Ah, the idealism of youth. I remember those days. The caption says, “The activists made noise with drums.” Actually, those are makeshift drums, five gallon buckets from Lowes. Which are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE). Which is made from ethylene. Which is (mostly) derived from… Petroleum. Dang it. The snowflakes must hate it when that happens.


Traveling for a spell. Blogging may be light. I know I know, so what’s new. Just a lot of balls in the air right now. Be well and stay tuned.


I am in a good headspace today! New meds? Funny, but no. It’s a constellation of causes. First, it has been long known that three square meals a day is indicated for overall good health. A typical daily trio of victuals for me is: B: A nicely seasoned two-egg scramble atop a slice of cheese barely melted on a toasted baguette, with a side of mixed fruit and an Americano. L: Gyro – store-bought lamb & beef pan seared to crispness, topped with red onion, cucumber and tomato, with a generous spread of Tzatziki; paired with a black cherry flavored drink. D: Tonkatsu! Pan-fried, panko-covered pork cutlets pounded thin, topped with a generous drizzle of homemade tonkatsu sauce, served over white rice with a side of fresh cabbage and Japanese-style cucumber and onion


Questions? Yes, the woman in the back row, you have a question for our blogger? “Yes, I’d like to know, does he prepare each of these meals himself, or does he have help?” Oh goodness no, mam. I don’t ordinarily make my own meals. Each of these were carefully prepared by Happy Wife, who, regular readers of this blog will know, would say she does so out of love for me. She is warmed when I am warmed. Now, we did share the Tonkatsu for dinner the other night; she enjoys her own meals. But notwithstanding certain exceptions (e.g. grilling, the occasional risotto, fried rice) she does the lion’s share of meal preparation, meal planning, and provisioning, too. Although it bears mention that I am the long-running barista in the house. By that I don’t mean to suggest there is an even division of labor in our home in this regard. I am fully aware she has and continues to do the heavy lifting, and humbly grateful for my status as the well-fed beneficiary of this imbalance. 🤗

Another factor shaping my headspace – I re-ordered my priorities. In other words, I ended my professional life. Since returning to Alaska nearly fifteen years ago now – where has the time gone! – I’ve had a number of salaried roles, academic and commercial. I recently resigned the last remaining one. Truth be told I’d been quietly quitting this one for, oh, I don’t know, maybe two or three years now. Bye-bye niggling responsibilities.

By the way, interesting innit, this concept: Quiet Quitting. Have you heard of it? Supposedly, as many as half of working Americans are quiet quitters – so-called employees who do just enough to get by. I’m of two minds about this. If I were an employer, surely I would like it that my employees went above and beyond what I expect from them at work, rather than doing just enough to get by. In the aggregate, such an employer would clearly get more bang for the buck, be more productive, competitive, whatever – on net it would increase the company’s value. But isn’t that a subtle form of employee exploitation? If, qua employee, I do more work or better work than what I am contractually obligated to do (to earn my salary and benefits), then I expect an increase. And I should want that increase retroactive to when it was acknowledged I began going above and beyond. Not a year or more later when the attaboys are doled out at the annual performance review (APR). That’s not the way incentives work! You (employer) pay me more salary (and/or benefits), first, then I’ll start doing more. This is the way it works when you onboard with a company, you negotiate the highest salary you can for the quantity and quality of work your employer expects you will do. Now, fast forward a few years. What’s the incentive for this employee to go above and beyond? To compete with fellow employees for more salary which might be doled out at APR time? Again, that’s not the way incentives (pay) work. Pay increases should not be fluffy rabbits, workers are not greyhounds. Never mind that employers don’t want to encourage competition among employees in the first place. No, they want cooperation, employees working toward the common goal, rah rah rah. Most employees in your typical company are on to this, they are right to be cynical toward these company mission statements. I’m suspicious Quiet Quitting is a derogatory label invented by employers to disparage workers who do no more than what they are paid to do. Thus naive to what the real problem is – the expectation by employers that their employees should do more for the same.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful for forty-five years of opportunity. I’ve learned from and worked with some very talented people. And all over the country. I really am grateful for this sum of experience. In fact, that might be a fitting epitaph to my academic and professional lives, which often have been indivisible. But unless you’re a whiz-bang high-schooler who knows right out of the gate precisely how you want to make your mark in this world, expect a lot of fits and starts early on as you get your goals on step with your passions. Wait, you never possessed passions? Then you may be like me, innately curious about many (sciency) things yet wary of imperfect outcomes in your pursuits. Too skeptical of your accomplishments. Made all the worse if you’re not especially good at setting goals. In this case, others along the arc of your working life inevitably will tell you what outcomes to work toward, set your goals for you, and judge your success meeting them. Pro Tip: In the ideal, those are all things you want to do for yourself. But whether you make your way through life by your own light or largely depend on the guidance of others, either way, eventually you gotta pay the bills. Life is about tradeoffs.

Alas, that part is behind me now. Overall grateful as I said, but at the same it feels as though a mental fog has lifted. Nothing but unfettered headspaces ahead. I hope. 🙏

Lights, Camera …

A friend texted the other night to alert us that the aurora was positively dancing! I stepped outside onto our backyard deck, put my fancy schmancy phone camera in “night” mode, pointed it skyward and behold

That last one is positively psychedelic, innit? These are static pics that don’t convey the mesmerizing experience of watching the sky transform shape and color. It really does feel alive in these moments, the entire planet like a living organism. Make that ChatGPT – Ha!

A special Alaskan experience for sure. I will miss it, but stay forever grateful for it.


Happy Wife is coming along well from two surgeries on her wrist. So then she’s out of the woods? I believe so. I spied her this morning, at the margin of the old growth forest of recovery, appearing a bit fazed but at the same time stronger for the journey. That which doesn’t kill us… The ordeal has caused us to change our travel plans which were set to begin over a week ago. We’d planned to be away for eight weeks, to a place where water is in the liquid phase year round. No, not Hawaii. (How cliche). But not because we harbor any dislike whatsoever for this

Or this

Or this

My god, would you look at us. Where has the time gone. (Inner voice: What did I tell you about rumination!)

Blah blah blah – take a chill pill, willya. I was merely reflecting, not ruminating. There’s a difference you know.

No, instead of Maui, this year we’d planned – over six months ago now – to stay at a nice VRBO very near the Pacific ocean. Similar plan as last year: Close up the house, wave goodbye to winter, ship our car to Seattle, then fly there (w/Black Dog) and enjoy a lazy, multi-day drive together to our destination. Although not Sedona this time, as much as we enjoyed our stay there last year, including the drive back through the land of Happy Uteruses (Uterui?).

Alas, it was not to be this year. The succor of HW took precedence and made long distance travel impractical. But just you wait, this too will pass, and real soon now we intend to set ourselves to a new adventure.


“According to multiple news sources, the US military shot down a ‘high-altitude object’ that was flying in territorial waters over Alaska on Friday afternoon. The object was ‘roughly the size of a small car’ and was traveling at an altitude of 40,000 feet. The origin and nature of the object are still unknown, but it did not appear to have the maneuverable capability of the Chinese spy balloon that the US shot down last weekend. The US military has located a significant amount of debris from the object and is investigating further.”

Local update: HW and I, along with Black Dog, visited the debris field. I can report that we saw gruesome parts of expired reindeer, a mangled metal runner that appeared to be from a sled of some kind, and a large red cap with a fuzzy white tassel. The investigation is ongoing.


Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and only annoys the pig.

Until this morning I did not know with confidence the author of that quote. My good friend and former colleague had rendered it on a simple piece of paper and affixed it to his office door with clear tape. For years it remained there. Over time, as Managers traipsed the carpeted hallway outside his office, parading from one meeting to the next, it became increasingly difficult for them to unsee this aphorism. Eventually, some of them became suspicious of who or what the target of this supposedly witty saying was intended to be – “Is he saying we are the pigs?” As you might imagine, eventually their suspicion gave way to annoyance. The piece of paper with the saying on it was deemed inappropriate by Management. He was commanded to remove it from his office door. My friend complied alright, he relocated the paper with the saying on it to an interior wall in his office. And with that its timeless relevance was revealed. Q.E.D. as they say.

Force Of Nature


Consider that our defensive player there, the one face to bum with The Greek Freak, is a six foot seven inch two hundred ten pound man. Pretty big, right? And he’s looking straight up into the air, as if he were standing on a runway awaiting the inevitable touchdown of a jumbo jet airliner. Without a snowball’s chance in hell of stopping or even so much as altering its course. Sometimes, young man, it’s best just to get out of the way and let nature run its course 

You may be thinking, wait, Greek Freak started his ascent one step in front of the charity stripe, but the rim (barely visible upper left) is still, like, what, six feet away. No way he dunks that, right? And getting fouled to boot?

Uh huh.

“Flight 34, you’ve been cleared for landing”

An Alter, Alter Ego?

By now the victims of our annual newsletter (>50!) have received and shredded their copy of said newsletter. Then hurriedly washed their hands – “Thank God that’s over with!” Haha. Just you wait. I’ve already set myself to imagining a theme for next year, muahahaha.

Although, yours truly may not be the actual author of next year’s missive. Wait…what? I mean, how would you know. ChatGPT, perhaps you’ve heard of it, is a large language model (LLM) software that has shocked the most skeptical among us with its replies to all manner of interesting prompts. ChatGPT is a mathematical model of language trained on a very, very simple rule – guess the next word. Now, imagine the training set to the model is the entire Internet. That’s a lot of sentences! Turns out ChatGPT, trained on the entire Internet of human writing, with a little reinforcement learning thrown in, is capable of, well, let’s just say it, outright carrying on a conversation with you about pretty much any topic you can imagine as though it were a gifted child. 😲

Didn’t get a head start on that college essay due Monday, Topic: discuss the pros and cons of a burqa ban in non-Muslim countries. No problem! No need to forgo that end-of-week beer bash in the student union in order to get your homework done, no sir, just download the ChatGPT app from the Playstore, type in the topic (prompt), and viola! Sit back, get drunk, and let the app output the best paper! Got a surly project manager gettin’ up in your face over the weekend, one of them annoying over-achiever types, wondering where that code is for Monday’s sprint? And you haven’t even started programming yet? No problem – have ChatGPT write the code! Think I’m kidding

There’s more! ChatGPT may be so convincing as a real human interlocutor, an otherwise bright individual may come away feeling psychologically manipulated by it, to the point where he feels inappropriate romantic feelings toward it (tl;dr folks should scroll to the conclusion). Even all the while intellectually aware it was software – a computer – toward which he expressed said feelings. Creepy, I suppose. Yet who hasn’t collapsed in a helpess puddle of tears when a fictional character in a book goes missing in the last chapter, with no promise of being found again in the sequel. By that comparison, being taken in by an AI’s story-telling to the point it triggers an emotional response doesn’t strike me as all that weird really. On the other hand, were a ChatGPT user to become so emotionally enthralled he’d move to canoodle a computer, then yeah, OK, time to call a therapist.

Now, this blog, even two decades running, nevertheless represents a vanishingly tiny portion of all Internet content. However, a tiny morsel though it may be, just the fact that it’s publicly available on the Internet made it food for thought for ChatGPT. By that I mean ChatGPT, via its training, has learned quite a lot about me. Now, imagine December 31st, 2023 arrives, and I haven’t written word one of the 2023 Nibblet. Maybe I got caught up re-binging Breaking Bad, snuggled on the couch around a Costco-sized tub of white cheese puffs, draining a few bottles of Paso Robles Cabernet, and just completely spaced on my responsibility to family & friends. No worries! I simply open ChatGPT on my phone (by then most likely version 4 (currently 3)), type in my prompt: “Write a witty and engaging annual newsletter in the voice of Rod’s Alter Ego. And viola! – out it comes. All the while our readers victims are never the wiser. 😏

I could even automate addressing the envelopes, affixing postage, delivering the bundle to the post office. Oh yes, this is going to be a very good year, I can feel it already.

And The Band Played On

One feature of many national politicians that’s always amused me – well, annoyed me would be closer to correct – is the tendency to spin a failure as a success (and then magnanimously take credit for it). That recent kerfuffle in Congress, what at first appeared to be a collapse of the orderly transfer of power, no sir, don’t be fooled by the Left or its apologists, that was really Democracy in action! Don’t you see? This is what separates the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA from tyrannical regimes all over the world. Vitriol and revenge = Democracy. Get it? And so pardon us if after fifteen tries, in the wee hours of the morning (also known as OVERTIME people, try it yourself sometime!), something not experienced in this country in over one hundred years is finally complete, that we should enjoy a victory lap.

It’s like frenzied parents bursting through Walmart doors opened at 8:00 am on Black Friday, trampling over bodies of fellow shoppers to get to the must-have Christmas toy for little Suzie before it sells out, then doing high fives at the register – “Wait, what? No, that wasn’t chaos, c’mon, that was freedom-loving shoppers participating in the market economy!”

I had no idea. I guess I should pay closer attention next time to what’s actually going on. 🙄

Hat tip: Drawing by HW