Over the winter, I grew out my beard more than I’d ever had. I trimmed it short a few weeks ago with one day in between with giant mutton chops on the sides and a short beard in the middle, which is a style that’s surprisingly subtle (at least a few of my coworkers didn’t notice it).
A few years ago I started a tradition of giving money to charities around my birthday*. After taking a few years off while I was in South Africa and then recovering from the financial impact of living in South Africa, I’m happy to restart the tradition.
As usual, I like to give to some local, national and international–particularly Africa-centric–charities. I also like giving to efficient charities.
Here’s who I gave to this year:
- 20% Local Year Up [Boston Chapter] (CN) They run one year programs for low social-economic status 18-24 year olds with mentoring, apprenticeships and skills training. They have a pretty high success rate.
- 20% National/ Good Idea Fresh Moves A mobile produce market that serves the ‘food deserts’ in Chicago. Seems like a cool idea that I thought about giving money to for a while.
- 20% National American Red Cross (CN) For the first time in years (that I’ve seen, at least) they were not a top rated charity as far as efficiency goes, but I also couldn’t find another equivalent national relief organization. When it comes time for next year’s birthday giving, I’ll reconsider if they’re still not a four-star charity.
- 20% International/ Africa African Medical and Research Foundation (CN) I’ve given to them every year that I’ve done the birthday giving. They focus on less known, but high impact diseases and health issues in Africa.
- 20% International/ Africa Books for Africa (CN) I worked with a library building organization while I was in South Africa who cited a statistic that 93% of schools in South African did not have a serviceable library. And South Africa is probably better off than most countries in Africa in that regard.
As always, I’m reluctant in posting these because I don’t like to draw attention to myself. Perhaps you’ll find an interesting charity to donate to, or if you think I’m doing it all wrong, you can find a charity more in line with your ideals and donate to it.
*And, of course, I’m a bit late for my birthday. It took me a while to research and choose charities.
I haven’t posted a mixtape for a long time, but that means there’s just more concentrated awesomeness in this one. Please check this out. It’s a good.
Or stream it.
— You can download the zip file with the following: 1. mp3s of the songs 2. liner notes (pdf) 3. playlist file (iTunes txt file) (for the iTunes file, simply add all the songs to your library and then go to File->Library->Import Playlist and then select the song list (the txt file). you should now have the playlist 2013April in your iTunes with all the songs in the correct order). —
April 2013 mixtape:
- Breton Wood Ooogum Boogum
- Phosphorescent Song for Zula
- Night Beds Everything Trying
- Local Natives Heavy Feet
- Lord Huron Time to Run
- Sin Fang Young Boys
- Keegan DeWitt Two Hearts
- Chris Porterfield I Would Not Die in Springfield
- Hayden Blurry Nights
- Pickwick Lady Luck
- Llans Thelwell and His Celestials Grazing in the Grass
- The Ray Alexander Techniques I Don’t Bite
- Frightened Rabbit Late March, Death March
- The Mouthbreathers Birthdays
- Fionn Regan 67 Blackout
- The Local Strangers Uptown
- Hey Marseilles Heart Beats
- Benjamin Gibbard Bigger Than Love
- The Tree Ring Salton Sea
If you like the artists or songs, I suggest supporting them by buying their music, going to a show, buying merchandise from them. And tell other people about the artists!
For the entirety of the 2012 season my friend Colin and I exchanged emails in one long thread about the Pirates. From the slow start to the incredible standing in August (16 games above 0.500 on August 6, their best standing since 1992) and their chance to break a now-20 year streak of losing season, the worst in major US sports in history, to their epic (and historic) collapse we followed the team. From the hope to despair, the stats to the intangibles, the interesting to the mundane, it’s all here.
From: Adrian Bischoff
To: Colin Ashe
Date: Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 9:37am
How was [the home opener, which Colin attended]? I listened to a chunk of it online at work. Seems like
Halliday had a ridiculous game.
Also, this made me happy. Go bucs.
From: Colin Ashe
To: Adrian Bischoff
Date: Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 11:06 AM
It was good. It’s true that Halladay had a good game but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. I was sitting next to Phillies fans and they were complaining about his velocity. Apparently, he only hit 90mph twice or something. Also, the Pirates put the bat on the ball a lot, they just happened to hit to where fielders could get it. Sabermetricians will tell you, that’s not within the pitcher’s control. So, I think Halladay was operating on the lucky side of the hits per balls in play spectrum. Or, at the very least, he’s pitching in front of a bunch of good defenders. If you put him on another team with worse defense, the Pirates would have got a number of doubles.
Also, the only run the Phillies got was very nearly an out at the plate. If the throw had been a little lower or a little earlier, the guy would have been out.
All in all, it was a fun game even though the Pirates lost. They played well, so it was encouraging – especially since they were up against Halladay and Papelbon.
I’ll be interested to see the 2012 version of that study. The beer prices at the game yesterday were all like $7+. I think they’ve raised prices on a lot of things since last season. They’re still probably on the cheap end of things, but they’re definitely more expensive than last year.
It’s the first day of lent and this year I’m giving up what may be very difficult: carbonated beverages. On an average day I may have soda, flavored seltzer water and beer. Those are all out for 40 days.
Last year, I gave up meat (Catholic meat ie seafood was allowed), which I thought was going to be really tough, but turned out to be fine. Other things I’ve given up in previous years: caffiene and buying stupid stuff online, among other things.
I’ve recently been making homemade kosher dill pickles. I’m in the middle of batch four, which is the best batch yet. They’re delicious and crunchy. They’re brine cucumbers (as opposed to vinegar cucumbers), so don’t go into them expecting the standard store-bought taste.
I started with this recipe and modified it very slightly as follows.
3 tablespoons pickling spices*
9 cloves garlic
12 pickling cucumbers
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1 bunch fresh dill
The biggest change from the recipe was that I only left the jar out of the fridge for about 6 hours instead of 4 days. (They took another day or two in the fridge until they were fully pickled*.) I actually left the first couple batches 4 and 1.5 days out and the last batch turned out much better, crunchy and delicious.
Another thing that seems to be helpful is to cut about 1/16″ off the bloom end of the cucumbers. Apparently the blooms have some detrimental enzymes in them.
** While they’re fermenting, I’d recommend opening the jar at least once a day to let out the gas that they’re producing or you’ll end up with slightly fizzy pickles.
A photo from a couple years ago, but one of the Pirates caps I’ve worn this year. By Ashley Bischoff
Before the season started I said I’d wear a Pirates cap every day the Pirates were at or above 0.500, so today is the first day since May 30 that I haven’t worn one. (In fact, I wore one a number of days before May 30 as well.)
Their current collapse makes me pretty sad. I still have hope that they’ll end up above 0.500, and there are a number of things that are going right this season, but the weight of 20 (potential) straight losing season is, well, overbearing.
I’m moving in a little over a week and I thought I’d use this opportunity to try Google SketchUp to try to model the apartment. It’s an easy program to get the hang of but it proved difficult to change the model in precise ways after the model is started. For instance, if I wanted to change Bedroom 1 from 13′x13′ to 14′x15′ now, it would prove very difficult.
(For comparison, that would be a relatively easy change in either Solidworks or ProEngineer.)
Note: some dimensions are approximate or not to scale, due to the problem mentions above. Mainly the bathroom isn’t that narrow.
Last weekend I went to the American Craft Beer Fest, trying 48 beers from 21 brewers. (There were 122 or so brewers there.) It was a good time and there were some great beers there.
I made a spreadsheet of the beers and my ratings of them.
I got the new iPad a couple weeks ago and I decided to make my own case for it, based someone on this idea. I made it out of an old wool sports coat that I felted myself, then cut up and sewed into this pattern. The leather comes from a thrift store women’s belt. The total cost of materials was about $13.
So the case would be ready when the ipad arrived, I modeled and 3D printed a fake ipad to use in designing the case.
Here’s the felted sports coat.
This past week and a half has been pretty busy, including seeing three movies, three bands and two baseball games. I won’t talk much about the games—you can find out what happened in the two games (Sunday’s 17 inning Red Sox loss and last Monday’s win vs Oakland)—but here’s what happened with the movies and bands.
- Sleepwalk with Me was the opening night film for the Independent Film Festival Boston, where I saw all of these films. It’s Mike Birbiglia’s semi-fictionalized take on his life, sleepwalking, relationships and becoming a comedian. I liked his comedy for a while. And, really, what I mean by his comedy is his story telling style. I wasn’t disappointed. This is equal parts funny and thoughtful and I’d recommend it. My one fear with the film is that producer and cowriter Ira Glass will get a lot of the credit where most of the meat of the story come straight from Birbiglia’s comedy.
- Knuckleball!: This is a documentary about the baseball pitch. Since about 1992, when I became fascinated with Tim Wakefield, I’ve liked the knuckleball and knuckleball pitchers. This game an interesting look at the history, some of the pitchers and the mechanics of the actual pitch. Most of the film, though, looked at the two pitchers who were still throwing it in 2011: RA Dickey and Tim Wakefield. (Wakefield has since retired.) I enjoyed it a lot, but I think it may only be for those who are interested in baseball.
- Under African Skies is a documentary about Paul Simon’s Graceland with a large part of the film focusing on Simon’s first trip back to South Africa since the album was released. (He played in Zimbabwe in 1987, but not in South Africa itself.) He reunited with a lot of the original musicians and through and around them playing the album’s music together again, some of the story about how the album was made and the aftermath were told. I really thing Graceland is one of the best pop albums ever, so I wasn’t a hard sell on this movie, but I thought it was a really well-made film.
- Archers of Loaf @ the Middle East: I’ve liked this band since I was 18; unfortunately they broke up when I was 17. Luckily they reunited last year and added a Boston stop to their tour dates this year. The show itself was great. It wasn’t just that they played all the old songs I loved, but that there were all these fans seeing the band they couldn’t see for all those years. It made for a fun atmosphere.
- Horse Feathers @ Brighton Music Hall: I’d seen Horse Feathers before, in a small show in San Francisco almost four years ago. This time it was a Saturday night crowd in Boston and a sold out show. The band played well and from that aspect it was a great show. The crowd was very chatty, though, which distracted from the overall experience. I’ll never get why one would pay 15 dollars to see a band and then talk he whole time.
- Feist @ House of Blues Boston: After all of the above Margaret and I were not exactly excited for another night out. Add to that that I’m always sceptical of large venues like House of Blues. Feist came out and started the hard, scattershot rhythm of “The Bad in Each Other” and we were won over. And, though it’s very big, House of Blues has good sound and decent sightlines.
Coke product sizing seen in US America in the last year.
- 8 oz*
- 12 oz**
- 12.5 oz
- 14 oz
- 16 oz
- 16.9 oz (500ml)
- 20 oz
- 33.8 oz (1 liter)
- 42.3 oz (1.25 liter)
- 67.6 oz (2 liter)
It really seems like they’re trying to find the right size.
*fluid ounces, of course
**in a can.