> Hello
> I am Clay
> I keep a /timeline and have a monthly /newsletter
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February 2021

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Wonderwall

Washington’s Secret to the Perfect Zoom Bookshelf? Buy It Wholesale.

Another force at work, however, was the rise of the well-stocked shelf as a coveted home-office prop. When workplaces went remote and suddenly Zoom allowed co-workers new glimpses into one another’s homes, what New York Times writer Amanda Hess dubbed the “credibility bookcase” became the hot-ticket item. (“For a certain class of people, the home must function not only as a pandemic hunkering nest but also be optimized for presentation to the outside world,” she wrote.) And while Roberts makes an effort not to infer too much about his clients or ask too many questions about their intent, he did notice a very telling micro-trend in orders he was getting from all across the United States.

Grab Your Cauldron

Exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

I’ll start with the bad news: Nobody will be making an mRNA vaccine in their garage any time soon.

And from The Washington Post:

Step one is to generate lots of genetic material.

Scientists use a buzz of electricity to create holes in the cellular skin of E. coli bacteria to let a ring of DNA slip in, carrying the blueprint for the coronavirus spike protein. Those cells grow in large stainless steel vats, allowing the bacteria — and the DNA blueprint of the spike protein inside — to multiply over about four days. At the end of the process, scientists kill and break open the cells, using a purification process that takes about a week and a half to strain out a ring of DNA, called a plasmid, that codes for the spike protein.

Le Sigh

Why We Sigh

Research from the University of Oslo found that most people associated sighs with negative emotions like disappointment, defeat, frustration, boredom, and longing. But the primary physical function of a sigh is for the benefit of your lungs. Sighs keep the tiny air sacs in the lungs, the alveoli, from collapsing, and maintain the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, said Silvia Pagliardini, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Alberta.

Healthy adults sigh about once every five minutes. If you don’t sigh and re-open the alveoli, you could become hypoxic and die. People died when using the earliest iron lungs because designers didn’t account for sighing, which modern ventilators now do. When mice are genetically engineered to not be able to sigh, they eventually die of major lung problems.

Historically, the sigh was considered to be like a reflex, Pagliardini said. “The lungs collapse, they send some input to the brain, and the brain makes a sigh,” she said. In the past few decades, we’ve learned that sighs are programmed by the brain to occur no matter what signalling is coming from the lungs.

Links

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

January 2021

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Announcement

Tending this website keeps me sane. I think of it as a digital garden, a kind of sanctuary. I recognize this in Ethan Marcotte’s eloquent suggestion that we “let a website be a worry stone.” And if my site is a kind of garden, then I see myself as both gardener and architect, in so much as I make plans and prepare the ground, then sow things that grow in all directions. Some things die, but others thrive, and that’s how my garden grows. And I tend it for me; visitors are a bonus. — Simon Collison

  1. I’d invite you to check out the redesigned website. I suppose the only real excitement is the timeline. For some time now, and increasingly in the future, I have been and will be tracking movies, tv shows, books, quotes, thoughts, photos, and travels (RIP *sobbing*).

    I think the details behind the timeline are kind of cool. I use Airtable and Zapier to create new posts. All I have to do is update the spreadsheets I already use to track everything and a new post is created on the site.

    If you see something weird or that doesn’t look right, please let me know. I’ll add it to my list.

  2. The newsletter is moving from being self-hosted to Mailchimp. You might see a welcome or confirmation email, or if things go horribly (horribly, horribly) wrong you might need to opt-in again. We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.

And now, as we were…

“…rip your individual cells apart” * blink, blink *

What Would We Experience If Earth Spontaneously Turned Into A Black Hole?

In order to approach the actual event horizon itself, you’d have to somehow shield yourself from these tidal forces, which would rip your individual cells apart and even the individual atoms and molecules composing you before you crossed the event horizon. This stretching effect along one direction while compressing you along the other is known as spaghettification, and it’s how black holes would kill and tear apart any creature that ventured too close to an event horizon where space was too severely curved.

As spectacular as falling into a black hole would actually be, if Earth spontaneously became one, you’d never get to experience it for yourself. You’d get to live for about another 21 minutes in an incredibly odd state: free-falling, while the air around you free-fell at exactly the same rate. As time went on, you’d feel the atmosphere thicken and the air pressure increase as everything around the world accelerated towards the center, while objects that weren’t attached to the ground would appear approach you from all directions.

But as you approached the center and you sped up, you wouldn’t be able to feel your motion through space. Instead, what you’d begin to feel was an uncomfortable tidal force, as though the individual constituent components of your body were being stretched internally. These spaghettifying forces would distort your body into a noodle-like shape, causing you pain, loss of consciousness, death, and then your corpse would be atomized. In the end, like everything on Earth, we’d be absorbed into the black hole, simply adding to its mass ever so slightly. For the final 21 minutes of everyone’s life, under only the laws of gravity, our demises would all truly be equal.

Ob-ey-I

The Modern World Has Finally Become Too Complex for Any of Us to Understand

The captain of the container vessel would regularly receive automated emails telling him to slow down the ship. It’s impossible to know why the shipping company’s algorithms decided this was for the best — the captain himself didn’t know. But he could speculate: Maybe the staff or systems at the terminal ahead reported delays with off-loading, or a mechanical hitch. Or maybe the algorithm saw the delays coming in advance because the GPS trackers on other containers showed delivery trucks stuck in gridlock outside the port. Maybe it decided to slow everything down because a customer de-prioritized their order. Or that a change somewhere else in another link of the supply chain meant that getting their shipment from another source became a cheaper or quicker option. Or the cost of oil fluctuated just enough that burning it at the ship’s current rate became inefficient. Or maybe it was all of these reasons simultaneously, or none of them. The point is that we don’t know, the captain of the ship itself didn’t know, and that nobody may know — but that didn’t stop the decision being made.

“McDonald’s is the place we eat when we’re taking a break from being virtuous.”

My Hunt for the Original McDonald’s French-Fry Recipe

My hunt for the lost McRecipe took me up the corporate ladder and to obsessive corners of Reddit. I spoke to fast-food experts, super-fan museum curators, and a 79-year-old former employee of the very first McDonald’s. After weeks of digging, I procured a recipe for the original fries that one fast-food historian believes to be the real deal, one I recreated several times to ensure its legitimacy. I sweat over hot tallow, bled from cutting perfect shoestrings, and literally got pulverized salt in those wounds. But according to at least one expert, I have reason to believe the recipe I’ve uncovered is authentic.

Links

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Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.

Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

December 2020

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Colorado’s 697 Sides

Colorado is a rectangle? Think again.

Accordingly, the state has not just four sides, but a total of 697 sides. So if Colorado is not a rectangle, what is it? Well, not a pentagon, (Greek for 5-sider), hexagon (6-sider) or a heptagon (7-sider), but a — hold on to something — hexahectaenneacontakaiheptagon (697-sider).

James Bond Shooting

Casino Royale’s poker scene was as elaborate as a James Bond stunt

The script for Casino Royale worried director Martin Campbell. This was his second reboot of the James Bond franchise, and on the cusp of production, he realized the movie’s centerpiece — a showdown between 007 and the blood-eyed villain Le Chiffre — took place around a quiet poker table. Loosely adapting Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel of the same name, screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis had replaced the author’s original game of baccarat with three big rounds of Texas hold’em. The card game, they believed, made for better drama — it was known more widely, required more skill and delivered higher stakes. But for Campbell, who had never picked up a deck, it looked like a snooze.
[…]
Ultimately, only three hands matter in Casino Royale, and they all feature showdowns between Bond and LeChiffre, providing a three-act structure to the heart of the movie. The first watches Bond muck his cards and intentionally lose to discover LeChiffre’s tell; the second watches LeChiffre dupe Bond and eliminate him from the table with quad jacks; and the third watches Bond return to the tournament to redeem himself with a straight flush. In between, Bond spends a drink break by suffocating two assassins in a stairwell and, at a later intermission, survives a poisoned drink after Vesper (Eva Green), his British accomplice, defibrillates him with his life hanging in the balance.

Yak Bak

Don’t Shave That Yak!

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do.

“I want to wax the car today.”

“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”

“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”

“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”

“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.”

“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”

And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

Links

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Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.

Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay

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