: “The opinions stated herein are those of me and do not necessarily reflect those of employer, the Rebelsky family, organizations, or even most other sentient beings.”8 However, much of that disclaimer isn’t relevant to me, and it doesn’t quite express the situation I find myself in. So, this is my version: “The views and opinions expressed on this site (and linked sites) do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s current, past, or future employers, the Rebelsky family, rebelsky.com, or even the author. Readers are advised to read at their own discretion.”

Draft 3

People following this blog closely may note that this is the eighth blog post I’ve made here. That is, starting one week ago today, I began writing daily. By now, I think I may need a disclaimer. You may ask why9. To answer, I would reply that disclaimers are a good way to distance oneself from their work. I have in the past10 expressed views and beliefs I personally don’t ascribe to because I believe that they are not being given their fair share of time. Even though playing the Devil’s Advocate hasn’t come back to haunt me yet, I know that people tend to believe what you write is what you believe11, so I want to lessen the probability of misunderstandings. Additionally, my views often change over time. Since I’m not sure if I’ll believe everything I write in the future, it seems smart to say that my thoughts may change now rather than later.

Now that I’ve explained, why I’m writing my disclaimer, I should probably write it. I could copy my disclaimer from my inspiration’s blog site: “The opinions stated herein are those of me and do not necessarily reflect those of employer, the Rebelsky family, organizations, or even most other sentient beings.”12 However, much of that disclaimer isn’t relevant to me, and it doesn’t quite express the situation I find myself in. So, this is my version: “The views and opinions expressed on this site (and linked sites) do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s current, past, or future employers, the Rebelsky family, rebelsky.com, or even the author. Readers are advised to read at their own discretion.”

Draft 2

I’ve been writing this blog for a week now, so I feel like I should probably write a disclaimer sooner rather than later. You may ask why. To that I would reply with the following:

Disclaimers are a good way to distance oneself from their work. Although I work for no-one, it seems important to me that I distance myself from some of my words. Those of you who know me may know that I say things I don’t believe because I believe that they are supportable enough views that they deserve their time. Even though that hasn’t come back to bite me yet, I know that people tend to believe what you write is what you believe13, so I want to be aware. Additionally, my views14 change over time. Since I’m not sure if I’ll believe everything I write in the future, it seems smart to say that my thoughts may change now rather than later.

Now comes the writing of the disclaimer. I could copy my disclaimer from my inspiration’s blog site: “The opinions stated herein are those of me and do not necessarily reflect those of employer, the Rebelsky family, organizations, or even most other sentient beings.”15 However, that feels intellectually dishonest. So, with some slight revisions: “The views and opinions expressed on this site (and linked sites) do not necessarily reflect those of the Rebelsky family, the domain, rebelsky.com, or even the author. Readers are advised to read at their own discretion.”

Draft 1

I’ve been writing this blog for a week now, so I feel like a disclaimer is probably a good thing to get out of the way. I could copy from my inspiration’s blog site: “The opinions stated herein are those of me and do not necessarily reflect those of employer, the Rebelsky family, organizations, or even most other sentient beings.”16 However, that feels intellectually dishonest. Let’s see, I could say: “The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Rebelsky family, GitHub, rebelsky.com, most sentient beings, or even the author. Any and all offense taken is deeply regretted.” That seems pretty good.

Why a disclaimer though? I feel like all of the cool writers use disclaimers as a way to distance those they work for from their works. Even though I work for no one right now, I still know that people tend to believe what you write is what you believe17. Since I’m not sure if I’ll believe everything I write in the future, it seems smart to get that idea out of the way quickly, as well as avoiding indemnifying my family.


  1. and hopefully future posts

  2. or have run out of time

  3. no, this isn’t just a way to increase the word count

  4. as nothing I’ve said seems too objectionable

  5. I know this is unlikely, but it makes a convenient segue

  6. and will likely in the future continue to have

  7. rightly

  8. I know this is unlikely, but it makes a convenient segue

  9. and will likely in the future continue to have

  10. rightly

  11. rightly

  12. like most people in the process of learning

  13. rightly

Feeling Safe

As many of you know, I am a large white man. There are many aspects of these two identities that are incredibly beneficial. What I didn’t really realize today, though, was how important that first identity is.

While getting ready to leave for a theatre show that we were both seeing1, I mentioned that I thought I might walk there, since I had time. It was around a 2.5 mile walk2, so I thought there might be an objection due to the length. However, the person I was talking to, who was also a white man, said he wouldn’t feel safe walking there alone.

Now, I’m not sure whether it’s that living in a census-defined “rural” area makes me unafraid and trusting of my fellow person3, or whether he grew up in a far different place, which led him to his comment. Nonetheless, it struck me that maybe the most important of my three identities is, in fact, large. It goes first when I describe myself4, and maybe it belongs there. Where before I thought it was just the white man portion that made me feel safe, I’m reevaluating now to believe that it’s a combination of all three characteristics that lets me feel safe in any situation I find myself in.

But, since the goal of my blog is to be happy and cheerful5, I’ll mention the walk. It was a beautiful walk across and then along the River Thames. I got there at sunset, so the river looked amazing. The show was fabulous, with amazing sounds and a flawless set. The acting was of the highest caliber, as was to be expected from its cast.


  1. huge shoutout to my study abroad program for making it so available. It was an absolutely amazing show, Julie by Polly Stenham, after the Strindberg show Miss Julie

  2. 4 km for those of you who believe in a different set of arbitrary units

  3. probably and not really, respectively

  4. as you can read in the opening

  5. partially in opposition to one of my inspirations

My Wonderful Brothers

Those of you who know me likely also know my brothers1. This post seems like a great way to talk about how amazing they are, since I sometimes forget to do that enough.

My older brother is everything an older brother should be. He’s smarter, kinder, and more generous than me. He follows the rules, and is just all around the perfect older brother to have. Because of him, teachers assumed I was trustable, groups accepted me, and just generally his presence made my life better growing up.

Now that we’re older, he’s still amazing to have around. He’s incredibly knowledgable about a variety of topics that I’m beginning to find interesting. He, along with a mutual friend of ours2, share books that we enjoy reading, as well as share interesting short writings as we find them. When I need help with Excel, or really any software that a business person is likely to use, he’s there and willing to drop most things to help.

But, as I mentioned above, I have two brothers. The younger is really everything I could hope for in a younger brother. He is also smarter, more musical, and far more technically adept than me. For all of the softwares that aren’t common business ones, he either already knows them, or is willing and able to quickly learn them to hold my hand as I try to learn them3. He’s a brilliant musician, and I love listening to him perform4. He’s much wittier than me, but also much more sly about it.

Just as my older brother is incredibly knowledgable about topics I know nothing about and am interested in, my little brother is too5. He’s well versed in music theory, and helps me a lot when I need a sounding board. He also has shares my impulsiveness, but in a much more constructive way. For instance, right before I left, he decided that with the extra fabric he had6, he would make a shirt. He’d never made clothes before, didn’t have a pattern, and still did a passable job.

In the interest of full disclosure, my little7 brother is the reason for this post. I prefer writing my documents in LaTeX 8, and WordPress doesn’t really support that. So, I asked him to build me a website, since we own a domain for some unknown reason. He did, and assuming that I’m able to follow the (incredibly simple) instructions he gave me, my blog will be moving to j.rebelsky.com. Depending on how my ability to not break software goes, I may stop updating this site.

In summary, I have the best brothers anyone could ask for, and I’m grateful every day that they’re in my life.


  1. despite the fact that many people are unable to tell them apart, they still claim to be distinct entities

  2. who, despite the beliefs of some prospective students’ families, is not my brother

  3. the ambiguity in the sentence above is because many times I’m not sure whether he knows how to do what I want when I ask, but he always gets there quickly enough

  4. even though I have still procrastinated listening to his improvisations

  5. they’re both also incredibly knowledgable about topics I know nothing about and care little about, topics I also know much about and care about, and topics I know much about and care little about

  6. how he ended up with extra fabric is a different story

  7. in my mind, even if reality says otherwise

  8. because I’m pretentious like that

Analog Vs. Digital

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m keeping a digital and analog journal of my day. This is inspired by a course I’m taking on London diaries, partially my own past experience, and partially a conversation I had with the professor of the course.

The course on diaries includes an interactive component. That is, in addition to reading London diaries, we will be crafting our own. Now, like many children of the 21st century, I love the idea of keeping everything journaled online. This way I can make notes on my phone as I walk, have them automatically update on my computer, where I can expand with more time. If I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, I don’t need to wake up a roommate with a lamp. However, the course requires an analog diary, so I needs must also keep a handwritten journal.

This doesn’t mean that each journal will be totally the same. Conversely, they will not be totally different. I plan to keep both journals mostly in sync, and keep only specific things out of each. For instance, problems I might have with the professor I won’t be putting in the journal that will be graded. Conversely, experiences I don’t much care about that I write for a grade won’t be recorded digitally.

In speaking to the professor about the idea of digital data, the point of Beowulf was raised. However, as I think about it, I agree with the professor, for the opposite reason. My professor’s point was that the Beowulf manuscript survived because it was hand written, and if a similar digital file would exist, it needs constant maintenance to keep operable.

I, however, feel the opposite, at least with regards to a journal. When I write in my physical journal, there are no other copies of the information. If I don’t show it to others, no one may ever know what I’ve written. I can burn the journal and remove all traces of it. Not so with a digital record. Even if I delete this WordPress site, there are still the memories left in the minds of those who read it 1 and potential digital caches and metadata associated with it. My “private” journal is only synced through the internet and a company or three, so there are almost certainly digital records of it. So while I agree with my professor about the permanence of digital and analog writings, I don’t quite know if I agree with the logic, especially on the level of skill and importance that my writings will 2 lack.


  1. whether y’all want it or not

  2. probably and hopefully, respectively

How I’m Keeping Track of My Time Abroad

I don’t tend to keep track of my daily movements for a variety of reasons. The biggest of these is that one day in Grinnell is rarely much different from a handful or more other days, and those that are I don’t always want to remember.

The second reason I don’t track myself is the time required. Writing takes time, and I’m usually doing or recovering from doing.

Finally, as far as I can tell, most of the time I’m the only one who really cares what zany adventures I’ve gotten up to. Obviously my professors care if I show up to class 1, my coaches care that I show up to practice, and my friends and family care that I show up at prearranged times. Other than that, though, I really doubt that anyone cares whether I studied for three hours in Noyce or in Bucksbaum.

None of these apply to my time abroad. With no frame of reference, every day in London feels very different. So far I have far more free time than I know what to do with 2. Finally, I’ve had at least a few people mention that they want to know what I’m doing while abroad.

So, for those of you keeping track at home, that was 224 words to explain why I’m writing, but not addressing the title of how 3. I’m keeping track of my life in a plethora of ways. Like in Grinnell, I send the minutiae of my life to friends via various instant messaging platforms. Unlike in Grinnell, I update different social media far more frequently, I hope not to the annoyance of my friends there. I’m writing this daily journal 4. Finally, I’m maintaining a hybrid journal. That is, I’m writing a journal that is partially digital and partially analog. I’ll talk about the nitty gritty of that later, but it’s been probably the source I use most to record my days.


  1. or at least I hope that they do

  2. assuming (accurately) that I don’t have the attention span to work on required and recommended readings

  3. 255 as of the end of this footnote

  4. obviously

Street Music in London

As with most cities, London has its share of musicians performing on the street. Although I’ve only been here a few days and in a small portion of the city, I’ve noticed two things about the street music that I don’t like.

The first, and pettiest, of these is that I haven’t seen or heard any bagpipes. Maybe I’m just conditioned from growing up in Grinnell, where our local bagpipe troupe practices with some regularity, but it’s shocking to me that a small Iowa town is more bagpipe-centric than London.

Second, almost all of the musicians I’ve seen have been using amplifiers. It’s not that I’m an audio purist, who has a problem with the idea of amplifying music. My problem is mostly just the fact that it reduces the number of musicians who can play in an area. When musicians are playing acoustic instruments 1, the sound is easily overwhelmed if you’re more than a few score feet away. In places like New Orleans, there’s a different musician at almost every intersection, if not also one in the middle of the block. In London, however, the sounds are amplified, which means that the entirety of King’s Cross Station only seems to have room for one person.

With that said, I still love the fact that there are people who are making music near where I am. It’s great, and so far they’ve all been incredibly talented.

Edit 1 September: Today I saw bagpipers. It looks like there is a rotating group who stands between the underground station near Parliament and Parliament.


  1. With the slight exception of bagpipes

First 56 Hours

My first 56 hours of life in London have passed me by, so it felt like a good time to get some reflections out of the way. Since I’ve never lived anywhere but Grinnell, I thought I’d be a little more culture shocked than I was. To be honest, London feels a lot like Grinnell so far. Or at least, London feels a lot like Grinnell during NSO. 1 I don’t recognize most of the people, and everyone is rushing somewhere. It might help that I’m in a part of London that’s fairly old, so the buildings aren’t towering over me.

Some big takeaways from my first 56 hours:
1. Apparently when I don’t have a 24/7 access to Google Maps and the internet, I actually have pretty good navigation.
2. It takes around 30 minutes to walk around King’s Cross Station if you find yourself in that situation.
3. Apparently bagpipes aren’t all that common here. In Grinnell I’m surprised if a week goes by where I don’t hear bagpipes, but so far I’ve heard and seen none.
4. London weather is much nicer than Grinnell’s.2 When I walk out in the morning it’s almost, but not quite, too cold for my shirt and slacks. By 1700 3, it’s heated up to what feels like the peak of the day, and it’s only slightly uncomfortable to powerwalk through the streets.
5. It’s a lot harder to find a Catholic church in London than in America. I’ve so far seen a few Church of England churches, a Baptist church, an Ethiopian Reformed Church, and a Christian Scientist gathering place. Looking at Google Maps, however, I think I should be able to find one.
6. The underground is really simple to navigate. I’m still not sure how the busses work though.

Thanks for reading!
Jonathan

 


  1. New Student Orientation

  2. Apologies in advance for people who like the heat

  3. 5pm

Hello World!

“Hello World!” is one of the first 1 pieces of code that I 2 learn to code when learning a new language. There are a variety of reasons for this, none of which I am aware of. However, it’s still a great way to start this blog.
Speaking of starting, I’m starting this blog for three major reasons 3:
1. Someone asked me if I would be sending email updates about my time abroad

2. I like having a forced place to write

3. As my tagline notes, my father also writes 4 daily essays.

So, expect to see some updates about travel, my life abroad, and whatever else happens to be on my mind when I sit down to write.


  1. if not the first

  2. and stereotypically everyone

  3. in order of thinking progression

  4. hopefully much more coherently