Best Of

I’ve had a WordPress blog since 2007. Everything since that time is available on this site even still.

For a year or maybe two before that, I had a homespun blog that I put together myself and hosted on BootlegSports for some reason. BootlegSports doesn’t exist anymore. Sorry. Anyway, everything from that era is now lost to the ether. Sadly, especially given that there was one masterful post on there, in which I went minute-by-minute noting everything that was bad about Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It was a long post. Maybe it exists in some form on some hard drive somewhere. I’m probably not going to look. Tl;dr, I don’t think it was a great movie.

Regardless, I have over 11 years of content on this site, so I figure it’d be useful to put together a greatest hits album so that those just joining us can catch up quickly. Or something. Excerpts generally included.


There aren’t any good posts from 2007. They’re mostly narcissistic whining about fiction writing or coded bellyaching about my job in the form of posts that are either cranky or trying too hard to come off as not cranky. “Suffer-Zone Kauai” is noteworthy perhaps only in that it ended up being a grim harbinger for the brain deadening travelogue that this blog would eventually become.

So much for you to look forward to, dear reader!


2008 was my biggest year for blog posts, a sort of golden age. An era when friends, family, and occasionally random strangers could find a person’s blog site and then possibly comment on a post. What an age we lived in! Something in there must have been readable.

  • There are a lot of convenient plot points in the story, like every time they really need something, they *just happen* to find it. They need to earn everything.
  • This story is too cold and bleak and there’s not enough reason to hope. I don’t like that.
  • The POV shift was thoroughly annoying.

The post was also kind of an implied explanation as to why I kind of stopped trying to write fiction.

Tastes like someone melted every flavor of Jolly Rancher ever conceived and then mixed it with an equal part off-brand cough syrup.

I posted about energy drinks three times in 2008.

Korean War 36,516 1,128 days 32.4

That kind of thing (those columns are battle/war, total US combatant deaths, length of battle/war, and deaths per day).

This post recently re-claimed the title of most-read blog post I ever wrote. It was in response to news reports trying to get people all sad or angry or whatever based on there having been 4,000 deaths of American service members in Iraq, which resulted in my wondering whether 4,000 was, relative to war, really that many people. Turns out Antietam was really bad.

I really think the FLDS are shady people who have done some bad crap. But just because I or you or some judge in Texas thinks that (and someone received an anonymous phone call), that shouldn’t mean that due process is out the window. But apparently it means exactly that. Lousy fascists.

Unwieldy title, but I think it ended strong.

This is also where we, the curators of history, see the blog’s first mention of cross-country road trips.

How about this for a headline: “Recessions Are Normal and Cyclical” and then as a sub-head “Similar economic figures seen five years ago”?

Nine years after the fact, it seems almost poignant that, as it turned out, the world didn’t actually fall off the edge. But maybe that’s too bad. Maybe it would have liked falling to the bottom of the… of the… Yeah, it wasn’t ever a great metaphor. This is written at about the same time in my life that I decided to stop reading The Economist.

Like every article in The Onion, the headline’s the entire story. But this one’s a true story and the punched fish is pictured.

From the same vacation as the punched fish, but this one is noteworthy because, well, I went ultralight flying on Kauai. I hate heights, doing this was sort of an attempt to tempt fate or break the cycle or something. This post is also sort of interesting because the pilot I went with (pictured) died a few years ago in an ultralight accident; lastly, one-day ultralight introductory instruction flights are no longer available in Hawaii.

RIP, Jim. Only spent 90 minutes with you, but you were a good dude.


1998 – Moved from El Cajon (Rick’s House) to La Mesa (Mellmanor)
Because after a couple months of living in your brother’s house it’s hard to feel like you’re doing a good job of maintaining your dignity, let alone advancing it. Sadly.

I probably could have advanced it if I would’ve tried harder.

If it *isn’t* okay to train killer whales to take part in for-profit public spectacles, then pretending that they’ve given you permission to do so might not make it all right. Maybe we should pray to Shamu and see if she’ll honor us by verifying.

And I wrote this before Blackfish was even a thing.

On island marooned,
Old enemies become friends
And then they blow up.


So this was the first post in my blog’s golden age of movie reviews. The reviews were very short and included a haiku. I should go back to doing that, make my blog great again.

  • “Restore active desktop” button appearing on my desktop, behind my icons, for no clear reason.
  • Recurrent “valkyrie.dll” issues.

I wrote this right after I quit my job that year and left for the road trip I’ve chronicled at And I don’t know how all you people keep using Windows all the time without constantly throwing and/or breaking things.


Y’know part of me hopes there’s a big nuclear war some time just so I can see if any of the post-apocalyptic prognostications ended up having any validity.

Always preparing to look on the bright side.

That post was from early in the year, when I was doing fly-outs for PhD programs in which I was interested; the post was inspired by a visit to Pitt, where I ended up getting my PhD.

There were ruddy crosses finger-painted above every bedroom door. Non-positive vibe. My agent had hand sanitizer in the car.

I was shopping in the low-end of the market. Also, it was on that trip that I learned what a Pittsburgh toilet was.

Describing the Carl’s Jr.-Hardee’s Line

Here’s the crux of it: why should it never be possible for someone living east of The Line to order a Western Bacon Cheeseburger?

Pittsburgh was on the wrong side.

When I moved to Pittsburgh, I moved into a house that I’d purchased for $41,500. It needed some work. Also, since I paid cash for the house and it therefore wasn’t required by the bank, I lived in it for four years without ever having homeowner’s insurance. In case you were wondering whether that was possible. Any rate: a lot of 2010’s posts had to do with me DIY-renovating the house.

I’ve spent so much time here lately chiseling glue off of my kitchen walls that, last night when I closed my eyes to fall asleep, all I could see was a chisel clearing a white-yellow path through stripes of putty-colored tile glue, strips of adhesive flying off to either side.

  • Recommended course of action is to (a) stop doing things that require me to grab stuff, especially power tools that oscillate or vibrate; (b) splint the affected fingers, especially at night; and (c) maybe pop some “anti-inflammatories” (ibuprofen). Should heal itself in four to six weeks.
  • If that doesn’t work, then I can go in and get some cortisone injections. I’ll feel like a professional athlete! Like an old, emasculated professional athlete.

All self-diagnosed of course.

  • The younger one got talked into living on campus for her last 3 1/2 years by one of her professors who was concerned about her being otherwise unable to have the “full college experience”.
  • As a result, she racked up $60K+ in student loan debt (her parents live about 15 minutes from campus).
  • She only made three friends during college (= $20K/friend). Only one of those three still lives in Pennsylvania.

It’s a Q&A with myself reflecting on the 48-state road trip.

Moreso than ever after the trip, I think most people shouldn’t bother saying most of the things they say. Our species should either be more interesting or quieter.

That’s the best part of the post.

Man. That’s basically every major event in my life coupled with my susceptibility to pop culture and overlaid with stuff I thought I might want to do.


This is sort of a nice slice of My Pittsburgh Life:

Okay, I know Pittsburgh wasn’t as great as I’ve romanticized it to be, but I also know that I haven’t seen another AMC Pacer since then.

Still Pittsburgh, still a lot of posts about home renovations. Which — you’d think there’d be a lot of posts about PhD stuff, but no: home renovations. Good thing my advisors weren’t blog-savvy, I guess.

  • They have a bowling alley.

This was the first of what would become a legion of ski trip blog posts. Unfortunately it’s about Seven Springs, which I ended up deciding was over-priced, over-crowded, and not as good as Blue Knob. OTOH, I also just really liked Blue Knob. So this was not actually an interesting post, just sort of a landmark one. Just like Citizen Kane.

That summer I decided to go on a road trip from Pittsburgh to the Canadian Rockies, then back home by way of the Beartooths in Montana. On the one hand, it was probably too soon after my previous road trip, on the other hand, some of the photos turned out pretty good.

Mist, mountains, Bow Lake.


Progress on the project was often slowed by an older person walking or driving by and wanting to talk for an hour about my wall, their walls, other people’s walls that may have existed, shovels, the weight of concrete, etc.

OTOH, I miss living in a place where older people, or for that matter any people, will drive by, stop, and have a conversation. Gott strafe Oklahoma!!, etc.


House still wasn’t done yet. This basement wasn’t actually quite as good as those photos make it seem, but still: it looked pretty good (after).

My once-in-a-lifetime ski trip to Switzerland was met with unfavorable ski conditions. This post is mostly in the best-of because there’s not a lot to choose from in 2013, plus it has a picture of a urinal in it.


Visibility was absolutely fantastic, though, so that was a plus.

  • The inability of the cashier at the Duquesne Incline to give change. Especially when the price went to $2.15 and the change machine only gave out quarters.

This was a cautionary note-to-self to prevent missing the place overly much. Not sure it worked.


  • My 48-State Road Trip in Road Photos

It was kind of a seminal life-experience.

One day, about, oh 15 months ago, the dash started rattling. I smacked the top of it and the plastic cratered. As a result, I had a large hole in the top of my dash where the tray used to be. I never took a picture.

It’s a fun car.

For better, though mostly worse, it’s a pretty lengthy travelogue. But, you know, there was some effort behind it at least.


Though mostly just because I think this photo is pretty boss:

Pigeons basically won the Franco-Prussian war for France (well — except that Prussia won that war).

It is the most unintentionally Portlandia thing on Earth. And it’s in Oklahoma.

Next day I found a parking lot across the river in Jersey City for $125 a month, and that parking lot became the Titan’s home for the rest of my New York stay. During that time, I’d take the PATH train out to Jersey City to visit it on the weekends. We’d sometimes go on road trips — Long Island, the Catskills, and a couple to DC among them.

Happy trails, old buddy. Hope you’re well. Also, this post is probably my current personal favorite.


This was a good year for covering off with how much I hated living in Oklahoma. Frex:

The last one is the crucial one. Everything you ever needed to hear if you wanted someone to talk you out of moving to Norman, Okla.

Oklahomans aren’t really thinkers. If you’ve ever read Grapes of Wrath, it’s not hard to see the unseeing simplicity of those characters in the behaviors and attitudes of modern-day Oklahomans.

There was some stuff about the move and a couple hikes. The trip to the Wind Rivers, I guess, is worth calling out, especially days 2 and 3.

Or just look at this photo I guess:

Lastly, there was this important life-event update:

The girl was adventuresome and tried to climb up the slide on the breeder’s backyard swing-set; the boy waited till I wasn’t looking, then dug his sharp little puppy teeth into my back …. So: I chose the girl, and, only $900 later, we were on our way home.



Not a big blogging year.

I mean…

The Europe trip was pretty good though.