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Author: Tony Johnston

Adventures in Creative Revenue Generation in the Era of Covid

Adventures in Creative Revenue Generation in the Era of Covid

Today I was doing some very entrepreneurial stuff that included linking out to a service I just signed up for to help me figure out how to manage and invoice clients when working freelance gigs. When I grabbed the link from my dashboard, I noticed a big “Invite friends, get rewards” link and it occurred to me that I could maybe pay for my account if my link gets used.

So I signed up as an affiliate for FreshBooks.com. You actually join a larger affiliate advertising network and FreshBooks approves you for linking from your site, so now I’m an affiliate marketer! I’ve never made money from ads on any website ever, so my hopes aren’t high that this will bring in any Covid relief for me and my family, but I had a little fun explaining to them why I want to advertise for them. It turned into more of a HariKari blog post than a note about my business plans…

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False Claims of Election Fraud Should Be Illegal

False Claims of Election Fraud Should Be Illegal

Very first thing I would like to see addressed by Congress in 2021: make it illegal to claim that election fraud has happened or will happen where there is no evidence presented and no basis for an official investigation is established.

I have a hard time seeing how undermining faith in the core process of our democratic republic is any less dangerous than pulling a fire alarm in a crowded school hallway because you didn’t study, calling in a fake bomb threat at the airport because you’re running late, or spreading misinformation about a stock because you’ll make a fortune if the price tanks.

Afford our democracy the same protections that we provide the stock market: https://www.sec.gov/fast-answ​ers/answe​rstmanipulhtm.html.

Covid-19 US Spread Timelapse March 1-31, 2020

Covid-19 US Spread Timelapse March 1-31, 2020

Fully interactive visualization

You can see the underlying population data, which makes it very clear that coronavirus thrives and explodes in dense areas. There’s a more subtle shift in rural areas, but you can see some trouble spots forming. Contagion is contagious.

Click through to Tableau Public for more analysis of the NY Times data.

Updated daily.

  • Select a start date and press play.
  • Filter to see just your state.
  • Pan and zoom
  • Full screen mode
  • Hover for details

Data source: NY Times Github repository
Tableau Public: Download the Tableau workbook

Seattle is a ghost town.

Seattle air quality index (AQI) like smoking 5 of something that burns per day

Seattle air quality index (AQI) like smoking 5 of something that burns per day

Top 10 comparatively toxic number of things to smoke:

If you sleep with your windows open in Seattle for 24 hours, it’s just like smoking:

  1. 3 New York cockroaches, dried naturally in saltwater from the Great Pacific Garbage patch.
  2. The mystery contents of 5 vegan pill casings found in a small plastic bag lying in the parking space next over from the one you chose so your car wouldn’t get dinged.
  3. 5 cigarettes.
  4. 1 cigarette after accidentally lighting the filter and keeping going till it’s gone.
  5. The “left over” tobacco recovered from select unfinished butts in an outside coffee can ashtray wrapped in a page torn from the Bible. Leviticus or Revelation only, and only because you currently, honestly believe it would be better than nicotine withdrawal.
  6. Water.
  7. 2 packs of 1950’s Marlboros per day for the rest of your life if it never killed you.
  8. One nickel.
  9. Whatever Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s stink-eye is based on.
  10. A 1971 anal thermometer.

5 cigarettes:

Normal, invisible air:

Burma Shave

Burma Shave

“I guess you’d say I’m on my way to Burma-Shave,” sings Tom Waits in the 1977 song “Burma-Shave”. But where is he going with his female friend? Somewhere, but nowhere in particular. They are just going, getting away from trouble with the law, and from a town that doesn’t have the distinction of being a dead end; it’s just “a wide spot in the road”. Burma-Shave isn’t a destination, and it isn’t even a journey, which implies some kind of specificity. Burma-Shave is the anonymous, insignificant, American ubiquity, the inland ocean in which a person could lose themselves. It is the road; or rather, it is the road-side.

There’s something nostalgically current about this story that grabs me. Maybe the viral nature of the campaign that capitalized on the baby-boomers’ generational separation from their parents via the interstate highway system that connected the east coast from the west by 5 days and a now easily-obtainable, used automobile or a ride.

http://nomegallery.com/chapter/burma-shave-by-will-wiles/?exh=1115&order=2

California Smoke Over Western Washington

California Smoke Over Western Washington

Not just Western Washington, which shows in this photo around Mt. Rainier, but this was on my flight back from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mt. Rainier peeking above the fog of California fire smoke.

 

Returning to Seattle from a short trip to Salt Lake City, I snapped this photo of Mt. Rainier. But while I was in Utah, I was warned repeatedly that the air there was a so bad that emergency care centers were being overwhelmed with patients experiencing urgent respiratory issues.

I’ve never experienced anything like that, no matter the air quality, until this trip. I was explaining to my mom that we couldn’t stay long due to some unforeseen circumstances when suddenly I started into a coughing fit. That has never happened to me. Could be a one-off.

In the above photo, I had to review it several times to be sure it wasn’t a photo of Mt. Rainier with some extreme color-banding in the clouds. This is smoke over the mountains surrounding Mt. Rainier as we approach Seattle to land at SeaTac Airport.

That’s smoke, not clouds, from <~ 30,000 feet.

I signed up for ReachNow when my car died on the road

I signed up for ReachNow when my car died on the road

/** RANT TO FOLLOW**/

Tried ReachNow for the first time and it was awful. Had to call customer service just to figure out how to start the car. Spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how to put it in “park” mode so that I could come right back to it while picking up my kids. At the grocery store on the way home I did what I thought was the same thing I figured out before, but found that the car had been reserved by someone else while I was in the store with my kids. Their backpacks were still in the car. Called customer service again and explained the situation, and suddenly the call ended before anything was done to help me out. When I called back I was on hold in a hot parking lot with kids and grocery bags for 5 minutes. They finally informed me where I would be able to find the car (I was sitting on the hood), but that it had been reserved by another customer. They unlocked it remotely, the kids got their stuff out, and we walked home. Of course, the terms of service I didn’t have time to read probably say that if I leave the car in a grocery store parking lot I’m liable for any fines or fees incurred. May have just been a bad first experience, but I’m going to wait for things to improve before going all in on $27/hour car rental. And the in-dash nav seems to be programmed to keep you in the car as long as possible. It was being clever, trying to route me around traffic, but sent me into a closed road once and a construction road another time where I had to  turn around and find my way out. It took me so long to just get back to 5th and Denny that I made the decision to just go straight to pick up the kids from school. The only way I could get the nav system to stop telling me that I was going the wrong way was to push a button that looked like a mouth with sound waves coming out of it and yell, “END NAVIGATION”.  Plus, have you driven a BMW recently? It’s like a thousand random drivers were polled about the one thing they can’t do without in a car dashboard, then implemented every single one of them. I had to send Ian in through the driver door to climb into the back seat to figure out how to unlock the other doors (turns out the controls are in the app, which takes a minimum of 30 seconds to communicate with the car – you assume it doesn’t work the first few times you try it). You can’t drive with the gear shift without looking down at it your first many times to find the “unlock” button that allows you to pull on the gearshift to switch from R to D, but P is a whole different button that works in a completely different way. I’m sure people who drive these cars every day get to a point where it’s second nature, but I had to look down every time I needed to use it.

A Trojan Horse GOP Tax Bill Advent Calendar

A Trojan Horse GOP Tax Bill Advent Calendar

Trump’s GOP Tax Plan Isn’t What it Seems

Every day I learn something new about the Trump-led GOP tax reform bill, but today I learned a steaming pantload of really frightening things about not just the bill, but also the sneaky Trojan Horse style of politics that seem to be unfolding here.

  1. The Tax Plan is being passed under the rules of reconciliation so that it doesn’t have to reach the 60 vote majority in the Senate.
  2. The Senate has crammed this bill full of language that fundamentally changes the rules on a variety of social issues unrelated to tax reform.
  3. While we focus on the endless stream of clowns coming out of the passenger side of the car, we’re not paying attention to what’s getting in on the driver’s side.

Counting down the days

I’ll try to refrain from weeping into my keyboard long enough each day to keep this updated. And only really sneaky shit makes the list. And I really expect the world to implode some time before Christmas gets here anyway, so don’t expect a novel.

Day 1. The Chained CPI

“the chained CPI was really an attempt to reduce the deficit on the backs of senior citizens” – New Republic

This is pretty insidious. The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the cost of a list of essential items and is used to define things like poverty levels, living wage, inflation, and income disparity. The chained CPI turns it upside down, starting first with the amount of money people can live on and then averaging out which common items one can get on that budget. This calculus includes trade-offs against quality of life, such as buying processed chicken instead of steak, bundling up rather than turning on the heat, and shopping at thrift stores.

Day 2. Concealed Carry

“Anyone in Los Angeles, for example, could get a permit online from VA, without ever stepping foot there. And that would enable carrying a gun in LA every day.” – Adam Winkler (@adamwinkler)

Biggest, boldest move by the NRA since 2004.

Day 3. Religious Politics

“We’re really worried that changing the law in this way would open the floodgates for political contributions to be funneled through all 501(c)(3) organizations, fundamentally changing the nature of houses of worship and indeed our entire nonprofit sector.” – 90.9 WBUR-FM, Boston’s NPR news station

Day 4. Granting Individuality to a Fetus – 

“Nothing shall prevent an unborn child from being treated as a designated beneficiary or an individual under this section” – Brookings Institute, featuring this beauty from Politico: “The proposed tax plan is a huge leap forward for an antiquated tax code, and we hope this is the first step in expanding the child tax credit to include unborn children as well.”

Day 5. Restrict Access to Higher Education

“The ploy appears to be to destroy higher education, to shift the tax burden onto the most educated rather than the most financially successful, and to disincentivize graduate school as a viable option for the majority of people who’d choose to pursue it otherwise.” – Ethan Siegel, Forbes

Day 6. Trickle-down Taxation

“If teachers lose tax break for school supplies, will parents pick up the tab?” – (@mandy_mclaren), Louisville Courier Journal