I started November by shaving my trademark goatee clean off, then starting in on an honest-to-goodness mustache.
Not a goatee – a real live ’stache! – to support the international Movember campaign, which raises awareness and money for men’s health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer. You can read all about the campaign here:
With early detection, these types of cancer are usually preventable, or can be greatly mitigated. The key takeaway message is that men need to do *both* a physical examination and have a PSA (blood test) done. Please spread the word!
I’ve teamed up with a group of men from the Center for Investigative Reporting (Team CIR) to pool our fundraising efforts.
If you know someone who has been affected by one of these cancers, or would just like to help out (no pressure, seriously!) please consider making a small donation through my MoSpace page:
While hiking through pastures of cow patty last weekend, Miles and his friend started improvising this wonderful “Icky poo poo” song, and quickly found their own harmony. I just turned on Voice Recorder and held it above their heads as we walked. Sublime.
I have gone back and forth between polar extremes on this question over the past decade. On the one hand, nuclear accidents and waste disposal problems pose risks so great we shouldn’t even contemplate them, not even for a moment. On the other hand, continuing to burn fossils sets us on a course toward continued environmental destruction and unchecked climate change.
Recently a group of environmental scientists delivered a public letter encouraging environmentalists to start taking nuclear seriously.
The reality is that renewables (wind and solar) can’t begin to scale to match the amount of energy we are using / will need in the future. And:
“Quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with fossil fuels. No energy system is without downsides. We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology.”
Fukushima freaks us out, as it should. But Fukushima also represents a completely antiquated mode of nuke plant construction. Future plants will operate very differently, with a native tendency to shut down, not melt down.
As I go through this massive CD and LP digitization project, I don’t want to add cover art to any album that’s smaller than 800px. For those albums that don’t have their cover art retrieved automatically, I search Google images for it.
Incredibly frustrated that it’s so rare to find artwork at a reasonable resolution. The vast majority is at 400px or smaller, and I consider myself lucky to find anything at even 640px. Which forces me to put those discs into the “scan” pile, where I’ll generate 1000px album covers (and yes, I’ll share them with the intertubes later).
The question is, why?
Surely, everyone out there scanning or photographing LP or CD art isn’t scanning the originals that small. And hopefully they’re not adding them to their collections or putting them on web sites that small. Is there some kind of blocking going on that I should know about? This seems crazy.
I was excited to try out the new auto-update feature in WordPress 3.7.1. But the first attempt failed, since I had an old .svn directory sitting around. Deleted that, then waited… days. Communicated with one of the core devs on Twitter, who said that this first rollout was intentionally slow, to get things up to speed.
Finally got tired of waiting and decided to take matters into my own hands. Didn’t want to click the Update button – that would be cheating. Discovered there’s a new function call: wp_maybe_auto_update() that triggers the process that’s supposed to run via wp-cron.
So to trigger it from the command line, all you have to do is to create a small script in your WP root directory that bootstraps WP core and calls the function:
Just celebrated my 49th birthday in the High Sierras with family – absolutely packed and wonderful weekend. Walked a bit of the Pacific Crest Trail, where the trail meets Highway 88 (dad works as a volunteer trail hand at the outpost). Then to Devil’s Ladder, where gold rush pioneers had to disassemble wagons/gear and haul everything up a 3/4-mile rocky outcropping by hand (more than 100,000 wagons and their families went through this arduous, sometimes fatal ordeal). Then stopped at Sorenson’s in the Tahoe Valley to soak in the autumn colors of changing Aspens set against evergreens, and had lunch amidst a small flotilla of 80-yr-old hand-made cabins.
Finally to Taylor Creek to watch the Kokanee salmon push their way up the shallow stream to finally die just after spawning.
Next day, helped dad roll large pine sections up a hill, drill holes into their sides and insert eye bolts, and haul them uphill. After hauling, Dad and I created a huge pile of firewood from a bunch of them with his pneumatic splitter (truly one of human-kind’s most efficient labor-saving devices).
Good food, good company, amazing weather. Thanks all for a wonderful weekend.
M and I off on the BART for a late-night jaunt to see the Mythbusters Live at the Orpheum Theater in SF. On the way he was harassed by a real live drunk for the first time, encountered a woman lamenting how racist cab drivers sometimes wouldn’t pick her up (forcing her to walk 8 miles on arthritic knees), and a man with 4 strings left on his guitar belting out Bee Gees tunes inside the train car, accompanied by his son playing overturned bucket and kazoo. Whole lot of crazy Bay Area Reality for a kid to take in at once.
Oh yeah – the Mythbusters show was pretty good too. Not great – more an entertainment revue than the science-y retrospective I had hoped for. But interesting and enjoyable. Unfortunately we had to leave at intermission – he was falling asleep on my shoulder in the theater after a long day in the sun.
So Miles just spent four days with his class at Live Power Community Farm in Covelo – camping out in 30-degree weather (at night), milking cows at the break of dawn, shoveling poop and plowing the earth and sorting vegetables. No electronics, no toys, no media – just kids experiencing life at its messy, organic best. During the breaks, they swam in the river and put on talent shows for each other. The kids worked hard but had a great time – all returned exhausted but recharged.
The farm gets its name from the fact they try, where possible, not to use powered machinery – everything is powered by animal and human effort. Blood, sweat and tears… and the rewards that come from that. Of course, everyone jokes about how it’s powered by child labor, but that’s not fair – the kids are there not as indentured servants but because their grownups see the work done on the farm as character building and healthy — everyone needs to spend time in and around real live dirt, and everyone needs to have milked a real live cow at least once in their lives.
I often lament that it seems to be so hard to provide kids with anything like the environment I (we) grew up in. The combination of our technology-heavy environment and the fact that kids don’t just “go play outside” anymore means something crucial is being lost. I do my best to get him out into nature as often as possible, but big picture, it’s a drop in the bucket. So grateful he was able to get a real taste of dirt this week.
He took a ton of photos on the trip, and I helped him to select a few of the best and create his first web slideshow – check it out.
Feel so blessed to have found a family activity we can all enjoy together. Spent the weekend in Santa Rosa with Amy and Miles, and rode the Piccolo route of the Levi’s GranFondo – a ride first through the rolling hills of Santa Rosa wine country and then out along the coastal cliffs. Since our son has just turned 11, we did the shortest ride (the Piccolo). It was definitely a challenge for him, but he applied all his willpower and muscle and made it the entire way – his longest ride yet. So proud of him!
Absolutely gorgeous countryside, with a solid 1-mile climb at the end that sapped every ounce of M’s strength. Recharged on watermelon, PBJs, and nuts, then the return voyage. I bolted the GoPro onto the handlebars and set it to capture one image every 60 seconds. So photos are not as “intentional” as they might be, but I did end up with a really nice random sampling. Unfortunately, I left the wifi feature enabled, which chewed up the battery. Camera went dead about halfway through, so you don’t get any of the high-speed downhill or the traipse over the Greenway toward the end – corn fields on one side and a babbling brook on the other.
One of the highlights of the day: Barreling down hill at 35mph into the 2nd half, guy whizzes past us yelling at the top of his lungs JESUS CHRIST I’M HAPPY!!!!
Nearing the end of this massive, multi-person music digitization process, starting to return vast collections of amazing music to friends, and came across my own boxes of “discards.” Painful to let go, but it’s only 10% of the collection, and I have to be honest that I haven’t stuck a CD in a slot for a very long time and probably never will again.
Lugged 400 discs down to Downhome Music, knowing that they’d appreciate a lot of them. Bummed to learn that with everyone going or having gone all-digital, CD resale value is down to $1 or $1.50/disc, and some stores now doing closer to $0.50/disc.
The buyer waved his arm at the inside of the store, which was empty on a Sunday afternoon. “This will all be gone soon” he said. There is no market left for used CDs, so they have to sell them dirt cheap, which means they can no longer pay for them.
Digitization has all but killed the newspaper. All but killed the bookstore. All but killed the record store. I blame Obama the job killer.
Was half-tempted to refuse and hold onto them for nostalgia’s sake, but realism got the better of me and I walked out with the money (didn’t even take trade-in value like I used to).
Music has become a non-physical phenomenon. That’s completely normal for the younger generations, completely weird for us oldsters. I embrace the convenience but curse the side effects, even as I’m part of the problem.