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Notes From a Pandemic: March 21st, 2020

Greetings, dear friends of the present and curious citizens of the future. These words are reaching you from the upstairs home office of a residence in Humboldt County, California. The sun is rising, inimitably bright on this clear, crisp morning. Shining dewdrops bedeck every blade of grass and the crimson flowers of the season’s first [...]

What is Friendship? Part Four and Conclusion

Note: This is the final section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Four: Friendship is the crucible in which our global identity should be forged My ethical research and experience have taught me that good in the abstract is accessed most effectively [...]

What is Friendship? Part Three

Note: This is the third section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Three: Friendships are the bedrock of social homeostasis Since the Enlightenment, we have seen a tectonic shift in the way humans understand our nature as social animals––including the relatively new idea [...]

What is Friendship? Part Two

Note: This is the second section of a four-part essay. If you haven’t already done so, please begin with the Introduction and Part One. Part Two: Friendships are a narrative resource In the spring of 2012, I was preparing to apply to graduate programs to pursue a doctorate in philosophy. My intended area of study [...]

What is Friendship? Introduction and Part One

Introduction: Why Friendship? I am entering the phase of life in which I am supposed to “put away childish things,” as the Biblical saying goes (1 Corinthians 13:11). I’m in my early thirties, I’ve got a wife, a home, a good job and a dog. What comes next? Have a kid or two, build up your career. [...]

Working It Out: Reflections on a Five-Year Experiment

Introduction: How I Got Here Five years ago, in October 2013, I committed myself to an experiment that felt both comfortably secure and quite risky. After teaching abroad in Japan for a year, I returned to my hometown in Humboldt County, CA, moved in with my mother and girlfriend, and actively eschewed all forms of [...]

My Life as a Shepherd’s Dog: Iron & Wine’s Masterpiece Turns Ten

Introduction In fall 2007, I was beginning my sophomore year at the University of Oregon. Having made it through the growing pains of freshman year, I had begun to relax a little. I’d found a great group of friends to live with, and finally felt ready to embrace the college persona that made the most [...]

Traveling in Post-Brexit Britain

Introduction: Waves Across the Pond I can’t remember a time when the political coverage of Britain in the United States was more fervent than during this summer’s Brexit vote. Given the parallels between the Brexit movement and the rise of Donald Trump, it makes sense that many interpreted the referendum as a testing ground not [...]

The Life and Death of Sweet Meats: A Tribute to Barry Snitkin

This is my fiftieth journal, which feels like an appropriate time to reflect on the origins of the words&dirt blog. When I began this project more than two years ago, I wanted to develop ideas about a way of life that was experimental for me. I wanted to step outside the traditional channels of education [...]

Journal #49: Rocky Road

Anyone who has visited the Raymers knows the gravel road that spans the two acres between the main road and our house. The road is in generally poor condition, with grass growing in a strip down the center and a number of sizable potholes that hold standing water in the wet season. We’ve been wanting [...]