09.July.2021

Flying over Key West in early 2020. Photo by me.


“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” 

— Marie Curie 

When I was a kid, my dad traveled often for business. He’d come home with the usual souvenirs he probably grabbed at the airport (my dresser was full of “Visit New Hampshire” type shirts) and would tell us about the cool places he had visited in between appointments. 

If we were lucky, there’d be a trip to the Fotomat, and in a few days, we could look at some grainy pictures of wherever he’d been. But no matter where he went, when pressed for a favorite part of the trip, he’d always give the same answer: the flight. 

It was the one place no one could reach him. It gave him time to read, think, whatever. Sometimes he’d spend the entire flight looking out the window and daydreaming, with only his thoughts and imagination keeping him company.

We like being distracted. Since the earliest days of aviation, airlines have been happy to help us with that. Food, playing cards, In-Flight Entertainment; the list goes on. 

If you’re of a certain (ahem) age, you may remember the introduction of the Airphone on airplanes. They were bulky, cost a fortune, and were mainly used to tell people… you were calling them from an airplane. Movies were played on monitors that dropped down from the ceiling.

Today there are screens at every seat and 100’s of hours of content to pass the time. The advance in technology is nothing short of amazing, really. Airphones are long gone, but who needs that when you can iMessage everyone?

Put another way, you can spend an entire trip not ever thinking about the miracle of flight, or having to notice the view unfolding 30, 000 ft. below you. You can be as busy in the air as you are on the ground. Or not.

Yesterday I took my first post-pandemic flight. I had all kinds of plans to get things done; a pile of things to read, a decent-sized to-do list, phone stuffed with podcasts, etc. 

About 15 minutes in, I decided not to do any of it.

Instead, I read a little, looked out the window, and let my mind wander. 

It’s still the best IFE there is.

02. July.2021

When I first moved to the Midwest I found an apartment that had one of those wall-mounted heater/AC units you see in hotels. I thought I was getting a steal. Growing up in Portland, a lot of people didn’t have A/C. It rarely really gotthat hot, so it never occurred to me that this was standard issue in other parts of the country. 

In her latest edition of The Profile, Polina Marinova Pompliano is writing from the road. She talks about how her grandfather marvels at things most of us never notice like the way tile is laid out in the buildings they visit. 

It’s an engrossing story, with an expected arc about how travel changes us, realigns our priorities, etc. But she really got my attention when discussing perceptions and how traveling shatters any illusion of what normal is.

Here she is talking about travel expert Rick Steves: 

“Steves once said that people who don’t travel often think their way of life is the norm (ie: Americans say the British drive on the “wrong” side of the road. No, they just drive on the other side of the road). “

This past week, Oregonians (at the west coast in general) had their illusion of “normal” shattered when temps soared over 110. Those are numbers seen in other places. In Phoenix…in Death Valley…in Riyadh.

Temps like that test the limits of human endurance anywhere. But in a place whose average temps are 40 degrees cooler? Where for many people having A/C really means an underpowered window unit and an intricate maze of box fans? 

Not Great, Bob. Another all-too-honest update on… | by Matt Anderson |  Struck | Medium

Next week, I’ll return home to Oregon for the first time in over 3 years. I won’t be there long—it’s never enough, really— but it’ll be good to see my family, Mt. Hood, and smell the Pacific Northwest air. 

I’ll be staying with mom, a proud owner of one of these Rube Goldberg HVAC contraptions. So far, she says she’s managed. I hope so. 

I also hope this isn’t a new normal for them.

On to the good stuff:


  1. In the writing world, “killing your darlings” is often dished out as advice. Austin Kleon proposes relocating them instead. 
  2. A good read: Jonathan Malesic on the rise of Substack, and what it may/may not mean for journalism going forward.
  3. Jon Gruber weighs in on the plea from Apple workers to continue working remotely. Gruber’s take is hot enough to bathe in, but in a lot of ways, I think he’s on the right track here. To be clear, there is definitely merit in the idea of working remotely. I’m also mindful that living in Silicon Valley doesn’t come cheap or without a long commute. At the same time, these sorts of employee petitions reek of entitlement. As Gruber notes, Apple’s new “three days on site” policy wasn’t a request for comments — it was a decision.” I’m open to the idea that mine is a generational reaction, and one from someone whose job has to be done in person. I just think a little intellectual honesty would’ve gone a long way here. I’d love to hear where you fall on this
  4. A good tweet:Colleen @Coll3enGmy mom and I were driving and I decided to call my grandma and my grandma was like “hey sweetie I can’t talk right now, your mom’s at my door” and i was like “grandma I’m driving with my mom right now” and my grandma just said “oh darn you caught me, I just don’t want to talk”June 26th 202112,469 Retweets215,489 Likes
  5. Here’s a YouTube clip of someone literally doing nothing for 2 hours. It has over 5 million views as of this writing. I’m not sure what to do with that.
  6. Ear Candy: Paul Westerberg’s Eventually
  7. This is why we can’t have nice things: TSA resumes self-defense classes amidst a surge of in-flight incidents
  8. This week, United Airlines announced amassive order for 270 new planes. It also plans to hire 25000 people over the next few years.
  1. Another good tweet (or thread) from a first-time watcher of Ted Lasso. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but it’s an easy series to fall in love with. Season 2 kicks off on July 23rd.
  2. RIP Frank Bonner. The man who brought WKRP’s Herb Tarlek to life left us earlier this month. His nonstop schmoozing of the “big guy,” running paycheck pools, or trying to win the hearts of Bailey and Jennifer might’ve made you cringe (he’d definitely get canceled today). But underneath that veneer of sleaze was a solid teammate. Tarlek always struck me as the kinda guy that might’ve tried to get you to take the bad square in an office pool, but would also lend you a (very loud) coat without being asked. The world’s a better place with people like that in it.

Thanks for being here,

Kevin—

What caught your attention this week? Got a rant or rave? Let me know in the comments or send me an email. I read all the responses. You can also read more of my work on Medium, and connect with me on Twitter.

04. June.2021

Several orders of magnitude more than what you’d need

Photo of Michigan's Porcupine Mountains.

Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains. Photo by author.


“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

— Mary Anne Radmacher 

I assure you I’m not turning this into a “tales from the office” sort of newsletter. But if you’ll indulge me in one more story from my workplace, I want to share the story of my friend Richard Hulsizer. 

The airlines were a second career for Richard. He joined us after having just retired from the United States Post Office. He and his husband dreamt of seeing the world; joining us at (then) Northwest was their way to do it. 

If you’ve ever been a manager/supervisor/whatever you learn to quickly assess whether or not someone will be a good fit on your team. In a line station like mine, those good and bad qualities can be magnified— in case of conflict, there’s simply nowhere else to go.

He fit right in from the start and was the kind of person you are happy to see show up on your gate. Hardworking, sure, but also friendly, and frankly funny as hell. I should also note that he was a great baker and would bring cookies in often. 

I should also note that I ate more than my share. 

I’d like to have ended this story with another retirement party, replete with balloons, cake, and hugs. This isn’t that story, though. For Richard, there was no second retirement or years spent on exploring the Greek Isles. Instead, I am writing this on the 11th anniversary of his death due to a workplace accident. This was not a “good death” (whateverthehell that means), and it wasn’t quick, either. 

I mention this to share a few points:

First, every action has a consequence. Sometimes they’re good, and sometimes not, but nothing happens in a vacuum. 

Next, it’s easy to become complacent at work, and at home. Many of you may be going back to the office for the first time in a while. Even if you’ve been going in through the whole pandemic, please—if even just for today— make a concerted effort to move through your shift with intention. That extra second or two could make all the difference. 

Third; dreams deferred are dreams unrealized. People re-prioritizing their life in the wake of COVID is a popular topic these days, and there are no shortage of think pieces and/or hot takes plastered all over the ‘net. It’s easy to let real life get in the way—I’m as guilty of it as anyone— but no one’s promised tomorrow. 

Also: If someone in your office brings cookies in, make sure to thank them, even if you don’t eat them.