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Off the Bike

If not WordPress then what?

I have been using WordPress since 2003 when it first became WordPress. I don’t say this to brag in anyway. My usage of WordPress as a blogging tool has been terrible but I am working on being better. One of the main reasons I use WordPress is because I can get it to work, and it keeps working.

I am bringing this topic up because Dave Winer was bashing on WP yesterday. Dave is a developer and has been involved with making some impressive stuff like RSS. He doesn’t like WP because it doesn’t match with his style of blogging.

Dave posts to his blog in a stream of conscious manner and he does it well. I read his site almost everyday because he has good content that I find useful.

However from reading about how his blog is setup I am pretty sure it would take me a long time to get the same thing working. I would learn a lot of new things about technology that might be helpful, but I would not be blogging until I got it figured out and working.

People ask me all the time to help them get a website setup. The first thing I ask them is what they want to put on the website. They want to talk about the tech but the content is way more important. You can have the most technically up to date site but if the content sucks no one will care.

With WordPress I can setup a site in minutes and show anyone how to start posting within 10 more minutes. It isn’t perfect but it works and allows people to publish their own thoughts online for anyone to read. That is the focus I think we should all have in online publishing.

If there is another tool that is easier to setup and teach someone to use then I am all for it. Till then I am gonna keep on keepin on with WP.

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Off the Bike

Pause

I mentioned yesterday feeling a little under the weather. I woke up a few days ago with a sore throat and knew something was not right. Naturally I went to the CDC website for Covid-19 to do a self check, and it told me to stay home and get rest. So there is some comfort that I probably do not have the ‘rona, but its still in the back of my head.

So I am chillin with Kate, the dogs, and Netflix. I mentioned the show Dark yesterday and am gonna binge watch it. I already got the plants watered and walked the dogs, to their dog run.

Sometimes you just gotta hit pause and get better.

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Off the Bike

Fiction : 100/100

Every so often I remind myself why fiction is so important for living. I think part of the reason I forget is because I have become numb to the sheer amount of fiction available. Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Audible I could easily fill my day living in stories.

In the last few months I have not been as into fiction. The pandemic certainly has a part to play. Right now truth is much stranger than any fiction anyone could imagine. First I went for biographies, then history, and lately its been philosophical journalism. Oh and news, lots of news. Too much news.

My sister has been talking about the Netflix show Dark for a few weeks if not months. I had tried it a little while ago but it was the English dubbed version and I cannot handle dubbed shows. The lips not matching makes it look like they mis-synched the audio to the video and I cannot stop seeing that. Anyway I started watching the show yesterday evening and its really friggin good.

Dark is a Netflix series that initially came out in 2017 and is a German production. Hence the dubbed version. The good news is you can change it to subtitles, or if you know German just watch the show I guess. The show deals with families and time travel and its awesome.

So far the show reminds me a little of The Americans and Stranger Things. It has the American’s feel for me due to the different culture setting(USSR/Gemany), and all the lies! It feels like Stranger Things cause a lot of the story involves teenage children and its sci-fi/scary. The combo is really great and while I just compared it to 2 other shows it is totally original and stands on its own.

All 3 shows blend a little bit into real history, mainly the Cold War in the 80’s. While the first 2 shows are set in 1980’s USA, the historical focus in Dark deals the aftermath of Chernobyl. So far I am only 6 episodes in but there have been a number of references to Chernobyl, and in the fictional town of Winden the Nuclear Power Plant plays a major role.

Overall the show is a bit darker than Stranger Things with suicide making an early appearance. The tone is also much more adult and serious than ST.

One of the reasons I have also been watching the show is because I have been a little under the weather. Some combination of exercise, yard work, and planning a house have put me on my butt the last couple of days. So I have been Netflix and chill. Also the world is a crazy place right now and watching some crazy fiction has helped distract me.

100 days done!

Well that completes the 100 days of blogging challenge for me. It has been a lot of fun and I am going to try to keep the daily blogging going. The helpful part that I remind myself is that this is a hobby activity and is more for me than anyone else. Thanks for playing along and I am looking forward to some more challenges!

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Off the Bike

What for? : 99/100

Holy moly! 99 blog posts consecutively let alone within a year. The question many have asked me is why write on a blog at all, let alone 100 days in a row. Over the last week or so I have been thinking about this more and more.

On one hand I have a romantic notion that the Internet and World Wide Web have this amazing potential for bringing people together. For many that seems strange that technology which allows us to sit behind a keyboard and screen could somehow bring us together. The reality is that for the vast majority of people, including myself, most of our activity online is not bringing us closer together. Most of the time we are viewing the Web. Blogging changes that and allows us to broadcast onto the web.

The current pandemic gives us the opportunity to safely communicate with each other while avoiding transmitting the virus. The problem is that we have to take a leap and put our imperfect selves out there. My colleague Jon wrote a great post today about this. With a blog the biggest cost for publishing is our time and our pride. Take an hour out of your day and get over your ego and pride and share something about yourself.

A blog is as independent as it gets. You have full control over the software used, and you can choose whom you want to host it. You can write whatever you want, post photos and images, design the layout, and share it via email, text, or even social media. No one is selling your data. It is yours to do with as you please.

In 2003 I bought my first domain and setup a WordPress blog with all of these notions. The problem is that I could not get over my pride and ego. I couldn’t find a reason to just write and publish something. Jon does a great job of breaking down why this time he was able to write consistently. He mentions that having a group to commit to helped make him stick with it and I agree. The other point was about perfection and how making this more relaxed made it easier to keep going. I agree with that big time as well.

For me this challenge has been about sticking with something but also fulfilling the idea about how blogs can bring people closer. I started working at Kinsta in February of this year. The pandemic had not been declared yet, and we were all supposed to have met up in Budapest for the annual company meetup. Then the pandemic hit and traveling anywhere let alone internationally became a bad idea. The prospect of meeting my teammates in person and bonding went out the window. How could we overcome this barrier and learn more about each other?

So a 100 day blogging challenge was born and here we are 99 days later. Even if someone didn’t post everyday of the challenge I still learned something about them outside of work, and that was the purpose. By using a blog I didn’t have to go into Slack to see what they were up to.

This post is a total rambler which probably represents most of what I have written here. The good news is that I am fine with it. I hope someone has learned something new about me besides being self centered enough to write 99 consecutive blog posts about myself. I have learned that I can write consistently. There have been days when it has been a chore to come up with something to write about. Generally those are the posts about my workout for the day.

My plan is to keep writing here daily and to keep having fun. At the very least it helps me reflect on my day. My answer for why is that we can and should use this tool to better connect with each other. My hope is to inspire anyone to setup a blog and start writing.

Here are the sites that participated in this challenge:

jonpenland.com
grant.codes
fauxzen.com
brianli.com
kuelt.csabavarga.me
balaki.me

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Daily Ride Off the Bike

Second Nature : 97/100

For the last few weeks I have been gaining more interest in gardening. We planted 2 apple trees, then got a rose bush and a stargazer lillie. So far all of them are still alive. We also have some bushes that we planted last year that I have helped back to life with watering, mulch, and some fertilizer.

I have picked up some tips online and a lot of information from the gardeners at the local nurseries. My desire to learn more about gardening lead me to 2 books by Michael Pollan: Botany of Desire and Second Nature. BoD is a fun book about 4 plants and how people have cultivated them and how they have cultivated us. SN is still a Pollan book with lofty ideas, but there is a lot of practical advice as well.

Lately I have been listening to SN while I have been watering and weeding the land. The chapter on Weeds was particularly interesting and insightful.

There are 2 opposing schools of though when it comes to Weeds in a garden: 1) Kill em all with chemicals, and 2) Let nature be. Personally I have always disliked the idea that we need to spray toxic chemicals in order to have a nice yard or garden. On the other hand there are Weeds that can invade and take over a garden if not kept in check.

Pesticide and Herbicide usage is going up worldwide. In the meantime we are just starting to fully understand how terrible these chemicals are for the land, water, and people. Homeowners use these chemicals just to show they are better than their neighbors. I definitely don’t want to be a part of that.

On the other end is the thought that weeds are good and part of nature. Except that when we go into nature we don’t see weeds. Weeds are found in one place: where humans have altered the landscape. From gardens to roads to parking lots weeds will be found. To say that weeds are part of nature is disingenuous and naive.

Weeds thrive in part because they have adapted to the clean environment that we create. While the plants we want to grow are selected for their looks and taste, weeds have self selected by growing quickly and tenaciously. Weeds exist in part because of us. So it is our duty to manage them.

The rest of the book has been great and I am looking forward to listening to more of it tomorrow; when I am weeding.

Workout detail

Did 3 sets of 10 burpess after some easy yoga this morning. My elbow is feeling better but I want to take it easy and let everything heal up. I went for a super easy 30 minute ride around the land after work. That was very nice.

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Off the Bike

Taking Care of Business : 95/100

Kate’s bike has been in need of some TLC for a few weeks. Her shifting has been a mess. The brakes are a little soft, and I don’t even want to look at the greasy chain. Oh and her handlebar tape needs to be replaced. What we are looking at here is known as a tune up.

If you take you bike into a Local Bike Shop(LBS) for a tune up they are generally going to wok on everything that isn’t a bearing. For example they will replace the shift and brake cables but they won’t repack the bearings in your wheels or bottom bracket. Its good to get a tune up once a year to make sure the bike is in good working shape.

Today I replaced the cables, put a new roll of bar tape on her handle bars and replaced her chain with a waxed chain. I went ahead and gave the bike a nice washing as well since I had a lot of things removed.

Overall the process went well. She has bar end shifters which can make putting a new roll of bar tape on tricky but not today. I could have documented the process with photos but it was hot and I just wanted to get it done.

Workout details

So far this burpee challenge is not going the best for me. My left elbow has been sore the last week or so. I stopped doing pull ups to let it heal and push ups may be causing issues as well. I did 1 burpee again to keep the challenge alive but I wasn’t feeling the motivation. Tomorrow I have a bike ride and will try to do some burpees before and after the ride.

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Daily Ride Off the Bike

Bikes and Burpees : 93/100

Kate and I went on a nice 2 hour ride this morning. The weather was perfect for a ride and we did the G to J loop. The G and J are the names of roads south of Mancos that go through some of the farms in the area. Its a low traffic route with some great views.

We stopped by the local coffee shop and had some iced coffee before climbing back to the land. When we got back I still had some time to complete for the training session. I rode 2 laps and finished the workout as prescribed.

August Burpee Challenge

My company has been encouraging anyone who wants to organize group activities to do so. So far we have had the 100 days of blogging challenge, a daily step challenge, and now we have started a daily burpee challenge.

The gist of it is that each day of August I will try to do as many burpees as I can. We will keep track of our progress and then see how many we all did as a group at the end of the month.

Personally I don’t usually do burpees. Today I took it easy and did three 1 minute sets with a minute rest between each set. I managed to do 13, 12, and 11 for a total of 36. I felt pretty good about my effort even though my form felt horrible. The good news is that I have 30 more days to perfect my form.

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Off the Bike

The Ips Beetle : 90/100

Kate noticed that one of our pine trees was dead the other day. While there are still some green pines in the tree most are dead. This is indicative of an Ips beetle infestation and is a problem that we need to attend to before we lose more trees.

Probably infected tree. The orange sap is indicative of the saw dust the beetles produce when they burrow into the tree. The tree then tries to defend itself by using sap to push the beetles out?

From what I have gathered so far July is not a good time of year to do much about the beetles. This is because the beetles are active and cutting anything down may cause them to infect more trees. Insecticide is only helpful for preventing the beetle spread so we may not need to do that.

I reached out to the Colorado State Forestry Service which is run by Colorado State University yesterday and they called today. Apparently they will do a home-site assessment of our trees and help us handle the infestation. We both agree that this will be great information and help us get a handle on the beetle issue.

Workout detail

Today was a strength day but due to scheduling mishaps I wasn’t able to get the workout done in the morning. I prefer to workout in the morning because I am fresh and full of energy. By the afternoon I am generally pretty tired from work and would rather do anything but workout. I got the workout done but I am not going to say it was 100%. I did do a few burpees as a group at work is doing a burpee challenge for the month of August. I forgot how much I dislike doing burpees. We will see how I do at this challenge.

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Off the Bike

Adventures in Woodworking – Planter : 88/100

A good friend gifted us a Miss Kim lilac bush recently. Since we are building a home soon I am trying to avoid planting anything near the construction site. That means we need to re-pot the bush to a larger planter while we figure out where we want to eventually plant it in the ground. We could have easily gone to Wal-Mart and purchased a plastic planter, but I have tools, scrap wood, and an aspiration for my wife’s admiration. So I set out to build a planter.

After some googling I discovered that most DIY planter boxes are over built. I just needed a temporary solution and I needed it quickly. So I used some different ideas to come up with my one of a kind custom designed plywood planter:

Production is probably starting about when Intel gets their 7nm going…

It started raining just as I got the pieces cut. So I took a break and talked on the phone with my sister. Eventually the rain was light enough that I felt my battery powered tools wouldn’t electrocute me and I screwed it all together. Its not much to look at but its 100% recycled and should last till fall when we plant the bush in the ground.

Workout Details

Today is the first day of the cycling training program. The program was for 1 hour of bodyweight workout. I did 30 minutes of Yoga and then a few sets of pull ups. Mostly I was getting things out of the cabin so that the contractors can get the tile and trim done. I could have tried doing this myself but its going to look so much better cause I didn’t.

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Off the Bike

Hello World : 85/100

In most programming languages the first step is writing a ‘Hello World’ example. This is to help give you a first taste of how to use a language in a very basic form. I figure that in woodworking there should probably be something similar. For me that is a basic table, and hence I present you with my Hello World for woodworking:

Bob Vila lookout!

The most important thing about this table is that Kate likes it. I do not hate it, but it is a first attempt with the Kreg Jig and shows. I used all scrap wood, some of which has been sitting outside for a year, so cost was low. The 28 screws that I used were the biggest expense.

I learned a lot about the Kreg Jig and how it works. For the most part is was really easy to use and configure. I need larger clamps and a Miter saw will give me much more square cuts. Changing to a 60 tooth blade on my Circular Saw definitely helped. Oh and good wood is critical.