Kirk Israel's commonplace and blog. Quotes and links daily since 2001.
December 15, 2019
I'm not usually a food glamour shot person but it seemed to make sense to do a log of the most interesting meals we ate in New Orleans... we tried to make our own food tour in terms of hitting most of New Orlean's most well-known specialties.
December 14, 2019
He was coughing something terrible. And he was splitting blood all over, his whole chest was covered. And I thought to myself, "Jeez. The worst is yet to come." Because see, he's gonna feel lonesome. Because when you die, you die by yourself. No matter what. Now, what can we do to help? So I reached over, and I grasped his hand and I gave it a squeeze to assure him that he was not alone. He acknowledged my presence by squeezing my hand. And then he died.
Lt. Stan Wolczyk
Stan Wolczyk was a platoon leader station on the American island of Attu off the coast of Alaska... I took this quote from a brief video "Comforting the Dead" at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. (He then talks about bracing for his own death after growing cold after being wounded in combat, but he survived.) Also, he originally hailed from Cleveland!
Lots of things wrong with America--but Hitler ain't gonna fix them.
Sgt. Joe Louis
I saw this magnificent man swim out and bring some people off the sinking ship and bring them back in to shore and to me he was the picture of heroic beauty.
Pfc. Walter Rosenblum describing the rescue efforts of Lt. Walter Sidlowski on D-Day+1
I think back to "A River Runs Through It" use of beauty... it's a shame about whatever cultural forces make its use in a masculine context stand out so much.
RIP Carol Spinney...
December 13, 2019

A nice lagniappe - Kenneth Terry outside the Café du Monde

52 Things Tom Whitwell learned in 2019 - great stuff.
December 12, 2019
  1. I've always loved the Edie Brickell song "Nothing", and how it plays with the concept of nothing as it's own thing and nothing as the lack of anything:
    Are you mad at me? Let it show
    Don't tell me nothing I don't wanna know
    There's nothing I hate more than nothing
    Nothing keeps me up at night
    I toss and turn over nothing
    Nothing could cause a great big fight
    Hey what's the matter?
    Don't tell me nothing.
  2. Lately I've been noticing the word "nothingburger". It's a pretty damning put down - tapping into the visceral need for sustenance but then pulling a bait and switch, leaving folks metaphorically chewing on air.
  3. Growing up with certain kinds of religiosity can cultivate a sense of personal nothingness that can be hard to shake. Ideally, yes, we are precious because of that spark of divinity God graced us each with, but you know, one's own finite nature divided by the infinite nature of God... that's about as close to zero, or nothing, as you can get. And I think that has had a negative synergy with my fixed mindset - it's hard to think of growth and development of nothing, there's no there there!
  4. Moving to cosmology - so why is there something rather than nothing? ( "And if there were nothing? You'd still be complaining!") My favorite theory scientists have is that nothingness is surprisingly unstable - at the quantum level particles are popping in and out of the nothingness all the time, and it might be they key to understanding the origin of the universe. Nature abhors a vacuum, but a vacuum kind of abhors itself, it turns out.

Dunno if it's weird to have a chip on my shoulder about being part of Generation X...
Doesn't feel like the most rigorous study - but this is why I tuba dance.
My favorite bit of new-to-me language use around NOLA: "it's been a minute"- a kind of rueful recognition of it actually having been a long while. I mentioned that that to our tour guide Butch yesterday, and he came back with "go to make groceries" where most other parts of the country would say "go to buy groceries"
Venture too far for love, she tells herself, and you renounce citizenship in the country you've made for yourself. You end up just sailing from port to port. Still, there is this sense of missed opportunity. Maybe there is nothing, ever, that can equal the recollection of having been young together. Maybe it's as simple as that. Richard was the person Clarissa loved at her most optimistic moment. [...] It had seemed like the beginning of happiness, and Clarissa is still sometimes shocked, more than thirty years later, to realize that it was happiness; that the entire experience lay in a kiss and a walk, the anticipation of dinner and a book. [...] What lives undimmed in Clarissa's mind more than three decades later is a kiss at dusk on a patch of dead grass, and a walk around a pond as mosquitoes droned in the darkening air. There is still that singular perfection, and it's perfect in part because it seemed, at the time, so clearly to promise more. Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other.
The Hours, Michael Cunningham
Cultivate an awareness of the moments you might be having even now, people! Even if our once tender hearts are a bit scarred over, and so that we fear Cunningham was right and there 'will be no other', that we won't feel as deeply as we did in our youth- or that in our middle age, after we might not have so many decades to create focal length and see how meaningful a moment that was -- I think there's still time for moments.

(I'd also take the chance in stumbling over this old Cunningham quote to plug my old 24 Hour Comics Day work Of The Moments.)
Took Me Eleven Minutes to do That Thing I've Been Avoiding for Three Months: A Memoir
December 10, 2019
Melissa and I are about halfway done with our NOLA getaway... here are some photos splitting the difference between "documenting our trip" and "I like the way this photo came out" (so not showing all the food diary shots, I'm better at eating food than photographing it.)


Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.
Andre Gide
Found this quote I grabbed 16 years ago... it really summarizes an important aspect of my philosophy. There is an objective truth, and you should feel compelled to align yourself with it, but you can never be certain you're there, and an important part of both understanding both probability and empathy is to be respectful of other's view of it, so long as there is a good chance they are being sincere and not obviously cynically manipulated.

Heh, another relevant previously blogged quote form 5 years ago:
The universe of ideas is just as little independent of the nature of our experiences as clothes are of the form of the human body.
Albert Einstein

ship stretching is a real-life loony tune way of getting better use out of cruise ships...