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Books

O’Connor Collected Works by Flannery O’Connor Book Review

Flannery O’Connor is one of my favorite writers, even if I still have to read her works with a bit of assistance from SparkNotes.

I picked up this collection* to re-read Wise Blood and to read the Violent Bear It Away for the first time.

*it’s at most any library, since the print version holds its value quite well – likely due to college literature classes

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Guides

How To Get a Solo Stove Lite Going Quickly with Less Soot & Smoke

The formula is cotton balls + petroleum jelly + oak sticks.

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Books

Midnight in Siberia by David Greene Book Review

I picked this book up randomly while browsing travel books at the library (it’s also cheap used on Amazon). It reminded me of Ian Frazier’s Travels in Siberia, which remains as one of the best travel books I’ve ever read, so I gave it a shot.

Categories
Opinion

7+ Reasons To Restart Blogging Again

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I attended my first WordCamp in Atlanta. I learned a lot about building websites and such, but what stuck out to me was Matt Mullenweg‘s talk about the future of WordPress, blogs, websites, etc.

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Guides

Why Bike Tires Are Always Going Flat

If you have repeated flat tires on your bike, you need high quality rim tape.

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Opinion

Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid

There has been a lot of digital ink spilled over why discourse and *waves arm at world* has been so…weird.

One issue I’ve had with a lot of that spilled ink it that it has been too America focused when countries around the world – large and small – from Brazil to Chile to India to France to the UK to The Philippines have been going through similar dynamics.

Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid by Jonathan Haidt focuses on America, but covers widely-covered villain (social media) in a way that is just as applicable to The Philippines as it is to America.

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Interesting

The Future is Vast

Our World In Data published an incredible post visualizing the current moment in a long-term outlook. In a month where the actual Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (war, famine, environment, and plague) are all in the news at the same time, it’s interesting to zoom out a bit.

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Books Reviews

The Body by Bill Bryson Book Review

The Body is possibly Bill Bryson’s longest and most interesting reference book yet.

It’s in the same vein as A Short History of Nearly Everything and Home, but obviously immediately relevant to day to day life.

I had high expectations, and was not disappointed.

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Travel

Trips in 2021

Here’s all the trips that I took in 2021.

Thanks to all the people behind the COVID vaccines and vaccination program, we were able to out and travel quite a bit in 2021 (though we avoided airports since the kid’s vaccine didn’t roll out until November).

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Books

Book Read in 2021

Ever since 2007, I’ve kept track of every book I’ve read. Ideally, I’ve also written a short lessons learned or review of each – though I have hundreds of draft reviews that I need to just hit publish on. Here’s the books I’ve read this past year.

I generally stop reading a book after 100 pages if it’s not any good. So everything that I finished is generally worth reading in some way. I plan to do full reviews of all the books. If I’ve written one, there will be a link.

*all the links below go to Amazon for convenience, but I definitely recommend purchasing books from Alibris. They support local booksellers, and often have even better used pricing.

This post covers books read in 2021. You can also read from –

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Interesting Photos

Atlanta’s Newly Renovated Central Library

Atlanta’s newly renovated Central Library is incredible & worth regular visits.

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Books

Crazy River by Richard Grant Book Review

Crazy River is one of the best travel books about Africa that I’ve ever read. It’s up there with Blood River and Dark Star Safari. And like both of those books, Richard Grant excels in going beyond the “I went from A to B to C” to using the journey to meet a cast of characters that provides real insight into the region.

He deliberately picks one of the most challenging routes possible – one of the few officially unmapped areas of the world left – and writes an engaging and entertaining travelogue.

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Books

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel Book Review

The Psychology of Money is a book about, well, the psychology behind money and personal finance. I picked it up after having read several essays by the author at Collaborative Fund – like this one. He’s an excellent writer and I thought I’d give it a shot.

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Photos

Chattahoochee River

This photo is from the Chattahoochee River on the new overlook along the Cochran Shoals Trail. I liked it because of the distance you can see the I-285 bridge crossing the river.

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Photos

Sibley Pond

I stumbled on the loveliest pond during a day hike in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. I was hiking through the Sope Creek Unit, and came up on Sibley Pond.

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Interesting

The Average Duration of a World Series Game per Year

If you are a baseball fan, you know that the pace of play has been a problem for a while. The MLB is well aware of the issue, and plenty of people have figured out the average duration of a regular season games.

But postseason games are especially bad. TV networks want to cash in on big audiences (more ads); there’s more pressure on every pitch (more resting / timeouts for pitchers); and fixed lineups for managers (more substitutes & relief pitchers).

Categories
Guides

How To See Your Allocation of Stocks with an Index Fund

Index Funds / ETFs are one of the best innovations in the history of finance. They are far and away the best investing option for most investors – even professionals.

But. They are boring. That’s both a feature and a bug. It’s a feature because investing capital should be a boring, long-term exercise. It’s a bug because everyone wants novelty and excitement.

And in a world of speculation FOMO on stocks, crypto, real estate, etc – it can be hard to just keep doing the boring thing.

The ironic piece of index fund / ETF FOMO is that if you own an index fund…you own all the individual stocks inside the index fund.

For example, VTSAX / VTI owns all the stocks in the US. VTIAX / VXUS owns all the stocks outside the US. And VTWAX / VT owns all the stocks in the whole world.

And yes, the point of an index fund is to own all the stocks. That’s probably obvious if you own one. It’s why you likely bought it. But it’s also easy to forget that you own all these individual stocks when random person on TV or Twitter is chatting up their Tesla stock purchase or talking about the next big thing*.

*And sometimes, it’s not obvious. For example, it’s easy to forget that America’s largest real estate investment firms…are all publicly traded and included in a Total Market Index Fund.

So here’s how to find out how much of each stock you own in your index fund.

Categories
Outdoors

Hiking Cowrock Mountain in Winter

Cowrock Mountain is one of the most accessible, and best views on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Unlike Blood Mountain, which has somewhat better views with a *much* harder hike, Cowrock Mountain is a short, fairly easy hike up from a little used trailhead along the Richard Russell Scenic Highway.

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Photos

Sunset on Lake Seminole

Lake Seminole is one of Georgia’s largest (and shallowest) lakes. It’s in the far southwest corner of the state. This photo is from Seminole State Park looking West over an inlet.

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Explorations

Bike Lanes on Glenwood

Slowly but systematically, Atlanta is becoming a better place to bike for transportation.

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Photos

Longleaf Pine

Earlier this summer, we visited Seminole State Park in the very Southwest corner of Georgia. It’s a small, but lovely State Park. Even though it doesn’t have a lot of acreage, much of it preserves an rare stand of native Longleaf Pine Forest. This photo is what a natural stand looks like – wide, open, no mid-story, but a diverse understory.

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Books

Kings of The Yukon by Adam Weymouth Book Review

Kings of The Yukon is a travel book that doubles as an environmental history book. I read it mainly for my interest in travel books covering remote, wilderness areas, but was surprised by the depth of writing on salmon fisheries, indigenous cultures, and how much even the most remote parts of the world are changing in the 21st Century.

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Photos

Dogwood Flower

This is a photo of a lone dogwood flower that I took while hiking along Dockery Lake in North Georgia.

In my neighborhood, dogwoods are super-common as a landscaping / ornamental tree. That’s great – they are native, beautiful, and perfect for yards. But I also forget that they are super-common out in the wild & forests of Georgia. It’s always cool to see one out on a hike.

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Books

Company of One by Paul Jarvis Book Review

Company of One is a unique business book. It’s about the what, why, and how of running a business for your sake rather than for growth’s sake. It’s about making a profit now rather than growing and making a profit later. It follows the similar vein of Anything You Want by Derek Sivers and Small Giants by Bo Burlingham and Enough by John Bogle.

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Books

America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses & Grasslands by Char Miller Book Review

America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses & Grasslands is one of my favorite reference / “coffee table” books. The official description is –

For more than a century, America’s national forests have proved an environmental gift and cultural treasure, our spectacular backyard. Under the management of the U.S. Forest Service, this system of public lands encompasses 193 million acres of mountains, prairies, rivers, and canyons—much of it undiscovered, but accessible for hiking, kayaking, fishing, and winter sports. Officially published with the U.S. Forest Service, this book features the thirty most notable national forests—while also celebrating more than one hundred different national forests in forty-four states—from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Olympics of Washington. Unlike the national parks, Americans can use these lands for all manner of recreation, truly earning these tremendous resources the moniker of “America’s backyard.” This book is a treasure for all readers who use and cherish these lands.

In other words, it’s a giant, beautiful nature photography book that focuses on America’s National Forests rather than the more famous National Parks.

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Books

Book of Nature Poetry by National Geographic Book Review

The Book of Nature Poetry by National Geographic is one of those amazing books published for children…but is a hidden gem for *anyone* who finds a given topic (in this case, poetry) daunting and hard to approach.

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Books

Trouble in July by Erskine Caldwell Book Review

Trouble in July is part of Erskine Caldwell’s trilogy, alongside Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre, exploring the American South during the Great Depression.

Of the trilogy, it’s the book that revolves around the themes of race relations, lynching, and the day to day experience of living in a world where white supremacy and racism dictate everyone’s life. Here’s a reviewer quote from the back cover.

Categories
Opinion

The Case for Optimism

Kevin Kelly is one of my favorite authors, writers, and Twitter accounts. He recently wrote an excellent long-form post on the Case for Optimism, which feels like it’s sorely missing from 2021. Here’s an excerpt –

Categories
Interesting

How Much The World Has Developed Since 1990

This fascinating map (source) was making the Internet rounds last week showing how much countries around the world have developed since 1990. While the map does have some biases and the groupings + colors are a bit misleading, it does paint a broad strokes picture of how much the world has improved within my living memory.

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Photos

Kings Creek Falls at Burrell’s Ford

Kings Creek Falls is a beautiful set of waterfalls near Burrell’s Ford along the Chattooga River.

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Photos

Kudzu

This photo is of a kudzu forest(?) overwhelming a property in Atlanta. It’s the Vine That Ate The South. It’s maddening, but also beautiful in its own way.

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Photos Outdoors

Desoto Falls

This photo is of DeSoto Falls in North Georgia. It’s a really incredible view and very accessible near US Highway 129.

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Photos

Fall in Grant Park

Fall in Grant Park Atlanta, GA is always amazing. This photo is looking from the Milledge Triangle towards Constitution Spring area.

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Photos

Sunset over Zoo Atlanta

This is a photo of the sunset over Grant Park at Zoo Atlanta.

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Interesting Explorations

Finding & Eating Paw Paw Fruit

I’ve always been a fan of exotic fruits. I’m the one likely to track down and buy an imported jackfruit or a half-decent mango when I see them in stock at Kroger.

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Photos Outdoors

Lake Conasauga Swim Beach

This photo is from the Lake Conasauga Swim Beach in the mountains of North Georgia. It is the highest elevation lake in Georgia, so the water is *cold*. Also, it’s not really a beach per se, as a swimming area. The area gets deep quickly at the dock. But it’s lovely on a summer day.

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Photos Interesting

Blackberry Cobbler

This is a photo of my first blackberry cobbler that I made with blackberries grown in my own backyard. A few notes –

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Photos

Tallulah River Headwaters

This photo is of the Tallulah River headwaters in North Carolina’s Southern Nantahala Wilderness. It’s really cool to see rivers at this stage. It doesn’t take it long to make its way to the Tallulah Gorge and onward to meet the Chattooga to form the Savannah River.

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Photos

Southern Nantahala Wilderness

This photo is of Bearpen Ridge in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness near the Tallulah River in mid-October. The sky and forest contrast was unbelievable in person. It’s everything that is amazing about the Southern Appalachians.

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Photos

South River in the Swann Preserve

The Swann Preserve is a lovely little nature preserve on the southside of Atlanta. It protects a small forest of mature trees along with a portion of the headwaters of the South River.

There is a PATH Foundation trail through the preserve with a bridge over the South River.

South River in the Swann Preserve 14

Atlanta is actually the headwaters for several rivers, even though it’s not in the mountains. This section of the South River is still fairly clear and not as polluted, unlike the section through Constitution Lakes.

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Photos

Hardwoods on Burgess Mountain in Oconee National Forest

This photo is from January near Burgess Mountain in the Oconee National Forest. I love how there is a pine stand right along the road with lots of overgrowth, but with a little walking it transforms into an open Oak Hickory forest. It’s lovely at all times of year, but is especially open in the winter.

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Photos

Little River

This photo is a bend in the Little River as it makes its way through the Oconee National Forest on its way to the Oconee River at Lake Sinclair.

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Photos Interesting

Southside BeltLine in 2021

I took this photo in February 2021 along the Southside BeltLine near DH Stanton Park in Peoplestown.

In about a year, the sides of the picture will be full of apartments. Hopefully in 2 years, this section will be under construction.

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Photos

Magnolia

There’s a lovely Magnolia tree in Grant Park that has the largest, most fragrant blooms I’ve ever seen or smelled.

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Outdoors Experiences

Hiking Nubbin Creek / Pinhoti Trail in Cheaha Wilderness

In March, I went on my first solo backpacking trip. It was only a single overnight. The weather forecast was all over the place, so I settled on the Cheaha Wilderness in Alabama, ironically the day after a huge system of storms came through. I’ve hiked the Cheaha Wilderness before, so I was fairly familiar with the area.

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Photos

Murder Creek

Murder Creek is one of the last remaining examples of undisturbed, undeveloped bottomland forest in Georgia. It also has some of the only unlogged, old growth forest in the Georgia Piedmont. It flows through the Oconee National Forest. The publicly owned around Murder Creek was designated a Research Natural Area by the US Forest Service in the 1970s.

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Photos

Rice Creek

Last Fall, we visited Victoria Bryant State Park. The park is centered around Rice Creek, which eventually flows into the Broad River.

The creek was a really perfect example of a Piedmont stream. Really beautiful area. I only wish it was a bigger park.

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Photos

Loring Heights Park

This photo is from Loring Heights Park, nestled in the neighborhood of Loring Heights. It’s another one of Atlanta’s quiet, small neighborhoods scattered through the city. Sitting in the park, you’d never know that you are less than a half mile from Midtown.

Categories
Photos Experiences Outdoors

South River at Constitution Springs

This photo is of the South River as it leaves the City of Atlanta on its way through Panola Mountain State Park and beyond to eventually join the Yellow River and become the Ocmulgee. It’s quiet with steep banks. There’s an access point on the Constitution Springs loop trail just past the boardwalk that connects to the Doll’s Head Trail.

Categories
Photos

Cooper Creek

This is a photo of Cooper Creek in the Chattahoochee National Forest flowing by the Cooper Creek Campground. I took this on a January afternoon. It’s really popular with anglers, and with beavers.