thRecently we had DF’s granddaughter over for about six hours. Midway through the visit I heard this conversation coming from the living room:

“You don’t have a TV.”

“That’s right,” DF replied.

“I want you to have a TV,” said Rose, who recently turned three.

“I don’t want a TV.”

“I want to watch TV,” she clarified.

“If you want a TV, you buy it,” DF replied.

Rose laughed merrily. “Noooo, Opa, you buy it.”

“We don’t need a TV here,” DF said.

A few seconds later Rose had forgotten about our household’s screenless state, being more interested in playing with a few ornaments from my tabletop Christmas tree.

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics re-drew its recommendations on very young children and screen time. Back in 2011 the AAP had suggested no screen time at all before age two, and no more than two hours per day for kids older than that. Right around that time the first iPad appeared.


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thFor at least 17 years I’ve been picking up change and saving it until Thanksgiving, at which point I donate it to the Food Bank of Alaska.

This year’s count-up was late, on purpose. I decided to wait until January because giving tends to slow way down right after the holidays. (Apparently people are hungry only from Thanksgiving until Christmas.)

Here’s what I accumulated between last November and yesterday:

  • 21 quarters
  • 62 dimes
  • 25 nickels
  • 157 pennies

A typical year’s take is usually no more than $20 and no less than $12, so $14.27 isn’t too bad. Notably absent this year was any denomination of paper money, which could mean that people are being more careful with their cash. Or maybe it means that another scavenger got there first.


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thI resist making resolutions at the ends of Decembers. The idea of “resolving” to do something doesn’t work for me.

Not because I’m too lazy. If there’s one thing that’s proved true over the years, it’s this piece of folk wisdom:


“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Defeatist? Maybe. But not really.

That’s because time and again what I thought I would do/not do has been wrong, although not always in a bad way. In addition, things I knew were true turned out to be, um, untrue. A few examples:


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thNorth Carolina photographer Eric Pickersgill was in a café when a family’s non-togetherness spooked him deeply.

The father and two daughters were on their phones while the mother looked out the window, seeming “sad and alone in the company of her closest family.” Ultimately she gave in and took out her own phone.

From this Pickersgill found the inspiration for a photo series called “Removed,” a series of pictures that were semi-staged, yet all too real. Pickersgill would ask device-users to hold their poses while he removed the tablets and cell phones from their grasp.

The result is, well, the same sort of thing we see all the time in public places: People ignoring everything around them to fixate on handheld pixel-makers. But its static nature – men, women and children staring blankly into empty space – makes the exhibit deeply unsettling.

A few examples:


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thThe other day I had a massage, my last one with this practitioner because she’s moving out of state. On the landing by her door was a small stack of cinder blocks. I asked if she’d found a buyer and they were waiting to be picked up.

No buyers, she replied. “I’d give them away at this point, just to get rid of them.”

Guess who now has eight cinder blocks, even though she has no particular plan for them? Not right away, that is. But I figured you can never be too rich, too thin or have too many cinder blocks.

Part of me wondered whether this were a hoarder’s rationale. It could be.


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