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What is the true cost of food?

So, Liz and I believe pretty strongly that returning to local food production is a pretty important part of returning our world to a  state of health. To that end we’ve been reforming our habits and lifestyle over the last couple years. You can see more about our efforts over at her blog.

We also recently started working on reforming our financial habits, inspired largely by Mr. Money Mustache. I talked about the value of local food in a comment on a post over there recently, and got a response from another reader that I thought deserved a more well structured reply than what would have been convenient to write there. So, I’ll write my response here. He made a number of good points that I’d like to look at one by one. Continued…

Posted in Life.

I Believe The Most Recent One Was Onerous Ocelot

Sad cat is sad.

The title of this post comes courtesy of my friend Larry. He said it in response to my tweet that I was fed up with Ubuntu’s flaky releases and had begun examining alternatives. A couple people also responded wanting to know more about what was prompting the change and what I’ve been considering moving to. I’m currently looking at Fedora and Linux Mint. I was going to look at Debian too, but it mysteriously failed during a test install in a VM, and that’s exactly the kind of baseline crap I’m trying to get away from. So for now, it’s off the list.

What prompted this change is a more complex story. Continued…

Posted in Tech.

So it begins….

Today, I graduated from being “just” a father, to being a Dad. Willow Anne Hartman joined us at 12:58 this afternoon, and of course, she’s perfect in every way.

I’ll have more photos up later, once I’ve gotten over the initial “fwoosh” of it all and put a proper gallery together. Until then, a little story.

Several weeks (or was it months?) ago I was chatting with my friend Mike and I mentioned that we had decided on Willow Anne if she ended up being a girl and his response was, “Man, you guys are such hippies.”, which I took as a compliment, though I’m not sure he meant it that way. Shortly after that, Liz was telling some of her (now former) students the names we had chosen and they said, “Oh, thank goodness you didn’t pick some weird hippie name.”

For some reason I’ve been examining that juxtaposition of perspectives a lot today…

Posted in Family News, Life.

Backyard Weizen Batch 001

A lovely glass of beer

My Backyard Weizen in a glass from my favorite local brewery.

A couple weeks ago, thanks in large part to my friend Matt (AKA  BrewDaddy) loaning me his gear, I was able to brew up my first from-grain batch of beer with another friend of mine, Scott. Scott has brewed beer from concentrates before, and I’ve brewed ciders and been through the grain brewing process with Matt, but neither of us had really done the whole thing before. Scott and I decided to do a light wheat beer for the hot summer days that are on the way. After much research, I settled on a Bavarian Hefeweizen (one of my favorite beers) and this recipe from Bee Cave Brewery. I had to tweak it a bit since we were planning on a 10 gallon batch, and not all of the recommended ingredients were available. I’m actually happy that the they weren’t though because that meant I had to poke around a bit, and ended up getting all Northwestern grown ingredients, much of them coming from Oregon. The grains were even malted in Washington, right on the Columbia. This local flair contributed to the name. Not only was it made in my backyard, but the ingredients came from my figurative backyard as well! Continued…

Posted in Crafting, Life.

IP Protectionism At Its Finest

Arghhh. Rant time. So, I got my media room all wired, and everything is awesome. It looks beautiful. I promise I’ll get pics up soon. The project included moving the PS3 over to my desk so I can hook it up to my monitor if I want, but it is still primarily connected to the TV via an HDMI cable running through the attic. BUT, the TV won’t pass 5.1 audio it gets via HDMI to the optical digital out, it downmixes it to stereo. It will only output 5.1 that it gets via cable or over the air.

The best part is that this little anti-feature of the “Dolby-digital optical out” on this TV isn’t documented anywhere, except in a FAQ buried on Samsung’s website, which you cannot find using their own search engine, only Google knows how to get there. If I want 5.1 from the PS3, I have to go back into the attic and run a TOSLINK cable, or buy a new receiver that speaks HDMI and totally rearrange things.

Thanks DMCA / HDCP! Isn’t our ownership society wonderful? I know it’s improved MY life by forcing manufacturers of consumer electronics to cripple the things I buy. I rest easy knowing my substantial inconvenience has helped prevent the “pirates” from getting unlocked copies Megamind with surround-sound intact out onto the Internet. Oh wait, THAT’S NOT TRUE! My substantial inconvenience has achieved absolutely nothing! Hooray! *Goes away muttering….*

Posted in Life, Media, Politics, Tech.

Sympathy for violent criminals?

So, a pair of men attempted to rob the Dutch Brothers coffee stand across the street from my office last Friday. One of them had a gun. Turns out, one of the stand employees did too, and he shot and killed the robber. Apparently several shots were fired, but I don’t know who shot first. The other robber ran off and is still at large. More info can be found here. Assuming the facts are as stated, this seems like a pretty clear case of legitimate self-defence, and honestly, I applaud the DB employee for protecting himself and his co-workers.

This morning I came to work and found a sign and a few bundles of flowers memorializing the would-be robber. My initial gut response was outrage. This person was willing to at least threaten deadly force against people who are just trying to do an honest days work to get his hands on at most a couple thousand dollars. Does someone deserve a memorial, no matter how small, when they are killed in the commission of such a crime?

I’m still undecided. Even though this person may have been “bad”, I don’t know them. I don’t know if he just intended to scare someone. Maybe no one would have gotten hurt if the employee had just rolled over? But does that justify not standing up for oneself? Isn’t that how cruel and lawless people gain control? I think so. Deep down I feel like this person brought this fate down upon himself and got what he deserves. But he still surely had friends and family who loved him and will miss him. I’m conflicted. On one hand, the memorial seems tactless, tasteless, and totally inappropriate. On the other, the people he left behind still have a right to grieve…

What do you think?

Posted in Life.

Upgrading to VMware Workstation 7.1.3 on Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick

A new version of VMware workstation was released the other day which resolves a few issues with running it on Ubuntu 10.10. However, installing it wasn’t as smooth as usual for me. The automatic uninstallation of the previous version mysteriously failed, and I was left with VMware in a semi-working state. After doing some poking around, I decided I needed to manually remove the old version before installation of the new one would work. I deleted the following:





After that the new installation proceeded normally and I was up and running again, this time without having to do any manual patching. Yay!

Posted in Tech.

Bedside Table Progress

This summer Liz’s family gave us this beautiful blanket chest that they had commissioned for us. It is our first “real” piece of bedroom furniture. The Craft Center offered a Shaker table class this fall, so Liz and I signed up so we could make a pair of bedside tables to match. They are coming along nicely.

The gaps are where drawers will go, which we are working on now. The lower skirts will support a shelf. I am excited that we are nearly done. I can’t wait to get them home!

Posted in Crafting, Family News, Life.

An Addition to the Family

So, we’ve been driving a Civic Hybrid for the last couple of years. We’ve leased it, and our lease is coming due next July and we are going to be over miles. We had been going back and forth about what we wanted to do about that since we weren’t sure we wanted to keep the car. Well, Honda made that decision for us a few weeks ago. They issued a pseudo recall because their charge management system for the batteries was causing them to die prematurely. They assured us in the letter they sent that it would have no impact on fuel economy or performance. Well, they lied. I’m not sure if the fuel use is any different, but the car drives much more poorly than it used to. The worst part is the inconsistency. Sometimes it accelerates from a stop just like it always has, and sometimes it feels like the engine has been replaced with a go-kart motor. It’s terrible! So, we decided to get something else and let the Civic sit for the remainder of our lease so as to minimize our overage charges. But what to get? Well, this last weekend, thanks to some luck and a bit of serendipity, we found the perfect vehicle for us.


Posted in Family News, Life.

Lots of PBR tonight!

No, no, not that cheap beer that all the hipsters are into. Peas, blueberries, and raspberries! Liz is out of town for another Waldorf conference, so it’s fallen to me to keep up with the garden. Mercifully the strawberries have fallen off, but I’ve still been shirking my duties. Tonight I brought in 1 lb 12 oz of blueberries, 9 ounces of snow peas, and 1 lb 1 oz of shelled sweet peas. The raspberries a still babies and a bit sickly still, so they are bearing just a few berries, not enough to weigh. They were tasty though.


These sad berries were not long for this world...


Posted in Family News, Life.