Month: May 2017

Quick Trip to Morro Bay (spoilers: Otter pictures!)

I decided I was ready for a break so I took off and spent a couple of nights down in Morro Bay to unplug. It was also a chance to beta test how well I travel since I’ve changed to taking insulin (answer: everything worked fine, thanks, although I think I want to start packing a thermometer to test the room fridge with, since freezing the insulin would be really bad). I went down just for two nights, but it gave me a chance to take in one sunset (the second night the light was poor), and spend part...

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Design notes on the redesign

When I went on sabbatical a year ago, one of the first things I did was redesign this site. So why am I doing it again a year later? Not (just) because I was bored. I’ve found my needs changed, especially since I launched Occam’s Fireaxe. The previous design was built around the idea of two main landing pages, the front page for photos and the front page of the blog for writing. I really wanted a landing page for the Podcast, but adding that given the existing design was a major problem. I’ve also found that design also made discovery of content difficult so it really discouraged users from exploring and browsing. I wanted to make it easier to explore some of the content areas I am trying to focus on, especially the reviews, and create a space specifically for Occam’s Fireaxe. Neither was easy — heck, not really possible — using the existing design and the theme it was based on, which was really oriented towards a photography portfolio site. So it was time to switch themes and do more than change a couple of highlight colors and a quick coat of paint. On top of that, I found some of the decisions I made I wasn’t happy with. A big one was the color scheme. I chose a darker and fairly neutral palette to complement the...

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My Emergency Kit

Like most intelligent people, I keep an emergency kit in the car. Since we live in Silicon Valley, we also have to worry about that next significant earthquake, and the authorities recommend everyone set up an emergency kit in case bad things happen. I’ve kept that emergency kit in the car for a number of years, on the assumption that any emergency serious enough to destroy both the house and the car means we’re going to have all sorts of challenges, and keeping it in the car means that if I’m away from the house when it happens I...

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My Birding Field Kit

This is the list of of gear I carry with me when I go out birding. What’s the bare minimum you need to carry to go out birding? A good attitude and a comfortable pair of shoes. Just go out and walk, look around, and see what you see. As you get more interested in the birds, you’ll find bare-eyed viewing has its limitations. You can’t see birds further away very well, you can’t see detail. Birds skulking in bushes and trees are little more than dark blobs. Binoculars change this. You can bring the birds much closer visually; you can start to see the color and detail on the birds, you can start to observe their behavior more closely, even when they’re partially obscured in the foliage. What you’re starting out, don’t spend too much on a pair of binoculars, but don’t spend too little. There are a lot of really cheap binoculars out there but they don’t focus well, their images are blurry and they do very poorly in dim light. you’ll just frustrate yourself and not enjoy birding with them. At the same time, while you can pay literally thousands of dollars for binoculars, there’s little reason for most of us to do so. There is definitely a quality difference between a $150 pair of binoculars and a $1500 pair of binoculars, but a beginning birder...

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