More Griffin Pics

I took some more pictures with Griffin, down at Freedom Park in Atlanta. Here are a few.

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Griffin Helps Shop

Griffin was rockin’ the changing room at REI.

Griffin and Bill Shopping

Jenn and I have really lucked out with an amazingly happy child. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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Tales from Poor User Experiences

Here is a tale of poor user experience in two iPhone screenshots.

Flickr App Screenshot 1

I clicked “It’s Okay.”

Flickr App Screenshot 2

My first reaction was, “Well, fuck you! It’s not my fault you’re sorry! Thanks for the various options you gave me.” I don’t think that’s the user reaction they are looking for.

This whole problem could have been avoided with a non-binary choice. Or, it could have been avoided by not forcing me to click one of these buttons in order to use the app. I’m a Flickr Pro user so any “you get it for free” argument does not apply to me.

I do not choose to for-free help you improve your product. Instead, I’ll give you the name and contact of my wife who will be happy to do it on a professional basis. Instead of giving me “Later” implying that I’ll do it and “Sure” implying that I’m a teenager, how about “Yes” or “No.”

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I Will Sing the Song of my People

Just for reference, Griffin’s people are the Nazgûl.

I will Sing the Song of  my People

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Some Reduction in Breadth

Motivation
The plague recently struck the Jenn-Bill-Griffin household with everyone having gastroenteritis one after the other. I can state with confidence that my bout with it was one of the two or three worst illnesses I’ve ever had. While I’ve been sick for longer, in the past, this one hit with the subtlety of a bat to the back of the head. I was needing people to fetch me water because I literally could not make it from the bedroom to the kitchen and back.

Every dark cloud has a slightly less dark cloud outside it, though1. Once I was up and around again I discovered that I was down a good five pounds2 and I had a stark reminder that due to my back issues, I’ve been a sessile creature for the past year and a bit. This had contributed to a gain in weight and a redistribution of what weight I had from nice firm muscle to less firm flab. Thusly, things ain’t fitting so well around here at the moment.

As usual, the first place things get tight are pants, but for me that doesn’t have the mental “Oh, No!” factor as not fitting into my favorite t-shirts. So, we have a plan.

I’ve gone through my drawers and pulled out all the t-shirts that just aren’t very comfortable anymore. These are now in the bag you see in the above picture.3 To remind and motivate, I’ve got my official Worship the Pizza Gods shirt on display and I will now make efforts to reduce the overage that is causing me to be a bit more plump than I like.

Am I unhealthily large? No. Is this the sort of life-altering decision and stuff that people who go on juice cleanses and 12 month sabbaticals have? No. But it’s a concrete reminder that I need to get a move on. I’m forty and it’s only going to be harder to lose it the longer I leave it. For the time being, significant aerobic exercise isn’t going to happen so I have to start at the intake end. I don’t have a plan yet, but I will.

And it would be a shame to get rid of those t-shirts. I like those.4

  1. You know, near the edge, where the sun can shine on it. []
  2. Most of which is back now, thank you. It was all the water I couldn’t keep inside. []
  3. Except for some that are going through the laundry cycle, but I’ll throw those in later. []
  4. The date on that package is 9/18/14, but I don’t plan to hold myself to an arbitrary date. As long as I’ve seen some improvement by then, I’ll keep holding onto the bag. []
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Self Portraits with Timelapse

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Taking pictures of yourself can be challenging. Taking pictures of an infant is also challenging. I decided to address both of these issues using a piece of equipment called Triggertrap.

Triggertrap is a connector you attach to your camera that lets you use your smart phone to set various camera shutter functions. I bought it so I could do time lapse photos. Not specifically so I could make time lapse videos, but so I can set the camera to take a picture every two seconds and sit there with the baby trying to get a smile out of him.

Last night’s dry run seems to have gone fairly well. I also made a time lapse video yesterday of me cleaning my garage. I may put that up for entertainment value. I may not.

Other images from that photo shoot can be seen at my Flickr site

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Google Maps and Geographical Education

When I was a young lad, I read everything that Tom Clancy had to write. One book in particular was Red Storm Rising which was a door-stop of a novel envisioning what a Cold War turned Hot War European conflict would look like. It had many settings ranging from Germany (land invasion of NATO by USSR), to the arctic regions of Russia/USSR (naval conflict) to Iceland to the Atlantic Ocean.

During my initial read and subsequent re-reads of this novel I often wished I had a good map and globe so that I could see the geography described and understand the distances and geogrpahic barriers. I didn’t know where Keflavik was, or Murmansk, or any of the small German (then West German) towns where fighting was envisioned; I had to just move on in my head an concentrate on the story.

Now we have Google Maps. Which is wunderbar! Now you can zoom to any particular level to envision the conflict. You can look at the roads leading into towns and understand why it was a problem that the Soviets broke through there. You can see the distance from the north coast of Russia to Moscow. You can appreciate the Sea Lanes and why they’re important to a NATO task force escorting convoys. Google Maps allows for a geographic understanding that simply was not possible when I grew up in the 80′s.

I love it. Thank you Google.

Recently, I was reading the 1632 series by Eric Flint and Google Maps helped me to situate in my head the regions in Europe under discussion. Today, I was looking at Crimea because of the news from the Ukraine. Last week I was examining the route of the Iditarod. A few months ago I finally grokked the path that climbers use to ascend Mt. Everest. Last year I was reading about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Two years ago I was re-reading the Dies the Fire series by S.M. Stirling which has many important geographic components in the Pacific Northwest.

Google Maps has done more to increase my geographic sufficiency than pretty much anything, ever. I hope that schools are using these tools accordingly.

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Recipe Database App Wish

I have a dream. My dream is for a recipe database or app that lets you input ingredients, then spits out recipes based on those selections.

“Dummy! That’s what Google is for!” you exclaim.

Ah, but I want a bit more than that. I want it to give me recipes that only include those ingredients. Too many times I’ve gone to Google and typed in, “chicken breast, can of tomatos, celery” and gotten recipes that indeed use those ingredients…plus foie gras or something similarly not-in-my-cupboard. I want a database that helps me creatively use the items that are hanging in the pantry. I’m ok if it says, “By the way, if you happen to have green beans, you could make this!” but I want it to begin at the basics.

I could see some add-ons to this wish list such as you tell it the types of sundries that are always in your house. For example, the day we don’t have spaghetti around is the day we’re eating the neighbors. Similarly with a wide range of herbs and spices, flour, sugar, corn starch, etc.

I think this would be really useful to new cooks who need the assistance to get going and are uncomfortable just making shit up. I am very comfortable just making shit up, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something especially appealing that could be made with those ingredients that I’ve never considered.

So, somebody get on this. I’d pay for it.

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On the Go

I’m just going to leave this here and note that if you can’t find time to record at home, you’ll find time to record elsewhere. Thank god for portable digital recorders.

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Kerfuffles at SFWA

There’s been two different, related, dramatic incidents going on recently dealing with people surrounding the science fiction/fantasy realm of fiction. I’m going to talk about only one of them. For the other, see here.

For the first, read this, so I don’t have to write a summary. I’ll wait.

When I first came across the Truesdale Petition, I skimmed it just to see what was going on, then I got to the bottom and found the list of co-signers (I’m assuming they’re approved names or by now they’d be off the list). Anyhow, I got to the list and was deeply disappointed to see some of the sci-fi and fantasy authors I most admire stuck on there. This made me think two things: 1) They just weren’t on board with the latest generation or 2) I didn’t fully understand the issues.

I think it’s a relevant observation, without over generalizing that (if you do some quick research) you find the average age of the identified participants on the Truesdale petition is 69, and the median age is 71. I couldn’t find ages for Cyd Athens or Lillian Csernica, and I suspect they would pull those numbers downward1.

And, I think it’s a relevant question to ask: Why does this group who is generally older2 than the average active SFWA member or former member oppose editorial review of a publicly accessible publication? They may have legitimate concerns about the path of the organization or the editorial process in question, but I question whether they actually read Truesdale’s petition thoroughly, or the response from Steven Gould, the president of the SFWA.

I am not a member of SFWA. I will doubtfully ever be a published fiction author, but I am a consumer of fantasy and science fiction and moreover I am a human person who respects that women and non-white-men have a good reason to feel marginalized inside the genre. It’s getting better, but it is not yet good. This is what makes me qualified to comment on this issue.

I think the SFWA is going through some serious, public, growing pains but the transparency of this argument speaks well of the process because at the end of the day, people will know who said what, and the ability of potential new members of the organization to evaluate whether it is a club, or a professional organization will only strengthen it. In the short therm, this may present a marketing problem to the officers and staff of SFWA, but I’m confident that the organization will end up in the right place.

Again I don’t want to over-generalize, or tar an entire age group with the same brush, but if a self-selected group is outside the average age range for a set of their peers, there’s something there. Call it generational, call it cultural, it’s still something.

  1. If we assume they’re both 40, the minimum age on that list, then the numbers are 67/70 []
  2. Huge assumption that I’m comfortable making. []
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