Newsletter April 30, 2018

Other Newsletters

  • Ed’s Vacuum Newsletter for 2018-W17 – lots on local politics, which these days is basically all about the building (or “not building”) of places for people to live. Also, he talks about how to subscribe to the newsletter and the problems therein.
  • Patti Smith has a newsletter too! Newsletter 4/29/18 – Ann Arbor Archives – She has a great roundup of what local breweries are up to and some fun stories from Ann Arbor’s history. I liked this a lot, “Michigan Argus, April 29, 1864 – E. Ketchum of Ypsilanti would send you a small treatise on Ice Cream & the Philosophy of its Manufacture if you just send him your address.”
  • CivCity has its May Day for Local Civics! with a reminder that there’s a local election on May 8th!

Are you writing a newsletter? Let me know about it so I can include it!

Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette Update

Technically my self-imposed deadline ends at the end of the day and the zine is ready to go, but I’m going to take a few more days to add some polish. Shooting for closer to the end of the week. Layout was mostly roughed in yesterday and then I had a Thought™ and started over. I’m happier with the switch and how it’s coming together. There were 6 or so submissions plus a few other things I wanted to include. Shorter than I’d envisioned, but still quite fun. In retrospect, I wish I’d set my “release schedule” to earlier in the month to maintain momentum from when submissions came in. Oh well!

The absolute best way to hear about when it comes out is to sign up here:

If this is the first you’re hearing about it you can read more about it here:

Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette

Making Sure Someone Sees It

Two of the other newsletters this week mention a problem that anyone who creates anything runs into: how do you make sure that everyone who should see it actually sees it? Marketing at its best is essentially finding an answer to this. A market for whatever niche content you’re producing exists. Finding the market and delivering the content to it constitutes a very hairy problem.

A poorly timed tweet or Facebook post means it vanishes in a sea of inattention. For example, I posted a link to last week’s newsletter on Facebook and almost nothing came of it. My first tweet about it garnered some interest, but as I remarked:

11am-ish on a Monday seems to be the perfect time to bury a tweet so it doesn’t get seen that well. Let’s see how 4:40 does.

4:40pm did a lot better.

The thing of it is though, that could just be for my followers, yours are different and might LOVE an 11am reminder. Chances are you need to do multiple nudges though due to the way that social media works right now.

This’ll be my sixth newsletter when it’s published. How many of you knew there were 5 others? I’m guessing some, but not all. And I’m also guessing at least one of the others would have been interesting to you (even if this one is not).

This is why despite the annoyances of it email is still very good at getting you a direct line to your tribe (in the Seth Godin sense). It’s one of the last places where we demand that it work as close to our mental model as possible. We don’t want the computer making every decisions about what to surface up at the top or remove from the list. From there, everyone crafts their own workflow for email to make sure they see what they want to.

Strongly linked to this is RSS. An RSS feed makes email marketing easier. This blog has an RSS feed and as of today I’m using mailchimp to send out new post updates over email. This should have been setup forever ago, but everything takes time!

Sign up in the sidebar if you’d like to get future updates! I’ll report back in a few weeks about which method is “working” in terms of making sure people who want to read this are able to read this.


We moved into a house last summer that is farther away from work and daycare than our apartment was. I love the location; however, we used to bus and bike and walk almost every day. Due to the location of daycare in relation to the bus routes we’ve ended up driving essentially every day since we moved. I’m committed to figuring out how to make that not our reality so this past week I biked the kid into daycare and myself over to Workantile. My wife biked in one of those days too and then we caravaned back home down Washtenaw. It was delightful and we went almost 24 hours without using a car on a workday for the first time in about 8 months.

Time from our front door, to dropping the toddler off, to sitting at my desk ended up being about the same amount of time as driving, parking, and walking from the parking spot to my desk. Add in the fact that they’re doing construction around daycare that is causing parking issues and I could see it saving time on certain days.

I wasn’t expecting that at all. Without optimizing anything about our route, or bike setup, there wasn’t a giant measurable time cost and, frankly, I ended up getting to my desk in a great frame of mind to start the day. Whenever I bike I end up smiling. Whenever I drive I don’t.

Sam is going to let me try out his cargo bike to see how that goes. My thought right now is that an electric assist bike could cut the commute down a few minutes while making the hills slightly easier to take on. Getting in shape will help too.

Who should own a website?


Everyone would do well to have that place on the internet they can put the thing. I’m a broken record, but twitter and facebook are not that place if you want it to exist in perpetuity (for certain values of perpetuity).

My favorite parts of the internet are the far away places. The clear passion project niches. Take this site for example:

Welcome to the one-stop destination for images and information about Action Transfers and Instant Pictures, and the home of SPLAT (the Society for the Preservation of Letraset Action Transfers).

You don’t know you need this site until you need it.

It also doesn’t map well to a series of facebook posts, tweets, or an instagram story. It likely doesn’t map well to most CMSes either. Yet the care that went into organizing it means that it can exist as a resource and a delightful thing to stumble on.

For the Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette I needed to match the fonts on the original D&D boxes (yes, needed). has already done the legwork here and has a fantastically compiled list of links for it:

TSR Fonts

On the homepage for that site is this statement:

”Couple of interesting facts. The site has averaged 120 unique visitors a day. ~1200 portraits were submitted to the Baldur’s Gate image gallery.”

Number of visitors is all relative. Some people would be thrilled with 120 visitors a day. Others would be panicked at how low the number that is. Your reach and your success is something you get to define. There’s a blog post on my website that I don’t care if anyone ever visits, but I’ve used it a few times while standing in Home Depot and found it extremely important:

Paint Colors · Chris Salzman’s Website

Having a URL for the paint colors for our house that I can call up on any device with an internet connection is an amazing ability. I think more people should have the ability to do that without getting flummoxed by technical jargon.


This week’s newsletter was written at Workantile and Sweetwaters in Kerrytown. Drafted in Bear and published using Hugo.

Newsletter April 23, 2018

Ed’s Newsletter and the Dramatic Rescue of Archie

Ed’s Vacuum/ is another good one (of course!). Read up on the Y lot vote happening this week, which, woof…it’s acrimonious.

Ed also recounts the story of a lost dog that was eventually found via NextDoor. A few months ago we helped get a lost dog back to its owner and the thing that finally did it was just posting my phone number on NextDoor. Someone called within 20 minutes to collect.

NextDoor is sometimes derisively called “Twitter for Old People”. At its best it’s a fantastic way to quickly reconnect a dog to its owner and to get rid of that random thing in the garage you don’t need anymore. Beyond those amazing uses I’m not sure it’s that useful.

CATACA’s Death

This newsletter last week got sidelined by the death of one of my cats. It was very sudden. You can read a eulogy I wrote for her. Go hug your cats.

My friend, Kate (who is very wise) told us the exact thing I needed to hear “grief is not linear”:

“Something that helped me last year was reminding myself that grief isn’t linear; the five stages aren’t just cycled through, they’re random dice rolls at random intervals. May you always find space to let your emotions be what they are; may you eventually, incrementally, encounter more acceptance.”

This past week has definitely felt like that. I’ve alternated between every one of the stages in no seeming order. It’s been at times fairly brutal. On the Monday after I walked around downtown listlessly unable to make a decision on food. I knew intellectually I needed to eat, but just couldn’t figure it out, which looking back on it feels very strange, and very appropriate.

It is odd how much a small being can get intertwined in your life. Our other cat, Susu, is definitely out of sorts and is trying to figure out what life is now, although as a cat there’s no chance she can articulate that.

There have also been good remembrances of CATACA already. I know it’ll be fond memories.

An Idealized Internet Home

Continuing with some thoughts on how to make the internet a better place I’ve started compiling a quasi-manifesto of what our tools for creation should be:

  • The distance between thought and published work on the internet needs to be as short as possible. Social media gets this correct: fill in the textarea and click submit and you are done.
  • The activation energy required to go from no website to a website should be as small as possible. WordPress’ installation process can famously be done in 5 minutes. I think we should try to get it down to 5 seconds.
  • The features available to you on your personal site should exceed the best of a social network’s features. Social networks should have to fear or integrate open source projects because the open source project is better than what the social network can offer.
  • Network effects shouldn’t be constrained to a service that monopolizes the most users. We need disintermediated tools that allow for network effects to exist on top of everyone’s federated sites. RSS is one channel, there should probably others.
  • Companies should make money by selling these tools, support or services, not on the advertising that can be placed on them.

More as this percolates.

Coffee with Andrew

I had coffee with Andrew Sardone a few weeks ago to talk more about the indie web. Since I’ve started talking about this in the open I’ve heard from other nerds lamenting our current content hegemony. I’d like to hear from more. Email me and let’s talk:

Here’s some buzzing thoughts that came out of coffee with Andrew:

  • Despite reports to the contrary: RSS is not dead. He uses Feedbin to manage his feeds.
  • People don’t necessarily care about ownership on the web. They assume they own their FB or Twitter presence.
  • Whatever the alternative is to using FB it has to have feature parity+. This is very smart on Andrew’s part. If you’re on FB because of the groups (that’s me) then the thing you go to has to meet or exceed FB’s ability to handle group communication.
  • The activation energy to get a site and get it online is huge even for nerds mostly due to time. If you have a job and kids you’re unlikely to also want to do database administration at night.
  • Federation and Network Effect are two very important problems to solve. Posting something on your blog is great. Then there’s a secondary step of sharing/marketing. For me I’m trusting RSS and a quick tweet to do the meat of that marketing for me. However, it does mean that posting is less easy than it should be to do.
  • Desktop publishing allowed so many people to do the impossible: lay out a document in an interesting and quick way that it revolutionized design by making it much much easier. Having access to fonts, sizing, colors, etc. was quite a bit different than using a typewriter. We do not have the same ease of use for websites right now.
  • Thinking in terms of a garden: the startup costs are huge, and you can likely buy better produce from elsewhere, yet there is something compelling about having your own garden. It appeals to our ego and sense of order in the world. We want to tend to a thing and make it our own.
  • He pointed out, which is trying to solve these problems. I really really like what they’re doing.

Algorithmic Feeds Trend to Homogeneity

The medium is the message and our mediums are shaping the messages we’re willing to share.

The allure of the algorithmic feed is that it shows more relevant information to individual users. However, it maps very poorly with how people WANT the services to act. For example, I want to see everything my wife posts on any of the services we’re both on. This is important because they are often about her, our daughter, or our family in general. As far as Content I’d Like to Consume this ranks up so so so high on the list that it’s shocking to me whenever the Algorithm doesn’t surface this content. Surely with all of that Big Data they could make that connection that, yeah, these two people enjoy each other’s company.

When you trust the algorithm you start to use the only signals you have from the service to inform that algorithm. If those are based on things like likes and retweets…well…guess what’s not going to show up as often? A tweet that is perhaps highly relevant, but didn’t get enough engagement to push it over the edge to appear in your feed.

Most of my followers and people I follow are (by design) people with sub-1000 numbers. They are likely to never see a tweet go viral and most tweets might go by “unliked”. Then they get suppressed and likely don’t want to tweet similar things again. Imagine a twitter that had more controls over what you see. Imagine if you could go back to a chronological timeline!

Generating Art

Something I truly appreciate about programmers is when they encounter art and design they ask probing questions about the rules that went into the creation of that art. This is useful because it helps the artist/designer think through the decisions they thought they couldn’t fully explain. It’s useful to the programmers too because at some point they usually figure out, huh, there’s a lot to this!

Design is always a bit of a fungible thing, you can absolutely start with a bunch of rules, but then you’ll find that they need to be broken here and there or that, yeah, there’s actually a few other rules that we haven’t appropriately expressed. By the time you figure out a way to replicate the thought process perfectly you should have just had the designer do it and move on. Or it ends in programmer frustration because there’s no way to really synthesize meta-trends in patterns, textures, and colors. Sometimes you need to have someone there who just knows when it’s right or wrong. Sometimes you need to try a wild idea.

Anyway this thread is an amazing breakdown of reverse engineering an artist’s work to make it repeatable. It in turn results in art and that’s a worthy pursuit:

Maurice Meilleur on Twitter: “1/ So, the story of reverse engineering a Girard design starts with something one of my students brought to class one day: a water bottle.”

Meilleur spends time explaining each step in the process, where he went wrong, and how he solved it. Like all good programming stories showing your work is half the fun. And the result is, wow, I really like the resulting artwork he was able to produce is phenomenal.

Sacred Spaces

@gawanmac writes about a trip in the woods:

“I saw this on an OS map and couldn’t not investigate. A place of worship symbol in the middle of bloody nowhere on the edge of a wood. It was a foggy, atmospheric day up on the North Downs, so I decided to walk three sides of a square through the wood to reach it.”

“I’m not a believer in heaven, but I appreciate the notion of places where other forms of reality become tangible, where past and present interlace. This place is certainly one, helped by the apparent merging of this ancient human structure with the woodland crowding close.”

Newsletter April 9, 2018

Here are the Other Local Newsletters You Should be Reading

Reader and RSS

Anil Dash tweeted a sentiment that resonated a lot with me:

Google’s decision to kill Google Reader was a turning point in enabling media to be manipulated by misinformation campaigns. The difference between individuals choosing the feeds they read & companies doing it for you affects all other forms of media.

I used to be a multiple-times-daily checker of my RSS feeds. I’d read a bunch, follow threads, add more feeds, and repeat. Then twitter came along. I joined because my friend Keller was into it and it became just one part of Being Extremely Online.

The Timeline slowly started sucking my attention away from RSS. Then Reader went away, but it was okay, most of my feeds were still in twitter, or people were sharing the important stuff. Then, well, then twitter and facebook started becoming just completely outsized and I am adrift.

They are less like a curated timeline and more like a vicious surprise machine. That machine used to be set on “compelling links and ideas” and is now cranked to “emotional whiplash, you coward”. Someone broke the level off too.

Anil also wrote a piece about The Missing Building Blocks of the Web that, goodness, is good. Whatever it is I’m saying poorly, Anil has said much better.

Twitter and APIs

Speaking of Twitter. It’s still marginally useful through the use of a 3rd party app–I use Tweetbot. That might go away soon though.

Moves like this are exactly why we all need our own spaces. In the beginning Twitter was extremely permissive of developers using its API. They’ve slowly been cutting features from that and this next moves sounds like it might spell the end for most of the mainstay apps.

The Angry Motorcylce Men Meme

It’s my favorite meme at the moment

This is Just to Say.


And this is a fantastic cap to whatever it is current meme culture is at right now.

This is absolutely going to be unparseable in a few years. Right now it’s very good.

Macbooks should have touchscreens

Turning a MacBook into a Touchscreen with $1 of Hardware.

I used to think touchscreens on laptops was a bad idea until I observed that, no, people actually do use them. Apple has held the line that this is a bad user interface. I think they’re wrong about it. I mean, they sell a keyboard attachment for the ipad that also doesn’t turn off the touch functionality of the ipad…clearly there’s some disagreement within the company.

If you’ve seen a normal non-coder someone operate a computer with a touchscreen you’ll see them use it. Touching the screen is such a great affordance that we all carry devices around in our pockets that are purpose built to do such a thing. My toddler is confused when you can’t touch the screen and make it do something.

Toddler QA

Speaking of toddlers, if you ever want to find interface bugs hand your app to a toddler.

We released the 1.1 bug fix update to Night Lights last week and then promptly found that the main issue we were trying to fix (sometimes you get the same color, shape, or BOTH) was still happening. After a lot of fiddling we figured out that our toddlers were executing a frame perfect trick to reshuffle the available colors in the middle of them changing. Good job toddlers!

1.2 fixes that bug and the other one we introduced where the light bulb wouldn’t light up. Trust me, there is no such thing as a simple app.

Codename Hyper Hunter

Kyle made a bunch of concept pixel art for a game we’re Codenaming Hyper Hunter. The pitch for it is that it’s a cross between Mega Man and Mario. You can both shoot and jump on enemy’s heads. As part of our discussion on what the game should be we’ve been replaying various NES Mega Man’s and taking notes. What’s most interesting about that exercise is that most of the difficulty in Mega Man is environmental platforming (tricky jumps, modified friction/physics, different combinations of simple enemies) until you hit the Robot Master in each level. Then it’s mostly what you remember: combat and weapon choices.

If you have a favorite Mega Man level please let me know. We’re planning more deep dive level dissections and I’d love to take a look at particularly interesting ones.

You Should Blog

This is my invitation for you to start blogging. Start it up again, or start it for the first time. Over a year ago I started blogging again. Nothing major, just small things here and there mostly for my own reference. It’s a good habit and it’s freeing to have a place to put things. I talked last week about ownership on the web and have gotten a lot of nudges from folks that this is something. I’m now nudging you to actually do it because I know you’ve been thinking about it. Talk to me if you need help getting setup, or need accountability. I’m very good at positive peer pressure.

Being Happy For Your Friends

Friends, I want to share one of the most important things I learned in grad school: other people’s success is not your failure. You’ll be so much happier if you learn to celebrate the achievements of other people as well as your own.

A while back on Workantile’s slack we created channel for #shamelessplugs. Its a channel devoted to talking about the cool things you are up to. This has been lovely and provides a valuable service to a community: giving people the space to be excited about their thing. If you’re on slack or discord or whatever and don’t have a channel like this, go make one.

Newsletter April 2, 2018

Newsletters, Local Newsletter Type Things

Internet, Ownership

If I had a mission statement right now it’d be this: more people exhibiting more ownership over more of what they produce online. Right now we’ve swung almost entirely to allowing social media to own everything about our activity online: both in terms of consumption and production. Social media, however, interlaces consumption and production in order to extract the maximum value from the smallest interactions. I’m convinced that soon enough if you hover your mouse over a link for too long it could result in a post about how you’re interested in it blasted out to the world. Technically speaking that would be a very impressive feature! Shareholders love features like that because engagement goes up because everyone thinks that everyone else is doing more somethings on the site.

Your tools constrain what you’re able to create and how you create it. And the current landscape of widely available, easy to use, tools prioritize only a specific set of behaviors (primarily based around engagement). Imagine if instead of writing this newsletter it existed as a thread on twitter. I’m so tired just thinking of anyone trying to read that let alone writing it!

I’m all for the barrier to creation being lowered. I’m not for the control of the display of that creation to be ceded to a few large publicly traded companies. Again, I want more people to have ways to create and catalog the things they care about in their own space. Owning your own little corner of the internet allows you to do different things with it than trusting The Great Algorithm to sort it out for you.

Maybe you just really want to catalog the paint colors you used on your house so you can reference it later. Maybe you want to write a weekly newsletter. Maybe you want to have a place to post about your hyperlocal D&D zine’s progress. FB isn’t going to give you those tools unless there’s a measurable way for them to monetize it. And the second it’s no longer profitable for them you’re on borrowed time.

We have some good tools to do the making part, but we don’t have all the possible tools to do so. I want more ways to facilitate someone having an idea to the production of that idea. Ideally it doesn’t involve a lot of head scratching about terms like DNS, SSH, NPM, etc. No one in 2018 should have to understand server administration in order to have a website.

If this were a medium piece I’d now bring up how my startup is going to solve this. Alas, this is just a weekly newsletter. Talk to me in person if you’ve been thinking about these things too.

Tools, Impact Drivers

After my cheap Black and Decker’s drill battery failed me, yet again, I went out and bought a used set of 12v Bosch Drills. I went with the wirecutter’s recommendation. Not only do they seem to have more power than the old 18v drill they stay charged for forever. The Black and Decker would need a good hour before it was usable. No one can remember to charge up a drill battery an hour before they need to use it.

I used the drill and impact driver to install a new arm on our screendoor that was closing extremely forcefully–like smack you hard in the back when you’re just trying to get inside forceful. Using the impact driver to screw in the screws was wonderful. They went in smoothly without slipping or stripping the heads. Imagine that!

If all you have is a “normal” drill I’d strongly recommend picking up an impact driver in whatever brand you have. The first time you need to put a screw into something you will thank yourself for doing so. Plus, living the 2 drill lifestyle is downright decadent. For the screen door arm I had the normal drill setup with a quarter-inch drill bit for the pilot holes and the impact driver set up to drive them in. Saved a lot of fumbling which was good because I had a toddler “helping” me.

Also, if the last drill you got wasn’t a lithium ion battery look to see if you can replace whatever your system uses with one. Amazon is filled with cheap ones that I’m sure are more than fine.

Do keep a corded drill around for when a problem requires ALL the power.

Videogames, Bloodborne

Bloodborne on its surface is a lovecraftian horror game. It’s extremely violent (comically so) and the story endlessly talks about blood (naturally), beasts, and death. Playing it though? Playing feels more like a rhythm game, or a series of careful dances of attrition. It’s very enjoyable when its working and very frustrating when its not. A misjudged pattern can result in loss of control of the situation, flailing, and player death. You could reskin with any other lore and I’d happily play it.

Videogames, Hohokum

My wife finished playing Hohokum last night and I’m reminded that the soundtrack is amazing. The game itself is delightful too and maybe the polar opposite of Bloodborne. There’s no violence to speak of, or failure states really, so we’ve happily handed the controller over to our daughter to “play”. She usually gets bored after a a minute and requests we watch “Totoro” instead. Still!

Videogames, Guns

“I get nervous when I’m in the airport and see soldiers with assault rifles, but I can probably tell you what kind of rifles they’re holding.”

I found this piece on Kotaku about the relationship between video game guns and real world guns extremely good and worth reading. Especially in light of playing a game like Bloodborne.

Read it if you too would never carry a gun in real life, but see no problem with carrying a gun in a video game.

Dumpster Fires, Siri

I keep giving Siri a shot. It keeps failing in new and astounding ways. Recently while driving I wanted to look up the location of a business that I knew was within a mile of me. I asked it to find the business and it searched the app store for the business name instead.

Later that day I asked it to do a thing that I really just need to stop asking it: send a text message to a friend. It did a remarkably terrible job of the transcription.

I’m sure there’s a way to get it to work better if I used a different inflection/accent, or learned all the keywords, but I also just don’t think I should have to. Maybe that’s petulant.

I don’t have a point other than to complain that my magic pocket computer should be able to understand when I yell at it. We live in strange times.

Apps, Waiting for Review

Night Lights, the toddler toy app I made with Steve last year, has an update coming out soon. It’s a “bug fixes” update that addresses a few annoying issues that became evident after launch. Nothing will show you your bugs like a release.

Oddly enough we’re still seeing a sale or two a week from it from no marketing, just searches on the app store. That’s heartening to see! Keep buying it, random people! Eventually we might be able to make enough money to get a check from Apple (ha)!

Zine, Ypsi-Arbor Dungeons and Dragons Gazette

Submissions are officially closed for the zine. Now I need to make the thing! There were about 7 or so submissions and I have ideas for a few other things I want to include. Speaking of: I’m looking for people to test out a smallish “dungeon” I’ll be including in it. Let me know if you are interested!

Also, if you have experience in layout or design (or want some experience in layout and design) and want to pitch in on putting this together, please find me!

Newsletter: March 26, 2018

Ed is up to three. Go, Ed!

Twitter (and Facebook) Break

I’m–well before I tweet about this–on a twitter break. Facebook too, but that’s less of a compulsion for me. It’s good to take breaks. Whenever I take a break it’s a good 24 hours for my brain to stop thinking in 140-240ish character likeable soundbites. Realizing how fractured one’s own inner monologue has become is not a great feeling; however, it’s good to recognize and combat. My strong recommendation is that everyone do this on occasion (or forever?!). For me I found myself more present in moments I might have otherwise been reaching for the phone. Heck, I read an entire book this weekend (Ender’s Game. Total mind candy and I try to not dwell on the author’s personal politics too much.)

Probably missed out on some very good jokes though. Also, depressing news about everything.

More about Facebook Though

No one in digital advertising was very surprised about the Cambridge Analytica stuff. Of course FB would have major issues with giving people too much data. They themselves collect too much data that they don’t need yet have convinced themselves they do in order to maximize engagement. You’d better believe that had they not been caught (doing exactly what they have always promised they would do, mind you) there would have been no apologies.

Most people I talk to actively dislike facebook except for that one feature they do extremely well: Groups. They do this so well that it’s impossible to envision really leaving FB forever until the next big thing comes along. Alas.

Return of the King

“We’re all, of course, temporarily embarrassed Aragorns.”

GoodReads is not a great website, but I will always love it for solving the problem of knowing what my friends are reading. The design and UX on the site needs, ahem, some work. I’ve long since abandoned doing anything on there other than marking books as “to read”, “read”, marking them 1-5 stars (although, as a life rule if a book is trending towards 1 or 2 stars I usually just stop), and leaving reviews. I could write a lengthy post just about problems with GoodReads UX. However, they are the ones who sold their business for a hundreds of millions of dollars and I did not.

Anyyyyway, I finished a reread of The Lord of the Rings last week and wrote a review about it. The short version is that, wow, did I enjoy it quite a bit more than the first time I read it. I took my sweet time cross-referencing the maps as much as possible and it opened up the story in an amazing way.

You can read my “review” on goodreads.

SNES Logos

A wonderful person made high resolution versions of 300 SNES logos and this is just the best:

Replacing the Front Driver’s Side Door Lock Actuator on a 2003 Honda CR-V

All I have to say about this right now is triple check that you’re getting the right part. There are Great Britain AND Japanese made CR-V’s. Turns out that the GB CR-V door lock actuator is quite a bit different from the Japanese one, which I learned only after pulling the door apart, getting confused, and running to YouTube in which there are a hundred dudes holding cell phone cameras walking you through car repairs one-handed.

Newsletter: March 19, 2018

I like what Ed is doing over on Github with his weekly newsletter and joked that about doing fork of it (can you fork just a concept?).

I’m still pretty bullish on the personal blog as a format hence here vs. GitHub. Ed validated that going through your twitter feed is a good format for thinking through what you were thinking about during a week. So here we go!


Action Salzman 📎 on Twitter: “A fun fact about houses is that no corner is actually 90 degrees and no wall is actually straight. This message brought to you by “installing baseboards”.”

I’m installing baseboard throughout the house. Most of the corners in our house are +-1 degree off from 90, some more like +-5. This is fine and I knew it going in, but it’s still alarming and makes you wonder about everything else about the house. When we moved in we ripped off the old stuff—thanks, again and again, Matt!—in order to redo the floors. I don’t regret this although it did another project to a house that is full of projects.

I have been pushing off the baseboard for as long as possible. The actual installation gone better than expected, which means I’m getting better at house project time estimates. Not my favorite project, but not terrible aside from the physical toil. Lots of precision cuts, lots of touchup work, and up and down on protesting knees. Sorry knees, you are not in your 20s anymore. All this is complicated by having a toddler and cats so the saw and nail gun need to be in safe places whenever its quitting time.

My wife has also started hanging art up on the walls and it increasingly feels like we really and truly live in the house.


waluigi, but thicc on Twitter: “the 11 seasons of midwestern states…”

Michigan Summer is why you put up with Michigan Winter. There’s a cruelty to winter in Michigan that I’m still unused to even a decade in. Hints at Spring are more brutal than it just staying winter, and I’ve yet to learn my lesson that we’re not in the clear until sometime in May. Every bone in my body wants it over by February. We got a reprieve last night and took advantage of it by walking to a friend’s place for dinner and an easter egg hunt outside.


Scout watched My Neighbor Totoro over the course of a few days and she adored it Here’s a picture of her shouting “Totoro!” when he showed up on screen. There are elements that are scary to her (she’s not a fan of the cat bus, and the soot sprites weren’t her favorite). Thus far she’s mostly shown interest in Sesame Street (“Elmo!”), Sarah and Duck, and Octonauts. I think My Neighbor Totoro might become the first movie she watches over and over and over though. I’m fine with that.

As Eli put it in reply, “it only has 2 antagonists: 1. a goat, and B. DEATH”.

Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer

Action Salzman 📎 on Twitter: “Toddler gets to choose her bedtime song every night. Lately it’s been “reindeer song” aka Rudolf the red nosed reindeer.”

Various dads in Ann Arbor confirm that my toddler is not alone in wanting Rudolf sung even far outside the Christmas Season. As Julie said on twitter“, “Toddlers aren’t constrained by seasonality.

Opioids and Guns

David Erik Nelson on Twitter: “In case it doesn’t go without saying: We have much better ways of treating anxiety (both therapeutically and pharmacologically) that are cheaper and a great deal safer than opioids.”

People smarter than me have said about all I feel qualified to say about both opioids and guns. Mental health care for all and more regulations on both. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that our government do more than blame literally everything else other than access to the things themselves as the cause of their misuse.

Ypsi-Arbor D&D Gazette

I continue to put work into the hyperlocal Dungeons & Dragons Zine. Submissions have trickled in here and there. Thus far the only marketing has been through twitter and a mention or two in various slack channels. I’m trying to work up the gumption to post on Facebook, but Facebook is a bewildering mess such that I’d just rather complain about it instead.

Anyway, given that extremely meek outing I’m kind of astounded at the subscription rate (approaching 30!). My guess is that the actual release will bring in a trickle of additional people and I’m fascinated to see what happens with a second issue. Here’s a tantalizing look at a draft of the top of the cover: