Ten Podcasts You Might Not Have Heard

Almost twenty years ago, my parents got me the BBC’s full cast audio version of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as a Christmas present. I was ecstatic. Like a lot of people, I enjoyed the books as a kid and was curious to see how they’d translate in an audiobook form. More importantly, however, it was hours of entertainment – thirteen hours on thirteen discs, to be precise. Given that I was reverse commuting out of Manhattan at the time by car, this was a veritable goldmine of fresh content.

It meant that I didn’t have to listen to the shriekers on sports radio at all for almost a week, which was glorious.

These days, it’s difficult to appreciate what a content wasteland commutes were at the time. First, because the advent of digital and then streaming music meant that you went from a music collection limited by physical, easily damaged discs to any version of any song ever, at your fingertips. But these days, for me, it’s more because of the explosion in podcast content available.

It took me a lot longer to get into podcasts than it should have, mostly because I was dumb, but these days they’re a staple of my media consumption diet. In the jobs to be done parlance, podcasts take otherwise dead time – time spent commuting, as mentioned, or chopping wood, or working in the shop – and make it productive. Or more productive, at least.

The good news is that your options are basically infinite. From business to history to horror fiction, there’s a podcast for pretty much everyone. The bad news is that discovery, however, remains a pretty major problem. If you’re content with what is essentially the podcast incarnation of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40, you won’t have any problems. And to be fair, many of the shows that make those lists (and there are one or two on here there are probably on there towards the bottom) – shows like 99% Invisible or S-Town – are creative, exceedingly well produced and deserving of the attention they receive.

But if your tastes are a little more specific and a little less mainstream, it can be hard to find new shows – hence the ubiquitous pleas for ratings “so that new listeners can find us.”

My own tastes are undoubtedly a bit eccentric and very unlikely to match yours perfectly, but you might find one or more of the following (sorted alphabetically by category) worth a listen – I certainly do.

Enjoy.

Baseball: Effectively Wild

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It’s embarrassing to admit this, but something like a quarter of the podcasts I subscribe to are about baseball. Maybe a third. Anyway, they run the gamut. Some are hosted by local writers or media outlets, others MLB itself. But the show that best balances relevance for a wider audience while being entertaining and informative is probably the current incarnation of Effectively Wild. It’s nerdy and stat-oriented, but covers the game with a critical eye. Episode 1165 with Jeff Passan, as but one example, is a must listen if you care about the game itself.

Business: Postlight

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As long as I’m confessing my podcast subscription sins, I should acknowledge that for someone who works in an industry where there’s a podcast for literally every subject, I listen to very few technology podcasts. Part of it is a format thing: a lot of these are panel type shows, which aren’t my favorite. But a lot of it is that given that I spend most of my day immersed in industry news and analysis, it’s nice to take a step back. Postlight’s Track Changes show, however, is an exception to this rule. It’s a great show run by founders Paul Ford and Rich Ziade, and while they’ll occasionally rant on subjects such as their hate for LinkedIn, they have a remarkable and diverse assemblage of talent come through their studio to talk about aspects of technology I don’t hear anywhere else.

Fiction: Magnus Archives

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There are a great number of fictional podcasts out there, with more arriving by the day. As with most published fiction, the quality of these varies, whether it’s the production or the writing. The most common trap that series fall into is one familiar to fans of Lost or The X-Files: the writers, not having a predetermined ending in mind, get themselves so tangled up narratively speaking that they can’t extricate themselves. One of the best currently going is a little show out of the UK called The Magnus Archives. The episodes are ostensibly stand alone horror vignettes, but if you stick with it a narrative emerges. More importantly, a cohesive narrative, one that is consistent with the individual episodes, and one in which the writers clearly have thought everything through ahead of time. If you grew up reading Stephen King short stories, you’re likely to enjoy this show.

Ghost Stories: Spooked

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If you need straight up ghost stories told by real people – for Halloween, maybe – the Snap Judgment produced Spooked is your huckleberry. The quality of the stories varies pretty widely, but the natural, “regular person” deliveries definitely gives these a bump.

History: Slow Burn

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With apologies to perennial favorites – but already massively popular – history shows like Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History or Mike Duncan’s Revolutions, my favorite new history podcast is one with a subject of more recent vintage. Slow Burn is produced by Slate, and is a show that revisits Watergate. Even if you’re familiar with the history, as I (falsely) believed I was prior to listening to the show, you’ll learn something new. The host Leon Neyfakh and team have done an excellent job sourcing original material, and then interviewing the original participants in the affair. In between John Chancellor segments from the NBC Nightly News are interviews with people such as Bob Woodward, Dick Cavett, and Leslie Stahl. This is one of the podcasts I most look forward to listening to, even if the events – such as those covered in the episode “Why Did So Many People Stand With Richard Nixon For So Long?” – are sadly relevant today.

Home Improvement: Fine Homebuilding

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If you spend any time working on your house, this show is for you. The three hosts discuss everything from tool reviews and recommendations, thoughts on various building materials, recommended construction approaches and even field questions from the audience. It’s not fancy, and it’s definitely geared towards people with some familiarity with terminology, but I’ve gotten quite a bit out of it.

Media: Recode Media with Peter Kafka

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I’m not much for media watching in general, except in cases where it reads on other concerns of mine such as politics or the technology industry, but this show is worth it for the interviews alone. I skip celebrities ones like Jimmy Kimmel, but Kafka’s interview with Ken Burns, for example, was fascinating. Having the opportunity to hear the documentary filmmaker discuss everything from how the Vietnam documentary was made to why he continues to choose PBS as an outlet educates me on issues and topics I hadn’t realized existed.

National Security: Bombshell

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In a perfect world, or even the world a few years ago, podcasts like Bombshell or Lawfare wouldn’t be – at least for me, an ordinary citizen – a must listen. For the world we live in, however, they are. Bombshell in particular has carved out a spot in my top podcasts list, both because it brings me up to speed on issues of national security, foreign relations and military strategy and because it does so in style. Hosted by three highly competent women – and regularly featuring strictly female subject matter expert guests, with an emphasis on the expert – the average show might cover everything from our changing relationship with Pakistan and its impact on the logistical challenges of supplying Afghanistan to high quality bourbon selections. Also? Two thirds of the hosts are stat geeks. It’s sad that the world we live in demands a heightened understanding of the topics covered on this show, but that’s where we are.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight

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As with technology podcasts, I have a generally low tolerance for their political counterparts. Some are too strident, others are more opinion than fact and still others are functionally equivalent to powerful sedatives. The FiveThirtyEight show generally manages to avoid the hot takes common to the genre while remaining fairly objective, fact based and dispassionate – if slightly too contrarian for my taste at times. For me, it’s an opportunity to get a rational take on today’s irrational events, often with a dose of hard polling numbers along with the appropriate caveats about sample sizes or likely regression. If you’re looking for context and an objective take on the political news of the month, day or sometimes, hour, this is a pretty good bet.

Survival: Outside Magazine

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This one’s kind of morbid, but I’ve found the Outside Magazine podcast’s Science of Survival series riveting. From being adrift on a surf board out at sea to freezing to death to backcountry falls to being treed by a jaguar, the stories are part adventure story, part cautionary tale and part survival training. If you’ve ever been curious at how the body and the mind handle extreme conditions or injury, this podcast is for you. Many of the shows interviews are excellent as well: Ep. 11 “Doc Parsley Solves Your Sleep Crisis” changed the way I thought about the importance of sleep, for example.

 

 

 

 

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How to Make an End Grain Cutting Board

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As some of you may have seen, I made a few cutting boards as Christmas gifts for family and friends this year. The boards were certainly not perfect, which irks me, but they at least came out well enough that I didn’t have to scramble at the last minute and swap in alternate gifts. This was actually the second batch of cutting boards I’ve made. I made two for my parents and my in-laws last year as well, and they were serviceable.

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Because woodworking is not the most common hobby, people are maybe a little more impressed than they should be that boards like these are homemade. That being said, if you’re starting from rough sawn lumber as pictured above and you lack real, full size power tools some of the steps involved in making these can be a little tricky.

For anyone that’s interested but might lack some of the fancy tools common in other How To videos, then, here’s how I make cutting boards like these using the more basic tools I have in my shop. The tl;dr: if I can build one of these,
you can too.

The Type

First, it’s important to understand what kind of cutting board you’re making. The boards above are what are called end grain cutting boards. This means exactly what it sounds like: the surface of the cutting board is the end grains of the wood. This is in contrast to most wooden cutting boards, which are edge grain.

In theory, the advantage to end grain boards is that they don’t cut across the grain, which is hard on both the board and the knife. Instead, each cut lands between individual wood fibers which naturally reseal themselves post-cut, in a manner which is impossible for severed edge grains. End grain is also supposed to provide less surface area for bacteria and other contaminants.

Whatever their functional advantages, however, end grain boards are, in my opinion at least, aesthetically superior. Exposing and contrasting the varied grain patterns of different sections of wood gives each board a unique and visually interesting appearance.

The process below will work for either type of board, however. If you prefer edge grain boards, you simply skip a few steps at the end.

What Actual Experts Can Do

If you really want to see what’s possible with these boards, check out this Instagram account. This guy’s boards are legitimate works of art, and while some of the more complicated designs are rendered via a CNC machine, he’s able to make incredibly complex pieces using nothing more than basic power tools.

YouTube Can Help

Like everything else I build, when making cutting boards I started with YouTube. You’ll probably want to too. My playlist of cutting board videos, which includes one from the Instagram account mentioned above, is here. The best balance between depth of content and accessibility, however, is probably this one from the Wood Whisperer.

Notes on Wood Choice

There are dozens of types of wood that make for good cutting boards, so while I prefer walnut because it’s distinct from more traditional maple boards, you can certainly get creative and use different woods and even different combinations of wood to achieve your desired look. Three quick caveats.

  1. Hardwoods are preferable. There are some manufacturers that produce cutting boards using softwoods like larch, but in general you’ll get much better life out of a hardwood.
  2. Certain hardwood species are no no’s for cutting boards, either because they have large pores like oak or because they have potentially toxic oil and resin issues like teak. Do your research if you’re using something exotic.
  3. You may see videos on making cutting boards out of scrap wood such as wood that came from pallets. Personally, while I use pallet wood for a variety of projects, I wouldn’t use it for anything that touches food because I don’t know what the pallet wood’s been exposed to.

What You’ll Need

In a perfect world, you have a full size cabinet saw for rips, a compound miter saw for crosscuts, jointers and planers wide enough for the boards, and an industrial drum sander. If you have access to all of that, skip the below and just go watch one of the videos. You don’t need this.

My shop, however, has none of those things. The following is what I used, and just FYI therse are Amazon referral links.

  • Cuts: SawStop Jobsite Saw
    I saved up for a SawStop mostly because I like having all of my fingers. If you haven’t seen it, their safety technology is like a magic trick. But it’s not just the safety; these are well designed saws, period. SawStop’s thoughtful about how the saw is put together, how accessories are attached and made available, etc. And while the included miter gauge is terrible, the fence is great. I would love to have one SawStop’s big cabinet saws, but even if my budget would have accommodated it my space wouldn’t: I just don’t have the room. Plus, there’s nothing better than working outside in the summer, and the jobsite saw lets me do that.The only question for this project was whether the smaller jobsite saw would have the horsepower to rip the thick, heavy 8/4 (2″) walnut stock I was working with. Turned out to not be an issue, the saw cut it up just fine.All of that being said, most tablesaws will be fine for this. They just might lop off a finger or two.
  • Flattening: Bosch Colt Router with included Edge Guide and not included Plunge Base
    Like my jobsite saw, this router was in part a budget driven purchase as I was just getting into woodworking when I bought it and I couldn’t justify a full size router so I picked up this cheaper trim router. The shocking thing is that for a tiny little trim router, it’s incredibly powerful. I used it to cut dadoes with a 3/4″ bit this summer – which the guy at Rockler bet me I couldn’t do – and it was used to do all of the actual board flattening. I might have been able to go a bit faster if I had something with a bit more juice under the hood, but I’m not sure that would have been advisable in any event.
  • Glueing:
    Most important, make sure your glue is food safe. I use Titebond III for my boards; this is pretty standard. As for clamps, I’ve got a mix of bar and pipe clamps, and for the jointer sled (see below) I used these toggle clamps.
  • Sanding:
    I have an old hand me down random orbit sander, so you don’t need anything particularly sophisticated for this job.

How to Build the Boards

1. If you’re lucky enough to get your lumber dressed on four sides (i.e. flat on the sides, bottom and top, skip all this nonsense and go to Step #3). More likely, you’re picking it up from the lumber store rough sawn, which means you have to joint and plane it. Step one for me was jointing or flattening the sides. Normally, you’d do this on a jointer but I don’t have one. So instead I made a sled for my table saw that pinned the wood down so I could cut one clean edge that I could then place against the tablesaw fence to give me two clean sides. Here’s a YouTube describing this process. And here’s the sled.

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As you can see, this is exceedingly primitive, and like the other sleds I used on this project it’s made from melamine plywood scrap I had left over from this summer’s closet organizer build. Basically, it’s a board wide enough for your lumber, with toggles on it to make sure it doesn’t move while being cut. 

2. With the sides addressed, next up was flattening the boards top and bottom. Luckily for me, I have a small 10″ benchtop Ryobi planer. This worked, because my stock was between 7″ and 8″ wide. The only issue was that the infeed and outfeed supports for my small planer were nowhere near long enough, so I had to make a planer sled.

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This was even more basic than the jointer sled. It’s literally a long piece of flat material, which a lip on to keep the material from sliding off the back. Here’s a useful YouTube on building one of those.

The end result of the “jointing” and planing of these boards looked like this.

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3
. Next up is ripping these into strips using the tablesaw. This should be uncomplicated: you simply rip the individual boards into strips – 1″ strips in the case of my design. Note that this is not related to the ultimate thickness of the board.

The ripped strips will look like this.

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You might notice the pencil marks on the above. This is because I personally prefer to try and keep the stock matched with the strips it came from, so this lets me reassemble them in exactly the correct order. You may prefer a completely random assortment, in which case don’t bother marking the ripped stock.

4. At this point, you’re probably left with strips that are much longer than your board requires. Which means that they must be cut down to length – 15.5″ in my case. In this case, you’re cross cutting the wood, which means that you either need a compound miter saw to crosscut your material, or as in my case, a crosscut sled for your table saw. To build my crosscut sled, I mostly followed the design here, though my materials differed significantly. This allows you to use a table saw to make consistent cuts across the grain of the wood, and cut your lengths down to what you need.

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On the sled, the process is simple. You measure out your required length, clamp down a stop block and start cutting.

5. Eventually, you’ll be left with a bunch of strips. These are then laid out for the first glue up. In my case, I select 12 strips that are 1″ wide and 15.5″ long, and come from the same stock. I then rotate every other strip 90 degrees, so that the grain patterns now run against each other for visual contrast.

The primary rules for a successful glue up, from what I’ve learned, are a) make sure to use plenty of glue and b) make sure to use plenty of clamps.

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Glue everything up, and let it drive overnight.

6. When you wake up the next day, your boards will look weird and ugly like this.

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After you’ve chiseled or scraped off the excess glue residue, you need to clean up the edges with your crosscut sled. That done, it’s time to flatten the boards.

Unfortunately for me, these boards were now much too wide for my small planer, so I needed an alternate way to flatten them. Enter the router sled.

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Basically, this is a flat surface with a non-skid pad (some people actually glue the boards down, but that seems like a major hassle) and two edges of exactly equal height. On top of that, you have a flat base for your router which allows the router to travel over the surface of the boards removing material until the surface is flat. Use the biggest straight bit you have and/or your router will drive. That was 3/4″ in my case.

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At first, I followed the advice in this video, but this left me with the grooved surface you see above. I eventually figured out that the uneven, looping clockwise circles left me with a smooth, flat surface.

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The good news is that this router sled approach works: it will flatten your boards effectively. The bad news is that it generates a shitload of dust. So be prepared for that.

7. Once you have your boards edged and flattened, it’s time to cut them up to expose the end grain. Throw them back in your crosscut sled and cut to a thickness slightly larger than what you intend for the board. I typically go for 1 1/2″ to 1 5/8″ to allow for a nice thick board even after losing material to planing and sanding.

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Once you’ve cut up your strips, rotate them 90 degrees to expose the end grain. Then flip every other strip lengthwise to further break up the pattern on the board and introduce visual contrast.

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Glue up the result.

8. Now you’re on the home stretch. Re-flatten the newly glued board using the same process from Step #6.

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You should have something that looks like this.

9. The board should be big enough to be somewhat difficult to handle, so you’ll want to carve out some hand holds. Pull your router out of the plunge base on its sled, and drop it into an edge guide set to a depth of 1/2″. I use the same 3/4″ bit as from the planing. The size of the hand holds isn’t terribly important, so I just cut two stop blocks that will give me a reasonable enough size, clamp them on, and route out my hand holds.

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Get ready for a lot more dust.

10. With a flat board with hand holds cut, it’s time for the first sand. Assuming you don’t have a large drum sander, use a random orbital sander. Start with 80 grit, then work your way to 120 grit.

11. Now it’s time to swap out the straight bit on your router for a roundover bit. Pick your preferred size; personally, I like a minimal look so I stick to 1/8″, but 1/4″ is also common. Important note: be sure to test out your bit placement on a piece of scrap first. It has to be seated exactly right or you can carve out too much material. Once that’s down, roundover all edges on the board to make it more comfortable to handle.

12. Time for the final sand. Hit the board with 180, then 220 until it’s perfectly smooth. This will take longer with end grain than edge grain.

13. Now comes the fun part. You’ve put all this labor into a piece of wood that looks dusty and unimpressive. Like so.

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But then you hit it with a coat of food grade mineral oil – commonly sold as “butcher’s block oil” or “cutting board oil” – and the grain pops and the board looks like an entirely different animal.

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This is always my favorite part of the process. Anyway, you basically have three choices as far as finishes.

  1. Food grade varnish, e.g. salad bowl finish
  2. Mineral oil
  3. Wax and oil combination

I’ve done all three, but generally go with mineral oil because it’s the simplest and easiest for those receiving the board to maintain.

For a mineral oil finish, I hit the board four days in a row, and allow it to dry overnight in between.

14. After the fourth day’s oil has dried, I rub the board down with microfiber cloth to remove excess oil and dust, then screw on feet to keep the board off the counter and make it easier to pick up. These feet specifically.

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And you’re done. Enjoy your new cutting board!

 

My 2017 in Pictures

As with last year’s edition, this year’s annual year in pictures post is arriving late. Due to a combination of daycare germs, furnace outages and bomb cyclones this year’s “holiday” break was busy. But given how much I look forward to the exercise of looking back on the year past, I’m happy to be getting to it, delays notwithstanding.

For most of the world, 2017 was a year of unfortunate development after unfortunate development. Every time it seemed like rock bottom had been hit, the show reached a new low. Rinse, lather, repeat.

But rather than focus on the trainwreck of world events, my purpose here is to revisit and capture for posterity the personal highs and lows. If you want in the moment reactions, the newsletter archive is available at your leisure. This post is the pictures that captured moments that made up my year, large and small. Mostly small.

Before we get to the pictures, however: a couple of statistics from 2017.

Travel

Travel in 2017 was a bit of a good news / bad news situation. On the positive side, thanks in large part to a travel schedule that featured a large number of events on the east coast, my mileage was down significantly from 2016, which was in turn down from 2015. This was the fewest miles I’ve flown since I’ve been on TripIt, in fact. As with last year, I didn’t qualify for JetBlue’s loyalty program until my last trip of December. Most years, I’ve cleared that bar by June.

The bad news was that the low mileage was largely an artifact of geography and not reflective of my overall travel load. A trip to New York, for example, adds thousands of less miles to my ledger than one to San Francisco, but it’s still time away from home. At one point this fall, in fact, due to a series of unrelated factors, I was on the road eight weeks in a row. Typically, I try not to exceed three.

That kind of stretch I would rather not repeat, but here’s hoping I can keep the mileage down again in 2018.

In the meantime, a few other tidbits courtesy of Cemre’s TripIt Year in Review tool and Openflights.org.

  • Distance: I flew 56,447 miles, down 18% or so from 2016.
  • 100K: This was the fourth time in seven years I failed to reach 100,000 miles. Will try to keep it up.
  • Carrier: After a couple of years of trying to make it work with Virgin America (who got bought by Alaska) because their loyalty program is much better than JetBlue’s, the former’s lack of routes finally killed off that experiment. With the exception of routes to London and one hop on Virgin, effectively all of my travel was on JetBlue. I still think their loyalty program is non-competitive and light on benefits, but that aside it’s a pretty good airline.
  • Airport: Because I wasn’t flying on Virgin anymore, I spent more time this year in Portland than Boston in a reverse of 2016.
  • First Time: Didn’t travel to any cities for the first time this year, though I did return to Richmond for the first time in almost twenty years.
  • Where To: For the first time in a few years, New York narrowly tipped San Francisco as my most popular destination. Fingers crossed that repeats in 2018. Nothing against San Francisco, which I enjoy visiting, but a 45 minute flight is a hell of a lot more palatable than a six and a half hour one.

Personal Stats

  • My Top 5 non search-engine referrers to the work blog were 1) Twitter, 2) Reddit, 3) Android Apps (new category?) 4) Hacker News, 5) Facebook.
  • For the first year in a while, I don’t have meaningful stats regarding my step count. The first problem was that my Fitbit Charge broke for the second time – they’d replaced it once already – and this time it was out of warranty. On the Wirecutter’s recommendation, I replaced it with a Garmin Vivosmart HR+ which includes heartrate – which I’ve found you have to take with a grain of salt. The bad news is that for two important use cases for me: 1) walking with a stroller and 2) working on a treadmill desk, it substantially underreported steps for me relative to the Fitbit hardware. So not only did I not have device continuity, there are significant observable differences in capture. Which means no step counts this year, alas.

With that, on to the pictures.

January 5

Started off the New Year on a down note, with my faithful ten year old Volvo S40 picked up at the crack of dawn and donated to charity due to a mechanical issue more costly than the car was worth. It was a fantastic car, and I still have no idea why Volvo killed the model.

January 26

Over in London for Monki Gras. Epic and bar-raising, yet again.
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February 9

Ran out of our initial drop of wood. We’re on track to run out even earlier this year thanks to the weather.

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before, after

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February 15

Preferring to not have our roof caved in with snow, reluctantly brought out the roof rake.

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about as fun as it looks

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February 22

I’m not entirely sure, but I believe this was the first political protest I’ve attended.
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February 25

Continuing the baseball education.

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pretty nice little saturday

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March 11

Courtesy of an event, I and a few thousand other people had the run of the Giants park in San Francisco. It’s gorgeous.

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pretty nice little park you have there, san francisco

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March 29

Last time I was at this PATH station, I was in high school, working for my Dad. They’ve done an amazing job with the rebuild.

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haven't been here since high school

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April 15

Love having this park ten minutes from the house.

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five minutes from home

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April 29

And this lobster pound even closer.

May 3

First appearance at Fenway this season.

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very few complaints

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May 6

Continuing the baseball education.

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pretty nice little saturday

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May 16

Having been located on Newbury Street in Portland for the better part of eight years, RedMonk HQ officially moved across town to High Street. There were a number of reasons for the change: construction in the old neighborhood, crowds from the nearby cruise ships, an overall upgrade in aesthetics and function (new office has a shower). The best part of the move, however? Pai Men is now three blocks away.

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happy moving day, @redmonk HQ

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May 22

Having realized a while back that a) I needed a table saw and b) my track record of injuries suggested that I invest in safety, I’d been saving up for a while to get a SawStop. Fortunately, the only one that would fit in my tiny shop was the cheapest model, their jobsite saw. It’s been a fantastic purchase, one I wish I’d saved up for years ago.

June 10

For the first time since my fifth reunion, maybe, a group of friends and I went back to our college reunion. It was a great time, particularly since we made the decision to get a house of our own rather than stay in the dorms. The Purple Pub that I once knew so well, however, has been replaced by something a lot more corporate.

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this place was a lot different before it burned down

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June 29

This was the first speakeasy I’ve ever seen on a client site. The bartender within was competent to the point of being intimidating; I was glad I wasn’t the woman in front of me who asked what cocktails they had and was bluntly told, “everything.”

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i enjoy clients with a speakeasy in their offices

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July 1

On a visit to my wife’s Uncle, we hopped the St John’s ferry.

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found a bigger boat

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July 4

Spent the fourth of July in Nova Scotia – Chester, to be precise. Great little town.
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July 11

One of the folks in our local tech community had an excess of downed trees that I tried to assist him with.

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lunch hour

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August 19

I didn’t make it down in time for them, but I was heartened by the response of the city of Boston to the Nazi “free speech” demonstrators. The Nazis were outnumbered by something close to 1000 to 1, and yet no violence ensued. These news trucks lined every side of the commons in the aftermath.
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August 20

Everybody deserves to retire at some point.

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circle of life

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August 21

Worked outside throughout the eclipse, though I did get to view it quickly thanks to glasses from another member of the tech community.
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August 22

This closet organizer wasn’t any better than the one I made last summer, but at least it didn’t almost amputate the tip of my finger.

August 26

Knocked out a couple of quick and easy chairs made from nothing more than dimensional lumber.

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next up, pickling

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August 26

We weren’t there for very long because it turns out toddlers – or at least, our toddler – doesn’t like to wear hearing protection, but during a visit of the Blue Angels I got to see my favorite plane of all time, the Cadillac of the Skies.

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p-51, cadillac of the skies

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August 31

The weather wasn’t ideal, but I managed to sneak in my annual pilgrimmage to the Houston Brook Falls.

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twenty degrees colder than usual, still worth it

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September 1

Four or five years after creating the holes by ripping out a closet, I finally got around to patching the floor. Before you say it looks like crap, which it does, let me just say in my defense that that whole section of floor is likely to be ripped out so trying to match it wasn’t worth the effort.

September 4

Continuing the baseball education.

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solo parenting at its finest

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September 7

Toured the new Monktoberfest venue that Kate found. William Allen farm has a gorgeous barn and great people.
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September 12

Over in London for our annual ThingMonk conference. Excellent experience.
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September 20

Three cords of wood – which we are burning through both literally and figuratively – was dropped off.

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this weekend's beers will be earned

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September 23

Made it up to the Common Ground Fair for my favorite part, the sheepdog demonstration. These dogs are crazy smart. They can identify twenty plus different verbal commands, and can parse their individual names as part of the command. You can tell one dog to walk clockwise, in other words, and another to counter.
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September 30

It’s not pretty, but the homemade cider press I made for Kate did in fact produce cider.

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not pretty, makes cider

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October 3

Finally got the woodshed loaded.
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October 5

Made it through yet another Monktoberfest. Humbled by the experience, as always.

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it begins

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October 12

Stopped by Atlantic Hardwoods to pick up some rough 8/4 walnut stock. This will become relevant shortly.

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there's just something about walnut

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October 21

One of my favorite beer festivals anywhere. Tough to beat drinking great and funky craft beers outside on a beatiful fall day.

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the goods were good

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October 21

Leaf peeping, from Kate’s parent’s house.

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tough to beat fall

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October 23

Had never been to an Alamo Drafthouse, but a dinner cancellation in NYC left me with just the opening I needed to pop over to Brooklyn to take in It. Both the venue and movie were worth every penny.
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November 3

A huge windstorm unexpectedly hammered Maine, and in our neighborhood alone four or five houses were hit by downed trees. Took CMP five full days to restore our power, in fact.

November 11

First Williams homecoming win of her lifetime.

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the biggest little game in america's tiniest fan

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December 1

We’d never bought anything on Black Friday before, but my brother talked us into a $399 50″ 4K Samsung model. I didn’t think our 2005 Sharp was that bad until I set up the Samsung.
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December 4

I flew out to San Francisco for my last work trip of the year only to spend most of it throwing up in my hotel with a stomach bug, then having to hop an early flight home while weak as a kitten because the same bug was wiping out the family at home. On the good news front, I confirmed that you can have nothing but bottled water and Gatorade delivered to you in San Francisco.
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December 11

Remember that walnut lumber?

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filters just don't do this gorgeous wood justice

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December 24

Eventually, I’m sure it will be assembling bikes or something, but this year, we spent Christmas Eve furiously trying to put the finishing touches on a dollhouse for the little one.

December 25

The pictures are dated this week, but these were all done before Christmas. Those two slabs of walnut were milled down and then cut up to make end-grain cutting boards. I’ll document that process later because it was weird and unorthodox, but I was almost pleased with how they came out. Mistakes were made, but at the very least, the folks on the receiving end were unlikely to get another one of these in their stockings for Christmas.

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remember that secret walnut project?

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