My least favorite word is "potential." I despise this word.

In mechanical systems, potential is clearly defined. Potential energy is the amount of energy stored in a system. A ball suspended in the air has a measurable amount of potential energy; the higher you raise it, the more potential energy it has that can be converted to kinetic energy as it falls. A compressed spring has a measurable amount of potential energy that is converted to kinetic energy when the spring is released.

And so on. In a mechanical system, potential makes sense.

Mapping Blue Highways

Similar to the previous post about Slowly Down the Ganges, I am mapping the places from another book: Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Reading these travel tales excites me -- I want to know where the authors went almost as much as why they went and what they did there. I want to see the places they saw. I want to follow the roads they followed. Perhaps I should see if there is a local chapter of Geographaholics Anonymous.

An afternoon in Salem

Detail of Old Town Hall in Salem, Massachusetts
Old Town Hall, Salem

As seen in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Welcome to Portsmouth Brewery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The wet concrete floors, the big metal tanks, the rubber hoses snaking everywhere -- it reminds me of Grandpa Kittell's old dairy farm. I offer that as a compliment.

Portsmouth Brewery

Mapping down the Ganges

Last week at the Pollard Memorial Library I picked up Slowly Down the Ganges by Eric Newby. Usually I pick up books based on recommendation from friends or from Goodreads. This one I just happened to pick up because it was in the travel section of the library where I had gone to pick up Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon.

The report of Chevy's death is an exaggeration

Found via Chris Guillebeau: Richard Chang, "Saving Chevrolet Means Sending 'Chevy' to Dump," NYTimes.com, 9 June 2010.

I think General Motors is faking the demise of the "Chevy" name.

Quote me on that

As an inferior writer, I enjoy collecting passages from writers that I admire. Often they say what I feel, but in a more eloquent, interesting, humorous -- just pick a complimentary adjective out of a hat -- way. Or, even better, they say things my brain is too small to have even considered.

I like to collect these quotes. It started by writing them here and there in notebooks and scraps of paper. Those were lost somewhere in the clutter. Then I began capturing them at kittell.tumblr.com. That was an acceptable solution.

One for the personal record books

Last year, when I set an arbitrary goal to train run a sub-19 minute 5 km race, I wondered about beating my old personal record of 18:26 that I set on 15 October 2000. That record wasn't a huge weight on my shoulders, but I hate to see past me being more capable than current me.

We don't need to know that

I am going to offer you advice about how to run an online community for an alumni association: simplify. Complexity is intoxicating, but simplicity is useful.

I set up an alumni association website, isu-usa.org, to have ISU alumni share their contact info with each other. Our mother institution, ISU, had set up a site in 2007 to do this, but... let's say... that... it is not the most useful... thing. (See that? Restraint. /twitch)

Exploring the museum in my backyard

I like living in Lowell. I really do. But I'm accustomed to living here now and I rarely look around. The buildings are less... exotic. I mean, they're not strange or different anymore, or otherwise worthy of notice. Each building, each street, each canal is now just an unnoticed landmark on my way to and from work or the grocery store or the train station. What a shame.

I suffer from a disease known as localitis.


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