Blast from the past: “Bedtime conversations tend to be a little goofy when Dad’s doing lights out….”

Cleaning up an old family website (pre blog) for sharing stories with out-of-town family and found this bit of goofy-dad nonsense that made me laugh so I thought I’d share it:


Bedtime conversations tend to be a little goofy when dad’s doing lights out….

A discussion of wavelengths of energy and radio astronomy leads to the following: 

Geek: How do you see things with xrays and radio waves?

Dad: Well you could look at the signals bouncing back. Where there is nothing you get no bounce-back, and where there’s a planets or moon or something you get a bounce back. How long it takes to bounce back tells you how far away it is. Longer wave lenghts show less detail than shorter wave lengths (long discussion of why).

One time there were these astronomers trying to discover new planets and they decided to create a gamma-wave telescope.

Geek: Did they find any?

Dad: Well, they thought they had, but things were kind of strange…. 

So then they sent gamma rays towards this one spot and they got ultraviolet waves back!

“That’s funny” the astronomers said to each other, “let’s try xrays.”

So they shot some xrays towards the same location… this time they got back radio waves! 

Geek: “They did?!”

Dad: “Yep!”

After trying to understand what kind of astronomical body could turn their xrays into radio waves of the frequency and waveforms they’d received back, someone got the idea to play the radio waves through a speaker. Boy were they surprised to hear “HEY! No Peeking!” coming out of the speaker!

(Geek breaks out in laughing!) 

“WHAT!??? said the astronomers. 

They sent back a radio signal on the same frequency saying, “Sorry, we didn’t know anyone was there!” 

They got a message back saying, “You didn’t? Didn’t you see my sign?”.

“What sign?” the astronomers sent back. 

“Check the ultraviolet signal we returned when you sent all those gamma rays,” was the reply. 

So the astronomers took the ultraviolet signal they’d gotten back and figured out it was a sign saying “Bob’s Spaceship Repair Shop.”


The next several nights we’d hear “HEY! No Peeking!” coming from Geek’s room followed by lots of laughter so I guess it was a lasting laughable ™. ūüôā

Aug. 2004. (Geek was 8)

Looking back and wishing I’d stuck this regular practice‚Ķ

Looking back at the drawings Geek & I were doing as a daily practice during the summer of 2009 and wishing I’d kept up with it. Imagining how much better I’d be at drawing now if I’d continued to do a drawing a day for the last nearly 9 years (wow! time flies!). That’s roughly 3200 drawings‚Ķ!

Good reminder that many things take regular, consistent practice.

Resolving to decide which things to fold back into my regular practices and do so.

I think Craig is right on track with his wearables & Apple

I think Craig Hockenberry @chockenberry is right on track with his Wearing Apple post.

I’ve been thinking and talking about a “personal secure network” among a collection of devices you are wearing or carrying for a while now and it seems like a no-brainer to me. ¬†Seems totally silly to put all the battery, radios, antennas, storage and whatnot in a single device (google glass for example).

You need less battery in what I call the ‘motes’ if the LTE/WiFi radios and antennas are in the ‘core’ (“hub” in Craig’s post). What are ‘motes’ ? Think rings, earrings, necklace, bracelet, phone in pocket, flexible battery in belt, piezo generator in shoes, motion generator in umbrella/walking stick, bluetooth earpiece, display in glasses and/or contacts, high performance computing cube in our backpack, and sure, even a watch ūüôā

What’s the problem with this vision? Lots really ūüôā ¬†Charging all these devices will be a pain. ¬†Clearly you need something like a flat pad you set ‘motes’ on while you sleep and they charge inductively. ¬†Better yet would be if they had small energy harvester chips with fractal antennas that harvested ambient energy (microwaves, cellular signals, AM, FM, etc) to extend their battery life. ¬†Oh, yah, better batteries would be a big win and this may not get cool until that happens.

Want to get even more “out there?” Check this out: ¬†Sugar-powered biobattery has 10 times the energy storage of lithium. ¬†Pretty cool but one of the implications of this might be devices that could be powered from our body’s internal processes directly. ¬†So to charge your devices you just eat more. ¬†Be a boon for obesity. ¬†Need to lose weight? Play more flappy birds! ¬†ūüėõ

This then lets us surgically implant devices so you don’t have to worry about forgetting it at home. ¬†You may think I’m being silly, but the convenience will win people over. ¬†Also, note the long-time existence and surgical implantation of pacemakers & defibrillators. ¬†Then look at how common tattoos and body piercing are in youth today (in parts of the USA anyway). ¬†We are not that far from this.

Ok Geek’s hungry so leaving it at this quick “jot this down” for now.

A Conversation with our Cat

On a cold snowy day in Corbett…

Me: walking by cat on way to the house for lunch…

Cat: “Meow. Meow, Meow. Meow! MEOW!”

Me: “What?”

Cat: “Brrrr. ¬†Inside cat?”

Me: “no”

Cat: “29 degrees!”

Me: “Fur!”

Cat: “SNOW + 29 degrees!”

Me: “5x pissing on bed == OUTSIDE CAT!”

Cat: “Surgery! Ow!”

Me: “Let you back in 2 years later & you beeline for a bed. ¬†No!”

Cat: “meanie‚Ķ”

Me:  walks away to write guilty blog post


Snippy reply I made that I wanted to remember

Someone made a critical twitter statement that was based on a stereotype more than a cliche, but it was also kind of a cliche and couldn’t think of the word stereotype at that moment so I had to respond to the cliche aspect of it. ¬†I kind of liked the way this came out so I’m saving it here in case I need it again ūüôā

Enjoy that cliche all you want but only those with nothing better to say speak in cliche.

Why Twitter will never make a great twitter app

My reaction to the news today that Twitter today is changing their policies to further discourage 3rd party twitter clients (among several other things):¬†according to The Next Web¬†and the twitter developer’s blog itself.

I predict (and it’s certainly true so far) that Twitter will never make an Twitter client app that I like as much as I like Tweetbot¬†and here’s why: ¬†The official Twitter app¬†must be appropriate for¬†all users. ¬†With a user population as high as Twitter has there is no single set of features or even UI/UX design that will be¬†right for all users.¬† People are different. ¬†They learn differently. ¬†Their definition of what is “intuitive” is different. ¬†They use Twitter in different ways and for different reasons. As a result the features needed and the way they are presented are¬†different for various sub-populations of the Twitter user-base. ¬†I assert that no single app can meet all these needs well. ¬†Certainly Twitter has yet to produce such an app.

Further, I do not understand why “how we’re working to deliver a consistent Twitter experience” makes any sense at all. ¬†Twitter has so many users that there IS no single experience that is appropriate for or that would be desirable for all users. ¬†The statement above by Michael Sippey seems to clearly miss the power of an application/service that can support the wonderful diversity of the human race with all it’s varied needs and desires.

By effectively cutting off 3rd party client apps (yes, it’s not an instant cut-off, just a slow strangle; same medium-term effect), Twitter is going to make their service less appealing to many large groups of their users. ¬†That’s the beginning of the end and their investors should be pressuring them to figure out a better way to make money because this is a mistake.

And yes, I do understand that Twitter needs to make money. ¬†That said, surely there are other ways to do it. ¬† raising $500,000 at $50+ per supporter for a product that¬†doesn’t even really exist yet is a pretty good indication that some users are willing to pay directly for the Twitter service. ¬†I’m not saying is going to succeed (they may or they may not), but this does tell us something about at least one segment of the market. ¬†The number of ad-ridden apps in the iOS app store clearly suggests that for some users ads are fine (not for me!).

I’m sad about this because I’ve made quite a few friends via Twitter in the last few years but I can’t stand to use the twitter iOS client and don’t expect to ever like it for the reasons outlined above. ¬†That means in time I will likely end up not using twitter any longer. ¬†I prefer twitter over Facebook but even if twitter dies for me (seems likely at this point), I doubt I’ll switch to Facebook or Google+. ¬†I wonder what will replace it? Possibly, though I guess that’ll depend on how good the clients are for it and how many of my friends move there‚Ķ

I wish I lived in SF and that I could sit down with the Twitter decision makers because I’d love to help them solve this problem in a way that doesn’t result in them becoming the MySpace of the this decade, which is what I suspect will happen. ¬†Hopefully I’m wrong but‚Ķ



Green Thing – Dad’s Dad sends along some humor

Dad’s dad sent this today, very funny and sad at the same time:


Subject: green thing
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my day”.

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.
Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced
By our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books.
But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the
Throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts ‚Äďwind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house –not a TV in every room.
And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in
Conservation from smartass young people.

We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off

SAT testing a quarter century later is essentially unchanged – astounding

Geek’s taking the SAT today and I’m astounded that the administration of this test is essentially unchanged from when I took it twenty-five years ago: bubble answer sheets and #2 pencils and a 4 week wait to get the scores. Unbelievable that we’re wasting all the paper for the test booklets and answer sheets if nothing else! that money could buy the schools computers (or iPads!) on which the students could take the test. And scores? Those should be handed to you as you exit the testing room. Ok maybe we don’t have good enough automated essay graders yet, so a week later via email for some parts isn’t unreasonable.


Finding your passion – intense suggestion found in blog post comment

from a post on about finding your  passion there is a comment about a technique for finding your passion that is super intense but fascinating sounding:

And by the way, some folks commented on the fact that they don‚Äôt really understand what ‚Äúfollowing your passion‚ÄĚ actually means. To me, those people haven‚Äôt yet found theirs or they would know. And here‚Äôs a way to find out‚Ķthis comes from relationship guru David Deida‚ĶSit or lie in a room very quietly and think about what it is you want to do with your life. You can only get up for from where you are for 3 reasons‚Ķ

1) bathroom breaks
2) food
3) You have thought of something so powerful that you CANNOT NOT do it! Many things will go through your mind during this time (which can take days by the way) but there will only be one or two that will NOT let you stay still any longer because you MUST start doing it!

Try it out!


I haven’t tried this. ¬†It reminds me of the “go to a cabin in the woods without any technology besides a drawing notebook and some pencils and stay there until you’ve thought of something‚Ķ” and ends like the suggestion above. ¬†The suggestion above is easier for most people to actualize and so in that way it’s compelling.

Litany against fear from Dune‚Ķ

I’ve always liked the litany against fear from the Dune books:

Litany against fear

The litany against fear is an incantation used by the Bene
Gesserit throughout the series to focus their minds and calm
themselves in times of peril. The litany is as follows:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye
to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.