Apparently the Howard County executive decided that they’re going to raze 4 buildings in Ellicott City and put in some kind of tunnel to port floodwater into the river faster. Phoenix Emporium, Discoveries, Bean Hollow and Great Panes Art Glass Studio are all facing the wrecking ball, even though they’re still privately owned. It sucks for the guy who owns the Phoenix, as he’s rebuilt twice and was up and running weeks after the second flood.

Date posted: May 13, 2019 | Filed under Baltimore, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

It’s three weeks in to the Elimination Diet, and I personally have learned a few things about my (new) gastrointestinal system that I long suspected but never really tested. We’re supposed to be eating a ton of vegetables but that can get difficult to maintain over a week, especially when I’m working in DC and Jen is still juggling teaching, her other paying work, and the house. As a result we’re eating a lot of rice as a side dish/protein source which isn’t the best thing for our GI tracts or nutrition levels. We’re into day 2 of the first reintroduction cycle; yesterday was citrus, which is a nice addition to our generally basic diet.

Casual readers here know that I’ve not shied away from discussing my GI tract before: during  chemotherapy/radiation and the aftermath, after surgery, and my second trip to the hospital when things weren’t happening. I’ve shared plenty about my bowels, so I’ll now share a little more. When they pulled out the baby, they also pulled my gall bladder with it. The gall bladder is in charge of producing bile for the stomach, helping to break down fats in the small intestine. What this means is that my GI tract, which I used to be able to set a watch to, is now a lot less predictable, in all ways you might expect.

Having taken almost all fatty foods out of my diet, I’ve noticed things are definitely more regular and manageable. If I don’t learn anything else from this diet, it will confirm what I already knew: I need to permanently alter my diet to take better care of the GI tract I’ve got, as difficult as that’s going to be. This means more vegetables and fewer baked goods, which will be a major shift in my brain chemistry: when I need quick energy my body craves carbs, which means I think of baked goods and nuts when I should be going for better proteins. Problem is, vegetables hold me for about 30 seconds and then I’m hungrier than I was before.

It’s hard to emphasize how much I miss coffee right now. I’ve written about my relationship with coffee before when I wasn’t able to have any before surgery, and if anything I miss it even more now, more than any other food I’m prohibited from having. I admit I really wanted a cold beer on Saturday after doing a bunch of work out in the yard, but I don’t miss one every night with dinner as much as I feared I might.

We do get potatoes on Wednesday and beef on Saturday (HOORAY) and then we go through different types of nuts until the second week in June. I’m going to make a GIGANTIC pile of hash browns and dive into that fucker the minute I’m able.

Date posted: May 13, 2019 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

That’s the full flock of tomatoes right there. They’ve all been staked (the tallest is now 3′ high) pruned and watered. I put plastic down over the soil because they have fungus gnats, which are annoying and harmful to seedlings but probably won’t hurt these more adult plants. In 10 days or so I should be able to remove it. I cleaned up a pair of clippers and pruned a pile of branches and leaves off each of the plants to keep the bottom of the tubs clear and keep them focused on producing flowers, something that got away from me last year while I was in the hospital. Finn and I hung a cheapo box fan from the ceiling to keep air moving across the leaves and hopefully draw some pollinators inside. Finally, I set up another rain barrel outside and transferred all the water from the garage barrel into that, so we’ve got two full ones and a third waiting for the rain we’re expecting tomorrow.

And, there are a total of four tomatoes already growing! A big fat Beefsteak and three cherries are already underway; all of my hand pollinating is slowly paying off because there’s another Beefsteak starting on the same plant as the first. I’m a month ahead of last year!

Date posted: May 11, 2019 | Filed under garden, greenhouse | Leave a Comment »

This is a hilarious animated video by a Dutch hardcore band that made me laugh out loud. And I liked the song too. (I took the liberty of starting it when the video actually starts).

Date posted: May 10, 2019 | Filed under humor, music | Leave a Comment »

Or, look here when the link dies.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: May 9, 2019 | Filed under friends, Scout | Comments Off on Nudge

As mentioned before, I took Friday off to drive Jen’s Dad up to Pennsylvania to have his driver’s license renewed, and the trip went as well as a daylong drive to the DMV could have gone. I was on the road early, we got through the northbound Baltimore traffic with little difficulty, and were sitting in the waiting area of the York PennDOT licensing center by 12:30. It should be noted that the caliber of humanity at the Maryland DMV is equal to that of the Pennsylvania DMV—it all resembles a methadone clinic. Two hours after arriving we walked out with a shiny new license and celebrated with a trip to the Cracker Barrel. Then, the ride home: I pulled into our driveway at about 8:30PM.


We were invited to be a part of our niece and nephew’s baptism this weekend, which was a great honor for Jen and I as the pseudo-godparents. The Catholics don’t want heathens in this role so we will pinch-hit when the Father, Son and Holy Ghost aren’t looking (which we’d be doing anyways). First up was Bear’s birthday on Saturday, where we gathered with a bunch of other parents and watched the kids play in a giant bouncy castle in their backyard. Thank god that  was on Saturday, because Sunday just rained on and off all day.


Because I couldn’t be outside, I putzed around the house and cleaned the basement up a bit. I’m on the verge of a major cleanout and a trip to Goodwill sometime this week, and I’ve got a pile of stuff up in the hallway all ready to go. The tools are mostly organized but I’m not happy with how they’re all separated, so I’ll have to rethink that whole situation later. I also started piecing in components of Dad’s old surround system into our A/V setup, which is a revelation in technology for this house. I brought his HDMI-switching amplifier home and installed it, as well as a center channel speaker, and ran some speaker wire up the pole so that all the wiring is hidden. We watched Game of Thrones last night and could actually hear what people were saying!

* * *

Brian has been asking if we’ve used the shower yet since the day he left, so we finally gathered together and tried it out before the birthday party on Saturday. The verdict: it’s lovely. The river stones feel wonderful on my feet, and the shower itself is modern and warm. There’s a big difference standing in there vs. standing in the cast iron tub in the main bathroom; the cold seeps in under the tub and makes your feet chilly. This is a wonderful, modern new addition to our house and I’m energized to get more progress made in there. The next things to deal with are:

  • The electrical: I’ve got my neighbor tentatively scheduled to drop by sometime this week to hook up the floor and some of the switches;
  • The closet door: a new prehung door in the style we want will be about $500 plus delivery, so I’ve got to sit tight until the war chest refills to get that ordered.
  • A toilet: there’s nothing stopping us from buying and installing one at this point.
  • Cabinets: this is the BIG thing that we’ve got to save and plan for.


Date posted: May 6, 2019 | Filed under family, photo | Leave a Comment »

This is leg 4 of Friday’s journey from Baltimore to Lexington Park to York, PA, to Lexington Park, and then back to Baltimore. At about 0:18 you can see where I took this shot.

Date posted: May 5, 2019 | Filed under family, travel | Leave a Comment »

This is another great story from the midpoint of the web as we know it, right around the time I was getting out of front-end development for good and transitioning to design direction: The secret plot within YouTube to kill IE6 once and for all. Having dedicated endless hours to learning about and developing around all of the bugs in IE6, I appreciate the guerrilla motivation behind this story, and applaud the developers responsible.

Date posted: May 2, 2019 | Filed under geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

As of Monday night, the word is that I’m not teaching in the fall. I’d been offered a nighttime class way back in February via email but hadn’t heard anything from the department since then, and two chaser emails went unanswered. Annoyed, I asked the woman in charge yesterday before class and she noncommittally told me their enrollment was full and things looked liked they were locked in. Thanks for the update.

Class has been pretty good the last couple of weeks, so it’s a bittersweet feeling. I still enjoy helping the students grow and learn, and I enjoy the challenge of art direction without telling them exactly what to do, but all of the administrative BS that’s been happening leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. Oh, and there’s that pile of grading I’ve got to get through too.

* * *

The whole family is on an elimination diet for the next two months in search of any foods that we might be allergic to. For me, it’s more about seeing what my body reacts better to without a gall bladder. This involves going cold turkey on pretty much everything we’re used to eating and (for the adults) doing two days of a “detox” meal plan. What this means is basic homemade smoothies and soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then we go to a limited diet where we can eat some stuff like wild rice, chicken, and some fish. No wheat, processed sugars, caffeine, alcohol, meat, citrus or dairy. Over the next two months, we slowly introduce these things back into our diets every three or four days, checking to see how they affect us.

Jen and I started on Friday and made it through the detox by Sunday; after two days of constant headaches and debilitating joint pain, our bodies had gotten used to the new diet and in my case aren’t missing coffee as much. During chemo and both surgeries I had gone to decaf until early winter, and then I was back on the horse.

We’re now able to eat simple chicken and fish meals until we start introducing other stuff. For me, morning coffee has been the hardest thing to give up, followed by baked products of any kind. I’m a carb fiend so when I need quick energy I go for bread or pastry. Smoothies are pretty good in the morning but they don’t fuel me like a bagel or yogurt & granola do. I also tend to graze during the day, which makes hunger that much harder to ignore; my go-to snacks are things like nuts, which give me a protein boost.

* * *

I was invited to brew some beer this coming weekend, which sounds great, but half of the fun brewing beer is drinking beer while you’re brewing your beer. Jen convinced me to go anyway, so I ordered an IPA kit from Northern Brewer on Sunday. I’ve also got two new (used) pots from Dad’s basement that I brought home with me which could be excellent replacements for the oversized Blichmann I bought used a couple of years ago. These are professional kitchen-grade aluminum, which apparently conducts heat much faster than stainless, but they’re both in good shape. I picked the taller and skinnier of the two and scrubbed it out this weekend. I also came home with a leave-in turkey frying thermometer which will come in handy, and Dad’s turkey burner, which looks similar to the one I’ve got. I figure by the time the 4th of July rolls around I should be able to have this new batch kegged and ready to drink, which is good because the grapefruit IPA is just about kicked.

Date posted: May 1, 2019 | Filed under brewing, teaching | Leave a Comment »

This is pretty cool: The New York Times did an interactive piece on food affects climate change, and vice versa. It liberally references two WRI reports we published recently: Shifting Diets For a Sustainable Food Future and Improving Aquaculture.

Date posted: May 1, 2019 | Filed under shortlinks, WRI | Leave a Comment »