wending wall

Among the innumerable delights of being a father is that of your wee one toddling up unbidden with a hug at the back of your knees. That I have so little time to absorb these little joys means they’ll leave their traces without stirring any waves of future memory. How will this attachment fair through the years of our relationship? Already this palimpsest seems unfathomable in the light as his independence grows.

low blur

Was a time I kept multiple blogs and hand-written journals and notebooks and scraps of scribbles and sketches on discarded newsprint. Now it takes me five months to write one blog post. Begun reading again from something other than a screen. Marcelo is able to identify birds—egret, goose, robin, sparrow, starling, pigeon. Trying to do less. Bless this less.

weird bones

Marcelo is asleep, and we’re watching a documentary about Joan Didion because she died today. I’ve never read any of her work. My left shoulder hurts from two vaccine jabs received at a Rite Aid where the security guards were holding back one of their own from being drawn into a fight at the door with a man whose nude rear end was open to the bike rack where I needed to return my Citi Bike. I’m deeply tired because Marcelo’s daycare is closed due to its director and other staff testing positive for Covid. All three of us tested negative, but Marcelo has a cold. He develops in amazing ways despite all, in innumerable daily changes.

o sage

Yesterday’s hawk, talons empty. We walk through Marcus Garvey’s chess players, strung out junkies, African drum circles and dancers, open air gym rats by the bball court, dog park walkers. The osage oranges are plentiful.

Marcelo now stands unaided briefly. He’s waving to Sesame Street monsters on TV. He claps and points. He hands me toys. He laughs randomly as if he’s remembered a joke. He seems ready to walk and speak any day now. Daily I’m pummeled by the darkness of our living dystopia, but this love that is our family of three is my refuge.

no know say

It’s Tuesday. Marcelo has come through his first cold for which I took a sick day Monday, and today was the first incident report at daycare (bumped his head, exploring under tables). I’m listening to Rilo Kiley‘s Take Offs and Landings because I missed it in 2001, and now I’m searching through e-mail and various digital files to see just what I was up to in that year and am coming up bupkis so it must pre-date much of my digitized life. Still feels strange to think of the gaps of unrecorded life Marcelo will never know. Will these almost daily photos/videos and digital ephemera be part of his tracing the history that arrives at the formation of his first memories? The accumulation of 42 years makes me wonder if I can make anything of it beyond a personal tower of Babel.

early delayed starts

Marcelo has started his first 2 full days of daycare, and he already seems changed in subtle ways I can’t place words around. I’m right now listening to an album I’ve never heard called Handfuls of Night, which the algorithm gods have set upon me. Arthur Jeffes, son of Simon Jeffes who died in 1997 of an inoperable brian tumor, started Penguin Cafe as the legacy of his father’s Penguin Cafe Orchestra. I’ve been listening to the latter since discovering them in the back of an issue of Paste Magazine, which I’d gotten from my high school girlfriend’s dad, who worked in advertising in NYC—all of which is to say that this web of connections and timeliness makes this meaningful to me in the wordless way in which Marcelo’s changes are likewise shifting my inner world in as-yet-unknown ways.

Another of today’s positive bookends is the discovery of an answer to a vexing problem, which I hadn’t had time to diagnose until just 15 minutes ago. NGINX had been failing on reboots on my server, and I just checked the logs to see this:

Sep  8 10:19:04 beto nginx[940]: nginx: [emerg] host not found in upstream "mosquitto" in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/mqtt.albertmin.com:26
Sep  8 10:19:04 beto nginx[940]: nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test failed
Sep  8 10:19:04 beto systemd[1]: nginx.service: Control process exited, code=exited, status=1/FAILURE
Sep  8 10:19:04 beto systemd[1]: nginx.service: Failed with result 'exit-code'.

Turns out mosquitto was starting after NGINX in systemd’s queue so resolution was failing, and the simple solution was requiring and starting after:


For weeks/months/years I accumulate the grains of seemingly minor problems that are the soul-grinding earworms of daily existence, and then a seemingly unremarkable day resolves them without any resistance.

A poem popped into my head. It started out “I am the proprietor of the Penguin Cafe, I will tell you things at random,” and it went on about how the quality of randomness, spontaneity, surprise, unexpectedness and irrationality in our lives is a very precious thing. And if you suppress that to have a nice orderly life, you kill off what’s most important. Whereas in the Penguin Cafe your unconscious can just be. It’s acceptable there, and that’s how everybody is. There is an acceptance there that has to do with living the present with no fear in ourselves.
—Simon Jeffes

everything is terrible let love rule

Washed the daily million dishes to a podcast about theory of mind, and now listening to the song referenced above (which I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard completely because the radio version wafting through the 90s never ended) and eyeing Marcelo on the baby monitor in IR grays rolling and settling into REM. And when? We’ll say a theory of mind loves a theory of mind.

open break break open

Tonight I let the algorithms guide me to Spinoza’s atheism and Kacey Musgraves on psychedelics. Marcelo is regressing but still mostly cheerful and no wonder if, as Kacey Musgraves relays that her child psychologist? says, children are basically tripping all the time. I think I am regressing too. I have glimpses of childhood feelings that I’d long forgotten about. We close with age, and the world breaks us open. Death resists our contemplations. Let us live in the open break.

endful summer

I haven’t written here in some time because Zark Muckerberg and his Facebutt cronies borked the API I was using to embed Instagram images, and after pointlessly navigating the comically bureaucratic/infuriating technocratic parody of a Kafkaesque developer application process, I gave up and finally decided to just convert all the photos/videos on this blog to the idiotically fragile embed codes that are provided on the front end. One day I’ll just ingest all those photos/videos into an Archipelago instance and host my own digital collections. Speaking of which, I now work for the organziation that built that open source project so setting up my own collections will serve a dual purpose.

Marcelo now climbs to a standing position against objects on his own. He burbles in word-like syllables and still crawls commando but more and more gets up on his knees. We’ll occasionally play Sesame Street on the TV by calling to the Google Home Mini, and his immediate recognition and excitement is evident. As in the video above, he often waves seemingly as a greeting but also as a signal of something else… maybe delight? Every day there are both subtle and dramatic changes, and I hope we’re guiding him to be good and loving and capable of happiness.

narrative undoing

Mother and son are asleep. I’m running various home IT/tech maintenance tasks like updating router (an Asus flashed with the excellent open source Merlin) firmware, renewing my personal domain cert, and running upgrades on my Raspberry Pis. The last of Saturday’s sun is glowing over the senior care building across 5th Ave., and yesterday I was thinking about how I’ve been misguided by simple narratives. How much of the mountain of self-delusion is built on the molehill of clean narrative that ignores the messiness and ambiguity of what happens in most moments? How often do I interpret and re-interpret these moments to suit the inertia of ego, the failed state of self?

Playing the guitar, singing, and chattering to Marcelo strips away so much of the usual self-consciousness of the performative self. There’s something deeply satisfying about this mode of being—one that contrasts with the persistent bubble of hollowness that attends the usual approval/validation-seeking state of mind. There is so much about this life I could never have conceived in my fallowest imaginations.

sleep draining

Marcelo is asleep, and I can read some books for what seems words’ lifeless eternity. Mind has not drifted far from parent anxieties in 5 months. Navigating infant sleep is an eyeless mind-field, but he is thankfully by the grace of the somnolent god under night-long sleep punctuated by only some brief likely-unwaking low wails. I am jumping tonight between the following books:

Toxicon and Arachne by Joyelle McSweeney

Vibratory Milieu by Carrie Hunter

DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi

The Recluse, Issue 17, January 2021

Lacking words, I’ve been pursuing a minor bit of home automation. The baby’s sleep was not amenable to the clicking of an old piano lamp in the bedroom so I decided on getting this smart power strip after reading one of the reviews in which a fellow Pi-nerd mentioned being able to flash some open source firmware onto the device, which is apparently ESP8266-based.

A few frustrating, brain-conking hours of failure later, I was able to flash TASMOTA with TUYA-CONVERT. I initially failed on my Ubuntu-based laptop, but switched to a Raspberry Pi 3 which I’m currently using as a print server. I had a good bit of trouble with the AP not appearing but finally had success after reading this issue in which someone mentions running sudo killall wpa_supplicant.

The device flashed a red LED and began clicking so I initially thought I might have bricked it, but reading the docs revealed that that was the signal of success, and that I needed to hit up its IP in the browser and configure.

The next step was to find a way to power on each switch with Google Assistant since we were gifted a Google Home Mini and use Android devices. After considering IFTTT, which I’d mucked around with a bit before, I stumbled upon another open source project called Home Assistant. After some mind-melting hours trying to figure out MQTT, I was able to get Mosquitto working, and the device was finally chattering away with my Docker instance of Home Assistant.

The last bit was getting Home Assistant to talk to Google, which was surprisingly straightforward.

Anyway, that was a lot of boring work to turn some lamps on and off so I bought another and did it in the living room too. I didn’t know much of anything about any of the above, and it was a honking annoyance so if you find yourself on a similar road and have any questions feel free to ask.

Before I forget, I wrote a small web app a month ago? to check the CVS vaccination website, and email me when there was availability so I could schedule my parents. Their systems were understandably a bit of a clusterfuck, but the app ended up working. I’ll github the code at some point and maybe do a little write-up.


Regression renders 4 months in off-toned shadows. Variegated ahead run days, warp of timestamped I (weft of joy), probabilistic and sutured to reveal construction. Marcelo fitfully in milestones sleeps, and I slip into forgetfulness that joy returns also.

develop resolve

Five years resolve in eleven developed.

Some of the above (which are only selections from each roll) are cropped because I think a bit of tape was hanging over the lens. I hadn’t even had time to test the camera out before committing to 11 rolls so after getting back the initial set of digitized prints of mostly underexposed night shots, I still wasn’t sure what would come of the rest. As they came in I felt a bit of glee, a glimmer of joy, that the Holga hadn’t been a dud. Shoutout to The Darkroom for the smooth process in bringing these back to life.

Incidentally, I’d only waited five years because at one point I’d bought the chemicals thinking I’d set up a diy darkroom, gave up on that ghost, started researching places that do medium format film, decided they were too expensive, moved onto other things, and finally decided now that I could afford it. Now that I know the camera’s good, I may start shooting again.

All Teh Taaaaaaaags