Top 10 albums released since May 1985


Aaron and I spent much of the month of January mulling over music from our past and the present. What album and songs had the most influence on us growing up? How could we compare some of our favorite artists of today with those that filled our stereos as teenagers?

I believe that it’s nearly impossible to create a perfect list of albums that one considers the “best of the best” since their birthdate. But, since this post has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a month, I figured it was time to be bold and share my list with the world. So, with no further ado, here are my favorite albums that have come into being alongside me:

The Format – Interventions and Lullabies EP

Local artists + west coast sound = heart stolen. I fell in love with The Format as I started college and saw them perform several times. The lyrics coupled with the quirky voice of lead singer Nate Ruess cemented The Format was one of the most formative musical influences as I transitioned into adulthood.

Gnarles Barkley – St. Elsewhere

This album is a cornucopia of surprise. A shift from dark to playful to plain weird over the course of five minutes. And the beats. The beats.

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

Jagged Little Pill was the first CD I purchased from Sam Goody’s (RIP Sam Goody’s). Not only did I nearly melt this album from listening to it so often, it was the first time I realized the power of an angry women. I oughta know.

Lost in the Trees – Past Life

Lost In The Trees was such a brilliant, captivating group of talent. It was crushing to see them end their run last year. But, the treasures they left behind are vast. It was difficult to select only one of their albums for this list. You can’t go wrong with any. This album in three words: haunting; raw; unearthing.

Dave Matthews Band – Before These Crowded Streets

I couldn’t possibly have a top 10 albums list without my boy Dave on it! Back in the days of AOL Instant Messenger, my AIM handle was “davegroupie101”. Others may argue that Under the Table and Dreaming is the group’s best album, but Before These Crowded Streets had the most impact on me. Trying to pick ONE song from this album to highlight was a daunting task. “Halloween”? Easily one of the best crank it up to 11 in the car and scream along with it songs. “Crush”? Yes, it’s time to take our clothes off together. While this clip of “Spoon” doesn’t feature Alanis Morissette like the album, this last track is both captivating and heartbreaking.

Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

Where did Mumford and Sons come from so quickly? Again, another album that top-to-bottom has not a clunker. Besides their incredible gift of musical performance, I think the songwriting of Mumford and Songs makes them vastly superior to the rest of the fleet. From “Awake My Soul” – In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. And where you invest your love, you invest your life. Simple. Poignant.

Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso

Another musical influence from recent life: Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn have fused their geniuses together to create sounds that strike every inch of your body. And, they are from Durham! Similar to Mumford, the detail to words is so powerful and not to be glossed over.

TLC – CrazySexyCool

How could I not include T-Box, Left-Eye, and Chilli? This trio rocked my world as a young girl, particularly through this music video. Did I understand everything they were trying to convey in this song and overall album? Not quite. At least, not at that time. Again, this was a whole new way for me to see women embracing their voices, their sexuality, their power. And, it certainly made me avoid chasing waterfalls (at least, I would like to think it did).

The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low

Not that one ever wishes ill on a couple, but if everyone who ended their relationship made music like this, it may seem like a semi-reasonable request. Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp unpack their chaos and hurt on this album. It’s all about change. And, is that a bad thing? The album leaves you with no clear answer.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

I know the critics will point to Blood Sugar Sex Magick as THE RHCP album to make most top album lists. For me, Californication was the hook. As a young thing, I gravitated towards more pop style but began to seek out songs with edge: “Scar Tissue” was the gateway song for me on this album. This album brought me funk, incredible guitar/drum/bass playing, and Anthony Kiedis looking…well, hot.

Alright friends: what albums would be on your top ten list since you have been born into this world?

On a cold, rainy day in the South


it’s hard not to miss home. We had a chance to return to the Valley of the Sun in early February. Feels like eons ago already. Knocked off several hikes, see the Frida Kalho exhibit at the Heard Museum, visit two breweries [Four Peaks and Wren House], eat good vegan eats (Loving Hut, Pita Jungle, The Coronado, Picazzo’s] and lots of family and friend time, and a day at the Waste Management Open.

KT- recycle

Composting at the Waste Management Open?! I am all over that.

kt vo

In true Millennial fashion, Danny and I are at a brewery, together, on our phones.


With Mom outside of the Heard Museum. Yes, sleeveless in February — BRING IT!


Being a ham next to my Dad

Open 3

We brought our own lanyards.

Open 2

Which one is the out-of-towner?


Out on the Go John trail in Cave Creek


Saguaro dabs. I dab.


Trains and why I can’t stop listening to Hamilton


In a rare treat, I was able to take a later morning class at The 360 Approach yesterday AND ran into Barb, one of my idols in the Triangle workout scene. In a not so subtle way, she mentioned that I had not written in this blog in a while.

Duly noted, Barb.

This Friday I’m feeling a little extra-giddy as I just cruised into Greensboro from Durham on the train. Does hearing the train whistle strike a chord with you too? My train experience is still fairly limited, but there is something about the experience that gives me a bit of a rush. Exhilaration. No stressful driving on I-40. And now with WiFi on the trains here, there’s no excuse to not get things done during travels.

I had the opportunity to be a part of Aaron’s first train experience as we embarked from Portland to Seattle on our Honeymoon via Amtrak. [Edit: Aaron just texted me than my memory is not as sharp as it once was. This was our first train adventure together, which had been on a shared bucket list.]


The Todds on a train – alliterative love at its best

Did you watch the Grammy’s on Monday night? Most likely not, and I wouldn’t blame you. Award shows tend to be a parade of privilege and superficiality. However, the Grammy’s model of showcasing musicians over the actual award presentations is one reason that we tend to tune in year after year.

It started off fairly bland – Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Sam Smith – the latter performance reflecting a Barbie and Ken duet of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Now, I didn’t make it through the last hour (10pm? Are you serious?) but the top two performances that I had the chance to watch: Kendrick Lamar and Hamilton. Yes, the Broadway cast of Hamilton performed the song “Alexander Hamilton” live via satellite.

Between my NPR podcasts and various other sources, I was already a fan of Hamilton. But, finally seeing a song performed live awakened something inside me. Since Monday night, I have been binging on the soundtrack. The lyrics are with me when falling asleep and waking up. The creative genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda is almost impossible to comprehend. How?

From the archives, I recommend watching the CBS Sunday morning spot on Miranda and the origins of the musical:

Whether you buy the album, stream it, however you can acquire it: listen to it. Top to bottom. History nerds. Musical buffs. Hip hop fans. You will be blown away by the lyrics, melodies, vocal performances.

What I have on repeat right now:

  • “Satisfied”
  • “Wait For It”
  • “Non-Stop”
  • “Burn”

Now, getting a ticket to it is a whole different matter. Aaron and I are banking on the 2017-2018 tour.

Do you consider yourself a fan of musicals? Why or why not?








Love ’em or hate ’em, we can all agree: there are too many of them. The higher you “climb” within your organization, the more meetings you have. Which simply means you have less time to actually make a meaningful contribution to the greater good. Your focus is to take copious notes and then promptly stress out as additional responsibilities are doled out, new task forces are formed, and everyone replies: “I’m busy. How about meeting at 9:30am on Saturday, March 15, 2018?”


How to talk in meetings: we have sector-specific acronyms that we like to throw around like hot potatoes. The environmental community is notorious for speaking into three to four letter codes where, as a newcomer, you are left with notes that look something like this:

Talked with BOEM re OCS EIP

Coalition meeting around CPP to include CEIP, NCDEQ, SELC, EDF…


[Last one might be a slight exaggeration]

As Aaron has been preparing for an upcoming conference presentation, he has been collecting popular words and phrases that often make appearances in meetings as well. Less acronyms, more trite, overused colloquialisms that are in full dialect default mode.

Here are some that we’ve cobbled together (and, I admit that I used several of these during actual conversations while working from home last Friday):

  • Unpack
  • Moving pieces
  • Environmental scan
  • Putting another leg under the table
  • Piggyback
  • Ground-truthing
  • 30,000 foot view
  • Well, the literature says…
  • Crosswalk
  • Synergy
  • Bandwidth
  • Agency
  • Circle back
  • Low-hanging fruit
  • Touch points
  • Take it offline
  • Ducks in a row
  • Move the needle
  • Drill down
  • Hard stop
  • Punt
  • It is what it is
  • Break down the silos
  • At the end of the day
  • On the bleeding edge
  • Peel back the layers of the onion
  • Slippery slope
  • Robust
  • Sea change
  • Let’s take a deep dive
  • Wheelhouse


How many of these have you used? What is missing from this list?