My friend, Paul, once designed a set of logos for me. I used them for a bit on a site called VanAmericanNius.com. It was a precursor to storian.org. Both were meant to be sites for my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers in the Republic of Vanuatu.

Alas, the sites didn't take.

Facebook seems the best way to stay connected to RPCVs.

The logo at right is one I call 'coconut wireless' - it is two half-coconut shells connected as if they were telephones, or tin cans as we used when we were kids.

Another in that logo set is the tamtam, which I wrote about on my main blog: My new avatar is a tamtam from Ambrym

07/30/13; 07:42:19 PM

Two interviews on NPR this weekend with authors about their new books:

  1. Michael Paterniti, whose book is The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese. Listen to the interview here. Rosencrans Baldwin reviews the book here.

  2. Verlyn Klinkenborg, whose book is More Scenes from the Rural Life. It's a collection of his essays in the New York Times. Listen to the interview here.

And in the New Yorker, I'm enjoying an article by Bill Buford, Cooking with Daniel.

07/28/13; 10:54:03 AM

I asked my daughter if she'd be interested in a short hackathon tonight.

What's a hackathon? she asked.

I explained that it's a time to build or code or create on the web, and that I needed to quickly make some changes to my blog.

By the time we were able to sit down, it was late. So instead of working on my blog, I talked her through creating her own using Fargo. The result: malia.smallpict.com

I just tucked her into bed, and she asked for a story about how I started my first blog. I told her about how I paid a friend to help create Zuiker Chronicles Online, how I bought a book about HTML, and how I knew enough to create this page when Frank the Beachcomber, our patriarch and creator of the Zuiker chronicling tradition, died.

I've been blogging ever since.

The about page on mistersugar.com has more of my blogging story.

07/27/13; 09:40:09 PM

Very proud of my brother, Nicholas Zuiker. He graduated from the Austin Fire Department Academy today.

In the photo: my brothers Matt and Nick with our father, Joseph. Nick's wearing a maile lei that dad brought from Hawaii.

Here's a video about Cadet Class 116:

Austin Fire Department - Cadet Class 116 from Austin Fire Department on Vimeo.

07/26/13; 04:57:39 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded the PRX Remix app.

Tonight, as I ironed a shirt for tomorrow, I hit play, and listened to chef Dan Barber, who gave a 2010 TED talk about fish farms and the future of good food: How I fell in love with a fish.

It's quite a good talk. Have a listen:

07/25/13; 11:09:08 PM

I've been drinking looseleaf tea for some 20 years, and am in a renewed state of enjoyment of a good brew.

  • I drank coffee (espresso, really) only for a few years, and quit for good on December 31st of last year. I admit to a weekly craving for a latte at Caffe Driade (in Chapel Hill, NC), and so far I've been able to resist the temptation.

When I started to subscribe to the New Yorker (around 1995), I came across a small advertisement for Upton Tea Imports, and I've often ordered my tea from them. I've never been disappointed. Right now I'm sipping a cup of Anhui Province Keemun mao feng (bud and two leaves), one of my favorite types of black tea - it goes great with dark chocolate.

  • Upton also sent me a sample of a China green tea, Gu Zhang mao jian. It also is very good.

Once, when I visited Minneapolis, I visited a tea shop in St. Paul. I order from TeaSource, too. The strawberry oolong is an amazing tea iced.

I also order sometimes from Todd & Holland in Forest Park, Illinois. They make a delicious Island Mango blend, and 10 years ago they made an exotic merchant's blend chamomile tisane, and still make other fragrant chamomile blends.

Another time, when I lived in Honolulu, there was an Israeli jeweler who opened a cafe in my neighborhood. It didn't last, but it was open long enough for me to get there a few times to enjoy a Moroccan-style hot mint tea in a tall glass. When I came to Chapel Hill, the Silk Road Tea House had authentic Turkish tea.

07/22/13; 07:45:12 PM

Spring cleaning around the house earlier this year helped me clean out the house and get rid of paper and stuff. It also helped me pare down my personal activities, and jettison a handful of website projects and ideas for conferences.

I settled on these five priorities:

1. My health: I'm focused on a better balance of rest, exercise and diet (or RED, as my tai chi chuan teacher in Honolulu taught me 20 years ago). So, I've been getting into bed earlier, sleeping around 7 hours (up from the 5 or 6 that was my norm the last 10 years), running and swimming most days of the week, and eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar. I feel good. (btw, one impetus for getting more exercise was watching Dave's biking last summer, and our ride together in Durham last July inspired me to take better care of myself. And I dropped off my bike today to get a major overhaul so I can use it more.)

2. My family: At home, our family meals are at the kitchen table and involve lots of conversation. Anna and Malia are learning to cook beside me more and more. It's summer, so I'm getting lots of time in the pool with the children, and Oliver is quickly learning to swim on his own. Erin and I have been able to take more date nights. I'm still not as good about calling my father, mother, brothers and other close relatives, but I'm trying to make more phone calls.

3. My work: My role as communications director at the Duke University Department of Medicine continues to engage me, challenge me and satisfy me. We're close to finishing our first annual report (a print publication) and will soon embark on a major overhaul of our 20+ websites to combine them into one site. Through work I am also collaborating with Jeff Polish on Voices of Medicine - Jeff was honored with an Indies Arts Award this week. (As the Indy article mentions, I put Talk Story on hiatus.)

4. My community: I spent the last 10 years facilitating local blogging and online science communities, and I'm proud of how my volunteer efforts helped create a new nonprofit organization, ScienceOnline. My role in this has changed, so now I'm learning how to be the chairman of the board of directors and a fundraiser (you can help by donating $20.14 today). I'm still striving to listen, to serve, to support.

5. My blog: Of all my personal projects and extracurricular activities, blogging has been an anchor. It gives me a way to chronicle my life, celebrate important moments, contemplate and understand my feelings. And being a blogger has led to quite a lot, including my job and ScienceOnline and Talk Story and Voices of Medicine, and more. I'm about to simplify the design of mistersugar.com, and will continue to use Fargo to explore the next steps in my blogging - and outlining - life.

I feel good about these priorities, even if I do still sometimes feel my balance teetering.

07/20/13; 02:00:07 PM

Hō a‘e ka ‘ike he‘enalu i ka hokua o ka ‘ale.

Show (your) knowledge of surfing on the back of the wave.

Talking about one's knowlege and skill is not enough; let it be proven.

  • From ‘Ōlelo No‘eau, Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings, by Mary Kawena Pukui, Bishop Museum Press

  • Found on the inside back page of the Summer 2013 issue of Island Scene Magazine.

07/13/13; 01:08:06 PM

The NYTimes Travel section on Sunday past included a feature about the coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway, which celebrated its 100th anniversary on July 1.

The article made no mention of DeKalb, Illinois, but if you check the official map, you'll see that the highway has always gone through that town. And that's the town where I spent my formative high school years. I regularly met my grandparents at the Lincoln Inn for breakfast, and I shopped across the street at Lehan's. I paraded down Lincoln Highway as a clown during the Homecoming parade, then the following year rode in a convertible Corvette as the Homecoming king in the same parade. On winter days I crossed over Lincoln Highway to get to the lagoon, and strapped on my skates and played hockey until midnight. One summer evening, a half-mile further down the road, I French kissed for the first time.

A dozen miles further west took me to an uncle's farm, where I learned to walk the rows of soybean fields, understand the routines of the farm, and revel in the fertile flatness of the Illinois prairie.

The Lincoln Highway anchored my teenage years. Good years. A good highway.

07/11/13; 10:39:22 PM

Using his new Fargo blog, Dave earlier this week wrote about his dream for academic blogging.

  • His Housekeeping note explains that he'll be blogging in Fargo until he can link up to scripting.com. This was a great line: "This happens every so often, because I develop blogging software."

"I figured that these great minds would find the chronologic arrangement of blogs too limiting. We would work together to create new structures," wrote Dave.

I think I understand that. Back in December, I wrote a post about trying to conceptualize a redesign of my mistersugar.com blog, which I've been writing since 2000. My friend, Beck Tench, posed an interesting question that got me thinking about other ways to structure the collection of my writings.

  • What if my blog, after 13 years of writing and referencing and layering, is less about chronology and more about themes, she suggested. What if mistersugar were to be designed around these connections and continuations, listing not just the latest posts but also displaying the threads between multiple items? And something more than the “If you liked this post, you’ll like these” plugins that some blogs use.

I've noticed on Medium.com that essays are put into collections. The Mangrove company blog suggests grouping posts into bundles.

A few days ago, I wrote about how I'm tired about blogging about Vanuatu. I suspect, though, that if I were to bundle up all my posts about my experience in the South Pacific, arrange them in some fashion or another, I'd have a short memoir of my time as a Peace Corps volunteer.

If I'm not going to write much more about Vanuatu, what then? One possibility is sugar.

My family name, Zuiker, comes from the Dutch word for sugar, and that led to my web moniker and blog domain. But I've not really written about sugar, except for my addiction to good chocolate and generous use of refined sugar in my annual grenadine syrup and strawberry jam making.

Since I work at a major academic medical center and university, I seem to be in a great place to embark on a writing project about sugar: I could learn about the history, the chemistry, the business, the nutrition and the cooking. Probably a lot more.

And Fargo, an outliner and blog engine, seems to be a powerful tool to help me structure this project.

Let's explore the possibilities.

07/11/13; 05:23:14 PM

My earlier Fargo checklist included learning to map a domain.

I have successfully connected this blog to my.storyblogging.org.

07/11/13; 01:48:36 PM

There's a restaurant in Charlotte called The Cowfish, which bills itself as a sushi burger bar. A Raleigh location opened recently. Haven't been there myself yet (here's the review in the Indy).

Cowfish is what ni-Vanuatu call the dugong that live in the waters of the South Pacific. I swam with a dugong once in Lamen Bay at Epi Island. (Here's an essay by someone else who had the same experience.)

Later, when I was in a VanAir Twin Otter coming in for a landing on the Tavie airstrip on Paama Island, I noticed the profile of a dugong swimming close to shore. The airplane's shadow crossed nearby, and soon I was out of the plane and into the back of the island's only truck, headed home to Liro Village.

07/08/13; 11:35:17 AM

Over on my long-running mistersugar.com blog, I noted how I'm changing as a blogger, and how using Fargo is an important part of that.

07/07/13; 10:33:14 PM

Dave updated the default template for Trex.

So, I've made some adjustments to anton.smallpict.com.

07/07/13; 10:57:14 AM

Yesterday, I wrote about roadkill.

This morning, on a quick trip to the grocery store, I saw a grey fox scurry across the road, disappearing into the woods.

On the way back, I noticed a big Eastern box turtle (state reptile of North Carolina) in the middle of the lane. I turned around, parked, got out and moved it far into the grass, on the side of the road in which it was headed.

07/07/13; 09:58:17 AM

Add my daily-reads river

  • Must first get it working in OPML. I have my River2 list converted to River3 (see here), but my Google Reader download is not converting cleanly to River3.

Understand the threads nodetype.

  • Haven't seen this detailed in the Fargo or Trex docs yet.

  • But I think I have the threads type working on my Leave a Comment section (see here).

Improve my default menu.

  • Which is actually named SugarMenu.

  • Add additional items.

  • Learn more of the possibilities.

Record a podcast. Publish it.

Explore Typekit or new Cloud Typography

  • Why pay extra for fonts?

  • How to bring in custom fonts?

Determine if Fargo will be my blogging platform.

  • Ditch Textpattern?

    • Can I convert my Txp archives (2000-2013) to OPML?

Wait for domain mapping.

  • May not need it: the domain attribute seems to be what I want.

Outline (natch) how to convert my storyblogging.org pages to Fargo.

  • I used the World Outline and OPML Editor.
07/03/13; 01:19:33 PM

Last Saturday was a slow day at the swimming pool (my family goes to the UNC Farm, a club for faculty and alumni of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), even with our family visiting from Cleveland and Texas. I slipped into one of the empty lanes - actually, all three lanes were still and unused - and started to swim laps. Soon I was in the groove, and my mind started to wander.

I thought about the black-sand beach of Liro Village on the Island of Paama. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer there, living just a hundred yards from the beautiful South Pacific Ocean. The water was almost always placid, and often Erin (my wife and fellow PCV) and I would paddle out in our dugout canoe to watch for dolphins and sea turtles and dugongs.

As I swam in Chapel Hill, I felt a pang of regret: why I hadn't I swam more in those waters off Paama?

I wish I had been in the habit of waking early to swim along the coast. Instead, my daily habits included feeding the pig and playing soccer with the other men as the sun set over the ocean.

I finished my laps, climbed out of the pool, and remembered then that I hadn't ventured into the ocean more because of sharks. Liro had had deadly shark attacks at least twice in the villagers' living memory.

Once I toweled dry and put my glasses back on, I looked over and saw a group gathered around the fence. Someone had seen a copperhead snake, and the lifeguards were hunting it down. Killing snakes always saddens me, but the family that was closest to the fence included a 3-year-old boy who'd been bitten by a copperhead weeks before. He'd spent two days in the hospital.

Another time in Vanuatu, off another island (Malekula), I was wading out to a reef. The sand below was smooth and soft, and when I looked down I saw I'd just missed stepping on a thorn of crowns, a type of sea star that has toxic spines. Close call! Later, back on Paama, I came close to a deadly stonefish that a couple of the boys had caught in the bay before the village men waded through, dragging a huge acacia tree that had once fallen during a cyclone and was soon to be the center post for a new nakamal (gathering hall) for the village of Voravor.

I snagged a thick branch of that tree, put in my canoe and took it home. In the capital, a man named Jonah carved a dolphin and turtle into it, and it stands in the corner of my bedroom today.

07/07/13; 10:36:17 AM

Last built: Fri, Mar 11, 2016 at 1:50 PM

By Anton Zuiker, Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 2:00 PM.