Random things that have been collecting in my brain the last few weeks:

  • The last time I headed abroad, I realized AT&T had finally caught up to the competition and offered a reasonable international plan (use your data, $10/day).
  • I also realized I didn’t want to waste my data on stupid things I could wait to pull over wifi, so I made it so a bunch of apps could only update over wifi (most notably, Facebook). A couple of months later, when only using Facebook over wifi, and only using it sparingly (I’m ready to be done with Facebook), I noticed I’m using about half as much cell data as I was before. Thanks, Facebook, for preloading all your shit content, and for your huge app updates.[1]
  • I traded in my hybrid for an electric Chevy Bolt. It’s been a pretty interesting experience (more on that in the future), but I did find one odd bug: plug in your iPhone (after using Carplay) before the car is turned on, and it doesn’t seem to be able to boot the Infotainment system. Unplug the phone, and life is back to normal (and then Carplay is usable again when you plug it back in).
  • I’ve enjoyed listening to Crimetown, one of Gimlet’s many podcasts, but their production schedule just destroys my ability to remember what’s going on. Same goes for StartUp. Anything that’s sort of serialized just gets trounced by the seemingly random release schedule. I think the all-at-once-model (like for S-Town) is much better for stories that are serial. Or, at least be ready to release it every week.[2] I probably should have just saved up all of Crimetown and binged it.
  • I bought a Zelda-Mario Player. It’s really fun.

  1. Time to switch to the mobile web interface, perhaps.  ↩
  2. The on-off schedule is fine for non-serialized shows like Science Vs. and Every Little Thing.  ↩

We’re #1! We’re #1!

US News and World Report just (well, last week) ranked Massachusetts the top state in the country. In this uncertain time, when the broader country is doing its damnedest to literally regress against the progress we’ve made over the last decade, it is heartening to live in a state that has been at the forefront of that movement.

That being said, it’s not all rosy here in the Bay State. We have a massive income inequality gap, have a bias towards the portion of the state living inside 128, and have (at best) a public infrastructure in need of significant overhaul.

However, the state is ready for it’s next leader (sorry, Governor Baker), who’ll come in and take up the mantle of continued progress. With the right leadership, there’s an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot[1], and solidify Massachusetts place as guiding force for the broader US.

Also, the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox aren’t so bad.

  1. There’s clearly an opportunity to rethink our public transit system, which is a key factor in helping to unlock economic opportunity and close the income gap. If I had 10 million dollars, I would start a VC fund focused on companies in the Western part of the state (I mean, it’s not like everyone out around Amherst is a dummy). (There are some funds out there, but I think there’s an opportunity to really blow it open.) Massachusetts has a lot of workers who need to be moved to jobs that are ready for the next few decades, i.e. clean energy, being the easiest example. There’s also got to be some remedy to the housing issue, so that Boston doesn’t end up like San Francisco.  ↩

Top 10 of 2015: #9 Make You Better – The Decemberists

Make You BetterThe Decemberists

I think What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is one of the few Decemberists records that’s taken me a few listens to really get it. Normally, the albums are so theatrical, so dense with literary references, that they are, oddly, immediately accessible. You get it at first listen, and then uncover more as you go.

What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World isn’t quite as theatrical or dense. It’s actually a more accessible, friendly album. And I think that’s what took me longer to warm to it.

“Make You Better”, though, is an immediate pop hit (and was the first single off the album, I think). This is pure power pop, and really, this is just a pure pop song (even more so than “O Valencia!”, which might be their most recognizable pop song).

But it’s a really good pop song, with an easy sing-along chorus, harmonies, and just enough of Colin Meloy’s wordplay to make it a Decemberists’ song.

Want a TV?

As I continue to go through the process of cleaning up our basement after the dreaded humidity incident, I’ve finally decided to part with my long-time TV. I’ve had it for about 14 years now, and it was my first ever HDTV. It’s made it through 3 separate moves, it’s played a lot of video games, and it’s never had an issue.

I just don’t have a need for it any more.

If you’ve got a use for a 46" rear projection HDTV, with two component inputs, a DVI input, and 4 other inputs, I’ve got the TV for you. It comes with a built in stand (which you can use, or not), and I’ll throw in an HDMI to component converter so that you can use one of your HDMI devices.

It’s a great TV for your video game room, particularly if you’ve got some older systems that you want to keep hooked up (again, 7 inputs!).

And it’s yours, free. If you come pick it up.

Don’t mind my photoshopping of the screen. I just photoshopped out some of the random basement stuff that was reflecting off of it.

IMG 3688 edited

The screen.

IMG 3684

The base.

IMG 3689

Look at all those inputs.

I’ll probably put it on Craigslist later this week, so let me know if you’re interested.

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity

After all the travel drama, I finally settled in at home to clean up and re-organize post-wedding. With lots of gifts from our gracious friends and family, boxes and packages strewn everywhere from pre-wedding planning and decorations, and the general accumulation of mail and whatnot after a couple of weeks away, our house was in need of some cleaning and organization.

This was perfect timing, as it would allow me to actually start to organize our basement. We moved in to our new house in November, and a lot of things went straight into the basement and have been there ever since, waiting to be unpacked, recycles, or tossed.

As I walked into the basement, I was hit with a horrible smell and felt like I’d walked into a sauna.


Our basement was more humid than you could possibly believe. As I walked around to find the worst of it, I started seeing some of our cardboard moving boxes had mold on the outside. Then I found an old bookcase that looked more like a mold colony than a bookcase at this point.

Action was necessary.

In the short-term, I trashed the moldy bookcase and anything else I could find that was compromised. I bleached and Lysol’d any surface that looked suspect. I ripped open boxes and started transferring everything we were going to keep (and no, I’m not getting rid of my cassettes or VHS tapes … not yet, at least) to plastic bins for better storage.

And I ordered a dehumidifier.

Two days later, the dehumidifier arrived.

It was 75% humidity in my basement. It took about 24 hours to get it down under 60%, and another day to get it down into the 40s.

Meanwhile, I was emptying the dehumidifier’s tank every 6–8 hours, which wasn’t sustainable. With no sink or drain[1] in the basement, I resorted to running a hose into a large bucket, so at least I could let it run for 24 hours before I had to empty the bucket.

It took me a few days, but I finally found myself a manageable solution. I would run the dehumidifier into a bucket that has a spigot (sorry beer bucket). Every day or so, I’d empty the spigot into a watering can. Our plants get some water, and the bucket gets emptied. And, the basement stays dry with no mold.[2]

With the humidity under control, I’ve gone full steam into putting everything into sustainable bins, so they’ll survive the heat and humidity of a Boston summer, and then the cold, wet winter. And accelerating my plan to empty my basement of stuff we probably (definitely) don’t need anymore.

Anybody want a 46" rear projection HDTV?

  1. I think I could probably find a way to run the dehumidifier into the washing machine drain, but I’m not a plumber and haven’t figured out exactly how to do that. In the meantime, my plants are looking mighty healthy.  ↩
  2. There’s a $40 pump on Amazon that I can use to pump the water out into the yard. I may look into that, though it’d require me drilling a hole in my window (or leaving a window open) to fit the hose out. Or, it’ll require me finding where to drain that water in my basement.  ↩