I picked the apples at an orchard, made the crust from scratch, and baked this pie.

I picked the apples at an orchard, made the crust from scratch, and baked this pie.

It ought to make a few reputations in the cult of number one

It ought to make a few reputations in the cult of number one


Burger Recipe

Lately I’ve been making myself a lot of turkey burgers, and I think that I’ve come up with a pretty reliable and relatively simple recipe that goes well up against any restaurant-style one (and you only need 1 pan for all of it). I also think that turkey burgers really and truly can be just as good as beef burgers (and if you’re immediately thinking “Well, he’s wrong,” then you’ve watched too much Parks and Recreation). So, here goes:

Minimal-Frills Turkey Burgers:

1/2 lb. ground turkey (I prefer 93% lean)
1 deli pickle (I prefer half-sour)
1/4 big onion (about 1/2 cup when chopped)
2 white-bread buns
2 tablespoons oil (peanut, olive, grapeseed—whatever)
2 slices (or 1 handful if shredded) cheese (I use cheddar)
1 splash of balsamic vinegar
Plenty of ketchup


Put the heat on medium and put the oil in the pan. Finely chop the onion.

Separate the meat into 2 patties. Flatten them out with the heels of your hands so that they are about 1/2” thick at the rim—and even thinner than that in the middle. You want the shape to be like a less exaggerated version of a red blood cell, basically.

When the pan is hot (but the oil is not smoking at all), put the patties into the pan. Wash hands thoroughly. Then put the chopped onions into the pan. If the oil tends to collect in a certain part of the pan because your heating element isn’t quite level, put it in that spot.

Let patties and onions cook for about 3 minutes, or until the middle of the patties have accumulated a significant amount of pinkish fluid. During this period, add the splash of balsamic to the onion.

Flip burgers. Crowd the onions around the burgers so they all share heat and cook together, preferably in the spot where the oil collects. Let it be for another 2 minutes. While waiting, slice pickle into thin chips and put them on the inner face of the top bun. Add cheese on top of the pickles.

Take patties and put them on the top buns, right onto the cheese. Wait another 15 seconds for onions to burn off any loose moisture, then top burger patties with onions, half on each.

Put bottom bun on the top of the whole thing. Wait to flip it over until just before eating. Add ketchup on side or directly on to burger (I prefer on the side).

Feel free to use a little less onion, but I love onions so that’s how I make them. For one person, these burgers will fill you up comfortably even if you’re very hungry. The reason for the odd starting patty shape is that with homemade burgers, they always, always end up too fat in the middle and too small relative to the bun if they looked “normal” when they’re uncooked. If you use this alternate way, they’ll actually end up looking normal after they’re done.

Something amiss in Ocean City.

Something amiss in Ocean City.


Preliminary metrics

Today is the 365th day that I’ve taken information on my (attempted) daily writing habit.

The guideline I had set for myself was “try to write at least 500 words within about an hour a day, seven days a week.”

With very few exceptions, I always wrote starting between 5:30 and 7:30 AM (later in the winter time because the sun tends to wake me up).

Here are some statistics:

Days I sat down and wrote (out of 365): 284
Days I took off (out of 365): 81

I was a little surprised that I took this many days off. Most of them I didn’t give a reason for in the Excel file; I assume that I just got up too late or I couldn’t think of anything to write about. Some days I spent the whole hour before getting ready for school just sitting there, thinking, and I wouldn’t get a word down. On average I took off 1.554 days a week.

There were a few multiple-day-off blocks, though, and for those I usually put a reason. Among those reasons: vacations (two of them), extended “writer’s block” (but it was more like “I just didn’t feel like it for some reason”) for the first half of May, the tooth pain I had last month, and a few sicknesses (colds, varying in severity).

Average minutes spent per day (on days that I wrote): 53.7

This was a surprise. I always thought I was pretty consistently getting my work done within about 40 minutes, but it turned out that on weekends, it’s much, much harder for me to write, but since I have the time, I stick it out and sometimes take almost two hours to get the 500 words in. I guess that it works out pretty well, although I wonder if maybe I should just write on weekdays next year, since I could be doing something productive on the weekends, and it might also help prevent burnout. But then again, even if I managed to do every week day, I’d still end up taking more days off in total than I did this year.

Total hours spent writing: just under 253

It makes sense (53.7 minutes x 284 days = about 253 hours) but I feel like it would have been longer. If I were an extremely tireless worker, and it was my full-time job, it would only take me six-and-a-half work weeks to do the same amount of writing.

Of course, I can’t really count it that way. A lot of brainstorming and working the plot out happened when I wasn’t sitting at my desk. The best place for that is while I’m driving by myself.

Total words written: 158,405

This is a lot, for sure, but I haven’t done any editing yet, so a lot is also going to get cut. Also, I flat-out abandoned some of the projects I was working on. I might adapt them to something else, or even rewrite them, but a few dozen thousand words are still going to basically go down the drain. Oh well.

I’m still not finished the first draft of the book I’m aiming to write, so even this late in the game I have no idea how long it will end up being. Just to give you a sense of scale: typical words-per-page count is about 250, meaning that 158,405 words would make 633 pages, but I’ve found that the number of words per page in your average paperback is more like 320 or so, which would make for about 495 (raw, unedited) pages.

Average words written per day (on days that I wrote): 561.7

I was pretty happy with this. I usually check to see how close I am to 500 words, but at a certain point near the end I get inspired about what should come next, and by the time I finish the thought, I’m well over the 500-word marker.

I should also mention that until January 12th of this year, I would work on many different projects at once, and each morning I’d pick what I wanted to work on for the day.

Sometimes I’d work on a single thing for three or four days straight, then switch, and sometimes I would work on five different stories in as many days. After January 12th, though, I decided that I would work only on one thing until I completed it.

I think the result of doing so is that the one story is now less monotonous; if I am in a particular mood when I wake up, it influences the writing in that one story, rather than it influencing what I pick to work on that day. I think it’s a better way to go about it, at least for now.

One other thing about this record-keeping is that it is sort of a reminder about how good life can be—I think it’s sort of miraculous that there is no multi-day-off block because I had to attend a funeral, or because i was emotionally suffering for some other big reason. This was a good year, all in all, and I should be thankful for that.

I might use a program at my lab (with which I am much better at using than I am Excel) to figure out more subtle statistics (like exactly how much less efficient I am during the weekend, or how the minutes spent per day relates to the number of words written that day), but those are the big ones for now.


Turning 30

I’m thirty years old today, and for the first time, several people have said “oof” over the past few days when I told them what age I was going to be turning.

A lot of people feel the need to say or write something when they turn thirty—and I’m not going to pretend like I haven’t noticed and dreaded it coming for the past three years because I have so many other, better things to worry about. Actually, I’d say that part of what makes my life nice is the fact that I can luxuriate in spending the time and energy it takes to get myself worked up over a simple birthday.

Even if at thirty you’re still considered “young,” nobody looks at you funny if you take on any kind of responsibility, no matter how serious. Buy a house? Well, it’s about time. Child? Sure. Employees under you? Great job. Government position? That’s fine. Military leader? So what. (I have taken on none of these responsibilities.)

And on the other side of it, at thirty, the juvenile things in life (like my messy apartment and my general goals and worries) might start looking a little harried this late in the game—a little trivial, a little desperate.

I have read that I’ve got old sperm now. A few studies have reported that for men, the biological clock is indeed ticking. Every passing day increases the likelihood that I could be the major factor in producing an autistic child, with all of the extra responsibility that comes with one (but, being in my thirties now, I could presumably handle it).

I have considered looking up rentable spaces in deep freeze storage units to lower the possibility of that happening, if you know what I mean. But I worry that I’m being overcautious.

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(Source: 2x04, via parksandrecgifs)


The word “selfie” really got under my skin

until I thought about how the word “movie,” which is a shortening of the phrase “moving picture,” doesn’t annoy me at all.


Music I listen to when I write

This morning it was Tobacco: Ultima II Massage.

Tobacco did an AMA on reddit yesterday, which reminded me that I enjoyed his 2010 album Maniac Meat a lot.

Anyway it helped the mood of the writing I did this morning, which was a pretty raunchy part of the book. I needed so-called dirtball music to really get into it.


Today (June 5th) is the one-year anniversary of my (attempting) getting up to write at least 500 words every morning!

To stay motivated and because I was curious about it, I started making a log in Excel to keep track of my writing. I didn’t start that until July 20th of last year, though, so I’ll wait until a complete year has passed from the first date to put up a little graph showing all that stuff.

Maybe I’ll do some statistical analyses, too. Any interesting ones you’d want to see? I didn’t take too many things down each day—I wrote the title of the piece I worked on, the number of minutes I worked on it, and the exact number of words I wrote.

Sometimes in a fourth column I marked if it I didn’t feel like what I’d written was good, but I only did that if I felt like I was really scraping at the bottom of my brain. If I took more than 2 or 3 days off, I wrote the reason (e.g., “I’m sick”).

It’s been a cool year! I feel like it’s definitely enriched my life, and it’s been therapeutic for sure. I don’t feel like I’m any better at writing, though. 


Man fatigue

I’m seriously stalling out in my book-every-2-weeks reading goal for 2014. I think that part of the problem is that

1) I am reading too much sci-fi

2) I am reading books written by men about men

Now, this is going to sound super picky, but I’m looking to read my next book soon, and I want it to be by a woman and about a woman. I’m hoping to read one written in the last, say, 35 years, and not have the central conflict be about a romantic relationship. Does any particular book come to mind for anyone? 

Damn dude, he’s your memories

Damn dude, he’s your memories


This is one of the best mash-ups I’ve ever heard, not trying to be funny.


Corny lyrics but the music/message is nice—Steve from Blue’s Clues and Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips.

Well someone partied hard at school.

Well someone partied hard at school.