in: Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends: January 5, 2024

The Call of the Wild by Jack London. If you need a good novel to read during the cold winter months, it’s hard to beat Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. This classic tells the story of Buck, a domesticated dog who gets pressed into service as an Alaskan sled dog. The story is great, but so are London’s poetic passages about the pull felt by all domesticated creatures, man included, towards something primal and free beyond the edges of civilization. This is a great book to read aloud to children too — our kids enjoyed it when we read it to them a couple years back.  

Field Trip Carne Asada Beef Jerky. I’ve long been a fan of Field Trip beef jerky — it’s tender and tasty. I recently discovered their carne asada flavor and have been digging it. The original flavor is still a good one though — soft and sweet. I also like their buffalo chicken and turkey sticks — sometimes it’s just nice to mix up your dried meats.

Aiming at Something Noble. Resolutions for Human Flourishing. Tis the season for self-improvement, yet a lot of material in this genre is kind of shallow, perpetuating practices with the object of becoming more organized or productive as their only end. Henry Oliver argues that “We need a self-help that shows us how to flourish as a whole person,” and draws on the philosophy of John Stuart Mill to create a self-improvement plan that focuses on character development, continuous discovery, moral responsibility, and aspiring for nobility. I really like the idea of aspiring for nobility. Be noble, friends. 

Word Jazz by Ken Nordine. Back in high school, my friend and I were at a thrift store and found an old vinyl record from 1957 called Word Jazz. It’s an album of beat poetry read by voiceover actor Ken Nordine. Nordine’s voice is nice, smooth, and incredibly pleasant to listen to, and his spoken word poems are a delight. It’s an example of those fun serendipitous finds you can make when you escape the algorithm to prowl antique, thrift, and used book stores. Nordine had an interesting career; besides creating innovative beat poetry/jazz, he did the voiceover work for many of Coronet Film’s famous instructional films during the 1950s. (Here are 12 of our favorite vintage instructional films from Coronet.)

Quote of the Week

A great deal of talent is lost to the world for the want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves a number of obscure men who have only remained obscure because their timidity has prevented them from making a first effort; and who, if they could only have been induced to begin, would in all probability have gone great lengths in the career of fame. The fact is, that in order to do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand shivering on the bank, and thinking of the cold and the danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.

—Sydney Smith

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