I just put together a new page that lists all of the things that I use! I was inspired by checking out Uses.Tech, where developers and techies list the tools they use to get work done. I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what tools you find valuable!
We’re in the waning hours of the Trump Presidency, closing a tumultuous chapter of our country’s history. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that there’s no shortage of my opinions of Donald Trump. His (lack of) leadership and virtue has driven me out of the Republican party, rendering the conservative movement into a caricature of moral hypocrisy.
During the Trump era, I refrained from blogging much about him – partly because my blogging output isn’t what it used to be – but also in large part that I used Twitter as a release value for my political frustrations. I also felt that national politics weren’t as pertinent to our everyday lives, and would much rather debate local issues and policies that affect my community.
In our immediate family, we largely avoided political conversations. My daughters were 3 & 1 when Trump’s term began and throughout his Presidency we were careful to shield them from political discourse. We didn’t see any need to expose our kids to that level of tribalism and negativity. Rather than have to explain Trump’s immoral, incompetent, and unethical behavior, we just didn’t discuss him with our kids. It worked pretty well over the years, up until last fall.
Windsor is a largely conservative town, and with the election in full swing last fall, Clara started to notice all of the Trump flags and yard signs on our way to school. Combined with the second-grade social studies curriculum, she became aware that the election was coming and started to ask questions on the way to school.
“Dad, are you going to vote for Donald Trump?”
Oh crap. “No, I won’t be sweetie.”
“It seems like a lot of people are going to be voting for Donald Trump.”
“Yes, it looks like it.”
“Why won’t you vote for him?”
“Well, sweetie, Donald Trump is a bully. He does do a lot of things that people like, but he also likes to say mean things about people he doesn’t like, and treats those that don’t agree with him very poorly.”
“Do you like Joe Biden?”
“Yes. I might not agree with everything Joe Biden thinks, but I don’t think that he thinks people who don’t agree with him are bad. Sometimes people just have different ideas about what’s the best way to do things, and it’s okay to disagree.”
Since the election we’ve seen Trump’s darkest tendencies play out, perpetuating the lie that the election was stolen from him, culminating in the tragic events at the US Capitol. This has led to more conversations with my kids about the importance of accepting the truth and being gracious in the loss. I’m counting my blessings that I was able to still filter this conversation for my kids, and hope that they didn’t pick up on my own fear about this dangerous rhetoric.
I’m not naive enough to expect our politicians to be saints. I realize that every President says things that enrage and galvanize their political opponents, but the toxicity that has seeped into our political system is not sustainable. Trump’s unique superpower is his lack of shame. The ambition of most people is kept in check by their fear of being shamed for their behavior, but this never impacted Trump. Whether that makes him a unique figure or a harbinger of darker times in our nation, remains to be seen. For the sake of my children, I hope that it’s not the latter.
Back in 2006, after hearing about it on a podcast, I installed a music-tracking service known as Last.FM, using an iTunes (later MediaMonkey) plugin to “scrobble” my music into analytics that I’ve tracked over the years. In the nearly 16 years that have passed, the service never seemed to catch on, but I’ve remained a stalwart user, feeding my Spotify listening habits into the service. A few weeks ago, I finally scrobbled my 100,000th song and wanted to use that as an opportunity to reflect on my listening habits.
This is a follow up to my previous posts over the years
- Music Revisit: 60,000 Scrobbles
- 40,000 Scrobbles & Counting
- 26,000 Scrobbled and counting
- 1500 songs scrobbled and counting on Last.fm
In my previous posts, I listed out these categories and gave a summary of my listening history with each artist. Rather than do that this time, I just wanted to give a reflection on anything that surprised me.Read more
This has been quite a different winter break for us, hunkering down and lying low for Christmas and New Years’, but we found the perfect project to keep our family busy – constructing our own arcade cabinet!
I’ve had RetroPie loaded onto my Raspberry Pi hanging around for three years, but we thought this would be a fun way to showcase these classic games, plus combine Bethany’s developing woodworking skills with a fun tech project.
I found some great plans over at The Geek Pub that we purchased for $5. I’m going to defer to The Geek Pub’s post for the details on materials and items, but wanted to share our experience in putting things together.
We split the work into three days: cutting (Day 1), assembling/drilling (Day 2), painting and final assembly (Day 3).
Day 1 – Cutting
We started by tracing out the side panels as one continuous piece. After cutting the first side, we used it as a stencil for the second side, then went through and cut the back, top, bottom, and interior panels. Cutting took the better part of the afternoon, but we managed to fit all of our pieces by evening.
Day 2 – Outer Assembly & Control Panel
With all our pieces cut, we spent the next morning doing all the assembly. Bethany got to use her new pocket-hole kit so that we could assemble it from the inside. We started by assembling the sides to the back, then the exterior panels, starting from the bottom and working our way up.
While Bethany was working through the panel assembly, I got to work on the control panel. We used the hole saw to drill the 22 holes in the panel (we actually had to use the backup cut, as we hit a snag the first time around). We actually got a 1/2″ thick piece of plywood for the panel to better tighten the buttons. Once the holes were drilled, the girls and I set to work on installing all the buttons and the joysticks. We then connected all the ribbon cables to the USB controller. This ended up taking more time than expected, but looked really cool when we were done.
At the end of day two, we had the arcade casing assembled and saw the end of the project in sight!
Day 3 – Final Assembly, Painting and Moving
Blessed with beautiful warm weather, we got up and painted the outer casing, going with grey. We ended up spray-painting the interior black to help the monitor blend in. We then put all of the interior panels in. One of the things we struggled with the plans was figuring out the monitor. The plans specified a 27″ monitor, and we ended up using a 24″ monitor but weren’t sure how we were going to secure it. We ended up building an ad-hoc shelf to place the monitor at an angle, then put a piece of backing wood to keep it from tipping too far back. We then added all of the wires, speakers, and lighting. We were finally ready to move it downstairs into the game room and get things running!
We got the monitor placed, the Raspberry Pi hooked up and fired everything up for the first time!
Bethany spent the rest of winter break printing the decals and making the arcade look awesome! Bethany indulged me in printing decals of some of my favorite games, some taking longer than others. We were really excited about how it turned out!
Some food for thought for those who question the validity of the Electoral College…
These last 5 days have been excruciatingly slow for our nation, but do you realize that California has only tallied 3/4 of their votes? New York is a little better, with 84%, but between those two states alone they represent over 6 million uncounted votes – Biden’s current margin of victory is 4 million votes. Tonight while people are celebrating (or lamenting), every state is still counting votes.
A big part of what took the press so long in calling this election was waiting for a threshold state (Penn, Nevada) that would build up a large enough margin that wouldn’t trigger a recount. In keeping with the spirit of our republic, the Electoral College dispersed power and accountability, sharing it across multiple states.
As with all things government, the Electoral College is not perfect, but I would ask those who may not fully understand it from assuming that it’s without virtue. There are other tweaks that could be made (e.g. revising winner-take-all) could offer a compromise for many concerns.
Lastly, I wanted to share a chart of Swing States and Tipping Point states from the last 5 elections prior to 2020. There are definitely the usual suspects, but you may be surprised just how many states have had this status over the last 20 years.