Update on December 12, 2023.

Time has a way of progressing at a confounding pace. Slow and fast, punctuated with all kinds of tragedy, joy and change. This blog has laid fallow during a time of personal change. I finally had a moment to revisit and realized this was the most recent post. The post below remains unmodified from its original publishing but the world has been forever altered since it was written on February 24, 2022.

Hamas’s attack on innocent Israeli citizens was horrific and terrorizing. The ensuing war that Israel has been conducting that is impacting the innocent children and adults of Palestine has been barbaric and horrifying.

I don’t claim to be an expert on war, foreign policy and foreign affairs. However, it’s easy to see the permanent impact that the conflict has had on the citizens of both countries.

War cannot be forever. It cannot be the answer. I’ll let the existing column inches from people far smarter than me hash out the details, but my heart still breaks. For Palestine. For Israel. For Ukraine.

I was 16 in 2003 when I watched the initial “shock and awe” campaign unfold on cable television. I listened to cable news anchors parroting the threat of weapons of mass destruction as a clear and present danger, a justification for raining down mass destruction on Iraq. I saw thousands of young people being sent over to fight this war. They were only a few years older than myself.

My feelings about the unfolding war were intensified by the approaching deadline of mandatory registration for the Selective Service. Would this war end up justifying a draft right as I came of age? I still have a copy of my enrollment card, printed in rapidly fading inkjet on cheap paper.

It wasn’t even the first Iraq war I remembered. I have fuzzy memories of Tom Brokaw’s voice saying “fox holes”. I remember seeing footage of tanks rolling across dunes and wondering what creates a Desert Storm. Oh, right — oil. It was 1991. I was four.

I’ve reached adulthood in a generation of millennials that grew up on war. I have friends and family who bravely served our country, fighting petty and largely unjustified wars. Those people are heroes. The people who started the wars are criminals. It’s a duality with which we’ve had to accept as we move on with life, perservering through a financial crisis, a global pandemic and more.

I know people who’s lives have been wrecked by untreated PTSD from their service. I know people who’ve made a good career out of their service yet harbor misgivings about the machine in which they are a cog. I know people who served and have returned to a civilian life, mostly unscathed. They are lucky.

Last night I watched Russia invade Ukraine. Instead of cable news anchors droning on about American might, I doom-scrolled through Twitter, TikTok and Reddit watching raw footage of the conflict unfold. I heard stories. I heard the voices of a peaceful people full of uncertainty and fear about what the dictator next door really might be able to accomplish. And I saw the early morning devastation as Ukrainians worst fears came true.

There are young people in Russia wondering if they will have to fight. There are young people in Ukraine wondering about their future — and wondering how to fight back.

I find the footage of anti-war protests in Russia to be heartening. Cameras panning the crowds show a young population speaking out, potentially at great personal cost, against the actions of their puffed up despot. A young population that understand this war is unjust and unprovoked.

I’m sorry if you read this far and hoped I might have any sort of conclusion. I don’t. I just feel so young to remember so much war.


This blog has been fairly quiet over the last few months. I’ve struggled to find words to write here that seem worthwhile. Just now, I’ve written and deleted three paragraphs because it’s unclear how to sum up my feelings about 2020. Never in my life have I experienced the extremes that I’ve experienced this year.

This has been an intense year for our family. January began with losing my father-in-law to a decades-long battle with MS. Two weeks later our son was born. Two months later COVID-19 began sweeping the country, leaving Kaylin and I to raise Finnegan largely in isolation. As the summer began, the country was reminded yet again that Black lives do indeed matter and that our system of policing is broken.

Later in the summer, we spent time at the beach, alone. I launched a new product with my team at work—my colleagues all working remotely for the first time. This fall, election season ramped up and our country avoided four more years of catastrophic leadership. We watched the results roll in from a cabin in the woods, between many hikes, alone. Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone without the usual festive outings and family gatherings.

It sounds like this might be a complaint, a down note with hours left to go in the year. Although we’ve had incredibly tough moments this year, I feel lucky and blessed. We’ve been able to adapt and live comfortably and safely this year. One year ago I was sitting with Kaylin, counting the days until Finnegan’s due date, thinking about what the coming year would hold. We certainly could not have predicted this year.

My heart goes out to my friends and family who are essential workers. The stories they have to tell of this year are the real stories, the ones that matter. Wear a mask. Stay home. Get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. These are the three best ways to say thank you to those who’ve been tirelessly serving our country.

Nothing about this year has been what I expected. I’m tired. I’m anxious to see what the coming year holds. I’m nervous, but I am hopeful that we have a path forward to a new normal.

Stay safe. Here’s to a new year—one where we can process the terrible losses of the year past and work to a better existence for us all.

A Needle of Hope

As I suspect most of us do, I too have a had a very unhealthy habit of checking notifications and scrolling feeds shortly after I unglue my eyelids each morning. For the past four years it has been a drudgery. This last year it’s been excruciating to see the news of the pandemic, lost jobs, political outrages, fires and smoke, and the vast array of other misery that is neatly summarized every day.

The last two mornings have been different. My feeds have been full of family, friends, and acquaintances posting selfies of themselves receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. I tweeted this morning to summarize my feelings, but I’m overwhelmed and joyful to see the start of the end of the pandemic.

It’s a surreal feeling to read the headlines over the last several weeks. A new president, multiple vaccine approvals, friends actually receiving those vaccines—it feels good. Having a bit of hope about the coming year is a very new feeling, but I like it.

The Toll

19 years ago today I was getting up and getting ready for school on a late summer morning in Maryland. Mom was making oatmeal and dad had already left to drive to Baltimore for work.

A friend called and told us to turn on the news. We did. I remember watching the second plane hit the tower and closely following the news of the attack at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. I remember the surge of anger and the sudden, sharp rise in fear and anxiety.

That day we lost 2,997 people.

19 years later, we are still holding memorials. We are remembering a time of coming together as a nation, of fear. A time of deep hurt for the country.

It was easy. We had The Other to blame. The attackers.

We rapidly pivoted to war. We’ve been fighting a never-ending war for over half of my life at a cost of some $2.4 trillion.

According to the Covid Tracking Project we lost 1,170 Americans yesterday in the US due to COVID-19.

At the time of this writing the US has lost 192,000 people. Write it out like a check: one hundred ninety-two thousand lives.

How do we memorialize these people? We memorialize them by sending kids to college to party. By going to churches and other large gatherings against scientific recommendation. By walking past signs in stores imploring people to wear masks, only to pull the mask down and sneer at other mask wearers.

This country is broken. We can’t come together and do the right thing for our marginalized communities of color. We can’t even properly wear a piece of cloth over our mouth and nose.

War is easy. Change is hard. We fund foreign wars and domestic police brutality, and meanwhile a thousand or more people are dying daily—often in our most vulnerable communities. Meanwhile, the rich get richer (by the way, we don’t need billionaires).

In the midst of this, both political parties refuse to address universal health care while one party actively works against the current healthcare protections.

What’s the point? The point is that the people lost on 9/11 matter. The point is that we are currently experiencing loss at an unprecedented rate for modern times—these hundreds of thousands of people also matter. For those of 9/11 we launched a 19 year war. For those of yesterday, we walk into a Walmart and pull our masks down after sneaking past a greeter.

Act like it matters. Do your part—wear masks, stay apart, wash your hands. Take care of each other in the midst of national and global loss. Be politically active. Educate your friends and families why progressive values matter to the least of those in our communities.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the morning of 9/11. I also know that I’ll never forget this year. And I’ll never forget the vast disparity in how we’ve responded and the toll it’s had on the country.

Home sweet

We thoroughly enjoyed our excursion to the Gulf Coast even though we cut the trip short by one week to avoid the wind and rain expected from the twin tropical storms headed for the region.

After our week of relaxation, I went back to work for the remainder of our time at the beach. It was a great change of scenery for the month of August.

The quality of internet access is always a gamble when booking an extended stay — “Wi-Fi Access” in an AirBnB listing can mean vastly different things. Unfortunately, we had awful DSL coverage at the condo. Speeds ranged from 150 Kbps to 3.5 Mbps. The abysmal speeds and high packet loss made video calls, syncing Dropbox and accessing “modern” JavaScript-heavy websites a painful affair.

I was able to work, but it was difficult. I turned off Dropbox sync, held meetings without my video enabled, downloaded albums of music instead of streaming during the workday, restarted the DSL Wi-Fi box daily and generally exercised extreme patience.

Access to a high quality internet connection is critical in our modern digital age. In the midst of a pandemic when much of work and education is online, it’s now essential. Living and working remotely from Chattanooga, with gigabit municipal fiber connection from by EPB, our local utility company, is absolutely incredible.

While at the beach, I was able to make an unstable connection work. I knew I would be dealing with it for a limited time. However, across our nation and the globe, workers and families are facing bandwidth challenges. We need solutions. We need competition. We need more and more local municipalities doing the hard work that EPB has done—dare I say, treat internet access as a utility. We need a a national government that is actually engaged in fostering access to high quality internet.

EPB receives a lot of national press for being one of the first to move on municipal fiber. Fortunately, during this pandemic, they are offering reduced cost service to those who qualify. This is a great start.

Murphy gets groomed

Before and after a much needed grooming.

Many of us are dealing with hair that is longer than we’d prefer due to ongoing restrictions. For Murphy, it was getting quite out of control and somewhat dangerous to his health. Our groomer has implemented great social distancing policies for her clients so we were finally able to schedule Murphy a session, providing him relief from the hot and humid weather this summer.

We’ve dealt with our veterinarian and now our groomer during these social distancing times. They are both doing curbside drop off and pay by phone. It’s actually a great improvement for both Murphy and I. Murphy gets to hang out in the car and not freak out in a waiting room. I get to sit in the car in my own air conditioning and with my own stereo system while I wait.

If we ever return to “normal” times, can we keep curbside dog services? I think we’d both like that.

Ephemera of Our Modern Dystopia: Groceries

Yesterday, I masked up and ventured out to get groceries after work. I stocked up last time I was out and have managed to wait just over two weeks. We needed more fresh food so it forced my hand.

I knew to expect shortages. I knew that some things we wanted might not be in stock, especially if looking for luxury goods such as toilet paper, Lysol, and Clorox. I wasn’t quite prepared for so many other areas of our local supermarkets to be decimated.

I’ve seen the news. I’ve seen the reports on Twitter. It all feels much more real to experience it in person, breathing through a stuffy mask.

Ephemera of Our Modern Dystopia: A Series

The world is singularly focused on the pandemic. COVID-19 is the primary topic covered by every news outlet. We’ve all been indoors for weeks, working from home if we can. I am not qualified to predict what may happen or to give medical advice (you can read that here). I just know that we must all stay home and should wear a home made mask when we leave the house for essentials.

In the midst of COVID-19, I can’t help but see everything happening around me in a strange new light. Things feel so much the same, yet so incredibly new, different—dystopian.

So, I will be publishing a series of short posts sharing thoughts, photos, and collected media. If you pay attention to what is happening in your community and online much of this will be mundane or repetitive.

I expect to look back in a year, ten years, twenty—and instantly relive the feelings evoked by these scattered bits of ephemera. I just want a record of these strange times. For me. For Finnegan.

I wore a mask in public. A mask that I laboriously sewed the day before. I’m not at the point where I plan to shave my beard so I sewed a mask that I thought would cover and be comfortable. It was just OK.

In these weird times, while wearing a mask to go to a medical appointment, I’m contemplating iterative improvements to a DIY face mask.

Me, in my face mask.