Black Hole Sat

I’m not a planner by nature. How about you?

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Being prepared, planning, listing out steps, having an idea of what I want to do before I start doing something – it’s all very learned behavior for me, and I’m still not great at it. I was never taught, exactly, how to make plans, how to plan ahead, when I was a kid. I was told to do it by teachers and family, and I often experienced the fallout for not planning when I was a young student (I remember, very well, the day my mother told me what “procrastination” meant and I sat there thinking, there’s a word for this thing I do?), but there’s a big difference between knowing you’re supposed to be doing something and knowing how to do that thing. It smarts, especially when it seems to come so easily to everyone else, including your annoying little brother.

Things I’m somewhat hapless at planning in my personal life:

1. Anything with money (I’d just rather not spend it, or spend it on the same things)

2. The future (long-term)

3. What I’m going to wear (or even knowing what I have to wear) (related: #1)

4.What I’m going to blog about (I do have lists of topics now)

5. Leisure time (I just clean instead)

You can imagine how I’m feeling as Jim and I work with Lilly on Planning Her Future, which is a LOT of 1 & 2. None of us are really good at it and it’s terribly intimidating, but we’re trying to relish the challenge. Gulp.

There are certain types of planning I’m pretty good at. I know my way around conceiving, planning, and executing campaigns at my job. I LOVE the strategic planning process for organizations. I’m an excellent (though rather barky, if I’m not getting help) meal planner. And today I realized, after Jim and I did the grocery shopping and I was getting everything ready for the beef stew that’s on the stove right now, I really enjoy prep work in the kitchen. I like the peeling, the chopping, the dicing, the measuring, the mise en place. I enjoy cooking, but prep work makes me happy. When Jim cooks, I often help with the prepping of the vegetables. Our kitchen is small and we are not small people, but I enjoy being side-by-side, working together and bumping into each other.


We’re getting a little more snow tonight. I was just outside to take out some recycling and it was so still and so quiet as the snow fell, the only sound my neighbor practicing his French horn. The stew is done. The biscuits are done (I highly recommend them). Before I go, here’s tonight’s LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

The Clash of Civilizations That Isn’t

Interview with Jeff Wise, who has an interesting MH370 theory

His theory

More spec from Jeff Wise

She Does podcast

The most amazing cattle you will ever see

Reddit AMA with animator Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues) – she lives in Urbana!

I hate the “picked for you” pins on Pinterest and use it less because of them

How to thicken stews

Daylight on Our Side

I went into a Gourmet black hole when I ran across these in the basement over the weekend:


They’re from the early 1980s. Things that struck me: Our progress in food photography. Only about half of each magazine was printed in color (reminding me a little of the current New Yorker). Women still regularly signed themselves as “Mrs. So-and-So” in their letters. The little tiny ads for travel opportunities. SO MANY RECIPES FOR QUICHE.


The birds – mostly sparrows – living in the giant yew bushes in front of our house are legion. They are also RAVENOUS. The feeders are empty, just a few days after I topped them off out of concern they wouldn’t be able to find anything to eat after the (paltry) 6″ of snow we received last Saturday. If I don’t fill our feeders, they fly two doors down or to the house behind us to eat… and now that I think about it, it’s probably safer that way for the birds, as we have a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk hanging around who chases sparrows and juncoes into the giant yew bushes. It will also wait patiently for an hour on one of our single tree’s low branches – an hour – for a little bird to make a fatal mistake. I guess hunger does that to a bird.

I’m anxious as the vernal equinox and daylight savings time approach. I feel much the same about late warm weather as I do early cool weather – it’s robbing us of our time outside, planting seeds & tending to the resulting plants (with luck, anyway), eating fresh, seeing friends, playing games…the extra daylight is lovely, but it’s too cold (10° F as I type) to get much done except for the same stuff I’ve been getting done inside for the past 4 months: dinner, dishes, vacuum, laundry,  groceries, read/write/pass out on couch under extra blanket, etc. But then I realize this state of affairs might be the new normal:

Last week we saw several inches of snow, slush raining out of the sky, a really nice warm-up that helped melt the foot of snow on the ground, a tornado watch, and an inch of rain in 30 minutes on top of all the snow. Tonight’s low temperature: Two degrees. Barf.

That’s from a BYI entry from last year on February 25. We haven’t even had the weirdly warm day this year, though. WHERE IS OUR WEIRDLY WARM DAY?

The upshot: 909 needs a good spring cleaning – the kind where one throws open the windows even if it’s a little on the cool side and one aggressively cleans out closets and washes all the floors and launders all the things and eats a salad when one is done. I feel rather weighed down by possessions. I look around me and I see some things that make me happy, and many things that are just… habit. Hm. That sounds like how I feel about me – some things that are making me happy (family, love, friends, creative pursuits), but other things are just habit (lack of exercise, eating perhaps a little too much, etc). I really do feel like opening the windows will change everything.


 Tim and I and a couple of other awesome people are busy cranking out long-awaited BYI videos. Tour de Coop should be ready next week, and I’m already at work laying out the final two. I’ll be glad when the project is finished – it’s been fun, but it’s time to learn how to do a podcast and save the longer short videos for special occasions.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

Facebook keeps changing their algorithm

How advances in food and health have changed our physiques

Using Slack and Google Hangouts effectively for work

“Tea Tuesday” has begun at NPR

I enjoy Adam Scott’s Twitter

My brain, in pictures

Topical Fruit

My internal debate rages on: Should I get dressed and go outside and fill the bird feeders and take a few photos and run to the grocery store even though the wind is howling and it’s cloudy and the current temperature (27°) is steadily dropping to its eventual nadir of 0°? Probably. OK. BRB.

OK. Back.

FullSizeRender (6)The birds got fed. Look at that canning funnel getting a workout.


IMG_0740I had a cherry tomato accident in the co-op parking lot. Someone stopped to offer help. I demurred. She called my predicament “heartbreaking” and moved on. But I saved most of them, I wanted to call after her. All but two, and they were in sad shape to begin with. 


IMG_0741As I mentioned, the wind is quite something today. You can’t tell from the photo, but the clouds are hustling across the sky and the dead garden is bending and waving and getting tossed around.


“While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people… evaluations will be based not just on your efforts, but on your ability to bring excellence out of the people around you. ” – David Carr

Last night, I read more and more about the NYT‘s David Carr, who passed away Thursday. While we were in MPLS at the same time in the late 80s/early 90s and had friends in common, I didn’t know him personally or anything. Like many others, I enjoyed his work and occasionally was completely taken with some of it, especially his writing about media. Anyway, last night I ran across this short piece about a syllabus he’d developed for a class at Boston University, and the quote above just yelled at me. Absolutely hollered. That, right there, is the spirit of collaboration for me. It’s about making things – the kind of things I like to make, as it happens – and understanding that the greatest things a person can make are done when that person takes that shit seriously and does the best work they’re capable of doing… while working with and learning from others without egos getting in the way. I also love his standards for personal conduct in class, such as this:

If you don’t show up for class, you will flounder. If you show up late or unprepared, you will stick out in unpleasant ways. If you aren’t putting effort into your work, I will suggest that you might be more comfortable elsewhere.

I’m pretty damn sure that’s also good advice for plain old living life. I’m so sad he’s gone.

I have a long list of ideas for blog posts – the “topical fruit” to which I refer in the title. They’re big digs, like friends moving away, nightmares (actual ones), respect for home and the work our homes do for us, stuff like that. The importance of farmers markets, which I know I’ve mentioned wanting to write about. More. I don’t know when I’ll get to them. It seems easier right now to just describe what’s happening here at 909 and to post a bunch of open tabs, and I’m fine with that – this kind of posting has gotten me back in the habit of writing more frequently and with some semblance of my own voice. But I’m due to tackle something with a little more depth soon.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

David Carr remembrance on On point Radio

Roxane Gay: Women shouldn’t have to lead like men to be successful

What Silicon Valley thinks of women (this article and the comments ENRAGE ME)

A Storified Twitter chatabout advice for young food journalists (applies to all ages)

How the Google fiber rollout went/is going in KC

That @RandomFacts person 

The leader of one of my employer’s motherships (NPR): Jarl Moen

Alien space seeds? Sounds right up my alley

Today’s corn vs corn from 9K years ago

Idle Hands Make Pie

As February lurches on – it doesn’t march, it lurches – the days lengthen and the desire to DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING increases. I start trolling the web looking for stuff to do, not unlike a bored toddler, fresh Sharpie in hand, eyeing a blank wall. Building, baking, seed-starting, whatever, but it has to be EXACTLY what I want to be doing and it CANNOT be drudgery and NO ONE can make any suggestions. So this weekend I baked a key lime pie the way Deb at Smitten Kitchen does it because a) I’d been craving limes and b) it’s a sentimental favorite (more on that in a sec).

Production was colorful – the butter (Kerrygold) was a cheerful, robust yellow as it melted, the lime zest an otherworldly green. The entire house reeked of citrus.

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Making the crust and the filling were absurdly easy, though juicing the limes was a bit hard on my hands (we no longer have a citrus juicer, alas). And while I’m always nervous that pies of this type will never set properly and leave me with a pie plate full of graham cracker and goo – I speak from experience – such was not the case. Most of the total time involves the cooling of the pie (twice – once for the filling, another for the whipped cream on top). Here’s an arty shot, before the whipped cream was applied:


Why key lime pie, you might ask? Great question. When I was in Florida, growing up, limes were the weird citrus tree. I loved every other citrus fruit, but limes were weird and how could you even tell they were ripe and they seemed to spend more time in beverages than anywhere else, which was suspicious. Of course, we eventually left Florida for Minnesota and, over time, I basically forgot all about limes as anything other than something to put in a gin and tonic or to accompany Mexican food. When we started heading to Florida every winter in the early 2000s, we would also visit my Oma (RIP) for a day and basically steep in fresh-squeezed citrus juice. She didn’t have lime trees, but she juiced the, um, juice out of each and every orange and tangerine on her property. Her neighbors thought she was insane, but she knew better – they’re buying their orange juice at the store, she scoffed. I liked the way she thought. Juicing oranges and tangerines with her, in her kitchen in Titusville, reignited my love for citrus, limes included. We now have a custom of buying the surprisingly-good key lime pie from Publix every time we’re on vacation, but this year, I couldn’t wait. And while Publix makes a decent KLP… well, so do I, as it turns out.

Today’s LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

Transforming a junk drawer

Creating a buyer persona

Podcast editing tips

Wall Street wants to know where the Twitter users are

Chipotle: The Definitive Oral History

Eddie Huang Against the World

Radio peeps moving to podcasting?

My friend Ken Stringfellow’s blog

All about a button museum in CHGO

Writing For 15 Minutes

I have 15 minutes to get a post written, media uploaded, etc. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.


I have somehow managed to not kill our indoor plants. The key to successfully keeping succulents alive is to not water them all the damn time. As my friend Mathis says, those of us who are used to growing food plants outside tend to overwater succulents, because… well… HOW CAN THEY NOT NEED WATER EVERY DAY? I’ve watchfully ignored this plant and all of its friends and they seem to be thriving. Success. I guess the lessons here are that a) I should listen to the experts because I do not know everything and b) I do not need to helicopter parent my plants.

That said, I’m looking forward to getting back outside. Footage review from stuff we shot last summer has been tortuous – chickens, garden foliage, flowers in glorious HD – and the snow encrusting our driveway and every other outdoor surface seems very last season, all of a sudden.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

The next internet is TV

Synonyms for “hope” (my favorite is “pipe dream”)

Something about media vertical collectives

Amanda Hesser’s Medium page

For those who hate themselves for loving Kinfolk: The Kinspiracy

Farm to table alive and well in Arizona

Free vintage clip art and photos

Reveal – great investigative reporting here

Women and commercial space travel

Greil Marcus’ “Days Between Stations” archive… finally


Hi, February. I baked you a cake.


Despite my efforts, February, it appears Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow today, so this winter isn’t over yet (also confirmed by a look out the window here). However, February 2 is also that magickal day, Imbolc, where we’re about halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. The days are noticeably longer, especially at the end of the day, and a month from now, our day will be about an hour and  a half longer on both ends than it is now. THAT is exciting. Oh! And! Tomorrow night’s full moon should be spectacular if the skies clear. I love marking time by watching the sky. It’s a way for me to stay connected to the natural world, which is a lot harder for me to do now than it was 10 years ago, when I was home with the kids and the skies ruled our days; I now spend way more time in an office than I do outside, unfortunately. Thankful for windows.

Related: Today is a particularly interesting day for me at work. The meetings themselves pack a wallop just by their sheer number (and on a Monday!), but one of those meetings involves a project I’d love to work on and I hope it goes well.

This is Red Five. I’m going in.