What I learned last week (#139): …

Learned last week: margaritaville, coast redwoods, charlie watts, and more!

A weekly selection of what I was reading, drawing, writing, and doing.


Thought I was thinking about this week:

Check in with someone you care about, who you haven’t been in touch with lately. Don’t wait for a crisis to motivate you; be proactive.

Who do you need to check in with?


The fire that reached the world’s tallest living things:

The CZU Lightning Complex, as it would come to be known, had immediate consequences, burning down almost 1,500 buildings, forcing the evacuation of 77,000 people and killing a 73-year-old recluse named Tad Jones. One citizen of the forest will feel the effects for ages. The fire delivered a scorching blow to a shaggy and mysterious tree called the coast redwood. The world’s tallest living thing — and one of the biggest — the coast redwood is also spectacularly old, with many specimens born before Jesus Christ.

Scientists are only beginning to penetrate the genetic mysteries of the coast redwood. Take its chromosomes. Humans have two sets of chromosomes; some plants have three. Coast redwoods have six. Scientists don’t know why, or what the purpose is of the plant’s colossal genome. It is made up of 27 billion base pairs, nine times that of a human. Only one organism on Earth, an endangered Mexican salamander called the axolotl, has more.

When the toughest trees met the hottest fire: https://www.eenews.net/articles/when-the-toughest-trees-met-the-hottest-fire


Back-story on Margaritaville and the why and how it exists:

The author isn’t exactly a fan of Jimmy Buffet, but the backstory is interesting and there are some interesting thoughts about why Margaritaville (and chain restaurants in general) are as popular as they are.

In America leisure only exists in relation to work, and we are a culture that fetishizes work. Even leisure, that nonproductive time, is spoken of through its value to production, how we all need time off so we can be better workers when we return. And our leisure time is being eroded. “In a number of developed countries, steady jobs – with benefits, holiday pay, a measure of security and possible union representation – are increasingly giving way to contracts,” warns the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Workers in the U.S. take relatively few vacation days compared to workers in other countries, maybe because we aren’t afforded any paid time off on a federal level, and often work far longer than eight-hour days. Dolly Parton bastardized her own ode to the working woman by releasing “5 to 9” as part of a Super Bowl ad, an uncritical appreciation of working more in one’s free time. People aren’t even guaranteed paid time off to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

That culture of hustle and greed disguised as effortless relaxation created Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville. Many of his songs, and now his resorts and restaurants, and the entire aura he projects, are about escape from your life, which assumes your life is something you want to escape. If the inspiration for Margaritaville is a song about a man who has left it all behind to do nothing, the resort may as well be a theme park for conspicuous leisure — you too can leave it all behind, and then come back and brag about how you left it all behind to assure yourself you indeed did that. Leisure becomes an exercise in labor. The “eight hours for what we will” the Wobblies fought for is increasingly slipping away. You have this rare opportunity for nonproductive time, something to be scrimped and saved for, so you must chill out. You cannot waste this.

Margaritaville and the Myth of American Leisure: https://www.eater.com/22644505/margaritaville-times-square-new-york-hotel-restaurants


The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts recently passed:

The stork didn’t deliver Charlie Watts to the Rolling Stones’ doorstep as a fully developed drummer. On the early records they’re basically a talented cover band. On “Satisfaction,” he opens up and starts stomping—that’s the beginning of punk rock, at least in any mainstream sense. It’s relentless and very aggressive, especially live. And that guy is not the same guy who’s playing on “Street Fighting Man” and “Gimme Shelter” a few years later, where there’s more nuance. “Rip This Joint,” which opens Exile on Main Street, is the fastest song in their whole catalog. It’s like a splatter painting. He’s gone from impressionism to extreme impressionism. The band has gone from playing songs to playing music. Charlie goes from just playing the drums to playing the band.

In the early seventies, the Stones are at their absolute pinnacle. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones, the document of their 1971–1972 tour, is the apex. It’s vicious. I sit and listen to it and reconsider everything I do.

The Shuffle and the Breath: On Charlie Watts: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2021/08/27/the-shuffle-and-the-breath-on-charlie-watts/


What to do when your identity is stolen:

I hope I never have to go through this, but this is a brilliant guide.

You don’t need to do anything just because your data was leaked or might have been leaked.

I realize some folks find that advice unsatisfying. If you cannot sleep at night without doing anything, direct each of the three credit reporting agencies to put a “freeze” or “hold” on your records. Do not sign up for credit monitoring; it is a great revenue source for credit reporting agencies but almost never a good purchase for consumers. If you want to see what is on your credit report, you’re legally guaranteed three free reports a year (see here); once every 4 months is plenty for most people. You can also get free ones through banks these days; American Express and Capital One, among others, will give them for free as a customer acquisition / retention tool.

Identity Theft, Credit Reports, and You: https://www.kalzumeus.com/2017/09/09/identity-theft-credit-reports/


Tips for using Google:


What I wrote and drew about this week:


What I did, was reminded of, or was thankful for last week:

  • Got my fasted 5k time (21 min) and my fastest mile on Wednesday (6:45) since tracking on the Garmin. 💪
  • This week was supposed to be mostly dry and I made a big push to finish a long planned re-painting of the shed I got last year (it had a coat on it already, but was pretty thin) as part of a winterization and overall reorganization before the winter. It took me all week to get it sanded and prepped and all day on Friday to finish it.
  • I was lucky to take my daughter Vivian for an extra horse riding lesson this week on Tuesday in prep for her first-ever competition this weekend. She had to complete a 7-8 minute routine manoeuvring her horse around and arena (ring?), completing circles and semi-circles, changing speeds, and using different lengths of reins. It was amazing to see and she ended up getting third-place in her group. 🐎 ⭐

Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.

Comments welcome!