An incomplete list of smart folks that make my day better…

Here, presented in no particular order, are the online writers whose posts and newsletters almost always make my day a bit better and leave me feeling smarter by giving me things worth pondering, enjoying, and sharing.

Disclaimer: I’m sure there’s some I’m forgetting. Once remembered, they will be added.

The Poetry Will Return

Like many young teenage writers, I was into poetry when I was young. I even self-published a poetry book of my own, when I was 16. Long before self-publishing was a “thing”. It was horrible, of course. Short, shallow, overwrought, emotional, crap. Don’t worry, the only sole remaining copy of which I’m aware of is tucked safely away in my basement.

I largely ignored poetry after my teens. Too interested in reading other things. Non-fiction, mostly. My brain was hungry for learning facts and truths. I’d read the occasional fiction book but it was rare. I didn’t write fiction either. It was the early pre-internet days of the online publishing revolution. I published my writing in neo-punk political zines and local BBS boards. The rantings of a young ideallist. Before my world fell apart…

A divorce, loss, single-fatherhood, loneliness, and deep depression. The poetry returned. Both the reading and the writing. This time, it was dark, jaded, angry. Was it any good? No and no matter. It was a reflection of where I was and how I’d grown in ways good and bad. The pain I was in and, if you looked long enough, a glimmer of hope in the idea of new beginnings.

Then, life got better. New wife, new child, new life. I was back to writing what I seemed best at. Things that help. I also began to read and enjoy more fiction. Go figure. But, I also began reading more poetry. Good stuff. I began to write more too. Better stuff. Stuff I was willing to share.

Now, as I’ve entered my 50th year, I’ve found deep connection and appreciation for good poetry. I can read whole books of it. I copy down my favorites by hand in my commonplace book. I’ve found a desire to both read and write more of it. To truly understand how and why it works. I’ve found that poetry, at its best, gets inside you like a virus and changes the way your eyes see the world. The world and the way you dwell within it becomes a kind of poetry too.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve found it it hard to “get” poetry. You’ve tried off and on — and maybe have even tried your own hand at it. I could point you to some of my favorites — ones that speak to me deeply — but it likely won’t help. You need to be in the right time, place, and headspace to be infected with it. You need to encounter the ones that speak to you. All I can tell you is that one day, if you keep giving it a chance, it will return. Your eyes will see the world differently then too.

The Couple by Louis Jenkins

They no longer sleep quite as well as they did
when they were younger. He lies awake thinking
of things that happened years ago, turning
uncomfortably from time to time, pulling on the
blankets. She worries about money. First one
and then the other is awake during the night,
in shifts as if keeping watch, though they can’t
see very much in the dark and it’s quiet. They
are sentries at some outpost, an abandoned fort
somewhere in the middle of the Great Plains
where only the wind is a regular visitor. Each
stands guard in the wilderness of an imagined
life in which the other sleeps untroubled.

(via today’s Writer’s Almanac)

Signed Books with Random Things

Did you know that you can get any of my printed books personally signed with a nice message just for you? Well, you can! I recently restocked and once again have a full shelf of books for people to order. Only gets you the signed book and first-class shipping…
But wait! There’s more!
If you order in the next week, you can get $5 off by using the offer code ‘random’. Why “random”? Well, because I’ll also throw something random into the package along with your book. Perhaps it’ll be an extra book of mine or by one of my friends. Maybe, one of my favorite paper notebooks. It could be just about anything I think is great. You won’t know until you get it. How fun is that?
So, don’t wait! Get your signed copy below:

  • This Could Help (sold out)
  • enough (sold out)

  • Minimal Mac: What We Believe In (sold out)

Update: Sorry but all copies have been sold. I won’t be able to replenish my stock until after the new year. I very much appreciate all those folks (wow!) who purchased.
Non-signed versions are always available in a variety of formats (including paperback) at http://patrickrhone.com/books/

Pennies on The Pendulum

Fact: The Clock in Elizabeth Tower, often referred to mistakenly as “Big Ben” (which, by the way, is the nickname of the hour bell and not the clock or tower), is kept accurate by using pennies placed on the pendulum.  According to Wikipedia, “Adding a coin has the effect of minutely lifting the position of the pendulum’s centre of mass, reducing the effective length of the pendulum rod and hence increasing the rate at which the pendulum swings. Adding or removing a penny will change the clock’s speed by 0.4 seconds per day.

I love the idea — both realistically and metaphorically — that one of the most important clocks in the world, one which is relied on and trusted, is kept trustworthy and true by small change.

I would like to think that, for many of us and our lives, the same might be true.

A Little While in London

Bethany says that the difference between Paris and London is that Paris is a city you visit and London is a city you can be in. As a tourist in Paris one generally does not become so comfortable that they feel they belong there. London, on the other hand, feels immediately like somewhere you become a part of. That, even as a tourist, for the time being you are living here. Having visited both cities now within a few months of each other I can confirm that is indeed the case. We’ve certainly been doing many "touristy" things in the 36 hours or so of being here. But, due to Bethany and I having both visited before (and her even living here for a time), navigating the town feels like old hat. Though I know my time here to be short and it may be a long time before I return, whenever I’ve come I feel a sense of belonging and comfort I feel very few places away from home.

I’ve had a few highlights so far, Portobello Road Market was a menagerie of wonderful curiosities. My favorite restaurant, Belgo Centraal, is still there where I first found it many years ago and still serving the best Mules Frites anywhere outside of Belgium (Beatrix loved them too). And the Jubilee line is still the best tube route (according to Bethany, who am I to argue?). And a lovely time just walking around and feeling like a part of things.

All this is to say that we’re having a marvelous time and feel very much welcome here. We’re looking forward to what the rest of the days bring.



This is more of a note to self. It’s something I’ve not been doing well enough of late. I’ve been suffering from foot-in-mouth disease. I’ve been talking, prognosticating, having the answers. Noticing without observing. I can be better than this.

This seems the season of noise. A million voices shouting at us. Demanding our attention. Of course, it seems natural to respond by shouting even louder, just to be heard among the clamor. But, we have another choice. To mindfully tune out the noise and tune in to that which really matters. To do that, we must be still, present, and listen.

To be in silence is to be present. To be in silence with another and feel comfort and peace is to have true companionship. The gift of presence is the greatest of gifts. For one is giving the most finite and precious of resources — time and attention. Things that are priceless.

The wise listen. They know it is the only true path to knowledge. The humble listen. They know there is greater wealth and deeper riches in silence. The compassionate listen. They know that it is the simplest kindness.

I wish to be kind, compassionate, and wise. And the best way to do that is to listen.

London Calling

My family (my wife Bethany, daughter Beatrix, and I) will be traveling across the pond to London, England, UK later this month for a week. We’ll be there Saturday, November 19 through Friday, November 25th. We’ll be staying in the St. John’s Wood area. We’d like to meet as many of our online friends and folks as possible while there.

To facilitate that, I’m hoping to find a place to hold a meet-up. Some where convenient for most folks to get to. Someplace casual and accepting of a very well-behaved 8 year old. I would have no idea of how many people to expect and would like to leave it open anyway so it’d have to be somewhere that would not require such information ahead of time.

If you are in or are familiar with London, and have a suggestion. Please let me know via email or one of the regular social channels.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to just have breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, drinks, a couple of hours at a museum, offer tour guiding service to something we just have to see, etc. also please get in touch. We’d be open to any gracious offer of companionship.

A Good Car

I recently came to the end of my ten year relationship with my beloved Nissan Versa. Easily, the best car I’d ever owned in the time I had it. When I decided to buy it brand new I said to myself, “This is a 10 year car”. I had done a lot of research on various makes/models in its class. Though, it was a brand new issue from Nissan at the time, I knew exactly what to expect from it. It was a great 10 years.

It took us on several long road trips. New Orleans, twice. Through a torrential downpour on our way to upstate New York and Boston. Winding and twisting along the Blue Ridge Parkway returning from Asheville, NC — certainly the most beautiful drive I’ve ever been on.

It was dark blue and I often referred to it as “The Tardis” because for a small car it had an amazing amount of interior room. Every Christmas season, I would fit a 10’4“ tree inside and shut the back hatch. This to the amazement of every person at the place we get our tree. A 6’4” tall friend of mine could sit in the back, behind the drivers seat, comfortably. It was like magic.

For several months, I’d been looking for a new Nissan Versa to replace it. So, attached I was to the car. But, then, my wife found someone selling a 2006 Volvo v50 for a good price in great condition and very low miles for its age (91k)…

I could write a couple hundred words on it too. It, too, is a good car.

Reading Thought #2

I’ve always been a slow reader. With non-fiction books, especially so. I’ve always carried an element of shame over my lack of speed and the desire to be faster at it with me. For a very long time it’s been an uncomfortable shoe-pebble nagging me every time I pick up a book. In some cases, it has flat-out stopped me from even attempting to read some books. I’ll look at the size of them and think, "My gosh, that would take me years to get through!"

Further, this stands in sharp contrast to my wife. She’s an extremely fast reader, especially with fiction. I’ve seen her get through a 300 page book in a couple of hours. She averages well over a hundred books a year. I’ve often found myself quite jealous of her gift and the difference further highlights my inability and frustration.

So, in an effort to be more gentle with myself I’ve come to embrace my reading as a part of my practice. I call it Mindful Reading (more slowly — the opposite of speed reading). The idea that my lack of speed actually allows me to be more present with each word and idea. That, to feel shame and desire around this is causing needless self-suffering when self-kindness and permission are called for instead. So, if I read fewer books or it takes me longer to get through one it might mean that I simply was more present with the books I read. Mindful Reading is OK.

At least it makes me feel better.