Never Forget

On September 11th some t-shirts I had ordered arrived. One of them looks like this:

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I bought it because I thought it was funny and clever, but when it arrived I was a bit dismayed.  I had forgotten about how the usage of the phrase “never forget” has changed since 2001.  I first heard the phrased paired with “never again” in reference to the Holocaust.   The message was clear: we must remember humanity’s past misdeeds, lest we repeat them.  Similar phraseology has been used around other genocides, and the unfortunate fact is that we do forget, and we do allow them to repeat — Armenia, Rwanda, Congo, and now the ISIS actions in Iraq and Syria.  The world has not decided on a shared mission of preventing genocide in all its forms, and in that way the phrase “never forget, never again” is comically sad.

Never forget the dinosaurs plays on that — on the one hand its funny, because dinosaurs, right?  On the other hand it does make you think.  A great civilization came before us, a huge civilization that rose and covered this planet, and then was wiped out in its entirety such that none but bones remain.  We should remember this, we should remember our fragility as a species, as a planet.  We should think about the costs of the things we do to our world, and to each other, and we should remember that there is no guarantee that we will survive.

But now “never forget” seems to mean something different, something more insidious.  We apply it to the national tragedy of September 11, 2001, when a small group of Islamist terrorists committed a great atrocity in New York City that killed nearly three thousand people.  It is a testament to the power of terror and the dangers of an open society that such a small group — 19 actors — could commit such a large crime, and one so symbolic.  It was terrorizing as intended, and it embarked our country and the world on a new political, economic, and military path that has reshaped our modern world at the dawn of a new century.

“Never forget” is the wrong phrase here — we should remember the tragedy and honor the fallen innocents, certainly.  But the phrase became a rallying cry for two wars of revenge and destruction that have resulted in far more lives lost while arguably doing little, if anything, to make America safer or the world a better place.  It is not a cry for our shared humanity, but is instead a statement of division and anger.  The phrase itself has been twisted, turned petty.

I’m uncomfortable with my silly little dinosaur shirt, but not because I think it is wrong to wear it.  I’m uncomfortable because it forces me to confront the many mistakes we made after 9/11, the opportunities we missed, the actions we took from a place of fear and anger and sadness that were the wrong actions, with the wrong consequences.  We have this one world, this tiny precious world, this world we must all inhabit together, but through thousands of years of societal evolution we continue to repeat the same mistakes, to commit the same tragedies.

So the shirt does serve its purpose, even if accidentally — perhaps it is more meaningful, more impactful than I ever would have thought.  In that two-word phrase, “never forget,” is so much wrapped up meaning.  It makes you think.  Maybe it makes you think that I’m an idiot who got it all wrong, but you’re still thinking about it.  I guess that’s worth doing, and maybe September 11th of each year is the time to do it.

The eighth iteration

The last time I substantially changed this blog was in 2009, and in the last few years it has languished. I’m very happy with this modern update, which is very clean, simple, and content-focused. I’ve removed almost everything else, which should help me focus on the writing.  I plan to back-fill some posts from things I’ve written on Facebook and elsewhere, and go from there.  Welcome to AgBlog version 8, now with a new name and location!

Serious steel

Japanese Santoku KnifeThis week I bought my first “adult” kitchen knife, and I’m excited. As I have gotten a bit older and just a tiny bit wiser, I have started to realize that the matched set is less important than the single item of quality. In this case, that means getting rid of a block set filled with fifteen matched knives of all shapes and sizes — most of which I never use — in favor of three or four really nice cutting implements that I will use every day.

I’m not obsessed with having the best of everything — that involves a level of time commitment and monetary outlay that is at odds with my lifestyle — but I am interested in quality. I lean heavily towards very good single-purpose tools rather than mediocre multi-function devices.

When it came time to purchase a new television of a larger size, I settled on one that was not the most expensive — not by a long shot — but was very good at being a television. That’s it, just a television. No “smart” features, no whiz-bang 3D or other fads, no super-fancy speakers or internet-connected doodads or motion-control thingamabobs. It is just a television, and I am very happy with it. While peripherals and set-top boxes and remotes will change, I think this television will stand the test of time.

My first adult knife is a 7″ Japanese Santoku. I love holding it and feeling its weight and balance in my hand. I am looking forward to some serious chopping and dicing in the near future. I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, and perhaps this new high-quality tool will push me to up my food prep game a bit.

iPhone lover “confesses” to switching to the Nexus 4

Ralf Rottmann lays out his reasons for switching from an iPhone to the newest Google Android device. I too have been interestingly eyeing a Nexus 4, for many of the same reasons he expresses. The iPhone has consistently won out with both hardware and software design, quality of user experience, and availability of compelling applications. But Android has finally improved to the point where those advantages are greatly diminished. Meanwhile Android’s advantages with regard to intra-app communication, more seamless sharing, and Google service integration have not been matched on the iPhone side, no matter what the misleading Siri advertisements claim.

My concern continues to be what it has been from the beginning — in addition to wanting a device that works reliably and well, I also want one that belongs to me. I am extremely wary of loading my entire life into Google’s digital vaults, from which it can never be fully extricated, is subject to massive amounts of collation and analysis, and is sold to their advertisers and kept for their future uses.

I do use Google’s Gmail service for my email, but I pay for it, and I wish that along with that payment would come a much more significant promise to segregate my data and not use it for evil. Until such a promise is more clearly expressed, I don’t trust Google’s Android ecosystem any more than the rest of the services they provide — the Chrome sync that I disable, the Web History that I purge, the mandatory public Google Plus profile that I strip of all useful information, etc. It’s not that I’m afraid to share information online, simply that I want to control my own information and make my own choices, and have the right to change my mind in the future. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Gun violence triptych

We don’t have to go far. Following the tragic school shooting yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut, the New Yorker is out in force with a set of devastating reactions, all worth reading:

I’m seeing the same sentiments all over the media I read and among the people I follow on Facebook and Twitter. I hope this is a trend, and that we may finally, finally have the momentum to take meaningful action in America on firearm legal reform. Remarkable — yet not — that it took the mass murder of nearly two dozen kindergarden children to get us here. If we don’t take action now, I’m not sure we ever will.

A Portrait of the Systems Administrator as a Young Man (Part 1)

When I started at the Instructional Computing Group, I aimed to be subservient. I was coming from a small fast-paced research center with a lot of strong personalities, complicated politics, and limited technical resources. I had charted my own path there, and I thought it was a good one, but now I was ready to learn how the “professionals” do things. Plus I was looking forward to working normal, non-crazy hours.

Through reorganizations and office moves, I stuck with the philosophy that I was here to do a job, and it would not behoove me to be involved in the politics of the place. Boy was I naive!

I came into the group tasked primarily with maintaining and improving three servers, and secondarily with building some new stuff. Anyone who knows me can guess I was much more interested in the latter than the former.

This was a transitional time in IT, or at least in Harvard IT. At my last job I had stood up virtualization, letting a few powerful servers run many smaller virtual systems. This was a pretty new thing, but it was awesome, and I just assumed everyone was going to be doing it soon. I had no idea at the time how conservative IT organizations often are, or how fragmented. Yes indeed there were virtualization initiatives — four of them that I was eventually became aware of, some well-funded and some small, some for Windows and some for Linux and some for both, none out of the pilot phase.

To do cool new stuff for instructional computing, I needed hardware, and if we were speccing out a few powerful (and expensive) servers, and there was no current virtualization solution available and supported, it just made sense to me that we should install VMWare or Xen on them (this was before KVM) and spit out a bunch of little VMs we could use for experimentation and student projects.

This was when I (and my boss) discovered that things were changing, control was being centralized, and being an “Instructional Systems Administrator” meant pretty much squat when it came to making decisions about infrastructure. Our request was not outright denied, it was just delayed and eventually pocket-vetoed.

Given the new realities, and the lack of enough work on the existing systems to fill my days, we came to the conclusion (my boss and I) that I should be embedded in the systems group part time, giving them a hand, learning about their technologies, and advocating for/formulating plans for ICG’s technical future.

And here’s where things went awry again — the UNIX/Linux team didn’t want me, I got to go sit with the Windows folks. Which is fine and all, but not at all relevant to what I was hired to do. Nor did they seem to much understand what to do with me.

Four months into the new job, I had accomplished very little, and things were not going very well. So I took a vacation to Barcelona. Sitting in a hot hostel common room after a long day I was finally able to cajole my Linux netbook onto the wifi. The first email that came in was from my boss, telling me he wasn’t my boss anymore, and I had been reorganized.

Coming in part two of our gripping tale: becoming a technical architect!

Two days back with Fitbit and I’m already annoyed

Yesterday morning I picked up my old Fitbit sensor and plugged it back in for the first time in about two years. If I’m going to do this thing, I want to do it right — record all food eaten, record weight and body fat each morning, etc. And ostensibly Fitbit supports this. But it is stunningly opaque. It flashes up calculated data such as calories burned that fluctuate wildly throughout the day. So I’m eating based on its estimate of 2300 calories, and at the end of the day when I sync it up I’ve walked 11,000 steps and 5 miles, and the little flower tells me I’m being active, but my “activity” score is 15 (out of 1000?) and my calories burned are down closer to 1800, way lower than it was predicting.

And “whoops,” it tells me, “you’re over your daily calorie goal.” Well, I wouldn’t have had that cookie after dinner if you had just given me some consistent data! I think this is why I gave up on Fitbit pretty quickly last time — I don’t want your faked up data, I don’t want your opaque “scores,” I don’t want your meaningless graphs that say I’ve been sedentary all day and seem to ignore the walks I took and stairs I climbed. The hard truth is that these pedometer-based fitness tracking systems are all hopelessly inaccurate and seem to verge on pseudoscience. If all you care about is footsteps, go nuts. For anything better, you’re going to need something much more sophisticated.

Funny, you would think the amazing tiny pocket computers studded with sensors that we all carry around nowadays and refer to as “phones” could help with this problem!

Surprises in the garden

This is my second year of serious “square foot garden” experimentation, and so far it has not been going nearly as well as last year. My lettuce was infested with little bugs, which apparently is par for the course. After copious washing I got a nice (if somewhat bitter) salad out of it, but was constantly worried about finding more bugs in my dinner. I didn’t end up using the other two heads, and eventually threw them out.

I kept seeing maturing strawberries appear, but by the time I got to them they had disappeared — apparently eaten by birds. Now I’m putting up bird netting to try to protect my other berries, none of which have come in yet. My bell pepper seedlings refuse to grow, for no clear reason. My broccoli bloomed and was ruined because I wasn’t paying attention. And when I just pulled my single head of cauliflower (1 per square foot), it was infested with both earwigs and little green worms. Yuck!

I’m tempted to call the whole thing off and go back to just getting everything from the supermarket. Or, I guess, learning about pesticides. Bah.

Mists of Time

When you wake up at 3am and start looking through old emails trying to find something, but end up going in a completely different direction…

  • In 2000, the MIT Admissions Office used to ask for your Social Security Number in order to sign you up for their email list.
  • In high school, my favorite cheese was “the orange spreadable stuff”.
  • In 1999, I was really impressed by a new payment service from X.com called PayPal.
  • Back then I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking and worrying about life and the pursuit of happiness. So not much has changed on that front.
  • At some point my parents hosted a 40th birthday party for a friend of theirs that involved a male stripper. It was something I said I wouldn’t soon forget. But luckily, I have.
  • It’s great convincing your friends to use PGP email encryption, until you want to read those emails a decade later and no longer have the secret key. I can only assume those screenfuls of random gibberish hide the best secrets of all.
  • Sometimes when I was 16, I could be completely oblivious and mean.
  • Sometimes I could be incredibly thoughtful and caring.
  • I can no longer remember at what point my best friend from high school and I stopped talking, or why. I have a vague recollection that we had a big fight, that I did something terribly wrong. But looking back at these emails, I’m increasingly convinced that we just naturally drifted apart. I’m not sure which possibility is less satisfying.

Leaving Instapaper for Readability

Update: Readability has informed me they are not venture-backed. I apologize for the error.

Instapaper is a “read it later” service, that lets you save long-form articles and blog posts from the web to read at your convenience on your iPhone or iPad. It strips out ads, pagination, and navigation for a clean reading experience. Instapaper is slick, clean, and simple, but a newer upstart service called Readability is infringing on its turf.

Some people have argued that Readability is a “rip-off” of Instapaper and is bad because it is venture-backed vs Instapaper’s one-man operation. I don’t really care about that, my chief argument is that Readability is a better service, with a better philosophy, and thus is what you should use.

Readability offers very nice integration with web browsers (via extensions), works very nicely with the Amazon Kindle (with an instant “send to Kindle” function), and generally offers more polish and better style than Instapaper, both on its web site and its apps. But the most important reason why Readability is a better product is because of a unique and very powerful subscription model.

You see, the ability to strip out all of the ads, pagination, navigation, and other chrome from an article and just get the pure text is a wonderful thing for the end-user, but it is not at all good for the publisher. Those ad impressions are what pay for that content. As long as I have used Instapaper I have always felt a little bit dirty.

How to solve this philosophical conundrum? Readability facilitates this in a very innovative and cool way. You decide how much money you want to pledge every month towards a content “subscription,” minimum $5. Readability keeps track of what you read over the course of the month and divides up your subscription pricebetween the publishers of the articles you read, minus a 30% cut. They take care of aggregating all of the subscriptions and paying each publisher every month. The more people read a given article, the more they get paid.

Simple, elegant, and very fair. Once I discovered Readability, I felt bad about being a leech for so long, and I felt bad about Instapaper, the service that has let me do so. And for that reason above all, I am now a proud Readability subscriber, and you should be too!

Just another story about Boy and Girl

This time boy is up late, real late, watching meaningless video clips and refusing to think. Girl is passed out in the guest room, reeking of desperation and full up with bile.

The Animal bounds up the stairs, peeks his head around the door. Boy sees something in his mouth. No, not something — Animal’s most prized possession. A jingle from the bell on its braided tail as he drags it about. The pitter-patter of his supple paws.

He is just a little cat, and he does not like the shouting and the stomping and the slamming of doors. He wants to give his Mama comfort in the only way he knows how, he wants to share his favorite thing in the world.

She does not hear his mews and calls, does not respond to the scratching at the door. He cannot curl up beside her, for she is not herself.

The Animal leaves his mouse gently in a safe corner and visits Boy instead. I’m sorry, says Boy, please, please don’t be sad. The Animal makes a sound, a guttural noise, not quite a growl. Boy lifts his arm to give Animal comfort; is met with the sharpest of claws. Cheeks wet, he does not pull away.

One reason women make less than men: they ask for less. Maybe?

Lots of interesting discussion all across the blog-o-web over a Reddit thread by a hiring manager discussing why women are underpaid relative to men in his workplace — they fail to negotiate for a good starting salary, or negotiate poorly. The discussion on Reddit is intense, with various anecdotes and theories being bandied about. There have also been some interesting responses elsewhere, including citations of studies about how women are treated differently than men in identical circumstances. Anyway, the most insightful comment I’ve seen on the matter was this one at the Atlantic by one Carl Pham:

You might adduce the general argument traditionally made by evolutionary psychologists: that women are inherently more conservative than men, i.e. they fear loss more than they hope for gain, compared to men.

This has always been the argument for why men are overwhelmingly more likely to take big risks in search of big payoffs — why test pilots are men, explorers are men, inventors more likely to be men, et cetera — and why women are more likely not to go bankrupt, turn to crime and violence to achieve their ends, pay their bills on time, and so on.

It may be this idea, if it is valid, extends to interpersonal negotiations, in the sense that women are seeking more to minimize net losses while men are seeking to maximize net gains. Mathematically, those might be the same thing, but in practice, they are not, and furthermore people with those ends in mind will often choose different means.

Myself, I fail to see why we can’t simply adapt our methods and expectations to the sex of the person at issue. Men should expect to use different methods and have different expectations when negotiating with women, and vice versa. We are not identical human-bots. What’s wrong with that?

All around, an interesting and important discussion, all the more interesting to me because it has so far not generally been particularly populated by people looking to place blame. It is clear that like any question in this genre the “obvious” causes may actually be effects, the “clear” remedies may be wrong, and no one has a complete understanding of all the factors involved.

More great Sesame Street celebrity cameos and parodies

I collected a few of these back in 2008, here are some that have come out since then.

These are all from the last couple of years, but they are new to me! And if you want a real blast from the past, how about Paul Simon performing “Me and Julio” with a bunch of little kids?

First world gripes, this time about Peapod

Hull is not entirely convenient to the supermarket, so a couple nights ago I tried using Peapod again. The service lets you shop online and they deliver to your door, using an excessive number of plastic bags and, in my experience, always coming at least a half hour after their scheduled delivery window. Using Peapod isn’t really that much quicker than going to a store, but it allows one to avoid lines and reuse old shopping lists, so it does have some advantages.

In this particular instance I missed the early boat due to some work stuff being broken and got home 30 minutes into my two hour deliver window. The story ends as you might expect — while I fumed at them for being so late, in reality they had come right at the beginning of the window, I wasn’t home, and they drove off with my groceries. The consequences are no groceries and a hefty $50 restocking fee. And now I have to go to the grocery store anyway.

This seems like a common enough problem that there should be ways to mitigate it. When I was using the excellent Boston Organics while living in Cambridge, they made their deliveries in re-usable green plastic tubs and would place them at a location specified by the homeowner if no one was there to receive them. They also encouraged the use of supplementary coolers and/or ice packs. The delivery driver would redistribute the most perishable or fragile items to a cooler if one was provided. This approach is environmentally friendly, convenient, and much more forgiving in terms of time delays — on both sides.

Peapod’s method of leaving the customer in the dark with no email or web communication and their inability to deliver when someone is not home makes the service much less desirable than Boston Organics. Their use of copious numbers of plastic bags makes them much less environmentally friendly. It is exacerbated by the fact that the plastic bags are then placed into plastic bins, but the bins are not a part of the delivery.

I share some of the blame in this instance, for getting home late, but a good customer-focused company, especially a delivery company that traffics in perishable goods like Peapod, should have very robust exception handling to deal with such situations. I discovered this morning that they left one message on my home phone, whereas I was looking for a call on my cell or an email or text message. There is lots of room for improvement here.

And it may go without saying, but Peapod has proven to be less convenient to me than just going to the grocery store, so I do not plan to use their service in the future.

The enthusiasm gap

I went into the home inspection nervous about what we would find. The house was lacking in all possible “curb appeal,” which brought down the price to what we could afford, but was it structurally sound? The home inspector, an old guy nearing retirement, was almost universally positive. I pointed out areas of concern — plumbing? Fine. What about the siding, which looks terrible? That stuff lasts forever. Boiler? Practically new! (It is about 20 years old.) And the roof? Seems to be in good shape! This is a great house, he kept saying, you’re going to do well here.

Pleasantly surprised (and a bit confused), we addressed a few small inspection issues with the seller and obtained a closing credit towards some future repairs, and moved forward with the purchase.

It needs some work

After moving in we called in a respected contractor in the area that specializes in restoring old homes. The team of two brothers took us through the entire house, jumping on floors, poking and prodding, making lots of notes. They asked us what we wanted and what our ideas were, and took a copy of the inspection report. They came back with a proposal that was slightly jaw-dropping in price, but comprehensive. They found old knob-and-tube wiring which needed to be replaced, recommended upgrading to 200 amp service, pointed out problems with floor joists and old plumbing. They recommended re-siding with Cedar Impressions and replacing the windows with high quality Anderson 400s. They included pricing for a gut renovation of the kitchen (as we had discussed), moving a few walls, and relocating a bathroom. If we had the money, we would do it all.

Continue reading “The enthusiasm gap”

Cooking with fire

Unpacking is hard. We’re in week three and most of my clothes are still in boxes, along with a lot of other things. Tools are scattered about, including some shiny new ones, but we’ve finally gotten rid of the last of the ripped up staircase carpeting, and most of the empty cardboard boxes. We’ve also unpacked much of the kitchen, which required a very intense round of cleaning and sanitizing of some pretty disgusting cabinets, fridge, and even dishwasher! We haven’t touched the oven yet — it’s just too scary.

But I was able to cook a full meal the other night, for the first time in over a month. I made steak, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, and a nice salad. Everything came out delicious and just right! It is so nice to have a proper gas stove, and a range hood that actually vents, the combination of which made using my cast iron pan a breeze. The only thing that would make the experience better is a garbage disposal. And a dishwasher that can actually fit our plates. And better water pressure. And more counter space. And…well, I’m getting off track. One thing at a time. Gotta finish unpacking the kitchen, and keep waking up to those beautiful views of the bay.

Everyone is incompetent at everything

How can companies continue to function in this day while being so customer-hostile? First I had a whole fiasco of stupidity with regard to my Verizon FiOS installation. After I got that sorted over the phone, they proceeded to cancel my service and schedule a new installation without telling me. For no reason. Because there was nothing a person actually had to do here, it was all controlled at their “central office.” But because activations and deactivations occur in “batches” and only during certain hours, I had to miss a day of work so a tech could come out, unplug my current cable box, and plug in an identical one with a different serial number. Even he couldn’t explain why. But I had to do it, because I need internet service to do my job.

That pales in comparison to my treatment by Bank of America. That company is generally quite pleasant at the branch level, but at the corporate level, I’ve experienced a pattern of customer abuse and apathy that is unparalleled. They don’t seem to understand the basic fact that putting a $666,666.66 overdraft/hold on one’s account on a Saturday is terrifying. Apparently all that means is there is a fraud concern, but how am I to know that? It doesn’t help that the fraud office isn’t open over the weekend, and I am locked out of all my money for two days. They have no idea how paralyzing that is. They don’t care.

It doesn’t help that, when you change your address, they no longer trust you, no matter how many times you verify your identity with social security numbers, birthdates, and passcodes. They will call you again and again and make you verify the same charges. Yes, I really paid $30 for a subscription to Consumer Reports, thanks for checking on that. Yes, I really did try to have my car serviced, thanks for declining that one. Thanks for the embarrassment. Thanks for not clearing it up after the first, second, third call. Thanks for having an automated call followed by a human caller reading the same script. Thanks for locking me out of online banking. Thanks for not following up. Thanks for getting mad at me for being mad, because you’re just doing your job.

Meghan will attest that I’m super calm on the phone. I don’t yell at the poor abused customer service people. I’m probably the nicest call they receive all day. I respect the difficult predicament they are in. But today I just couldn’t take it. The Bank of America fraud department is tremendously incompetent, and someone needs to tell them that. Every person, every call should tell them how incompetent they are, not thank them for ferreting out that suspicious $25 charge for Angie’s List.

Suggestions for new banks welcomed.

Such friendly people

Our neighbor across the street introduced himself while we were moving in. He said we could ring his bell any time if we needed anything.

And if he wasn’t home, and we required a telephone or needed anything else, just feel free to go inside.

This is both comforting and terrifying to me. Without a doubt we’re really out of the city.

Did I mention that none of our doors or windows have functioning locks?

Mole people

For the last two weeks Meghan and I have subsisted (ha!) in the basement dwelling of a friend of a family member in Hull, the location of our eventual permanent new home. The accommodations were cozy enough, and we were able to begin a preliminary exploration of the neighborhood, including taking the boat into work every day.

I must say, the (independently-operated) Commuter Boat has got to be the best-run service in the entire Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority portfolio. The reliability and on-time performance is unreal. The snack bar is stocked with beer and wine. On Fridays there is free popcorn. And the views can’t be beat. I pity the poor fools who suffer daily through the indignities of the Commuter Rail, the busses, and the T. I couldn’t be more satisfied, so far, with my new commute.

Yesterday we came aboveground to sign all the final paperwork and officially buy our new house. After so much drama and then our frustrating waiting period, it was wonderful to finally be moving forward. The rain was pouring down as the movers arrived with a big truck full of our furniture and stuff, fresh out of storage. But as we entered the house, I almost wished we could pause all of that for another month or two, and get some serious work done first!

By all accounts the previous owners of our house were a very nice family. They certainly left us a thoughtful note and gift. But the way they lived and treated their house is very different from the way we do things. The more I sit here, the more decay and damage and dirtiness I see. Holes in walls, cracks in ceilings, half-completed home improvement projects, flaking lead-based paint — the works! It is clear why this place took over a year to sell — we have a long road ahead of us to get this house where we want it to be.

It is a great opportunity, because we get to make everything just the way we want it, and everything we do will add value to the home. But it is overwhelming in its scope. We love the bones of the house, and the town, the view, the lot, the neighborhood. And we love the potential in the house, and the vision in our mind’s eye of what it will be. I’m not sure we fully appreciated how much work it would take — and time, and money — to get there.

Presidential run

Last night, unlike the previous several, I didn’t wake up abruptly at 3am to worry about buying a new house. Instead, I dreamt that I was in a long meandering cafeteria line attempting to get a breakfast bagel sandwich, and Barack Obama was behind me. We talked about fitness, and he showed me his new Nike Free shoes. I decided (in dreamland) that now that I was back in school at Brandeis I had to get a pair and start running around the track again.

I think my subconscious self is trying to tell my conscious self something. My conscious self is responding by saying that yesterday it was -2° F. So there’s that.