Well, the great circular wheel of sickness has made about five full revolutions in the last week, so that Finn was sick and then got well and now seems to be sick again. I’m still fighting off the cold that’s been keeping me coughing and blowing my nose for two weeks, but it hasn’t knocked me off my feet yet.
I’ve taken delivery of a beautiful new 13″ MacBook Pro at work, and I’m in love with the Retina display. It’s difficult to go back to a standard LCD after looking at it. The machine itself is a marvel of power and beauty in a tiny little package, and I’ll be happy to carry it to and from work instead of a larger and heavier 15″, although I still have to spring for a pricy Thunderbolt dongle to get a wired Ethernet connection.
The designer who was working with me at WRI celebrated his last day on Friday, so the search for a full-time replacement is in high gear. I’m still working out how to handle file sharing and storage with the new designer based in the D.C. office; I inherited a Dropbox account which holds all of our current files but there’s no method for sharing any of our legacy files. I do have several external hard drives with tons of other legacy files written by people who left years ago, but I’d like to find some kind of simple managed server solution. It may be that I have to cobble together a shared drive in the tower until I can justify the purchase of a server license or a Drobo.
It turned out that I didn’t need any scripting help to count weblog categories after all; WordPress offers a counter in the categories dashboard. I dropped the data into a graph to view the spread, and it’s pretty much what I imagined: not counting Shortlinks, which is the category I use for sidebar links, House comes in second, followed by Photo (which I use for every post that includes a picture), Housekeeping (posts that concern changes to the site and technical details) and Geek. I did think that Finn would rate higher, but she’s also working against eight years of posts that predate her.
Meanwhile, on my main website, I made the first major update to the homepage in something like seven years. It’s really simple right now, but I’ll be adding and tweaking and updating it over time. The big issue right now is trying to find a way to serve random images out of my Flickr feed without using Flash to display them. I first tried an old Flash based product to pull images from a subdirectory on the site, but it appears Flickr has disconnected its RSS feed for Sets, which destroys pretty much any good way of pulling curated images. So, I looked around some more and found a very simple jQuery plugin to grab tagged images and cycle through them. I have to work out some of the responsive breakpoints, but it’s live.
Mr. Scout dropped by on Friday night and dropped off my new Blichman kettle, which is about as hard-core a piece of equipment as I could ever own. It came with a layer of crud at the bottom from the last batch of wort, but five minutes with a scrub brush and some baking soda and the stainless was gleaming again. Now I just need to kick this fucking cold so I can brew a new batch.
This is awesome: an Australian couple bought an abandoned French chateau and they’re restoring it. Of course, because this is 2014, they’ve got a weblog with a ton of incredible images at Chateau Gudanes.
Milton Glaser Critiques Modern Beer Art. I agree with his appraisal of Flying Dog and I was happy to see he wasn’t offended by Shiner’s label. I totally agree with his opinion of Dogfish Head; I’ve never been impressed by any of their labeling. It always looks poorly printed and dirty.
I’ve spent the better part of the last three months working on an infographic based on a report about the carbon budget and global warming. We just published Visualizing the Global Carbon Budget today, and hopefully we’ll get some good press and traffic to the site.
Driving home from the Target today, I scrolled through radio stations with Finn in the back seat. It was one of those times when all the presets were carrying commercials–except one: the canned drum machine opening of “The Way You Make Me Feel” pumped through the speakers. I left it, concentrating on getting us out of the parking lot alive, when a small voice from the back seat asked, “Is this… Michael Jackson?”
This from the girl who, only six months ago, would ask, “Is this a boy or a girl singing?”
My birthday passed with quiet family fanfare, which was just what I wanted this year: dinner with my ladies at Chick-Fil-A. Before you scoff, the sandwiches are good, the shakes are better, and Finn loves the playroom. Jen and I watched as she immediately made friends and crawled through the tubes, laughing. I’m fighting off some kind of sore throat so a quiet evening was just fine with me–we were all in bed by 10PM. Today has been no better so I’ve been drinking gallons of decaf tea with lemon; they have boxes of the stuff stocked at work.
Other than that, it’s been very quiet this week.
Now that I’m working with scientists and data and shit, I tend to be looking at numbers and figures a lot more than I used to. I got to thinking about my own thirteen-year project, this weblog, and how I might be able to mine it for some data. Using a feature of the widget I use to build the post selector at the bottom of the page, I was able to get WordPress to spit out a post count for each month. Using some nimble search-and-replace skills, I got the data formatted, into Excel, and then copied that into Illustrator to build a pretty graph.
As you can see, there’s some serious variation in there. Sidebar posts are included in the count, so it’s a rough outline of activity peaking somewhere in 2006 and averaging about 24 per month. Of interest is the high count of 63 in April of 2006 and the low count of 1 in January 2002 when I lost the file in an FTP hiccup. It’s a lot steadier in the last five years than I thought it would be, though, which is nice.
Next, I’m going to see if I can get figures on each of the post categories. Maybe I can find out the percentage of posts with photos vs. without.
Some kind of crazy front is blowing through this evening, sending the temperatures down from an agreeable 65˚to somewhere in the low 30s. What the hell, man? Just when I was thinking I could leave my winter coat on the rack. We went from having the windows open to shutting the storms down to keep the heat inside. Oh, well.
Grandma and Renie are coming down this weekend to visit, which has us running around cleaning the house in preparation. It will be great to see them for the first time since Christmas, and I know Grandma is probably levitating off the floor with excitement. Hopefully the weather will warm back up so they don’t have to suffer a wet March weekend in Maryland.
The CR-V is at the shop with new ceramic brake pads waiting to be picked up tomorrow morning; I bought rotors and pads last weekend with the intention of changing them, but when I got the grindy side up on the jack, I couldn’t get the caliper to release the rotor. Instead of bashing it with a BFH, I wisely decided on calling in the pros, and they got it done today, no muss, no fuss. Certain things I’m willing to take on myself, but any monkey business with important systems like brakes I’ll happily farm out.
I kegged my latest batch of IPA, called Sinistral Warrior, on Sunday, and it’s carbing in the cooler this week. I’ve pulled two glasses from it so far, and it’s tasty–and strong. I have to remember to throttle back my intake because it tends to hit me rather quickly. Next up is getting some time to bottle the pumpkin, which has been sitting patiently since the end of December, and ordering a session IPA from Northern Brewer for the next batch. I also cut my 4″ shank down to 3″ last weekend. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be–maybe 5 seconds with a metal blade on the miter saw, and 2 minutes with a file to clean up the threads. Now, when I install tap handles in the front of the kegerator, the tubing and inlets won’t be in the way. Half the fun of owning a kegerator seems to be hose management.
I haven’t looked at Facebook in about two weeks. I popped on there this evening to answer a question (I get alerts in my mailbox, but rarely respond to them) and lost a half an hour; nothing much has changed. I talked about creating more and consuming less at the beginning of this year, and haven’t done much to change that yet. I could come up with lots of reasons why, but the truth is I just haven’t.
I have a lot of things to work on this spring; that is only one of them, and the least important.
The WaPo did a very interesting article on the Christian homeschool movement and some of the underlying ideology behind it. I was surprised to learn how integral they were to the adoption of homeschooling as an alternative to public education but not shocked to hear how xenophobic and isolationist their doctrine is.
Over decades, they have eroded state regulations, ensuring that parents who home-school face little oversight in much of the country. More recently, they have inflamed the nation’s culture wars, fueling attacks on public-school lessons about race and gender with the politically potent language of “parental rights.”
The article follows a family who began to question their fundamentalist beliefs and sent their daughter to public school, only to find it wasn’t full of satanic child molesters, as they’d been told.
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation: How to Enable Advanced Data Protection on iOS, and why you should. I’d like to set this up among all of the devices we have here, but we run a lot of older gear that won’t be covered under this seup—and the idea that if I do enable this, we’ll lose some functionality on things like the Apple TV or this old laptop doesn’t thrill me.
Andy Baio has made many amazing things for the internet, one of which is/was called Belong.io, which was a tool using the Twitter API to scrape interesting links from the feeds of a bunch of interesting people daily. With Phony Stark blowing up the service and charging for the API, he’s shut the whole thing down:
Truth be told, it was already dying as those interesting people slowed down their Twitter usage, or left entirely in the wake of Elon Musk’s acquisition and a series of decisions that summarily ruined it as a platform for creative experimentation.
Songslikex is supposed to be a tool to suggest other songs you might like based on something you suggest. I’ve put in a couple of slightly off-center suggestions and it’s returned a list of songs that were OK, but I don’t know that I’d put them all in the same category. I don’t know how they’re developing their list, but I guess it’s OK.