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Stuff I Follow Late 2015 Edition

Thought I would type up a few thoughts on the things that I am following these days:

2016 Election

It was a short but sweet run by one of my intellectual heroes, Lawrence Lessig, but now that he has been flummoxed by the politcal machinery of the Democratic Party, I’m back to full-on support of Bernie Sanders. My Bernie 2016 sticker never left the tailgate, I promise.

Despite what you might think of Bernie Sanders, I think this op-ed about immigratoin policy in the New York Times is worth a read. The media has generally treated Bernie as a fringe candidate, despite consistently strong polling and support, and the NY Times has generally followed suit. Bernie is a man of principles though, and when you have a situation like the Syrian refugee crisis, a clear headed approach that calls upon our basic shared values as a country (and, you know, Jesus) just makes sense.

I would encourage the 3 or so readers of my blog (and who among you is undecided, really?) to check out this political quiz. I’d be interested to know how you scored.

Encryption / Privacy Online

I continue to be very interested in the topic of encryption and privacy. I also continue to have zero friends and family who would like to take the time to set up email encryption with me… oh well.

To learn more, the eff is your resource.

This New York Times op-ed is worth a read: Mass surveillance isn’t the answer



Countdown by Alan Weisman is blowing my mind. The book is oestensibly about our planet’s ability to support us all , but for me, highlights the environmental crisis of climate change and pollution in general, page, after page, after depressing page. It has spurred a couple of minor freakouts about our carbon footprint, the cars we drive, food we consume, etc. A well timed read on the environmental damage of eating meat might turn me in to a full on vegetarian. I remain optimistic. I have 100 pages left, so we’ll see if the optimism remains by the time I finish.


The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin Great book if you like to geek out on organizing your “workflows”. A bit long, it suffers from the tendency of many pop non-fiction books to belabor each point with anecdote after anecdote after anecdote. But I enjoyed the challenges the book makes to our assumptions about the decision making process, as well as suggestions for how to teach our kids to handle the deluge of information in life today.

Categories: General.

Gateway Spices

As a young picky eater – his spice mixes were the gateway to liking spicy food.

Paul Prudhomme, Chef Who Put Cajun Cooking on National Stage, Dies at 75

Categories: General.

VW Scandal

To say that I am frustrated, angry, betrayed or flabbergasted by the news that VW created software to defeat emissions testing would be an understatement.

When I walked in to my local auto repair shop last week to have a nail removed from my tire, they dove right in – “Isn’t your VW one of those diesels?” “Yeah…” (I know them pretty well, so there were grins on their faces as they asked me)

So, yes, I’ve spent nearly the last 12 years being generally insufferable with friends and neighbors about how everyone should be driving a TDI because: less fuel, cleaner, and fun to drive.

And the “cleaner” tag relied on the new engines, my ’03 Golf TDI (RIP) was definitely only cleaner in some narrow definitions, but based on the the info published by VW and the EPA, I thought as of my ’11 Jetta Sportwagen, the “cleaner” label could apply as well.

Being a consumer requires information, one needs to be able to make decisions based on facts about a purchase. Short of letting me actually test the emissions of every vehicle I might purchase, we have to rely the manufacturers and governments to give us that information.

And this isn’t a state problem, it’s not even a federal problem. We need to align these standards globablly so there is no incentive to cheat in one locality or another. The comprehensive testing needed is expensive, but why not share that cost and certify emissions once for the global market?

It’s a good argument for open source software as well. Which manufacturer is willing to open up the source that literally drives the cars? This isn’t going to only be a problem of further fouling our environment, but one of personal safety every time you enter a car.

I WAS DRIVING 70 mph on the edge of downtown St. Louis when the exploit began to take hold.

Though I hadn’t touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system. Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.

This is reality, today.

So, I’m not planning on selling the car any time soon (who knows what it is worth on the market now, anyways) but the gesture that VW would have to make to their diesel drivers would have to be equally as monumental as their lies and deception for me to even consider another one.


Categories: General.

Holiday cleanse

It has been a meat-heavy diet for the past couple weeks. Commence vegetable soup!


Categories: General.

keeping the house cold

one of the consequences of getting a nest thermostat is that we keep our house a good deal colder than previously. we have it set at 62 currently, cold enough that holiday visitors have commented on whether our heat was working.


apparently, there may be some science to it. I’ve long been known for eating a ton of food and having the metabolism to match. as a teenager this was somewhat normal, but now as a mid-30 year old dude, it is slightly less endearing and more concerning for those around me. And yet, my weight has long hovered at a pretty normal place.


after reading this article, The Benefit of Being Cold, I’m wondering if there is some correlation to the many hours I spent freezing on the “mountains” of Minnesota training for ski racing and my metabolism.


so, maybe instead of layering up with the house at 62, I’ll take this sweatshirt off.

Categories: General.

foggy morning


foggy morning. I hopped on my bike to get some bacon, hash browns, orange juice and (just because) crumpets. an oddly warm day except when you’re riding in the midst of the fog.

Categories: Biking.

Been a Long Time

I just logged on to my blog for the first time in almost a year. So many events in my life and in the world to comment on, and yet, radio silence. I was prompted to dust off the blog and fire up this post with the mention of the Desk Publishing Machine on Daring Fireball. It seems that as our responsibilities grow, as does my search for simplicity and organization. I was attracted to the app because of its interface, which is a simple blank sheet on which to write.


Given my search for simplicity and organization, I guess it’s no coincidence that I’ve renewed my use of OmniFocus as well at work – I can’t say enough about it. Note to self, future blog post on how I’ve organized it around my job. Perhaps there are some other school administrators out there that will find that interesting. A good place to get started on this idea if you’ve read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and you need a little refresher, or maybe a little more info on how to craft OmniFocus to fit your needs, I highly recommend this episode of the podcast Mac Power Users featuring David Allen. (via Rob at Slay All Dragons)


Listening to hours long podcasts about productivity is actually a good way not to get anything done, but in this case it was worth it.


Another piece to my organization puzzle was the book I read after seeing the review in the New York Times: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I dug in to the book and finished it in one evening. I then promptly broke a few of the rules in the book by tending to a drawer of pens in our office that was driving me insane, before settling in to a weekend of organizing my clothes.


I haven’t followed everything in the book completely, and there still quite a few categories to work on, but for the items I have tackled, its been amazing. From the NYTimes review:


Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.

Yeah, the book is a little zany, but it’s worked so far.


Finally, a couple of grab bag items:


I’ve been on a search for a new pen. I’m back to a paper notebook and notecards as “capture” devices (see GTD by David Allen). The Best Pen from The WireCutter breaks down the current pen landscape. I’m not happy with their favorite – the uni-ball Jetstream – it’s actually too frictionless while writing. I’m trying the uni-ball vision elite 0.5mm and also the Pilot V-ball 0.7mm (I stole that one from my boss).


We read Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie for our SEED group, and while I haven’t quite finished, I highly recommend it. Best fiction I’ve read in a long time.


A few great albums from the past year:

  • Seeds by TV on the Radio
  • You’re Dead! by Flying Lotus
  • Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams
  • Syro by Aphex Twin
  • They Want My Soul by Spoon
  • Our Love by Caribou

I’ll be back soon – I promise.


PS – It was a little disheartening to look at my “People” Category in NetNewsWire and find that not one of my friends’ blogs had been updated in the past few months. If you’re still out their reading, I’d love to hear from you. :-)

Categories: General.