Dean Clough

April 3, 2023

Portico Darwin: How The Sausage is Made


4 Minute Read
Flag of Ukraine.jpg

It's a Monday.  And now this.  After reading today's veritable font of enlightenment, you might be glad the survey is open until this Wednesday.  So you can scream.

The Portico Darwin Blog Reader Survey

There have been endless references to "my leaving TEECOM".  There was the whole blog on my music system at home, another on what shoes and sweatshirts I wear, and still another barnburner detailing a personal music playlist.  And then, just recently, an electrifying exposé on my black jeans.

Non-stop thrills, sure, but nothing can prepare you for today's blog, as it brings a completely new dimension to the words nobody cares.  It is a post no one - and I mean absolutely fucking nobody - is asking for.  

That hasn't stopped me before and it won't now.  Because, today, I answer - in really, really gruesome detail - the question:

"Oh, Portico, how is this somewhat fatty sausage of a blog made?"  


It begins here, where I sample a variety of flavors opinions.

While I've stayed a low-volume consumer of news and opinion since our September 2022 trip to Europe, I remain informed mostly via these 4 sources:

Day in, day out I read or listen to something from them.  Those major inputs, plus the books I read, and also the sheer volume of my other interests (N scale model railroading, anyone?) provide the grist for this mill o'madness.

When and How Is It Written?

I love writing, so I do it all of the time.  I will be on a walk, hear a podcast, get inspired/angry/something and then put some notes down as a draft upon my return.  Or I'll read something and do the same thing.  These notes may or may not turn into draft of a post I send out.  Yes, I do have a filter.  Now there's a shocker.

Need an image of me, writing, or at least, contemplating writing?  While I am far more handsome, and my own clothes, headphones, DAC, glassware, art, furniture, and apartment are superior, this is a close approximation.  At least after 3PM 4PM 5PM.
Headphone Listening.jpg

The Process

If a draft captures my fancy and I expand on its content, it almost certainly gets published. 

I have a template in my beloved Hey email app, which contains the now-famous headings, and since Putin's illegal invasion, the Ukrainian flag.  I paste the template, paste the draft text of the post into it, and we're off.

I typically work on something sporadically for at least 2 or 3 days before it goes out, shorter if there's big news, longer if it's a Travel Guide or something with which I'm more obsessed than normal.  That's one reason I get very mad at myself when I send stuff out with typos and/or poor grammar:  I've probably read what you end up receiving a dozen or more times.  After all, it must pass my impossibly high standards.

As I'm writing, I often have weird connections in my brain to images I have seen or can envision, that I feel will add something to the post.  These may come from my own photos, things I've seen or find online, or from books I have read.  Increasingly, some are generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) graphics engine.  An example of the whole photo thing is the advertisement for Klipsch headphones and DACs that appears above.

I love getting feedback or really any response at all FROM THE UNWASHED MASSES.  So I publish essentially everything I receive, although I do spare you some of Hunter Deuce's less - how shall I put this - brilliant retorts.  I do edit what is sent in for clarity, but that doesn't take much - my audience is nothing if not smart.

KLUF?  I probably have a borderline unhealthy obsession with music, as well as with its reproduction.  Indeed, there's my wife, my friends/family, travel, and then music.  And maybe music comes ahead of travel.  Everyone has a different relationship with music; mine has been deep and intense, forever.  Ask Steven Simon, Arthur, or my wife. 

The selections themselves, for what is played on KLUF?  They come directly from my heart.  Mind-altering substances have absolutely, positively nothing to do with it, ever.  I think. 

The Tools

I share these to bore you even more, yes, but also to introduce you to something you may find useful in your own life.

Google Domains:  Domain Registration
It began with a name, and that name needed an Internet address.  I prefer Google to Go Daddy, mostly because Google offers useful, adjunct services (email, calendaring, etc.).

Hey Email:  Blogging Platform
As you may recall, their introduction of the Hey World platform was kindling for the whole Portico Darwin dumpster fire.

Snipping Tool:  Screen Snipper
I use what's included with Windows (but the same ability exists on Macs and with many Linux implementations) to borrow cool images that I can't right-click and steal save any other way. 

DreamStudio:  Graphics Generator
I simply can't get over what this thing can do, given a few words. 
Adobe Photoshop Elements:  Photo Editor
This is rare because you can actually buy it vs. subscribe.  It's a great photo editing tool, aimed at the non-professional.  For the blog, it allows me to scale images to be larger or smaller, such that they're not too ginormous and thus slow to download, or too small and then appear as postage stamps.  It also has a great airbrushing tool, where I can remove things like people I don't like from otherwise nice photos.
Airtable:  Cloud Database
How do I keep the fake names straight?  Not play an album on KLUF I played just a couple of weeks prior?  Airtable is one of my favorites for both personal and professional use.  Far better than Microsoft Excel (and just as easy to use) for when the subject is not about numbers.  People seem to insist on using Excel as a database tool, when it isn't.  Luckily, in retirement, I rarely have to fight that battle any longer - ask Kevin Monza.

Microsoft Word:  Word Counter
It took a very long time, but I did my own research and discovered that the typical reader digests about 275 words per minute.  So, I copy and paste the text of TODAY'S RAMBLINGS into Word (plenty of free tools do this, too), it gives me the word count and voilà, a guestimate on how long it will take to read.

Roon, TIDAL, and Spotify:  KLUF
Sadly, I rely upon Spotify as a kind of lowest common denominator for sharing playlists:  they have most everything, and most everybody has access to Spotify.  But as I've certainly mentioned, TIDAL is my streaming service of choice, due to its fidelity and the depth of its library.

Soundiiz:  Large Playlist Generation
This has unique capabilities and is a product you should absolutely consider if you're a music person.  As I've mentioned previously, it is very powerful - among other things - in terms of moving or syncing playlists across different music subscription platforms. 
Wix:  Portico Darwin Website
It's what I used to build the companion website, and suggest it to others that want to build something.  I've successfully built a bunch of sites with it.  Nothing is perfect or free, but it's legit.  And it integrates with everything.   

Zapier:  Blog Archive   
Having the website gave me an opportunity to do all kinds of things.  One thing I do is keep an archive of what I publish.  I do that via this API tool, which scrapes a Gmail I send to myself and then updates a table in Airtable with the specifics.  You can see the results in the archive as it lives in Airtable

Is this boring enough yet?  Ignore at your own risk:  you might be amazed at what a layperson can do in terms of automation with Zapier, across apps you're using now.  Even if you don't know that API stands for application programming interface, or what that even means.

Bonfire:  Swag and eCommerce
What could make this wildly self-absorbed post even worse?  How about my swag platform of choice?   
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At this point, you may be sick to your stomach and have a headache - that was a lot of fatty sausage.

(Oh, and I use the old Microsoft warhorse Visio to make things like the KLUF album covers, the Dare shirt image, and to alter the Alka-Seltzer advertisement.  Fascinating, I know.)


Well, this post has already gone to hell already, why not take it to its natural and perfect conclusion?  I give you the irrepressible Hunter Deuce, with one of his "brainstorms".

Flip flops aside, can you see anyone pulling off a cloak?  I think someone needs to bring it back.
There is not enough Fernet-Branca on Chestnut or Union Streets for me to imbibe if I were to ever see Hunter in anything like a cape or cloak.

Whoops.  Well, at least he's not wearing flip flops.

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


Hopefully you just enjoyed some Alka-Seltzer to help numb the nausea and pain brought on by today's post.  Because next, I have a quite soothing - and aptly named - album. 
Here are Harold Budd and Brian Eno and Ambient 2:  The Plateaux of Mirror.

If you are unfamiliar with ambient music as a genre, this is an excellent start.  It is hard to stay stressed with this purring in your ears.

About Dean Clough