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Ukraine: A Village Far From the Front Lines

By on Jun 20, 2015 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

It’s not easy to get to Ukraine. You have to want it. A few weeks after I began dating my girlfriend, Alona, she started asking if I would ever take a trip home with her. I fell in love and my fate was sealed; six months later I was on my way to a small village in central Ukraine.   Getting There The trip began in a taxi to an Amtrak station at home in Norfolk at 4AM. The train took us to DC where we took an Uber to a hotel and stayed overnight. The next day we rode the shuttle to the airport and flew to Amsterdam and then to Kiev in Ukraine. The flights were long but bearable. If you go straight to the village from Norfolk it’s about a 26 hour trip, all told. Once we arrived in Ukraine I immediately noticed the reserved nature of the Ukrainian people. They quietly went about the business of disembarking the plane, making their way to the baggage claim, and waitng for their luggage to...

My Favorite People on Twitter

By on Mar 30, 2015 in Blog Posts, Internet | 0 comments

For some reason I have a really difficult time finding interesting people to follow on Twitter. There is a lot of useless noise out there, but every once in a while a magnetic persona shines through. Here are a few people that keep me coming back to Twitter like Adam Sandler to bad movies.   Laura Watkins – @OneHelluvaDame Laura is one of the funniest people I know. Her tweets are often raunchy but good-natured. She usually talks about her tiresome jobs, peculiar boyfriends, and sweatpants. My grandma once raised money for a poor family to buy Christmas presents. They bought a monkey. I probably think about this every week. — Laura Watkins (@OneHelluvaDame) March 2, 2013 If you're a Zumba instructor and they find out you don't have an ankle tattoo, do you get fired? — Laura Watkins (@OneHelluvaDame) August 17, 2012 Neighbors fighting....

How To Replace Symantec’s Backup Exec

By on Mar 16, 2015 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

Back in 2012 I wrote a long post about my terrible experience with Symantec Backup Exec and their lackluster technical support that still remains one of my most popular posts. It seems I’m not the only person who was fed up with Symantec; far from it. At that time I decided I would never again purchase another copy of Backup Exec (BE), and I never did, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s tempting to simply upgrade whatever you have in place, but after years of less than stellar releases from Symantec the time finally came to find a replacement. I found two. Arcserve Backup The first, a more traditional product, is Arcserve Backup. It installs on your server or workstation in a similar manner to BE and can backup to tape or external drives, among other options. Setting up and managing jobs will be familiar to anyone who has been using Symantec’s product, though there...

Soma Water Filter Review

By on Feb 9, 2015 in Blog Posts | 2 comments

The folks at Soma put a lot of thought in to their product but I wonder if they actually spent much time using it. The things fails at almost every aspect of being a water delivery system and sometimes even the simple, beautiful design hurts the functionality of the Soma. From filling to pouring, there are problems. First, the Soma is a little tricky to put together. You’ll feel like you’re going to break the thin, flimsy lid. Apparently Soma knows this is a weakness, so they’ve produced a video showing you how to put the lid on. Seriously. It’s part of a longer video welcoming new customers by giving them incorrect information about their own product. In the video we’re told to simply soak the filter for 15 minutes and it’s ready to use, but in the instructions that come with the Soma you are told to give the first three fills to your plants. Seems...

Good Riddance, Serial

By on Dec 18, 2014 in Blog Posts, Internet | 0 comments

The first five episodes of Serial were wonderful. Well researched, produced and told by its creator, Sarah Koenig, the story followed an arc that lead the listener deeper and deeper into a mystery that seemed to be heading towards a conclusion. Instead, the story meandered for seven more episodes as the clearly obsessed Koenig tried desperately to justify her infatuation with the subject, Adnan Syed. Koenig employs every possible tactic to convince herself and her audience that she isn’t wasting our time. She hires a detective to be sure that she isn’t missing something; he says the case work was above average, that the detectives did their jobs well. She interviews a lawyer whose job it is to free innocent prisoners and who, to no ones surprise, finds some way to get involved in the now massively popular case. She wants to test the DNA on items possibly still in storage...

How’s Life Treating You?

By on Sep 25, 2014 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

Tonight my neighbor casually asked a question I’ve heard many times before and never stopped to think about: how’s life treating you? It’s an informal greeting, by definition, though I can’t find its etymology. One thing is clear; when people say it they are asking how you are doing, not how the world is affecting you. The world doesn’t act upon us; we are part of it. We’re like leaves floating down river, but because we are capable of swimming against the current for a time, we have the illusion of control. In the end the current always wins out and we must relax and “go with the flow”. It’s the times when we are least concerned with our environment, the people and things around us, that we are most at peace. My sister has a degree in historic preservation and works for a historic preservation society in Boston. She spends all of...

Are Pets Slaves?

By on Sep 17, 2014 in Blog Posts | 25 comments

For as long as I can remember my family had at least one pet and we’ve owned just about everything you can imagine: birds, ducks, geese, turkeys, fish, cats, dogs, goats, chickens (oh, the chickens) and the list goes on. I know what you’re thinking – what was it like on Old MacDonald’s Farm? – but we have never lived on a farm. All of those animals have been part of our family on less than a dozen acres of land and they were all pets. None of them were ever eaten…by humans. I told you that so you would understand that having pets has always been a part of my life. There have been very few days when I’ve opened a door and an animal wasn’t waiting to be pet, or fed, or fed and then pet. We’re the kind of people who spend more money on healthcare for our pets than ourselves. My mom spends serious money saving the lives of baby chicks....

Selfies are ruining history

By on Sep 1, 2014 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

The first known picture of a human was taken in Paris in 1838 by Louis Daguerre. It wasn’t intentional; the man receiving a shoe shine (in the bottom left corner of the photo to the right) was the only person in the frame long enough to be captured. Many early photographs were of static objects like buildings and landscapes. These were easier to capture given the long exposure times required and would have been a more interesting subject matter for the public, many of whom would only see different corners of the world through images. Fast forward almost two hundred years. Nearly two billion people now have a camera in their pocket, many of whom take pictures of inane objects, including themselves, every day. Not because it’s important to document a critical moment in their personal or cultural history, but because they want to show friends what their outfit or hair or new...