NavFreeOne of the many things that smartphones are good for is car navigation. Android comes with the Google Maps navigation system, but you may be interested in alternatives either because there may be something better out there (there is) or because you want to be able to use maps offline. So over the past several weeks, I’ve been using nearly every mapping option I could find, looking for the perfect free or near-free offline navigating option. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it. I did find some options that would work in a pinch. I looked at Accuracy (How up-to-date and comprehensive are the maps), Appearance (Does it look cool?), Addressing (How capable and convenient was it finding addresses), Estimations (How well it could guess how long it would take), Exploration (Can you use it to drive around without a destination in mind?) Offline Status (does it work offline), Retention (Did the program stay open and remember your route if you switched over to the music player and back), Features (what else it can do), and Voice (Whether it pauses your music while it’s talking, for example). Any grade not listed is a “C” which means that it was satisfactory but did not exceed expectations at all. (more…)

Category: Road, Server Room

Candy. From World Candy Confections. Some observations:

  1. The individual “packs” are quite cool. The designs are pretty simple, but with a bit of touching up could be made to look cooler than most real cigarette packs. The brand names are actually better than a lot of the real ones. I’m eating a “Victory” brand now, which makes me think of 1984.
  2. Other brand names include Target, Stallion, King, Lucky Lights, and Round-Up. I particularly like Target and King as designs.
  3. The “Carton” doesn’t actually say “cigarettes” on there anywhere. I don’t know if that’s a recent development or they never did. I can see why they don’t now.
  4. The pieces themselves don’t look nearly as cigarette-y as I remember them. I suspect this was the case before. But in my mouth they look as much like a glorified toothpick as anything.
  5. They taste exactly as I remember them.
  6. These things used to be relatively ubiquitous. For a time, anyway. It’s not surprising that they mostly went away.

Category: Market

shadowgiantGamers, it turns out, are quite sociable.

Pluto and its moon Charon may share an atmosphere.

We’re taking a 3D printer to space. Such a thing might have made Apollo 13 a less suspenseful movie.

How well do you know your fictional world maps?

It’s become fashionable in some circles to predict the death of the NFL. Aaron Gordon looks at the various scenarios proposed and their (un)likelihood.

Nobody seems to want to and/or be able to live there, but Lloyd Alter says Buffalo is da bomb.

Noah Smith says that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the world’s best leader. Not bad for a guy who was office barely a year the last time around.

You know Japan is worried about their age-demographic spread when they’re actually debating immigration. China has a one-child crisis, though it may not be related to the actual policy since other states without the One-Child policy face similar problems. To be fair, though, a number of them have had anti-fertility policies over the years, even if not as dramatic as One-Child.

Mexico has a vigilante squad of Good Gals With Guns.

As David Fredosso says, there’s something in this for everybody to hate: Banning Sugary Drinks in Food Stamps Could Slash Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes

Gizmodo looks at different sports and calculates how much running is involved.

A 91-year old woman in San Diego ran a 26.2 mile marathon. Which is amazing. She broke a record for her age bracket of 90-and-over, which is even more amazing. Not that she broke the record (good for her on that, of course) but that there is an age bracket with a record.

1944: Iceland, Greenland, and the United States

2009: Pravda sweepingly reports that Greenland was going to become the 51st US state! Still waiting…

Category: Newsroom

This post neither expects you to know anything about “Private Practice” nor does it expect you to care about the characters.


In lieu of listening to audiobooks, I am using my smartphone to listen to television shows again. I used to do this pretty regularly, but it’s harder on Android phones than it is on old school Windows Mobile phones.

Right now I am listening to Private Practice, a now-defunct spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy. I’m early into the fifth season.

In it are two lovers, Adison and Sam. Adison is getting older, has fertility issues, and wants to have children. Sam doesn’t want them, so Adison is looking at IVF. While considering IVF, Adison is going off her birth control. Due to this, she requests that Sam wears a condom. Sam tries to get out of it. She says “No condom, no sex.”

Other than condom promotion, this whole storyline is bizarre. She wants children, and has given no indication that she wouldn’t be interested in having his children. (She’s not looking for an all-star donor – never mind that even if she were looking for the perfect specimen she could probably not do better than Sam himself.)

I fail to understand how getting pregnant by Sam wouldn’t be almost ideal. Her baby has a great biological father. The father is the guy she wants to spend the rest of her life with anyway, and who if he wanted to whose children she would like to have. The only loser here would be Sam. So the natural plotline here is that Sam takes his chances, and if she did turn up pregnant then it’s Tough Luck Sam.

I can’t figure out if there is something that I am missing here, if condom promotion trumps all, or if writers are so used to the typical contraception storyline (she says where a condom, he doesn’t want to, he eventually does) that they simply couldn’t see that in this storyline it just fit at all.

Category: Theater

My skin has turned dry in recent years. I initially attributed it to the arid Arapaho climate, but it has unfortunately followed me east. It’s not as bad now, but I still make regular use of Jurgens. On the other hand, I almost never need it when I go down south because the humity prevents the dryness, which prevents the itchiness, which prevents the scratches, which prevents the irritation, which prevents the cycle of the last three from taking home.

Having the Jurgens is nice. However, I have long feared that it’s made me “weak” when it comes to avoiding scratching that which itches.

It turns out that’s only partially the case. While the humid climate of the South does not cause itches, there are bugs down there that do. Namely, chiggers. Chiggers are a particular problem at the Corrigan Compound, to the point that if you are diligent you put sulfur on your legs whenever you go out.

I didn’t.

So I got nailed with numerous chigger bites all over my feet. My most immediate concern was that, due to the above, I would not have the discipline to avoid scratching them.

It turns out, I did okay. I guess not having the Jurgens Out means that I know that I have to summon up the self-discipline not to scratch. It’s good to know that I can still do it!

Category: Elsewhere


Two occupants of this household heard the word “cheese” and know what it means.

Category: Elsewhere


California is figuring out what it’s going to do with its carbon cap and trade funds:

In the Assembly summary’s pp. 23-24 narrative description of allocations for 2015-16 and beyond, the percentages are the same as in the June 12 document but the narrative is more filled out. There are new clarifying references to these being continuous appropriations, including that the budget proposal “contains statutory language to continuously appropriate 60 percent of ongoing Cap and Trade funding, beginning in 2015-16.”

The Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program, still set to receive 20% of ongoing cap and trade funds, half of it for affordable housing, is described as “a grant program administered by the Strategic Growth Council.” The new text, however, doesn’t mention the finer detail we’d heard Friday about rules for administration of these funds by the SGC.

The new document does confirm what we’d heard on Friday about agencies to be entrusted with the transportation and transit programs.

New in today’s document is this sentence: “Allocates Cap and Trade revenue in 2014-15 and contains statutory language to continuously appropriate 60 percent of ongoing Cap and Trade funding, beginning in 2015-16.” Today’s document also refers repeatedly to continuous appropriation of the percentages set for the second year.

I am not ideologically opposed to imposing a carbon premium (either a tax or cap and trade program, preferring the former). I have very little optimism that it will do anything about global warming or will even do all that much to change our habits. However, you tax what you don’t want, and we want people to use less carbon.

Where I end up gritting my teeth are the sorts of debates this sparks. What do we do with the money? Given my skepticism towards carbon premiums actually getting us very far towards where we want to go on the global warming front, it does feel to me at some point like the money it raises is not a biproduct of the premium, but the primary point of it. Or, even if it doesn’t start out that way, it can become that very quickly. In California, we’re talking about billions of dollars. That’s a whole lot of money. Even more, it’s money that is perceived to be free money, since it’s not withheld directly from paychecks or assessed in a transparent manner, when it very much comes straight out of the pockets of Californians.

Estimated_Effect_of_Carbon_Tax_in_USThere is also the bit about the problem with pigouvian taxes, which is that the goal is to get people to do less of whatever it is that you’re taxing. Once you’re committing this money to budgets, it’s hard to scale back when and if the taxes have the intended effect. This is the point that we reached with cigarette taxes, where state governments are talking about “lost revenue” from such taxes having their intended effect. While that doesn’t make such taxes or premiums a bad idea, it does point to the problems they represent as a fundraising mechanism.

I would feel most comfortable with a carbon premium where (a) the actual level of commitment from the government and (b) lobbying to get a hold of that money is kept are both kept to a minimum. Nothing cocks my eyebrow quite like a response to “What will we do with this money?” than “We will use it to fund things we support.” Sometimes these are directly environmentally related (renewable energy), related-but-targeted (transit), or barely-related (affordable housing). Most suspiciously, they’re all things proponents would almost certainly support with or without a premium. They’re all likely things that they are going to want to continue to support when and if consumption and revenue fall except that by then they have status quo bias in their corner.

My own preference to answer the question of how we will spend the money is in one of three ways, all with their pluses and minuses: (more…)

Category: Elsewhere


Going cold turkey on opiates while pregnant can result in a miscarriage. Taking opiates – even in a maintenance program – isn’t allowed and will trigger CPS interest. NBC has a good piece on the conflict that occurs when following doctors’ orders is illegal.

David Leonhardt sparked a conversation about student debt, citing a study suggesting that the problem really isn’t people that racked up huge amounts of debt and graduated but rather those who racked up smaller debts and didn’t. Peter Coy added on. Cloire Sicha takes serious issue with the methodology. Freddie defends the study and Matt Phillips argues that the skew in coverage (towards graduates with a lot of debt, instead of drop-outs with less) is steeped in class.

Aaron Carroll writes with nihilism – and truth – on just how bleak the picture is for people trying to achieve permanent weight loss.

More nihilism: Short of shrinking the stomach, almost nothing works on a scale. (Note: If 95% of people can’t do something, it cannot really be said to work.

This didn’t actually “destroy my understanding of time”… but this list did tickle the mind a bit when considering the various cogs of time whirling.

History may have given Douglas McArthur a bum deal.

Russia ran a sleep deprivation experiment and found out what happens when people don’t sleep.

Olga points to an office for introverts. With the cubicle having become so standardized, will future generations look at the desire for anything else (other than shared workspaces, of course) as anti-social and Not The Way Things Should Be? For my own part, the open nature of cubes was probably good for the introvert in me, to get me to push my boundaries.

Extroverts do not want to go to Mars.

Piracy hasn’t lead to less music, because most musicians don’t expect to make much money. I suspect, if piracy or extreme price pressures were to hit books, the same would be true there. It’s film and TV I’m worried about, because it’s hard to justify the expense if you’re not going to make money. And yet… we have simply seen no sign of abatement, yet, and more rather than fewer outlets are creating original programming.

Ghostbusters! The Infographic.

Fifty states… as high school kids. I want to meet Louisiana and Idaho (unless Idaho actually is armed). I think I was Montana.

What would happen if we let states draw their own boundaries and how would that effect transportation? He has also looked at why states are an anachronism and why they matter.

I learned this a little while back in conversations with Jonathan McLeod, but apparently the North Pole has become an expression of Canadian nationalism.

Even unpleasant journeys often end up looking glamorous.

Category: Newsroom

A little while ago I asked if anybody had a problem with splash pages coming up when accessing the site. CG Hill suggested that it might be Sitemeter, which is what I was already suspecting.

Having done some investigation into it, Sitemeter does appear to be a common denominator.

So, hopefully, mystery solved.

Goodbye Sitemeter.

Category: Server Room

Clancy has been on Weight Watchers and very successfully so. It’s been the program that has worked for her. She weighs less than she has at any point since high school. Among the neat things about it is that she has this gadget she puts on her belt-loop that keeps track of her movement. She gets points if she moves around enough. This has had a very positive effect in encouraging her to become more active. She, like me, response very positively to scorecards.

A friend recently introduced her son to the lawnmower. I commented at the time that it was really cool mowing that lawn for the first time. For the first time.

I’ve been relatively fortunate in my need not to mow the lawn over the span of my adult life. It was a regular chore back when I was a kid as soon as my brother went off to college. Mowing the lawn in the Gulf heat is… not fun. After that I lived in dorms and apartment complexes and basements, where lawnmowing was not required. In Estacado and Cascadia, we had arrangements made. In Arapaho, at both houses, it was in our lease that the landlords would take care of it.

There was no such arrangement when we moved to West Q. We thought about hiring somebody to do it because lawnmowing is not something I could do with my kid in tow, but between Clancy and I we have made it work so that I could break free long enough to take care of it.

Last weekend we were making provisions for me to mow the lawn. There were more-than-usual arrangements that had to be made as the lawnmower needed an oil change and some gasoline. No biggie, just a couple more things to be coordinated (buying a funnel and refilling the gas can). She then came up with the idea… why not let her mow the lawn? It would give her WW points.

Now, I don’t mind mowing the lawn all that much. I have my noise-cancelling headphones and listen to an audiobook while I work. But it’s still not my idea of a leisure activity. Also, I have no dietary point system. So it’s win-win!

It turns out that she has actually never mowed the lawn before. I had to show her how the mower worked. Actually, since we couldn’t go out there I drew a diagram that was sufficiently explanatory. This lever goes back, then pull this knob right here. I don’t actually know what any of the parts are actually called.

It honestly felt monumentally weird, her mowing the lawn as I was looking after Lain inside. I’m not exactly a manly-man sort of guy. I do a lot of the chores that we didn’t do growing up because they were girl chores and we were boys and it has never occurred to me that there is anything wrong with it even leaving aside that I am doing the stay-at-home-dad bit.

But there is something about my wife mowing the lawn in lieu of my doing it in the heat that does make me feel just a bit awkward.

Category: Home


Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.

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