jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Hey folks, how are you doing LJ backups these days? It's been so long since I used LJbook, I see they've renamed to BlogBooker. Is that still the preferred option?
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Recently a friend posted a list of the podcasts he listens to, so I thought I'd share mine. These are the ones I listen to all the time; they're the silver lining in having a long commute.

  • 99% Invisible, by Radiotopia with Roman Mars. Interesting stories about design, like the guy who designed the "Blade Runner" building (not an architect, just a junior draftsman), and the woman who modeled for sculptures all over Manhattan. Except he makes it sound way cooler than that. And the production values are incredibly high. This is professionally produced radio, not amateur-hour podcasting.

  • More Or Less, by BBC with Tim Harford: fact-checking statistics that get thrown around, like will there really be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050?

  • The Memory Palace, with Nate Dimeo: stories about bits of history, like what it was like to build the Brooklyn bridge. Dimeo's descriptions are so evocative, it feels like a moment of being there.

  • Invisibilia, by NPR with Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller: I'm eagerly waiting for this to come back on the air. They ran a bunch of episodes from January to July 2015 about "the invisible forces that control human behavior" and I need another fix. The one that really sticks in my mind is about Batman, a blind man who can ride a bike and teaches others to "see" by making a clicking sound and listening for the echoes. See, I knew that Daredevil was a plausible story.

  • Radiolab, from WNYC: journalism about science; sometimes interesting, sometimes overproduced (intrusive music and sound effects).

  • The Story Collider: scientists and mathematicians telling their own stories. Sometimes funny, like Abishek Shah ("I had an easy job and could afford two Subway sandwiches a day...but such bliss cannot last") and sometimes touching like Ali Mattu about the love of Star Trek that he and his brother shared. Although the sound quality is sometimes not great (many of the episodes are recorded live), I generally prefer this to Radiolab. This is the kind of podcast I wish I had started.

  • Planet Money, by NPR: the #1 podcast I recommend to people. They tell stories about money, which I think is a universally fascinating subject, and they put it in terms everyone can understand.

  • Insert Content Here, by Lullabot with Jeff Eaton: a podcast about content strategy. Of course I love it. Can't really recommend it to anyone outside the field though. :)

  • In the Making, by Centerline Digital with Devin Asaro: conversations with content strategists and UX designers. Tends to ramble a bit, but also...love.

  • What is Wrong with UX?, with Kate Rutter and Laura Klein: per their description, "two old ladies drink and bitch about UX". They're gonna tell it like it is, and it's hilarious. Possibly of interest to anyone who works on software or web products.

  • Say Something Worth Stealing, with Dave Curry: interviews with UX designers, creative directors, visual designers, and yes, a content strategist. Great stuff; my favorite is the one with UX designer Jon Bell. Also, nice to have a locally produced podcast in the mix.

One that I listen to sometimes:

  • Lexicon Valley, from Slate with Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo: I find language fascinating, but one of the hosts is sometimes an interesting pedant and sometimes just a pompous windbag. I prefer their episodes on phonetics, like What Does It Mean to Sound Gay? and The Fawth Flaw (a two-parter on the New York accent). Except for the one where Bob Garfield felt the need to criticize young women for vocal fry. (See above, pompous windbag.)

There are a few others that I just started listening to, like Numbers and Narrative and Data Stories. I also tried listening to Vox's The Weeds, since it was recommended by Roman Mars (and that's high praise indeed, as I think he's the gold standard of podcasting right now). But I don't know if I can stand listening to analysis of politics very often, even Ezra Klein is one of the hosts.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Feh. On Friday, K was tired enough that she fell asleep at her desk in school. We figured possible growth spurt. Then on Monday she took a 4-hour nap on the sofa. Tuesday, she was ill and stayed at home where she mostly watched her iPad and napped, and ate the BRATY diet. Today, she was well enough to go back to school, and it was The Man's turn to be sick. I have a sore throat now and am worried. Dangit, I thought we had already gotten our winter cold for Xmas. At least work is understanding about me needing to come in late or leave early.

I borrowed Busman's Honeymoon from the library in audiobook form, or so I thought. It was about 1/5 the size of the Gaudy Night files. Turns out, it's not an audiobook, it's a radio play version. Which was fun — I love radio plays — and quicker to experience, but I feel like I missed out on a lot of Sayers' observations. Guess I'll have to get the ebook version and have Alex read it to me.

Speaking of the previous book, I think my favorite moment in Gaudy Night might be when young Mr. Pomfret is trying to pick a fight with Peter in the antique shop:

"Stand up, blast you! Why can't you stand up for yourself?"

"First," replied Peter, mildly, "because I'm twenty years older than you are. Secondly, because you're six inches taller than I am. And thirdly, because I don't want to hurt you."


Reminded me of this:

Placet

Jan. 18th, 2016 11:46 am
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I borrowed the audiobook of Gaudy Night from the library and listened to it on my iPhone. It was a little bit of a hassle to import the sound files from the Overdrive folder to iTunes and then sync with the phone, but the worst part was having to contend with the Apple Music app on my phone. Other sound-playing apps have controls like this:



And then there's Apple Music, which does not have an easy "skip back N seconds" button and whose controls are so much smaller:



UI annoyances aside, the audiobook experience was great. I was able to listen during my commute (now that I've given up on the light rail) and during data entry at work. The narrator's English accent enhanced a lot of the pompous discussions among the Oxford dons and lent some added charm to Lord Wimsey the younger.

And the story itself was good; I hadn't known anything about Dorothy Sayers before starting the Wimsey books, so I hadn't realized how much of a feminist nerd she was. I love that she highlighted the double standards of how male and female students were treated and how the women's college is aware of its own precarious situation. It creates a nice backdrop for Harriet's need to maintain her independence. And I loved Wimsey for that moment when he realizes Harriet is in danger and instead of hiring bodyguards for her or trying to stop her investigation, he teaches her self-defense. I was less charmed by the dog collar; I wasn't sure what Sayers was trying to do with that, or if the comparison between a woman and a dog wasn't a thing in the 1920s.

I also wasn't sure how big of a scandal Harriet's well-publicized "fallen woman" status would have been. Obviously it's enough of a thing that she's worried about how she'll be received at Oxford and is used to getting hate mail, but I don't remember the book saying that she was worried she would harm Peter's reputation. Perhaps that would have gone without saying. My only complaint with the book itself is that by the time you get to the ending, it feels anticlimactic, and then it ends abruptly. But that was the case with Have His Carcase too, and probably a convention of storytelling at the time. I've noticed the same abrupt feeling in older movies.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
I know I'm a little late, but I made my New Year's resolutions over the weekend. I told The Man, most people are resolving to do things they don't like and then will feel bad when they stop doing those things. So this year I resolve to drink more wine and eat more chocolate. :)
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
The 9-to-5 gig is going well and turns out to involve some opportunity to practice information architecture as well as content strategy, yay! But it limits my time on social media, so I thought I'd catch you all up on what I've been watching and reading.

Based on Connie Willis' recommendations in the prologue to The Winds of Marble Arch, I've started reading the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. They're lovely, although clearly meant to be savored, rather than my usual breathless page-turning. I'm going to try the audiobook of Gaudy Night to see if that slows me down appropriately.


I recently started watching "The Librarians" again (having bailed on the first season), and decided it was worth showing to the kids. They love it. N is old enough to get a bunch of the jokes. K mostly likes watching with us, although she gets scared about the monsters sometimes. The writers have been giving Jacob some great lines lately. Paraphrased from And the Infernal Contract:

"Get ready for chupacabra jerky!"
"Ew, you're cooking him?"
"No, he's makin' it! He's awesome!"

And the classic moment (in "And the Image of Image") where two guys can't get a the nightclub, so the burly one's going to cause a distraction while the slender one sneaks in. But the fight that Jacob starts with the bouncer is a literature throw-down.

"Name me one poet or writer who can measure up to the best of Britain."
"You want 'em alphabetically or by century? -- tell you what, we'll just start with the twentieth. E. E. Cummings. Allen Ginsberg. You got William Carlos Williams, that’s a good one. I mean, you got Lowell, Sandburg, Plath, Frost, Sexton. And, if you will, my personal favorite, Raymond Carver."

So far the one "Librarians" episode I didn't care for was the rip-off of "Live Die Repeat" (originally released in theaters as "Edge of Tomorrow"). I like Ezekiel and Eve, but they're no Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Actually, Rebecca Romijin is pretty great in action movies, so she could substitute for Emily Blunt, but not in this role.


I watched one of the classic movies I got for Xmas: "The Bachelor Mother", with David Niven (who reminds me of Tom Hiddleston for some reason), and Ginger Rogers. It was wonderful. Sometimes these screwball comedies trip some kind of lever for me, and my brain rebels against all the stupid misunderstandings. But this one was perfect, I think because the Ginger Rogers character is also rebelling against the stupidity. And it's set around Christmas and New Year's.


A few weeks back, I had less fun watching "Jupiter Ascending", which I thought would be great fun based on the enthusiastic review of [livejournal.com profile] jimhines. I got about halfway through and was enjoying it a lot (I mean, how can you not love a werewolf with flying skates?). And then I suddenly realized the character we were watching was Elena fucking Gilbert, just in a different setting. I think Kunis is adorable, but I was just done at that point.


I've given up on "Gotham". The Man showed me about half of the first season. It has exciting plot twists. Everything with Alfred is great. Young Selina Kyle is annoying, but they did an amazing job of finding a tween who looks just like Michelle Pfeiffer. But the thing I can't get past is that Gotham is a bad place where everything is doomed to turn to shit.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
We had a very nice family celebration and now the kids are playing with their mountain of gifts while the adults relax (and try to think about dinner, while still digesting too much dim sum for lunch). Hoping all of you are enjoying a similar amount of happiness. :)
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
K: I think I am not going to get married when I grow up. Because I don't want to get pregnant.

Me: Um... (deciding not to get into birth control just yet with the 5-year-old) That's okay, you don't have to do either.

K: Because I want to be a bear hunter. And when I am climbing mountains hunting bears, I might fall down and then my baby might die.

Me: Well, sometimes pregnant women fall down and the baby is okay. But yes, it is a risk. You know, sometimes when women get pregnant they keep working their job until it gets too uncomfortable and then they take a break for a while.

K: Yes, but I don't want to. I want to keep being a bear hunter.


About 10 minutes later, she told me that if she ever sees her best friend from preschool again, she is going to marry him, because she loves him. I decided not to ask about the bear hunting career.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Conversation with I had with K a few nights ago after brushing teeth:

K: When I grow up, I am going to change my name to K--- Lollipop. Okay?
Me: Okay, honey. It's your name. You can change it when you grow up.
K: And I am going to be a policewoman.
Me: ...A policewoman named K--- Lollipop?
K: Yes.


Conversation that K had with The Man at swim class*:

K: So, I am a baby monster in the dungeon. And you are the dungeon keeper, okay?
TM: Okay.
K: And, can it be 10 years later now? Because I am going to have a baby.
TM: Okay.
K: I married one of the salamanders. His name is George. We got married in that place -- what is that place where you get married?
TM: The chapel?
K: Yes, we got married in the chapel. On the hill.
TM: What are you talking about? The chapel is right net to the Dark Temple.
K: Oh yeah. I forgot. Anyway, we got married and I am going to have a baby. We had the sex and now I am going to have a baby. But not in here. Not until we get out of the changing room.



*: The kids are fascinated with the game Dungeonkeeper II, which explains at least the salamander part of it. Kind of.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
After I commented on the new Muppet Show unfavorably, a friend offered to send me the DVDs she had of the original show. We watched two episodes from the first season and some pieces of another, and it was kind of a shock. To be clear, I've re-watched childhood favorites before. I have all the episodes of the "Dungeons and Dragons" TV show on DVD, and they are bad. They're not fundamentally different from what I remember: it's just that when I was a kid, I didn't notice the poor plot, dialog, and animation. But my kids enjoy them, and it's nice to be able to share them with the next generation of nerds. Anyway, seeing the old Muppet Show was a different kind of experience. Time is short, so I'll just quote from the email I sent to the friend:

By the way, the Muppets discs arrived and we watched 2.5 episodes from the first season. Oh my god. They really were just as bad as the new one, or maybe even worse. It's fascinating: we watch a lot of Disney and Pixar movies, and those generally have multiple levels of story, depending on your age/level of sophistication. But the Muppet Show is schizophrenic. I can see how I remember it so differently. For kids, it's funny and lighthearted. Miss Piggy is karate chopping someone! Candice Bergen is breaking everything in a cabin! Ha ha! For adults, it's creepy stuff: some muppet body-shaming Miss Piggy and some other muppet singing a sexist song to Candice Bergen. The truly funny bits were the "dad jokes" in between skits, like some of Fozzy's lines and the quips in the ballroom dancing. But the skits were all like, "Why would someone choose *that* as the subject?" They ranged from strange and off-putting, to unfunny and off-putting.
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Since I now have a 2+ hour commute, I've been listening to podcasts on business, especially bootstrapping an online business. I've been noticing some themes.

The first one is Who You Know:

  • Patrick McKenzie was a technical translator and then a developer; he got his first two business ideas from a mailing list he was on (teachers asking for software to make bingo cards) and his masseuse (she had a problem with no-shows).

  • Keith Perhac was a developer/designer/marketer at an advertising startup, and then with Patrick McKenzie's help he started contracting for Ramit Sethi doing split-testing and analytics. From there he started consulting (for multiple clients) doing UX/UI design, ad copy, optimizing sales funnels. And now he has a SaaS product, Summit Evergreen, which allows people to create online courses. (Mixergy interview) This one's Who You Know, with a bit of Sell Pickaxes in a Gold Rush.

  • This guy, whose blog post I randomly found, got a $5,000 consulting gig in a week by using his mom's network and knowledge in the insurance business.



The second category is Teach What You Know:

  • Amy Hoy's teaches classes on JavaScript (having been a developer for years) and how to start a product business (having run a couple of product businesses, the main one being a time-tracking SaaS, Freckle). (Mixergy interview)

  • Brennan Dunn was a developer, then a consultant, and now he has a project-management SaaS and teaches freelancers how to position themselves as high-priced consultants. (Blog post)

  • Nathan Barry was a UX designer who did some consulting and now sells a couple of ebooks about how to design software. (Blog post on Gumroad)

  • Ramit Sethi started trying to teach his college friends about personal finance, then created a blog, and then a series of online classes and a membership site (with the focus on professional/entrepreneurial success).



Then there's the combination of Who You Know and Teach What You Know:

  • Pat Flynn, of the Smart Passive Income podcast, lost his job as an architect and created an ebook on passing the LEED exam. Somewhat later, he created a niche site on security guard training because his mother is a security guard. (Forbes article)

  • Dane Maxwell got his first business idea from his uncle, who was in real estate. The uncle also agreed to finance the development of the SaaS product in exchange for getting a lifetime free account. Maxwell went on to start half a dozen SaaS products, I think all in real estate. Now he sells online training in how to start SaaS companies.



Last, we have the Flipper:

  • Rob Walling built his first SaaS himself (feedshot.com), then he switched to buying online businesses: ChitChat.net, floggs.com, and .NET Invoice. The last one turned out to be buggy as hell but he was able to fix it and raise the price. Sometime after that he started a drop-shipping business for beach towels. Then he bought another business, CMSthemer.com, and outsourced the development. He sold each one of those. Sometime after that, he wrote a book, started his online training/membership site (Micropreneur Academy), and started a conference for bootstrappers (Microconf). He continues to buy online businesses like ApprenticeLinemanTraining.com and HitTail. (Mixergy interview)

jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
What do you do to keep your financial information safe, and why?

Examples: never pay with physical checks because bank account number is in plaintext, not use online banking because of fear of hacking, shred all financial statements because of dumpster-divers, etc.
jinasphinx: (Default)
K.: I like all the fairies. I like Rosetta because she can make flowers open. Can she do that for reals?
Me: Well, she does it in the stories and the movies.
K.: Uh-huh.
Me: If you see something in a story or movie, does that mean it's for reals?
K.: No.

I can't tell you all how happy it makes me to see my kid engaging in critical thinking. I feel like often we parents don't discuss TV and movies with their kids enough -- it's sometimes shocking what they think is real or what they don't understand. Anyway, this conversation with K. came after The Man showed them scenes from John Carpenter's "The Thing" in slow-mo and explained how effects were done. "Okay, now they just replaced Blair with another guy wearing a Blair mask. And the other guy has no arms, so they put some fake arms on him..."
jinasphinx: (Default)
This year, I wanted to hike a leg of the Wonderland trail to celebrate turning 40. Then I got a 9-to-5 job, and have been spending time working and commuting instead of training. I'd still like to do a hike in September for my birthday; I'm thinking of scaling back to an easy weekend backpacking trip, and then take a day off work to rest my feet. :) Can anyone recommend a good hike at that difficulty level, where I still stand a chance of getting a campsite permit?
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Recently a friend posted a freelancing question on Google+, and I realized, hey, I did that from late 2011 to late 2014. I wasn't terribly serious about it -- if I'd pursued it hard I probably could have made a lot more money -- but then, it turns out I actually loathe working solo. (If I have to freelance again, I'll need to budget $250-500/mo for a desk at a coworking space.)

Anyway, I found these resources had concrete how-to info about freelancing:


  • Ramit Sethi's website has a lot of info on getting started with freelancing. I've never purchased the Earn1K product; being a cheapass, instead I read all of Sethi's free material (some publically available on the website and some from his mailing list) and then bought his CreativeLive class on money for creative professionals, while it was airing. (The course used to rerun on CL pretty frequently; if you buy it while it's airing, it's cheaper by I think $100.)

  • CreativeLive's raison d'être is creative professionals who are often freelancers such as photographers and graphic artists; so if you're in that niche, it's a good site to hit. You can watch the live streaming classes without paying a dollar, and if you see something that seems worth a couple hundred dollars, then you can buy.

  • Patrick McKenzie has stopped consulting (aka freelancing), but he used to do it quite a bit; an old newsletter talks about some key lessons from consulting, as do some early podcasts (Getting Your First Consulting Client, Charging More, and Growing Your Consulting Practice). McKenzie is a developer, but he and his co-hosts talk about lessons that are broadly applicable to all freelancers/consultants.

jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Interesting trend in software: screening candidates by skill rather than keywords on a resume or ability to BS.

DevDraft: one-day programming challenge events, described on their "about" page as "Many talented people are being overlooked, and many just need a little push to get connected with the right opportunities. This is why we built DevDraft, a platform that organically identifies talent, regardless of their past history."

Starfighter: a company to publish games that will teach and evaluate coding skills, described by @patio11 as "The technology industry structurally excludes many qualified candidates from their hiring funnels and then is shocked when those hiring funnels disproportionately select for candidates who are not structurally excluded. Traditional tech interviews are terrible ways to identify, qualify, and evaluate top programming talent. Filtering by education level or university is unreliable. Keyword searches are applied by people who don’t understand the underlying technology. The tech industry excludes perfectly viable candidates for no reason at all."

iZombie

Apr. 7th, 2015 06:39 am
jinasphinx: (Default)
I meant to say in the TV post that I am also enjoying Rob Thomas' foray into the world of a smart, sassy, petite blonde who solves crimes with an African-American male partner when she's not musing about the abrupt loss of her high-status life. With voiceovers.

However, Deadboy and the Elephantmen's "Stop, I'm Already Dead" is not as catchy as the Dandy Warhols' "We Used to Be Friends".
jinasphinx: (Sphinx)
Long time, no update. So of course, I am going to blather about TV shows. A lot of stuff has been piling up on the DVR, thanks in part to the new(ish) job, and also to the week in Disneyworld. It's interesting how things separate into three tiers:

  1. "OMG it's recording right now, let's watch it tonight!":

    • "Elementary"

    • "Major Crimes"

    • "Supernatural"

    • "Madam Secretary"

    • "Person of Interest" (which right now is on a streak of introducing a new female kick-ass character every week, which is a not-terrible way of responding to Sarah Shahi getting pregnant -- are you taking notes, Joss Whedon?)*



  2. "We'll watch it when we get around to it":

    • "Vampire Diaries" (lost its luster when we realized Elena will always be a victim, and there just hasn't been enough Caroline airtime to make up for that)

    • "Agents of SHIELD" (the writers' room needs a stronger brand of coffee)

    • "Covert Affairs"

    • "Forever" (watching only because of chemistry between Ioan Gruffud and Judd Hirsch)



  3. "We're deliberately letting this pile up so we can binge-watch it":
    • "The Originals"



Then there were a couple shows we let pile up and eventually gave up on, and deleted all the episodes. We gave up on watching "Sleepy Hollow" after reading [livejournal.com profile] glvalentine's increasingly trainwreck reviews. I will miss the man-out-of-time moments with Ichabod, but that's all. And we weren't big fans of where "The Mentalist" had been going lately, and once we read that two main characters were getting married, we looked at each other and said, "Time to delete."



*: Actually, every first-tier show seems to specialize in kick-ass female charactes with the exception of "Supernatural", which has had a few as recurring guest stars but is, at its heart, all about the bros.
jinasphinx: (Default)
"Mommy, I think I do not really have monsters. I've just been pretending, all my life!"




"Vampires don't drink that much blood. It's only a spoonful, and that's not enough to kill us. I know I'm right."




Me, reading Elfquest: "These elves hiding in the bushes look pretty scared, right? But what do these elves down here look like?"

K.: "They look ready to kick some ass."
jinasphinx: (Default)
The kids love wintergreen lifesavers, and Nick got one after dinner. Having
had it for a few minutes, he met up in the kitchen with The Man, where he showed that
it was still in your mouth.

"Wow! You've still got that, huh?" The Man asked.
"Yep. Because I don't chew on it. I only suck on it," he declared.
"Oh. Well, that's cool."

With absolute seriousness, he then declared "I let it dissolve in spit,
until it's all gone. Because that's the way I roll."




Kira recently gave The Man a long explanation of the different monsters she has, all in one sentence:

"I have my lava monsters, and my lava monsters sleep in my bones, and when they do that, they don't have their fire going because I use my magic to keep their fire from burning me up, but when they come out, then I let my magic turn their fire back on, and when they come out of me I use my magic to make sure they don't burn me and then basically I use my magic to make sure they set fire to only the things they're supposed to set fire to, so they don't set fire to our house; but I think you're picking up what I am putting down."

August 2016

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