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Without saying your age, post 4 albums that came out when your were 14.

Happy Thanksgiving! Thankful for a low key day, a delish and easy meal, and most importantly: getting to hang out with four intelligent, funny, beautiful ladies every day. Hope you all had a great day.

Enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend. First hike with Watson!

RIP Laverne. You will be missed. Such a sweet pig. 😞

Great Father’s Day weekend at Evangola State Park.

That time when a beekeeper shows up in your neighborhood to collect a bee swarm.

The girls took the pigs for a walk today.

The pigs are out getting some sun today! Including my wife’s classroom pig, Suzanne. Coco and Laverne are not quite sure about her, yet.

Also, officially sucked into Animal Crossing. Friend me up on the Switch!

Our oldest put together a presentation to convince the rest of the family to read Percy Jackson and other Rick Riordan books. 🤓

Spring time cherry blossoms. Definitely a mood lifter for our daily walks.

Countertops are in finally! Final touches should be done next week.

Isolation bass lessons in our “almost complete” new kitchen. Stay healthy and safe!

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 30

Vision

Some intense lighting effects at Interpol really messed with your vision.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 29

Leap

The Lady Knights took a huge leap forward this season. Heartbreaking first round playoff loss today.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 28

Below

From our trip to Mammoth Cave last summer.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 27

Together

The kitchen is coming together. Cabinets and island moving into place.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 26

Escape

A nice little escape: last summer in Long Beach, NY

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 25

Hurdle

Another hurdle done: walls painted and flooring in. Cabinets start tomorrow!

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 24

Double

The twins. Double trouble.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 23

Station

One of our favorite family trips: visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 22

Spectacle

All three daughters sitting next to each other for a photo!

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 21

Progress. Dry wall up, paint and flooring purchased.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 17

Cool

Up front for Band of Horses.

February Photoblogging Challenge Day 16: Rest

Can’t believe how fast time passes. Stella five years ago.

February Photoblogging Challenge Day 14: Warmth

Eternal Flame, Chestnut Ridge Park (Orchard Park, NY)

February Photoblogging Challenge Day 12: Attachment

Erie County Fair 2015

February Photoblogging Challenge Day 11:

There’s nothing plain about these three.

February Photoblogging Challenge Day 10

We just booked our summer camping trip in the Adirondacks, so I thought this sign from Old Forge would be appropriate for tonight’s post.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 9

There may be a lull in the work this weekend, but we took the opportunity to check our cabinet order and organize the boxes into areas of the new room.

February Photoblogging Challenge Day 8: Contrast

Downtown Buffalo in the theatre district.

February Photoblogging Challenge Day 7: Above

Guaranty Building, Buffalo, NY

A winter storm is hitting the area, so I am dreaming about spring. Today’s Photoblogging Challenge word is plant. Here’s a photo from the cherry blossom festival in Buffalo.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 4

One big spot of snow left from the storm.

February Photoblogging Challenge: Day 3

Today’s word: Reflect

From our trip to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.

Kitchen remodel day one: kitchen in the living room and dust wall 😄

I really want to particpate in @macgenie’s photoblogging challenge for this month. I am going to have to cheat for Day #1, though – too much running around today! Today’s word: Open

A nice throwback to our visit to OBX, the beaches, and the open ocean.

Girls got their first non-loss of the season. They’ve improved so much. A win is just around the corner!

Volume 1, Issue 1: Run-DMC’s Raising Hell

7 Day Music Club

Note: This post was published elsewhere initially. I am moving my 7-Day Music Club efforts from that domain to my main blog. Enjoy!

As we start this new journey on 7-Day Music Club, I felt the best place to start was at the beginning. For me, the true joy of music, discovery, and finding my own taste started with Run-DMC’s Raising Hell.

Not only was was Raising Hell the first cassette I bought with my own (10th birthday) money – purchased at K-Mart in Lockport, NY shortly after release in 1986 – but it was the first album I listened to repeatedly, memorizing all of the lyrics. It was also the first record I bonded with friends over: my friend Alex and I would listen repeatedly in his bedroom or while playing Sega Genesis – we’d each take turns being Run or DMC, nailing our parts as we went through each song.

The love of Run-DMC evolved creatively as well – we eventually started writing our own raps as Run-PVD (as creative a name as you could expect from a 10-year old) with our friend Eric. We even performed in the hall for our 5th grade student teacher the following school year.

The discovery of Hip-Hop was universe expanding for me in many ways – especially after a childhood of exposure to classic and yacht rock via my parents. Run-DMC led me to LL Cool J’s Bigger and Deffer, the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill, and the Fat Boys’ Crushin’. From there: Public Enemy, Slick Rick, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Erik B. & Rakim, Nas, BDP, 3rd Bass, Black Sheep, Digital Underground, the D.O.C., Geto Boys, Ice Cube, Young MC, and Digable Planets. I was hooked.


Highlights From My Focused Listen & Reflection

Tracks

1. “Peter Piper” – 3:23

Wow, that drum and cowbell combo, sampled from Take Me To The Mardi Gras by Bob James, is so iconic. The lyrics, relying so heavily on nursery rhymes and fairy tales, made for a relatable introduction (for a 10-year old, at least) to the album.

2. “It’s Tricky” – 3:03

We are not thugs (we don't use drugs) but you assume (on your own) They offer coke (and lots of dope) but we just leave it alone It's like that y'all (y'all), but we don't quit You keep on (rock!) shock! cause this is it...

As a ten year old, drugs and alcohol weren't really a thing yet, but these lyrics did influence me as a young person. I didn't drink alcohol until I was 21 and I've (still) never done drugs. Hardcore music and straight edge helped me get through the teenage years, but hearing this early on definitely had an impact.

Easily identifiable samples: Mickey by Toni Basil and My Sharona by The Knack.

3. “My Adidas” – 2:47

One of my favorites. This song definitely sparked my desire for Adidas in elementary school. For the record, I had black with white stripes.

Got a pair that I wear when I'm playin ball With the heel inside, make me 10 feet tall

4. “Walk This Way” – 5:09

Given my childhood to date, I was obviously familiar with Aerosmith, so this song was a weird mix of familiarity and something so new.

The Walk this Way video sums up my relationship with music and Run-DMC as a whole for me at that point in time: my parents were obviously Aerosmith playing their music loud and I was rebelling against it, experimenting with my own tastes, and putting my own spin on things. Such a good video.

5. “Is It Live” – 3:07

6. “Perfection” – 2:52

7. “Hit It Run” – 3:10

Now how devastating can an MC be? My name is Darryl, but you can call me D Hit it Run!

One of the hardest/toughest songs on the album. Run kicks it with some fast, aggressive beat boxing, while DMC’s rhymes don’t hold anything back… it’s certainly a precursor for modern day Hip-Hop music.

8. “Raising Hell” – 5:32

The title track continues the momentum started on Hit it Run — this time with an awesome metal-influenced guitar riff. Had Walk this Way not been a single, this track would have gotten way more attention.

The lyrics to start the track were some of my favorites:

Kings from Queens from Queens come Kings We're raisin hell like a class when the lunchbell rings The king will be praised, and hell will be raised S-s-s-suckers try to faze him but D won't be fazed So what's your name? D.M.C.! The King is me! Your High-ness, or His Majesty! Now you can debate, you c-c-c-concentrate But you can't imitate D.M.C. the Great!

9. “You Be Illin’” – 3:26

Man, this song! I vividly remember doing this song with Alex in his dining room area. Such fun, corny lyrics… how can you not enjoy this song?

(To)day you won a ticket to see Doctor J Front row seat (in free!) no pay Radio in hand, snacks by feet Game's about to start, you kickin' popcorn to the beat You finally wake up, Doc's gone to town Round his back, through the hoop, then you scream "Touchdown!" You be illin'

10. “Dumb Girl” – 3:31

11. “Son of Byford” – 0:27

12. “Proud to Be Black” – 3:15

Lyrics and other goodies from Genius.com

Listen to Raising Hell on Apple Music:

Listen to Raising Hell on Spotify:

Buy the Vinyl

Support your local record shop! But if not, here are a few online options:

What was your first record, cassette, or CD?

Enjoyed a Beauts OT win on Saturday and a Bills ugly win on Sunday. Let’s go Buffalo.

Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti and Bon Iver's i,i

Picked up the new Bon Iver and Physical Graffiti yesterday. Zeppelin is getting a ton of play. That record is amazing.

We got to witness a spider catch a fly in it’s web, wrap it in silk, and eat it this AM. Complete with fly larvae!

Nothing better than rocking my Pre-season Champions hoodie to celebrate a Bills win.

Quick stop over to the beach in Long Beach (NY) before we drove back to Buffalo.

Picked this cool little Kodak Printomatic for my 15-year work anniversary gift.

Cleveland has been pretty fun! We enjoyed wandering around and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today.

Zoey’s day was made: front row at the Snail Mail concert, then got her guitar pick and set list after! A pretty great 11th birthday present. All pics by Zoey, except the one of her.

Had to check out the guinea pig exhibit at the Nashville Zoo. Kids are in love! They miss their ladies back home.

Hello, Louisville! Have a perfect view for fireworks tonight.

Going to give the new Reminders a shot for a few weeks.

Awesome day for a ride! Our first Ride for Roswell was amazing. We will be back.

My last week in music. On a Middle Kids kick! Also check out Truth Club’s new album.

Super relaxing trip away this weekend for Father’s Day! We went to Golden Hill on Lake Ontario to stay in a yurt. Thankfully we did, as most of the weekend was cold, windy, and rainy. We were able to get out and do some exploring, though.

I know we’ve had a lot of rain, but Dark Sky seems to be rubbing it in today.

My wife got me a penguin encounter for my birthday! I loved penguins growing up — especially after reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins and the Bloom County comic strip. Today I got to hang out with Opus at the Niagara Falls Aquarium. What a coincidence!

The Mrs. won Educator of the Year at her school. So proud!

Our favorite Girl Scout event: marching the Buffalo Pride with our troop. So much fun, so positive. Restores my faith in humanity for another year. 🌈🏳️‍🌈❤️

Got one of my faves! Swervedriver’s Mezcal Head on vinyl.

Lucy scored her first soccer goal tonight! So exciting.

Birthday records came! Still have Swervedriver and Joy Division coming.

First night of indoor soccer. All on the same team!

The Mrs. and I saw Rent for the first time today. The second act was top notch!

Just another Friday night selling Girl Scout cookies. Thankful it’s the last weekend for another year.

Got my copy of 3 Feet High and Rising today. So amazing! Transported back to my early teenage years when it first came out — the whole album has held up very well. 🎵

Today’s pickup: Broken Social Scene. One of my all-time favorites.

First time record shopping in probably 15 years! Picked up Sharon Van Etten and Fugazi, two of my faves.

The Mrs. and I took a glass blowing class last night at The Foundry. So much fun!

H2O at Blind Mellon’s in 1996-ish: think they opened for Sick of it All. So good!

Head over to @noechodotnet today to see a collection of my photos from the 90s hardcore scene. (Pictured: Autumn at Lost Horizon in Syracuse)

Hoover Middle School’s production of Alice in Wonderland. Last performance is today at 1pm!

Another fave from the 90s: Mineral at the Detroit Hardcore Fest (1996?)

Yeah Amherst Girls! Zoey in the gray helmet along the wall with her team. They got to skate during a recent Beauts game. 🏒

Browsing the photo box: @itinerantprinter and I, high school graduation 1994.

Today and tomorrow: Blizzard warning and -20s wind chill. Next week: 50s. Totally normal Buffalo winter.

My top 16 songs from the last week are showing a little obsession!

Accidental twinning! Lucy wasn’t digging it — especially since mom is a teacher at her school.

Celebrated the first half of the school year by taking the kids to 5 Wits for an escape room and then Dave & Busters for dinner and games. So fun!

Zoey bought a guinea pig grooming set today. Both are in heaven!

Operation ‘replace swollen battery and upgrade to SSD in my old 2009 MacBook’ with Stella is complete. She is so psyched.

Outkast’s Aquemini is 20 years old and still amazing. Changed my mood today. Much appreciated.

Today’s New Comic Book Day pickups. And I finally set up a pull list at the LCS three blocks from my house.

Intermission shoot out for these ladies at the Beauts game today!

Recent Comic Pickups

I recently scored some good deals on a few comic investments: Paper Girls #1 (CGC 9.8), Monstress #1 (CGC 9.8), Machine Man vol 2 (first appearance of Iron Man 2020), and the complete run of Infidel. I will be posting more on each this month on my Relic Scout blog.

My 2018 in Pictures

Some of my favorite moments from 2018.

2018 Faves

Some highlights: visiting Hogwarts at Universal Studios, marching in the Pride Parade, Kendrick Lamar, Melisa completing here NY Master Teacher fellowship, Letchworth for Father’s Day, Stella and Zoey’s surprise selfies on my phone, kayaking and hiking in the Adirondacks, Band of Horses, back to school, WNY Llamafest, visiting family in NYC, impromptu dance parties…

So many more that weren’t captured on purpose.

2018 has been challenging in many ways and is ending on a very somber note, so it was helpful to look back and see reminders of all the good times we did have this year.

Best wishes to all in 2019! Here’s to a new year of staying positive in the moment, full of empathy, love, and patience.

Zoey earned the ‘A’ after today’s 3-2 win. Lots of hard work and effort! So proud.

Picked up a few books at the LCS today. Loved Firefly. Digging into the others later!

Impromptu dance party after A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Theatre of Youth.

Laverne and Cocoa officially live together! Last night was their final “get to know you” and move in.

Fun night at Misuta Chows with the Mrs. and some good friends. Arcade and great Japanese food.

Stella and her friends finished up their mural at Buffalo Arts Studio. So cool!

Stella and her friends finished up their mural at Buffalo Arts Studio. So cool!

NFL teams aren’t even trying that hard to justify keeping Kap off a team. Here’s my hometown Bills. I get Anderson as a mentor - he’s in his 14th season. Barkley is horrible. If you are tanking sure, but don’t claim you are trying to win.

Lucy and her fellow Girl Scout Cadettes rode 24 miles on their bikes to raise awareness for their leader’s fight with mitochondrial disease. They wrote letters to politicians, contacted the media, and had local businesses sponsor their ride. So proud of these ladies.

Rest in Peace Shirley. What a rough way for the kiddos to start their day. Heartbreaking.

Just noticed this in Apple Music: upcoming releases at the top of an artist’s page. Awesome!

Yup it’s hot outside. Feel for all the kids and teachers back in school! Thankfully tomorrow will feel 30 degrees cooler.

First day of school. First time all four are going to the same school. First time the Mrs has been in first day pictures!

Relic Scout Development Journal (S1E2): Hit List

As I mentioned in my last Relic Scout post, I am going to document my progress with launching new features on the site.

Today I tackled some design decisions related to the “Hit List,” which is a new view we are adding to Relic Scout. This view will include (to start) all graded comic book auctions ending in the next 24 hours that have at least 1 bid.

In addition, we will be adding Relic Scout information & tools like:

  • a link to other listings for the specific issue
  • historical sales & price trends
  • a deal score rating which gives a simpler metric to judge the current auction price versus historical trends
  • the ability to bookmark individual listings for later

Here’s the latest mockup of what we’re going for:

Hit List

I took a couple cues from RSS reeders (stars and ‘mark all as viewed’) as I thought those were useful tools to deal with large amounts of constantly refreshing information.

One element I need to work on is the ‘deal score’ area. I want to find a way to surface small amounts of useful historical pricing information, something along the lines of 7-day, 30-day, and all-time prices maybe? Modal or tooltip is the obvious answer, though I want them to work well for mobile users.

We could also add global user-level settings for grading service, grade range, and deal score minimum, which could be useful for these types of pages.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated – especially from comic book collectors and frequent eBay users.

In my next post I’ll share the final design mockup and then, later, I’ll share a link to the live page on relicscout.com.

Enjoyed Annihilation so much I grabbed the hardcover collection this weekend. 📚

Micro.blog + MarsEdit Tips

I added a few more Micro.blog shortcuts to my MarsEdit setup. To add these, open up the New Post window, then under the Format dropdown select Customize. Here you can add new macro entries. Add the code I shared below to the Opening Markup box for each macro.

Here are two ways to easily link to another Micro.blog user (useful for sending webmentions):

  • This option will prompt you to enter the username:

Mb enter

Copy the macro:

[@#asktext Enter Text:#](https://micro.blog/#asktext Enter Text:#)

  • If you copy the username to your clipboard this option will grab it and automatically enter:

Mb paste

Copy the macro:

@#pastetext#

Add Tagmoji Macro

Here’s the previous tip I shared. This macro will insert the appropriate tagmoji to your post.

Tagmoji

First I created a Group (under gear icon) once you click Customize as described above. Then I added each to the group as shown.

You can find the currently used tagmoji used in Discovery on this page maintained by @burk

For example, enter this in the Opening Markup box:

🎵

New album from one of my favorites! Definitely see Saintseneca live if you ever have the chance.

Also just set up some Micro.blog tagmoji as formatting macros in MarsEdit. Now I just need to remember to use them.

Tagmoji

Almost hockey season again! Got Zoey back out on the ice after a 4 month break.

For National Dog Day: Chet, our pug, has been a huge part of our family over the last 4 years!

Tonight’s reading material: Pearl #1, The Seeds #1, and Death or Glory #4.

What a perfect cover for the current state of Mister Miracle.

#DeactiDay and embracing IndieWeb

A couple of weeks ago I deactivated my Facebook account, citing Facebook’s long standing history with privacy violations, ineptitude with fighting hate speech/Russian trolling/etc, and their overall business model in my “why are you leaving?” survey response. Besides dealing with my mom, who thought I unfriended and blocked her, I haven’t had another thought about the site since — it’s refreshing.

Since then, I’ve been reflecting on my usage of Twitter, as Jack Dorsey has been in the news due to their hands off approach with Alex Jones — despite repeated violations of their terms of service. This, combined with amplifying the voices of nazis, trolls, and bots that do nothing but harm and negatively impact the discourse on the site (and off the site, through threats of violence and harm), has me ready to jump ship on August 17th in support of #DeactiDay.

On August 17th I will be deactivating my account to show Twitter I do not want to be a part of a site that tolerates hate, racism, and abuse. The protest movement is giving Twitter 30 days to fix the site, which happens to be the time the deactivation becomes permanent. We’ll see what happens. I am not expecting much.

Regardless, I have moved nearly 100% of my social posting to endonend.org. Other than occasional retweets and Twitter responses, everything I have posted online this year has originated on my site. This will remain going forward and quite honestly I am glad I made that decision, considering the state of these siloed social media sites.

I am also very glad to be a part of the Micro.blog community which uses my RSS feed and provides a social layer that connects many blogs like mine. My micro.blog account pulls my RSS feed into the service and displays my content to folks who follow me through that service, while commenting and discussion takes place on micro.blog similar to Twitter. The timeline view of people I follow is chronological and free of ads (imagine that!) The team behind Micro.blog has solid community guidelines — meaning they treat the site as a community and not whatever the heck Jack considers Twitter today (it certainly was a community back when it started.) My experience with comments and discussion on Micro.blog has reaffirmed my faith in humanity -— interesting, civil, and respectful in tone —- everything you’d want from an online community.

I highly recommend checking it out. They offer a cheap ($5/month) blog hosting service, if you are looking to start a blog. If you have a blog, grab your RSS feed and head over to sign up -— the site is free to use if have an existing blog.

If you don’t have a blog, start one! Help us bring back the independent nature of the web and blogging – where you can discover new ideas and read diverse opinions free from corporate control and algorithms. The web, after all, is the best social network – whether it’s using hyperlinks, an RSS reader, or utilizing a service like Micro.blog that provides the social connectivity between independent sites.

Short posts or long posts, it doesn’t matter. Having your own site gives you the freedom to post what you want, when you want. Your site becomes your own personal diary of discovery and growth – something you can look back and reflect on. Your posts become the gateway that connects you to others, new ideas, and thoughtful discussion. In other words, everything that makes the web so great.

Band of Horses and Bonny Doon tonight at Town Ballroom. Great show!

First visit to the comic shop in a while. Picked up Black Badge by Matt Kindt and the Kirby variant of FF #1. Good stuff!

More than 20 years ago I took Melisa on our first date to see the Descendents. Tonight, on our 16th wedding anniversary, we saw them again. Fantastic coincidence!

Just noticed this on iOS 12 public beta… is Apple updating stock apps via AppStore now?

Picked this up at Target. Can’t wait to play with the family tomorrow.

Our annual five days in the Adirondacks. Totally magical. Spent time in Lake Placid, hiked Mt. Regis, paddled Lake Meacham, and spent 99% of the time with no cell service. Relaxing!

Five days in ADK. Amazing as usual. #lakemeacham #mountregis

Our hike yesterday in Chestnut Ridge Park to see the eternal flame.

Super bummed my Apple Watch decided to stop tracking for a few hours yesterday and I didn’t realize it until too late. Ended my 75 day streak of closing all my circles. Back at it today!

Two new members of the family. Meet Laverne & Shirley.

One of 150 some photos left on my phone when I wasn’t looking. At least they are cute and loving each other!

First full day on iOS 12 public beta. Time limits for social media is refreshing.

Last night’s post-musical practice sunset. Glorious.

Zoey’s Father’s Day card. Complete with 50 pocket cargo pants. So cute.

King Kendrick last night. So good. Schoolboy Q killed it too.

What a day. Pride Parade with the Girls Scouts during the day. Kendrick Lamar at night.

Moment of the day: my wife presenting my daughter with two middle school science awards: one for her science fair project and one for her grades and love of science.

Lucy scored two new Lumberjanes books and autographs today at Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Thanks to Mariko and Brooklyn for making her day!

Still reeling from the news on Scott Hutchison. Hope he turns up safe. Such a big part of my life with music and getting through tough times.

So proud of Lucy. She was very nervous to go to middle school, but she’s absolutely excelling. Three straight quarters on Honor Roll, a 98 overall average, and now another Beacon Award. Such a great kid.

Built to Spill, Afghan Whigs, and Rituals of Mine tonight.

Picked up this Fender Squier Bullet Telecaster today. Plays great and feels super solid for the price. I sold my guitar and amp when the twins were born and have missed playing music and the creative outlet.

Got my MIND MGMT fix from Matt Kindt today. Absolutely beautiful.

Palak paneer, chicken makhni, and samosas at Clay Handi in Kenmore.

Hamilton Road Trip

[caption id=“attachment_5076” align=“alignnone” width=“3072”] After game picture[/caption]

Road trip to Hamilton for a rematch against Coronation. Super fun trip, even though the game didn’t go our way.

Hockey weekend almost done. Three games and two practices Friday to Monday for Zoey. Canada trip next weekend!

12 Gates Brewery. 8 for 8 - all awesome. Best Buffalo brewery we’ve been to so far.

Finally received and got through all of 1-6 of Mister Miracle. So good. Highly recommended!

Special guests at the Kenmore-Grand Island girls varsity hockey game!

Zoey’s squirt team played against Hamilton today. We will be heading up north for a rematch in a few weeks. (via Instagram)

Today’s library pickup 📚: Doom Patrol omnibus. 1280 pages! (via Instagram)

Beers and a fireplace with my special lady friend last Friday. (via Instagram)

Hockey, Albright-Knox, summer boat ride with the Mrs, me as Logan, twins and I at the White House, protest sign, New Pornographers, Missy’s 40th, and twins first day of school. Wishing everyone a happy 2018. 🎉

Hollywood-themed “Me and My Guy” Girl Scouts dance today with my daughters. So fun!

I may be biased because it’s my first new release vinyl purchase in a long time (and first pre-order ever), but the new Quicksand sounds a lot better on vinyl.


Day 2 of 7: B&W life challenge Via Instagram: [ift.tt/2y4aeFt](http://ift.tt/2y4aeFt)

Day 1 of 7: B&W life challenge Via Instagram: [ift.tt/2yw00C2](http://ift.tt/2yw00C2)

Logan noir Via Instagram: [ift.tt/2yjCqIr](http://ift.tt/2yjCqIr)

Chet is all business today. #sharkpug Via Instagram: [ift.tt/2zTGETq](http://ift.tt/2zTGETq)

Official jersey! #hockeygirls Via Instagram: [ift.tt/2zMb1LA](http://ift.tt/2zMb1LA)

Bully’s second record reinforced their place as one of my fave current bands. So good. Via Instagram: [ift.tt/2lo9GbE](http://ift.tt/2lo9GbE)

Bully’s second record reinforced their place as one of my fave current bands. So good.


Let’s go Bills. Via Instagram: [ift.tt/2z1Jsl2](http://ift.tt/2z1Jsl2)

First Pink Storm clinic of the season. Stella playing hockey now too!


That time again. #hockey via Instagram [ift.tt/2yYth50](http://ift.tt/2yYth50)

An amazing show by @qsnyc via Instagram [ift.tt/2xqEYTQ](http://ift.tt/2xqEYTQ)

Hiking with my special lady friend via Instagram [ift.tt/2hmtJFQ](http://ift.tt/2hmtJFQ)

Beach Slang rocked the Mohawk Place. #latergram via Instagram [ift.tt/2f5oHcq](http://ift.tt/2f5oHcq)

Right before the raft float competition. via Instagram [ift.tt/2wQSuNV](http://ift.tt/2wQSuNV)

Canoeing with the girls via Instagram [ift.tt/2wR79sF](http://ift.tt/2wR79sF)

Good morning from Camp Timbercrest! via Instagram [ift.tt/2xe0xGO](http://ift.tt/2xe0xGO)

Cosplaying at FanExpo via Instagram [ift.tt/2vTTfDY](http://ift.tt/2vTTfDY)

This middle schooler. via Instagram [ift.tt/2gqVlsL](http://ift.tt/2gqVlsL)

History cruisin’ via Instagram [ift.tt/2wDbyls](http://ift.tt/2wDbyls)

Me and the Mrs. via Instagram [ift.tt/2iw3gps](http://ift.tt/2iw3gps)

Beautiful colors last night. via Instagram [ift.tt/2wIkZA9](http://ift.tt/2wIkZA9)

Eclipse selfie. via Instagram [ift.tt/2xlPOqB](http://ift.tt/2xlPOqB)

Grabbed these awesome New Mutants issues with Bill Sienkiewicz covers while traveling for work. via Instagram [ift.tt/2wZvJXO](http://ift.tt/2wZvJXO)

Dog park tongue 👅 🐕 via Instagram [ift.tt/2wpYy1C](http://ift.tt/2wpYy1C)

100 Acres at Hotel Henry for our anniversary dinner. Such an amazing place. via Instagram [ift.tt/2uckiue](http://ift.tt/2uckiue)
This amazing beauty and I are celebrating 15 years of marriage today, as well as our 20th year together. An amazing mom, wife, and best friend — I couldn’t ask for anything more! Here’s to our next 20 and all the adventures in between. 😘😍🎉🎈💥🔥 via Instagram [ift.tt/2un7bpj](http://ift.tt/2un7bpj)

Part 1 of our father-daughter FanExpo cosplay arrived. I am going as Old Man Logan and Lucy as X-23. via Instagram [ift.tt/2u4IUF9](http://ift.tt/2u4IUF9)
Can’t think of a better message for every day life, especially with the current state of affairs. #pma #chooselove via Instagram [ift.tt/2uCUXvO](http://ift.tt/2uCUXvO)
New Pornographers killed it tonight! via Instagram [ift.tt/2vHjdvm](http://ift.tt/2vHjdvm)
Native hiking pug. #pugsofinstagram via Instagram [ift.tt/2ul7NyL](http://ift.tt/2ul7NyL)
Someone is recovering from 5 days at Camp Bow Wow. #pugsofinstagram via Instagram [ift.tt/2uIBBXu](http://ift.tt/2uIBBXu)
View from last few days. ADK killed it as usual. via Instagram [ift.tt/2uyQfAb](http://ift.tt/2uyQfAb)
Yeah the storm is just hanging out over us. Hotel for the night! via Instagram [ift.tt/2tSghNG](http://ift.tt/2tSghNG)
SZA is today’s soundtrack. via Instagram [ift.tt/2uPkSxB](http://ift.tt/2uPkSxB)
Waiting for the ‘works. via Instagram [ift.tt/2tn8be5](http://ift.tt/2tn8be5)

A project I’ve been working on for the better part of two years is finally live. Check it out at RelicScout.com! #comics #comicbooks via Instagram [ift.tt/2smu7cb](http://ift.tt/2smu7cb)

(Re)Introducing Relic Scout

Over two years ago, I launched a site called Relic Scout. It was my first attempt at building a site using Ruby on Rails. Users could enter what they were looking for and the site would monitor eBay to find matches – it was basically eBay saved searches, but in our own walled garden. Turns out, that was a pretty poor idea and we quickly scrapped it.

Fast forward two years, through many talks and idea sessions and MANY late nights of coding, my partner Brian and I rebuilt the site (again using Ruby on Rails and two more years of hacking knowledge) to be open, but also more niche. For our initial launch, we focused strictly on comic book collectors.

So what is Relic Scout now? Relic Scout is the ultimate tool to track down the comics you want. The site allows you to build your want list, then see listings that match what you want, in the condition you want, at the right price. Collectors can buy with confidence.

Today, we’re officially announcing Relic Scout and encouraging people to sign up. If you are a comic collector, please check out the site – we’d love your feedback! If you collect sports cards or US coins & currency, please sign up for our mailing list. (We’re planning support for those areas in the future!) If you don’t collect, but know someone who does, we’d appreciate the word of mouth!

Finally, we are all over social media, so please follow our journey:

Thanks for reading and checking out the site! Extra special thanks to my wife, Melisa, for all of her support and encouragement – I couldn’t have done it without her.

Onward!

Letchworth last weekend via Instagram [ift.tt/2s5s8ni](http://ift.tt/2s5s8ni)
My favorite middle schooler via Instagram [ift.tt/2stuX3E](http://ift.tt/2stuX3E)
Last day of school. Last day of elementary for Lucy! via Instagram [ift.tt/2sHbJJG](http://ift.tt/2sHbJJG)
Middle Falls at Letchworth via Instagram [ift.tt/2rKrxHv](http://ift.tt/2rKrxHv)

You Can’t

Having three daughters has been particularly challenging lately, as the girls move into the pre-teen years. (Spoiler: I know it will get harder.)

Our recent challenge has been the transition out of co-ed sports. We aren’t to the girls-only stage yet, but we’ve been considering it more closely with every passing game day interaction.

Whether it’s the mundane “what are you doing here?” question for my hockey playing soon-to-be-9-year-old to the more problematic physical and verbal targeting of her (and her girl friends) on the ice. Or the casual “girls can’t play basketball” to my soon-to-be-10-year old during recess. (Which she told to me, ironically, as she hit a 12-foot jump shot in our back yard.) Regardless of the intensity, it’s getting more frequent and more frustrating for the girls. (And us, quite honestly.)

My wife and I had a great conversation the other night about this and what to do about the situations. My wife said something like “as women, they will need to learn how to handle people telling them they can’t do something” — how, as a woman, they can’t play a sport, do a job, get a promotion, earn as much, have control over their own health decisions, be President, say no, etc, etc.

That phrasing was the cold, hard slap of reality that I am white, male privilege. Doesn’t matter how liberal I am, how much empathy I have, how much money or time I’ve donated to good causes, or how hard I try to not perpetuate that privilege. The simple fact is, as a white male, I’ve never been told I can’t do something. That is mind-blowing, given how often women and young girls, people of color, people of non-Christian faith, and the LGBTQ community hear the exact opposite. (Or, in other words, the majority of our country.)

Never being told you can’t (for any reason other than pure safety) leads to Trump, to rape culture, to groups of old white men writing health care legislation without a single woman in the room, to white nationalism, border walls, bathroom legislation, slavery, voter ID laws, police brutality, etc. etc etc. I could go on for fucking ever.

Then I think of all the times I encouraged my hockey daughter to out work the boys. I know my heart was in the right place, as my intention was to encourage hard work in general, but my phrasing was problematic for sure… I was perpetuating my privilege. Teaching my daughter that she needs to work harder than boys to simply be considered equal, that she needs to compare herself to boys (or anyone for that matter), was wrong.

Then I read the How to raise a feminist son post on Kottke.org, which focused on a NY Time article of the same title. A key quote:

Even as we’ve given girls more choices for the roles they play, boys’ worlds are still confined, social scientists say. They’re discouraged from having interests that are considered feminine. They’re told to be tough at all costs, or else to tamp down their so-called boy energy. If we want to create an equitable society, one in which everyone can thrive, we need to also give boys more choices. As Gloria Steinem says, “I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.”

The Times post also contained advice for raising boys (great advice for all children, btw), including encouraging friendships with girls:

Research at Arizona State University found that by the end of preschool, children start segregating by sex, and this reinforces gender stereotypes. But children who are encouraged to play with friends of the opposite sex learn better problem-solving and communication.

With all that said, we’re sticking with co-ed sports (for now), because we feel it will be a growth experience for our daughters. I hope we have better experiences next season and I hope that by our daughters (and their girl friends) showing up and competing, we’ll start to open more minds and spark more discussion between parents and their sons — at least locally. In the end, all it will take is a hard check to change our mind, I imagine.

🌈 via Instagram [ift.tt/2qO4P1H](http://ift.tt/2qO4P1H)
Happy Pride! via Instagram [ift.tt/2qUX0Xd](http://ift.tt/2qUX0Xd)
Church on Danforth, TO via Instagram [ift.tt/2saPBVE](http://ift.tt/2saPBVE)
Frightened Rabbit via Instagram [ift.tt/2sfOEuq](http://ift.tt/2sfOEuq)
Stella, Lucy and Zoey marching with the Girl Scouts via Instagram [ift.tt/2qsF3no](http://ift.tt/2qsF3no)
Wavves! via Instagram [ift.tt/2q2iXnI](http://ift.tt/2q2iXnI)
Lloyd patio weather via Instagram [ift.tt/2q5czLx](http://ift.tt/2q5czLx)
Last night of hockey until the fall via Instagram [ift.tt/2qi0juu](http://ift.tt/2qi0juu)
Lazy day via Instagram [ift.tt/2qtdZ3b](http://ift.tt/2qtdZ3b)

Favorite from release day: Feist’s ‘Pleasure’. Check it!

Someone is sad today. Sticking his bottom lip out. A walk may fix that! via Instagram [ift.tt/2pYndb4](http://ift.tt/2pYndb4)
DC at night via Instagram [ift.tt/2nX2TSd](http://ift.tt/2nX2TSd)
An amazing memorial. via Instagram [ift.tt/2osRb5T](http://ift.tt/2osRb5T)
via Instagram [ift.tt/2omBLQt](http://ift.tt/2omBLQt)
via Instagram [ift.tt/2nRcf1F](http://ift.tt/2nRcf1F)
Minus the Bear via Instagram [ift.tt/2ohiOQ4](http://ift.tt/2ohiOQ4)
Beach Slang killing it. via Instagram [ift.tt/2ogUrll](http://ift.tt/2ogUrll)
Perusing the neighborhood. #pugsofinstagram via Instagram [ift.tt/2nBot1u](http://ift.tt/2nBot1u)
On this day 20 years ago, I went on a first date with this little lady to see the Descendents. Never could have predicted the adventures, happiness and love we've experienced so far (and yet to come)! I couldn't have picked a better person to share it all with... love you @mdettbarn! via Instagram [ift.tt/2nK2kyC](http://ift.tt/2nK2kyC)
Somber pug via Instagram [ift.tt/2mIyOFi](http://ift.tt/2mIyOFi)
Yeah @thebuffalobeauts ! Congrats. What a game. via Instagram [ift.tt/2mYjDtx](http://ift.tt/2mYjDtx)
Snow day snuggles. via Instagram [ift.tt/2mtJEzW](http://ift.tt/2mtJEzW)
This week in creative enchilada eating. "It's spicy, yo!" via Instagram [ift.tt/2mUNaGN](http://ift.tt/2mUNaGN)
Enjoying a good belly rub. #pugsofinstagram via Instagram [ift.tt/2ma1Cq6](http://ift.tt/2ma1Cq6)

Team Clouded Leopard for tonight’s March Mammal Madness bracket battle. #2017MMM

Royal City by Jeff Lemire lives up to the hype. Check it! 

Pond hockey jamboree time. via Instagram [ift.tt/2llNytM](http://ift.tt/2llNytM)
Finally got to check out the Buddhist temple in Niagara Falls. via Instagram [ift.tt/2kJ4FcZ](http://ift.tt/2kJ4FcZ)
Livin' large in Canada. #presidentialsuite via Instagram [ift.tt/2lfBCwa](http://ift.tt/2lfBCwa)
Hit the jackpot today. Caught Chet working his magic on the dog camp webcam. via Instagram [ift.tt/2lIE6kf](http://ift.tt/2lIE6kf)
Zoey put in some goalie time at practice today. via Instagram [ift.tt/2l4HUyW](http://ift.tt/2l4HUyW)
These two wackos. via Instagram [ift.tt/2jVReB6](http://ift.tt/2jVReB6)
First family hockey game! via Instagram [ift.tt/2jN9Fwv](http://ift.tt/2jN9Fwv)
Triple threat at dentist via Instagram [ift.tt/2l1Hjeo](http://ift.tt/2l1Hjeo)
A bunch of awesome ladies. #girlshockey via Instagram [ift.tt/2k6Erxg](http://ift.tt/2k6Erxg)
The many faces of Zoey tonight: Katy Perry, cat-y purr-y, a salty baby, and an old man. 
via Instagram [ift.tt/2jWfmYz](http://ift.tt/2jWfmYz)
Office pal. 
via Instagram [ift.tt/2jKm414](http://ift.tt/2jKm414)
Hockey night! Tonawanda Pink Storm vs. Erie Lady Lions 
via Instagram [ift.tt/2iSEAY7](http://ift.tt/2iSEAY7)

Favorite Music from 2016

2016 might have been a horrible year in the eyes of many (and in some aspects, correctly so), however the year was pretty great in terms of music. From performances like Kendrick Lamar at the Grammy’s to Beyonce at the Super Bowl and her Lemonade special… to album releases, there were a ton of great moments.

Here are my favorite albums from 2016. I couldn’t reduce the list to a smaller number, so I broke the larger list down by genre to help you find something you might have missed over the course of the year. (In no particular order.)

RB/Soul 1. Anderson Paak — Malibu 2. Solange — A Seat at the Table 3. Rihanna — Anti 4. NxWorries — Yes Lawd! 5. Frank Ocean — Blonde 6. Blood Orange — Freetown Sound

Hip-Hop/Rap 1. Run the Jewels — RTJ3 2. Schoolboy Q — Blankface 3. A Tribe Called Quest — We got it from here 4. Common — Black America Again 5. Danny Brown — Atrocity Exhibition 6. Chance the Rapper — Coloring Book 7. DJ Khaled — Major Key 8. J Cole — 4 Your Eyes Only 9. Kendrick Lamar — Untitled Unmastered

Rock/Indie/Alternative 1. Bon Iver — 22, a Million 2. D.D Dumbo — Utopia Defeated 3. Daughter — Not to Disappear 4. Frightened Rabbit — Portrait of a Panic Attack 5. Warpaint — Heads Up 6. Radiohead — A moon shaped pool 7. CHVRCHES — Every Open Eye 8. Bob Mould — Patch the Sky 9. Descendents — Hypercaffium Spazzinate 10. World Be Free — the Anti-Circle 11. Hamilton Leithauser Rostam — I Had a Dream That You Were Mine 12. Car Seat Headrest — Teens of Denial 13. White Lung — Paradise

In addition to the list, I’ve been adding songs to my Best Of 2016 playlist. Feel free to subscribe, if you are an Apple Music user.

So, what did I miss? Share your favorite albums from 2016! I love new music.

2017 Love List

At the end of each year I take some time to figure out what I want to do more of in the coming year. I call this my Love List.

Why a Love List? As I wrote back in 2011:

The list is fluid and will change as my life changes. I’m not going to judge myself if some of these don’t get completed. I am going to put this list somewhere so I see it every day and spend at least part of my day moving one or more of these forward. And then at the end of 2012 I will do a retrospective to see how far I’ve come on these items.

So it’s basically a more positive, fluid take on resolutions. For example, here is the 2016 version.

I did a poor job tracking my 2016 list in any detail, but in summary:

  • Family: I had a great year with my wife and kids. We traveled to Disney (with many adventures along the way), went camping in Rhode Island, and much more. It was a very positive year — probably one of our best.
  • Exercise and Health: I did run two 5k races and did an OK amount of training for those, so I’d consider my health goal met.
  • Programming/Eko Wave was a fail. I wasn’t able to keep momentum for an extended period of time. It’s been hard to even get started in the last couple months of 2016, with both of my parents spending time in the hospital on top of regular family/work busyness.
  • Writing: Write more? Nope. Was less of a priority than programming, so got even less done.
  • Photography: I did take a ton of photos and made a photo book, calendar, and got a couple larger prints made for our house. Definitely a sucess.
  • Random: I did read more than previous years. I read a few actual books for once, in addition to many comics/graphic novels. I also made progress on my guitar, using Apple’s Music Memos to track and work on my ideas. (It’s a great app, if you are interested in making music.) I didn’t get around to meditation much at all, however.

So, with that said… 2017. What’s on my list so far:

  • Family: family will always be my top priority.
  • 3,000,000+ steps (average more than 8,220 per day.) I am going to accomplish this through more regular exercise, as well as training to run in five 5k races. My first race last year was a serious effort, but completing the second one (with a ton of improvement) got me hooked.
  • Launch in Q1 2017 Relic Scout . With marketing and promotion effort for remainder of year.
  • More reflection and gratitude. I am going to accomplish this through writing more on this blog, keeping a log of daily gratitude, journal more in Day One, and make quarterly photo books.

I am going to try to keep it simple this year, while using activities I’ve used as Love List items in the past (writing/photography/etc.) to help support bigger picture goals.

As always, I intend to post updates and progress here… stay tuned.

Happy New Year to all.

What’s Next?

Like many people, I woke up today in shock and still exhausted from last night’s election results. I went to bed angry and disappointed, thankfully falling asleep — probably more from sheer exhaustion than anything else — after spending a short time pondering how I will explain this to my three daughters in the morning. The three daughters that were so excited to go vote for the first female presidential candidate. The three that went to bed with an 83% chance of waking up to the first female president in US history.

This morning, they ran into my room excited to hear the news, but like many of us who witnessed it live, their hopes were dashed and confusion set in…

“If he says mean things and isn’t a good person, why did so many people vote for him?”

That was just the start. They were profoundly sad, gracing me with many hugs to help with their (and my) disappointment. I’ve been a mess ever since…

Since school drop off, I’ve spent time reflecting with other like-minded people, reading great posts like Anil Dash’s Forget “Why?”, it’s time to get to work , pondering the most bizarre and contradicting exit polls I’ve ever seen, and attempting to temper my fear since Trump really didn’t run on anything but adjectives, a wall, and locking Clinton up (and I doubt the last two will ever happen.)

We don’t know what the next couple years will bring from this government led by an extreme narcissist — and while I don’t imagine much good coming from it for anyone who isn’t a white male, I do know that we can continue down the path we started on…

That means we will continue teaching our girls about love, empathy , decency, politeness, and inclusion — giving and expecting it back in return. It means continuing to teach them to think beyond their immediate needs, when they have enough (and what enough means), to consider others less fortunate. It means continuing to work with the amazing Girl Scouts of WNY to help the poor and marginalized, whether it’s helping food pantries or marching in the Pride Parade. It means supporting local businesses that are run by or support women, minorities, people of color, and LGBT.

There’s a lot we can do to lessen the impact of a Trump presidency for future generations. The most important moment starts today. Let’s show our kids that bullies and fear don’t win in the end.

Tomorrow

[caption id=“attachment_4939” align=“alignnone” width=“800”] #ImWithHer for them.[/caption]

Tomorrow, we take our three girls to vote for President for the third time in their lifetime. The first two were for the first African American President. Tomorrow, the first female President.

The best part is they know no different. This diversity is normal to them. It’s so amazing to know that their generation is already off to a great start.

Now it’s up to us to keep setting good examples. Examples free of inequality, prejudice, hatred, abuse, degradation, and violence.

Let’s get this done.

Run Jason, Run

A few weeks ago I ran my first 5k race after “training” (read: finish about 2/3 of a couch-to-5k program) this summer. It was the Tops 5K for Roswell Park Cancer Institute and it was super inspirational to run with cancer survivors and hear so many amazing stories before the race.

For my second act, I’m running the Monster Scramble 5k in October to support the National MS Society in honor of my sister and many of our friends who have MS.

If you live in the Buffalo area, Melisa and I would love if you joined our team and ran with us! If you aren’t able, we’d appreciate any support you could give by donating to our team and the cause !

Thanks in advance!

Binary Thinking is the Real Problem

To many, today’s social conflicts are binary. You are either pro-cop or anti-cop. You are either pro-life or pro-abortion (love the ridiculous terminology). You are either for us or against us. You get the idea — it’s 100% or nothing.

It’s easy to think that way. The focus is you — your comfort, your life experiences, your beliefs, your truth. It’s challenging to have empathy or concern for people not like you. That kind of empathy is a necessity for peace, equality, and justice, however.

That empathy allows us to consider other people’s situations, experiences, and choices with an open mind. To take these stories as truth and recognize that this truth matters as much as our own. And when those truths are unjust or unfair or simply painful, this kind of empathy allows us to act in order to improve the well being of all human life, not just our own or people like us.

For binary thinkers, that empathy is replaced today with anti-PC fervor — but that is simply a crutch used to justify their fear and feelings of prejudice, racism, sexism, and ultimately hate. This fervor works to demean the truth experienced by others — be it through their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, genetics, or economics. This fervor allows them to wash their hands of any issue they don’t want to take the time to consider or understand.

True empathy also leads to a less straightforward, more complex belief system. Complexity that’s hard to communicate in today’s soundbite and 140-character culture. For example, I find it amazing that someone wouldn’t think this is possible or even logical:

  • To be for #BlackLivesMatter — perfectly summed up by this comic . Or just maybe the simple logic that hundreds of years of slavery, oppression, inequality, and injustice just might have a negative effect on an entire group of people. To me it just seems wrong to willfully ignore or demean their words, their truth, their experience, their anger and frustration. See Bree Newsome’s tweets for more:

  • To support police who are invested in their entire community and interested in upholding the law fairly, equally, and completely.

  • To be against police brutality, racial targeting, and extrajudicial executions. To think that having one of the highest incarceration rates in the world (alongside China) does not match the democracy, “all men created equal”, and “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” messages of our founders. (Blacks are 6 times as likely to be in jail than whites, despite making up 13% of population. Latinos are nearly 3 times as likely to be in jail as whites, despite making up 16% of population.)

  • To think gun violence is a horrible disease caused in large part by our culture and our willingness to cede everything to the 36% of our country that own guns. I am OK with people owning guns if we limit the types of weapons available and require licensing, training, and even basic, regular health checks. Because, turns out, that stuff works .

  • To be pro-choice because it’s not my fucking body or life, even though both my wife and I are against choosing abortion for our life.

[caption id=“attachment_4930” align=“alignnone” width=“600”] Marching with the Ken-ton Girl Scouts at the 2016 Buffalo Pride parade.[/caption]

  • To support all LGBT issues, from marriage to bathrooms to any other new “scary issue” people dream up, because everyone deserves happiness, to love and be loved, and the liberty to live life as they were born.

These are some of my truths, my beliefs — constantly evolving based on listening, reading, and watching through a lens of empathy. Empathy I learned as a child and work to grow over my life.

Empathy my wife and I work every day to instill in our children, because we want them to grow up in a world where pain, injustice, and truth are taken seriously — regardless if it’s in their face or not. We’re teaching our kids to act, not succumb to fear or wash their hands of social and economic issues because they aren’t affected directly or pass blame on whoever their generation’s Millenials turn out to be…

This world needs more listening and less talking. More empathy and less fear. Let’s all spend more time listening, understanding, and evolving as human beings. Who’s with me?

Current project: repurposed tree round table

Over the weekend, I finally got around to a project I’ve been wanting to do: repurpose a tree round from the tree they cut down in front of our house earlier this spring. Plus, the round was finally dried out enough that I could 1.) move it and 2.) get the bark off in a reasonable amount of time.

The best part was Lucy and Stella (two of my three daughters) were super excited to help out!

Here are the basic steps:

  1. De-bark the tree round. I used a hammer and pry bar. Most of it came off pretty easy, although there were a few stubborn areas.

  2. Sand it down. I used a combination of fine and medium sandpaper blocks to get the round nice and smooth to the touch. Stella and Lucy were huge helps in sanding this behemoth.

  3. Once you are done sanding, wipe the round down with a wet, lint-free towel to prep it for staining.

  4. Put the legs on. This was actually sort of difficult, as the round was pretty uneven on the bottom. I did end up finding four spots that were equidistant apart and fairly centered on the bottom for support. I used Ikea Capita legs that are adjustable, so we can level the table on any surface.

  5. Stain it. I used a honey maple stain, which ended up darker than I pictured, but looks good nonetheless. Stella and Lucy helped stain the top, as well.

  6. Finish with a polyurethane. I used a fast drying clear satin polyurethane to protect the wood and give it a nice, rustic look:

I did three coats on the sides and six plus on the top, since it soaks in so much.

So pleased with how it turned out, but most of all I was glad to make something with my hands and have Lucy and Stella help out. A great experience for all of us!

Trumped

I am to the point where I’m ready to dump anyone who endorses or votes for Trump.

Why such a drastic measure? Well, I will question their sanity and decency, for starters. Plain and simple, Trump is a horrible person and an even worse choice to lead our country. So much so, it threatens the future of this country — what is stands for and what I hope it to be in the future for my children.

From the Trump rally in Buffalo, NY (Photo: Chris Fritton )

I get why people want to vote for anyone besides Clinton or any of the other chump Republican candidates this cycle — people are angry with the bullshit that goes on in DC and the sense of helplessness that goes with being unheard and underserved for so long. But Trump? Really?

Before you even get into the baggage of Trump’s overcompensating, manly bullshit artist personality, you have the horrific shit-show that is his candidacy, policy, and life’s work. To name a few:

  1. Trump is a racist and a bigot .
  2. Trump is a misogynist .
  3. Trump ia a narcissist and lacks empathy.
  4. Trump’s business success is uneven at best and borderline shady at worst . OK, yeah he’s a “billionaire” (quotes, because who knows for sure) and he took his inheritance/loan/whatever you want to call it and stumbled into what he is today. Through many bankruptcies , bail outs, and horrible business ideas . Mark Cuban is 100% right… his ideas are horrible. He’s essentially a brand name, that’s it.
  5. Trump is a con-man .
  6. He’s a serial liar: 76% of his fact-checked statements are at least ‘mostly false’ or worse.
  7. He’s creating a violent monster at his rallies .
  8. Trump is a spit-balling, uninformed bullshit artist when it comes to foreign policy .

You can say it’s all a show and that he will act presidential when the time comes, but his rich legacy says otherwise.

I want a president that, at her or his best, drives us to be better people, better stewards of this planet, and better neighbors. At the very least, someone who has empathy, respect for all citizens and the global community, makes attempts to improve our country for every citizen, and works to improve our standing in the world.

Our country deserves something more than the ugly, scared, violent, hateful version of ourselves. Trump is willing to cater to those emotions and the people caught in that trap. Trump’s version of “winning” at virtually any price, isn’t worth the risk.

It isn’t worth resigning yourself to voting for him because of Hilary. It isn’t worth taking the chance on someone so self-centered, so ruthless and cunning, so willing to say anything at any moment to get what he wants, and someone so unwilling to apologize for anything — ever.

Why risk destroying our country — America as the beacon of liberty, freedom, diversity, and hope for the rest of the world?

Vulnerability and Enough

Vulnerability.

n. Susceptibility to attack or injury; the state or condition of being weak or poorly defended.
n. a specific weakness in the protections or defenses surrounding someone or something.

There is no better expert on vulnerability than Brene Brown. Her TED talk on the subject has been viewed over 22 million times. I highly recommend spending 20 minutes to view it, if you haven’t already.

The basic gist of the talk is this:

Connecting gives our lives purpose and meaning. In order to connect to others, we need to embrace vulnerability and be willing to take risks. We need to have the courage to be imperfect. To be kind to ourselves, so we can foster compassion for others. We need to be who we are, rather than who we think we should be.

All difficult stuff, right? Especially considering all the forces working against us: fear, shame, disappointment, expectations, the media, etc.

She also pointed out that our society is very good at numbing against vulnerability:

“We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history. The problem is — and I learned this from the research — that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”

I didn’t realize it until I watched this video, but my struggle has always been about vulnerability. I spent a good deal of my life in quiet fear of failure, showing weakness, and emotion. Trying to live up to expectations. To avoid (physical, mental, and emotional) risk. To build up an image of perfection to those around me. To be something I’m not deep down inside. Along the way, I avoided reality and never experienced vulnerability. I stopped connecting. I stopped living.

For me, that meant not addressing traumatic experiences in my past, making life choices based on the likelihood of success, and a limited number of close relationships with people.

I was very shy growing up and naturally good at all things school tries to make kids do well, so I floated through my early life. I got good grades, was a model student, had no major problems, and I never got in trouble. Every parent and teacher’s dream, right?

The problem with that dream is there was nothing pushing me to grow, take risks, fail, and really learn. Even the big, character forming experiences of college and moving across the country were filtered through my need to limit risk and emotion. I never ventured too far from my comfort zone.

The basic theme to each period in my life is risk aversion. I floated through life. And then when real, adult problems finally hit (and they always do), I didn’t know how to handle them. I resorted to what I do best: be passive so I don’t make the wrong choice.

Except that really isn’t the answer that keeps you from failing. It’s the answer that keeps your from really addressing the problem, from growing and being vulnerable. I learned this the hard way, because I came awful close to failing spectacularly and losing my marriage and family.

Thankfully, through a lot of counseling and self analysis, I discovered the why and how of who I am. I also figured out who I want to be in the present — to undo some of my defaults, in order to finally grow and be vulnerable. To not let fear and passivity drive who I am and the choices I make each day. To connect with people I care about and to live.

The truth is, we are all enough. Good enough as we are, good enough to live out our dreams, good enough to be loved, and good enough to love. The key is to let that person out, especially around the people we love. Once I did that, the changes I needed to make became much simpler. And, turns out, being vulnerable can lead to levels of happiness I had never experienced.

As Brown said in the talk:

Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

This subject is also a core principle of Buddhism and the central tenet behind the Four Noble Truths: Dukkha. Life is Dukkha. It’s suffering, it’s impermanence, it’s change, it’s a pervasive struggle against a sense that things never measure up to expectations or standards. It’s struggling against ourselves and everything around us, rather than just being open and accepting. The rest of the Four Noble Truths deal with finding the origins of this suffering, the truth that you can eliminate suffering, and the path toward that cessation. It all comes back to being vulnerable.

One of the reasons I started this blog, as a more personal outlet for myself, was to open myself up to vulnerability and honesty. To share stories and ideas I haven’t had the courage to do in the past. It’s hard. Most of the time, pushing the Publish button is not easy — especially with some of the more blatantly honest and forthcoming posts. I do, though, and haven’t had any regrets. I feel it has helped me grow. It has helped me feel alive. Hopefully it helps you in some way too.

I’ll leave you with a couple great quotes from the talk:

“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

This is an expanded version of a post I wrote in 2012.

One Year On

Prior to the previous weekend, I stumbled upon an article that mentioned the first anniversary of Ferguson. I was shocked. Had it really been that long? It felt like just a few months ago.

But then I realized it hadn’t felt like a year because of the constant stream of police-related violence and deaths over the past year. How many? A lot. Like 1,091 a lot. (Mapped and featured on Vox.com, courtesy of the non-profit Fatal Encounters.)

Based on that number, you would easily think the problem has gotten worse. In many ways it has. I think there are a good number of scared, under-trained, but also power-hungry and cocky (and in the worst cases, racist) police out there in our communities. I also think there are a lot of scared people of color in these same communities that don’t want to be pulled over/stopped/arrested and potentially become the next headline. Unfortunately, mixing the two can make things even worse, so the need for change is even more urgent.

FullSizeRender 5Then you have memes going around social media like the image you see to the right, with over 28,000 likes and 195,000 shares when I took the screenshot. Brutality in quotes and blaming all of this on bad parenting and bratty kids! Really? That take seems completely divorced from reality. If anything, white kids and parents dominate those categories, hands down.

For one, there have been many high-profile examples of police violence happening after minor traffic infractions or no infraction at all. (And not so high profile.) Secondly, the issue crosses age, education and any other demographic, with one exception: race. This issue disproportionately impacts minorities. (See this Vice article for more detail and breakdowns.)

On the bright side, systemic racism and inequality are in the news nearly every day. That is a good thing, if we ever want to truly tackle that problem. Vox has the numbers on how this is changing society:

But recent surveys show the shift. A June survey of 2,000 US adults from Gallup found that all Americans are more likely to say that black people are unfairly treated in all aspects of society, including police encounters. And a July survey of 2,000 US adults from the Pew Research Center found a 20-year high in the percentage of Americans calling racism a "big problem" in society.

Now the question becomes, what are we going to do about it? Part of it rests on policy makers and enforcers. We’ve already seen politicians pushed to take policy stances and police departments being pushed to make changes, like requiring body cameras on police officers. Much more needs to happen (and soon), obviously.

But the other part rests on us to keep pushing the issues until we see real, sustained change. We can’t put our head in the sand and blame it on bratty young people or bad parenting. Or be scared to speak up because you know a police officer that isn’t part of the problem. (‘Cause you know, police are needed. That isn’t the issue. The issue is they should be held to the same societal standards and laws they are paid to enforce.) Or just pretend racism doesn’t exist, because you don’t see it. Or inequality doesn’t exist, because you believe in the American Dream. (Hint, social mobility doesn’t exist in the U.S. any longer.)

Quite simply, just take a moment to remember that your experience in this world isn’t the same experience others have over their life time. Everyone is battling their own inner demons and baggage – even generational baggage. Sometimes we all just need the benefit of the doubt and a little help.

Apple Music: Initial Impressions

Last year I experimented with the major streaming music services, with Beats narrowly winning the race over Spotify. One of the key reasons I decided to stick it out with Beats was the rumored revamp of the service and integration with the Apple ecosystem.

This week, Apple and Beats released that new service as Apple Music. The new service combines the iTunes library (well, most of it at least), your music library (via purchases and iTunes Match/Cloud Library), Radio, and Beats curation/recommendation engine into a single interface. Based on that, I’m sold.

IMG_1932

The key points for me are:

  1. Having access to all the obscure artists I have loaded via iCloud Match. All of those CDs and records I bought back in the day, many of them not available on any service, are now available to me in one single streaming app along with new music.
  2. Access to new music (and the old that I don't own) available via the iTunes library. If the size of the library isn't equal to or greater than any other service, I imagine it will be soon. I also imagine that Apple Music's pay wall (no free accounts, beyond the 3 month trial) will get them more exclusives and more artists that were streaming hold outs. (Taylor Swift, as an example.)
  3. Discovery and re-discovery via the recommendation engine ('For You') and the 'New' music tab. No other service does this as well -- not even close. I have a broad music taste, from hardcore/punk to classic rock to hip-hop to blues and folk. As you can see in the screenshot to the right, you have a laid back hip-hop playlist, some post-rock, A$AP Rocky, Flaming Lips, and Bright Eyes. Scrolling down, you have the Pixies, Tame Impala, Jay-Z, J. Cole, Superchunk, Neil Young, The White Stripes, Cat Power, Sonic Youth, and Black Uluru. You can't get any more diverse and accurate than that!
  4. Speed -- the Beats app was pretty slow and had some nagging bugs. The new Apple Music app fixed all of that -- it's quite speedy, considering my library size and all it's trying to accomplish.

The only negative so far, beyond figuring out some confusing aspects of the user interface, is the song count limitation. There is a 25,000 song limit to the service. Before today I was over that limit, so I couldn’t add new albums to My Music. This caused much frustration because the iOS app doesn’t tell you why you can’t add an album – it just looks like it saves OK, then the album reverts state to un-saved. Ugh. Well, now I know. Also, this negative will go away come this fall, when Apple raises the limit to 100,000.

The biggest surprise to me is Beats 1 radio. I generally don’t like mainstream radio. I loved KEXP when we lived in Seattle. I like sports talk radio and podcasts. But most stations on the FM dial? No way. Too much of the same thing (and mostly bad music) – you know it’s bad when you flip stations and hear the same song on two different stations! And then there’s the commercials.

I decided to give Beats 1 a shot yesterday and was able to listen live to Zane Lowe’s first broadcast. The diversity, quality, and flow of his selections blew me away. He played songs by artists I don’t like or weren’t familiar with… and it worked. It flowed. Guess that’s why he is a professional DJ! Beyond Lowe, there’s plenty of great programming. I checked in on the other two main DJs and both had similar levels of quality, so there’s no drop off. St. Vincent’s Mixtape Delivery Service was pretty amazing too – I was able to catch half of that show and it had some delightful moments. I am definitely excited to see where that and the other artist shows take Beats 1.

As you can tell, I am pretty happy with the new version of Beats. I’ll gladly enjoy the 3-month free trial and hope Apple Music can turn music streaming into a viable revenue stream for musicians of all types.

Latest on Photo Project

As mentioned before, I embarked on a photo-a-day project to learn my new camera. Follow along on Flickr by clicking the Photo-a-Day link above!

Here are a few of my latest entries:

Zoey at the gymnastics meet

Window at Mini Maker Faire

Twins playing quiz game

X-Ray Zoey

Toronto

Tales from the Relic Scout Launch

A little over a year ago, I founded Eko Wave with two friends (who also happen to be co-workers at the real job.) Last week, almost a year later, we launched our first product called Relic Scout.

Relic Scout is a utility for collectors with two primary purposes:

  1. Keep track of your want list.
  2. Find the best deals on these items, so you can maximize your budget and buy even more for your money.

Relic Scout Beta

We take your want list, entered on RelicScout.com, and use that information to find buying options for you to consider. Then, each day, we’ll update the site with new options for each item, as well as keep track of auction status (on an hourly basis to start), so you have updated information available to make decisions. Then, you’ll be able to buy with confidence when the right eBay listing comes up for your item (or elsewhere, like a garage sale or flea market.)

Relic Scout has built-in support for Comics, Sports Cards, Sports Memorabilia, Coins & Currency, and Trading Card Games. We also have an ‘Other’ category, which has basic support for many of the most popular collectible categories on eBay. If any of this sounds useful or interesting to you, please head over and sign up!

With the elevator pitch out of the way, I’d like to share some behind-the-scenes detail as it was a very valuable learning experience.

Ideas

Over the last year, we had numerous ideas on where to take Relic Scout. We worked on many of these in some fashion, but most of them either evolved into other ideas or were dropped all together. In the end, we scaled the original idea back with the intention to launch what we considered a minimum viable product. Something we would find useful, even if it wasn’t fully built out or realized yet.

I highly recommend this approach to anyone looking to build a product or launch a business. Start with the basics, launch, and then evolve as fast as possible once you get feedback. It’s really important to get something out there in the real world as quickly and cheaply as possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect either. (Remember my post, Make, Do and Wabi-sabi?)

Keeping the idea/project moving forward has a few benefits:

  • It keeps you from second guessing decisions
  • It gets your idea out in the wild faster, so you can start gaining feedback to build the second, third or even fourth release. You know the ones that have a much better chance at succeeding?
  • It separates you from every other person that has ideas, but doesn't execute

Execution

With all those idea changes/adjustments going on, we also considered many approaches to executing the idea. Last Spring I built a proof of concept in PHP – a basic script that queried eBay for an item, parsed out the data, and organized it in a MySQL database. The idea of custom building an entire site seemed daunting at that point, so we looked elsewhere.

Then during early Summer, we took a look at building it on top of WordPress, as we came across a case study on a company that built a SAAS product on top of WordPress. As flexible as WordPress can be, we decided it would take too much hacking to break away from the CMS/blog nature of the software.

That brings us to late Summer/early Fall, where we took a look at a much more flexible CMS system, Expression Engine. We actually made a lot of progress on that site. With some dedicated effort we could have pushed that across the goal line, I’m sure. But that too felt like a big pile of hacks, that could easily unravel with future changes in the platform. So in December, we decided to take a break from the Expression Engine site and re-evaluate.

After the holidays I started hacking with Ruby on Rails, a programming language I’ve always wanted to learn, but in the past I didn’t have a good idea to use in my learning process. So I just started. Low and behold the development started moving really fast and three months later, Relic Scout was released to the public in it’s current beta state.

The takeaways from this part of the project:

  • If you want to learn a programming language, I highly recommend having an idea of what you want to build. Having that idea helps keep you motivated and interested, rather than just following some tutorial you find online where you learn to build something you'd never really use.
  • There is serious allure in building on top of another system to get you started. I firmly believe now that unless your project is meant for that system, build your own -- especially if you have any programming experience or have a goal to learn a language. For example, unless your project is a blog or heavily involves content, it's probably not a good idea to build it on top of WordPress.
  • If you have an idea you believe in, never give up. It would have been easy to give up and say I don't know how to program well enough to build what I want, but I think in many cases you'll surprise yourself in how much easier some paths actually are, compared to the apprehension you feel before you start.
  • Building something that's a little complex, takes you outside your comfort zone, teaches you a ton, and ends up fairly close to your idea (from scratch, no less) is amazing. If you have the itch to build, definitely scratch it.

Launch

Launching the site last week was exhilarating and tiring. It was so exciting to be able to take the site live and show people we know and care about where all that time and hard work went over the last few months. It was also very nerve wracking. Stress about the site not working or no one caring, or worse, thinking it sucks all hit you hard. You work so hard to get to that point, you don’t want anything to take that good feeling of launching away.

Now is the time to be patient. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Since launch, we’e had over 90 unique visitors hit the site and around 11 signups. On the positive side, that’s a 10%+ conversion rate, but it’s also way less traffic than I had hoped for, given that all three of us know way more than 90 people in total.

So next up for us is a push to get to 50 users this month. We’re going to start publishing more on the Relic Scout blog, hitting up social media to start building relationships with potential users, and what ever else we can dream up to help kick the site usage into high gear. At this point, users means more feedback, which means we improve the site faster.

I am starting to think the hardest part of this entire project wasn’t learning a new programming language and coding the site from scratch or the process it took to get to that point, but what we have in front of us. It’s an exciting challenge at least.

Stay tuned!

The iPhone 5

There are a ton of iPhone 5 reviews in the tech press, so I won't bore you with too many specifics, but the overall experience (compared to the iPhone 4) has been so positive, I felt I had to share something.

So, what stands out to me? A couple of base features have huge upgrades:

  • Phone speed: SO much faster than the iPhone 4.
  • Camera quality
  • LTE. Wow, no idea how it compares to Verizon LTE, but I'm very pleased with AT&T's LTE speed in Buffalo. It would be incredibly easy to blow through a ton of data with this phone.
  • Battery life. I saw a big increase over a nearly two year old iPhone 4. Obviously I can't compare new phones, but this to me is impressive given the three items above.
  • So thin and so light. It really feels fake.
  • The larger screen. I really enjoy the apps that have been updated to utilize the larger screen real estate.

New (to me) things:

  • Siri. Use it and love it. Especially now that apps (like AnyList and Omnifocus) can tie into Reminders lists.
  • Facebook integration. Yes, probably a surprise, but the biggest benefit to me is I can now upload photos and the very occasional status update without visiting the site or installing the app. Yes, I know I am doing social media wrong, but it is SO nice. I can keep family members up-to-date and not have to wade into the time suck.
  • Panorama mode in the camera. So cool.
  • Starting with a blank slate (did not restore my old phone backup)

I loved starting with a blank slate. I had over four screens worth of apps on my old phone, with many in folders. Starting over allowed me to add apps slowly and purposefully. And with iCloud, Google, and Dropbox I barely lost a thing. Now I only have two screens and not many in folders.

Over at MacStories, Federico Viticci did the same:

As I said above, last week I set up my iPhone 5. I had an iCloud backup from my iPhone 4S, but I decided to start with a so-called “clean install” — meaning, no iCloud restore. It’s not that I don’t like restoring all my settings and apps with iCloud: the feature does indeed work as advertised. But partially because of a self-imposed belief that iOS “gets slower over time” and a personal tradition of using new devices with new data, I preferred to set up my iPhone manually, without restoring any backup. And to tell the truth, I quite enjoyed the process.

<

p id=“yui_3_17_2_1_1407674114902_735451”>I too really enjoyed the process. And the phone. I highly recommend the upgrade if you currently have the iPhone 4. I can certainly see holding off if you have the 4S, but compared to the 4 the benefits are huge.

Paper Faces

My good friend, and fellow father of twins, Mike Rose recently kicked off a project called Paper Faces, where he will draw a portrait a day using the iPad app Paper by 53. To date, he's received a remarkable 800+ volunteers, as his initial post on Twitter received an enormous amount of retweets and favorites. So cool and well deserved.

Follow the post title above to visit his site and read more about the project. He's also accepting donations, so please do if you take advantage of his offer.

I was lucky enough to be one of the first volunteers and you can see my new avatar below. I gladly bought him some hot wings this morning.

That time of the year...

When it's either incredibly exciting or frustrating to be interested in Apple and tech: iPhone rumor/leak time.

Yes, it technically started earlier in the year (or more likely never stopped in the first place), but the weeks leading up to a new iPhone launch are always the worst.

Case in point, the 9to5Mac RSS feed, which just posted two contradicting stories within the span of two minutes.

Sometimes I long for a slow web, when there wasn't a rush to break news or post a hundred "stories" a day, strictly for pageviews.

Any other RSS/news/info addicts out there? How do you balance that interest with the overwhelming amount of over-publishing on the web today?

Stella &amp; Jolie

Stella is so great with animals. She absolutely adores our cat Jolie. She was literally hugging the goats at the county fair. She even loves bugs! 

Stella has been comfortable with animals for as long as I can remember -- she's never really shown any fear -- just curiosity and compassion. She was speech delayed and has two very talkative sisters, so I wonder if she felt more comfortable with and could relate better to animals and bugs? Regardless, I think we have a future vet on our hands!

I love this picture (even though it kind of looks like she is strangling Jolie!)

Restaurant meals are four times larger today than 1950s

According to the CDC, the average restaurant meal is four times larger than the 1950s. Soda size is 6x larger. Hamburger size more than 3x larger. French fries more than 2x larger.

The average American adult? 26 lbs larger, while only averaging 1 inch taller. (For adult men, the averages went 5 feet 8 inches and 166 lbs to 5 feet 9.5 inches and 195 lbs. For adult women, the averages went from 5 feet 3 inches and 140 lbs to 5 feet 4 inches and 164 lbs. Source.)

The New Reality

As part of last week's job report, the NY Times gave us a little insight into why corporations and the elite don't really mind our current economy and why things aren't going to drastically change (for the rest of us) any time soon:

Today the United States economy is producing even more goods and services than it did when the recession officially began in December 2007, but with about five million fewer workers.

Anyone who works knows what it's like during "uncertainty" or "bad times": folks get laid off and the rest of us have to pick up the slack. Why would businesses go back to a "bloated" workforce, when they can get pre-recession productivity out of a recession-era workforce? There's only one answer to that question: a massive increase in demand.

Where is that demand going to come from?

Europe? Nope.

Asia? Probably not.

Our government? Not now, with the massive state & local cuts or the federal "austerity now!" meme. In fact, the government sector shrank during the first 3 years of the Obama administration -- for the first time in 40 years. Obama has to be the worst socialist ever, right?

(Just imagine where the economy and unemployment rate would be, if the government had maintained a historical level of growth during this time, much less the kind of growth normally seen during a recession. The Wall Street Journal makes an attempt: 7.1% unemployment. )

So that leaves us: your common, everyday American.

But how can we do that when only 1% of the growth in national income during the recovery went to wages and salaries. 88% ($464 billion, as of the end of 2010) went to corporate profits, which are at record levels. (Which they are hoarding at record levels too. To the tune of $850+ billion.)

And this isn't even considering the stock market. Here are a few graphs to consider:

The Dow Jones is up 57.5% since Obama's inauguration:

Dow Jones - January 2009 to present

The NASDAQ is up 93.7% during same time:

NASDAQ Jan 2009 to present

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p id=“yui_3_17_2_1_1407674114902_386140”>Boom for the 1% and stagnation for the rest of us. This is the new reality.

Why I love Gimme Bar over Pinterest

Pinterest is all the rage, but I don't use it. Sure I checked it out, but it didn't stick. Why?

Well, to start, I got an invite before the site really blew up and the discovery part didn't fit my needs. People weren't pinning stuff of interest, so I didn't have any incentive to return to the site. (And it continued to remain irrelevant the handful of times I did return for a brief moment.)

The main reason, though, was Gimme Bar.

Yes, the basic premise of Gimme Bar is similar to Pinterest, but Gimme Bar does more of what I want and less of what I don't:

  1. You can save entire pages, not just images. (I save site designs for inspiration.)
  1. You can back up Instagram, Twitter, Delicious, Pinboard. (I use the Instagram backup.)
  1. You can back up your entire account to Dropbox. (Meaning you can take your data/collections with you!)
  1. The actually have a business model: Pro accounts for $24 per year (Oops, did I forget to mention Pinterest's shady business model?!.)
  1. There are no follower counts, share counts, follower/following lists, etc -- no reason to gamethesystem or strive for social media "fame." (Just collect stuff you like vs. a popularity contest or trying to make money.)
  1. Discovering new stuff. It's not perfect, as the user base isn't huge, but they do share things that interest me most of the time.

So, if any of this sounds interesting to you, sign up today and look for me! My username is endonend. Feel free to send me your username as well and I'll follow your collections.

The Joy of Making

Last night I had the opportunity to take the Letterpress T-shirts workshop at WNYBAC with Melisa.

The class was amazing. It was so nice to actually design, build, and create something you can hold in your hand. It's such a contrast to the digital world I live in each and every day. I definitely want to do more, and luckily they have plenty of workshops options to attend. If you live in Buffalo, I highly recommend checking out WNYBAC.

For my shirt design, I used words from a great Dalai Lama quote I posted a few months back:

Take care of your Thoughts because they become Words. Take care of your Words because they will become Actions. Take care of your Actions because they will become Habits. Take care of your Habits because they will form your Character. Take care of your Character because it will form your Destiny, and your Destiny will be your Life. - The Dalai Lama

The words conveniently fit in a scrabble-type format that build off each other, just like the quote. I really like the idea. I only wish I took a little extra time to embellish the design a little with some of the great wood blocks from the WNYBAC collection. Next time!

Here's my setup on the press:

Letterpress t-shirt setup

I decided to use a dark blue ink on a grey t-shirt. Here is the final result:

Final letterpress t-shirt design

<

p id=“yui_3_17_2_1_1407674114902_331936”>Since I was the first one done, I was able to watch Melisa design and build a great looking t-shirt based around the quote, “Change is the only constant” (originally by Heraclitus.)It was interesting to watch her work and make decisions. I came in with an idea and was super focused on executing it (thus the lack of embellishment), where she came in with a couple vague ideas and did a lot of exploring in workshop. Then she took the time to play with different elements as she built out an idea. Whereas I found two fonts that worked fairly well together (and had all the necessary letters) and went to work. I certainly enjoyed my work – it was relaxing to piece together the movable type, spacers, and furniture to build out my design. I definitely want to go with a more “free” approach next time to see what happens.

The Service Industry Generation

From GOOD Magazine:

Some depressing facts: Nearly half of people ages 16 to 29 do not have a job. A quarter of those who do work in hospitality — travel, leisure, and, of course, food service. A study of 4 million Facebook profiles found that, after the military, the top four employers listed by twentysomethings were Walmart, Starbucks, Target, and Best Buy. The restaurant industry in particular is booming; one in 10 employed Americans now work in food service — 9.6 million of us. Those numbers are growing each year. Even though more and more laid-off, middle-aged Americans are turning to restaurant jobs, as of 2010 about two-thirds of food service workers are still under age 35. And the industry’s workforce is more educated than it was just 10 years ago. In major U.S. cities, about 9 percent more food service workers have been to college.

I feel bad for recent college grads. Not only are they becoming the service industry generation, but they are dealing with very large college loans.

College tuition and fees have sextupled since 1985 and doubled since 2001. A faster rate than healthcare, gasoline, and consumer items.

Tools to Manage Time, Attention, and Focus

With three girls 13 total months apart (twins and an older sister), I often get asked how I keep organized, so I figured a post on my favorite tools would be beneficial to others.

The key is my iPhone, which is my second brain for the most part. There are three apps I use to help keep me organized: Omnifocus, Evernote, and Clear. I've tried a TON of different to do apps and other productivity tools over the last year and I always come back to Omnifocus for my to do list; Evernote for storing links, reference materials, and other useful content I come across during the day; and recently Clear as a simple list app. More on all that below!

Omnifocus

Omnifocus is a premium to do app for the Mac and iOS. The price puts a lot of people off, but when it comes down to support, app quality, and usefulness, there are few apps that can compete. You need to pay a premium for that kind of experience. Plus, in the end, $20 (iPhone price) for a to do app is nothing considering you'll use that app more often than pretty much any other application on your phone. If you consider one year ownership, that $20 works out to $0.05 per day, so it's nothing really.

Organization

I took time to reorganize my todo list last night, with a main focus on simplifying the organization and implementing a different strategy for contexts. (Contexts, for all of you not familiar with David Allen's Getting Things Done, are generally thought of as places or methods to do work -- so Phone, Desk, Home, etc would be considered standard "contexts".)

Projects

My new main projects view now has three folders: Personal, Work, and Eko Agency.

Inside Personal, there are two folders: "Personal Projects" and "Rituals and Reviews", with the latter holding all of my regularly scheduled items (chores, payments, Omnifocus reviews, etc.)

Then I added "Single Actions" and "Someday" task lists. Single Actions will hold all of the one-off items, while Someday will hold all of my ideas for future projects or items with no due date.

Work is set up similarly, but I used different names to make them stand out from my personal list: "Work Projects", "Work Routine", "Work One Offs", and "Work Someday".

Eko Agency is also similar, but more streamlined since it's less of a focus for me: "Eko Projects", "Eko Someday", and "Eko Single Actions".

Contexts

As far as contexts go, I chose to take a different approach than a standard GTD setup. My new method is based off an article on Simplicity Is Bliss called 'A Fresh Take on Contexts', which argues a better approach for contexts revolves around time and attention -- so how much time and energy you have available, as well as the level of focus needed for your tasks.

With that said, here are my new contexts:

  • Low Energy: tasks that take longer than 5 or 10 minutes, but don't require a lot of focus.
  • Keep Flow: short tasks, less than 10 minutes and no differentiation on level of focus. More on this below!
  • Full Focus: tasks that take longer than 5 or 10 minutes and require a lot of focus.
  • Errands: pretty self explanatory.
  • Waiting: stuff I am waiting on other people to do before I can move a task or project forward.

I did want to spend a little more time describing "Keep Flow", which is just a shortened way of telling myself these taska are quick and easy. Tasks I can pick up when I'm bored, feeling stuck, or not feeling up to taking on something bigger -- kind of an anti-procrastination context. That way I can knock off a few items quick to get back into a productive mode.

Under Keep Flow, there are a few contexts: Call, Email, Read, Quick Dashes. Where Quick Dashes are active tasks that don't take much time to complete -- usually less than 10 minutes.

The cool thing about Omnifocus is I can create two custom views (called Perspectives) for this new Keep Flow context: one for Work and one for Personal, that I can use to break down that context even more and have a ready made list of quick tasks while at work or at home. Brilliant!

Then finally, my favorite feature of Omnifocus for iPhone is the Forecast view, which shows you the next 5 days, as well as Overdue and Future items in a quick view. You can even hook up your calendar to show meetings and appointments in this view as well. So useful!

Evernote

Evernote is an amazing service that allows you to capture and store information in centralized location. You can then tag and organize your information to make it easy to find and refer back to on a regular basis.

What I like to collect:

  • Gift ideas.
  • Recipes (Initially. I end up adding them into Paprike Recipe Manager for actual use in the kitchen.)
  • Useful programming, e-commerce and web development articles and guides.
  • An archive of good articles I've read on the web. Topics usually include: politics, Mac/iOS software tips, and Buddhism.
  • Site bookmarks (iOS apps, web apps, etc.) to check out later.

Capture

It's so easy to get virtually anything into Evernote, from any device you use on a regular basis. I have the browser extension set up on all of the computers I use, an email address I use to send entries to (they automatically get added to your inbox), as well easy share buttons integrated in my feed readers: Google Reader and Reeder for iOS.

Access

I have the desktop app installed on my MacBook, the Chrome app on my work computer, and the iOS app on my iPad and iPhone for easy access pretty much anywhere. The search is great too, so you can find that hidden gem in your pile of notes very easily.

I highly recommend Evernote. Did I mention the basic service is free? Go sign up and come back, I'll wait...

Clear

Clear is a simple list app for iPhone that costs $0.99. It has a really unique gesture-based UI that is fun to use, so that alone makes it worth checking out.

I use Clear to keep lists of things I don't need to put in Omnifocus: movies I want to see, books I want to read, basic post ideas for this blog, music I want to check out, quick shopping lists, and other temporary lists.

Clear excels in quickly creating lists (it opens much faster than Omnifocus and item entry is very fast, as well), so it's a perfect fit for my use case.

Summary

That's pretty much it -- three tools that organize my entire life.

What do you use? Share in the comments! I'll also answer any questions, if you need help or want more detail.

Art Class

Last night, the Mrs. and I took a studio art class at Albright-Knox. The subject for the night was pastels and taxidermied animals -- how could we go wrong?

It was my first art class since high school and probably the first time I've sat down and tried to do art since then... and it was awesome! We had such a good time.

Here's my initial sketch of the bobcat we both selected:

And our "final" work (we both ran out of time, though I rushed to finish off the feet to get close to being done.

Melisa's is on the left and mine is on the right.

Christmas Eve Night

Christmas Eve Night

I love this picture of our house on Christmas Eve -- mainly because it doesn't look like our house. Glad I was able to frame this photo and not include all the other crap around the tree!

The long shadow of Mt. Rainier

Beautiful.

I’ve flown by Mount Rainier many times, driven by it, snowshoed on it, saw it literally every day while we lived in Seattle. (When it wasn’t cloudy and raining, that is!)

It was breathtaking every time.

Isn’t it amazing that something you see so often can still take your breath away? And it’s all because when you take time to look, you are living in the moment.

Take that same level of focus and apply it to the other amazing “every day” things in your life — your significant other, your kids, your family, your friends. You won’t regret a single moment.

Photo from Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

Eff you Lotus Notes and your 10 minute shutdown every day