Yearly Archive: 2013

SpaceBrew Releases an Android App

Just sayin. So the story goes something like this. I play a lot of poker. I don’t host many tournaments. My buddies and I are more into the cash games, or ‘ring’ games, as they’re called. The big difference is that in a ring game, the blinds don’t increase, and it’s just a relaxing, easy-going game between friends, where any many can stand up at any time he’s ready, and cash in his chips for cash value. In a tournament, it’s kill or be killed, and usually only the top three seats are paid out. You might leave with nothing. The point of all this will be discussed in the next paragraph, so please consider this sentence the closing of the first.

So if you go look on the Android market, the Google Play Store, wherever the hell you buy your Android apps, you’ll find a metric butt ton of tournament manager apps. Seriously. Like a million. But they’re all for tournaments. And thus they mainly focus on your blind schedule, and timers that let you know when they’ve gone out. But you’ll not find a single app for cash games. Well, you’ll find one. But it’s so shitty that it shouldn’t even be mentioned. Literally, it sucks like a brand new Dyson 220v industrial elephant vac. For instance, you can add money to people’s accounts in increments of 5 25 or 50. But not 1. Or fifty cents. Because we all play small chip’s a finn, right?

:rolleyes:

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The Voices in My House

It was two o’clock this morning when I heard the voice. I was lying in bed playing poker on my tablet because – well, for two reasons really. Number one, my red-haired wife is traveling. So I’ve no motivation to go to bed early. And secondly, because I’m insomniac, so there’s rarely any sleep for me these days. And thirdly, because I – wait… I only promised you two. So that’s that. I was, therefore, not awakened by the sound of a voice. But I was startled by it. That’s for sure.

It sounded at first like a woman talking in my kitchen. I was alone in my bedroom with the door closed. So it could have been coming from anywhere. But it sounded about as far away as it could be while still being inside my house and downstairs. The kitchen is the answer to that. I perked up and listened a minute. Then I went back to my poker game. Some people get arrested for taking other people’s money. I get badges. I was well into another good hand when I heard the voice again. And this time it was louder.

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The Legacy of an Antique

I’m not very big into antiques. In fact, I think I don’t much care for them at all. I’ve stopped at antique stores before, and browsed through the old roll-top desks and the antique china cabinets. I’ve seen the old grandfather clocks and the coffee tables that were built back in the early nineteenth century. And I do a whole lot of yawning, but not much else. That stuff just doesn’t do it for me. But I got a phone call yesterday that changed everything.

Well, not everything. That’s just a cool way to close the opening paragraph of a column. It changed something though. My grandmother called, you see. And she’s the last living grandparent I have. She happens to be my dad’s mother. Happens to be. I mean, I guess she happened to be the one to marry my dad’s dad and thus, happened to end up becoming my dad’s mother. Funny how that happens. She actually didn’t even call me. She called my dad. And she had something she wanted to pass down.

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An Open Letter to Adobe

Dear Adobe – and mainly you, Acrobat Reader. Listen here, bub. Your delusions of grandeur have escalated to a whole new level. Well, I guess they did a long time ago. They’ve been at this level for quite some time. But it’s not funny anymore. It used to be kind of cute how you’d show up at the party with the bigger boys acting like you’re one of them. Like you’re the really cool cop who brought the donuts to the Saturday Morning Citation Plus Club meeting. We all used to kind of watch you as you entered and we’d smile and say, “Isn’t that cute?” and “Yeah. Thinks he’s a big boy.”

You are like the high school kid who shows up to a frat party with your older sister and tries to hang with the college kids. The kid who must be reminded that he’s still just a high-schooler, and he shouldn’t try to act so cool while he’s at the party. You can’t drink as much as the big kids, you don’t know the secret handshake, and – no matter what you say – no. You have not been laid near as much as the college kids.

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Bad Design Diary: E-Brake Pedal

This is an example of when bad design can actually be life-threateningly dangerous. When functionality and design aren’t tested properly through usability tests and just plain standing-back-and-looking-at-it, then this is what you end up with. This is from my van – a Honda Odyssey. And every single time I get into the van wearing jeans, I experience this issue. And it’s not only when I get into the van. It’s when I’m driving. I’ll move my foot, and my jeans leg slips right over the e-brake pedal. This keeps me from being able to move my left foot until I reach down and pull up the pant leg.

Of course it would be worse for something to catch your right leg, but I do use my left foot occasionally for braking. Sometimes it’s more practical and a lot less work – especially in traffic. This, friends, is dangerous. Let’s have a look at a collage. Here you’ll see a picture of my foot beside the pedal and then caught on the pedal.

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Meet the Author

If you read this site and you’re here right now, this message is for you. I write some books sometimes. I write real good, to. And people are starting to take notice. No seriously though. My buddy Spencer is the director of the public library where I live. And he thinks I write good to. So the library is going to host a Meet the Author night at the library, and I’m the author you get to meet! I know, I know, most of you have already met me. But it would still be fun for you to show up and pretend we haven’t met. You could walk up and shake my hand and act all star-struck and whatnot, and I could introduce myself, and people who don’t know you will think I have a ton of followers who have never met me. Followers who read authors who write real good.

Exciting times though, these are. Spencer will be ordering a large stack of each of my three novels to give away at the signing. Apparently the night will start with my lecturing for a bit about the perils of living in 3D, followed by some advice on being a writer in this here Metropolis and not in LA or New York. You don’t have to live there to write, you see. Following that will be a question answering session. I will be asking the audience a series of questions and seeing how good their answers are, in other words. At least this is my perception of the definition. And then I’ll sign some books. And that will pretty much be it. Well, aside from the after party at the Broken Anchor Pirate’s Pub.

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Bad Design Diary: Cruddy Cupholder

My red-haired wife and our friends and do a lot of sitting on the driveway. Just about every night, and certainly every weekend. We sit out there drinking Cold Ones and starting at the lake, telling stories, playing guitars, Danae and I singing together, smoking cigars, skinning catfish – whatever. The point being we’re always out there, and the easiest way to accommodate all this madness is fold-up chairs. These things are pretty comfortable, and they’re great for space-saving when you’re done with them. They fold up and stand in the corner of the garage. The problem is, they don’t last very long.

Well, this black chair has one more problem in particular. It’s the top-dollar version of the chair. It used to have a footrest and all that, which is another bad design in and of itself. But today we’re going to talk about the cupholder. Have a looksee.

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Can there really be a happy Columbus Day?

Happy belated Columbus day! Anyone? Did everyone have a good one? Anyone? Anyone there? Is anyone there at all? I’ve been walking around the office this morning asking everyone I run into if they had a good Columbus Day. And all I get in response are variations of the standard grunt. No one seems to have a committed meaningful response. It’s almost, almost as if no one even celebrates it.

So apparently, as I see it, the story goes like this: some Italian dude sailed across some ocean, ran into some land, thinking it was some other land, sees a bunch of red-skinned people running out into the water to greet him and bring him gifts, whereupon he decides they would make good slaves, and sets about to slaughtering most of them, and therefore, some five hundred years later, our kids don’t have to go to school on that day. Have I got it about right?

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Gone Are The Good Merchants

When I first started home-brewing, I bottled my beers. There’s something almost magical about popping the cap off a cold bottle of beer that you brewed yourself, pouring it into a pint glass. I love it. But pretty quickly the hassle of putting the beer into the bottles gets old, and most brewers begin kegging. I only bottled two batches of my beer before I said eff it and bought myself some kegs. Then I went online and ordered a kit – the regulator, the hoses and attachments, and a five-pound CO2 tank.

There are smaller tanks available. You see them attached to paintball guns all the time. But when it comes to home-brewing and the like, I’m not sure you can get a smaller bottle than a five-pound. And it’s about the size of one of those large fire extinguishers you see on the wall at work. Anyway, I immediately went to the homebrew forums trying to find where I could get my tanks filled. There were a couple of places in downtown Dallas that did it – well, they swap tanks, but don’t fill your tanks. That means you have to give them your new shiny empty one and they give you one of their rusty old ones full of air. But there was nowhere real close to where I lived. And then I stumbled on a liquor store.

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The Importance of Good Grammar

In the age of self-publishing, and the ease with which anyone can be a writer and publish his/her own work on Amazon and the like, we find ourselves both blessed and cursed. On one hand, it’s great because anyone who’s ever wanted to write can do so. And be heard. On the other, there is no QA for the work.

Listen, I’m not trying to criticize any particular writer here. I’m sure we all have fine stories. And I applaud everyone who self-publishes for seeing it through, for writing terrible drafts and making them better until they finally have a product they feel is ready for readers! That’s the process we all take as writers. My first manuscripts were pretty horrific. But that was because I didn’t know much about storytelling. The grammar, on the other hand, has to be there.

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The Fear of a Not-So-Scary Movie

I suffered through a horror movie last night, because someone very special to me told me it was the scariest movie of all time. He had never been more scared by a movie than this one. All right! Well, considering the source, I had no reason to doubt him. I’m sure, in fact, that he was being completely honest. However, comma, I don’t think he’s seen many movies in his life. He is, after all, only thirteen.

But I’m not really here to rip on the movie, though it did suck pretty badly. Like a brand new purple Dyson. In fact, I wasn’t scared of creeped-out even one time during the entire film. Not even startled by the Dolby shocks. Seriously. I’m not bragging here. When I watch a ‘scary movie’ I want to be scared. I want to wake up with nightmares when I go to bed. I want the horrifying images I’ve seen on the screen to haunt my waking days for the next week. I want to be terrified. The Possession didn’t even come close.

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Walking the Tightrope

So many times my red-haired wife will come home and tell me about news stories she’s read or heard, and I’m always surprised. I don’t read news sites. I don’t watch TV, so I never see the news there. I don’t believe in newspapers. I mean, I’ve seen evidence of them before, but I just really don’t believe in them. Too much like bigfoot. A lot of hearsay and no real proof. And I really don’t listen to any news-bearing stations on the radio. So I guess you could suffice it to say that I don’t really keep up with current events.

I was sitting on the couch today, getting ready for my mid-afternoon nap when I suddenly had the urge to turn on the ole telly. I have one of those real old-school ones that’s not LED or 3D or 4K or any of that. It’s just a simple 1080p LCD. Remember back when those used to be cool? Anyway, I looked through the list of recorded shows – all the Doc McStuffins and Good Luck Charlie and various other Disney crap we record for my daughter – past my Ultimate Treehouses and Treehouse Masters, you know, the good stuff. And I found Nik Wallenda – Walking the Tight Rope.

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I almost died in a horse fire.

Fourteen years, guys. FOURTEEN EFFING YEARS this site has been up and running. And that doesn’t include the slash tilde days before I even had a domain name. You know how long that is? That’s long enough to have a child, watch it grow up through the diaper and talking-back phase and hit puberty. That’s long enough to own a dog, watch it grow old and have to put it down. That’s long enough to own several cars. In short, that’s a long ass time.

Maybe you would think that should mean I have a thousand columns on here. Well keep in mind, that during the early days of the site I had up to six writers at a time (including myself) sending in columns for their publication. So I didn’t write every day. But if you count all those columns other writers wrote, and all the columns I trimmed off as being no longer relevant, plus all the four hundred fifty something I have currently, yeah, you get real close to a thousand columns.
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SpaceBrew Review: Bangs & Whimpers

This book, Bangs & Whimpers: Stories About the End of the World is a collection of short stories by different authors. Most of these stories were written some fifty to sixty years ago. It includes passages from all the greats – from Arthur C. Clarke to Robert Heinlein, Neil Gaiman to Isaac Asimov. I’ve owned it for many years now, but have somehow never gotten around to reading it, until now.

I started it several nights ago, longing for the feel of a paper book in my hands after nearly a year of nothing but audio and electronic books. I just finished it. And let me tell you: if you are in the mood to be depressed, pick up a copy of this volume and give a go. Dear Lord.

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The Tree House Bar

I’ve been thinking a lot about tree houses lately. I’m not sure why this is. But Stavi and I have been sitting out on the driveway drinking beer and looking up at my massive trees in my front yard, and it has come to our attention that those are some damn fine tree house trees. I’ve been thinking, therefore, that maybe we should construct a tree house up in one of them there trees.

I’ve long been obsessed with awesome tree houses, and used to try to build them all the time when I was a kid. I was also always jealous of those friends of mine who had really nice ones. My Pop built me a helluvatuff fort when I was a kid. My sister and I had our own two-storey house in the backyard. But it wasn’t a tree house. There’s just a difference. Maybe a tree house can be hidden in the trees. Heck, I even wrote a poem about a tree house when I was younger. Don’t hate.

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Here be Space: Collector of Collections

I’ve been home since Saturday. But I’m still getting used to it. Like I said before, it feels like I’ve been in a different airport (and hotel) every week. And indeed, I pretty much have. It’s nice to get home and know you’ll be staying there for at least a little while. Our next trip isn’t scheduled until August, so I have at least a month here before I have to use a suitcase again. Gah, I’m so tired of putting stuff into suitcases.

But you know what I’ve found about being back in the house? Well, besides the fact that when you’ve been gone for a week you get to see what your house actually smells like. I’ve found that it’s too big. You know, 7500 square feet can just get overwhelming for a guy like me. No, seriously it’s only about 2500 square feet, but when you’re home alone, it feels like a whole helluva bunch of wasted space. Of course, when you’ve been living out of a suitcase in a hotel room every other week, you start realizing that you’re doing just fine without all your big luscious space. And furthermore, all your stuff.

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The Sunset Beach Diaries, 2013, Pt 2

Well, we made it back. Sigh. I have to take a few deep breaths. Seriously. A week on the beach is hard work. Another deep breath. I’m going to convince you that it’s hard work, and then you’ll see why I’m taking so many deep breaths. Breathe. And then maybe you’ll also see why I am so happy to be home, while at the same time looking forward to going again next year. Deep breath. It’s very hard work. And I didn’t even take my laptop this year!

Historically, I have traveled with only the bare necessities when it comes to technology and electronics. For instance, my laptop backpack would have in it only the things I needed for the week: computer, netbook, tablet, SD card case with several spare SD cards, an SD card reader (or two), two of every kind of cable I might possibly need, spare styli, a couple of blank CDs, a USB light, screen wipes, my 3G hotspot and every possible dongle, cable and connection I might ever need or want to plug into my computer while I’m there. Seriously, what happens if I take a bunch of pictures on my D-SLR and didn’t bring a card reader to transfer them to the computer, and I lose the camera? Well, simply put, I lose the pictures.

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Lest Ye Be Judged…

The church I attend is spread across two campuses. I go to the North Campus. Not sure why I capitalized that, but there you are. It wasn’t always like that, though. Not the capitalization thing, the two campuses thing. There used to only be one campus. It was the South Campus. But of course, back when it was the only one, it wasn’t called the South Campus. Or the south campus. Or even the campus. It was just called the church. And if I capitalize that, you’ll start thinking of Under the Milky Way.

Anyway, the point is that when it used to be just one building, and that’s where I went, I was married to a different woman than I am now. I have nothing negative to say about my ex-wife. She’s a lovely gal. We just weren’t meant for each other like I used to think. When we went through our divorce, which was one of the most difficult times I’ve ever gone through, I stopped attending that church. I also lost forty-five pounds. That should tell you how stressful it was, and – therefore – how seriously I took it. I hate divorce, and can often be heard saying I don’t believe in it. But that’s a whole other column.

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The Sunset Beach Diaries, 2013 Edition

We got up at 3:45 yesterday morning. That’s not the impressive part though. We had gone to bed at close to midnight the night before, and then lay mostly awake through those very few hours trying to sleep through the sound of the dog clock in the neighbor’s yard. This dog literally barked once per second for over an hour. A true canus tempus. I wanted to kill him in the face. But we were energized by vacationalistic excitement, and thus were able to get up with no problems. Then I set about to making Bloody Marys for all of the day’s travelers. Well, except for the kids, of course. Duh. They drink whiskey sours.

By 5:15 we were on the shuttle (all seven of us) heading for the airport. At the end of the three-hour flight, the stewardess announced congratulations for Bret and Danae who are getting married on the beach. I know. Copycats, right? They’re even getting married on the same slice of beach as we did nearly four years ago. Major rolleyes. But then the flight attendant had us do the wave. Very nice.

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Do we need a better mouse trap?

What is the best mouse trap? You hear all the time in company meetings and motivational speeches alike, “let’s build a better mouse trap.” It has actually turned into a cliche. But why? Are mouse traps really that bad that someone needs to be thinking about building a better one? Or is it just the perfect item to make a joke about because it really needs no improvement?

I can’t tell. See, I think the absolutely perfect mouse trap would completely disintegrate the mouse. Turn it into energy, or a puff of perfume-laced smoke. Every mouse trap I’ve ever used – though all of them worked effectively – was imperfect in that you still had to deal with the body of the mouse when the deed was done. And that’s the part I think we all dread the most. I mean, who wants to have to touch a nasty, dirty, flea-infested, possible-rabies-carrying carcass? Not I. So let’s take a look at some of the mouse traps available on the market, and discuss the pros and cons of each.

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The Weekend in San Antonio

My red-haired wife and I spent the last weekend in San Antonio (or as my daughter says, “Sanny Tonio”) at the ISTE conference. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a conference for the International Society for Technology in Education. And as you all know, my red-haired wife and I both work for an EdTech company. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know what the ISTE was. Neither did I, until I found myself working it.

Since I started working in Design, I’ve found myself in a lot of situations like this. Travel situations, that is. Design has already sent me to New York and Minnesota. And there’s a lot more to come. My boss and I were running the Lounge section of our booth, where we were demoing our new dashboard we’ve been designing. There were several other sections of our booth where other products were being shown, and my red-haired wife was working the welcome desk, as seen in the picture below. So let me tell you about this conference center.

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New Discovery: Beer of the Month Club

Beer of the what? Seriously? Beer of the Month Club? How have I not heard of this before now? Actually maybe I had but I didn’t know what it meant. Or maybe I thought you had to go to a bar to get them. Either way, what I do know is that my ridiculously awesome and hot red-haired wife joined the Beer of the Month Club in my name for Father’s Day. Now there’s a wife who cares!

The idea of this is extremely attractive to me. So if you haven’t heard of it, you get your red-haired wife to join you up, and she can pick monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly delivery. It’s pretty expensive. If you sign up for monthly for a year, it’s upwards of $450 bucks. It ain’t cheap. But you can find coupons and save yourself a little cash on shipping and whatnot. So then they just pick two microbreweries per month and send you two varieties (three bottles) from each, for a total of four unique beers that you have probably never heard of. What’s not to love?

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Bad Design Diary: Tiny Bathroom

My wife and I are in San Antonio for a conference. We’re staying in a relatively nice hotel room. This room is actually a pretty nice suite. It has a living room area with couches and ottoman, a bar area with a special sink and a mini-fridge, and then the bedroom area which includes the vanity, the bathroom and the closet. It’s a pretty nice arrangement. Nothing wrong so far.

Until we enter the bathroom…

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The Year of Travel

When I was a child, my greatest fear was falling. I would dream about falling from a building, or a tight-wire stretched between buildings. I don’t know why I should have these dreams. I would never consider actually walking a tight-wire, but there you are. Now that I’ve grown up, my greatest fear has evolved. It’s no longer a selfish fear – a fear for myself. It’s now a fear for the safety of my children. I guess that’s every good parent’s greatest fear though. It makes me shaky and sick to think of something happening to them. I am, therefore, necessarily opposed to taking my children to New York.

It’s not that I think it’s that much more dangerous than anywhere else. Right now I live in one of the top five safest cities in the United States. So yeah, I feel pretty comfortable where I am. But it’s just that I don’t feel like I have control of anything when I’m in New York. Number one, I don’t drive a car, and probably never would in Manhattan. It seems to me to be a place where you live close to work and either walk or take public transit to get there. There aren’t a lot of parks and playgrounds for the kids. At least not where I was. It just doesn’t seem like a very kid-friendly environment. I guess maybe Queens or The Bronx would be better than Manhattan.

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Bad Design Diary: Laptop Latch

My work laptop has a button latch on the front of it. You must press in the button to open the screen. Now this is a really wide notebook, having the ten-key pad on the right side and all that, so it’s like sixteen inches wide. The problem with the button is that it’s pretty wide itself, being about and inch and a half. And the problem with that is that you must press in the whole button. Not just the left side, say, because then it will only pop the left release and the right side of the screen will still be locked.

You can probably see where I’m going with this. It takes two hands to open the screen. No, not one on the latch and one on the screen. I mean two on the screen, while a mysterious third hand presses in the button. Now it can be done with two hands total if you press it just right and lift right in the middle of the screen. However, I like to lift from both corners simultaneously, so as not to stress the screen.

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More Strange Coincidences

I like to pronounce it co – in – `SIDE – ence. I think it sounds a little more swass. Kind of like saying “shed-yule” instead of schedule makes you sound intelligent and business-like. See, saying certain words a certain way keeps people on their toes. ASS – per – AG – us is a rich way to say asparagus, for instance. See? Try them out. See what works best for you.

But speaking of coincidences, I have another couple to add to the list of weird, almost impossible coincidences I’ve experienced. Check this out. You remember the column where I talked about a couple of the crazy things that happened to me? Well here’s another one. When I first moved into this house, my washer went out. See? Crazy, huh? No seriously. It went out, so I got on craigslist, blah blah, met the woman at a storage place that ends up being RIGHT BEHIND WHERE ONE OF MY BUDDIES LIVES TODAY.

Seriously. Well, that’s not the cool coincidence part though. So I brought it home, hooked it up, and of course it doesn’t come anywhere close to matching my dryer. But who gives a shit, right? I like buying used because it helps a brother out when he needs to get rid of something. And as long as it works, and you get a good price, why the hell not? Am i rite? :shobon:

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Custom Tap Handle Alternative

Do you brew your own beer? Do you brew more than one style? Do you, therefore, occasionally rotate different styles in and out of your kegerator? Do you take enough pride in your beer to actually come up with names and labels for your delicious creations? Well, then we have a lot in common already. We should get together and share a pint sometime.

I often find myself looking for custom tap handles that I can have painted up with my beer names and labels on them. And I haven’t found a lot of options that appeal to me. Mostly what I find are cool handles with a square at the top where you slide a printed piece of paper into a plastic sleeve for your “custom” tap handle. Or another popular one is the one with a small black square chalkboard at the top where you write your beer name in chalk. Yawn. No, I want something a little more customized. Well, not finding what I wanted, I improvised. Now I’m going to show you what I did.

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The Bar Harbor Diaries, Vol. 3

What I didn’t consider when I wrote volume two was that it was Memorial Day. I mean, of course I knew it was Memorial Day. But I hadn’t considered that the breweries would be closed. So in short, what this meant was that we could take our time getting to Portland. There was no need to rush to make sure we had plenty of daylight left to hit as many brewhouses as we could. And you know, that worked out after all, because we were able to have a nice leisurely drive back. What should have taken three hours took almost six. And it was completely cool.

Cadillac Mountain was very nice. Gorgeous views. It was a little cold up there, but we had a great experience. Then we sat at Jordan Pond and had a brunch of popovers and lobster rolls with coffee. One of the most excellent brunch experiences of my life, right there. Completely worth the drive, friends. The wind was cool and fresh off the lake, as we sat outside at a picnic table staring out over the water while we ate. So beautiful.

These popovers are apparently the latest craze up there. The bake a muffin until it gets huge and just sort of explodes. So it’s a gigantic muffin that’s hollow on the inside. You put butter and jam on it, and – well, let me back up. You know those spherical scoops of butter they give you in breakfast diners? Yeah, I took that whole thing, sliced a hole in the pop and stuffed the entire butter sphere in it. Then poured the entire cup of jam inside, and sort of mashed it all around. Dear sweet WOW.

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Bad Design Diary: Shower Faucet

I’m beginning a new series about bad design. Being a designer, I’m constantly thinking about it, and thus also always spotting bad design. One of the assignments my instructor assigned at the design conference in New York a few months ago, was to spot and record five things wrong with our hotel rooms. That was easy. I’m always looking out for areas that could use improvement.

But I won’t simply be complaining about bad design. I’ll also be offering up a solution. These will certainly be my own ideas, and not necessarily the best resolutions, but definitely better than the complaint I encountered. These will be short posts – not my usual 700-words-or-better columns I post. They will also have their own category for easy sorting and grouping. So come along with me as we look at some bad design.

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The Bar Harbor Diaries, Vol. 2

We ran into a couple of hikers the other night, and hung out at the Dog & Pony with them, then ended the night at Leary’s Landing (the Irish Pub) listening to a guy play the guitar and sing songs we all know. Well, we helped him out a little bit. And being at the table closest to him, I asked him if he knew certain artists occasionally. “Do you know any Bette Midler?” I would say, for instance. Or, “Hey, can you play any Barry Manilow? Air Supply?” Unfortunately, he was more of a modern rock guy. It was fun.

The church we attended Sunday morning was very old-fashioned. It reminds me of my childhood. The same tired old songs from the hymnals, the same tired old sermons repeated every Sunday from the same tired old preacher. He was actually reading his notes the entire time. Not very dramatic. He’s no Chris Seidman, I said. But it was good. It was nice to stop down and be reminded of why we’re here in the first place. Spending a little time in worship was pleasant before we hit the streets and bars again. Which we did in short order. The Seaside Grill serves an awful Bloody Mary, by the way (though their haddock popkin is pretty remarkable).

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The Bar Harbor Diaries, Vol. 1

You can fly into Bangor and drive the hour into Bar Harbor, which is what we should have done. Don’t get me wrong, the drive up was absolutely gorgeous. We counted more trees per square yard than we could even believe actually existed. But a five-hour drive is pretty taxing when you’ve gotten up at 0400 to be at the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport by 0625. Yeah. They don’t even serve bloody marys that early.

So flying into Bangor will save you the five-hour drive, but costs you a couple of Franklins. Well, next time I think we may do that. We, instead, flew into Boston / Logan and drove up. Now that was a really nice drive through all those bay towns, including Portland. We plan to spend a day in Portland Monday, actually. We’ve decided to knock off out of Bar Harbor a day early to cut the trip in half so we’re not rushed on the day we fly out.

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I Saved the Planet, Dudes

Minnesota Chronicles, Vol. 3

No seriously. It has been made clear to me that alls I have to do is leave my towels on the rack instead of the floor, and it will save the planet. Well, friends, I am happy to announce: the planet is SAVED. You can thank me later.

I’ve done many things for you guys over the years, but none of them probably had the impact that this one single event did. I’m just wondering though… instead of printing up this cute little sign and going through all that trouble, couldn’t the person who placed the sign just left the towels on the rack? He could have saved the planet back when he hung the sign. Oh well, it’s really no sweat to me, and I’m happy (and honored) to have gotten the opportunity to perform such a magnanimous, philanthropic detail.

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Six Pints for Doug

Okay, let’s just get this on the record. It’s funny, I can no longer find anything about it on the Internet anywhere. Does this mean that we are the only ones left participating in the tradition? I can’t imagine that. Let me know if you can find anything about it. Maybe there are local groups who could join forces or something. I don’t know. Anyway, I just want to put this on the record for anyone who is interested in getting into this tradition.

Do you like music? Do you like beer? Do you like friends? Do you like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Do you like websites? Well if you answered no to any of those questions, you’re probably not reading this website, because you wouldn’t like it. If you have not read the book I mentioned, you should go ahead and put that on your To Be Read list. Seriously. If you like my site, you would probably enjoy it. You would probably enjoy it anyway. But then, once you’ve read it, you’ll have a better appreciation of who Douglas Adams was.

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BrewHouse Site Gets a Facelift

Cross-Posted from Tapped Relic Brewhouse

Have you noticed that all these beer websites ask you for your birth date before they’ll let you in? I find myself wondering what the point of that is. Is there a growing concern for the number of children and adolescents visiting beer sites and getting drunk? I understand not letting underage peeps into the liquor store. Or not selling them alcohol. But they can’t even look at your site? And if they really want to see it, what keeps them from rolling the year down a few notches? Nothing. It’s a waste of time, and it’s ridiculous. Trying to make your beer or brewery website look responsible like you care about kids is better accomplished by other means. Well, you’ll never see an age block on SpacePort. No way, ho, say!

But we’ve been brewing a lot of beer lately, friends. That’s what good breweries do, right? And with all the new beers and recipes we’re brewing up, I thought we could use a new logo. So I designed a new, more robust and colorful logo set. You can click here to see the new logo in full size. The Untappd page got a modified version, and there’s a small one at the bottom of this page. Let me know what you think!

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Farewell to the Help Desk

For the last 18 years I’ve been working on computers in some capacity. About eight of those years were server engineering and data center operations, but the rest has been help desk. I’ve always preferred the help desk because it’s more hands-on with people. I have the great privilege to make people happy, one person at a time.

Help desk obviously doesn’t pay near as well as the server side of things, but it’s always been enough to support my family and me. And you know me – I’m not greedy. I only want to make enough to cover what I need, plus a little allowance for toys and beer. I have no desire to drive a fifty-thousand-dollar luxury automobile, or have a summer cabin in the mountains. Though that does sound quite nice now that I think about it.

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SpaceBrew Review: Ancient Shores

Ancient Shores
by Jack McDevitt

as posted on Goodreads

This book was like a “wave” at a football game. You know the one where people stand up in turn waving their arms around and it gives the effect that the stadium is an ocean? Yeah. That. Let me explain the analogy.

Well you probably got that it was up and down with the suspense, drama and general kickassery of the story. It was indeed. The gait would pick up and get me real interested, then it would slow back down and even bog down with unnecessary character introductions and irrelevant loose ends. But it also reminded me of a stadium wave because of how imperfect the wave part of the wave actually was.

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The Low-Memory Rubik’s Cube Solution

Are you one of those people who has a Rubik’s Cube sitting on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere, and you’ve had it since the 80s but you’ve never solved it? Are you the type of person who uses more than one conjunction in the same sentence? Great! Then we have one thing in common! No, but seriously, folks.

So I wrote a sort of beginner’s guide to solving the Cube. And I call it the Low-Memory Method, because you only have to memorize 8 (eight) algorithms. There are probably several hundred algorithms one could possibly learn to solve the Cube, but my theory is that the fewer you need to actually solve it, the more people will get interested in picking up their old Cube and giving it a shot. And the trick is that if there’s an alg for rotating three pieces clockwise, then two things are true:

  1. There’s also an alg for rotating those pieces anti-clockwise, and
  2. You can perform the clockwise alg twice and it will achieve the same end result.

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Twisty Puzzle Solutions

I have a rather ridiculous collection of Twisty Puzzles. I used to be able to call it a Cube Collection. But now a large lot of them simply aren’t cubes. I have several dodecahedrons, an octahedron, a quadrahedron, et cetera. And I, being a literal guy, cannot in good conscience call them all cubes any longer. This meant broken links on my website. But all that’s been fixed now.

Anyway, I have a few that I needed a little help with. Megaminx? Seriously? That thing’s got twelve sides. With ten pieces on each side. I was able to solve eight sides on it with no help. But the last four started to get crazy. After several days of pulling out my hair and almost Throwing It Out The Window, I finally sought help. And got it. Well, some of my puzzles weren’t so easy to find help on.

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New York Diaries, Vol 2

The first order of business upon arriving in a foreign town is to locate a good place to drink. Well, maybe that’s not a rule or anything, but it seems to work well for me. I’ve had almost one-hundred-percent success in using this little scheme when I visit new towns. I want you to look at the inset picture here really closely, without clicking on it yet. There. Right in the middle. Do you see it? Okay, now click it.

Now you see it, don’t you? Yes, friends, that is indeed a BREWERY. Sorry for the shittastic image – there were raindrops on the window through which I took the photo. {aside} When I checked in, I played some charm on the cute clerk and said in my best Texas accent, “I’m from Dallas. I’ve never been here. Can you give me something really high up?” She smiled and said yes, then upgraded my room to the 43rd floor, so I got a pretty good look. So yes, I walked into my room, dropped my crap on the floor and immediately walked to the window to have a look at the world below. Once I spotted the brewery, I was back down on the street within three minutes. My suitcase was still on the bed, zipped up tight.

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New York Diaries, Vol 1

I’m finally changing career paths. At almost forty years old. But they say it’s never too late to learn something new, right? I’m tired of fixing computers for a living. I’m pretty good at it, and I’m almost never stumped by a problem for too long anymore. I mean, there are perhaps an infinite number of things that can go wrong with a computer or a piece of software, or a printer… But a lot of them start to look alike – and certainly have the same solution. And I’ve been doing this a really long time. Yeah, it’s time for a change. So my company sent me to a three-day training course in New York City. So this is it, huh? I finally get to go to New York. Well let’s do it!

You see, all my friends have been. Well, most of my friends anyway. My red-haired wife has been. My dad has been. And everyone says you have to experience it firsthand to really get the full drift of what it’s like down on the street. Well, I’ve been here for four days now, and let me just say this about it: you have to experience it firsthand to really get the full drift of what it’s like down on the street.

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Smart Phone, Dumb User

Have you ever paid attention to your phone bill? Do you know that they actually still send you a list of all the phone calls you made and received during the billing cycle? Why do they do that? I mean, sure, I think the log should be available if we need it, but really? Who the hell actually looks at every call every month? Does anyone keep a record of it on a notepad or something and then check it like a bank statement, making sure he didn’t get billed for a call he didn’t make?

Another thing you might not have noticed on your bill – for those of you with smartphones – is the fact that they charge you thirty dollars a month for a data plan. Well, I know some charge more, some charge less. But the median is somewhere right around thirty bucks. Well, I know you know you get charged that every month, because when you signed up for the service and got the smartphone you agreed that you had to have a plan on it to be able to use it. But have you really sat back and thought about what this really means? Of course you haven’t, you silly goose!

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 5

Part Five: Dancing in the Streets

When you think of vacation spots, you probably don’t very frequently list Panama City as one of your choices. It seems – to me, at least – to be one of those spots like the Roman Coliseum. It’s beautiful, and you’d love to see it, but you’re not going to lie out and catch some rays on the theater floor. These seem more like educational spots. Culturally rich locations where you go with a history team, or a college class for a field trip. And certainly if you’re staying at Playa Bonita on Diesel Beach, it’s not a great place to catch some sun. The pools are fine for it. Amy (“I’m not getting any sun! I need to wash this crap off my back!”) burned like an unconscious lobster left on a grill. While the fire was lit. On high. And people threw cigarette butts at it. While laughing. Even my red-haired wife caught a little too much sun, and when her skin started peeling it really made a picture of her new Embera Ink tattoos.

But a large part of me is glad we didn’t get to choose the vacation spot for our getaway. Panama is literally the last place on the planet I would have chosen. Ireland? Turkey? Germany? Canada? Kansas? These are all places that sound reasonably like good tourist spots for a nice week away from work. But the company chose for us. As they do every year on their Presidents’ Club vacation. And this unlikely spot made for a fantastic, and life-changing experience I won’t soon forget. Yes, even I – with my terrible memory – am not likely to forget this one.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 4

Part Four: The Tribal Village of the Embera

We’ve come a long way with technology. This to me is science. I like to stay at the forefront – the leading edge, and all the other buzzwords you can think of that have to do with technology. I sometimes buy devices and gadgets with the full intention of returning them within the fourteen-day window just so I can become familiar with them, learn all about them, and be able to speak intelligibly of them. I would never personally own a Windows phone, but I was quick to hop on my mother’s for an hour or two when she got it, just to check out what they’re all about. I have more gadgets and technology in my house than a Best Buy distribution warehouse. Well, one that’s very small and only has like five laptops and three tablets in it.

I never dreamed I could part with my tech so easily. And maybe I can’t. I brought my tablet and my D/SLR camera with me on this trip to Panama. And my cell phone. And my wife’s laptop, her cell phone, a pocket camera, a 3G wireless hotspot, a GRUB analyzer, a Trip Socket spectrometer, and a bag full of cords, cables, chargers and SD cards. I came fully prepared. Our phones, however, remained off the entire trip. It was nice to be disconnected. Sort of. Not sort of nice. Sort of disconnected. Of course we still fired up Lync and Google Talk to video chat with the kids in the evenings, and I checked my email on my tablet and sent my drawings to my game mates on Draw Something. But we were more off-the-grid than usual. Especially when we went to see the Indians.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 3

Part Three: The Heart of Panama City

Panama has three beers to offer us. There’s nothing special or fancy – they’re all golden beers, light in flavor and body, and all pretty similar. We tried them all, of course, and actually wanted to venture out into the city to pick some up to keep in our hotel room. Those Panama nights get long, and that balcony that overlooks the Diesel Beach just seems to call to us like the crickets of the jungle. We longed to sit out on that balcony and enjoy a few cold cans of Balboa. Alas, here now we sit in our comfortable leather couches back in Dallas, Texas, and can say we not once sat in those chairs on the balcony.

We did do plenty of sitting and drinking though. I met some really great people on this trip. Certain people with whom I’ve spoken and supported many times were there, and it was great to meet them. But they also brought with them their spouses, and that really rounded out the vacation for me. Tom and Jeremy and Sean – these guys were the perfect compliment to the Suzanne, Shana and Kacy I’ve already come to know and love. Though I’d not yet met Suzanne and Kacy, I was already very fond of them from my dealings with them on the phone. The nights we spent out by the pool crowded around a table drinking beer we had bribed a waiter into serving us were as memorable as the tours and experiences we were talking about around those tables.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 2

Part Two: Back in the Jungle

This was my second trip to Panama but it was so markedly different from the first in every aspect that I’m beginning to replace negative feelings and emotions about it with positive ones. Where my first trip was dark and unkind, frightening and unforgiving, this one was healing and rewarding. This was my opportunity to change some of my thoughts and feelings on a second-world country and turn an exotic vacation into a therapeutic session and personal growth. Being granted the opportunity to see the jungle again from a cable car, and the safety of a boat, I’ve been able to calm the sense of dread and anxiety that seems to boil up in my gut when I think of the darkness that dwells in that little strip between the Americas.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 1

Part One: Man Versus Murphy

As our tour guide for the Panama Canal said, “Murphy isn’t just a part of our daily lives here in Panama, but he was also born here.” He spoke of Edward Murphy, the Panamanian native who coined the phrase we all know today as Murphy’s Law. Well, we met Mr. Murphy before we even got to the airport.

State Highway 121, which is perpetually in a state of construction, almost caused us to miss our flight. They had blocked the exit to the airport. I don’t know who ‘they’ is, but I’d sure like to have a little chat with them. Yes, they blocked the exit. How can they do that when there are literally thousands of people every day who depend on that exit to get to the airport? Well, you’ll have to ask ‘them’.

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How I Conquered Heartburn

I know a lot of people who are permanently on some kind of acid reflux medication. What is it about today’s people – or today’s diet – that is so much worse for us than back in say, the 70s? Were people riddled with perpetual daily heartburn back then the way they are today? I would guess they were, but no one has ever confirmed this. My real question, obviously, is what did they do before Omeprazole?

Well I’ve been on it for at least twelve years. I think closer to fifteen. I know they took Propulsid off the shelves back in April of 2000. And I was on that. Apparently it caused heart attacks and all other kinds of bad schlit. But I know I was on permanent daily medication already at the point when I started taking this deadly medication. And I don’t remember how long I’d been on it. So at least twelve, possibly as much as fifteen years of my life, I’ve dealt with GERD. And I’m son-of-a-bitching tired of it.

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