Saturday, January 23, 2021

Reflections on my amazing chess coach, Alfred Carlin's passing

Originally posted as a comment on, on the article: 5-time Louisiana champ Alfred Carlin passes away

These beautiful memories and reflections are bringing tears welling. I met Alfred when I was in third grade at Metairie Park Country Day School. Alfred was our chess club teacher, and my best friend and I went onto become Alfred's students in the late 80s and early 90s at the Chess Academy of New Orleans. I spent endless Thursday nights playing in the weekly tournaments and too many weekends to recount. I got waxed across the board back and forth and slugged it out with players who I aspired to be as good as one day. 

I miss Alfred's bigger than life personality. He embodied the verve, attitude and kindness I love most about New Orleans. A hilarious man, I've adopted dozens of his idioms from those years. 

I have been waiting and waiting for my own daughter, now 7, to take up chess. She's becoming so good so fast it reminds me of my childhood, and she now has an insatiable appetite for the game. I blundered the other day, and she beat me for the first time, and she regaled in joy for a long time. My father taught me to play first, and after six months he could no longer win and sought out harder opponents to spur me on. Even more than the celebration of beating me, she could not wait to share with her grandfather her accomplishment.

Just a few days later she repeated as I had recently introduced her, "if it's free, it's for me." Alfred's legacy lives on. His passion and kindness were indelible. He taught me so many life lessons. I left New Orleans at the best my game ever was. Winning the 8th grade Louisiana scholastic championship beating out my head to head sparring partner, John Bick; another Chess Academy staple. While my play went into perma-stasis, John went on to become a National Master. 

What I wouldn't give to sit at the board again and watch Alfred pretend to roll up sleeves, twist a pinned piece permanently onto its square and watch him grin ear to ear knowing that he has right where he wanted me. I miss my coach.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Why We're Giving

Sometime back I wanted to support an organization by making a donation, but it was not a good time financially to give as I would have liked. Frustrated with myself about the situation I started supporting organizations with small monthly donations. Each time we've made it a little further in our careers we have added another monthly donation or two for organizations that matters to us. Currently, and in other times, we have also supported organizations by volunteering with strategy and advocacy initiatives, and we currently hold one board seat between us. We support all of the organizations linked below ongoingly except where noted.

Drawing on Jeffrey Sachs' holistic approaches to helping eliminate poverty and solve endemic diseases, we are inspired to address community development and creating better opportunities for underserved communities. We have varied the (SECTOR) of the charities we support to be intentionally broad forming a comprehensive approach to social impact.

What motivates your charity? Please share about the organizations you are passionate about. We are always excited to learn about organizations’ great work and missions, yet I realized recently that I do not know who most of my friends support and why it's important to them. I invite you to share stories about organizations you are passionate about and why supporting them matters.

Why We’re Giving:

(HEALTH) We support Partners In Health for their ongoing amazing work in Haiti and around the world training and building capacity in addition to delivering services.

(ENVIRONMENT) In hopes of one day offsetting our carbon footprint we have been supporting Trees Canada planting approximately seven trees a month across five provinces in Canada. Perhaps within six to ten years our family will be carbon neutral for all of our lives, and we'll continue planting many more trees beyond that.

New York Harbor used to be the epicenter of oyster culture the world over. Moreover, the harbor needs its bivalve friends now more than ever to help clean and millions of gallons of water constantly flowing through. To that end we're supporting the Billion Oyster Project out of the Harbor School on Governor's Island. In a super cool project they're currently raising 15 Million "spat on shell" in Red Hook before installing them to the mouth of the bronx river.

(COMMUNITY RADIO) We have been long time listeners and supporters of WNYC. We appreciate their news, entertainment and overall cultural awareness; they're always the eyes and ears of New York.

(GRASSROOTS DEVELOPMENT) Thousands Currents supports grassroots groups in the Global South deploying resources and strategic social impact investing.

(ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT) I have long believed in the merits of capitalistic systems. One way I have been able to scale the impact of our development focus dollars is through Kiva. While I am concerned with the 20-35% interest rates that borrowing entrepreneurs can experience, I am able to relend every loan that's paid back. With $2,362 contributed over the years we have been able to lend out more than $10,500 to hundreds of entrepreneurs in 77 countries in over 14 sectors.

(PRISON EDUCATION AND REENTRY) For more than a decade I have been advocating for changes in imprisonment, educational and rehabilitation opportunities and reentry services. College and Community Fellowship under the leadership of Vivian Nixon is doing amazing work.

(LGBTQ) Lamda Literary elevates the voice of LGBTQ authors and recognizes the beautiful written arts they create with awards such as the Lammy's.

(EARLY CHILDHOOD LITERACY) Room to Read ensures books are available in all children's' homes, especially so that early years are filled with words, adventure and story.

(EDUCATION) We give to our high schools but not our universities (yet).

Sunday, May 12, 2019

I miss you, Chad.

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There's an old man sitting next to me
Makin' love to his tonic and gin
I would have come across Piano Man at some point growing up and learning the modern classics. But, it wasn't just anywhere this happened, I heard this tune time and again at Chad Ferrand's house on Tolmas Dr. He had, like I would later, Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II two disc CD set. Disc 1 track 1, Piano Man, the maestro's nickname sake. We would listen to Piano Man repeatedly, run it in the background and play the afternoon away. The Entertainer, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Only the Good Die Young, the whole lot. We were playing 80s and early 90s classic PC games like Defender of the Crown and Scorched Earth.
He says, "Son, can you play me a memory
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes"
I will always recall my childhood coarseness asking once why Chad had a need for such fancy basketball shoes. Chad wanted to keep up with the latest trends like all of us, but unlike the rest of us Chad could not use his shoes for their intended sport; he was unable to walk. Chad was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). His life was exceptional in so many ways. He was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by patient and skilled physicians; they tended to his many health needs from his first breath to his last.
Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feelin' alright
I am a shitty friend. Chad and I grew apart. Principally this was because I left New Orleans to attend high school out of state, and progressively as time went on we thought of one another less frequently and saw each other even less often. This is not unexpected among adolescents it would be the exception really across vast distances and prolonged periods to maintain all childhood friendships. No, I am a shitty friend because Chad ultimately succumbed to his condition in his early twenties, and I did not stop and take the time to honor and properly remember him. His loving sisters and mother reached out to me when they were putting together a memorial book in his honor. I said, yes! I will write something remembering Chad, and I did not. All natural childhood distance separation aside, this was different, this was final. I responded affirmatively and acted neglectfully. This was no childhood coarseness, this was not properly honoring the deceased, my friend.
Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's someplace that he'd rather be
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me"
As the smile ran away from his face
"Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"
In graduate school I struck up a fast friendship with Rachel Mintz. Rachel introduced herself with the same intense direct focus I would come to cherish in every interaction. She was a New Yorker. Unlike the Piano Man, who is an avid Mets fan, Rachel was pin stripes through and through. She exuded a love for the city and was always in a New York State of Mind. Rachel knew how to entertain and was always up for hosting a smashing 4th of July or gather a small group for fight night.
Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he's talkin' with Davy, who's still in the Navy
And probably will be for life
Rachel was always game for gathering. She had a joyous aura about her. She was always involved and progressing with something whether her art, a non-profit she advised, or work with the city. I was shocked to hear she passed away recently; cancer stole so many good years ahead right out from under her. I have a history of cancer in my family, and I have seen the not so young taken in their sixties and seventies, ok, perhaps, but forties? FUCK CANCER. That is a scourge I will be very glad to witness humanity get one over on. I have a profound respect for the beauty and complexity of nature, and mother nature is a brilliant executioner. Had Rachel seen that coming she would have been at the front lines working against it because she was just such a spirit, brilliant, impassioned and ceaseless.
And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it's better than drinkin' alone
Another friend recently noted that she's twenty plus weeks into cancer treatment, and another still has been fighting it while simultaneously precariously balancing the challenges with other conditions.

I have been sending them my thoughts and wishes for expedient recoveries. These people, my people, are important to me, and they are not going to go stolen unbeknownst to me or drinkin' alone.
Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
Many of the nights where I cuddle with Willa we will sing a song or three. I print out the lyrics to songs I know and love from different times, and Piano Man is high on the nostalgia list. She loves it; she sings the chorus. It's one of the tracks she knows best of the growing songs corpus we sing. And, with her enthusiasm and our practice the song takes on a new life for me. Such is the gift of masterpieces and being passed down through the generations.
It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"
I am a shit for not having written to honor Chad before now. His friendship and our camaraderie growing up left many indelible marks. I am so grateful he introduced me to Piano Man. I am so glad we had so many wonderful times together in life, and I wish him peace and comfort in his passing.
Sing us a song you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
Attribution: Piano Man lyrics | Songwriters: Billy Joel | © Universal Music Publishing Group

Monday, December 04, 2017

Fiesta de Chancho, A Pig Roast on My 37th Birthday

How did this all happen?

I have been wanting to roast a whole pig for quite some time; until my birthday this past Sunday, I had never roasted a whole pig. While living in Sámara, Costa Rica, recently, I was inquiring with my friend, Canuche about BBQ and whether whole pigs are prepared here. Turns out they do happen from time to time, but more importantly, he too had been wanting to roast a whole pig. He had participated in a pig roast previously, but he hadn't been the lead on hosting and preparing the whole pig. We set out together to make our first time roasting a pig with a lot of research, planning and preparation.

We studied and met to discuss our plans numerous times over the preceding month. We considered different cooking methods, sauces, sizes and everything else in between. A couple weeks before the pig roast we took a trip with a friend to a nearby town and met a kind farmer, who had several pigs. We met the family, the pigs, crossed over army ants along the way and struck a deal on a young growing little white pig. 

In the interceding weeks we finished our plans, ordered up all the materials, had a rack fabricated, and got started by picking up the pig a couple days before the roast. What follows is the outline of the steps for hosting our first joint Fiesta de Chancho.

I am not going to play it cool and say I was not nervous at points. We invited 80 people to a party, and I did not want to fuck up roasting a whole pig. The oven took longer than I would have liked to heat up, but that's one thousand pounds of cinder block for you.

I woke up at 4.30am, and I rode my bike past my favorite field lined with palm-trees, the ocean, a sky full of stars, and the first glimmers of day-break. We started the morning with some strong coffee. The second cup had a healthy pour of Bulleit Bourbon. I spent my 37th birthday tending a fire and roasting my first whole pig for 10 hours. When I took that initial bite of slow roasted bacon I got weak in the knees. It was everything I imagined it could have been. I drank beer with my legs cooling off in the river and laughed the whole day with my loving family as well as good friends new and newer.

I would like to shout out especially to my dear friends, Canuche and Mercy, for their partnership and hosting us at their hotel, Villas Espavel.

Here are a complete set of the photos from the pig roast in case you're interested.


Pick up pig, Friday AM
Clean and Brine, Friday AM
Pig drying/salting/dry rub Sunday 5 AM
Fire, Sunday 5 AM
Cooking at 7AM PIG ON!
Flip pig 10.30AM
Take pig off, 2.45PM

Oven Design and Materials

We tossed around ideas of oven, pit, in-ground with stones, rotisserie and others. Ultimately, we landed on a simple cinder block design with a separate charcoal fire. The oven had two entries where coals could be added to the oven for easy access under the shoulders and the hams allowing us control the internal temperature primarily. We liked this design because it allowed us to cook the meatiest parts of the pig while not overdoing the tender sirloins.

When we assembled the oven it was slightly wobbly, so instead of sticking strictly to our design we widened the second layer to four bricks for stability. Additionally, we filled some of the cinderblocks with wood and earth for stability. It added to the oven mass a bit, but little comparatively to the weight of the bricks.


In total we used about 65 cinderblocks
2 cinder blocks wide by 3-4 cinder blocks long (~3’x5’)
4 layers high for base + rack w/one more layer before the sheet metal top
Our rack was not built exactly to spec, so we had to break a couple blocks to shorten them just a tad for the top layer of bricks; not ideal but it worked fine.

Source for the design: Whole Hog | BBQ with Franklin | PBS Food (jump to 2:54)
How ours turned out:

Rack for Pig

We went with a custom fabricated rack, which sandwiched the pig. The idea was to bind the pig to the rack and cinch the two sides of the rack together tightly to ensure it was easy to flip and that we wouldn't lose any of the pig as it got really tender towards the end of the cook. Additionally, it was designed with the oven in mind, so that we could neatly add the pig atop the oven, and add one more single layer of blocks with a roof.

Source for the design: Pig Roast How-To! - Part 2... (YouTube)
How ours turned out:


Post construction at Villas Espavel there was a large stack of miscellaneous wood, plenty enough for 18+ hours of charcoal (only a small portion of the wood supply is shown below). The original plan was to cook the bigger pig for 18 hours over a 200-225 F fire.

Preparing the charcoal

We built a charcoal oven, which we kept burning tall throughout the cook, and with a handy spare iron window security grate the coals neatly fell through, and we shoveled them into the oven as needed.

Preparing the Pig Part 1

Crack the spine with a hatchet/axe and hammer all the way down in order to fully butterfly the pig

Prep the interior -- trim out the extra fat and pull the membrane off the back of the ribs

Wash the pig on both sides and be sure to scrub off all dirt and excess hair



4 Gallons of Water
1 Gallon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Cups Kosher Salt


Source for the recipe: Whole Hog | BBQ with Franklin | PBS Food

Inject the shoulders and hams with brine

Submerge the pig in the remaining base and add all the aromatics:

Preparing the Pig Part 2

Remove the pig from the brine and hose it down completely. Pat down the skin as dry as possible

Rub the interior (we used a Pepper, Paprika, Cumin, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder mixture)

Flip and rub down the entire skin with salt

Dry out the skin with fans, remove wet salt and reapply; all the while bringing the pig up to room-temperature 30 minutes or more

Mop Sauce

We found a Mop Sauce with my grandmother's name, and additionally it had that Austin, TX vinegar flavor profile we were looking for!

Merle's Mop Sauce

1 cup vinegar; cider or wine
5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup salad oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 each lemon; thinly sliced
3 each cloves; crushed
2 tablespoons ginger; grated
2 tablespoons dry mustard

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat until flavors are nicely blended. Use to baste any meat or poultry.

Source: BBQ-Porch by Carey Starzinger

BBQ Sauce to serve with pulled meat

Espresso Barbecue Sauce

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) freshly pulled espresso

Brisket drippings, for flavoring
Mix the ketchup, both vinegars, the soy sauce, garlic and onion powders, and sugar together in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the espresso, and then add the brisket drippings to taste. Let cool, then transfer to a jar, bottle, squeeze bottle, or however you want to store it. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Source: Aaron Franklin

Cooking Method

Based on what we learned from BBQ with Franklin our goal was to get the pig butts to an internal temperature of 203° F and the hams to 185-190° F. To do this we wanted the fire under the shoulder butts to be 220° F and under the hams 215° F. Given our first attempt we decided to aim for a universal 225° F oven temperature and if time ran short, we would raise the temperature up to 250° F to finish the pig.

How did it actually happen with the oven? It took us well over 90 minutes to get the oven up to temperature, and that put a pinch on our cook time. As we ran long on our cook we settled for hitting 185° F internal temperature front and back, which was cooked enough, but we would have liked to get a bit hotter.

After the pig had cooked the first three hours skin side up, we mopped the skin, flipped it, and mopped the interior. Thereafter we mopped the pig interior every 40 minutes or so til done.

Pulling the meat

We let the pig setup 15 minutes after pulling it from the oven. We separated out all the bones, gathered up all the meat, shredded it and chopped some that was slightly tougher. Then, we mixed in a substantial amount of the skin that was crispy and delicious.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Swapping eBay for Swappa

As with many times in the past I upgraded my mobile phone, and I sought to sell my older model. I erased the phone, cleaned it up, took some pictures, and with eBay's assistance quickly listed the phone. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there's a new minimum guaranteed price feature if a couple required tweaks were applied to the listing. Great I thought to myself the phone was going to sell for even more than I suspected it was going to.

Alright, a week later the eBay listing closese above the minimum. Wait for the buyer to pay. Wait for the buyer to pay. Wait for the buyer to pay. Begin dispute process. Several more days pass, and the listing and fees are nullified by eBay. Agreed that the buyer was bogus, no fees, and relisted, so we're back on our way to selling the phone again.

Several days into the second listing for the phone I am solicited by a buyer via eBay's messaging. The buyer was traveling abroad from their native Netherlands. Send the user an invoice, and they would pay via Paypal directly; oh, and I am supposed to preemptively take down the eBay listing. Take the scammy bait, and I send off a paypal invoice. I get a pretty good looking Paypal payment spoof email, and the address I am supposed to mail the phone is in Nigeria. Log into my Pay Pal account, and there's no balance; clearly this is a scam. I look up all the eBay/Paypal spoof and scam reporting addresses and forward all the correspondences.

Ok, I let the second eBay auction listing go to its natural conclusion. Get a couple questions within the last few minutes by a buyer, and that buyer wins the auction. An hour goes by, two hours go by, a day, and eventually enough time passed without payment to file my third action of trying to sell this phone. Again, the buyer turned out to be a bust, and the item gets relisted for a third time.

Fast forward, there's a winner of the third auction, and this time there's an invoice followed by a successful legit Paypal payment! Great, my money is in escrow, so I go over to UPS, and I send off the phone to Florida. Phone is received by the supposed buyer, and a couple days later the Paypal dispute email comes in -- the buyer's account was reportedly illegitamently used to purchase the phone on eBay. I felt comfortable from the outset because selling through eBay and collecting through Paypal I was covered by Paypal's Seller Protection. Paypal ultimately ruled in favor of the buyer's account and repays the buyer, and I am unaffected by this decision because I sent the phone off in good faith as described and covered by Paypal's protection.

The summary for selling this phone is three auctions, four scams, I'm paid, some rando got my wiped iPhone 6, Paypal bought my phone, and eBay lost a customer. All this took five weeks duration and lots of time dealing with a shitty purchasing ecosystem.

In contrast, after that sale was completely done and past, I needed to purchase another new phone, and I went to Swappa. I looked over the available offerings, and the phones were priced well in a marketplace setting. I purchased a phone, and within a week it arrived in the listed condition. That was easy, and the purchase too was covered by Paypal's protection.

TL;DR I will be going to Swappa in the future for my cell phone exchange needs. eBay is broken.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Such Great Heights

I belive in endowing community services and providing more people the mental space and freedom to be educated. I firmly believe everyone on the planet ought to have stress free access to fully funded education; furthermore, they should be able to pursue the most advanced degree they desire to achieve. Throughout my life I will aspire to accomplish this mission.

My education has been world class by all standards. At the Taft School, which I proudly and fondly remember, I was inspired by the mission "Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret (Not to be served but to serve)." I have served my myself, my family, and my community. By being whole of self and mind, I have been able to contribute actively and outward.

Many years back when I was considering undergraduate studies programs I became enamored with a school called the Webb Institute. It carries the name of William H Webb, who fully endowed the school. Any student driven enough, talented enough, and fortunate enough to attend will receive a 100% tuition-free experience. This is a world-class institution. I was not passionate enough or competitive enough, performance-wise, to reasonably complete with the best of the best that attend this fine institution. Their focus is on naval architecture and marine engineering, and undoubtedly some of the finest vessels to ever traverse the worlds waters are conceived of by Webb Institute graduates.

Upon recently learning Harris Rosen's story I am also inspired. My desire to reach further and do more has been reinvigorated. Despite some setbacks early in his career, he has been a very successfully entrepreneur and hotelier. In recent years he has emphasized his philanthropy, which includes providing broad access to families needing assistance both money and time-wise to attend school.

It can be disheartening when you fail to mesh with those surrounding you professionally; Harris Rosen had similar struggles early on, and those challenges resonate with me. I see my challenges in the past as fruitful learning opportunities to dissect, to wrestle in that uncomfortable space, but also as firm ground to spring forth and achieve new heights. I am a lucky person to have had so much rich quality education, to have a healthy and happy family, and vigor to create a brighter spot in a seemingly encroaching world. Harris Rosen has risen above his personal challenges, and he has given so much to those around him.

My friends over at Flocabulary worked on a beautiful PSA piece along with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation on the global time poverty struggles. It highlights such a critical issue facing our world that there are stresses forcing in on families everywhere. Let that sit with you a minute. How high on the Maastricht hierarchy of needs are you and yours?

I believe in hiring others to help out our family and expand the time that we have to be more productive and to be more restful. A recent survey found those buying services, which free up time, can make you happier. This is not a conflicted position because there are both people needing work, our ability to pay, and freeing us up to complete other activities.

Should it be this way? I don't think so; I think everyone should not only be able to be as educated as they would like to, but they should be able to spend their time anyway they want to as well. I think there's a very bright spot in the future to introduce many more robots into society. Human intellect is key to realizing and fulfilling the potential that creating robots would mean for humanity. Essential tasks and services could be swiftly and more correctly handled by robots freeing up vast swaths of humanity to pursue other educational, productive, creative and recreational activities.

Willam H Webb and Harris Rosen are heroes to me. They and their legacies are helping create the world I want to see. Think about your community a moment and consider whether your neighbors have the resources they need to subsist, to see themselves and their children advance to the degree we all know is possible. If there is a disparity there, I ask that you consider their needs and consider whether you have the ability to change their future. Do you have a dime or an hour to spare to advance their/our destiny to such great heights?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

There is a "me" in Costa Rica

We quickly set in pretty swimmingly (literally every day and many days multiple times daily) when we first arrived. Willa was in a local camp here, CREAR, which runs during the mid-year school break, and she began her school the following Monday in mid-July. We sorted through our long term rental situation, and Marla and I each then took a couple weeks of Spanish classes, more in fact for Marla who is still continuing. Our language school Intercultura provides world class education with a deliberate focus on Costa Rican history and culture. Completing each class it has become progressively easier to have a richer experience here in Sámara. I took a couple cooking classes, which is an offering at school's kitchen each week, and I learned how to make yuca tortas and picadillo.

There are the occasional shrieks in the morning like when a crab was in the house the other day. We have worked on an ant encroachment into the house a couple times. Dislodging about a dozen wasps nests arounds the eaves took some efforts by our landlord the other week. While taking out our green waste the other day, which included some head to tail fish bodies Willa and I drew the attention of a racoon; the bandit started trailing about 10 feet behind us; thankfully, tossing the food waste into the horse field beside our house, the usual target, sent the racoon racing to get to the fishy remains first. Occasionally, a golf ball sized beetle will slam itself into the sliding door at night. We may have been reading and the slam jolts us back to the surface of our immediate surroundings.

This blog post for one was paused recently while I was writing poolside comfortably in the afternoon shade. Marla was reading and Willa watching a great new show, Tumble Leaf. There I was enjoying a nice quiet moment, and a yellow tailed wasp (they're the more aggressive lot compared with their all black brethren), and it started giving me a full body scan like a disgruntled TSA agent. I stood up, and the scan persisted seemingly even closer than before. Well, I was having none of it, and inside I went. One thing I most certainly do not want to experience here is how badly my body will react to a yellow wasp sting.

At our new house things went a bit south with the pool after an algae bloom kicked up. Ten days and many visits from the guys tending to the pool later it's back to looking crystal clear. Separately, it took a handful of visits from the landlord to work out all the kinks of the new house squeaks here, clogged drain there, missed times to connect on issues, and so forth. Everyone has been extremely helpful and able to do much with every contact we have had.

Dropping Willa off at school the other day I observed the metal shop immediately adjacent kicking out welding sparks. I became concerned because kids just like us adults have a very difficult time looking away from the allure of the blue glow. Much like yesterday's total eclipse starring right at it is an opthamologist's nightmare. After suggesting a couple ideas to the school a few friends and I are working on creating a "screen" to shield the kids' eyes. This was a necessary distraction from getting to my sabbatical business. We're far along now and will hopefully wrap it up in the next couple days.

All this is to say that I somewhat anticipated sabbatical to be a bit more readily apparent with vast swaths of free time to work on me projects. There are a few areas of study that I need to make a plan for, and then carve out and execute on that time squarely among the needs presented in renting a house abroad, parenting an energetic fournado, and all the daily life maintenance needs. That said my long wait for Game of Thrones season 6 is over. I signed up for HBO Now yesterday and binged through the first six episodes. I'm ready for Sunday's epic finale.