Animal Portraits from Baltimore Zoo

Back in March we went to the Baltimore Zoo and I took my 120-400mm lens. I think this may be the first time I’d taken that lens to this Zoo (although I’d taken it quite a few times to the National Zoo in DC). I took lots of photos, but some didn’t come out the way I wanted and others just looked too much like they were in a zoo. I wanted (as much as I could) to have photos that could have been taken in the wild. I didn’t succeed with all the photos I chose for this post, but I was happy with the way they came out.

I don’t know what it is about prairie dogs – if it’s their silly chubbiness or their meerkat-like behavior, but I always love taking photos of them. This time I was able to get close up enough to see him sticking his tongue out at the zoo-goers.

I don’t think anyone would ever see this photo and thin I’d gone to Aantarctica or South Africa, but I did like that I caught them about to dive.

I’d seen flamingos my whole life, having grown up in Florida. But until this photo I hadn’t realized their eye color or the peculiar way their beaks bend. I remember reading once that they’re pink because they eat shrimp…but shrimp are only pink if you cook them. So I wonder if that’s true or not.

My absolutely favorite thing about this photo (that you may not appreciate unless you’re at least viewing it on a tablet) is the way the ostrich feathers look. They’re like little fir trees. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen feathers that look like that before.

The unease I feel at this ostrich staring at me is a good reminder that they’re living dinosaurs.

I know this photo isn’t perfectly crisp, but if you contrast the frozen water with the zooming ducks you’ll get an idea of just how fast they were chasing each other. My kids loved that they were chasing each other in circles.

I was pretty lucky this swan was posing for me for 30 or so minutes.

I don’t know what bird this is, but I do not want to get on his bad side. Not only is the one of the most bad-ass looking birds (behind an Eagle, of course), but that pointy beak looks like it could do some damage.

Right as we were getting ready to leave, this alligator was out on his own with a circle of people around him. The Florida person in me thought that was madness. But the photographer in me was happy to get a chance to take some really close up photos.

And also enjoy this video I shot of the crazy noises flamingos make.

2019 Concert #3: Lionize with Distinguished Gentlemen and Caustic Casanova

I had a series of almost back-to-back concerts as 2019 started up; Neon Trees and Fitz in the Tantrums at the beginning of May, The Doubleclicks and The Misbehavin’ Maidens in the middle, and then Lionize right at the beginning of June.

Oliver Brewing Company Tasting Room

This concert was at a venue that was new to me, the Oliver Brewing Company. Lots of restaurants and places call themselves a brewing company, usually to signify that they will have some of their own beer on tap. But this was literally a factory floor that had been cleared to set up a stage. I could see all the empty, unlabeled aluminum cans that would eventually hold their different brews. Perhaps because it was a factory floor and not a club or concert hall, the acoustics were pretty amplified. The venue seemed to know it was an issue because they were selling ear plugs for $1 each. (Probably from the stash they give to their factory workers during a regular day) At any rate, it was the first concert where I actually wore ear plugs because it was just too loud for me to enjoy; especially because my OSHA training kept reiterating that hearing loss is not recoverable. Surprisingly, it simply dampened the sound, but I was still able to hear the vocals everything. If anything suffered from the plugs it was a slight loss in the higher frequencies that I noticed during Lionize’s set. One other thing I noticed – of all the concerts I’ve gone to in the past few years, this is the first time I wasn’t one of the older audience members. There were a fair number of grey beards there to hear the different bands.

Oliver Brewing Company “stage” and audience area.

This was the first concert in a long time where I didn’t end up getting into at least one of the opening bands. It’s not a knock against either of the two openers, they just didn’t click with me. The first opener, Distinguished Gentlemen, had a much harsher sound than I prefer for my rock. The second band, Caustic Casanova, was sonically very good. In fact, near the end of their set, they revealed that their drummer was drumming with a busted ankle. They also had a neat thing going with male/female vocals. But, unfortunately, while I thought the music was pretty great, I didn’t care for the lyrics.

Lionize was great and my enjoyment was enhanced by the relative lax nature of the venue. I guess mostly because it was an older crowd (I think everyone was at least 30), there wasn’t any kind of venue “security” keeping the crowd back or from doing anything silly – because no one would think to do anything silly. Also, the bands weren’t on a raised stage. So I was standing about 2 arm lengths away from Lionize’s singer, just about eye level. It was like getting a private concert and it made the experience all the better. From what I can remember, the set was mostly from Nuclear Soul, with a song or two from Jetpack Soundtrack. Unfortunately, from what I could see of their set list (again, I was a few feet away and level with the band, so I could see the set list) they stopped a couple songs early because the venue had a hard stopping time. As in, during the last song they turned the lights on and off a few times to let the band know “time’s up!”. No chance for an encore or anything.


Still, more than any other genre of music I listen to, rock is best experienced live and it was really awesome to hear them play again after a few years. It got me excited for their new upcoming album. 


New Dishes I cooked in March 2019

March was a bad time to have gluten allergies in my house. I did a lot of baking and most of it turned out great. The bake-sale muffins (used blueberries) in particular were a huge hit. I never knew blueberry muffins could taste so good. I’m kind of mad at every place I’ve ever eaten them before for making me think they couldn’t taste all that great. On the flip side, I was not a fan of the banana-poppy seed muffins. I think for now I’ll stick to banana bread and banana snack cake when I need to get rid of some ripe bananas. The lemon-buttermilk pound cake fell somewhere in the middle. It was good, but I find the loaf lemon pound cake I make to be easier and taste just as good. Then again, I have some mods I need to make to this recipe next time around to maybe get a better consistency.

As for the breads, the garlic rolls and the rosemary focaccia were the biggest hits. The reason I made the garlic rolls 3 different times in one month was due to family demand for more rolls. And the focaccia was eaten in one sitting. The kids (mostly Sam) just kept asking for more and more bits until the plain half (which I’d done for them) was gone and the wife and I had the rosemary half to eat. The rustic Italian loaf was good, but just white bread – nothing special.

Moving on, the fish and chips recipe was great and showed how well America’s Test Kitchen thinks about their recipes to get the timings perfect. Their boiled carrot recipe also resurrected that usually bland side dish for me. We also really enjoyed the skillet-roasted cauliflower. I was the only one that liked the black bean soup, but it was good.

Unfortunately, I really did not like the chicken burritos mojados. It’s not ATK’s fault, it was just a flavor profile I was not into at all. I think it was the amount of chili powder in the recipe which wasn’t actually spicy, but seemed to overwhelm everything.

Moving outside to the grill, I liked the gochujang chicken, but I was alone in that assessment. The Vietnamese rolled beef (bo lui), however, got rave reviews all around. We’ll probably do it again some time in the next week.

Red Hat Summit 2019

self-portrait at Red Hat Summit

Red Hat Summit 2019 was my first Red Hat Summit. I heard quite a few people saying it was the largest one they’d been to yet and that it used to be a pretty small convention. That was not the case this year; it used up the entire Boston Convention Center. I’ve said before, concerning video games, that the best use of trophies and gamification of the meta-game are to get the player to take actions they wouldn’t normally take. Red Hat did a pretty good job of this during the summit. They provided points for filling out session surveys, which most wouldn’t have done otherwise. They also provided points for posting to the convention’s feed. I normally wouldn’t have, but reaching 1000 points netted the player some money towards merchandise at the RHEL store. So I posted about getting my custom t-shirt. This led others to comment on my post to find out where it was taking place and I was able to direct them there.

I’ve been to lots and lots of tech convention keynotes and they’re usually only slightly less boring than a commencement speech. But all the keynotes at the Red Hat Summit were very exciting and had lots of good speakers. A lot of the excitement came from the way that many different hackers, companies, and charities were making use of RHEL technology to do things. Of course, the most exciting were the charities. At Wednesday’s keynote there was a group here in Baltimore using FarmOS (based on RHEL, naturally) to teach kids about urban farming and change the conversation about where our food should come from. Another group was a school in Israel teaching programming to Jewish and Palestinian kids as a way to show them that they were not really so different from each other. Finally, a school in Minneapolis used tech and dance to get some kids into STEM.

Other Red Hat-planned events that I loved included the launch of RHEL8, which was done with a pretty incredible amount of fanfare. On the show floor I finally learned what Foreman is – the new Satellite upstream. I didn’t like Spacewalk, the upstream for Sat 5.0 and below, but Foreman looks pretty great. I plan to use it on my home network. After hearing various speakers talk about operators in Openshift, on Thursday I attended a session that finally made them make sense for me. They really change the game in Openshift and it’s neat to see so much innovation in that space. Also I got a preview of how a future release of podman will have a subcommand (pod) that will essentially be able to replace docker-compose.

On the more personal side, one of my highlights was Tuesday when I had lunch with a bunch of guys from Pixar. We got to geek out on a lot of the technical side of the company. Also, I walked 10.3 miles that day according to my Garmin – and that was pretty typical for most of the days. Speaking of fitness, on the Wednesday of the convention I ran my first-ever 5k which was blast. I actually placed really well and surprised myself with my times.

Red Hat 2019 Summit Swag

2019 Concert #2: The Misbehavin’ Maidens and The Doubleclicks

My second concert of 2019 was almost the exact opposite of the first one. The first one was a big outdoor concert venue (it was in Boston, but was configured like Pier VI in Baltimore) while this one was in the basement of a pizza place called Joe Squared. The first one featured pop artists that everyone has heard while this one featured niche bands that mostly nerds have heard. The first one featured full bands while the Misbehavin’ Maidens performed acapella and The Doubleclicks used an electric cello and other stringed instruments.

But there was one way in which it was similar – I wasn’t familiar with the opening band. Well, it’s not a perfect parallel because during the Kickstarter campaigns for both The Doubleclicks and The PDX Broadsides they mentioned the Kickstarter for The Misbehavin’ Maidens. Their brand of bawdy nerd music spoked to me and so I backed the campaign. From the way they mentioned the origins of the songs they sang, it appears each of the ladies in the Misbehavin’ Maidens is a song-writer for the band. Each song covered a different bit of nerd culture, but I think the biggest reaction was to a space shanty about Star Trek: The Next Generation. The chorus to The PDX Broadsides’ Smile also got a huge applause and laugh. After seeing them open for The Doubleclicks I can’t wait to see them again this October when The PDX Broadsides come for their east coast tour.

Then The Doubleclicks took the stage. I’ve been following them for a few years now, including backing their last two Kickstarter campaigns, but this was the first time I caught them live while they were in town. Laser said it was their first time in Baltimore (usually they tour closer to DC or Virginia) and they seemed genuinely surprised we knew the lyrics to their songs. That has to have been a bit of fun because the venue was so tiny (maybe 50-60 of us in there – if that many) they could see and hear us interacting with the music. There were a couple songs from their older albums, but as their latest album, The Book was Better, had just come out, the majority of the concert consisted of new songs.

It was a good concert, with a good pairing. I’d love to see either band live again. The only oddity was that the Misbehavin’ Maidens had been asked to do a clean set, but The Doubleclicks had a some swearing in theirs. I don’t care about swearing, I just think perhaps the Maidens could have done some of their bawdier songs if they’d been allowed.

2019 Concert #1: Neon Trees and Fitz & the Tantrums

At the end of Red Hat Summit 2019 (post coming about that soon) there was a double-header concert with Neon Trees and Fitz & the Tantrums. Neon Trees started things off for the night. I didn’t look them up ahead of the concert, because Fitz was a huge band so I thought Neon Trees was just a local band opening for Fitz. Their section of the concert was a lot of fun even though I didn’t know any of the songs. The lead singer had lots of fun banter and seemed to really be enjoying himself.

Then they played a cover of Human League’s Don’t You Want Me and I was having a blast because I love that song – it’s wrapped up in a lot of great memories hanging out with one of my cousins. Then, near the end they finally played their BIG SONG the one EVERYONE knows Everybody Talks:

Then Fitz & the Tantrums came on. I’ve been listening to them since their first album came out, although somewhere along the line I lost track of them and never got their third album. They had such a great stage presence and seemed to REALLY be feeling the music, even if they’ve been performing some of those songs for nearly a decade. Of course, concerts are always more fun when you know the band’s music, so I was rocking out the entire time. Then they did one of the better covers of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) I’ve heard. They also played some music from a forthcoming album, and those seem to continue in their tradition of great soul music.

It was a great start to my 2019 concert year.

New Dishes I cooked in Feb 2019

February is when I started really getting confident about my bread-making skills. Most of it was great although I didn’t like either of the two buttermilk biscuit recipes I made in February. By contrast the Amish Cinnamon Bread (ATK’s version of Amish Friendship bread) and Brown Butter-Cardamom Banana breads were SO GOOD. Both have been made again in the few months since. Everyone who was here to celebrate a birthday party couldn’t get enough of the Amish bread. The North Carolina cheese biscuits were another of those recipes where Danielle was skeptical when I told her what I was making, but ended up really liking them. The pork posole was good, but flavor-wise reminded me a lot of the chili from the same ATK book. The Vermouth cracked potatoes from Milk Street were certainly a different flavor than I’m used to for potatoes, but I wasn’t dying to make it again. By contrast I loved the stuffed chicken. It had a pesto I finally loved (no pine nuts and lots of basil) and great flavor. It was my mom’s favorite dish for the weekend she was visiting. The skillet turkey burgers were also great. The panade made it the best turkey burgers I’d ever had even though I would still prefer a beef burger if given a choice. Finally, the thai chicken soup was good and spicy.

Upgraded Laptop to Fedora 30

Now that I’m back from Red Hat Summit, I am ready to start upgrading my Fedora computers. Well, probably not the server or the living room HTPC – I’ll take advantage of the fact that Fedora supports the n-1 release to reduce headaches and downtime. As I’ve done for a few releases now, I used the dnf upgrade facility and it worked fine. So far things seem to be working as they should. I got a weird error that said vmlinuz-5.0….. crashed, but given that it was a .fc29 package, I’m going to let that slide for now unless it turns out that things start acting funky on the laptop.

The self-hosting journey continues

Although I’ve had a website since the mid-90s, it was 2005 or thereabouts that I first started hosting my own sites rather than relying on other sites. The first bit of hosting involved blogging and I tried a few different software packages before settling on WordPress. And other than playing around with phpBB for my family and trying out Drupal for a bit for another site, that was it for a long time. Then Google abandoned Google reader so I moved to ttrss. And it was awesome and I didn’t have to worry it would ever go away because I was hosting it. But then this year I learned that Google Music was going to be going away and all the users were going to be pushed to Youtube Music. Unsure of whether my uploaded tracks would really migrate over (Amazon and some others have recently decided they weren’t going to host personally updated tracks), I decided to host Ampache. This had the side-benefit of actually allowing me to listen to my music collection at work since work blocks anything from Google Play. The most recent bit of self-hosting was because Google is about to get rid of Hangouts. Or rather, push all the regular Joes off in favor of making it a business tool. So that, coupled with Slack no longer working at work, led me to start up a Matrix server. That’s been plenty of fun, especially figuring out how to Federate, which allows me to access any open rooms from any other Matrix server.

As a long-time Fedora user, I just wanted to share for anyone who’s either hosting a Matrix server or participating on one and would like a really slick app, you should check out Spectral. It’s not in the repos (and unfortunately most of the other cool apps only have Ubuntu packages), but thanks to recent events giving us the cross-distro Flatpak standard, you can install it that way. Just go to the Spectral Flathub page and follow the instructions. Unlike some of the other, boring looking apps, it looks just as slick (if not moreso) as the :

Podcasts I’m Listening to in 2019

I’ve both added and dropped some podcasts since last time around. Where I’m listing the same podcast as last year I may use the same description as in the past with slight (or no) variation.

Public Radio

Radiolab – Heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Radiolab is a lot like TAL except with a much bigger focus on sound effects. It is, in a way, the descendant of the old radio shows of the 30s and 40s. (Approx 30-45 min)

Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  (Approx 30 min long)

Codebreaker: A tech podcast. Season 1 asked the question “Is it Evil?” of various technologies. still on my feed, but hasn’t release a new episode in 27 months.

On the Media –  Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows. It tends to have a heavy focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Freakonomics – Essentially an audio, episodic version of the eponymous book. If you enjoyed the insights of the book, you’ll really enjoy this podcast. (Approx 30 min)

The Infinite Monkey Cage – a BBC radio show about science. A panel of scientists (and one media star who is interested in science) talk about a topic. The only bummer is that the shows are quite infrequent. Something like 4 weekly episodes per quarter (Approx 30 min)


Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – if you’re a history buff you really need to be listening to this podcast. Dan’s well-researched podcast presents bits of history you never heard of in ways you never thought of it. He does a great job of making ancient societies relate-able. The only bad thing is that there is a long gap between episodes due to the research involved. (Varies. Approx 1.5 – 4 hrs)

Hardcore History Addendum – Meant to bridge the gap between Hardcore History episodes, it focuses on interviews and smaller topics.

The Dollop – A very funny and very profane look at American history. The premise: The host tells a story of American history to the other guy, who doesn’t know ahead of time what the story’s about. It’s a premise that leads to some great reactions from the person not in the know (usually Gareth, but sometimes they do a Reverse Dollop). Also, listening to this podcast is a great reminder that the past is full of some really messed up people and situations.

History Unplugged – I found this podcast when I was looking for Dan Carlin’s new podcast that’s supposed to bridge the gap between Hardcore History episodes. I enjoy his question and answer episodes. (20 minutes) Still on my feed, but it’s been 7 months since the last episode

Tides of History – I liken this podcast to the other side of Hardcore History. Dan Carlin tends to focus on the big movers and shakers in history. So far, in Tides of History he’s focused a lot on the experience of the common man (or woman) in the time period he’s exploring. Very entertaining and, unlike Hardcore History, it’s not on a George RR Martin update pace. (Usually 20-40 minutes)


WTF with Marc Maron – This is a pretty solid podcast which mostly consists of Marc Maron interviewing comedians.  As with any interview-based show, the episodes are hit or miss, although more often than not they are really good.  Occasionally he does a live show in which he’s still interviewing people, but with 4-6 per episode it’s much less in-depth.  And, since it has an audience, the guest is performing more than being open.  The only irritating thing is that Marc starts off each episode with a rant/listener email reading.  Most of the time this is neither interesting nor funny.  I wish he’d do his rant at the end of the episode so that those of us who just want to hear a great interview with a comedian we like can easily skip the monologue.  (Approx 1.5 hours long)

Conan o’Brien Needs a Friend – It’s kind of like WTF, but much, much jokier.

Science Fiction Short Stories

Clarkesworld Magazine

Escape Pod

There isn’t much to differentiate these two podcasts.  They both feature great selections of short stories.  I added them to my podcatcher to get a dose of fiction among the more non-fiction podcasts I usually listen to.  Also, there’s something great about short-form fiction where you have to build the world AND tell the story in a very concise way.  The main difference between the two podcasts is that Clarkesworld has pretty much just one narrator who’s quite incredible.  Escape Pod tends to have a group of narrators.  Most of them are great – every once in a while there’s a less than stellar one.  Clarkesworld tends to end the story with the narrator’s interpretation and Escape Pod tends to end with reader comments from a few episodes ago. (varies. 15 min to 45 min)

Voyage to the Stars – an improv serialized science fiction story about a group of misfits piloting a sentient ship. They have a plot they’re working towards, but all the dialog in each scene is improvised.


How Did This Get Made – Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (plus the occasional guest) watch movies from the last few decades that will probably be in the future’s version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The movies are often incredibly baffling and full of strange plot points. One of the best parts of the show is “Second Opinions” where Paul goes to to get 5 Star ratings for the movie they just spent about an hour lambasting. Every other episode is a mini episode that previews the next show, has a section called “Corrections and Omissions”, and Qs and As. The first two sections are great. The last one varies depending on the quality of the questions and answers. It can be pretty funny, but most times I just skip it. (Approx 1 hr)

Unspooled – Paul Scheer’s serious movie podcast. He teams up with Amy Nicholson to talk about movies from the AFI Top 100 best American movies list. It’s pretty neat to hear them really dissect these movies and they usually have an interview with someone involved in the movie.

Twinsies – Andy Wood from Probably Science and another guy who might just mention that he has a film degree from Arizona State talk about two movies that came out around the same time and are almost the same movie – at least superficially. For example Antz v A Bug’s Life or The Illusionist v The Prestige. Good for film/pop culture nerds. (approximately 45 minutes)


The Bugle – Andy Zaltzman and another comedian (it’s a rotational chair since John Olive left a few years ago) make fun of the news. In a way, it’s like a How Did This Get Made for news. Also similar to The Daily Show in the incredulity of what people in the news are doing. (Approx 30 min)

Political Gabfest (from Slate) – This has taken the role that Talk of the Nation’s Wednesday slot left vacant when the show went off the air. They talk about politics (usually swinging heavily left or sometimes libertarian while ToTN was more neutral) and I get a dose of what everyone’s talking about in politics. (Approximatly 1 hour)

Common Sense with Dan Carlin – If you like the attention Dan puts towards Hardcore History, then you’ll probably love this take on the news. Usually Dan takes one (max 2) topics from the news and by the time he’s done with it, I’ve seen 2-3 different points of view. Sometimes there’s a clearly right point of view (the sky is blue), but other times each side has valid points and neither one has the complete high ground. Dan is a complex creature, like many of us. On some topics he’s more likely to agree with Dems, other time Republicans, and sometimes neither. Other times he agrees with their Platonic Ideal Version, but not their RealPolitik version. Either way, I’m always overjoyed when it shows up – which is somewhere between biweekly and monthly. (Approximately 45 minutes) still on my feed, but it’s been 10 months since the last episode

FiveThirtyEight Elections – a great, wonky podcast from the guys that brought you the most accurate election predictions. Has continued beyond the elections due to the odd circumstances of the Trump administration.

What Trump can teach us about Con Law – Hosted by Roman Mars of 99% Invisible and Elizabeth Joh, a constitutional law professor, it explores issues of constitutional law around statements, executive orders, etc that Trump has made. Very informative and explains a lot about how certain things that affect other politicians don’t affect the present. (15 minutes)


Give Me Fictionnote: I’m still subscribed to this podcast, but it’s been 34 months since the last episode. A pretty hilarious (to my sense of humor) super short story podcast. It’s recorded live (which often spices up comedy) and seems to skew Gen X/Millenial in its humor.  (Varies, but usually under 15 minutes)

Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen – The great voice actor behind two Ninja Turtles, Pinky, Yakko, and many, many other cartoon characters interviews other voice actors. It’s like WTF,  but without the annoying self-reflection 10-15 minutes that I always skip on Maron’s podcast. If you enjoy voice acting nerdom or want a place to start, check this out. (Approximately 1 hour)

Boars, Gore, and Swords: A Game of Throne Podcast – two comedians (and sometimes some friends) discuss each episode of A Game of Thrones and each chapter of the books. While it’s primarily funny, it does sometimes lead me to some deeper insights into each episode. As they’ve gotten closer to the end of the published books and the final season, they’ve branched out to include a lot of “What You Should Be Watching” episode where they cover different movies and TV shows. They’ve introduced me to a lot of shows that I’ve ended up really loving, like Counterpart.

The Allusionist – a podcast about words, where they come from, and how we use them

Nancy – A WNYC podcast about LGBT culture. It’s fascinating for me to hear about a culture I’ve absolutely no experience with and the differences in the life experiences of the hosts and their guests. Also interesting having Kathy Tu as a co-host because the bits of LGBT culture I’ve seen before were from a white perspective and she provides an asian perspective on the LGBT experience. (15 minutes)

Imaginary Worlds – a look at what makes science fiction and fantasy so enjoyable whether as books, film, or music.

Decoder Ring – they take a look at a cultural mystery or meme and where it came from and how it’s affecting culture. Examples include: Truck Nutz, Sad Jennifer Aniston, The Incunabula Papers, and Clown Panic.

SciFi Diner Podcast – I discovered them when I went to Farpoint this year. They talk about SFF stuff. So far from the episodes I’ve heard, it’s mostly about SFF movies.


You Are Not So Smart – the host, who wrote an eponymous book, tackles topics of self-delusion. Examples include placebos, alternative medicine, and conspiracy theories. (Approximately 45 min) I’m still subscribed to the feed, but it’s been 9 months since the last episode

Probably Science – some comedians who used to work in the science and tech fields bring on other comedians (of various levels of scientific knowledge) to discuss pop science and where the articles might be misleading.

Star Talk Radio – Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s official podcast feed. Some episodes are a show hosted by him in which he either interviews a guest or answers listener questions. Others are Chuck Nice and another guy talking about the science of sports.


99% Invisible – Similar in scope to the NPR podcast Invisibilia, this one was there first. It explores the things that are in the background of life. Examples include architectural details we often miss or stories that tell how regions came to be. Production is similar in sonic greatness to RadioLab.  (Approx 15 min)

GoodMuslimBadMuslim – a window into what it’s like to be a Muslim in modern America.

Politically Reactive – note: I’m still subscribed to this podcast, but it’s been 12 months since the last episode. W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu discuss politics with some jokes and some interviews with people mostly on the left, but sometimes on the right. They are respectful and always provide context to what’s being said.

More Perfect – Explores Supreme Court rulings and how they affect America.

Song Exploder – they pick a song and a member from that band explains how they put it together. They usually look at each layer of the track – vocals, drums, guitar, etc and talk about why each decision was made. Can range from interesting to revealing.

Business Wars – focuses on business rivalries like Netflix v Blockbuster, Nike v Adidas, or Marvel v DC. Usually 4-6 episodes per topic and a reasonably deep dive into the subjects.


Milk Street – a cooking podcast that goes along with Chris Kimball’s new enterpise, Milk Street. They interview a chef or two, have a question and answer section, and go over a recipe.(Approximately an hour)

Proof – a short podcast by the folks at America’s Test kitchen that looks at various food culture stories. Previous episodes include Fair Foods, Bowls, and Ketchup. (usually about 15-20 minutes)

Serious Eats – Ed Levine interviews a chef about their life and about food.

January Snow Day

Since becoming a parent it’s been a common theme of the blog that I find it fascinating experiencing the kids getting older and, therefore, more able to process the world around them. This winter was the first time the twins could be out in the snow for more than just a few minutes. Not only were they more able to weather the cold, but they were also strong enough to move around in the snow without too much frustration. They were also finally able to have a snowball fight. Although, watch Sam’s face closely from beginning to end in the following video, it’s priceless:

Snowball fight

Because Stella often makes one work REALLY hard for a smile, I really love this photo.

Hurray for SNOW!

Of course, the twins aren’t the only ones who are getting more skilled at getting around in the snow. Scarlett continues to grow and get stronger, of course. So now she’s better able to pull the twins on the sled.

“Let’s Go Exploring!”

Because I didn’t grow up in the north, I though snow angles must be some amazing thing to do because everyone always does it in the movies and cartoons. When I finally got to do it, I thought it was pretty darned over-rated. But maybe it’s because I was just about in middle school the first time I saw snow?

Snow Angels

I wonder if I’ll regain a sense of playfulness in the snow in a couple years when the kids are old enough that they won’t require any help from me whatsoever. Of course, if I’m playing with them, I’m not able to take photos (since snow is wet and cameras hate water). But that’s always the trade-off with parenting isn’t it? I tend to mostly just hang around rather than take photos most days, but since we only get this much snow about once a year – I tend to want to capture it. But sometimes the kids want you to play no matter what.

A snowball for dad!

Obviously, this blog is a curated experience. It should be obvious, anyway, but I keep seeing all these articles about how people in their 20s and 30s are getting plastic surgery to look like Instagram in real life rather than realizing that Instagram is fake. (To see a whole movie related to the phenomenon – see Ingrid Goes West) Anyway, it’s pretty hard to get all three kids to want to take a photo together despite what you might see on the blog. So I was pretty happy to get this one. I also love it more for the fact that it’s not a “perfect” portrait:

A Cold Sibling Portrait

And I’ll end with a couple more of my favorite photos from that day:

Enter the woods?
Done Adventuring

New Dishes I cooked in Jan 2019

In January I made a lot less new things than in previous months, but I did prove that even in sub-freezing temperatures I still BBQ and Smoke. My least favorite were the macadamia nut, white chocolate, and cranberry cookies. I’ve liked white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies in the past, but this was my first time adding cranberries. But it was the macadamia nuts I wasn’t a fan of this time. I’m not sure why, I just didn’t liek the taste. The fattoush was a neat taste for a new salad and I learned how easy it is to make your own pita chips! The glazed ribs were OK, but I didn’t fill the water pan in the Weber Smokey Mountain and I think that led to a more smokey/burnt taste as the glaze dripped off and into the empty water pan. The Big Butts Pork Steak was pretty awesome, though. The recipe also contained my favorite home-made BBQ sauce. I definitely look forward to revisiting that recipe!

2018 Annual Self-Portrait

As I continue to work through my backlog of photos from last year (I’m finally done with 2018 after this post!), I come to my annual self-portrait. Yeah, yeah – even before Instagram was a thing my family was already making fun of me for taking self-portraits or for my 365 project of self-portraits 8 or so years ago. But for me this is part of my most primal photographic urge; even stronger than the urge to create art. It’s the urge to document my life and the life of those around me. And so I take these self-portraits at roughly the same time every year to be able to view them as a series documenting my aging. And so here is the one I took in 2018.

Annual Self-Portrait

I took a few portraits – some of them in this orientation and some in the other. While this is not my best side, this is the one with the better pose and lighting – so it’s the one I liked the most.