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Joseph Honton


A new generation takes the helm

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. That was at a time when the Apollo program was pushing the frontier of space further from home with each new mission. We were thrilled to watch every countdown, every blastoff, every spacewalk, every splashdown. It was a whole vocabulary of new and exciting adventures that would leave a lasting mark on our collective psyche.

That was a time when we believed that we could do anything we set our minds to.

When I was young, pictures of launchpads and rockets and command modules decorated my bedroom walls. It was a gallery…


It has been 10 years since the Great Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011. Let us remember those whose lives were taken that afternoon.

Great Tōhoku Earthquake, illustration by Joseph Honton
Great Tōhoku Earthquake, illustration by Joseph Honton
Great Tōhoku Earthquake

Along the northeast coast of Japan, these are the cities and villages that experienced the tragedy. Hardest hit was Miyagi prefecture:

  • Iwanuma, 178 souls
  • Tagajō, 186 souls
  • Watari, 251 souls
  • Onagawa, 473 souls
  • Minami‐sanriku, 514 souls
  • Sendai, 683 souls
  • Natori, 901 souls
  • Kesennuma, 930 souls
  • Higashi‐matsushima, 1031 souls
  • Ishinomaki, 2964 souls

To the north, in Iwate prefecture:

  • Ōfunato, 321 souls
  • Miyako, 412 souls
  • Yamada, 566 souls
  • Ōtsuchi, 765 souls
  • Kamaishi, 837 souls
  • Rikuzentakata, 1490…

Now that you are six . . .

You can look for butterflies

in the park.

A father/son memory

The tale of a child running away from home is a familiar story. Often it’s told with the young protagonist marching away in defiance at some perceived injustice, only to return upon the discovery that it’s a big world out there.

My own story of running away from home is a bit different. It begins with my flight from almost certain punishment, and ends when anguish turns to relief. And my lesson: fatherly love isn’t always easy to recognize, but it’s there just the same.

I was five-years old in 1963, living in a ticky-tack little box in suburban Columbus…

Receiving a bumper crop when it’s really needed

Victory Harvest 2020, courtesy the author

This spring I planted a victory garden, and now that the harvest is coming in, I’m declaring victory!

Initially, the garden was meant to be a diversion from the pandemic’s stay-at-home order. But as the spring seedlings hardened into fighting plants, it became much more.

For instance, my morning routine changed: it began with an hour of outdoor fussing about, instead of an hour indoors with emails and notifications. My afternoon wind-down changed too: it became a time to dig and hoe and coddle the young plants, replacing the time I would have otherwise spent watching more somber news.


And the treasure of California’s land grant diseños

Detail from “Roblar de la Miseria” diseño

California place names often bear witness to the state’s pre-Gold Rush history, when California was a Mexican territory.

California Place Names has been the standard reference work for anyone interested in this topic since its compilation in 1949 by Erwin Gudde. But some of the state’s more puzzling names receive no mention in that book.

Oftentimes we can attribute place names to a significant historical event, or a leader who played an important role in the development of a region. Other times, place names are purely descriptive.

But that leaves us with a mystery when it comes to Roblar de…

But with separate monikers for a better reading experience

@joehonton and @joseph.honton
@joehonton and @joseph.honton

A few years ago someone mentioned that I was hard to find online. Apparently they only looked as far as their favorite social media sites and didn’t consider that a domain name like might be worth checking out.

That state of affairs was fine until I began writing short articles about programming. Much to my surprise, there have been quite a few people who’ve been interested in my writing. In particular, the topic of team-oriented software development seems to have struck a chord.

But I’ve recently begun writing about both professional and personal topics. …

Is it safe yet?

Wallbridge Fire sunset, Aug 21, 2020
Wallbridge Fire sunset, Aug 21, 2020
Walbridge Fire sunset, Aug 21, 2020 (courtesy the author)

The year 2020 is getting more interesting by the day, and Bay Area residents know this better than most.

As Californians we’re no stranger to calamity, as those of us in the Bay Area who lived through the Loma Prieta Earthquake can attest. And over the past several years those of us living in the North Bay have firestorm survival stories to tell as well.

But this year raises the bar considerably.

Family and friends from other parts of the country may not fully appreciate our current anxiety, so I’ll sum it up for them.

Our current daily routine starts…

Some of my earliest childhood memories are about neighborhood convenience stores. I was reminded of this recently when my mother shared short stories of her own youth, recalling precious memories from the mid-1930s.

I thought I would share some of my own stories with her.

On my first day of kindergarten at McGuffey Elementary, Mom dropped me off at the classroom door, gave me a goodbye hug, and returned home to take care of my two younger siblings.

But I didn’t like being away from home and family, so I left the kindergarten classroom that morning, without notice, and walked…

Nominations now being accepted

Blue Marble Churning
Blue Marble Churning
“Blue Marble Churning” © 2020 Joe Honton

So it seems that everyone agrees that we are never going back to the old normal and that we need to envision and create a new normal. Without a doubt, this will be a huge effort.

We will need good leadership to get us there. And our individual leaders will themselves need a great leader — to emulate, to counsel, to collaborate, essentially to demonstrate how to lead.

In the mean time, the orderly world we’ve built for ourselves is no longer working. Sadly, chaos is beginning to fray its edges.

Look at how leaders have been making decisions over…

Joseph Honton

Living out the remaining days of my life on the only habitable planet I’ll ever know.

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