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Author: Tony Johnston

Oxford Stone Paper

Oxford Stone Paper

I like nerd off to the stationary section while my kids pick out a cheap toy at Walgreens on our weekly holiday, “Walgreens Wednesday”. Usually nothing. I picked up a pack of Zebra F-301’s on sale and scanned the notebook section because my work notepad was on its last pages. Picked up a few of the $12+ leather bound and quirky little novelties, wishing there was something perfect the way I like perfect, and randomly picked up this $5 notepad in among them. What I’d found was a perforated edge Oxford Stone Paper pad.

(This post is an adaptation of a comment I tried to leave on the blog in that link, but the comment registration process took some precarious turns that made me feel like I was going to lose everything I had already typed so I ended up using some browser inspector tricks to retrieve and copy my comment to HariKari.com for safekeeping while I jumped through SquareSapce’s hoops, just to finally give up and find the draft of this post in the next browser tab.)

Screen-Shot-2017-05-12-at-9.23.11-PM Oxford Stone Paper
I typed up my comment, but then had to sign in with no option to dismiss this overlay.

It just felt so different in every way, and was inexpensive, so I threw it in my basket. Next day wrote on it for the first time. Super smooth. Ripped a page out. It didn’t really tear, it just separated from the spiral binding. That was weird, so I wanted to see what it felt like to tear it from the middle. Even weirder, it doesn’t really tear.

I tried it with different inks and pens. Flopped it about because 60 pages of it feels unlike any stack of paper ever. Haven’t tried burning it yet, but will let you know if I do!

An amazing week for losers: Charging Bulls pick fights with Fearless Girls

An amazing week for losers: Charging Bulls pick fights with Fearless Girls

Fearless-Girl-Charging-Bull An amazing week for losers: Charging Bulls pick fights with Fearless Girls

Fearless Girl, Charging Bull

This story topped a week filled with Sean Spicer begging forgiveness after claiming even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons against his own people and calling Auschwitz a “holocaust center“, United Airlines losing a nasty brawl with a 69 year old man despite breaking his nose, knocking out his teeth, and giving him a concussion as they dragged him off the plane for the crime of choosing not to volunteer to catch the next flight, and Bashar Al Assad making a somewhat reasonable claim that gassing his own people isn’t in Syria’s best interests while stepping confidently, as mass murderers step, into the argument that the whole thing was staged and the gasping, dying, and dead children were possibly faking it.

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YouTube: Something went wrong. Tap to retry.

YouTube: Something went wrong. Tap to retry.

YouTube videos won’t play on iPad!

For the past two weeks my kids have had trouble watching YouTube videos on their iPads. It works for a while, then they see a message after the video’s ads play saying, “YouTube: Something went wrong. Tap to retry.” This issue has been prompting YouTube iPad users to “Tap to retry” for years.

The only solution for making the YouTube app work on their iPads has been to completely reset their “Network Settings.” I’ve googled this issue 20 times, but haven’t seen a solution, so here’s what I did:

youtube-bloody-logo-tap-to-retry-2 YouTube: Something went wrong. Tap to retry.

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The World’s View on Trump

The World’s View on Trump

Living in one of the seven countries identified in President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, you’d have to be really into American politics to pay enough attention to know that most of us disagree with Trump just as much as they do. I have colleagues in Sri Lanka who were all surprised to the point of laughing out loud when we had our first conference call the morning after the election and everyone at the table was mourning. It felt good to express our distaste for Trump to people who’d mistakenly assumed a solid majority of us were represented by the election results.

But then I read this on how Trump is viewed by Iranians, from the Guardian:

What do Iranians actually think of America’s new leader?

Screen-Shot-2017-02-10-at-8.35.00-PM-697x1024 The World's View on Trump

“My future is now very uncertain. I spent thousands of dollars applying to universities in the US to do a PhD there. I have been accepted at one of these universities so far, but now I am not sure whether I will be able to get a visa to go there. To make matters worse, in Iran if you don’t go back into education a year after graduating you’re expected to do military service. I worry that if I don’t sort out my next steps in time this will be the only option for me.” ~ Amir, 26 from Mashhad

“Iranians see Trump as just another American leader full of empty threats, the people are sick and tired of the same game being played out over and over with the same outcome. Trump’s travel ban has affected a minority of Iranians, but it has also pushed people to stay and serve their country. It is as though Trump is exposing the America that the Iranian government has being talking about for the past few decades.” ~ Anonymous, 19 from Yazd

“There is a lot of anxiety about Trump among ‘normal’ citizens, and by that I mean those not connected or supportive of the regime. That’s because at the end of the day it’s us who will pay for all these political games. There will be millions of crushed dreams as a result. I grew up with the internet, and American culture – at least the liberal part – has really shaped who I am. I am LGBTQ and it really helped me accept myself and be brave. I thought US culture was accepting, open and loving but now it seems the opposite.” ~ Amir, 24

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My bills represent far less than what I owe

My bills represent far less than what I owe

I pay $10 a month for Netflix.
I have paid $10 for Hulu and other services in the same category that seemed worth it.
I pay something like $300 a year for Amazon prime.
$50 a month into my car’s gas tank.
$25 a year for Apple Music.
$85 a month for internet.
$65+ for my cell phone.
$20 for parking near work.
$185 annually for car tabs.
I can go as high as $100 in a single month for iTunes purchases.

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Obamacare will grow into Single Payer under Trump

Obamacare will grow into Single Payer under Trump

Obamacare’s Built-in Issues

The problem with the ACA is that it brought the problems of universal healthcare to everyone’s attention. Private insurance can’t cover a healthy young person’s $50/yr needs while simultaneously covering someone else’s $15,000/yr needs and charging both less than it would cost the healthy young person. So the ACA spread the cost out with an “individual mandate” or resultant penalty for everyone and a requirement that insurance companies drop their penalties for “high risk pool” individuals.

The answer has never been and will never be private insurance with a government mandate enforced by a penalty. The only answer is expansion of our current single payer system, Medicare. We all pay into it, ostensibly, and it is an efficient, well managed system whose only challenges are imposed by political agreements between lawmakers and profiteers.

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Mac Dad’s adventures in PC gaming: Rust on Steam

Mac Dad’s adventures in PC gaming: Rust on Steam

Attn: All Mac Dads

If your kids ask for a PC for gaming, just tell them you can’t afford it. It won’t be a lie, specifically, considering how much time you have to spend updating drivers and frameworks.

cropped-Logo_Transparent-300x76 Mac Dad's adventures in PC gaming: Rust on Steam  Tonight my oldest wanted to try out a PC game called Rust. According to Steam’s Rust page, “The only aim in Rust is to survive. To do this you will need to overcome struggles such as hunger, thirst and cold. Build a fire. Build a shelter. Kill animals for meat. Protect yourself from other players, and kill them for meat. Create alliances with other players and form a town. Whatever it takes to survive.”

Sounds legit, right? I added funds to his Steam account, and told him to go ahead. Just kidding! PC gaming is so complicated that you can’t simply shove money into an account and say “go!” So after an hour of typing in passwords, birthdates, logging out, logging back in, putting my birthdate in instead of his, logging out again and then back in, I finally got through it all and then, stopped dead in my tracks by some pop-up window installer called something like “Super Easy Don’t Cheat Installer.

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Russian entanglements, fear at heart of militarized Trump administration

Russian entanglements, fear at heart of militarized Trump administration

Donald Trump’s flirtations with Russian president Vladimir Putin likely started out as a give and take, leaving Trump to trust that someone as corrupt as Putin could be bullied into silence using a threat of exposing his corruption, a narcissists code of honor, or an unscrupulous attack on his reputation.

In our world, Trump is the guy who disregards all of his social obligations to focus on the privilege our social contract has afforded him, and then that guy wins a democratic election despite how obvious it is that he’s a sociopath with no goal other than enriching himself at any cost. He’s the worst of us.

But in Trump’s world, Putin is that guy. Trump found himself played by his own game and by then, Putin had everything he needed to put Trump in a bad, bad place. He tried repeatedly to lose the election. He gave it a lot of effort. He knew that he’d be Putin’s puppet forever if he managed to ascend to the most powerful office of Putin’s most powerful enemy. Losing to Hillary Clinton would give him a less dramatic undoing.

But now that he’s in, and he’s identified the long-term threat, he needs to circle the wagons and regroup. Militarizing the Executive branch must be signaling to Putin that Trump is finally understanding what’s actually happening here.

Low Voter Turnout Favors the Republican Candidate

Low Voter Turnout Favors the Republican Candidate

Three ideas I’ve heard today to improve our democracy:

Some people seem to think this will improve voter turnout. So many people have to work on election day and, with the long lines in some precincts, in some states, this makes it more difficult for young, poor, and rural voters to make it to polling places when work, family, and distance impede their participation in our democratic process.
1.a Poor people, young people, and rural people don’t get the day off on national holidays. This would not change the electorate nor enfranchise those currently left out of the process. But if low voter turnout favors Republicans, this change would allow them to claim another “law and order” excuse for suppressing access to the polls.

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Volvo BlueDriver OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner

Volvo BlueDriver OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner

I purchased this OBD2 Diagnostic Scanner device (BlueDriver OBD2 Scan Tool for iPhone and Android) a couple of weeks ago after the Check Engine light came on in my car. Plugged it in and, using BlueDriver’s iPhone companion app (also available for Android on the Google Play store) discovered immediately that the CVVT solenoid was reporting problems, code P1332.

I was able to knowledgeably speak with my mechanic rather than just dropping it off and waiting for the bad news. He confirmed the solenoid was gummed up as a result of my not having had an oil change in over two years (I’m terrible, I know) and $45 later I was on my way.

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