Category Archives: musings

Op-Ed: How Strong is the Anti-Development Sentiment in Village at the Park?

NOTE: This is a short piece I wrote for and posted to a neighborhood Facebook group on 3 June. I live in Village at the Park (VATP), and there’s a bit of a kerfuffle about plans to develop a vacant three-acre lot into am upscale, senior assisted living facility. I’m not against it. But people who are against it have twisted the truth a bit, and I wanted my other neighbors to know that these whiners are a relatively small group, despite the noise they are making. I also wanted to engage my neighbors in conversation on the topic. Ninety-seven comments so far, including a handful from me.

This is a medium-length post for my neighbors in VATP who are watching the Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) opposition to the Oakmont project and wondering how much support they have. I’ve done a little sleuthing and can tell you what I’ve learned. Spoiler: the NIMBYs represent a tiny minority of our neighbors.

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Contact Public Officials

Public Officials who need to hear my voice

The following are some public officials who are going to hear my thoughts on the first week of POTUS’s term. I’ll call their phone lines, first. And I may mail a letter, knowing that letters will be delayed significantly for security concerns.

UPDATED 1/29/2017 with information on using the Capitol switchboard to contact your Congressional representatives. Continue reading

POTUS Acts in the First Week

This week, POTUS made hay with the fountain pen, signing several executive actions (orders and memoranda) that are making waves. If you want to keep score on the good/damage POTUS is doing, here’s the scorecard, as best as I can gather. UPDATE: Hours after posting, another EO on ethics was created. This post is updated to add that to the list, below. Continue reading

Media’s Dilemma

“I’m covered dishonestly by the press — so dishonestly,” POTUS says. So he’s going to keep using his personal Twitter account to communicate with the public.

Journalists expect a certain amount of access to the U.S. executive branch. Will POTUS and his people limit journalist access to POTUS’s social media posts, or will POTUS continue to give the press corps access to the White House? We don’t know, but we can look at what the media have been doing. I claim they face a social dilemma, and are taking an approach that’s not the best for society of for them.

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A Fatal Attraction to the Internet-of-Things

Last year, I moved away from the family to take a job across country, and my new faux bachelorhood gave me space to buy some in-home tech that I wouldn’t be able to with my wife around. She is the tech super-edo to my tech id. Hers is the voice I hear in the Apple store when I’m checking out the JamBox or the latest iPad. We’re not made of money, so I
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Coaxing Internet Service from a Rural Provider

A few days ago, I had a deeply moving experience with my ISP that taught me something about tech support, speed tests, and customer star ratings.

My family lives and works in rural Missouri, and about five years ago we chose to live in a slightly more rural location. (Just 10 miles from a county seat.) Securing internet service has been a challenge.

When we lived in town, we had access to broadband internet through the local cable provider. Our current home is too far from the nearest ‘hub’ or ‘thingamagig’ for cable to provide anything or ATT to provide DSL. For a while we subscribed to the outlandishly expensive [Wild Blue satellite internet][] service. The satellite signal speed was slow and varied with weather, and it certainly wasn’t worth the $100 per month that we were paying for it.

A few years ago our ISP, [Mark Twain Telecommunications][], began to offer wireless internet. It was cheaper, faster, and less susceptible to weather. Very quickly, we chalked up the hardware cost of satellite service to ‘sunk costs’, and bought in to wireless.

Since internet service was mainly a luxury for us, we opted for a low level of service. Web pages loaded slowly, but we could check email, and bills were less. This served us well for several years.

This year, feeling the pinch of increased costs and stagnant wages, we decided that some costs need to go. The luxury of satellite, commercial television was first in line to the guillotine while Netflix waiting in the wings to take its place. Netflix streaming requires reliable internet download speeds, so we jacked up our service level to 3 Mbps down and 0.5 Mbps up and tested Netflix for a month. Continue reading

Sadly Leaving Posterous.com

I’m 40 years old, and I’ve been in contact (more or less) with the Internet as it’s grown from inchoate network in the early 1990s to the Thing that it is today. This means that I’ve been aware, and to some extent Rubbernecked, the blogging movement as it has developed. This includes the sector of bloggers who share too much information about themselves online. I’m not one of those. I can’t even say that I’m a blogger. Yes, I’m using the web, but I can’t and won’t claim to be ‘logging’ anything. That’s not the way I roll.

And yet, I’ve actually shelled out real money for this site, this domain, and this WordPress instance. All this after using free stuff like Google+, Posterous.com, and Facebook. Why this, now?

I was happy throwing random thoughts and hot bits of information to my free Posterous site. Most of that information concerned opportunities for students in science and mathematics (STEM) and post-secondary educators in those fields. Posterous made sharing easy, and I loved it. Colleagues and I actually used Posterous as an information portal for courses we were developing with funding from the National Science Foundation. Student were sharing information with one another in ways that we thought were novel and interesting.

This spring, Twitter acquired Posterous. The post-acquisition messages sent out to users of Posterous.com tools suggested that the future of posterous sites was uncertain. (Compare post acquisition messages from the Friendfeed founders to those of the Posterous founders, and you’ll see that the future is bleak.) So now I set Posterous aside and move somewhere else.

I’m not moving much, really. It’s not like I have a voice that I feel must be heard. I’m not distinctive of remarkable in many ways. But I do feel like I have something to say that will make life better for others. Not everybody, but those young people or young professionals who are interested in science, mathematics, or technology and what it has to offer its practitioners and America.

Moving to Tumblr might have been an option, but free services (vis a vis Posterous.com) are more apt to change unexpectedly. Paid services have a tendency to persist. So I looked for an inexpensive web host that offered interesting backend support (for some reason, python was the clincher for me) and went with FatCow along with WordPress. I then grabbed a couple new domain names (one with typos, one with Bergmanian meaning), and dashed together this site between grading final papers.

This is never going to be a great site. I’ll never have scoops, or anything. And I’m not going to take the time to learn the CSS necessary to make this page look sexy or novel. But I will take care to share things here that I’d want to read, as an STEM educator, a lover of good writing, a 30+-something, a human, and a geek. (And I might share some family stuff from time to time.)

I’ll use Google+ to draw traffic this direction, and maybe Twitter. So use those avenues to share comments with me. I’m going to follow Chairman Gruber’s lead and keep comments ‘off’ here. But never infer that I’m not interested on dialogue, conversation, discussion. Just not here.

This has been too much writing with no revision, but it says something that might be important to (my) history. So there it is.