2018 Highlights

My top highlights from 2018:

1. Driving my truck

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December 2018

This highlight was literally 20 years in the making. You can read the backstory on my truck over in the Garage, but in summer 2018, my dad and I put some serious work into the truck. Over the summer, when I could spare a day off from work and when my dad wasn’t out RV’ing, which amounted to about 3 or 4 days total, we finished the wiring, installed new parts, and improved a few things on the truck. In November, I got to drive the truck about a mile and a half down a public road before we realized the vacuum kick-down tube wasn’t attached. Then in December, I got to drive it six miles.

Driving the truck these short distances might not seem like a big deal, but these two trips were the first time I had driven the truck in 20 years of ownership. There’s still a bit more to do on the truck before I can drive it home from my dad’s shop, but we continue to make progress. Working on the truck has also been great to hang out with my dad, a tried-and-true builder/mechanic/engineer, and learn more about hot rods, how cars work, his approach to solving problems, his way of thinking, etc. The time away from the office has also been a great stress reliever. In 2019, I hope to spend more time working on the truck and hanging out with my dad with a goal is to drive the truck to at least one show, either Wings and Wheels (in July) or the Port Orchard Cruz (in August).

2. Cabo San Lucas

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My wife and I took a week-long vacation in 2018. This was our first real vacation since having kids. We flew into Los Cabos International Airport, rented a car, drove to El Pescadero, stayed at the Desert Moon and then spent the next two days exploring Todos Santos and all of the spots in between. On the third day, we drove down to Cabo and stayed at the Playa Grande and spent the next three days exploring Cabo. I had such a great time hanging out and exploring this small part of Mexico with my wife–no kids, no work, no schedule, no chores, no errands…not a worry in the world. Just us.

Being the types where we can’t sit still, there was very little sitting around. We explored everything we could. We walked the main streets, the beaches, the tourist routes, and then came back around to explore the less-traveled side streets and alleys, climbed cliffs and boulders just to see what was on the other side, and headed down dirt roads because there was something that caught our eye. We talked about everything–our boys, our friends and family, our careers, movies, music, books, t.v., us–but mostly, we discussed tacos. It wasn’t intentional, but we ate tacos every. damn. day. of the trip. Even today, nearly eight months after the trip, we still argue about which day, restaurant, meat choice, toppings, salsas, etc. that made the best tacos (we both agree that it’s hard to top the fish tacos at Bahia Tacos in Todos Santos).

In 2019, we are hoping to take another out-of-the-country trip without the boys. I’m hoping that these trips become an annual thing for us.

3. Chicago

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In August we took a family vacation to Chicago. We had talked about making this trip in 2017 to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, but thought it might be fun to go to Alaska instead. We didn’t make it to Alaska in 2017 so we thought we would try Chicago again. My wife went to school in Chicago and has a lot of fond memories of her time there. We got married in Chicago and that was the last time she had been back (I’ve had a couple of work trips that brought me back there over the years).

I didn’t have an agenda for the trip, other than to eat some deep dish pizza and an authentic Chicago dog. My wife planned most of the trip including where we stayed, an architectural boat tour, and a visit to the Field Museum. While we were there, we visited the Miracle Mile, Navy Pier, the DePaul and Loyola campus’, and a handful of Chicago’s smaller neighborhoods. We even biked the Lakefront Trail and visited the spot where we married eleven years earlier. We were in Chicago five days and each day we walked 10+ miles. The boys were well-behaved the entire time and didn’t whine about the amount of walking at all. I got my deep dish pizza on the first night we were there (braving thunderstorms and rain) and found an authentic Chicago dog and cheese fries a few days later. I had such a great time hanging out with my family and exploring Chicago. It was a great way to end the summer.

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Other highlights: finished my shed project, ate a fluffernutter (finally), spent a week in New Orleans, went to two Mariners game, went to four car shows, finished the water wheel project, got to walk on Safeco Field, got my garden to produce a couple of handfuls of strawberries and a few cucumbers, got the Probe running (for a day), went camping (twice), coached Jacob’s flag football team (go Grizzlies!), went to a Seahawks game, built a Rainier Christmas decoration, rebuilt the RC car, completed three video games, and increased my bench press, deadlift, and squat.

Here’s to hoping that my 2019 is full of additional experiences and accomplishments.

2018 Spotify Year In Review

According to Spotify I listened to 2,615 different songs in 2018, amounting to more than 13,950 minutes listening to music.

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No surprises here. I spent a lot of 2018 re-listening to the entire catalogues of Incubus, Weezer, Dredg, Death Cab for Cutie, Thrice, Portugal the Man, among others. Back in March, I came across a link to Scary Pockets covering Bruno Mars ‘That’s What I Like’ and then there was a deep dive into their collection.

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Related: 2017 Spotify Year in Review

Facebook Is Giving Advertisers Access to Your Shadow Contact Information →

Last week, I ran an ad on Facebook that was targeted at a computer science professor named Alan Mislove. Mislove studies how privacy works on social networks and had a theory that Facebook is letting advertisers reach users with contact information collected in surprising ways. I was helping him test the theory by targeting him in a way Facebook had previously told me wouldn’t work. I directed the ad to display to a Facebook account connected to the landline number for Alan Mislove’s office, a number Mislove has never provided to Facebook. He saw the ad within hours.

Lot’s of shady activity by Facebook.

The researchers also found that if User A, whom we’ll call Anna, shares her contacts with Facebook, including a previously unknown phone number for User B, whom we’ll call Ben, advertisers will be able to target Ben with an ad using that phone number, which I call “shadow contact information,” about a month later. Ben can’t access his shadow contact information, because that would violate Anna’s privacy, according to Facebook, so he can’t see it or delete it, and he can’t keep advertisers from using it either.

This is a horrible practice.

Here I am thinking I was so smart by not entering or giving up any real personal information on Facebook, but it doesn’t matter anyway because one of my friends of family members probably unknowingly shared it with Facebook anyway.

Ranch Nation – The New York Times →

Invented in the 1950s, ranch is now far and away the most popular salad dressing in the country, according to a 2017 study by the Association for Dressings and Sauces, an industry group. (Forty percent of Americans named ranch as their favorite dressing; its nearest competitor, Italian, came in at 10 percent.) And it has spread far beyond salad.

It is a routine dip for chicken wings, baby carrots, French fries, tortilla chips and mozzarella sticks. It is incorporated into American classics like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, potato salad and Thanksgiving-turkey stuffing. And it is drizzled over tacos, Tater Tots, casseroles and — perhaps most controversially — pizza.

I’m sure that I had ranch dressing before I turned 14, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. When I transferred schools in 7th grade and made new friends, I noticed that my friends buying hot lunch (school lunch), loading their trays up on what was being served, yet saving a sizable amount of tray space as they got through the line. Once through the line, they darted over to the condiment cart where that void on their lunch tray was filled with ranch. Once seated and ready to eat, EVERYTHING on their tray was dipped in ranch–pizza, burgers, sandwiches, fries, tater tots, salad, veggies, etc. Being the follower that I am/was, I started dipping my lunch items in ranch and it became a food staple all through college and into adulthood.
In fact, it’s the secret sauce to my signature breakfast sandwiches and burritos and barbecue chicken pizza.

Since he was a toddler, my middle child, Ryan, now age 6, eats every lunch and dinner with a side of ranch. EVERYTHING he eats including steak, corn dogs, fish sticks, beef and broccoli, spaghetti, apple slices, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, corn, etc. gets dipped in ranch.

A funny story from a couple of years ago: I came home to him dipping plain tortilla chips in ranch. At first, this looked and sounded awful. When I asked him if he was enjoying what he was eating, he told me that it tasted just like blue Doritos (Cool Ranch). At the ripe old age of 35, it suddenly dawned on me that Cool Ranch Doritos were just ranch flavored tortilla chips. Mind. Blown.

Conan Writers Reveal Their Favorite Moments →

Lots of great memories from the creators, writers, and actors of those early Conan years. I clearly remember a lot of the sketches that were mentioned: Satellite TV, Andy’s sister, Desk Driving, etc. Some of my favorite Conan sketches from the early years, not mentioned in the article, include Pimpbot 5000, Staring Contest, and anytime Robert Smigel would provide the lips and voice of President Clinton, Bush, and celebrities. As cheesy as it was, I loved ‘In the Year 2000’ and the Walker Texas Ranger lever.

One of the things I enjoyed most over the years was Conan involving more of the crew in the bits: Max Weinberg and the band, Joel Godard, Pierre Bernard, etc. Today’s bits with Jordan Schlansky are some of my favorites.

More people are taking Facebook breaks and deleting the app from their phones – The Verge →

I’m nine months in to a planned year hiatus from Facebook. Having Facebook as part of my daily web browsing routine since 2004-5, I wanted to see how I would get along without it. The nine months without it has been enjoyable although I do miss a couple of things. There were a lot of reasons why I decided to take a break: primarily the ugliness of ‘friends’ during the 2016 election and continued ugliness into 2017 and the on-going revelations of Facebook’s corrupt business practices (e.g. tracking users/non-users, the misuse of personal data, discrimination/racial profiling, etc). In the last nine months, more has been revealed regarding Facebook’s malicious practices, the outside influence of social media posts in swaying the 2016 election, its standards for objectionable content, and overall, the lack of responsibility to prevent malicious use of its platform, which further my reasons for taking a break.

By mid-2017, I was on my way to reducing my use of Facebook–I had deleted the app from my phone and tablets and primarily relied on viewing it through the mobile interface. On January 1, 2018, I made my last post and permanently logged out.

Given Facebook’s presence on the web, it’s been challenging to completely avoid it. I still encounter links to posts, articles, videos, and photos that are posted only to Facebook. Sometimes it’s public content that can be viewed without logging in. When it’s not and requires a login, I have opted not to view it and try to find it elsewhere. I still encounter some articles on the web that rely on Facebook’s comment system so I’m occasionally exposed to the train wreck of Facebook comments.

What I miss most about Facebook:

  • My wife’s posts: she shares a lot of funny posts and pictures about our boys that I miss out on. I usually find out about her posts days or weeks later through co-workers, family, and friends. She’s been cross-posting pictures on Instagram and uploading more of her videos on YouTube, so I still get my fill.
  • Updates on my friends and family: Specifically, the happenings, updates, and photos of my friends and family. I believe this is what made Facebook so fun early on. It was a way to stay connected and informed of what was going on. Over the years, the content algorithm and non-chronological timeline butchered this experience. Viewing friend and family content became a chore. Filtering was either on or off and not content-based. Toward the end, I felt like I was just scrolling through shared or linked content. To find original content and photos, I would have to visit a specific friend’s profile.

One question I keep asking myself is if taking this break from Facebook has been worth it? Nine months in and I’m still not sure. I can say with 100% certainty that life is a lot better without friends posing arguments or opinions, hearing another Sean Hannity or Bernie Sanders soundbite, or seeing another one of those Tasty videos.

Land Seizure in South Africa, Nationalism in America – The Atlantic →

Carlson’s deceptive reporting—his sly incitement of racial resentment—was intended to mislead poorly informed, credulous, and racially prejudiced viewers. And unfortunately, one of those poorly informed, credulous, and racially prejudiced Carlson viewers happens to be the president of the United States.

Love this.

How Millennials Killed Mayonnaise – Philadelphia Magazine →

LeVaux interviewed a professional taster who, he says, considers Hellmann’s “a member of an exclusive group of products that are so refined and sophisticated that it’s hard for the average palate to break them down into their component flavors.” You don’t taste egg in Hellmann’s, the taster explained. You don’t taste oil, or vinegar: “All the flavors blend together. They’re balanced. Nothing sticks out. Everything is appropriate.”

Hellmann’s/Best Foods is the perfect condiment for sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs. It turns any ordinary food and makes it ten times better.

About 22 years ago, when I was in 8th grade, I used to sell the ham sandwiches my mom packed for my lunch to my friend Shaun. It wasn’t that I was trying to make money or that I didn’t enjoy the sandwiches, I knew that Shaun absolutely LOVED the sandwiches my mom made. He’d give me his lunch money, anywhere from $3 to $5, for each sandwich, which was enough for me to go buy a school lunch and have change afterwards for the soda machine.

At the time I knew what made those sandwiches so good, but I had a ready, willing buyer and didn’t want to share the secret sauce. Shaun’s family was a Kraft mayo family.