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:: December 4 2014 ::

I'm adding this entry after the fact, but on this date we packed up all our belongings, waved goodbye to the students, and caught the Eurostar to Paris. We moved in to our new flat outside of town and began our sojourn in Paris.

:: Friday, November 21 2014 ::

Some simple rules: 35% of something is more than 25% of something. Every so often politicians think they know better, and you end up plans to cut taxes but spend the same amount because of [magic]. Kansas did it, and is reaping the benefits, as did North Carolina. Now it looks like we'll be seeing it on the national scale too.

Arkansas just turned over pretty much the whole state government to small government politicians, and as such I expect we will see the state bankrupted in the next couple of years. The incoming governor has said a 'middle class tax cut' was his top priority, and it was a campaign promise, so I expect it will happen. Since many state employees have had few if any raises in the last seven years, a massive budget hole should lead to further cuts, which will lead to even further reduced consumer spending, which will lead to an even bigger budget hole, etc.

I can't decide if this is a good thing or not - in my heart, I like to imagine that if politicians keep doing the same stupid thing over and over, and keep getting the same awful results, eventually the electorate will stop voting for people who say stupid things. But honestly, I've no evidence to back this up - as near as I can tell a goodly chunk of the people will keep voting against their interests until they end up living in caves and wearing animal skins.

:: David (2:46 in Arkansas, 9:46 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, November 18 2014 ::

Went to a fascinating talk today about toilets. Tomorrow is apparently world toilet day and UCL decided to celebrate with a lecture about loos. It's actually a massive problem, in that more than a third of the planet's population don't have access to sanitation, and this leads to a huge number of health problems. There was also a fascinating discussion of how the built environment determines who gets to use public spaces - apparently in Victorian London there were only public toilets for men, because women were not expected to leave the house. And since there were no toilets for them, really, they couldn't. The speaker then drew a connection from that, through race, disability, and now transgender. Really interesting stuff.

:: David (9:20 in Arkansas, 16:20 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, November 8 2014 ::

It always terrifies me when I get an email from my hosting provider saying they need to migrate my website to a new machine. I once had two years of files suddenly disappear after a 'backup/restore' situation. Oh dear - in rereading the message, I see I am being kicked off my host. There's a joke about 'you get what you pay for', but I really do dislike having to find a new hosting provider. Sigh. Oh well - when rates increase by 100% it's clearly time to start looking around.

:: David (2:13 in Arkansas, 9:13 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, November 4 2014 ::

Had my phone stolen straight out of my hand by some guy on a bike Sunday night. Apparently this is becoming quite common in London - they call it, cleverly, 'Apple picking'. So now I'm trying to get the old Nexus One working and shopping for a new phone. That I will hold on to much more tightly...

:: David (15:41 in Arkansas, 22:41 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, October 15 2014 ::

I use a link shortening service called bit.ly when I post something to social media, in part because it makes the links look a little neater, and in part because it allows me to track how popular something I've shared is. It's interesting to see what becomes popular and what doesn't, although how much of that is facebook sorting things and how much is actual interest I can't tell. I realized that all the links I've shortened are public, which is fine since I share things publicly on facebook anyway. If you'd like to see a list of the articles I'm sharing, I think you can just take a look at my bit.ly profile - I imagine it's live, so as soon as I've shortened something it will appear there. I've actually taken to sharing things strategically when I want people to read them, which is a sad statement on the facebook algorithm. I've been using the new social media service Ello (you can see my profile on Ello, which is currently public to everyone) as a reaction to all the things I don't like about Facebook. I'm not sure it will take off - network is all, and right now there aren't a large number of my friends over there. But I'm hopeful. It remains to be seen what they will do to raise money for the service - it costs a great deal to maintain over 50PB of data).

:: David (5:37 in Arkansas, 12:37 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, September 25 2014 ::

Man, do I hate apartment hunting! We're trying to find a place in Paris, and it feels like no matter what you do someone is taking you to the cleaners. Ideally we would do it direct, but then there's the fear that we show up and someone has taken our money and not provided an apartment. And with the agencies, you have a limited selection at a higher price. Bleah.

:: David (3:46 in Arkansas, 10:46 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, September 11 2014 ::

I have been obsessed with the referendum on Scottish independence these last few months. Now that a poll has come out suggesting 'Yes' might actually win, Westminster has been running around like chickens with their heads cut off to try and find a way to prevent the breakup of the UK. It's possible that up until last weekend I was paying more attention to the Scots than the government was. But now it's real, and it's happening in one week. We watched one of the televised debates, more's the pity, as it was a shoutfest and a bunch of "we'll use the pound" "no you won't" "yes we will". The questions of how the breakup would occur, and how Scotland would work afterward, are real, but the politicians haven't been offering any real evidence, one way or the other. Even Paul Krugman, who usually has a pretty steady head on, just came out with seemingly random words (to be fair, maybe based on what the politicans were saying). I think having a plan is important. I think you work the details out once you decide it's happening, not before. Either way, it's going to get more exciting as the days go by, and next Friday we may get a whole new country!

:: David (16:45 in Arkansas, 23:45 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, September 9 2014 ::

Settled in to downtown London. Our flat is quite nice, and the location is quite hard to beat - there's a bus stop literally across the street, so on several occasions we've been able to ride straight to or straight from our door. I'm experimenting with the so-called 'Boris Bikes' which are cheap rental bikes located all over the city. The only real downside has been how much time is spent in settling in. I had hoped to spend a lot more time taking photos, but haven't found it to be as easy as 'wake up in the morning and go take pictures'. In part because even though London isn't all that big, getting anywhere is either very slow or very expensive.

It's still early days for the classes Sasha is doing, but outside of a technical glitch (self inflicted when we installed Windows 8 on her laptop) things seem to be going well there.

We've had the chance to socialize quite a little bit, which has been nice, and even spent the day brewing beer at a friend's house. So life is quite busy, overall, in a (mostly) good way. Once a week or so we're scheduled to see plays, and so far that's been good too. A well-acted Shakespeare play is hard to beat.

Rather than additional typing I'm going to head out now - there's a photo contest St Paul's Cathedral is running, and I'm trying to at least put up a fight, as the prize is a private tour and a nice dinner.

:: David (4:43 in Arkansas, 11:43 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, August 11 2014 ::

It's been a while since I posted anything here, and there's a pretty good reason why: since last I posted, we have moved out of our home in Arkansas and into a series of temporary lodgings in Europe. At first this seemed like something that would not be too challenging, but I have discovered that, barring financial impetus, having some minimum standard of lodging impacts my ability or desire to post things online. Even on Facebook, where I am usually most active (and where I have been posting photos the whole time), I have found myself without the time and energy to do much interacting. Now that we have settled in to a single location for what will hopefully be a fairly lengthy span of days, I am hopeful that I'll be able to update things a bit more regularly.

:: David (7:14 in Arkansas, 14:14 in Paris) - Comment

:: Saturday, June 7 2014 ::

I was recently looking at slate, and noticed that their commenting system is powered by live fyre, a fairly popular third party commenting system. It got me thinking once again about this blog, and the way I built my own, somewhat clunky, comment system. And I realized that part of the reason is sheer attrition: I've outlasted most of the Internet's big companies. So a system that is huge today might not (will not) be big in a decade. Which on some level makes me worry, our wonder, or something - what happens to the billions of comments people write when the system goes down? I mean, I'm pretty sure I know the answer, but it boggles the mind to think all that heat and light will fade to black.

:: David (23:58 in Arkansas, 6:58 in Paris) - Comment

:: Sunday, May 25 2014 ::

Leaving a job is always a strange thing - you spend a lot of time with people, and develop all these relationships, but of course it's also your job, as opposed to the things you do when people aren't paying you to do them. This was the longest I had ever worked at one place, and it felt sad to say goodbye. Fortunately I'm also distracted by the things we have to do before we move abroad, which is fast approaching.

It's also strange to think that I'll be coming back - usually when I move, I'm leaving for good. This time it's only for a year.

:: David (0:20 in Arkansas, 7:20 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, April 29 2014 ::

Another tornado rolled through the area Sunday night. It hit Mayflower and Vilonia, both of which seem like unfair targets for nature's wrath, given that Mayflower had an oil spill barely one year ago, and Vilonia was just now starting to recover from the last tornado, which hit it almost exactly three years ago. My work day was spent in a weird combination of checking to make sure everyone and their loved ones were safe, trying to work out whether our organization could donate some t-shirts to the relief effort, and the day-to-day operations that would ordinarily be how I spend my day.

As an added bonus to the utter oddness that was this day, at lunch I came home to find a large piece of metal siding laying in the bushes next to my house. After looking my house over (it made no sense that it could have come from anywhere else - it was much too large to have blown there), I realized that it matched neither my house nor any of my neighbors houses. It was at that moment I realized it was probably tornado debris, blown in from miles away. Fortunately it neither smashed our house nor decapitated me as I walked to work.

Siding that fell from the sky

Also at lunch a woman came by collecting toiletries for some of her family down in Mayflower. I gave her our collection of hotel shampoo bottles. It's hard to know what's useful, and your default impulse is to pile everything in.

My colleagues spent the last part of the day in large part trying to figure out how to get home. Although the early morning traffic through the affected area had been smooth, cleanup efforts and gawker backups now meant a quick drive had become an epic journey. I expect tomorrow I'll hear stories of being trapped on small roads west of the highway for hours. Or perhaps they're still driving.

The full extent of the damage is not yet completely known, but we know it's bad - at least 14 people are confirmed dead. Despite the grimness, there is one point of light - the way the community pulls together to help. It was amazing to me how quickly cleanup crews were organized - almost before the twister had spun itself out, churches and other groups were planning next steps. It would not surprise me if every person who owned a chainsaw in the area had turned up the next morning to begin clearing debris. If this community acted with such purpose all the time it would be unstoppable.

:: David (0:19 in Arkansas, 7:19 in Paris) - Comment

:: Wednesday, April 16 2014 ::

As I get closer to this summer, when we will be relocating abroad, I have started trying to narrow down exactly what I'll be doing once we get to Europe. Options are somewhat endless, and every day brings a new idea (today's was "maybe I should learn Korean"). Business plans for when we return to the states are also multiplying exponentially. The recent tech gathering we had here in town, Barcamp Conway, added several new ideas and contacts to the list. I imagine I'll take some time in the summer to actually narrow these ideas down - certainly right now I'm too busy to narrow it down - the calendar is starting to fill up with end-of-school-year activities.

Regardless, one thing I'm fairly certain of is that I will start blogging again, more frequently. I haven't decided if I'll use this blog or one that's a bit more tailored to photos - maybe start a tumblr for the next year or so. I've been looking at domains to get the photos rolling, but it's hard to choose a name that isn't either already taken or is just plain terrible.

:: David (14:59 in Arkansas, 21:59 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, March 6 2014 ::

This is the image I had mentioned in my previous post. Clicking it will, apparently, take you to the licensing page at Getty.

As you can see, this could be a great source of fun images.

Unrelated: as you may have guessed, I've fixed the problem of not being able to embed things!

:: David (11:44 in Arkansas, 18:44 in Paris) - Comment

So this was going to be a post about how Getty Imaging has decided to open most of their catalogfor use by the public. I was going to embed an image from them of Lupita Nyong'o at the Oscars, to demonstrate how the embed process works. It involves dropping the following block of code into your site, and then you get the image, but it's a lower resolution version, and it links back to Getty (so your users, I guess, can license a bigger version?)

<iframe src="//embed.gettyimages.com/embed/476933715?et=x5aIseITD0yGl_Bw7crYcA&sig=m0ZA49g5fPnfZunrzRW0hIgVabaXOgzYyIS40B5DLEE=" width="594" height="457" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

But in starting to post, I realized that I had made changes to the blog such that I'm not sure I can post raw HTML into a blog post anymore. Oops. So the above might be code, or it might be a picture. I don't know which way it's going to go yet.

Anyway, regarding the whole embedding images business, I'm not really sure what I think of it. I mean, I probably wouldn't post about the Oscars, but I might about a big news event. And if I were doing so, I might want an image. Previously, I would have gone to Flickr and searched their creative commons stuff for something appropriate. Now I guess I might use a Getty image? I dunno - I'm not sure what they gain. Maybe name recognition?

:: David (10:40 in Arkansas, 17:40 in Paris) - Comment

:: Monday, February 17 2014 ::

Did a bit of updating on the blog software today, updated some tools that I'm sure were a security risk (to new tools that will someday become a security risk). I'm thinking about starting a new blog, or a new line of posts, and I can't decide whether I should use my main blog for it, or start a new one dedicated only to the topic I want to write on. The topic would be unemployment - there would be some of the same things I write about here - the economics of unemployment - but it would be more of a 'this is my personal journey through unemployment'. As someone who, for reasons either structural, personal, or reasons of sheer luck, has never really had to deal with unemployment as a problem (as opposed to unemployment as a choice), I think it might be of interest to people to see how that journey goes (I will be unemployed by my own choice in a few months, and will be finding ways to occupy myself before heading back out into the job market in a year or so). I know from past experience that even when you choose to be unemployed it's a big hit to the psyche, so I'm interested to see how it goes this time, when I'm a very well qualified employee (call me mid-level?) who expects, more or less, to have the world at my feet (even though I know, or think I know, that the market is not at all good, both due to the crash and because of where I live).

:: David (12:28 in Arkansas, 19:28 in Paris) - Comment

:: Friday, February 14 2014 ::

One of the fun things about running a service on the internet is the days when the internet goes out. In theory, this should never happen - remember that the internet was built specifically to allow communications in the event that towns got nuked. Apparently somewhere between then and now, the specs have gotten a bit more lax. The worst part about it, of course, is the fact that, if there's nothing you can do (because the outage is upstream), there is literally nothing that you can do. Sit and click 'reload'.
:: David (13:26 in Arkansas, 20:26 in Paris) - Comment

:: Thursday, February 6 2014 ::

I've been super excited to see some of the developments taking place in, let's call it 'Western', news media. I wonder how many of the changes we should lay at Edward Snowden's door. Several new media outlets seem to be taking shape, and at least a couple of them seem to take the role of watchdog on government seriously. I'm excited to see what First Look Media and whatever Vox Media are doing. Call me 'optimistic' that we'll get some honest-to-God real reporting. Will it affect what seems like our increasingly corrupt nations? That I'm less sure of - it might, however, curb some of the excesses.
:: David (23:12 in Arkansas, 6:12 in Paris) - Comment

:: Tuesday, February 4 2014 ::

It always seems odd when 'blogging' becomes something you put on your resume. I remember early on when it was something you specifically avoided mentioning (as they now tell us our facebook profile / whatever social media platform profile should be). The tension between the public and the private in (forgive me) cyberspace does not look like it's going to resolve anytime soon.
:: David (13:57 in Arkansas, 20:57 in Paris) - Comment

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