Defiant Sloth

My first concert in several years was fantastic at the Turf Club. Saw Islands perform, alongside some human-looking puppet named Andy on stage. They played several tracks from the new album, but also broke out a few classics. We sat at the bar the whole time, which is the right vibe for this place.

Square composition of black and green tiles at the Turf Club, with logo in middle

The Economist has a fantastic focus in their latest Technology Quarterly about the pursuit of immortality.

In short, immortality is impossible, mostly due to physics and the human genome, but… extending life is very much a possibility and near-future reality.

What a way to open this article on the FTC suing Amazon.

Sea of Stars has been a really charming throwback to so many great SNES-era RPGS. Reminds me of the serious plot (but plenty of whimsy) that games like Chrono Trigger brought along, with touches of much-needed modernity of the UI and gameplay. It’s excellent.

Angled Nintendo Switch on tabletop with Sea of Stars playing on its screen.

A really neat app from the makers of Halide was released today called Orion. In a throwback homage to VHS design cues, this turns your iPad into a portable screen for cameras, video game consoles, and computers of any kind. Great idea, great execution. They even made a guide for adaptor devices.

While I rarely think about playgrounds (no kids here), from a zoning perspective and for children’s creative enjoyment, they are immensely valuable. This recent Axios article had me surfing through fond memories of running through the massive structures in Bloomington growing up.

I’m an idiot and have started curating a library of pull-tabs. If you’re into weird art, stupid gambling, dive bar culture, or all of the above, this is worth bookmarking.

close up of a stack of pull-tabs with all tabs pulled open revealing no winners inside, just lost hope

Maybe I’m old, maybe I don’t get the 5E rule set, but no dice roll for ability points in the character creation stage of Baldur’s Gate 3 is… a bit of a letdown. The game is incredibly polished, though, and this is no way a critique — just longing for the old days.

Freshly-roasted SK Coffee beans (Colombia Variedad F6), ready for a pour-over. ☕️

Stainless steel bin of whole coffee beans on a scale reading 35 grams of weight

Molly Young nails the feeling of paralytic anxiety many feel when confronted with high art of any kind that draws on prior knowledge of "original" art (sure, an "allusion"), and we all wonder how exactly we're supposed to enjoy and nod at the brilliance without effectively reading/seeing/experiencing everything that is alluded to.

How to Solve the Plastics Ecosystem Before it Kills Us

This fact-laden piece by The New Yorker ("How Plastics Are Poisoning Us" by Elizabeth Colbert) spins another dark tale on plastics, the facade of recycling them, and how shitty they are to our planet.

We already know a lot of this — we collectively don't trust that plastics are being recycled (you really won't after reading this), corporations using plastic vessels and those creating them will never change their mind, and replacement materials are surprisingly less efficient or useful for plastic tasks. These are real, hardcore problems in displacing plastic.

But Elizabeth buries the lede at the bottom of the article:

If much of contemporary life is wrapped up in plastic, and the result of this is that we are poisoning our kids, ourselves, and our ecosystems, then contemporary life may need to be rethought.

Contemporary life is a ludicrously big statement. But what else is there to say? Part of what enabled the integrity of logistics for the global goods ecosystem was plastic packaging. How would we go about changing it?

Perhaps global ecosystems are a major part the problem. Maybe we need to focus more on local ecosystems, and here in the US, state-by-state or city-by-city. Let's focus more on local retail, local production, and local uses vs importing everything from everywhere. It can be an incremental, purposeful movement that starts small, but we know money is the only true lever. And by encouraging the adoption of non-plastic packaging for use in local/proximity environments, or accommodate other materials for storage/in-store shelving — especially for spoilable goods (subsidies, anyone?) — we can start to make the impact that compounds globally.

Curly’s Bar up in Duluth was the perfect complement to a splendid dinner at New Scenic Cafe.

This is the right move. In this order. 🤌

Pile of pull-tabs on the ground with a stool in lower-half of frameOutside building with neon lettering for ‘Curly’s Bar’

Grabbing an excellent dawg up in Duluth outside Bent Paddle. Love this area.

This headline had me second-guess an EV investment as my next vehicle…

replacing bumpers, fenders, doors and side panels following a collision can be more expensive because in an EV they are more likely to be embedded with sensors, cameras and other electronics costing from hundreds to thousands of dollars each… And labor charges for EVs are 50% higher

…so on the fence for either an EV or hybrid. Anyone have first-hand experience with repairing an EV?

Amusing that some men still think certain glassware is “too feminine” to drink from.

Evergoods’ Undyed Mountain Pack Performed Like a Champ at the Fair

I was so enamored with Evergoods’ choice to go undyed with a set of their bags to build a more earth-friendly line-up, I had to get one. Notably, this was my pack of choice for the Minnesota State Fair this year... yes, a bold choice for a place likely to amass grime on all who pass through).

Luckily, the Mountain Hip Pack 3.5L performed like a champ. Was there ever any doubt it wouldn’t?

I comfortably packed cash, a wallet, wad of keys, battery pack, a map, tickets, a can of SPAM (you had to be there), sunglasses after dark, a headband, and an 18oz Hydroflask in the outer “sleeve” pocket. With room to spare. It's a great size, though I kept this slung across the chest -- seems like it'd look too big on the waist, but who am I to say.

Openened white sling bag with can of SPAM inside, next to a Minnesota State Fair jacket

A lot of customers like the strap on this one, and I can see why — two buckle clips keep it attached to the bag, so you can sling in any which way (waist, right-side or left-side across torso), and it's perfectly comfortable to take on/off and slide around. It also comes with two built-in strap keepers that operate incredibly well.

Overall, it's a very comfortable, functional sling that reliably persevered through a nine-hour maraud through the fair. Shockingly, it didn't get a speck of dirt on it, either.

It. Is. Terrific.

The new Islands album (‘And That’s Why Dolphins Lost Their Legs’) is fantastically catchy, like all their stuff — you feel like you’ve heard it before. Great way to close out the summer.

Hey, hey!

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The Minnesota State Fair - 2023 Edition

In Minnesota, the end of summer brings with it one of the best two-week stretches. Leading right into Labor Day weekend, the Minnesota State Fair opens its turnstiles of exuberance for hundreds of thousands of visitors (like they say, it’s the second-biggest in the country only because Texas runs an extra 10 days longer, and is widely regarded as the best by many sources). This beast has been going on since the late 1850s, and the spread of diverse activities, vendors, events, and showcases across its 320 acre surface area doesn’t fuck around. And from experience, it also never disappoints — its 1.7mm average yearly attendees probably agree (data per MPR News).

MPR Graph of MN State Fair Attendance

So let’s cut straight to it — we went on opening day. We sampled some things (pro move is to just split every food item between two people so you can extend your intake for hours on end). We walked around. Started with a pronto pup (have to every year, my wife swears by it being the right move). We hit most of the traditional spots (👋 Midway Men’s Club). Watched a lumberjack-and-jill competition (team 9 for the win). Spun some prize wheels. Washed our hands at a ‘personal hand washing station’ (really nice, guys). Saw the Polaris MRZR Alpha (I know nothing about these things, but I could see an entire future unfold before me where I just drove this thing around without purpose). Marauded through bands playing on nearly every block.

It was a good first day.

Now let’s talk food. And drinks.

We started off at the Blue Barn (and by starting off, I mean, when we started to drink beer, which was, to be fair, basically when we arrived). New this year is the Butter Together golden ale, and let me tell you: it tastes almost hit-for-hit like a Dairy Queen butterscotch Dilly Bar. Great, absolutely great, for the first couple of sips. And then, as these things go… it becomes an over-wrought, too-heavy-to-drink kind of beer, and that was that.

Beer in a cup in front of the Blue Barn at the State Fair

We slammed a Dan Patch’N Fruit IPA behind the Garden building. New this year? It was alright, berry-berry-berry forward for sure, if you like that kind of thing. I usually don’t.

The new-this-year Lutefisk buns at Shanghai Henri’s did the lutefisk a disservice — absolutely way too much bun, super dry to the point of “is my mouth going to glue together with bun mash”, the carrot slaw wasn’t great, and honestly, the somewhat tasty lutefisk was just kind of hanging out in a small pile on top. Skip.

Line up of four lutefisk buns

Galabao from Union Hmong Kitchen - delicious filling of pork, egg, and spices inside, plus the green sauce was excellent (I soaked that sucker with it… hot sauce, you know me). In the running for best of the fair.

Galabao from Union Hmong Kitchen

Midway men’s club burger and and a beer — the old reliable. If you know, you know.

The SPAM Burger is a well-executed, underrated success (no one ever talks about them, but they’re always slinging great stuff) — super fresh ingredients surrounding a can-cut rectangle of SPAM;, it’s surprisingly refreshing and knocks some sense back into you after suffering a bout of fried mishaps elsewhere. One of my favorite bites.

SPAM Burger positioned in front of vendor sign

An “after dinner” delight, the peanuts and cayenne ice cream bowl at Dine-In Theater delivered in spades. Excellent. Marvelous. Chef’s kiss. No additional feedback.

Two bowls of ice cream in front of Dine-In Theater

And of course, another after-dinner delight: Oofda Tacos’ taco in a Dorito bag (beautiful way to cap the night post-fireworks). Every chip came smashed to smithereens, but the ratio with the ground meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato was perfect. They also dropped a squeeze packet of sour cream in there to dispense at will — I found it charming.

Open bag of Doritos with taco mix inside

Are we going back? Yes, tomorrow. Do I recommend this activity to everyone in the country? Yes, obviously. How would I rate the Fair? 5/5 stars.

First day of the big Minnesota Get-Together was a near-perfect success rate of food choices. Union Hmong Kitchen’s Galabao takes the prize, but Dine-In Theater also has tremendous ice creams, and don’t miss out on that SPAM burger. Underrated.


picture of the state fair food Galabao from Union Hmong kitchen

CW&T just opened the door for orders on a new batch of their solid state watches, an eye-catching modification of the 1980s Casio F-91W wristwatch that can’t be “used” traditionally, but is fully waterproof. Worth a full read-through to understand the concept.

Love this 1980s scan of an ad for the Twin Ports up in northern Minnesota/Wisconsin.

newspaper ad from 1980s about Superior and Duluth cities

(via Perfect Duluth Day)

MUBI’s Printed Notebook (film magazine)

Just received my first issue of MUBI’s Notebook, and it’s an incredible print production. Absolutely love a surprise and delight moment with anything I wasn’t expecting to have such a moment with, and this hit the mark.

MUBI is a niche/classical/independent/international film streaming service that’s been around for over a decade (I originally subscribed back in 2010). I recently re-subscribed and learned that they were producing a bi-annual magazine that accompanies the company’s super-focused spotlight on cinematic experiences.

And it is a beautiful object.

  • It ships in a magazine-sized box (not plastic wrap!)
  • The magazine inside is wrapped with a re-usable, water-resistant sleeve that makes the printed pages inside feel cared for
  • The pages are printed on thick, punchy stock that feels unlike any other magazine, including the crown jewel, Monocle
  • Lay-flat design, so you can open any part of the magazine and keep it comfortably open without the pages curling back around
  • Beautiful orange stitching throughout, which is… notable

This issue (#3) is dedicated to weather throughout film:

…saboteurs are afoot and unpredictable weather is in the forecast! With thematic pieces devoted to the appearance of weather inside and outside of movies—w(h)e(a)ther cataclysmic or beautiful, documented or created—and to the disruptive ways film culture and industry can be sabotaged, this Issue is expected to reach record readings (!).

I’ve only just begun paging through it, but it’s a joy to read and see so far. Highly recommend — keep print alive!

Finished reading: The Museum of Rain by Dave Eggers 📚

Marvelous short story that seamlessly world builds in record time for a succinct 44 pages, hardbound in a lovely package only McSweeney’s can pull off.

Evergoods' Undyed Collection is Pragmatic Sustainable Manufacturing

One of my favorite bag brands, Evergoods, has announced a new line of products under the banner “Undyed Collection”. This is terrific for a few reasons:

  • We all want to put our money where our mouth is – they started down this path with the Solution-Dyed variant for their black-clad bags, and this is a formidable advancement of this by way of not dying materials at all
  • They’ve taken a realistic approach to doing this that avoids the common trap of greenwashing – it’s a reduction of process and resources that makes perfect sense for optimizing their current manufacturing process

As they describe:

Once the kinks of solution-dyed were worked out and the program was running reliably, it seemed a natural step to replicate this dyebath-free process with regular undyed yarn. Our mill had already anticipated this and had sample yardage available in short order. We unrolled the first lots on our cutting table in Bozeman.

The dull, off-white raw material had an experimental NASA feeling to it and was somehow more interesting and nuanced than the black we had been staring at for the past year and a half. It also came with a disclaimer from the mill. “Inconsistent color quality, staining, dirt, machine oil and other defects that would normally be washed out or covered over during the dying stage are to be expected and considered unavoidable.”

And as a YKK zipper fanatic, I love this small detail about trying to work with the Japanese company to get a raw cut version of their zipper to reflect their approach for this collection:

We exclusively use YKK zippers, and while they offer a variety of finishes, some of which appear more like raw cast metal, they simply would not supply us with unfinished sliders for this project over concerns about quality and long-term performance. I guess I can’t blame them. Everyone would be bummed if the zippers got weird, and it would all end up a waste anyway. So I respect their position.

Looking forward to seeing the product drop and their photography of the new products, which happens tomorrow (August 15). It’s phenomenal to see a great brand continuing to iterate and improve their processes for the betterment of the planet while retaining integrity within reason.