Help the postal service, down with tyranny, music magic, and podcasts about chess and drugs.
The dog days of summer march on. I considered moving into the Deschutes River to beat the heat, but for now, I’m staying hydrated and cool by maxing out my melon intake.
Beyond that, we’re buried in garden peas, getting up high for outside fun, and scheming ideas for building a DIY greenhouse. I’m all ears if you have wisdom to impart on the latter.
This Week's Newsletter:
Save the post office! Down with tyranny! You only need four chords! Podcasts about chess and drugs! That's enough exclamation points!!!
P.S. I'm switching things up for this newsletter. Moving forward, expect to see Traipsing About in your inbox every week on Thursday morning.
Our tomatoes seem to be thriving...
Help Save the Postal Service By Avoiding the Post Office
The minimalist in me loves selling stuff. In any given year, I list a dozen or more items for sale on Amazon or Ebay, then ship them out. Cameras, clothing, bike gear: people out there want (need) your stuff. And what better time to streamline than during CoronaLame?
But who wants to go to the post office? Even before the damndemic, NO THANKS. Use USPS Click-N-Shipinstead! Package things up with your own box, schedule a (free) pickup, and get back to studying the circle of fifths (see later section).
Another (free/awesome) USPS service is informed delivery. Get an email every day with a digitized scan of your incoming mail and a breakdown of any packages you’re receiving that day. It’s awesome for traveling or deciding if it’s worth getting out of bed. (Or stay in bed and read this Pro-Publica investigation of the USPS situation.)
Silver lining: supporting the postal service flips a middle finger at anyone *COUGH* seeking to dismantle it. Speaking of tyranny…
On Tyranny: A Short Book for the Ages
I readOn Tyrannylast week and can’t stop thinking about this powerful book by a historian of fascism. Only ~120 pages with concise, pithy chapters, it’s an accessible read that opened my eyes even more to the parallels between scary historic tipping points and our current time.
"On Tyranny is a call to arms and a guide to resistance, with invaluable ideas for how we can preserve our freedoms in the uncertain years to come." (New York Times)
A handful of quotes from the book:
Everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens. Each story on televised news is “breaking” until it is displaced by the next one. So we are hit by wave upon wave but never see the ocean.
If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
Sharing in an undertaking teaches us that we can trust people beyond a narrow circle of friends and families, and helps us to recognize authorities from whom we can learn. The capacity for trust and learning can make life seem less chaotic and mysterious, and democratic politics more plausible and attractive.
My new (old) favorite music tool, the Circle of Fifths.
You Only Need Four Chords
Say “music theory” to most people and HEY STOP TRYING TO SKIP THIS SENTENCE!
Maybe you don’t give an owl's muffled hoot about music theory, but enjoy music and laughing (<--humanity test). Then check out this creative Axis of Awesome Youtube videoabout the power of a simple four-chord progression.
For those looking to up their music game, read on!
While learning various scales on the piano, I realized my grasp of music theory had waned dramatically. Enter the magical circle of fifths, which reupped my game in a matter of 30 minutes.
If you’re not familiar with it (or are rusty like me), Musical-U created an excellent primer. I printed out a picture of the circle of fifths and taped it to my keyboard and it's SO useful.
(Clearly I'm obsessed with music right now. It's always something.)
Podcasts About Chess and Drugs
Back in high school, I loved chess and played frequently. (Yes, I was a dork in a chess club.) I sidelined it for a dozen years, but the pandemic blew open space to dig in again. I’m enjoying the brain sizzling effort of getting crushed online, plus beating the pants off a nameless friend (hi Martin!).
All that to tee up this powerful Tim Ferriss podcast with Maurice Ashley, the first Black chess Grandmaster (aka a big deal). He's incredibly well-spoken and insightful. I found his story fascinating.
I don’t have any entertaining anecdotes about drugs. Well, except that I was a D.A.R.E. role model in high school. Dork alert #2.
Good thing there's vicarious living. The podcast series Deep Coveris a true and entertaining story that follows biker gangs, Panamanian generals, and an FBI agent named Ned who tries to piece it all together.
That's it for this edition. To everyone emailing a hello or sending me thoughtful emails and links to your favorite finds, please keep it coming!