M o n a x

M o n a x,
Yet another blog.

Tony Adams
email: tony at atoms.net

web: atoms.net

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    Charter for Compassion

    Creative Commons License
    All content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

    Thu, 06 Dec 2012


    I love this French duo. If I had to pick a list of my top five favorite bands I'm pretty sure that Air would be on it. Certainly if that list was limited to artists who are currently producing new music. And given that they are they only band which has ever asked me to install their widget on my blog... hey - why not?

    [edited] Google seems to think there is some kind of problem with the Air widget, so I've temporarily removed it pending an investigation.

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    Thu, 19 Apr 2012

    Note to Self: Cornerstone SVN Tag and Branch Operations Happen at the Repository Level

    I'm still getting used to doing version control via a GUI. Cornerstone is a pretty nice client. Is it worth paying for an SVN client? I would say not for personal projects, but my current employer was kind enough to pay for it. I am not going to complain.

    So anyway, I spent some considerable time trying to tag a revision - but the tag and branch buttons were disabled. It turns out that in Cornerstone, tag and branch operations happen at the repository level. So if you want to make a tag or branch, choose the project from the Repositories pane, not the Working Copies pane. That seems wrong to me that a user would do stuff at the Repo level, but I can see why they might choose to do it that way as it is a meta operation.

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    Sun, 26 Feb 2012

    The subset of Martin Scorcese's THE 85 FILMS YOU NEED TO SEE TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT FILM which are currently streaming on Netflix.

    The complete list is in this interview at Fastcompany.

    The Hustler
    I Walk Alone
    Midnight Cowboy
    One, Two, Three
    Peeping Tom
    The Third Man
    The Trial

    A couple on the list such as All that Heaven Allows and McCabe & Mrs. Miller were streaming not too long ago.

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    Mon, 12 Dec 2011

    Really Liked It - Some Hidden Streaming Netflix Gems
    Ok, so they are not hidden. And you may have already seen them. But we recently discovered and enjoyed them so I decided to write them down in case anyone asks. I sometimes find myself saying that Netflix has "no good streaming movies" but that isn't true. They are just hard to find sometimes. To get on this list, both my awesome wife Kara and I rated the films as a 4 or 5, that is Really Liked It or Loved It on the 5 point Netfilx scale.

    I plan to add newly discovered gems to the top of the list.

    • New Waterford Girl - Canadian - 1999 - charming coming of age / girl buddy movie. Introducing Liane Balaban. The only actor I'd ever seen before was Andrew McCarthy, but the whole supporting cast was brilliant. Set in hauntingly beautiful, but bleak Nova Scotia, the filmakers managed to convey the beauty, but also convey how that kind of beauty isn't a balm, but rather a bane to the restlessness of youth. I had the impression that some Canadian grant issuing agency requires the use of Canadian music or something. Much of the music was non-awesome. I would have preffered the folk music for which the region is (semi) famous, but the film makes it clear that that beauty shares the same curse/blessing as the landscape. It may be beautiful and exotic to us, but to a squirming adolescent it represents everything they yearn to escape.
    • The Yellow Hankerchief 2008. Road movie/coming of age drama/love story. Lots of sad and grim, but well worth it. William Hurt is great as always. Kristen Stewart is great at what she is always great at. New to me Eddie Redmayne was awesome. Now I'm looking around for more stuff that he's done.
    • Dear Lemon Lima Our sister Joanna turned us onto this delightful coming of age story set in Alaska. Fantastic introductory performance by Savanah Wiltfong. If Wes Anderson* could make a deeply sweet film it would be lucky to turn out half as good as Dear Lemon Lima. *Don't get me wrong, I am a huge huge fan of Wes Anderson.
    • Bill Cunningham New York 2010 Photography, lots of NYC content, biking but best of all, a portrait of beautiful man making beautiful art who manages to be completely absorbed in his work and yet 100% unpretentious about it. You want to invite him to dinner, but you immediately realize that you'd be depriving rest of the world of some art.
    • Travellers and Magicians 2003 Bhutan. What better explanation of the human condition than a film about an unhappy man in the happiest country on earth?
    • Sweetgrass 2009 documentary about a family of sheepherders in Montana. I have to use the word "unforgettable" even though someone else already used the word to describe the film, because that is what it is. Don't worry. You will not want to forget it!

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    Thu, 01 Dec 2011

    Further Evidence of Zuckerberg's Depravity
    A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa. Mark Zuckerberg

    If you agree, then by all means, continue to use Facebook.

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    Fri, 25 Nov 2011

    One Column Comment Approval System

    Not too long ago I built a web site to celebrate my father's 90th Birthday

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    Sun, 18 Sep 2011

    Not So Brilliant Corners
    The Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements thing at Eckhart Park this weekend was more or less deserted yesterday when I was there from six to seven PM. As a affecionado of festivals this one sounded awesome and well, brillant to me when I first heard about it. Then I discovered that one had to pay $15 to $20, not to hear the music or see the circus acts for a day, but PER SHOW of three or bands or several circusy acts. So if one wanted to check out some music and see circus acts it would cost at least $35 per person. This summer was mostly spent working on my house so it isn't typical, but I have not spent $35 on festival admissions all summer combined.

    People should not have to pay such excessively high ticket prices to enjoy the music or other acts at a festival. The idea was brilliant, but the implementation was flawed. I realize that there is more than one kind of festival. People pay hundreds of dollars to attend Lollapalooza and nearly as much to attend the Pitchfork Festival. But these festivals attract a very narrow range of young affluent mostly white childless people who already share a narrow range of musical tastes. They can present great opportunities to enjoy a lot of one's favorite bands over the course of a day or a long weekend. I admit that I am envious of people who have the stanima or attention span for such a thing. But I don't.

    I love the serendipity of a street fair or parish carnival. You pay $5 or $10 or nothing and you get exposed to a small pile of acts one has never heard of. Sure, some of them are bad, but I'm not gonna spend three or four hours sitting in a tent listening to the bands. I'm going to be wandering around eating fried food and looking for the rare piece of useful swag. The payoff almost always happens - I hear or experience something great that I was not expecting. This has happened to me countless times at ethnic festivals and most recently at the Old Town School's annual summer festival in Welles Park. I hear something new and amazing and my soul is lifted to a new and better place.

    This could have happened at Brilliant Corners, but I was not about to wager a $35 bet on it. I hope the organizers will reconsider next year. Open it up, dispense with the ticket prices that keep away everyone who isn't already a fan of the acts playing. Make your money from beer and food sales as neighborhood and ethnic festivals and parish carnivals have been sucessfully doing for decades.

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    Fri, 16 Sep 2011

    The Double Feature
    As if I don't have enough projects on the list of projects I'll never get around to, I woke up with another idea this morning. It would be fun to have a list of the movies I've fallen asleep watching after my wife has fallen asleep watching the first film of the evening. Not just a list, but a way to pair them up. We could then look for patterns.

    Last night for example was City by the Sea which I mostly really liked. Oh wait, that was the first movie of the night last night.

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    Thu, 25 Aug 2011

    Futher Progress on the Town Bike Project
    She is ridable! I rode it to the Blessed Sacrament Parish Carnival last night. The perfect bike for such a thing!

    The chainring bolts I had laying around from a old crankset were too long - designed to span two chainrings. I had some spacers but they somehow didn't help. I managed to find five big washers which did the trick. It looks kind of silly, but kind of fun at the same time.

    I also polished up the $10 bars from Working Bikes and scored a couple well used red grips for an additional $2.

    The Sturmey Archer grip shifter remains the bane of my existence. It won't travel past the curve in the handlebars and as a result the grip area is too small for my giant hands. This is not the Sturmey Archer's fault of course as they could not anticipate that people would be using their product with forty year old department store bike handlebars.

    Note: I revised this entry slightly on Aug 25 to make the images link to larger versions - the blogging software I use updates the date with the last modification date. sigh. It was originally posted on August 21, 2011.

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    Fri, 19 Aug 2011

    Make a Bootable USB Linux Installer with your Mac

    Yay. It was super painless to create a bootable Debian installer disk with a USB flash drive that I just happened to have laying around the house. I used these instructions, which I copy verbatim from this just in case that goes away someday, or I forget where it was (and my google fu fails me for some reason).

    1. Using Diskutil (Mac OS X only)
    2. Download the desired .img file
    3. Open a Terminal (under Utilities)
    4. Run diskutil list to get the current list of devices
    5. Insert your flash media
    6. Run diskutil list again and determine the device node assigned to your flash media (e.g. /dev/disk2)
    7. Run diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskN
    8. Execute sudo dd if=/path/to/downloaded.img of=/dev/diskN bs=1m
    9. Run diskutil eject /dev/diskN and remove your flash media when the command completes
    This also works just fine with an .iso image

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    Wed, 10 Aug 2011

    Progress on the Town Bike Project
    I should not admit this in public, but I started on this project a year and a half ago. What can I say? I've been busy with other things.

    Today I scored a 700c front wheel for $10 thanks to the pretty awesome, Chainlink.org. The 1988 Le Tour frame I bought for $30 via Craigslist. In 1988 Schwinn was making these bikes in its Misissippi factory. It would close its Chicago Factory in 1993 I think and Mississippi a bit before that. Even though my daily rider is currently a pretty awesome built in Japan (I tell everyone Panasonic, but I'm not 100% sure about that) '82 Schwinn Voyageur SP, I'm excited about the town bike's frame being built in the USA. True Temper baby!

    This week I also added the:

    • Bottom Bracket* - the first time I've used an old school spindle with bearings BB
    • Stem
    • WaterBottle Cage
    • Fork* - also the first time I've overhauled and installed a fork from scratch
    • Seat Post and Binder Bolt*
    • Touched up the frame with red nail polish

    * these all came from a similar vintage Le Tour donor with a very scratched up frame. I'm guessing either an '87 or an '89.

    The nice $10 Japanese wheel was drilled for presta valves! which was a bit of a setback in that a town bike should have schraders I think. But it was easily remedied with a drill and a round file. It seems to work fine. There are schools of thought which seriously oppose doing this so don't take this as advice. All I can say is that so far, it has worked for me.

    I found a used Ultra Gator Skin 28 in the bike room which I'm using just for testing - probably. I was aiming to run a 35 up front, but I'm not sure it will look right on a 25-28 rim. We'll see. Finding stuff laying around in the house parts bins (pedals, stem, tires, a saddle, even a patched up tube) will help keep the cost that I'll brag about low. I can always upgrade later. :)

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    Fri, 10 Jun 2011

    Safari 5 beta, Silverlight and Streaming Netflix Plugin Failure and Gmail Problems
    It took me several minutes to realize that Netflix was not working for me last night because I had upgraded to the Safari 5 beta*.

    If you happen to have the Safari 5 beta (which may only available for developers) and the you see a little grey box that says "Plugin Failure" instead of Sweetgrass, there is a work-around. Actually there are at least two work-arounds: Firefox and Chrome.

    Gmail is having a super hard time with the beta as well - to the point where I'm using Chrome for that also. Gmail is pretty awesome, but the web interface has been pretty erratic for me even with the stable Safari 4. For example, the click areas would often get messed up so that clicking on an email subject line would actually trigger a text ad instead. One has to wonder how much revenue Google has collected as clicks on ads that were not intended to be clicks on ads, but just people trying to open Aunt Wanda's latest dog update.

    I pretty much can't live without the threaded conversations which Gmail introduced and which Apple's Mail.app is going to include in the next operating sytstem update, Lion. It will be tempting to try it when it comes out, but the other thing I can't live without is Gmail's awesome spam filtering. I've had the same email address since the last millenium and as a result it is on the lists of a LOT of spammers.

    I had the occasion to use Mail.app again recently when I found myself needing to compose some pretty HTML email to promote GiggleBop. Using Mail is just a way more pleasant experience than using Gmail's flakey and ad festooned web interface. I'll be trying it out after I upgrade to Lion. We'll see how that goes after Lion is released.

    *I can't actually prove this, but the upgrade was the only significant thing that had changed about my copy of Safari and streaming works fine for me with Chrome.

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    Mon, 28 Mar 2011

    The Federated Social Network - Toward a post Facebook future

    This article at the EFF about a Federated Social Network reveals a future for the concept of social networking free of the problems inherent with trusting a company you can't trust such as Facebook. Yay!

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    Sat, 12 Mar 2011

    The Problem with Twitter - A Single Vendor

    Today Twitter put the kibosh on third party developers working on Twitter apps. I've been ignoring Twitter because it is not a communications protocol. It is a service offered by company. I'm fine with an ever growing mulitplicity of ways to connect with one another. The best of them will rise to the top. Apparently the people like Twitter and find it useful. Fine. Whatever. But when products or services such as Twitter grow into the status of a communications protocol we put ourselves on the track to the kind of disappointment we behold today with Twitter. They can do whatever they want with Twitter because they own it. They can shut it down. They can start charging for it. They can edit all your tweets into Esperanto. Today's news made me glad that I have not yet invested any time or energy into Twitter.

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    Wed, 02 Feb 2011

    A Food Manifesto for the Future

    For years I've been appreciating Mark Bittman's food column in the NYT, The Minimalist. It approached food as something wonderful, but that does not need to be worshipped. Over the years it veered closer and closer to my vegetarian diet. I was dismayed to see the column come to an end. Bittman told us that he'd be writing some opinion columns and doing a blog or something like that.

    Mark Bittman's first (?) Opinionator column, A Food Manifesto for the Future is 100% spot on! Bravo!

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    Thu, 27 Jan 2011

    Homeland Securtiy Color Coded Threat System to be Dismantled

    That the Color-coded threat system is to be replaced in April is the best news I've heard in a while.

    This is a solid sign that we may at last be coming our collective senses about the illusion of security. It is sensible and prudent to be aware of actual threats in one's immediate vicinity. But to live in fear is a very sad way to live. We can do better.

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    Mon, 17 Jan 2011

    A Refreshingly Simple Reason to Not Use Facebook

    "There is no reason for anyone with any chops online to be remotely involved with Facebook, except to peruse it for lost relatives. So, next time you log on, remember it's really AOL with a different layout." says John Dvorak in his Why I Don't Use Facebook article at PCMag.com

    I recognize that Facebook makes it super easy for people to do what they do with it, and that if I'm gonna constantly complain about it and dis it that I should have an alternative for grandma. I don't yet. I do reckon that it is only a matter of time though. Eventually the people will grow tired of Facebook's walled garden.

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    Sun, 19 Dec 2010

    DIY Tonic Water

    For a long time now I've been looking for cinchona bark so I could try to make some home-made tonic free of high fructose corn syrup or other disgusting sweeteners. I found a reasonable looking recipe How to Make Your Own Tonic Water and set out to gather up the ingredients OVER A YEAR AGO. While in Seattle last week, we stumbled into Traveler's Tea a wonderful Indian import shop/restaurant/herb store which was the first place out of dozens I've inquired at who had ever even heard of cinchona bark. I was stunned. They didn't have any but referred us to the amazing Tenzing Momo image of a joyful find at the herb shop in the beautiful Pike Place Market. Of course I forgot the name, but when we had an hour or so to kill before hopping on the light rail to the airport, we found it. I asked the nice woman behind the counter if they had any cinchona bark, expecting the usual drill - I have explain what it is before they are confident enough to say no - but instead I was asked,
    "Whole bark or powder?"
    I nearly fell over in shock!

    Our first batch was not so great, but I'm pretty sure I know why. We didn't have any allspice berries, but we had powdered allspice so I just substitued that. What is now painfully obvious to me is that a powdered spice is not a 1:1 equivalent to a whole spice - especially when the whole spice is gonna be simmered for a while and then strained out.

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    Wed, 24 Nov 2010

    Stand Up Against TSA's Invasive Security Procedures

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a page of ways to Stand Up Against TSA's Invasive Security Procedures. I had the distinct displeasure of sending a naked picture of myself to some anonymous security technician last week. It was hugely annoying, an unacceptable invasion of my privacy and worst of all, it was a complete waste of time and taxpayer money. It turns out somehow that I am not a terrorist after all. How we can stand by and be gravely insulted every time we take commercial flight is beyond me.

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    Sun, 21 Nov 2010

    Del Valle: a Pro-Bike Mayoral Candidate

    Ok, so it is early yet, but this is the first I've heard any Chicago mayoral candidate come out as pro-bike Del Valle and Bikes. Until and unless I hear otherwise, he's got my vote. Also see: Del Valle for Mayor.

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    Wed, 15 Sep 2010

    Zaytune's Pita Bread Not Universally Adored

    Until this morning, everyone who has tried Zaytune in Bridgeport has done little else other than rave about it incessantly.

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    Fri, 28 May 2010

    Please don't compare Sarah Palin to a hummingbird

    Please don't compare Sarah Palin to a hummingbird. Hummingbirds are admirable and stunning birds who can fly across the Gulf of Mexico without stopping, who brighten our gardens and pollinate our plants. They give joy and remind us about what is really important in life.

    In fact, please do not disrespect any form of animal life, no matter how low that life form is perceived to be, by comparing Sarah Palin to it.. Even the lowly earthworm aerates our soil and makes our gardens healthy. The feared and despised leech has powerful medicinal qualities.

    Sarah Palin is out there all by herself and in this world for Sarah Palin only. Leave hummingbirds out of it.

    Dearborn, Michigan
    May 27th, 2010
    7:16 am

    Reading the comments anywhere, even at the New York Times can be a painful experience. But this reader comment on The Palin Brand reminds me why it is sometimes worth the pain!

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    Thu, 29 Apr 2010

    '83 Schwinn Continental SOLD

    Four or five years ago I bought one of the last Built in Chicago Schwinns, a 1983 Continental. I got it from a guy with a guy with a basement and garage full of bikes. Sure, it weighed a ton by current standards, but it has been rock solid reliable and it has been a great bike for me. It has put up with a LOT of abuse taking me through lots of Chicago winters, crappy Chicago streets and lots of adventures off road in the forest preserves. But, I've started to accumulate parts for my next* commuter/daily rider so when the opportunity to sell the Continental came along I rather impulsively decided to sell it so that I'd be motivated to get moving on the next project.

    Behold those chrome forks!

    *The next commuter/city bike project will be built around an 88 Schwinn Le Tour frame. It is a frame up build as it has pretty much nothing on it: no fork even!

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    Wed, 28 Apr 2010

    Facebook: from bad to worse

    At the risk of this humble blog turning into just another jihad against Facebook, here is yet more damming information about Facebook's disregard for your privacy.

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    Wed, 31 Mar 2010

    Birds and Oil

    It is just me or is this blurb from Reuters both hilarious and sad?
    President Obama is hoping that a plan to allow oil and gas exploration off the coast of Virginia will kill three birds with one stone.

    That was the blurb on the front page pointing to Obama announces drilling expansion for climate push.

    I just cringe whenever I see the word "Birds" and "oil" in that kind of proximity.

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    Fri, 05 Mar 2010

    I'm not joining facebook

    Forgive the impersonal email, but I've been getting a few invitations to join facebook, and each time I get one I intend to write back to the sender explaining why I won't be accepting their invitation but I've had a hard time getting around to it. So rather than pretend that this screed is a personal email to you I'm just sending you this mass rant. You might be getting this because you actually invited me to join facebook, or you might be getting it because I've been directed to look at some photo or video or something you posted on facebook, only to find that I don't have access because I am not a member. That membership thing right there is the core of my main complaint about facebook.

    Facebook is a walled garden. The internet is supposed to be free and open. Walled gardens are excusable for private land, but Facebook is a walled garden pretending to be a park. I'd probably enjoy seeing the video of your dog applying for his first job, but posting it on Facebook does not make it available to me since I am not a member of Facebook. When you invite people to your home to watch a slideshow from your recent trip to Antigua do you make them fill out a form first? Do you ask them to list their favorite movies and their cat's IQ? You could suggest that I could solve this problem by simply joining facebook. You would be correct, but what I object to is the principle of a private internet. I join facebook today to look at the adorable video of your four year old niece doing Henry V's speech at Agincourt. Fine. What about tomorrow? Do I then need to join MySpace to listen to my best friend from elementary school's nephew recite Homeric epics? And the day after? Do need to sign up on Linktdin to download your scratch and sniff resume? When does it end? I'll tell you when it ends. It ends yesterday. I'm not signing up for any of it.

    And then there is the financial problem - facebook continues to lose money.Why does this matter to us as users? Well it may not matter for a while, but eventually facebook will have to do something to earn a profit. They have nothing of value now but an immense store of personal data and hundreds of millions of users. Unless they figure out some other way to make money, eventually they will have to sell that data somehow since they can't sell their users. There have been several occasions over the years where facebook has decided to try some new way to make money by compromising user privacy. Who knows what they'll try next? Will it be your grandson's DNA sequence that "accidentally" gets revealed to Martian terrorists next time? I'm not willing to risk it.

    And finally, (for now anyway) the founder and current head of facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is a bad person. Whenever possible I try not to contribute to enterprises which pay bad people large sums of money. I'm basing my judgment on one event, which may be harsh, but it was the only time I got to experience Zuckerberg without the filter of the media. I was at the SXSW conference in Austin in 2008. One of the keynote events featured Zuckerberg being interviewed by a young blogger/journalist. She started picking on him a bit about something - I can't recall what it was. Instead of exhibiting the least bit of grace, instead of taking the opportunity to help a youngster learn how to conduct a civil disagreement in public, he turned vicious - mocking and berating his interviewer. Now that was bad enough, and one could argue that she had it coming given that she started down the path of conflict. But sensing the audience's willingness to take his side, Zuckerberg egged on crowd to join in on his taunts and in the end completely humiliated his interviewer to the roaring glee of much of the attendees. It was sickening. Certainly his ability to do such a thing, to get a crowed riled up is a sign of leadership chops and great personal power - but to use that power to hurt a person and stir up a mob to magnify that hurt is inexcusable and unforgivable.

    I'm not telling you what to do, but rather what I refuse to do and why.

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    Wed, 02 Dec 2009

    The Charter for (limited) Compassion
    I was pretty excited when I heard about The Charter for Compassion. I even added a badge in the left column of this blog. It might still be there urging you to "join the conversation".

    I was excited about the idea, but now that I've read it I'm pretty disappointed. For me, compassion helps us recognize our commonality with all the creatures on our planet. The charter is pretty clearly limited to humanity. Humans or humanity is mentioned at least once in each of its four paragraphs. Humanity's membership in the animal kingdom is ignored. If we limit our compassion only to members of our own species, this selfishness will continue to be our undoing.

    Buddhists seek enlightenment "for the benefit of all sentient beings" and this clearly includes animals. If they could figure that out hundreds of years ago why should it be so hard to draft a charter for compassion now that is not so exclusive?

    I hesitate to even Affirm this document, as simple and painless as that act would be, I feel at the moment that I just cannot do it in good conscience.

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    Thu, 26 Nov 2009

    Bottom Bracket, Cranks upgrade

    Thanks to a lot of helpful peeps at Blue City Cycles, BikeForums.net and The Chainlink, I finally upgraded the Schwinn's bottom bracket, cranks and pedals. As you may be aware, these old Schwinns have a larger unthreaded bottom bracket, so tossing in a replacement cartridge is not an option. There is a beautiful adapter though, made by Truvative, which converts the big old American BB to a nice standard Euro version. It was supposed to be a straightforward operation, but my particular early 1980's Schwinn has an obstruction - an inner sleeve which gets in the way of the screws that hold the two sides of the adapter together. After a lot of consulting on bikeforums.net and the Chainlink, I decided to file a path for the two obstructed screws. Yes, it took hours of filing, but it was worth it. Or at least I keep telling my stubborn and frugal self that it was worth it.

    Here are the two channels I filed:

    Here I test the two screws to make sure they clear all obstacles before pounding in the non-drive side adapter: They threaded in clean with plenty of clearance in case I didn't get the second adapter exactly lined up.

    Here are both sides of the adapter installed:

    And here is the Shimano UN54 installed:

    add some (used Sugino $20 at LBS) cranks:

    and some parts bin pedals:

    and viola, a couple solid days of work and my twenty minute upgrade is done:

    I think the bike lost at least a couple of pounds. It feels much tighter and smoother, but it was due for an overhaul anyway, so it is impossible to say for sure how much of that improvement is due to the upgrade itself.

    tags: bike, DIY

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    Thu, 22 Oct 2009

    Brand New Music from Much Earlier this Year

    uh, oh, two music posts in a row...

    Somehow it took me six months to get wind of (prepare to cringe at the name of the artist) Das Racist and Wallpaper's Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Amazing!

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    Tue, 28 Jul 2009

    Green Rice
    Forgive this mostly a note to myself... At the moment I'm eating some Trader Joe's Indian food. It is pretty good and vegetarian and one can't beat the convenience really. A hugely great feature of this paneer dish is Spinach Basmati Rice.

    The rice is not just yummy, but it is green.

    So my next project will be to replicate that somehow. I'm guessing that including some fresh spinach in the water with the rice when cooking it will do the trick. Spinach or turnip greens or anything that leaches green... It won't be as dramatic with brown rice, but I reckon it will still be fun AND tasty.

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    Mon, 20 Jul 2009

    An Ancient Suggestion
    Every time unemployment approaches ten percent, the idea of a 32 work week gets trotted out by the usual passel of labor agitators, leftists and layabouts. For example... oh wait. Perhaps this time it is only me?

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    Thu, 18 Jun 2009

    New Blogware?
    It is sloth or boredom that drives me to consider switching to another blogging system. Blosxom is great, and there is probably a way to integrate it with some kind of photo-blogging stuff, but I'm too lazy to figure it out.

    So, over the next few decades, be prepared to see this space a changin'.


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    Thu, 23 Apr 2009

    I'm looking into OpenID. I needed to update this blog to test it. So this post is rather short on the usual drama and gossip to which I have allowed you to become accustomed. For that, I am steeped in regret.

    I am grateful that your forgiveness remains without bounds.

    Using these excellent instructions I was able to set up and start using a delegated OpenID in just a few minutes. But this is not ready for grandma. (with tons of exceptions of course) She is not willing to edit the HEAD section of her blog, assuming she has one in the first place.

    There has to be a better solution to single sign on than OpenID or whatever half-baked gizmo Microsoft cooked up. Doesn't there?

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    Mon, 13 Apr 2009

    Hacking A Bank Alert
    I had this crazy idea of setting up an automated alert to let me know when I'd racked up $1k on my credit card. I'm trying to support the economy by spending, but I'm also try to keep my spending under control, so I figured setting up a personal "soft limit" would help me to both.

    Doing such a thing however appeared to be impossible. There were a lot of preconfigured alerts, but none which would be triggered by reaching an arbitrary limit. But then I saw one that could be exploited to serve that purpose. There is an alert that will fire when one gets $____ away from the credit limit. I set it to fire when I got to $My Credit Limit minus $1000 away from my credit limit. Don't tell my card issuing bank. I have this feeling that they would prefer that we don't set arbitrary soft limits for ourselves.

    tags: financial, self-help, credit-card, hack

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    Fri, 27 Mar 2009

    Non Profit Status for Newspapers
    Last week we made some angel hair pasta with mushrooms. Somehow, it was not very good. We improvised a few ingredients, but in the end we decided to just dispose of the recipe and move on.

    I'd clipped the recipe out of The Times, a Lerner neighborhood weekly that went bust a couple of years back. That clipping was like Proust's madeleine for me. Ok, not for my entire life, but it did bring on some serious wistful nostalgia for the era of little independent newspapers. By any reasonable standard it was not a great paper. It was not even very good - but it was the only reliable place to find out about pancake breakfasts and community orchestra auditions and read a pretty complete police blotter for my otherwise neglected by the news media northwest side neighborhood. It was bad, but I miss it.

    This week I see some potentially good news: Senator proposes nonprofit status for newspapers posted at the SF Gate.

    Stuff like this gives me a shred of hope.

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    Sat, 29 Nov 2008

    A couple of weeks ago, Kara and I attended the annual member meeting of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. At the meeting we were informed that the organization had changed its name to better describe its expanded mission. The CBF is now the Active Transportation Alliance.

    At the time I was somewhere between crestfallen and dumbfounded, but I figured that I should give the change some time to sink in. Perhaps I'd get used to it.

    Almost three weeks have gone by and I've moved from crestfallen to livid. The name is horrible. Even worse than the vague name is the cold and corporate logo.

    Pedestrians, transit users and bicyclists certainly have a lot of overlapping interests. I commute to work on a bike almost every day of the year. I do most of my shopping on a bike and do as much riding to social and entertainment events as possible on a bike. But it is great to walk once in a while also. One sees far more stuff at walking speed and when one only needs to watch out for motor vehicles when crossing streets. I also use public transit once in a while - sometimes in conjuction with a bike trip and sometimes not. I'm grateful for the work that the CBF has done to get the Metra and the CTA to be more accomodating of bikes. As a user of all these modes of "active transportation" it is obvious that improving transit and conditions for walking will make Chicago not just a better place to bike, but a better place to live.

    I don't have a problem with an expanded mission as long as the historical mission of bicycle advocacy does not get neglected. But I joined the CBF because it was the local bicycling organization. It did more than advocacy, it - and at the time I could say "we" - celebrated biking and recognized that biking was more than just a way to get from point A to point B.

    Bicycling is more than just a mode of transportation. As often as I can, I go for aimless rides because it is a fun and glorious thing to do. I get some exercise and I don't pollute or need to send funds out of the country to fill my tank, but I don't do it for those reasons. I do it for the sheer joy of motion, feeling the wind on my face, seeing a new neighborhood or seeing an old neighborhood in a new light, from a particularly flexible vantage point on a finely tuned, but simple and inexpensive old American machine that allows my body to propel us along with amazing efficiency and impressive control. One is never more engaged in motion than when one is having a great bike ride. If it was about transportation than why would all of my best rides be big circles? The best of biking is not about getting from point A to point B, but about getting from point A and back to point A again with the greatest possible amount of fun. That is not transportation. That is riding.

    By removing any reference to bicycles from the name, the organization has exorcised its very soul.

    The most appalling aspect of the change is that they did this without consulting their membership. It seems that they (over)paid consultants to run this crap past some focus groups, but the members, people who allegedly drive the organization were not consulted. Institutions are generally soul-less, so this should have come as no surprise. But the CBF seemed different. It probably _was_ different.

    I will give it a bit more time, but my current plan is to request a refund of this year's membership dues and will not renew my membership next year.

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    Tue, 25 Nov 2008

    End the War on Terror - Gary Kamiya at Salon
    The last thing I want to do with this blog is just post links to "real" pieces and perhaps add a line or two of glowing praise or bitter lament, but once in a while I reserve the right to take the easy path. Especially when something is as good as: Why Obama should end the "war on terror" by Gary Kamiya at Salon.

    Stuff like this gives me a shred of hope.

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    Wed, 22 Oct 2008

    I will spend
    Upon learning that the RNC spent $150k on clothing and accessories for Sarah Palin and her family in September, liberal whiners are suggesting that us average joes won't spend $150k on clothing in our lifetimes.

    Well based on an average of my last three months spending on clothing, aproximmately $15 a month, I could EASILY get up to $150k in my lifetime. I would only have to live for ~833 years.

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    Mon, 20 Oct 2008

    So much for iGoogle
    For most of this year my default startpage* has been Google's portal iGoogle. While iGoogle is not perfect, it seemed to provide the best balance between simplicity and power for my needs. A while ago Google started to experiment with the layout moving the main navigation tabs from the top where they were mostly out of the way and at any rate only used one line or so of valuable screen space to the side were the two (in my case) tabs now result in an entire column of almost nothing. The result is a huge and absurd waste of space. During the experimentation phase of the project one could turn it off. Google now appears to be imposing the new layout on all their users.

    It is bad enough that this change is imposed on us without giving us any option to turn it off, but the dealbreaker for me was that this wretched waste of screen real estate was imposed on us silently. One day the screen is just 80% less useful - 20% full of nothing but two links which formerly stayed on top of the display area out of the way. I'm sure there is a plan up someone's sleeve to add more tabs in that column - or perhaps I failed to add them myself? But my experience right now is that iGoogle has outfeatured its usefulness.

    I'm switching back to netvibes.

    *actually my browsers tend to start with a set of four or five tabs including ssome kind of widgety portal thingy such as iGoogle or netvibes.

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    Fri, 17 Oct 2008

    a route and a test of schmoogle map embedding

    View Larger Map

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