The Dann Chronicles: August 🔥

An impending Brooklyn disaster, rice, ancient astronomy, indie games, and the best music video of all time

August 2021

Hey all,

I've never been the type of person that knew exactly what I wanted my future to look like. Only bits and pieces.

My first full-time job out of college was as an Assistant Manager at a French Connection in Manhattan. It worked for the moment, but wasn't what I wanted to be doing forever. But I also didn't know what I wanted to be doing forever.

Living in New York City, I set my sights on three things: I wanted to work in tech, I wanted to work in a tall building where I had to take an elevator to my floor, and I wanted a cool view.

Over the past decade plus, I was able to build that life (and more!). And that's made me start thinking about the sort of things I want for myself over the next decade.

I still don't know exactly what it looks like, but again I know bits and pieces: I want to be plugged into the NYC startup scene, I want to be connected to interesting people building cool things, and I want to be providing value in some way.

As such, this tweet has been living in my head rent free. I still don't know the exact path I'll take to put these aspirational bits and pieces into place, but I feel like I'm starting to figure out my options.

I also plan to keep this newsletter going the whole time. Thanks for coming along for the ride.


👨‍🍳 Kitchen Life

Sometimes you obtain a kitchen appliance that has a significant impact on your life. Everyone seems to be talking about the Air Fryer these days (which I've admittedly never tried), but I'm here to proselytize a different gadget: a Zojirushi rice cooker (we have this one).

I'm not usually the type of person to purchase single-use kitchen appliances, but this one is a game changer. The GABA Brown rice is out of this world, and Organic California's Sushi Rice has ruined all other white rices for me. And I'm not just making rice: Zojirushi steel cut oats are now how I start every day.

The Zojirushi secret is what it calls "fuzzy logic," which is a computer chip inside that monitors your food as it cooks, adjusting heat and pressure as needed to ensure perfectly-cooked rice. Everything is cooked perfectly, and nothing sticks to the bowl.

Guys, I really like my rice cooker.

🔭 Eye to the sky

E. L. Trouvelot was a French immigrant to the United States in the 1800s who ended up at Harvard College's observatory, tasked with making pastel sketches of astronomical observations through their (at the time) top-of-the-line telescopes.

How do these drawings hold up against the technology of today, you ask? The New York Public Library put together some side-by-side comparisons, and they're pretty incredible.

I'm particularly drawn to Jupiter and it's Great Red Spot. Pretty damn impressive if you ask me.

🪚 Craftable You

While waiting for the new version of The Binding of Isaac to release on consoles, I've been sinking my time into another joyous game: Forager (Linux, Consoles, Mobile). It describes itself as a "2D open world game inspired by exploration, farming and crafting games such as Stardew Valley, Terraria & Zelda." If any of that sounds appealing to you, do not miss this title.

The game starts slow, and with very little instruction, but very quickly builds to an almost frantic pace. It's incredible how quickly time flies when you're waiting for an iron ingot to smelt so you can craft a key to unlock the chest from the puzzle you just solved on an island you just unlocked.

It's a great game that you can enjoy for minutes at a time, or hours. Which is my favorite type of game.

🚗 Progressive Standstill

There's a pretty serious emergency happening right now in Brooklyn. A heavily trafficked double-decker section of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) needs radical emergency repairs or it risks spontaneously collapsing.

The fastest way to get-in-and-get-out for maintenance is to re-route traffic temporarily over the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, do the repairs, and then resume traffic as normal. But the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is prime rich-people real estate, so that option was never really an option. Alternate plans and proposals were being considered but then, you know, COVID. Everyone focused their attention elsewhere, but the emergency continued to be an emergency.

When the building in Miami collapsed, and all I could think about was the BQE.

The latest update to this story is that Mayor Bill de Blasio has passed the buck to a future Mayor. In de Blasio's "Plan to Save and Reimagine the BQE" he proposes temporary fixes that won't inconvenience any rich people, and gives us another ~20 years before imminent disaster.

Maybe we'll find a better solution in those twenty years? 🤞

Why is this section of the BQE an oddly unsafe double-decker design in the first place? You can thank Robert "Master Builder" Moses who demanded gorgeous waterfront views for rich people out on leisurely Sunday drives. Little did he know (or care) that the BQE would one day be only truck highway through Brooklyn. Or that drivers DGAF.

Thanks, Robert Moses.

👀 Turn Around

Please don't skip this section. You'll be glad you stuck around.

People throw around the title of "best music video of all time" too lightly. They can't all be the best. There can only be one best. And that title winner may surprise you, it certainly surprised me: Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart.

I know, I know. How can a pop song from the 80's that's become a karaoke favorite have the best music video of all time? Allow me (or better yet A D James) convince you in the short essay Let’s overanalyze to death … Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

The video is a wild ride, but you'll gain a new appreciation after the close reading the article provides. To summarize:

Extremely sexually repressed, Tyler endures a long night of the soul fantasizing about her young charges; this constitutes the bulk of the video. Come morning, she (and we) are returned to restrained, repressive reality. But we’re left with the hint that A.) at least one of her students has magically become aware of her fantasy, or B.) her fantasia has caused Tyler to become mentally unhinged. (I lean toward B and will defend that reading below.)

Did she sleep with one of her young (...very young?) students? Reply and let me know your thoughts.

End note

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I'll be sending out these emails once per month, and I'm happy you're along for the ride. I'm trying to make it one of the best things that arrives in your inbox each month, so thoughts and feedback are always appreciated. You can just reply to this email.

Also, if you find anything interesting, send it my way.

Thanks for reading. Until next time,