Luna’s Airport Blues

We flew back to the west best coast on New Year’s Eve. Prices were better, and airports not as busy. Chrissy scored us a complimentary first class upgrade from DFW to SJC, so we humans were quite comfortable.

Poor Luna, not so much. The pet relief area outside Terminal D was a miserable square of mulch in the corner of a parking garage. It was a cold night, which made it hard to let Luna stretch her legs outside for a while. You know it’s bad when she tucks her tail down and her eyes look sad.

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She got so agitated we gave her a second sedative and she was shaking in our lap as we drove down to Santa Cruz. The high pitched chirp of a smoke detector’s low battery warning greeted us upon arrival; naturally it was the one on the 16ft ceiling (aka, needed the really big ladder stored in the backyard to access it) and our 9V spares were dead. Luna hated the chirp and was shivering in the cold, damp air of the house (as were we).

Rough trip home after a month long holiday in Camp Kentucky and North Carolina!

New Year Goals

  • Practice mindfulness. Spend five minutes each morning meditating.
  • Make time to exercise, at least four times a week.
  • Run a half marathon with Chrissy.
  • Understand how my body responds to dietary changes. For month-long stretches, try to dramatically reduce sugar intake, carb intake, caffeine intake, alcohol intake, etc.
  • Strive to be more patient (at home and at work)
  • Expend energy towards things that I can control and affect.
  • Diversify my news sources.
  • Learn how to sail, learn how to surf.
  • Start volunteering somewhere.

New Music: MisterWives

One of my co-founders brought in an unused set of these amazing, 150lb-a-piece floorstanding speakers to our office. We have music playing every day in our open-floor-plan space, and a week ago a song caught my ear and I jotted it down to explore again later. That happened today.

MisterWives is a indie pop outfit that started out of NYC in 2012 and released a six song EP called Reflections. On the surface the songs are dynamic, with ear-catching synth-tinged melodies over layered instrumentation. However, lyrically the songs carry a depth beyond the vain and tired tropes of mass-consumed Top 40 pop.

Listening to Reflections on repeat, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Passion Pit’s six song EP Chunk of Change, which captured the spirit and style of the band which carries through today. Indulging in some prognosticating, I think MisterWives has the potential to break out like Passion Pit did, and their song Reflections will be their iconic set closer Sleepyhead. 

Music for a rainy week

As some of you know, it’s been raining a lot here in California. We need it badly given worst-in-1200-years we’re in, so no complaints from me other than the standard “Californians don’t know how to drive in the rain” muttering.

A week like this has me reaching back for an old favorite: the Riceboy Sleeps album by Alex & Jónsi. Ambient, contemplative, lush, mediative. Simply beautiful.

Spotify link

Arthur the Amazing Adventure Dog

What an amazing heartwarming story – a team of Swedish adventure trekkers participating in a 430-mile race through the jungles of Ecuador stumble into an unexpected friendship with a stray dog.

As they sat down for a quick meal with two segments remaining in the race, team captain Mikael Lindord spotted a stray dog and gave it a meatball. As they took off, they realized the dog was following them — even through tough terrain and knee-deep mud. When the team would take a rest, the dog would nap next to them. It had a wound from a previous injury, but there were no vets nearby. With no food in the jungle, the team gave him some of their food. Mikael called him Arthur, because the dog was calm, proud, and valiant like the King of the same name.

The last stretch of the race was 36-miles in kayaks over rushing rapids. The race organizers advised the team not to take the dog due to safety reasons. As the team set off, Arthur jumped in the river and tried to keep up with them. Mikael couldn’t bear the sight, and so he lifted Arthur into his kayak.

The spectators on the shore gasped and applauded. The team was now determined finish the race with their new team member.

When they finished, they took Arthur to the vet in Ecuador. But what to do now? They couldn’t take him back to the village they found him in — he wasn’t being cared for there. Mikael decided that he would bring Arthur back to Sweden. Despite never having a dog before, he couldn’t bear to leave Arthur after their shared experience through the jungle. The team petitioned the Swedish and Ecuador governments, and the media attention the story found helped fund the effort. Just before their flight home, the stars aligned and Arthur was granted passage to Sweden!

Arthur is currently in a 120-day quarantine but is being cared and loved by his handlers. The Swedish team has also created the “Arthur Foundation” to help stray dogs in Ecuador.

What a beautiful story!

Here is also 26min interview with Mikael describing what happened.

Behind Maxwell’s Equations

A terrific, concise look by IEEE Spectrum  at the fascinating discovery and evolution of the famous Maxwell Equations — one of the fundamental underpinnings of our understanding of electricity and magnetism.

In high school I dug quite a bit into the work of Michael Faraday and the glory days of theoretical physics. And in college studying electrical engineering, you wrestle with these equations as a rite of passage. But the story behind them and the marvel of their formulation is simply wondrous.

F. Lux App

Two colleagues of mine pointed me to a free app for Mac OS X called f.lux.

It’s an app that adjusts the color temperature of your laptop display based on time-of-day to be better in tune with natural cycles. During the daytime, it lets the display act normally and look similar to sunlight. But in the evening, it slowly shifts warmer.

There is some medical research (see this article at Harvard Health website) to indicate that too much ‘blue light’ late in the evening can affect health and circadian rhythms. Not sure how much I buy into that, but after trying it out I can say that the screen seems less harsh late at night. I’m liking it so far, and will report back later as to whether I can perceive any long term benefits.

The Meaning of Making a Home

Another great piece by Brock Winstead — Two Homes Diverged an Urban Street.

We work so hard, most of us, to write something on the world with our lives. Some people build houses. Others build software, or laws, or organizations. Lots of people build, so to speak, children. Whatever objects we spend our time constructing, what we’re actually assembling is a bundle of our intentions. We stack up our notions about how the world should be, and we nail those notions into structures that we hope, even if subconsciously, will continue to live after we die.

Great paragraph there, and something I can really identify with.

a thought, a spark