Monthly Archives: December 2013

Here’s a great list of music I can recommend (from @carlyrhiannon)

Carly Rhiannon has compiled a list of what she recommends as the best albums of 2013, and a great list it is, in my humble opinion. What I like about this list is her descriptions and the variety of music. And the music itself, of course.

If you feel your music is getting stale and you need to freshen it up, try this list.


10 Dishes to Cook Without a Recipe This Winter

Over at Food52, there’s a nice rundown of dishes you should consider making without following recipes. You may want to refer to some memory aid, but if you like these dishes, chances are you can make them pretty much without the need of a cookbook (or a web site).

They have recipes from Vegetarian or Vegan Chili to Quinoa Salad to Marinara Sauce to Risotto and more.
Risotto from Food52

Well worth a look.

Another alternative to the sofabed: the Workbed

is another variation of a storable bed. Unlike my previous post, this bed doesn’t go into the ceiling, but flips around to become a desk Here’s the before:

The workbed before

and here is the after:
The workbed after

For someone with a small space, it’s a cool alternative to the sofabed.

For more on this, go here.

What do you get when you combine kitsch with horror?

You get superbly macabre ceramic pieces by Jessica Harrison, like this one:

ceremic art by Jessica Harrison, “Ethel” (2013), Found ceramic, epoxy resin putty, enamel paint

If you can handle that, you should head over to and see the rest of her work. It’s exceptional.

One of the greatest disrupters is one never mentioned in that way

The word “disrupters” is very much in vogue (see here and much of what comes out of start ups from Silicon Valley). Although not spoken of in those terms, one of the great disrupters of the 20th century, Mikhail Kalashnikov, creator of the AK-47, just died. Most disruption is a destructive action as well as a creative one. The AK-47 allowed more disruption to occur than almost any other technology in the last 100 years, and while it brought death, it also brought great change. I don’t support change brought on that way, but when people heap praise on disruption, ask them what they think of the AK-47. If they don’t have a good answer, they don’t have an opinion on disruption worth listening to.

Bitcoin 101 (with references to up and comer alternatives)

You’ve likely heard lots about bitcoin. You may have heard of some of the other alternatives, such as dogecoin. If you finally decided: “I should try and understand more about this”, I recommend this article in the Washington Post. There is lots changing with this technology, but this will give you a good grounding.

I think bitcoin is a highly speculative financial instrument and I’ll continue to think it is a very risky thing to participate in. Still, it looks like it is not going away, and so I think it’s time to share some of the better pieces on the topic.

Unworthy is showing success with a different online publishing strategy

Upworthy is going with a different model than those of Yahoo, Huffington Post and others by publishing just a few, highly curated, articles, rather than constantly posting. The result, as you can see here, is dramatic.

This isn’t new: Jason Kottke has been doing this for along time. But Upworthy seems to be making a big play with this model. It will be interesting if they can sustain it. More than anything, I hope this leads to more and more organizations adopting different publishing models that are both successful and lead to more variety in online media. The last thing we need is everyone trying to be Buzzfeed. Here’s to more success for Upworthy and others who experiment in online publishing.

In praise of small spaces, well designed (with an amazing bed)

I am a big fan of small spaces, well designed, and the one featured here certainly is a great example of that. What I found especially smart is the bed: instead of folding into the wall, it rises into the ceiling. Very smart, and very beautiful. Well worth a look.

What if life follows Moore’s Law

A fascinating idea: what if life on earth follows Moore’s Law? If it does, as discussed
here, then it could explain why there are no beings in the universe advanced much beyond ours. It could also mean that life on Earth came from somewhere else.

The article in MIT’s Technology Review is well worth a read. It also makes me think that Moore’s Law could be a fundamental way of understanding much more than integrated circuits.

How to turn old paper into new Christmas garland

For those wanting to make their own Christmas decorations, the blog Olive Loaf Design shows you how to turn old sheet music into something very festive. If you don’t have old sheet music, you can try your hand at other pretty paper to make something worthy of gracing your mantel or any other surface that needs some holiday cheer.


How to text/SMS anyone in the world

You need four things to do this

  1. their phone number
  2. there carrier
  3. this list
  4. email

If you have that, you can send an email to their with your message and the carrier will send it to them via SMS. The list has the information.

Would you like a copy of the Gutenberg Bible?

Of course you would like a copy, if for no other reason than the material value of it.

While this blog can’t prove a physical copy, a fine digital copy exists here. It’s quite something to be able to turn the digital pages and zoom in on it. Highly recommended.

(Hat tip to Nina A for this pointer.)

Here’s a good run down of other digital currency besides bitcoin

Bitcoin is not the only digital currency out there. Indeed, there is a wealth of them, as
this list illustrates. My favourite is dogecoin, but there are many many more. If you feel like you want to get involved in digital currency but bitcoin is too rich for your blood, then one of the other ones on the list may do the trick.

Everything is amazing (late night thoughts)

It is an odd thing to conclude that everything is amazing, given that I am slogging through a quiet night with a miserable cold. But I looked at the gel cap medicine I was about to take, and I thought of the machines that can make such a precise thing as a gel cap. I thought of all the people involved in getting it to me, from the chemists that develop it to the cashier who sold it to me. The cashier handed me a debit device and I tap it with my thin plastic card and a transaction over many networks and devices all conspire to give my money to the cashier. We don’t think anything of it, but our entire landscape of high rises and subways and concrete and sewers, all of it, is sophisticated and unacknowledged as we make our way through the day. Or in my case this evening, as I make my way through the refrigerator, filled with containers from foods all over the world. We take it for granted that it will be tasty and consistent and safe to eat, no matter where it comes from, and that the fridge will keep it at the right temperature. Our houses are filled with such thing, and yet much of the time, they are anything but treasured.

I turned on a light and instantly I drew power from all over the province, into my house. People work through out the day to provide it to me and all I need to do is turn the smallest of switches to get it. I turned on my iPad, which is more powerful than computers that used to be the size of my fridge, and I checked my blog. Someone from Jordan visited it this evening. I can write something like this and people all over the world can read it. Once literacy itself was a rarity. Now we are striving to have everyone not only literate, but have access to sophisticated tech that a few years ago, only a handful of people had.

It’s not just that things are amazing, but people too are amazing. You are reading this using a range of technologies, from computers to wireless networks to the Internet to your browser. In the 1990s no one had this. In a short time we all have this. We have adapted these complex technologies into our lives with relative ease because of our intellect and our desire and our capacity to learn and improve and better ourselves.

When you finish reading this, at some point you can surf the Web and find videos from the International Space Station on YouTube or find still photography taken on Instagram taken by the Mars Curiosity lander sent to that planet from NASA. And after you see those photos or those videos, you can post your own. We don’t think anything of it, despite it all being fairly recent.

Later you can turn off the computers and the lights and just look at the stars and realize we live on this planet that is it’s own space station, and that you are a part of that.

Life can be mundane and difficult and frustrating, and yet if you are fortunate, you can catch it in your mind’s eye from just the right perspective, and when you do, you’ll see that everything is amazing.

Thanks for reading this.

Winter is for optimistic thinking

If I told you it was freezing outside, you would dress appropriately. You wouldn’t wear shorts and t shirt. Likewise, when winter comes, you should think appropriately. You shouldn’t think pessimistically: you should think optimistically.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking pessimistically in winter. It may feel Permanent, like it is never going to end. It may seem Pervasive, like it is dark and cold everywhere. And it can even seem Personal, as if winter has it out for you. Combine that with other negative forms of thinking and winter can bring you down.

If you think optimistically, much of winter’s overbearingness fades. If you think it is really only a short few months, then it doesn’t seem so permanent. The trick is to break winter up into short periods. The next thing you know, it is March and things are thawing and Spring will soon arrive. If you can find the chance to get away, or find ways to enjoy the indoors, then winter doesn’t seem so pervasive. Finally, if you think about it, winter hits everyone the same: it isn’t personal. If anything, if you learn to enjoy the time you have in winter, it can seem like the season for you, not against you.

Winter requires thought. Work to think optimistically about winter. When you do, it becomes the most interesting of seasons.

Everything is happening at this moment (late night thoughts)

Late at night, when it is quiet, it is easy to believe that nothing is going on in the world. The opposite is true. For every time zone that people are sleeping, in another they are waking up. All over the world people are being born and people are dying. People are making babies, having them, raising them, waiting for them to come home, wondering where they are. People are dancing in clubs, drinking in bars, sipping coffee in cafes. Some are wearing parkas while others are swimming in pools. Everywhere people are walking, drinking, lying down, getting up, working hard, resting. The world is filled with people active in some form. Everyone is doing something at this moment. Everything is happening now.

People thinking drones are a new thing for Amazon are mistaken

Just last year, Amazon invested in Kiva (The Economy Will Be Roboticized: Amazon Buys Kiva and A day in the life of a warehouse robot), a company that makes warehouse robots. Automation of the supply chain is something Amazon has already been interested in: drones just take it to the next level.