Dear Jason,

It’s interesting how we can both have the same goal, i.e., the preservation of the natural world, and such different paths to get there. (A point, as you say, that we’d do well to remember with human relationships also!) It would seem that in our visions of the future, you would have a healthy planet with pockets of humanity minimizing their impact of the world around them while I would have humanity more diffused but integrated with their ecosystems. My preference is obvious but I can also see the sense in your vision. My real worry with your vision is that we would still not be living with the nonhuman world in a healthy relationship.

Turning to your new topic, the things I’m most looking forward to are getting back to our garden/backyard habitat and continuing woodworking. We have already started doing some work to expand the garden—by the time we’re done we’ll only have a few square feet of grass left. We’ll be growing a lot more vegetables this year and we’ll plant some Concord grapes. We’re also very excited about getting several bullfrog tadpoles to put into our tiny wildlife pond.

I’m glad things seem to be going well for you professionally. I’m also in the middle of a large project at work—in my case, the implementation of a big new accounting standard. Killing a party by discussing it is my new favorite hobby.

I’ve seen you talking about volleyball a few times on So is there a league in your town, or just some friends getting together? Did you play in school? It’s not the most prominent sport in America so I’m interested in how you got started. I’m not much of a sports person, though I do love watching professional cycling and the new season starts this weekend.


Happy Saturday, Jeremy.

Do you find it difficult to put time into your garden and outdoor life in the winter? I have, at times, aspired to spending more time outdoors doing that kind of casual, physical, tactile work. I think one thing that’s always made that hard is winter. Indiana is not exactly known for a mild winter. I can imagine that it’s tough to “lose” that important time and hobby for a period this year. There truly is nothing like homegrown food, though. What have you had the most success with? When we’ve done growing projects in the past, peppers and herbs have always gone well. Cucumbers have gone too well– I’m not sure I’d even want to grow them again with the amount they produce at the crazy size you can get with too many to eat at once. I guess that’s why the world gave us pickles. Grapes seem intimidating, though I love the idea of vines growing over trellis surrounding an outdoor table, just to overly romanticize things.

Given that I work in school finance, we get hit in various ways when new GASB rules come out all the time. Luckily I"m just far enough away from the pure accounting side that our software doesn’t have to be modified each time, but there’s a world in the future where that may happen. Nothing is worse than sitting at a conference for two hours learning about new rules for depreciation. I might be the only person who doesn’t run at the party while you get into the minutia.

Volleyball– yes, this is actually quite important to me these days. Growing up I played baseball and basketball a ton until high school. Deteriorating eyesight made baseball quite difficult (my left eye has very poor vision, a story for another day). And basketball, well… I’m 5'8". I was 5'6" by fifth grade. I haven’t grown since middle school. I learned to play at center and power forward heights and never could keep up as I became quite short. I’m still fairly short for volleyball, but it’s the other sport with high energy and jumping and all that. A few girls I was friends with played volleyball in high school during the fall season, and since I didn’t have a spring sport without baseball, I decided to try out for men’s volleyball, which was a spring sport. I was never any good, and I had a difficult relationship with a lot of the kids on my team. Sometimes we were very close, and sometimes I felt very much rejected by them. But I loved the game. I loved playing. I even love watching. Played well, volleyball is beautiful. Everyone should be moving in a coordinated fashion at the same time based on what’s happening. There’s a system, but rather than feeling rigid, it is elegant like dancing. Given that it’s not a very popular sport, it just went away for me after high school.

A year or so ago, as part of an effort both to introduce more fun into my life and continue my investment in my own health, I sought out volleyball again. We have an adult recreational league in my city for a variety of sports. Basically adults pay to play in casual sports leagues around the city (there’s soccer, football, basketball, softball, volleyball, dodgeball, pickleball– you name it) and they use those fees to pay for athletic summer camps and after school programming for kids. I don’t really know the details other than volleyball being quite popular– at least four nights a week, there’s at least 8 teams of 6-9 players playing in leagues of various levels, and typically another 12 or so folks playing “pick up” disconnected to the leagues. And that’s just with this one sports league– there are others, especially in the summer when there’s outdoor park and beach volleyball, that are just as full. Volleyball feels downright popular.

So now I get to play 2-3 nights a week. I started off joining bunch of teams as a free agent since I didn’t know anybody. Now I only sign up on teams with folks I know from playing volleyball or I play pickup. Pickup tends to be twice as long, no rotations, and has a fairly regular crew of decent folks so it’s a bit more reliable. I’ve been having a blast, even if my body has made clear that I can’t keep playing volleyball for too many more years. I’m glad I picked it up again while I can still do it.

I would try out watching a game of indoor volleyball. Maybe watch a video on how “coverage” works (that elegant dance I was mentioning) so that you can get a little insight into how it is that everyone seems to be right where the ball ends up going. It’s a ton of fun.