photo of field full of pumpkins

Back when personal blogging was more of a thing, the Friday Five was a place to put shorter thoughts and ideas: things that didn’t rate their own posts. Inspired by my friend and former colleague Chuck Grimmett’s weekly update posts, it seems like a good way to start re-building the blogging muscles.


It’s not at all a coincidence that I’m pushing myself back to my neglected blog as Elon Musk takes over Twitter, easily a favorite web hangout for me for 15 years (!) now. Musk seems to believe, as many people who have never worked at much less run a tech company do, that “free speech” is a viable business strategy, and that “free speech” means letting literal Nazis run rampant on your platform. Nilay Patel has published what I think is the definitive take on not only what Musk has unwittingly gotten himself into, but why content moderation is the actual product that social networks are producing.

In general, I think people wildly misunderstand how much tech problems are in reality political problems, whether in the societal sense or the internal governance sense.

Inspired by a WordPress community colleague I met (where else) on Twitter, I’m also going to experiment with making this blog followable via Mastodon.


I recently learned that Italian citizenship can be inherited over an unlimited number of generations, provided nothing happened to break the chain from one generation to the next. It’s relatively easy* for someone of Italian descent to assert their right to citizenship, provided they can gather documentation to show that line of inheritance.

So now I am engaged in a fun genealogical project, tracking down handwritten birth and marriage records from late 19th century Sicily, naturalization documents, American vital records.

I kind of love how Italian citizenship works: It’s basically that you’re Italian until you decide not to be anymore, and (subject to a few wrinkles in the history of Italian citizenship law) asking for your citizenship to be recognized is kind of like showing up to the family reunion and explaining exactly HOW you’re one of the cousins before they fix you a plate.

*”Easy” subject to the speed at which Italian bureaucracy moves, which is not rapid.


Last night, the spouse and I finished watching the final season of KEVIN CAN F**K HIMSELF, which has been a cathartic treat. It’s a send-up of and commentary on that particular genre of sitcom with the schlubby man-child husband with the conventionally-hot wife who is constantly treated as the fun-hating nag who never seems to realize that she is totally out of his league.

The narrative hook of KEVIN is that, for all the scenes Kevin is in, it’s shot like a multi camera sitcom: all bright lights, saturated colors, and even a laugh track. But as soon as he’s out of the room, the tone abruptly shifts into prestige drama territory, complete with low lighting and drab palette. The dinginess of the house becomes apparent, the laughter disappears, and Allison’s desperation to escape her awful husband becomes the focus. As the story unfolds and more and more of the characters in Kevin’s orbit become aware of how terrible he is, they spend less time in the cheerful sitcom and more and more time in the gritty drama.

The overall effect is that it becomes a very dark comedy: Allison is so desperate to get away from Kevin that she tries to kill him, and, as they say, hijinx ensue. Without giving too much away, when Kevin himself gets pulled into the gritty drama, finally exposed for what he is, the confrontation is disturbing but leads to a strangely satisfying conclusion.

There are only two seasons of it, so it’s easy to finish. Find it on AMC+ (we bought this via Amazon Prime’s app).


My 9 year old son went on a field trip to an agritourism farm with his school today. He took $10 of his own money as spending money, but came home and reported that the farm does not accept cash. “So I need a credit card,” he said, matter-of-factly.

I had to laugh, partly because it feels like he was in diapers last week, and partly because it was a stark reminder of how close we actually are to the phase of his life when we need to think about him having things like a phone and a non-cash method of paying for things.

How dare time pass in this manner.


As we are now squarely in fall here in DC, we are also squarely in fall cooking season, which is when Tom and I are at the height of our powers. On Sunday, I made this short rib French onion soup. It’s the second time we’ve made it (it’s a fair amount of work) and it remains one of the best things ever. Even the 9 year old, who has basically refused to eat soup for the last 6 years, was won over by this and ate a bowl of it.

One of the best things about it, though, is the way that after we’ve eaten one dinner from it, we inevitably end up with about a quart container of leftovers that is mostly braised beef, with just a little bit of liquid.

We use this for another night’s dinner: we split a loaf of ciabatta lengthwise, toast it under the broiler, then pile on the remaining beef and cover both pieces of ciabatta with cheese, then run it under the broiler again.

Make the soup on a weekend, but do the sandwich on a Thursday, when you’re tired of weeknight cooking and need something to look forward to.