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!



Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, the stories behind the names of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods.

The stories within stories: the fictional books we wished were real.

The recurring jokes of Arrested Development.

New Looney Tunes are coming to HBO Max and this is making me want to subscribe:

The PG (granted, it’s become a right-wing rag on the editorial side) has a neat interactive site about the bridges of Pittsburgh. Note this may be behind a paywall, I think it was one of my three free articles when I read it.

Dolly Parton secretly executive produced Buffy! And we just now found this out!

A DM and a set designer created a DnD adventure in a dresser! Each drawer is new level of the dungeon!

We’ve all been doing a lot of virtual exploration of place, and the British Museum recently revamped their online collections.

Speaking of, need some peace in your life? Check out the livestream of the Northern Lights!

Because there is such a need for blood right now, the FDA has reluctantly allowed itself to accept blood from gay men, as long as we don’t have sex for three months. They still don’t want our blood, but they realize they need it.

The Atlantic has a great piece about pandemic fatigue, how we should approach it both in ourselves and others. The article also covers the similarities between COVID and the HIV pandemic: they’re very, very similar, just on a different time scale. Be kind to yourself and others, be as smart and safe as you can.

Also in Pandemic related content, CGP Grey’s new video about it. While I will disagree, I think that for many, just surviving is enough (instead of creation of coming out ‘better’ in some way), this video has great tips about how to survive our new reality:

Dumb Runner, The Onion of running, hits it on the head: Local runner cancels backyard marathon, refuses to offer refund.

New research shows that Antarctica used to be a rain forest. Global tectonics and climate history really are awesome!

The voice of Big Thunder Mountain looks exactly how you think he does. And that is comforting.

The trailer for the new Netflix show ‘Hollywood” looks really fun:

Myst is set to become a TV Series….for the third (?) time. I’m excited, but will believe it when I see it.

Slog has great coverage of the white privilege of protesting stay at home orders. Worth a read.

An artist created a chandelier that forms as it collects rain water, and it’s beautiful!

That’s it for today, but I’ll be back soon, have a great one!



Alright, let’s see what we have today.  First up, the second season of Zombies, Run! was just released.  I’m still working my way through their training program and season 1, but it really is an awesome way to get into running:

The Chicago Tribune bought the staff of The Boston Globe lunch.

Well this is pretty amazing:

A one night stand stretches into two days…because of the Boston bombings.

The Onion is coming to Amazon video, and I couldn’t be more excited:

Hopefully this link works (it may or may not), but the Chicago Tribune takes a look at the state of American fantasy.

There have been some good gun control ads, I think this is one of the best:

It’s a little trippy, and if you get motion sickness, it may not be for you, but a really cool video made from images from Google Earth.  Also a great way to showcase the persistence of motion.

That’s it for now, have a great one!



Goodreads has a good article up about the elimination of the Middleman in book sales and publishing.  Am I the only one who is scared about the loss of book stores?  Don’t get me wrong, I tend to buy a lot of books from both book stores and Amazon.  But I like my experience better at the store.  I can ask the sales associates for their recommendations, take my time, and maybe even write a book (we’re thinking of doing our NaNoWriMo write-ins at Barnes and Noble this year).

And additionally, I can’t quite figure out where Goodreads is coming from, it’s almost as if they’re advocating for what Amazing is saying, get rid of the middle man and let everyone publish themselves.  The commenters bring up the valid point that without the publishing houses, how else will all the horrible books be taken out of the pile.

Anyway, it’s an interesting read, and it’s a scary, busy time in publishing, that’s for sure.

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