Campus Update

If you live in the area and haven’t driven through the Microsoft campus recently, take a little time to drive down 156th and prepare for a shock. An enormous chunk of the main campus is now a giant hole. There is a main project page that shows the overall project vision, but a few weeks ago, they also published an aerial time lapse showing the demolition. It’s hard to get a real sense of the progress from street level so it’s neat to see this from the sky.

It’s going to take years for this to complete but it’s not for lack of effort. There are a constant stream of trucks going in and out. Click that link above for the full story because it has some very interesting stats at the bottom. When we walk around campus, I like to see how many dump truck loads of dirt people think are being removed. That article says it was around 1 million cubic yards which comes out to something like 60,000 truck loads!

Tub Drying Rack

We end up using the tub in our bathroom to dry stuff out fairly often, so when I was at Rockler the other day, I paused when I walked by the walnut dowels. I picked up three 5/8″ dowels and a small piece of figured walnut. It’s a little tricky to deal with figured woods with the tools that I have available, but eventually I got both ends cut to size and looking nice. Elijah used his favorite tool (the drill press) with a forstner bit to put six holes in the ends and then it was just a matter of a quick glue up with a few coats of spray lacquer to finish it off. It fits perfectly (phew!) and I love looking at that beautiful grain!


Happy Easter!

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.  Now I have told you.”  Matthew 28:5-7

Jesus’s took our place on the cross and died for all of our sins. His resurrection from the dead proved his power over sin, death and the devil. There’s nothing we can do to earn heaven. It’s a free gift available to everyone who believes. Want more?

Manipulating Your Emotions

It goes without saying that there’s a lot of anger and vitriol online. Sometimes it feels like the whole Internet has turned into a 24/7 screaming cable news channels. What gives? Are we really all that angry all the time?

Take an individual who’s really worked up and show them that there are thousands or millions of other people who feel the same way. Instead of just keeping it to themselves and moving on with their life, no they feel like they have a tribe and they’re much more likely to take action or join in the yelling.

Now take someone who is just trying to make ends meet. Give them a platform like YouTube or a blogging/news site where they get paid for views. What kinds of content do you think is going to get the most views? The controversial stuff! These sites end up getting flooded with all kinds of messages solely intended to ignite your emotions and make sure anyone in your internet reach sees them too. The author is using your anger to make money. We can get mad at them all we want, but they’re not really breaking any rules, and if it wasn’t effective, they wouldn’t do it.

It’s incredibly difficult to do anything to block this kind of content. It used to be that pictures were as far as you could go to make fakes but now we’re seeing full videos of people making speeches that they never made. Even if you’re on the lookout for fakes, they can be hard to spot.

On top of that, anytime a site tries to block this kind of content, there’s inevitably going to be false positives. Does site X hates viewpoint Y because it took down a legitimate video? What if they have more accidents on one side than the other? Is it because the site has a political agenda? Probably not. The simpler answer is that the people trying to make a buck on the videos have figured out that they make more by angering one side of the topic than the other.

Obviously we can’t just roll over and give up. There’s a group called Media Wise that is working to train kids (and adults) how to be smart consumers of media. They teach you to withhold your belief of any story until you’ve confidently answered three questions:

  1. Who is behind the information?
  2. What’s the evidence?
  3. What do other sources say?

The questions seem to simple but how often do we ignore them and jump to being angry?

Some talks I listened to at Strata delved into this and Destin from Smarter Every Day has been diving into this as well. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic so you can help protect yourself from being part of the problem, here are some recommended pieces of media to consume:

  • No Dumb Questions and in episode 55
  • Destin met with the Media Wise group in a recent video and walked through two examples of asking those three questions about real news stories.
  • I haven’t watched it yet, but I suspect that the first video in Destin’s new three part series is going to be a good dive into the complexities of this problem.

This problem isn’t going to go away. Change starts at home. Train yourself to be heavily skeptical of everything you read. If you have kids at home, these skills are some of the most important things you can teach them.

Unplugging From Facebook

Yesterday somebody asked if I’m still using Facebook. “Oh yeah, I guess I haven’t posted anything there in a while.” The truth is, I’ve almost completely weaned myself off of Facebook.

I already knew that I was wasting a lot of time each day checking Facebook, but the last presidential election turned my stomach enough to make me want to start taking more drastic measures to break my habit. (Remember the last time YOU changed your opinion because somebody disagreed with you on Facebook? No? Why do you think it will work the other way around?) I started by installing the F.B. Purity plugin for Chrome. It let me configure exactly which parts of the interface I want to hide and even lets me hide posts with specific words. Here’s what my word block list looks like “Trump, Hillary, Clinton, Greenpeace, Wildtree, Isagenix”.

That cleaned things up a lot, but it didn’t do much to break my habit and I found myself trusting Facebook less and less. It was time to get more extreme so I deleted almost everything I’ve ever posted to Facebook. That turns out to be really difficult if you’re not willing to delete your account, but another Chrome plugin, Social Book Post Manager, automates the process a bit. It’s not perfect but it’s way faster than clicking by hand.

Next, I started unfollowing people. A lot of people. EVERYONE. You know how to break the Facebook habit? Make it so that every time you go to the site, there is literally nothing new. Even then it took me a shocking amount of time to stop going there out of habit. It was ridiculous and eye opening.

The nice thing about this solution is that I can still choose to spend some time browsing updates from specific people, but I’ve removed the mindless browsing half a dozen times a day. For now I still cross post some of my Instagram photos to Facebook but even that is dying off. Instagram seems like a lot happier environment, but it will probably devolve into the same cesspool that Twitter and Facebook have become. (And yes, I know that Instagram is owned by Facebook.)

I’m not here to preach that this is right for everyone, but if you’re looking for a way out, it IS possible. And if you’re just wondering why I’m not commenting or liking (or maybe even posting at all), now you know why.