Mad Times

“To be sane in a mad time is bad for the brain, worse for the heart.” – Wendell Berry

August 27th, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Lost Camels on The Memory Palace

Nate DiMeo’s the memory palace is pretty much always amazing, but I especially enjoyed his Lost Camels episode about an (incredibly naive) attempt to introduce camels to the American southwest.

August 27th, 2017 at 7:09 pm

The Warehouse’s Steve Harm interviewed on Systematic

Brett Terpstra interviewed Steve Harm on Systematic – 194: A Rock and Roll Family about The Warehouse, a non-profit youth center and concert venue in La Crosse Wisconsin. It sounds like an amazing place, and Steve’s work to keep it alive is inspiring.

March 1st, 2016 at 6:46 pm

March challenge

Regular readers will recall that I was doing a “tiny challenge” for February that I dubbed “Clear the desk”. That actually went okay until the physical desk was clear and then things got abstract and difficult to share. And then all the kitty badness. But overall, I declare it a success since my desk has been and remains visible and useful.

For March, the community challenge is a doodle thing. I have no particular objection to that, but I’m not ready for something quite that whimsical. So for my March challenge I’m going to spend a little time each day refreshing my web development skills. I’m starting with a course I got cheap in a bundle last month. The Complete Web Developer Course covers a whole bunch of web tech stuff, some of which I’ve known before at various levels of competence, and some of which I’ve never used.

As in February, I’ll tweet my progress, hopefully with links to samples of whatever nonsense websites flow from my fingers.

Today I upgraded my old iMac (20-inch Mid-2007) from Mavericks to El Capitan. I did that mostly because 1password wasn’t supporting what I had and not having it was seriously cramping my style. Then I went through the first four lectures of the course which included signing up for the included free hosting account (which I don’t really need since I’ve got a server, but decided to use so I don’t wander down compatibility and configuration ratholes.) Behold my not-a-web-site.

ETA: Oops, I need a hash tag. How about #webbing. Yep, that works. On twitter it’s all about climbing and upholstery.

February 12th, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Theo 1997-2016

We said goodbye to our boy Theo today. At almost 19 he did pretty well. As I said to the vet today, everything from his waist up was still working fine, but his back legs and digestive tract betrayed him in the end.

When we lost his sister in 2008 we learned that being an only cat suited him just fine. He’s always been a little neurotic, jealous of any attention lavished on other creatures that weren’t him. He was happy to have us to himself. He was a clingy cuddly furball. Always up for lap time to the point where we got him a heated bed so he would settle and not cry constantly when we weren’t doing his bidding.

We’ll miss him forever.

He was mostly either asleep or moving too fast for a camera, but here are some pictures.

Showing his personality even as a baby. All the way on the left, latched on.

His sister wasn’t so bad when they were little.

Hanging out

Sitting in boxes not big enough for him

Too fast for the camera

Just a few days ago in his heated window seat

February 1st, 2016 at 10:09 pm

Three words

I’ve been lurking in the Tiny Challenges community.

They’ve spent January on a variation of resolution setting where instead of spelling out a specific habit they select three words to serve as a kind of theme for the year.

After obsessing about how to pick and whether to use nouns or verbs or adjectives I came up with these.


As in “clear the decks”. Focus on getting rid of stuff, eliminating unfulfilling activities, bad value expenses, worries, obsessions. It makes me happy that it’s both an adjective and a verb.


This one is similar, but more focused on things like meditation, getting outdoors, turning off podcasts once in a while, feeding my introvert self. Adjective, noun, verb trifecta!


Think President Bartlet’s “What’s next?” Stop faffing about and do the next thing. If it’s not clear what the next thing is then figuring out what the next thing is is the next thing.

All of which leads to my challenge for February: Clear the desk! I’ll be spending at least 15 minutes a day for all of February working through the piles of paper and non-paper open loops that make it hard to make progress on anything but maintenance. I’m going to tweet (@jeffy) my progress and see if that kickstarts a habit of writing on twitter (rather than just reading and retweeting). That’s not another challenge, just part of the same one.

January 20th, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Media 2015

To maintain this blog’s solid “not quite dead” status, here are links for my media consumption from 2015.

Movies are still on Letterboxd where they have a nice Year in Review page. 86 movies is pretty good for us. Shooting for 100 this year.

And books are over on Goodreads where they too have a fancy Year in Review page. Total of 87 books.

December 31st, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Media consumption 2014

Got through 57 book-like objects this year. Details on Goodreads.

Watched something like 40 films. Details on Letterboxd.

Netflix tells me I watched significant numbers of episodes of lots of tv shows including Adventure Time, The Bletchley Circle, Bob’s Burgers, Criminal Minds (season 8 is so terrible), Gilmore Girls, The Killing, Leverage, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Orphan Black, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Probably some others from the library or Prime that I’m not remembering.

I shudder to think how many hours of podcasts I have consumed (mostly while cooking, bus riding, cycling or doing yard work, so not much mono-tasking time). I did a big post listing my subscriptions back at the beginning of the year and it’s changed a lot since then with my current list at 66 (up from 38 back then.)

Likewise with RSS reading. I have nearly 400 RSS feeds that I buzz through regularly.

What else? Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Livejournal, Google+, all get a slice of my attention.

I read some regularly-updated web comics: Questionable Content, Alice Grove, Three Panel Soul, xkcd, Unshelved, and Sinfest.

Yeah. Might try to skew the balance a little towards the production end of the dial in ’15.

December 27th, 2014 at 6:08 pm


A lot of the links in my old posts about the kids showing up in lolcat image macros have aged badly.

I’ve tried to replace the broken ones with copies of the originals. I can’t find the original post of the lol for the picture of Alice reading Return of the King so Becky doesn’t have to. This picture:

But that is, as far as I can tell, the most lolled picture of our cats ever. There are currently nearly 100 different captions for that picture. Be warned, some of them are in pretty bad taste.

That one even inspired some real world imitation. We found this block print in our local gallery:

2014-12-27 17.56.21

We talked to the artist about it and amusingly she’d just found the picture on the internet and wasn’t aware the hidden human was someone she knew.

January 1st, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Podcasts I listen to

I keep talking to Becky about stuff I heard on various podcasts I listen to and she can’t keep them all straight. Here’s the rundown as of now:

Podcast Categories Comments
Accidental Tech Podcast Tech Marco Arment (Instapaper, The Magazine), John Siracusa (OS X reviews, all the podcasts), each had shows on 5by5 with Dan Benjamin, then they both quit and started a show about cars with their friend Casey Liss (Programmer dude everyone likes to say they’ve never heard of). The car shows kept devolving into tech wank, so they started this. Come for Siracusa, stay for Siracusa. End theme is a vicious earworm.
Ad hoc Media Tech people talk about media stuff. Infrequent show with a varying panel, but chaired by Guy English and Rene Ritchie.
Alan Watts Podcast Philosophy Bits from the infamous Buddhist’s lectures podcastified.
Back to Work Tech Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann jawbone about comics, kids, movies, tech, and, oh yeah, productivity. So many private jokes.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies Fiction Weekly SF short story.
Bitsplitting Tech, Interview Developer Daniel Jalkut in long-form interviews with various tech notables. Currently on hiatus.
Bruno and the Professor Politics Two guys in Seattle chat about politics. The audio quality is frequently dreadful, but the content makes up for it.
CMD+Space Tech, Interview Brit Myke Hurley interviews various notable tech people
Core Intuition Tech Daniel Jalkut and Manton Reece discuss the news in tech-land and thier experience as developers.
Debug Tech Guy English and Rene Ritchie chat with tech folks individually and in groups about topics of interest.
Decode DC Politics Former NPR comentator Andrea Seabrook digs into the background behind political issues trying to explain why it is the way it is.
Developing Perspective Tech Underscore David Smith (FeedWrangler) dispenses 15 minutes of insight about Mac app development.
eco-logical Sustainability, Interview Seems to be on hiatus. Host architect Terry Phelan interviews folks about topics around sustainable building.
Escape Pod Fiction, SF Weekly SF short story.
Hanselminutes Tech, Interview Scott Hanselman interviews tech people. Leans more towards web and Windows than most of my other techy stuff which trends towards Mac and iOS.
The Hidden Almanac Fiction, SF Ursula Vernon makes up crazy shit and her hubby Kevin Sonney (as Reverend Mord) reads it. It’s a cross between Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac and Welcome to Night Vale filtered through Ursula’s quirky brain.
In Beta Tech In flux now, but was a conversation between programmer Gina Trapani and tech journalist Kevin Purdy about various techy topics. This one trends towards Android and open source. Gina and Kevin’s run on this show was one of my very favorite podcasts. Great interactions, and Kevin always cracks me up.
The Incomparable Media A neverending cast of random techie people (all connected through show host (and MacWorld editor (and denizen of my home town)) Jason Snell), talk about nerdy media, play D&D, enact radio plays, and generally have a good time.
IRL Talk Media, Tech Used to be Geek Friday but left 5by5 for reasons never explained and is now this. Jason Seifer and Faith Korpi talk about geeky stuff.
Just The Tip Comedy Lawyer (and tech spouse) Amy Jane Gruber and programmer Paul Kafasis snark entertainingly about stuff for 30 minutes.
Let's Make Mistakes Design, Tech, Interview Mule Design Studio pater familias and all around net curmudgeon Mike Monteiro and chirpy cheerful Jessie Char, both designers, chat with folks who have something to say about tech, design, San Francisco, and other things.
99% Invisible Design, Radio Roman Mars hosts this wonderful examination of the design of our built environment. I love this show so much.
Planet Money Radio I subscribed to this because Roman Mars told me to and because their joint show about the commodities trading at the end of Trading Places was quite good.
PodCastle Fiction, SF Weekly Fantasy short story.
Radiolab from WNYC Radio Come for the production value, stay for having your mind blown repeatedly. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich host this show that’s hard to describe, but is usually about science.
Screen Time Media, Interview Mois├ęs Chiullan interviews notables and talks about screen-based media from movies to tv to games.
SF Crossing the Gulf Media SF people and physicists, Karen Burnham and Karen Lord have deep conversations about SF books.
SF Squeecast Media, Interview A pack of SF writers (often including Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan Maquire, and Cat Valente) convene with an SF writer guest to recommend stuff and torment their guest.
StarShipSofa Interview, Fiction, SF An SF story or two plus the occasional interview, science fact bit, or other related work.
Systematic Tech, Interview Brett Terpstra interviews a variety of people on tech and non-tech topics. Sometimes super nerdy, sometimes not.
The Talk Show With John Gruber Tech, Interview John Gruber (of uber Mac news blog Daring Fireball) has long rambling conversations with other Mac people.
Tea and Jeopardy SF, Interview Adorable-voiced Brit, Emma Newman has perilous conversations with science fiction folks.
TechHive's Clockwise Tech Jason Snell and Dan Moren host other TechHive editors in this 30-minute tech news opinion show.
Technical Difficulties Tech Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess. This used to be (and occasionally reverts to) an interview show called “Generational”. But in its current incarnation it’s a discussion of how to navigate some arena where the solution isn’t immediately obvious. They’ve talked about home network wiring and home music distribution, so stuff like that.
This American Life Radio The prototypical radio magazine show. It’s just consistently good.
Unprofessional Language, Interview Silver-tongued goofball Lex Friedman (formerly of Mac World (and now formerly of this podcast!)) and ascerbic yet strangely charming designer musician Dave Wiskus (Vesper, Airplane Mode) have inappropriate conversations with surprisingly well-known people.
Welcome to Night Vale Fiction, SF Lovecraftian horror through the eyes of a fictional (I hope!) community radio station in the town of Night Vale.
WTF with Marc Maron Language, Interview Comedian Marc Maron interviews everyone. I skip some episodes when the interviewee isn’t interesting to me, but when this show is good it’s very very good.
January 1st, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Movies 2013

Letterboxd has a nice summary page for our 2013 in movies.

What did you enjoy watching this year?

output here