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Drivel

phone like a walkie talkie

When and why did people switch from using mobile phones like this…

…to like this…

…? Please answer in the comments below.

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Computers Consumer Experiences Drivel Politics

goodbye and good riddance, Facebook, Inc.

It’s done. I just deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts. It was fun for a few years, but the relationship turned sour after one of us started lying to the other, then pretended to take steps to improve but just kept lying.

Top 18 Bollywood Celebrities to Follow on Snapchat - Brandsynario

Separation took a few months of planning and preparation. Here’s the blog post I wrote about this process several months ago:

And now here is the result:

For those who want to get in touch, here is my contact info:

So what am I doing now for social media? Over the past 9 months or so, I’ve gravitated to a mix of Reddit, Twitter, my blog, and MeWe.

  • Reddit is great for complex discussions – not perfect, but way better than Facebook
  • Twitter is great for sharing quick thoughts that I used to put in Facebook posts
  • My old WordPress blog is great for sharing longer essays, recipes, etc.
  • And MeWe is a good way to meet other people with shared interests
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Consumer Experiences Drivel Food Politics Uncategorized

mile high composting and voting

Since this past spring, I’ve been working to arrange composting at my condominium complex. And this week it starts to pay off.

Denver Compost Collective is an organization that collects food waste from apartment dwellers and takes it to their large scale composting facility. Then they give the resulting “black gold” to a local urban farm/food charity. The city has been encouraging composting the past few years, but if you don’t have a big garden, it’s tough to do. So this group fills that gap.

Here is me with my new bucket. I’ll fill it up throughout the week with food scraps (no meat or dairy) and then put it in my building’s parking garage for DCC to pick up Monday morning. They weigh each bucket, dump it into a bigger container on their truck, rinse the bucket out, and put it back in the garage.

In other news, I voted today. The ballot and issues were so easy this time I decided to do it while enjoying some quasi-legal recreational drugs. It’s great to live in Denver.

Saturday, maybe Casa Bonita. Seriously.

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Drivel

electric scooters are the Segways of 2019

A friend and former employee of mine bought one of the early Segway Personal Transporters back in 2002. Remember those? I got to ride it one time and thought it was fun. He used it to commute several miles daily, at least in the summer. The inventor, Dean Kamen, said they were going to change the world, and he started to do some urban design prototyping of the wider sidewalks that he thought all major cities would need to support the massive amount of Segway traffic, once they replace cars.

But they didn’t. The product was expensive. People laughed at the idea of riding around in the city standing upright on an electric wheeled contraption. Sales were nowhere near what Segway hoped, and they eventually sold the company to the Chinese. People kept driving.

Fast forward almost 20 years. Now, there’s someone on an electric scooter on every block in Denver, usually several of them. What one generation thought was stupid the next generation thinks is a great way to get around. Of course, the price has come down by a factor of 20, and you can now rent one with your smartphone for a dollar rather than plunking down several grand to buy your own. Maybe that’s the differentiator.

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Computers Consumer Experiences Drivel

credit card blues

Someone has made 12 fraudulent charges on one of my Visa credit cards since May 31, including buying 6 airline tickets on Allegiant Air, renting U-Haul trucks several times, and staying in a couple hotels.

Now, of course, the bank has canceled my card and are sending me a new one that’ll arrive Monday or so. What a hassle.

That reminds me – didn’t Apple announce some new Apple credit card thing with a rotating number to prevent fraud? I should go read about that sometime. Oh, here it is: https://www.apple.com/apple-card/privacy-security/

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Drivel Politics

my plan for breaking up with Facebook and Instagram

(originally posted 5/14/2019, updated 6/20/2019, updated again 12/29/2019)

I normally don’t make New Years resolutions. I figure if a change is worth making, why not start right now, instead of waiting until some arbitrary date on the calendar? Besides, most New Years resolutions are broken anyhow, and if I’m going to make a change in my life, why do it in a way that’s expected to fail? I guess I’m superstitious like that. But this year, I made one. I just didn’t tell many people. My resolution was to break up with Facebook and Instagram.

Anyone reading this probably already knows a dozen reasons to leave Facebook. For me personally, there are two main reasons. First, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram is dishonest, and I can’t justify being an enabler anymore. Second, I’m disappointed with how far they’ve let – and even encouraged – online communities to devolve. I’m not gonna go into the reasons in any more depth. The internet has a steady stream of news articles about why.

So, what next? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I get out of Facebook. When I first signed up in September 2007, the site didn’t do much. But now it serves a lot of purposes. The company’s key to success has been being the “one stop shop” for a lot of different features. It’s convenient to have these things all in one place, but it’s not really essential. Here are the different benefits I feel like I’ve gotten:

  • a way to stay in touch with friends and family
  • a way to share experiences and information with others online who have the same hobbies and interests – games, sports, travel, food, etc.
  • a way to read about important local, regional, national, and international news, and opinions from experts
  • a way to share my own opinions and experiences to whoever is interested
  • a way to schedule and plan events with friends and family

That’s a lot of benefits all under one roof. So how am I approaching getting rid of all that? Well, I’m learning about what other services exist that help with each of these things. In fact, I started reading about alternatives back in October 2018, and have been trying several of them since then. My hope is that by using other online services, I can fill each of those gaps to some degree. For example, there’s no need to rely on Facebook for the daily news, even though a lot of people use it for that. There are a dozen other ways to learn about important news from a variety of perspectives.

What do I expect to miss?

Facebook has spent billions of dollars refining their service to keep me and you engaged as long as possible. They have used every trick in the book and invented several news ones to get people to keep reading for longer and longer amounts of time. So I don’t expect that whatever set of replacement services I put together will “engage” me to the same degree. And actually, that’s a good thing. I spend too much time on social media as it is. So I’m hoping that this change increases the amount of free time I spend on more productive things.

I think I’ll make a new set of online acquaintances, most likely. And I’ll go back to getting news from better quality news sources. I hope to read books more and read Facebook less.

My check lists

As I said, I’ve already been working at this for several months. Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

  • Read a whole bunch about how to do this – see the bibliography below, if you’re curious
  • Unfriended about 200 Facebook “friends” who really weren’t friends
  • Deleted all my weird fun Facebook pages (I made up a fake band, a fake Russian fake US patriot site, and a few others)
  • Imported all my Facebook photos into Apple Photos, mirrored to Amazon Photos
  • Revamped and upgraded my blog site, Todd Bradley’s Galaxy: http://toddbradley.com
  • Set up accounts on MeWe and Mastodon social media networks
  • Became a paying subscriber to Medium and Reddit, sources of news and smart (as well as some dumb) essays
  • Changed my Facebook privacy so my posts are only visible by Friends instead of Public
  • Exported all my posts and media from Facebook and downloaded the files to my home computer for safe keeping
  • Signed up for Signal and Feedly

Coming up next:

  • DONE Tell my friends and family about this grand scheme
  • DONE Encourage people to subscribe to my blog if they want to stay in touch
  • DONE Consider Tumblr as a microblogging platform, since nobody uses it for porn anymore
  • ABANDONED Link WordPress to Facebook so when I publish a new WordPress post, Facebook friends see an excerpt
  • DONE Let all my friends and family know other ways to contact me – phone, text, email, etc.
  • DONE Delete Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger apps from my phone and iPad
  • ABANDONED Maybe write some software to import my 12 years of Facebook posts into my blog

Bibliography:

Tools:

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Drivel

My Dark Side of Pluto

Tonight I hung my biggest, most wonderful piece of art. And it’s got a story. The photo is of the back side of Pluto, which had never been seen by humans until the New Horizons spacecraft passed by on its way out of the solar system in 2015. Here’s the story behind the image.

In 2006, an Atlas rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a small spacecraft called New Horizons. It was the fastest object ever launched from earth. New Horizons‘ mission was to fly to Pluto, gather photos, and then fly onward to the Kuiper Belt and hopefully get photos of one or more objects there, before leaving the solar system forever.

New Horizons quietly traveled through space for most of the next 8 years, being awakened for an annual checkup before going back to sleep to conserve power. On December 6, 2014, New Horizons was brought back online to start getting ready to visit Pluto.

In 2015, it passed close to Pluto, getting incredibly detailed photos of the surface of the dwarf planet that nobody had ever seen before. After it was done with Pluto, it went on to get close up photos of Ultima Thule in early January 2019. That got a lot of press, and was the main focus of an episode of my favorite TV show NOVA, called “Pluto and Beyond“. The episode was broadcast live on January 2, 2019, to coincide with the flyby of Ultima Thule.

A couple weeks later, I saw that NOVA episode. And though the Ultima Thule stuff was cool, it didn’t strike me like the closeup photos of Pluto itself did. The part of the show that left the most impact on me was three scientists talking about their final and favorite image of Pluto from the New Horizons mission.

Here’s the segment of the video I’m talking about:

Narrator:

As its historic flyby comes to an end, and the tiny spacecraft leaves Pluto, New Horizons looks back to take one last breathtaking image.

Joel Parker, Planetary Scientist, New Horizons Mission:

My real favorite, favorite picture is one after we flew by Pluto, and we’re looking back, and we see the horizon of Pluto with the Sun lighting the atmosphere from behind. You can see layers of haze and shadows of mountains streaming across the surface, and that is where you really understand that Pluto is a world.

Marc Buie, Planetary Scientist, New Horizons Mission:

Whenever I see that picture, it’s as if I’m sitting on the spacecraft looking out the window, as Pluto goes whizzing by. And it more than any other picture that we took puts me there.

Alan Stern, Principal Investigator, New Horizons Mission:

That photograph for me is the crowning achievement. We were really there, and we really did it. And we made our own little contribution not just to science, but actually to history.

So of course I searched for that actual image, and soon found it. And I decided I must have a print of it.

For me, like the scientists, it’s something special. This was almost certainly the only time in my lifetime that humanity will visit Pluto. When I was young, I was inspired by science fiction and wanted to be an astronaut. Then, when I realized that’s not likely, I switched directions to being an aerospace engineer. And that never really happened, either. But I still love the idea of space exploration. Having a faraway planet in my home makes me happy.

Looking back at the sun

I got a high resolution version of the photo from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and had a local Denver print shop called Infinite Editions make a print for me. It’s 36″ by 52″ and it’s gorgeous.

There’s only one place in my small condo for a piece this big. I had to rent a van to get it home, since it’s too big to fit in my car. Also, it’s my first piece of art that requires a French cleat to hang. So I don’t have to worry about it getting crooked or anyone bumping it off its hanger.

Me and Pluto

So that is what I spent my tax refund on this year.

Categories
Drivel Politics

A true story of three piglets, a rooster, and their love of cheese

a short story by Todd Bradley

Once upon a time, there were two piglets playing in the tall grass under a tree on a hill not far from Farmer Joe’s house. One piglet was named Verne, and the other was Flick.

“Look, Flick,” said Verne, pointing to the sky. “The full moon is coming up.”

Flick turned to look up. “It’s so beautiful! I hope it comes closer. Chip, the rooster of the yard, told me the moon is made of Gouda cheese. And I love cheese!”

“I love cheese, too,” replied Verne. “Really, who doesn’t? But I’ve got some bad news, Flick. The moon is not made of cheese. It’s just made of rocks and dirt.”

“What? Why do you hate cheese?” asked Flick, quite disturbed by this turn of events. “It’s so soft and melts in your mouth. Yum.”

“I don’t hate cheese. I’m just saying that the moon is made of rocks. People went there in a rocket long ago, and they even brought some rocks back. It’s a fact you can look up in a book if you want.” Verne had even seen an old movie of the moon landing on TV. The people dug up some rocks and took them back inside their rocket, but they could not eat the rocks, so they had to return to earth before supper time.

Flick continued, “But Chip told me the moon is cheese. And why would a rooster lie? Roosters likes cheese, too!”

“I don’t know, Flick, maybe what Chip meant was that he simply wishes the moon was made of cheese?” Verne, being a piglet, couldn’t think of any good reason for the rooster to make up a story about the moon being cheese.

“Fuck you, Verne. I thought you liked cheese like the rest of us. Fuck you!”

Verne’s eyes got big. The piglet was shocked by Flick’s sudden anger and foul language. At that moment, another piglet walked up, named Spork.

“Hi everyone. What’s going on here on the hill?” asked Spork.

Flick tried to explain. “Verne here hates cheese. Must be a member of the Anti-Gouda Brigade.” Flick and Spork both looked Verne over. They hadn’t noticed it before, but now Verne did look like the kind of piglet that would hate cheese, and maybe all dairy products, for that matter.

“Whoa, wait a minute. I do like cheese. I just don’t think the moon is made of it. See the difference?”

Flick and Spork looked at each other. Spork spoke first, “Nope, if you don’t want the moon to be made of cheese, you’re a cheese hater. Anti-Gouda!”

“Cheese hater! Cheese hater!” Flick shouted all over the barnyard.

Spork joined in, pointing at Verne. “Cheese hater! Cheese hater!” Verne wandered off to the barn, wondering why his friends preferred to call him names rather than taking the time to understand his point.

Spork and Flick high-fived each other. Their friendship grew that day. Later, when they saw Verne eating some cheese in the hay, they felt vindicated. Clearly it was they who convinced Verne that cheese was so delicious. Clearly this proves the moon is made of Gouda.

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Drivel

the last four months

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been four whole months since I wrote anything here. I guess you could say I’ve been busy! Let’s see, can I give a reasonably quick recap?

I’m pretty well settled back into Capitol Hill now. My apartment, while still needing lots of work, is liveable and in nice enough shape that I’ve had friends over a few times without great embarrassment. One of the best features is the huge balcony, especially now that I have moved most of my camping gear off it.

I’ve been on a couple camping trips to the mountains this summer. One was my first visit to the Apogaea arts and music festival, and the other was a Bradley family reunion. Those were nice long-weekend getaways. I also took several days off in the spring to work on a photography project around Denver with a friend who visited from Austin.

I still run into old friends and acquaintances who don’t know that Beth and I are separated. It just happened again at a party last Saturday night. I haven’t talked about it much online, and I’ll probably blog about the whole thing sometime. In short, Beth and I decided in September 2015 to split up, but we still finished our Eastern Hemisphere travels. We said our goodbyes after we landed back in the US. She moved to Kansas City in early February, which explains why my apartment is really MY apartment, as in just mine. Getting used to being single, living alone, etc. has been strange after all this time. Like I said, more on that later.

I’ve been working from my office in Broomfield less and less, often going in only once per week. Working from home (or a coffee shop) is so much nicer. I really hate the commute each way. It’s just such a waste of valuable time that I’d rather spend doing something fun, or productive, or just relaxing. Sitting in a car in traffic is none of those things. But the Honda Civic I bought earlier this year is just about as nice of a commuting car as I can imagine.

I’ve been working on a short film series called “Welcome to Earth, Shorty”. I had hoped it would be farther along by now, but writing has been slower than I thought it would be. My main writing partner and I have tried a few experiments that haven’t worked out quite as we hoped, and I’ve been way busier than I expected to be. I hope to have more to tell you about on that later.

I have also done some dating, for the first time in 24 years. That’s definitely weird. Most of the people I’ve met have been through a dating website. Meeting people that way is new to me, and dating in middle age is new to me. But I’ve always liked meeting new people, so even though it’s awkward and strange, it’s been fun, too.

Well, that’s the shortest summary I can give of my spring and the first half of summer. I should make a point to write more often.

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Drivel

back to Capitol Hill

It’s been seven and a half weeks since I got back from my big journey. There have been changes in so many ways.

I wrote about the first few days in an earlier article here.

After a week or so, I went back to work full time. That was a little hard to get used to. Not only had I not done the same thing every day for a long time, but I had six months of progress at my job to catch up on. I tried working on three different projects at the same time initially, but once it was clear that one of them was on track I cut back to two projects. And now I’m mainly working on just one.

I eventually did find an apartment in Denver I liked. I decided to go with location over size, and started a lease in a unit at the Florentine Condominiums on March 15. Moving is happening in fits and starts. As I write this, I’ve spent three nights in the new place now. But I still have stuff in the old place, the room I was renting from my friend.

The apartment is at 700 Washington St, which is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, only about block from the place where we lived before. There’s a great comfort in knowing the neighborhood pretty well. And it’s especially convenient to be able to walk everywhere again. As I wrote in my blog a couple years ago, within a half mile, there are four supermarkets, nine or ten coffee shops, several restaurants and bars, at least three cleaners, and so on.

But 7th Avenue is a quiet street, so even though the density is pretty high here, it’s a calm place to live. And now it’s especially so because I live on the 8th floor. I’ve got a big balcony that faces east, and I can see for miles and miles from up here.

I’m so glad to be back in Denver.