Leaving Facebook

A long overdue move.

It’s time: I am leaving Facebook behind. Although I enjoy hearing news from my family, friends, and colleagues, I have been increasingly fed up with Facebook’s corporate behavior and with the deleterious effects of Facebook (and social media, more generally) on our society.

I’ve been planning to take this step for over a year, imagining a lengthy essay on the detriments of social media in general and Facebook in particular, complete with citations to relevant literature. But I’ve never found the time to do a thorough, thoughtful job, so this brief note will have to do. I encourage you to watch the excellent documentary, The Social Dilemma, and to peruse some of the articles linked below.

I’m not deleting my Facebook account – and may still post professional content there when needed. But I won’t be monitoring my ‘feed’ and thus, sadly, will miss your news and updates; send me an email, give me a call, or stop by for a visit! If you wish to follow my ramblings, ‘follow’ this blog. Take care, be well, and enjoy some time offline.

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Town meeting

A wonderful New England tradition.

The smaller towns of New Hampshire and Vermont have a wonderful tradition: once a year, all the townspeople gather for Town Meeting, to discuss and vote on the important matters of the town. Although Town Meeting is usually held in March, the pandemic postponed the 2021 meeting to May… when we could meet outdoors. The weather today was lovely, with blue skies and a warm breeze wafting the scent of blooming trees through the tent set up on the Lyme Green.

The assembled townsfolk voted on the town’s operating budget for the coming year, with amendments proposed and approved (or denied) regarding the addition of lifeguards for the beach on the town pond; on the withdrawal of reserve funds to make payments on the new town fire truck, or to replace that aging police cruiser; to withdraw a few thousand dollars to support the annual July 4th celebration and the maintenance of the town cemetery; discussion of the paving of a road (and those portions not to be paved), and so forth. Most of these items passed with a modicum of debate. In keeping with the moderator’s opening remarks, it was “ok to disagree, but not to be disagreeable or disrespectful.” Each person who stood to speak introduced herself or himself by name and by home location, often by naming the prior resident of that home… recognizing that town history goes back centuries (and collective memory goes back decades).

The big issue of the year was in regards to our road – River Road – which runs along the Connecticut River. Indeed, it runs so close to the river that, in some places, it is at risk of washing away as the river eats into its banks. Without repeating a long story, today’s heated debate was about whether to abandon a section of River Road and to turn its roadbed into a “Class A trail”, allowing continued public access. Ultimately, by a very close vote, the town decided to do so. Again, the details are complex, and omitted here, but what struck me today was the degree of engagement and decorum by which the townspeople conducted their business. Town residents were there, in respectful conversation with the Select Board, with the Police Chief, with the Road Agent, and with the affected landowners, … and despite the tension and import of the issue to many, the debate proceeded with respect. I am proud of our little town.

Return of Tesla

Better than new!

After seven sad weeks without my new Tesla, which was severely damaged in a fender-bender collision back in February (caught on video!), I was delighted today when the body shop returned my Tesla Model Y. It was repaired in Malden MA – two hours away – because there is no Tesla-qualified body shop anywhere in Vermont or New Hampshire. I selected that specific shop because they seemed to have a good reputation and offered free pickup and delivery. When you live two hours from the body shop, during a pandemic, ‘free delivery’ is a great perk.

The results are stunning… the car looks like new. In fact, better than new. Take a look at these photos, and then back at the collision photos, or the dirty condition of the car as delivered.

Requiring seven weeks, this was the Most…Expensive…Car.Detailing…EVER. But it is beautiful and gleaming and I sure am glad to have it back in action!

(BTW, if you decide to buy a Tesla, please use my referral link.)

Migration complete

Almost nine years ago I switched blog platforms – to WordPress, when MobileMe shut down. Although I cached and posted a copy of that blog, I really wanted to aggregate all that content here on WordPress, back-dated to the original date. As you can see on the right-hand side of every page, it’s now all here!

As I noted last May when I started this effort, I tried to migrate the content without accidentally triggering notifications to subscribers – but I think a couple slipped through. Sorry about that!

I may yet add some other old stories – and photos – so keep an eye out for more ‘retro blog’ posts.

Pizza oven

Andy’s summer project.

Last weekend we held a launch party for Andy’s summer project, a Pompeii-style pizza oven. Andy has been dreaming about making a pizza oven for years, and it seemed like a good pre-college summer project. It turns out to be a lot more work than one might expect! We were fortunate to have expert advice and assistance from Doc, who has built several such ovens and whose YouTube video series has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. We chose to simplify the process a bit, by using a kit from Forno Bravo. Doc’s advice was invaluable in making sure we ordered the right kit, used the right kind of mortar, the right kind of bricks, the right methods for construction, down to the right kind of flour and tomato sauce for the pizza. The results were outstanding!

Andy pulls out the first pizza.

Due to a back injury in early August, I personally helped very little in the actual construction. Andy and Doc did most of it, with help from Pam and Mara. Check out the photo gallery to get a sense of the many steps involved over two and a half months of effort.

Andy and Doc, proud of the new pizza oven.

Next summer Andy will complete the project, adding tiles and a countertop on the front, tiles on the dome, and structural-skin coating on the sides of the base.

#ShutDownSTEM day

A beginning.

Taking the day off from this personal blog, and most of my academic work as well, to reflect – and make plans – in the spirit of today’s #ShutDownSTEM event. If you are not familiar with #ShutDownSTEM or #ShutDownAcademia, please check out shutdownstem.com and this AAAS statement.

I recognize that a one-day pause is, while valuable, not sufficient. At least for me, I see it as an opportunity to plan for future action, not only as a symbolic single day of reflection, but as the beginning of an ongoing effort.

Retro blog

Time for some housekeeping.

About eight years ago I switched blog platforms – to WordPress, when MobileMe shut down. Although I cached a copy of that blog, I plan to slowly migrate its content to this WordPress blog, back-dated to the original date. I hope none of them will trigger notifications to subscribers – but if they do, I apologize in advance.

Enjoy the weekend!

Back to Bangalore

I was back in India to attend COMSNETS conference and the NetHealth workshop.

I have been fortunate to return to Bangalore every January, since we left there in May 2009. The main reason is to attend an important conference on computer networks, an opportunity to meet researchers from my field. But I always take the opportunity to visit old friends and favorite places. Read on!

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