Mysteries of Vernacular: Zero

For a number that means nothing, Zero sure has an interesting history. Check out the new Mysteries of Vernacular for all the fascinating details.

This Working Man Day 28

North Dakota was not what I had been warned.  I met some wonderful folks.  I started the stay with plenty of wild story telling and delicious waffle fries amidst a couple of welders on the oil pipeline. On the drive back to the motel where the guys live semi-permanently, we spotted this gorgeously bright double rainbow whose end actually dipped into the nearby lake.

Next morning up at 4:30 am to get to the site – it was only 44 degrees out but it was a beautiful and misty drive.  And once they got going, it was pretty mesmerizing to watch the welding line move down the miles of pipe.

Another night of yet even more wild story telling and waffle fries and then back on the road for me. Checking out of the motel, I noticed this strange little happening.  I couldn’t help but snap a photo.  This little guy was apparently very intent on something…

A few hours in Williston (which didn’t seem like the lawless wild west town everyone made it out to be – but I didn’t stick around for night fall).  My first stop in Montana was the Bison Bar in Miles City.  According to one of the welders who used to be a cowboy in MT, this was the spot for me to do some casting.  I did get a few contacts, but mostly I just danced to country music, laughed at more tall tales and turned down drinks.  All were fast friends.  I still can’t believe how incredibly warm and open everyone has been on this trip!

Though, the next morning, trying to blend with the locals at the breakfast joint on Main St. was a bit more challenging…

Regardless, I was invited to join one of the local ranchers at his ranch a little outside of town.  We had an incredible afternoon.  I shot for a while on horseback – it was challenging, to say the least.

Eventually we switched to a four wheeler and drove over just a small portion of his astonishingly diverse and beautiful ranch.

The rancher’s family also runs a veritable canning factory in the basement of their cozy log cabin.  I scored some choke cherry syrup and pickled green beans.  I can’t wait to dive into those…

Just two of the many many shelves of treats: peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, pears, tomatoes, pickles, pickled jalapenos and green beans, salsa, spaghetti sauce and more!

Tomorrow, I have no idea!


Mysteries of Vernacular: Sarcophagus

Check out the new Mysteries of Vernacular for the spine-tingling etymology of Sarcophagus!

This Working Man Episode 2

Though I’ve had a wonderful time everywhere I’ve been, the first few days of my road trip will always hold a special place in my heart. On day three I met Brian Trudell, a dairy farmer and the star of the second (and brand new) episode of This Working Man.

Though I’m currently in North Dakota, this episode really takes me back to Vermont. It’s amazing to think that this was just a few weeks ago — I can’t wait to see what the next five weeks bring!

This Working Man Day 23

Finally left Iowa and headed into the soybeans and corn of South Dakota. I can’t believe how much fun I have driving by myself and just taking in the landscape.

About 30 miles into SD, I pulled off the highway for gas and crossed paths with a young man driving a tractor. I explained the project to him and he invited me to a Merle Haggard concert. Not knowing who that was, I agreed. What a kick.

The next day I filmed the tractor-driving farmer-turned-roofer tearing up some wood shakes. A little bat was hiding under one of the shingles and I spent much longer with the bat than the roofers… But who could resist that little face?

During the lunch break, the roofer taught me to shoot a shotgun. The bruises on my shoulder are proof that I was a first timer.

After a hard day of laboring in the sun (that’s right, I hammered nails and laid shingles!) we headed to the Missouri River for a swim and some fireworks. There was beer and football tossing. It was pretty all-American.

From left: Ryan, Tommy, Sean, Logan and Jake

Today I head to North Dakota, parts of which I have been warned are terribly unsafe. I will take all necessary precautions, but, good people of North Dakota, I hope you can prove all these southerners wrong…

Also, my friend Michelle (who joined me early on) has posted about our adventures on the Atlas Obscura “Notes from the Field,” if you want more stories and photos from the beginning of the trip…

This Working Man Day 20

From PA I drove to Columbus, OH where I encountered extreme heat and sun for the first time on this trip.  It feels like it’s officially summertime now.  Landscaping and bread baking are both jobs that can get a little too warm at this time of year…

From Ohio, through Indiana and into Illinois.  Stopped in Chicago for a day of editing in the studio of my talented and inspiring friend, Jo Dery.

Jo sketches over our morning coffee

Editing in Jo’s studio

I’ve been in Iowa now for a few days.  I have to admit, I’m surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed this state – both its landscape and its population.  I continue to be nearly shocked at the generosity of the people I have encountered.

View of the Wapsipinicon

Had some successful planned shoots as well as a few I’ve stumbled into.  Spent last evening in the kitchen at Cobble Hill Restaurant where I was not only allowed to film the chef, but also taste a plethora of deliciousness. (Thanks to everyone in the kitchen for feeding me while letting me get in their way.)  I should film in restaurants more often…

Both beautiful and delicious: (Left) Pork Belly with pickled rhubarb, poached egg, creamed spinach, olive-sesame crumble and local greens. (Right) Cracker Jack desert with jellied caramel cubes, peanut crumble, cocoa covered popcorn, buttered popcorn ice cream and cinnamon basil.

As usual, more photos on Instragram.

I have no idea where I will go next!  Suggestions for South and North Dakota still welcome.

Mysteries of Vernacular: Fizzle

Fizzles and…farts? You can’t make this stuff up. Watch the new Mysteries of Vernacular to learn more!

The first This Working Man Video!

As many of you know, I’ve been on the road since July 1st. I’ve travelled 2400 miles and filmed more than a dozen men doing what they love for my new series This Working Man – the first installment of which I’m excited to release today!

Episode 1 features Steven Bronstein, a talented blacksmith from Vermont. I had a wonderful time in his workshop the other day, filming and talking art.  Check it out here.

I’m currently in Ohio, meandering toward the Pacific, so if you know of any working men in the western or southern parts of the country, please let me know – I’ll do my best to meet them before I head home at the end of August!

This Working Man Day 14

Spent the last few days in Pennsylvania, making new friends and filming.  Special thanks to “Red,” “Jew,” Fatso,” and “Jowl” for letting me practically move in with them. A minor streak of bad luck involving a damaged sound cable and – most disappointingly – not being able to film at the rodeo, but still had a blast.  Gardening, horse races and learning to swing dance (thanks Rockwell!) were highlights.

Not many photos (and no good ones, sorry)…  Check instagram instead.

This sweet little guy was just one of the many pleasures of getting my hands dirty in Colette’s garden

Me leading a horse (what?!?) back to pasture after some cinematic grooming

Chad and Rockwell behind the shoots at the Malibu Rodeo


Mysteries of Vernacular: Jade

From magical gemstones to scientific discoveries, Mysteries of Vernacular: Jade has it all.