When things line up just right
Executive Surf Club
Corpus Christi, TX 2020
Hello birders, welcome to your corona-virus-news-free-issue of Bird Mail, a smattering of links I’ve sourced from far and wide on the internet, just for you. If you’ve gotten this email and aren’t sure why, you can unsubscribe at the bottom of this missive. But, if you find something you like along the way, perhaps forward Bird Mail on to a friend who has some overlapping interests and would like a small letter every-other-Tuesday. I’d appreciate it.
Before we get into your issue, there have been a few changes to Bird Mail. First, Bird Mail now comes to you from its own email address instead of my gmail account. Adding email@example.com to your contacts or safe senders will ensure that you keep getting Bird Mail every other Tuesday.
Second, and more importantly, I want to talk to you about privacy. Specifically, your privacy in regards to Bird Mail. Until today I was using tracking pixels by default through my email service provider. Tracking pixels are very small blank images embedded into newsletters so that we who write them can see details like who opens, clicks, and forwards what. They can be helpful in showing me what you’re clicking to give me an idea of what might be valuable to show you more of in the future. As of this newsletter, they are turned off, for good. A number of writers I respect, from Paul Jarvis to the team at Basecamp have removed these spy pixels, and I’ve included their rationales here because my thinking aligns with theirs.
Although it might be helpful to know what y’all are clicking from each issue, I’d rather you not be tracked or spied on. What’s more, I’d love to hear from you. Reply to an issue with what you liked, or any time you come across something and think it might be something you’d like to see in Bird Mail, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With that out of the way, back to your regularly scheduled Bird Mail.
I have had an influx of new subscribers, many of whom are not from Texas, 👋 y’all. There are a few things you need to know about Texas beyond the usual tropes. One: H-E-B is the best grocery store out there, but don’t take my word for it. I spent years in the grocery-store-desert that is Oklahoma (another story altogether) and missed the big red grocery store all the time.
A grocery store can be a prism for identity, refracting and focusing it; Whole Foods famously does this for an entire group of people held together by little more than social class and a vague sense of taste. What’s unique about H-E-B fandom is that its customers are ultimately loyal to H-E-B in so far as they are loyal to Texas. This is perhaps one of the most distinguishing factors between H-E-B and the other cult grocers: People love Publix subs, crave Trader Joe’s snacks, and revere Wegmans’ customer service, but H-E-B is a way of life.
While we’re on the subject of food, you’ve probably heard of our most famous bread, Texas Toast. My local NPR station KUT has a great story on why Texas is the only state with its own toast.
I don’t watch much TV these days, but Bird and I got completely sucked into Cheer on Netflix. Growing up in west Texas where football is king, it was cool to see the spotlight put on the athletes of Navarro College in Corsicana. I had no idea how much athleticism and excellence was in that little town. Texas Monthly has a nice profile of one of the more controversial squad members, Lexi.
Given this podcast has been out for a week now and seems to be mentioned in all my newsletters and in places like The Guardian, you might have already heard it, but(!), if you have not, please, please listen to Reply All’s The Case of the Missing Hit. The amount of work that went into this episode is nothing short of amazing. It reminded me of a recent 99PI episode investigating almost the opposite phenomenon. Instead of a hit everyone forgot, one man set out to find out Whomst Among Us Let The Dogs Out. All of this has me thinking more about how music can just…disappear from streaming services, the internet, and our collective memories. It happened to me recently with a song that was on Spotify, but isn’t there any longer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of my streaming services and the cloud in general, but when things disappear, I have to question the value of not being the owner of the media I care about.
Bird Mail Endorsement: Cribbage
Bird and I were helping clean out her dad’s old workshop and we came across an unopened cribbage board. We took it with us in hopes of learning a new game. A few days later we holed-up in a coffee shop and watched this video many times to learn the game. We aren’t very good yet, but we’re having a great time getting better. It’s a perfect travel game and will be going with us to bars and coffee shops so we can play a game or three. There are lots of boards you can get, ours is a simple plank of wood. I love these Minim cards though they can be a little tough to see, so these from HAY might be a better choice.
The coastline paradox the kind of thing I love learning about. In other math-related nerdiness, this Googol-to-One gear ratio is incredibly soothing to watch.
The Sound of Trapp Music
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