• At The Library

    I’m blogging from the library right now, where some doofus keeps making noise by moving his chair and bumping into the heat vents, another keeps coughing, and there’s a constant chatter from somewhere near the front. Whatever happened to quiet??

    Meantime, my book quest continues. I got a recommendation for local author Carmen Machado, but the library doesn’t have her, so I picked up War of the Gods by Poul Anderson and Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett; neither book is on my “recommended” list, but both authors have books on the list, so I guess that’s close enough… By the way I returned Surface Detail today, mostly unread.

  • No Bad News

    It turned that my headache problem wasn’t allergies, sinus or whatever after all. My nose was stuffy, sure, but what was really going on was that I had a stiff neck: I’d been lifting weights lately and pulled something in my neck or upper back; between that and the long car ride, the whole area between my shoulders was one huge knot. One day out XC skiing and it all loosened up again, and I felt great. Perfect!

    Of course, we’re back home now, so there’s that, but we did have a great few days away. We got to see Burlington, by day and by night, and we — finally! — got in a bit of winter fun too. (It snowed here overnight, ironically enough.) Now we’re getting back into the swing of things, and I also started (today) playing easy duets with Donna H. I guess we did OK, but we’re both beginners and it shows…

  • Good News and Bad News

    Anne and I are up in Burlington VT, chasing winter conditions, trying to get our XC ski on and I think we found what we’re looking for. We drove up yesterday, today is for hanging out in town, and tomorrow and Wednesday look good for Bolton and von Trapp. That’s the good news.

    The bad news is that I seem to have some cold, or an allergy, possibly to something in our hotel room, making me all headachy when I sleep. I had them change the pillows (I hope it helps, but the room stinks of carpet cleaner), and I took some benadryl; I want nothing more than to go take a nap, but we’re trying to stay outside for as long as possible. Ugh…

  • The Sap is Rising

    The days are getting longer, and the air is feeling more spring-like even when there’s snow on the ground. That spring air is starting to get into my blood too, and I’ve started doing morning exercises again (pushups, sit-ups and dumbbell exercises), as well as grabbing some easy saddle time. It’s coming…

  • Readings

    I’ve been on another sci-fi binge lately, going through the “suggested reading” list I keep on my phone, and getting what books I can from the library (or, failing that, checking out books by the same authors). So far it’s worked out pretty well:

    First on my list was Daniel O’Brian’s Stiletto, which read like a more comic version of China Mieville, or a supernatural detective/spy thriller, or even a “buddy movie” kind of story: a quick, fun, “chewing gum for the brain” kind of read. (“Fast-paced romp” is also a phrase that comes to mind, and I might have even seen it on the book jacket.) It’s a sequel, which I didn’t know, and it seemed a disappointment to reviewers who read the first book; maybe that means I have another, even better book on my radar.

    My next recommendations were books by the author Iain M. Banks. The library did not have any of the specific books recommended to me, but I found a few others (Transition, Look to Windward, and Matter) and really liked them.

    I am now reading his Surface Detail, and unfortunately I don’t like it nearly as much as the others. Some of this may be that I read so many of his books at once that they became too much of a good thing, or maybe it’s just that some of the premises of this book are annoying — the story involves people whose personalities have been posthumously uploaded into a digital afterlife, including punishment in a digital “Hell,” and I have never been able to suspend my disbelief that a copy of someone, no matter who it thinks it is, is the original person: the transporter on Star Trek is a killing machine, and Roko’s Basilisk is a meaningless thought exercise. Surface Detail does seem to have a theme, or motif, of people being punished for the crimes of others, so I still have to see where this all goes.

    I’ve also been doing a bit of nonfiction, including a bit of local history as well as some STEM things (data science, etc), though these have been dryer and less interesting than I expected. All in all though, it’s all been better than the hate-read of H.P. Lovecraft’s collected works I put myself through last month.

  • I (Still) Get Email!

    I’ve got a few spam blockers, and a lot of blacklisting, running on the site, but every so often something slips through…


    Love what you guys are doing but like I said, I noticed some leverage for improvement regarding video content, particularly on donkelly.net. Including even one video would Improve metrics like the below:

    • Brands that use video marketing grow their year-over-year revenue 49% faster than brands that don’t. (Wirebuzz)
    • 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. (Wordstream)
    • Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. (Wordstream)
    • Nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. (Google)
    • Shoppers who view demo videos are 1.81 times more likely to make a purchase than non-viewers. (Adobe)
    • Companies that use videos in their marketing have 27% higher clickthrough rate and 34% higher conversion rates than those that don’t. (Buffer)
    • 80% of consumers believe demonstration videos are helpful when making purchases. (Blue Corona)

    So if you think this could be a good solution for donkelly.net, let me know and we can discuss for a few minutes next week, schedule a call here [deleted]

    I feel kind of embarrassed for them, really — a proposal to add video (as if that’s hard), to “increase business” on a, you know, personal blog, just in time for “pivot to video” to collapse into a punchline, all written in a style that’s both chatty, and reminiscent of a middle-schooler who’s not keeping up with their homework.

  • Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes

    Listening: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, “Oh Susannah.”

    We saw Anita Hill the other night at Zoellner. It was a really good (and sadly timely) speech, to a packed and appreciative crowd. I looked around at the women who were there, especially the women of color, many of whom knew, from experience, exactly what she was talking about, and couldn’t help but think about the white governor of Virginia, currently engulfed in a racist controversy, while the black but male vice-governor is engulfed in a sexual misconduct scandal. Democrats! C’mon guys… But they were products of privilege in one way or another, exempt from accountability until now. Maybe from now on we should be looking outside this privilege bubble for leadership…

    Anyway, I feel a rant coming on, let’s change the subject.

    I’ve been feeling pretty bad since the Chili Contest, and now I know why: I caught a cold which as been building and colonizing me this week. It peaked Thursday and has been receding since; I woke up today feeling much better, surprisingly better even if I’m not 100%. Vito’s wife used to say that cold weather kills germs in winter, and here it is, sunny but freezing again. Coincidence?

    We’ve also had some sad news this week: the girlfriend of a young friend passed away. It’s been a terrible situation — “nightmare” is the word that keeps coming to mind. Rest in peace Katie — she was only 32.

  • Candlemas Past

    It’s the day after the Superbowl of Chili, and I’m feeling a little bit ratty, which is a bit strange considering our behavior. It was just Eric R and myself who went this year, and we were pretty restrained. We had a couple of beers while eating chili, but there was no afterparty, no bar-hopping; we grabbed some coffee at the Easton Market afterward, and then just grabbed a Lyft home. (I actually saw the second half of the game later. Boooorring!!!)

    So I’m not sure what’s going on, but I was headachey last night and I’m tired today. Sinuses or congestion? Chili and indigestion? Low tolerance, a slow-acting hangover? No idea, but today has the feel of a wasted day.

    The chili contest itself was actually pretty cool. There were fewer restaurants competing, and fewer people attending (which may be a good thing from my point of view, since the place can get crowded), but the chili recipes, especially the ones from the newer contestants, were a quantum leap up from those in years past. There was a great deal of skillful and appropriate spice/ingredient mixing, as opposed to the tired, old, “this one goes to eleven” Scoville units pissing contest. I guess others saw things the same way because my favorite, from Braveheart Highlands Pub, won both Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards.

    Saturday was a visit down to my parents, where my cousin JoAnn was also visiting from Long Island. She’s a few years older then I am, and she and Ed both just retired, and it was really fun to catch up, trade family gossip and talk genealogy for a bit. Chris and Tara also came over, and Mom made a lasagna dinner. I didn’t get home until pretty late, but it was a nice day.

    I don’t know what the groundhog had to say Friday, but I’m guessing we have another six weeks of winter coming: it’s been sunny the past few days, and the weather has moderated from the deep freeze we’ve been having. It’s unseasonably warm right now, like 56 degrees out, but I think the cold is supposed to be back soon.

  • SuperWolf BloodMoon

    We watched the lunar eclipse the other night, going out every half hour or so for quick peeks — it was cold out! — until just a little after midnight. We used binoculars to get more detail, and we had a perfect view. We caught the very first appearance of the shadow, watched the gradually growing coverage until it was complete and the Moon was a dark red ball, and finally saw the shadow begin its retreat before we called it a night. (We saw photos later where the occluded Moon looked blue, but for us it was red, a deep and rusty, almost brownish red.) The show was awesome in all senses of the word, and “Superwolf Bloodmoon” sounds like a great name for a band — maybe names for two bands…

    Updating The Databases

    I’ve been updating my Sals trail map in QGIS, and I think I now have most of the new trail name/blaze changes, definitely all the changes I could verify on the ground, documented. I’m working on actually making a big paper map from all my data, which requires that I now learn some actual cartography skills. I put that project away to let it simmer for a while, and went back to my list of trail amenities.

    In terms of actual, usable data, that list is a hot mess: restaurants and bars have closed or changed names, new establishments have opened, many long-established places were still missing from the list (because they were never on OpenStreetMap, my primary source), and, worst of all, most of the amenities had no other information than name and location. I spent a good part of the last few days adding and removing establishments, and finding phone numbers and other contact info, and generally updating the list. I still have a ways to go, but Bethlehem is starting to look complete.

    The final database update was for my family tree, which I maintain in GRAMPS genealogy software. (The problem was that I might have “intercalated” an imaginary person into the tree: there is a Dorothy Murphy in my database, a distant cousin who might have had a niece Dorothy Mahoney, and either Dorothy Mahoney married Tom Hagenberg, or Dorothy Mahoney never existed and it was Dorothy Murphy who married Tom Hagenberg. My database had the “Dorothy Mahoney is real” version.)

    This issue came up a few years ago in conversation with my parents, but I never got around to fixing it in GRAMPS, and eventually forgot which version was correct. I happened to be looking at old photos the other day though, and there was Dorothy Hagenberg, handing out cake at a child’s birthday party in the late 1940’s, and the whole thing was back in my face… A little email correspondence this week with Mom got the family tree straightened out, and fixing it in GRAMPS was surprisingly easy — Dorothy Mahoney is no more. There’s a lot of missing information in this database as well, but at least that one known error has been corrected.

    Cello Time

    My cello playing has been coming along, not in leaps and bounds but I am progressing… I’ve got a few songs under my belt now, and I am working on possible duets with Anne, and my lessons are starting to get beyond the very basics — I’m now working on the regular basics…