Today's Mighty Oak


I’m actually not one for new year’s resolutions. Typically I set out some very manageable goals for me at my birthday, and work on those for the year. So what did I do this year? Set new year’s resolutions.

To be fair, last year I had a new year’s resolution to update my wardrobe and (to steal from Thug Kitchen Bad Manners), dress like I give a fuck. It went well, and I’m generally really happy with what I did, so let’s apply that to this year!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been working on:

Read more books

I read a lot, but feel like I’ve fell behind that a bit lately, so I set out to read at least seven books this year. Modest, I know, but with everything else going on, and an ever-growing pile on my nightstand, this seemed like a good place to start. Here’s what I finished:

  • Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore. The second book in the death series (after A Dirty Job), such a fantastic time!
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. I enjoyed this a lot, and the ebook that I borrowed from the library had a short afterword by the author, as well as the ‘Toast’ from Screwtape.
  • Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink. This expanded on the podcast of the same name, both of which are highly recommended!
  • Queer x Design by Andy Campbell. Amazing book about the history of queer design, highly recommended!
  • The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited. Book two of the Balance Arc of the podcast, brought to life as graphic novels.
  • hello mr., Volumes 7, 8, 9, 10. Literary journal about queer men, consistently some of the best writing in print, and a shame that it’s no longer in production.
  • Naturally Tan by Tan France. A deep dive into Tan’s life and work, a fun read that showed me a different side of the Queer Eye star.
  • Hamilton: The Revolution. Book about the creation of Hamilton, including a full script with notes from LMM.
  • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Kramer. A book about the character from Welcome to Nightvale involving pirates, spies and revenge.
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman. The story of the women who have the power to destroy the world.
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. A reread for me, but I had forgotten how poignant and good this book is!
  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. Her next book, just as fun as the first.
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I reread this so I could discuss it with a friend, and I as reminded why it’s easily one of my favorite books of all time.
  • Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix. Murder in a haunted Ohio IKEA competitor, just wonderful.

Other books and audio books

So, I’m not counting audio books for this challenge (hot take: it’s not actually reading. Not saying it’s not great, it’s just something else), or a couple other books that didn’t really require much reading:

  • The Little Blue Kite by Mark Z. Danielewski. As recommended by the author, I read it through three times, each time following a different path (but it’s a really short book).
  • Coincidences at Museums by Stefan Draschan. A wonderful little book of photography at my uncle and aunt’s house.
  • The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen. Audio book based on the podcast, listened to during my long runs.
  • Vodou by Manuela Dunn Mascetti. Short little book.
  • Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-fix recipes for Hangry Athletes by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. Some great recipes, but like any cookbook, many I won’t make. But some great running and racing content in there as well!
  • Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John. A series of meditations on the writings of John.
  • The Book of Blessings. Small book about Tibetan prayer flags.
  • The Book of Urizen by William Blake. Small textbook that was mentioned in Origins so I decided to give it a quick reread.
  • Firefly: The Sting by Deliah S. Dawson. Graphic novel about the women of Firefly/Serenity.
  • Vox Machina Origins Volume II by Matthew Mercer. Graphic novel about the Twitch/Youtube show

Clean spaces

In a general sense of decluttering and cleaning, I’d like to clean ororganize 12 small spaces, one a month. These are things like closets, bookshelves, dressers, etc. I have too much stuff, and it’s time to do some purging!

  • Dressers in my guest room
  • Filing cabinet in my office
  • Nightstands in my bedroom
  • Glove box
  • Desk
  • Organized office bookshelves
  • Cleaned office closet
  • Cleaned and organized laundry room
  • Organized hall closet
  • Scrub kitchen counters (bigger deal than it seems, finally found the right combination of cleaners to get them really clean!)
  • Cleaned cable totes (random computer/electronic cables)
  • Garage shelves
  • Camping/Burn/Relay race totes

Buy more music

So, I get in the habit of hearing new music that I like, identifying it, and then not actually buying it. So I’m making an effort this year to put together a playlist throughout the year:

  • The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Fort Nowhere
  • Julie-O by Kevin Olusola
  • Arsonist’s Lullabye by Hozier
  • Calvary by Mashrou’ Leila
  • Dreamboy (album) by Dan Terry
  • Hiroshima by Ben Folds
  • Your Turn to Roll (Critical Roll theme song)
  • Take Me Away by Barefoot McCoy
  • Precious Love by James Morrison
  • Dreamboy main theme by Dane Terry
  • Hallelujah by Panic! At The Disco
  • Be Me by VINCINT
  • All Rode off Together by Meeting of Important People
  • Caution by The Killers
  • Reasons I Drink by Alanis Morissette
  • Simply the Best (From Schitt’s Creek) by Noah Reid

This goal took a bit of a backseat after Google Play Music closed, and now I’m at a loss of where to buy music from if I don’t want to use iTunes (and not stream). Any ideas?

Diversify meals for game nights

My last goal for the year is to make something different each time I host a game day. I’ve fallen into a lot of the same things, and I’d like to expand a bit, so the goal is to not repeat over the course of the year:

  • January: Broccoli and chickpea tacos (Thug Kitchen Bad Manners)
  • February: Curry Slurry (poorly named from The Lactose Free Cookbook)
  • And then we didn’t have any more in person games due to the global pandemic. Will try this again when we can meet up again in person!

Well, I’d say I was successful! The trick for me is to set reasonable and attainable goals, then I gain momentum to do more! (Side note, just surviving this year is enough. Don’t let anyone tell you differently).

I have some ideas for what I’ll be working on in 2021, including a lot of cleaning those same spaces again! I also have some digital cleanup to do, and am hoping to knock out some TV and movies I want to catch up on, as well as restart an epic fantasy book series.

Here’s to a great year!



It’s been a year. But at least we got some videos to celebrate its end!

Here is DJ Earworm’s United State of Pop:

And a bonus from DJ Earworm, all the top songs from 1970 to 2020:

And of course, the year in search from Google, always a great/tough one to watch:

I’ll be back with my own end of the year wrap-up(s) soon!



We’re just a short bit into 2020, so it’s time for a quick look back at 2019 and a look ahead. I’m working on finishing up my year in review video for 2019 (as well as 2018), so those will be done soon. In the meantime, here are the two that I really enjoyed, first up from Google:

And secondly, the year in music from DJ Earworm:

As I have done the last few years, I like to make resolutions at my birthday, not the new year, but I have a few, very attainable, things I’d like to work on this year:

  • Purchase more music. I tend to make lists of music that I hear and like, and then never do anything about that.
  • Cook a wider variety of dishes for game nights. Specifically, I want to use the cookbooks that I have!
  • Clean at least one thing a month. By thing, I mean, a filing cabinet, a closet, a chest of drawers, etc. I have too many ‘things,’ and I need to declutter a bit, so we’ll go bit by bit!
  • I signed up on Goodreads for a reading challenge, but again, kept it attainable: hoping to finish 7 books this year! I have a big pile next to my bed, but just hoping to make a dent.
  • I’m also working on my birthday resolutions which include things like swapping out an outlet, installing a new thermostat, those kinds of things. Like I said, very attainable!

Happy new year, everyone: may it be better!



I will start this (brief, I promise) post off with two caveats:

Caveat the first: Whoever the Democratic nominee is, they will disappoint each and every one of us in some way. Get over that now. The alternative is (among so many other things) children in cages. Vote with your heart in the primary, but vote with your head in the general. Get over your bullshit purity tests and let’s do the work to make fix some of these monsterous crimes.

Caveat the second: I have a lot of candidates I like. Before Mayor Pete, I was pulling for Castro. And Harris. And Warren. And Booker. I do also love, love, love the fact that so many of the candidates have issues they are specialists about, release their plan and then the rest of the field basically follows suit. This is a good way to operate.

Caveat the third (okay, I lied, I thought I only had two): I’m an independent. Unless Pennsylvania changes their rules (which there is a potential for that to happen), I can’t vote in the primaries, so I don’t have as much of a horse in this race (and yes, I’m a full hearted progressive, but since no one can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory quite like the Democratic party, I remain Independent).

Okay, on to it: I really like Mayor Pete. Yes, he’s gay, and seeing myself in a candidate in that way is something I didn’t think I’d ever see. I also love that he’s my age (two years older). Our generation faces a lot of unique challenges, and we need lots of younger people to step up, take the reigns and not let the older generations dictate so much of the world.

But I also love that he’s outspoken about his faith: one that I have always known to be liberal. He’s fighting the right on their own turf and laying it out in stark terms.

Faith should inspire social action.

https://www.towleroad.com/2019/11/pete-buttigieg-social-gospel-movement/

He’s actively proclaiming that his faith moves him to care for his neighbors, to create a social safety net and to fight those who hoard their wealth. This is a message that needs shouted from the rooftops.

When the right claims to have a monopoly on the Christian faith, we need to push and fight back against that. It’s disingenuous at best.

So while he may not end up with nomination (odds are he won’t, just based on sheer numbers), I hope that this something he continues to pound and something that the progressives take from him. Christianity at it’s heart is liberal and progressive. In the words of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, it’s about radical love. Let’s embrace that, and fully reclaim it.

All my best,

Mike

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