Understanding Trump and Trumpism

Understanding Trump and Trumpism is:

  • Something I find hard.
  • The title of a series of six presentations by Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the US House of Representatives.
  • A series of events hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

I have registered to attend the third of the six presentations next Tuesday, January 17, at 11:00am at Heritage in DC. Online registration at the Heritage website was simple, and a welcome email arrived immediately after I registered. Thank you, Heritage!

I plan to:

  • Dress respectably. I think I’ll wear the red tie with the dinosaurs on it. (Yes, I will wear other clothes as well as the tie.) I’ll be clean-shaven; I may even break out a fresh razorblade that day.
  • Avoid trouble. I won’t even ask a question, even if questions are invited.
  • Post here after the presentation.

More from me soon. More from you in comments below?

Lightning Strikes Internet Twice

Last Wednesday evening, a big thunderstorm passed over Bethesda. I mean very big, and I mean right over. I mean that a deafening crash of thunder was accompanied by power going off for a second or so.

Then most electrical stuff came back to life. But internet service was conspicuous by its absence. The kids were horrified to be deprived of streaming TV shows. We don’t have TV as such, but with internet and wireless, the amount of TV content available is staggering.

6084075796_b8a072cabd_bIt turned out that our fioS box was fried. So lightning can strike twice. Or rather, it can strike our internet service twice, without having to strike the same location. A storm knocked out our internet service at our previous house; the photo shows where the cable came into the house, and the lightning’s attempt to come in as well.

Verizon has now replaced the fried internet box, and the damaged wireless router. A few other things were also fried by last week’s storm: a desktop PC; a couple of LED lamps; a USB hub, attached to a laptop (but not the laptop itself); and either a printer or the cable connecting it to the laptop (haven’t had time to check it yet).

But we can relax now, since a third internet-destroying storm cannot possibly strike us…

Frozen

Frozen is the word because:

  • It describes this site, to which I made only two posts in 2013.
  • It describes the DC area, which has been below freezing point for a while.
  • I loved the movie of that name.

frozen-flowerHere’s Olaf the snowman enjoying a flower, and the prospect of warmer weather.

It’s due to get warmer round here too. I may well take the kids to Whitetail for skiiing on Sunday. I expect higher temperatures than we’ve had recently (>40 F, not many in C, but at least >0). I also expect lower numbers of people than usual on a weekend (I think that some sports event is taking place that day).

This site will come out of hibernation, or whatever it was. Unfrozen sounds like a good title for tomorrow’s post.

The Trees Look Clean-Shaven, But I Don't

The edge between the front yard and the road is buried under a long, fairly deep pile of leaves. This photo gives some idea of the pile, and a better idea of how much I enjoyed moving the leaves from various parts of the yard to the pile. I won’t even be this happy if the county doesn’t come and collect the leaves before we get a strong wind that spreads the leaves back over the yard.

The photo also shows that I haven’t shaved for more than two weeks. I wasn’t planning to participate in Mowvember, but my shaver gave up the ghost around Halloween. I’m not sure whether the beard will survive the month, let alone make it to the new year.

What do you think? (Here’s a photo of a beardless Andrew, if it helps.)

Re-Dependence Day

The strong and sudden (but not unexpected) storm of Friday June 29 damaged trees, power lines, and hence electricity supply.

A tree fell right across the road opposite our house in Bethesda, but a lane was cleared by a midnight(ish) chainsaw. I assume that the people wielding the chainsaw really needed to get somewhere. The image in this post doesn’t show that tree (another one does), but it’s my best photo of the storm and its effects.

We were without power for a little under five days. So yes, that means that it came back on Independence Day. It feels like re-dependence day, since we are so dependent on electricity, and take it so much for granted. A few reactions to the power cut:

  • We reacted to it in different ways. My daughter (Maddie, 8) saw the bright side of not having electricity for the fridge: perhaps we’d have to eat out more.
  • The iPad (iPad 2) held its charge very well.
  • I really missed the internet, and not just for its fun side. I keep my main to-do list on 37signals‘ Backpack, which is great when its assumption that the internet is always there holds true.
  • There are many tall trees round here. That’s great, trees are wonderful, but they are not good neighbors for power lines. We missed the air conditioning during the heatwave (definitions vary, but we met all of the definitions provided at Wikipedia),but it would have been even worse without the shade provided by the tall trees. Then again, that shade means that we wouldn’t get as much out of solar panels on the roof as the temperatures would suggest.
  • If the people who used a chainsaw outside our house at midnight are reading this, you are forgiven. You probably needed to get somewhere, and the fallen tree was blocking the only way out.

How do you feel about dependence on electricity? Are you in fact dependent on it? Do you take a steady supply of electricity for granted? (I did, for most of my life, until I moved to Maryland.)

NPR: It's Not Just For Radio Any More

When I listen to the radio in the car here near DC, I’m usually tuned to WAMU on 88.5. That’s one of the local NPR stations. For readers outside the USA, NPR stands for National Public Radio. That may be misleading: NPR is not run by the federal government (or by any government). Neither is it only about radio.

NPR is also behind one of my favorite music sites. NPR Music includes such features as First Listen, which previews albums in the week leading up to release. Although there are only a few albums previewed each week, there is usually at least one to which I’m looking forward (e.g., Shearwater’s Animal Joy) or that I enjoyed, but might not have listened to had it not been featured (e.g., Grimes’ Visions).

NPR relies to a large extent on contributions to fund its programming, on the airwaves and on the web. So I’m glad to say that I did get round to contributing recently. Or rather, when told that I was difficult to buy presents for, I suggested a donation to WAMU. What do I get for the $120 the present cost? A non-lousy t-shirt. And the knowledge that I’m helping to keep NPR programs, stations, and websites going.

Do you use NPR? Do you contribute?

Differences Between Free and Five Cents

There’s a big difference between free of charge and any charge, no matter how small. That’s on observation often made about e-business. When it comes to the web, part of the difference arises from difficulties with micropayments. Another part arises from the way we think about costs; this part applies to even to the most tangible and familiar of objects.

Consider, for example, the plastic or paper bags given away by many stores, including supermarkets. They are no longer given away for free in Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live.

Montgomery County passed legislation… that places a five-cent charge on each paper or plastic carryout bag provided by retail establishments in the County to customers…

Montgomery County’s legislation, similar to Washington DC’s Bag Law, is designed to create an incentive for the public to reduce use of disposable bags by bringing reusable bags.

Will it work? I have evidence that it does. And by evidence, I mean anecdote: stories of my own behavior, and conversations at cash registers. I have gone back into the house to get shopping bags as I am about to drive to the store, then remembered that I’ll be charged if I get new bags. I am trying to keep a stock of bags in the car for the inevitable occasions on which I forget to grab bags from the house.

This effect isn’t due to the size of the difference: the five-cent difference between free and a nickel is bigger than five cents. Moreover, the directions of the five-cent difference matters. The local Giant supermarkets used to give five cents back for every bag a customer brought in. But the gain of five cents per bag wasn’t enough to make me bring bags to the store.

So there are two five-cent differences involved here. The loss of five cents per bag used affects my behavior, while a gain of five cents per bag rarely did. Those familiar with the concept of loss aversion shouldn’t be surprised. That said, I’ve been familiar with the concept for years, and I am surprised at how effective the five-cent penalty seems to be.

Tale of Two Springs

Down the StepsWe took a trip up to Boston for a few days, returning on Easter Sunday. The picture is appropriate, not only seasonally, but because we had a party at the indoor playground with this mural outside (Kids’ Fun Stop in West Roxbury, highly recommended, and not just because the owner is a good friend).

We drove past our old house in Roslindale, which made Maddie (now 7) nostalgic, but which Max (4) doesn’t really remember. We also drove past Fallon Field playground, where we spent many an hour, and the arboretum, in which we would have taken a walk had the weather been kinder.

We took the kids’ winter coats to Boston, and the weather justified our decision. Then we got back to the DC area, and were soon digging out their summer sandals. We also had to get out the allergy medication: Max started sneezing while we were still on the plan descending toward BWI airport.

This is a great part of the world, especially if you can stand the pollen, the heat to come, the traffic, and a few other things. I still miss Boston, though.

2011 and Other Cubs

Happy new year!

I took the kids to the National Zoo today. We hoped to see the lion cubs, and all seven of them did indeed venture outside (although only three of them, plus the two mothers, are in this photo). They are 3+ months old now, and immensely cute and playful.

I hope that 2011, young as it is, has already started to be a good year for you.

Sanity, Signs, and So On

We were at today’s rally in DC. I didn’t see, and barely heard, anyone on stage, but I can catch up with the show via video later.

I did see a lot of signs, including these.

The Guardian reports that there were over quarter of a million people there. I can believe it, especially since most of them seemed to be on the same Red Line trains as we were. That said, I’m glad that we went.