adrian is rad


Birthday giving 2015

Filed under: — adrian @ 7:36 am

A few years ago I started making charitable contributions around my birthday. I haven’t done it every year but I feel like it’s a nice tradition. As I’m getting older and receiving presents and attention, keeping that in perspective.

I didn’t spent much time doing research this year, leaving that up to GiveWell instead. Nor did I donate as much as I have in the past.

  • Against Malaria: I’ve donated to help fight malaria in the past as well. The number of deaths is going way down but it’s still a significant problem.
  • Give Directly: I think the data is still out a bit on how effective cash transfers alone are but there’s certainly some intriguing data on cash transfers in conjunction with therapy or training. Could be a new model for charity.

Past years:



Filed under: — adrian @ 6:12 am


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).


birthday giving

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:33 pm

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.



Filed under: — adrian @ 8:36 am

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.


American Craft Beer Fest

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:40 am

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.


house hold tip: don’t use latex paint for furniture

Filed under: — adrian @ 1:58 pm

latex paint on a table

Another household tip for you. Don’t use latex paint for furniture.

I was planning on painting my coffee table recently. I described the plan to the guys at my local Ace and they recommended latex paint. I sanded it down, primed it and painted it with two coats. After it had tried sufficiently, I found that it was still tacky.

As it turns out, latex paint is a horrible choice for furniture because it stays tacky for a long time, especially with things resting on it. A month after I’d painted my table, everything from paper to cloth to dust paint was still sticking to the paint.

In the end I covered it with a coat of shellac which got rid of the tackiness, but it may speed degradation in the long term.

A better solution would be oil-based paints or an enamel.



Filed under: — adrian @ 9:26 am

baldhawk illustration
dramatized for effect

On Saturday I went to the second strangest party I think I’ve ever been to. It involved fire dancers and women dressed as lingerie angels and demons. But these things I’ve seen before. One thing I’ve never seen before was the baldhawk.

There was a man with a balding head, not as bald in the above picture, but not far from it. His hair, overall, was very short.

But here’s what made it unusual. In an arc to one side of the bald spot (illustrated in black above) was a section of long hair, probably 3-4″ long. But it was only in this thin arc. I imagine sometimes he spiked it up in a baldhawk, but at the time it just flopped down to the side.

So strange.


the great escape

Filed under: — adrian @ 3:09 pm

Something reminded me of this story today.

I’m in 7th grade and I have to do an oral book report. I read a biography on Houdini and prepare a short speech about the book. I do my little speech.

But here’s the part that I like. I get out chains and locks and rope and I ask this kid in my class, Ross, who was just a kid, not a plant of any sort, to lock and bind me to this chair, which is one of those chairs with a built in half-desk. I want him to bind me up and then push the chair out into the hall so I make a miraculous escape. He asks me if I have the key to the lock and I say no, but to use it anyway; I’d hidden a bobby pin in the elastic band of my underwear. Ross starts with the chain and the rope. The tension builds.

And then the teacher says the class is over. I never got to do my escape.

I have no idea what my grade on the report was.


two household tips

Filed under: — adrian @ 4:21 pm

Here are a couple household tips:

  1. If you’re nailing into a wall (to hang a picture or something), put an ‘X’ of Scotch tape down over the spot where you’re putting the nail in and it’ll help prevent the plaster from chipping.
  2. You can treat raw wood with fat. If you have something carved (like a curio knobkierrie) or otherwise untreated wood (like wood spoons), you can treat them with fat, such as lard, other animal fat or Crisco (vegetable shortening). Cover the item in a visible layer of fat, leave it for a few hours and then wipe it off. It’ll give the wood a nice sheen and help the wood from cracking. (As always, try first on a non-visible area of the wood before trying on the whole thing.)

They’ve both come in handy for me recently.


oh yeah, people read this

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:37 am

Running into the rad Tarky on Monday reminded me that people read this and that there’s been a lot that’s happened since I really updated.


  • I live in one now, having moved in last week. It’s a 1 bedroom in an old building. I found a promotional book about it written in 1899. I believe the building is on the National Registry of Historic Places.


  • I wear jeans now. Weird, right?

Some things I like about Boston:

  • Friends. I have them here.
  • Beer bars. There are some great ones. The bar across the street (warning: link has autoplay music) has 31 beers on tap.
  • Walking. I walked over five miles yesterday just running errands. And I can walk around at night.


  • Since I got back to the US America, my route has been something like: Charlotte->DC->Philadelphia[1]->DC->Charlotte->Boston->New Hampshire->Boston->Philadelphia->New York City->Boston->New Orleans->Boston->Charlotte->Boston (via Philadelphia and New Haven)
  • I went to New Orleans for Gumbeaux’s wedding. It was a grand time. The wedding and the reception were in an old jazz hall. Fantastic food, good people, the whole lot. I wore my new suit (see below) and read Seamus Heaney’s “Scaffolding” at the request of the couple.
  • wedding suit

rural alberta advantage @ the middle east

  • Rural Alberta Advantage @ the Middle East 3/9–It was really great to see these guys again. They put on a super energetic set of their trademark earnest fuzz-folk. This is the sort of show that reminds me why I like live music.
  • Amiina @ the Middle East 3/19–Sigur Ros’ string section has their own band, called Amiina. They make really pretty music in their own right. The only problem was there was a loud show going on either at the Middle East Upstairs or TT’s so it disrupted the quiet music Downstairs a bit.
  • Matt Pond PA @ the Middle East 3/20–I hadn’t seen this band in 8 years but I went because my friend Shawn now plays cello in the band. And they were really great. Great mix. Great song selection. Just a show I was really glad to be at overall. And it’s also a thrill to see your friend play all these songs you know and love.


  • Blood Sweat and Chalk by Tim Layden — Basically a book about the development of modern football strategy. I haven’t read many books about football but I really thought this one was interesting. Chapters cover things like Cover 2 and Zone Blitz and really explains both how they work and how they came about. A worthwhile read for anyone who spends a lot of their time in the fall watching football on TV.
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen — Time’s “Great American Novelist” has gotten quite a lot of hype about this book. I liked Corrections so I wanted to read this one. It’s a very good book. Very good character development and it weaves together many different stories without making any of them seem superfluous. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but it’s worth a read.
  • I’m now reading Garry Wills’ Lincoln at Gettysburg and Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Both are good so far.


  • True Grit — A very well put together film. I loved the acting, particularly by Jeff Bridge and Hailee Steinfeld.
  • Social Network — I finally saw it. Very interesting film. I know it’s not exactly true, but still gives some insight into how the whole thing came about.

[1] Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE in most cases


five things I’ve been liking recently

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:05 pm

Five things I’ve been liking recently:

  • Stormy Kromer Cord HatIt’s comfortable and warm and looks pretty awesome. (And it’s US-made and has a lifetime guarantee.) I’m a fan.
  • Swimming – After not swimming much since August, I’ve been swimming again, at least a few times, and I’ve been really liking being back in the water.
  • Brooks Brothers’ costumer serviceThey were very courteous and helpful when I was in the store but really impressed me was that a few days later I received a hand-written card from the associate that was helping me thanking me for my suit purchase. That’s very classy.
  • Foam back roller – After my back felt tight for almost a month straight, someone suggested I get a foam roller to help stretch out my back. It’s really seemed to have helped.
  • Super Bowl fairness – Of course I didn’t like the results of the game, but after years straight where it seemed like small officiating decisions and even smaller penalties changed the course of the championship, it was good to see a pretty fair game.

like a tan, it fades

Filed under: — adrian @ 7:56 pm

The vestiges of my rural South African tan are nearly faded away, as have the constant and then daily reminders that I once lived there.

I walk at night without thought and I’m not shocked when beer tastes good. I usually look to the left when stepping of a curb. I have some expectation of bureaucracies and other processes working, albeit not necessarily quickly. Having friends around that have known me for years isn’t strange. Bands touring to my town; being cold; feeling normal; and being bombarded with the vast choices and wastes of everyday American life are all becoming increasingly normal experiences.

The one thing that I still get a bit surprised by is that everyone, to some approximation, speaks with an American accent. People open their mouth and I still expect one of the various accents that occur commonly in South African, or possibly one of many languages that are prevalent in the region.

I’ve been back in the US America for well over two months now, as hard as that is to believe. I traveled a lot[1] when I got back but I’ve semi-settled in Boston. I don’t have my things or a place but those are both in the works. And I have some promising job leads.

Some day I’ll go get tanned again, even if it’s just for a bit.

[1] Cape Town->Charlotte->Washington, DC->Philadelphia->Washington, DC->Boston->New Hampshire->Boston->Philadelphia->New York->Boston, approximately.

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