Brent on his piece on vaccines:

An interesting link on Daring Fireball today has me thinking about vaccines.

I’m still living with the effects of the chicken pox I had in third grade.

As a parent this is a complicated issue. I’ll get back to that.

It was the in thing when I was just a wee lad to expose your kids to Chicken Pox when the neighborhood kids etc. got it, because it was usually a fairly benign thing, and it was thought to better get it over with now, and then they’ll be done with it. As Brent points out, that’s not always the case.

For better or worse in my case, it never worked anyway. I never caught them and neither did my brother or sister.

Cut to the end of my first year in college. I go to visit a friend for the weekend, and we in turn go to eat lunch at his brother’s apartment. After we get there, there’s whispering between the brothers, and my friend turns to me saying “You’ve had the chicken pox haven’t you?” Um, no. Too late now it would seem. And of course, I caught a case from that tiny little baby (where you couldn’t even really see the pox they were so tiny, and the case so weak (seemingly).

Unlike Brent, I did not get a horrible case. Oh yeah, I looked like hell, but it wasn’t that itchy, and the fever etc was really far worse than the pox in my case. The timing was bad, as I had a must not miss senior recital to play on Wednesday (The itching and breakout started Friday night), and the senior in question was panicking at the rehearsals I was missing, but other than that… I felt pretty good by Monday morning, and while I had some makeup on and felt weak I actually played in that recital. Thankfully that was before the time of the ubiquitous digital camera.

Unfortunately, my sister caught it from me, and her case was far, far, worse. She had pox in ears and throat etc. and was incredibly uncomfortable. I still feel bad about that, though there was nothing I could do. My brother never did catch them, and years later got the vaccine either when his kids got them or the vaccine I forget which.

Fortunately for all concerned, the worst of it is a pox mark reminder here or there. I’ve been marked worse from playing gigs in bars overall.

As a parent there’s a bunch of issues. One is the “are vaccines really the right approach for all diseases.” For example in the case of influenza which changes so rapidly is there any clear scientific proof that the shot you get actually helps you not get sick? With a thankfully strong immune system, I’ve had the flu once in my life (not that it was any fun). So despite my doctor “insisting” that I get a flu shot is it having any effect? And if it isn’t, is it worth the risk?

The same thinking applies to all the stuff that Noah gets. And further there are the issues surrounding Thiomersal(commonly known in the United States as thimerosal) which is almost 50% Mercury and is used in the multi-dose versions of all (almost all?) vaccines. And even if you think any tie to Autism is bunk, should it be risked? Fortunately, it is not contained in most regular childhood single dose vaccines, but you still need to check. And in the end, is it worth the risk? Thimerosal is known to be very toxic by inhalation, ingestion, and in contact with skin with a danger of cumulative effects. And I should have some portion of this injected into my baby? Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Don’t bother talking to me about micrograms…

Noah has had all his “shots” and we are careful to make sure that they are free of toxins etc as much as possible, and I consider it for myself and Lisa every time the Doc pushes a flu shot or some such. But every shot bring s a sleepless night or two. And how much Mercury has accumulated in my system between the shots and the tuna and who knows what else (Solder fumes anyone?) What’s the tipping point that turns me into the Mad Hatter?

This is not easy stuff, and I understand the concerns of both sides, but it is clear that the functioning of living organisms is not well understood by the medical community. No blame here, just a fact from my perspective. Sure they know a lot compared to 100 years ago, but do they really understand? C’mon. And with that being the case, it is hard to take their arguments seriously except from a statistical basis. If you treat people as numbers it works. But if you think of them as people, the “greater good” arguments get harder to listen to as I get older.

I don’t know what the right thing is for everyone, or anyone. But I think that everyone needs to consider issues like this and not blindly follow anyone else’s advice. That I can advocate with a clear conscience.

NY Bottle Deposit for ‘water drinks’ Starts On Halloween

Bottle Deposit Starts On Halloween: Starting this coming Saturday, bottled water drinks will be subject to a nickel deposit—and the NY State government will be able to collect millions from the unclaimed deposits. Governor Paterson said, “The expansion of this legislation not only provides our State with much-needed revenue, but will also help us to keep our neighborhoods and parks clean.”

The law was supposed to go into effect in June, but some bottlers had argued that it was going into effect too soon, especially since NY State requires bottles sold here to have a special UPC. Which means some distribution and logistical issues; Environmental Leader points out, "For instance, a distributor can’t simply restock New York shelves with product from a New Jersey warehouse unless it bears the unique code."

The Post-Standard explains, “For consumers, the change is simple enough. Beginning at 12 a.m. Saturday, they will pay a nickel deposit on bottles of water, just as they do for soda and beer. They will get the deposits back when they return the bottles to the store or to a redemption center. Deposits will not be required on water that has sugar added, or on containers of 1 gallon or more.”

Distributors will have to give NY State 80% of all unclaimed deposits.

[This one is simple. Bottled water is bad idea. It always has been. I’ll admit that there a few times when bottled water makes sense. A few very special cases. Most of the time, tap water is fine. If you’re really super finicky, filter that as well. But by far most of the time plain old tap water carried in a reusable and hopefully recyclable or upcyclable container is the way to go. Lately the word is to watch out for BPA and linings made with BPA (metal cans, and some metal water bottles. Anyway… stop pretending that bottled water is worth the environmental impact of shipping this expensive and heavy item anywhere. We’re lucky that in most places in the US water is clean, healthy, and abundant. And save yourself needless tithing to the State. My disclaimer here is that as a hiker I’ve pulled water from sources that would make city folk vomit, although I did carry a filter and stuff (which never improves (ahem) brackish water), but did seem to keep me safe.]
Source: Gothamist

The Daily Drop Cap

ot for nothing, it is amazing how much a beautiful drop cap can dress up a simple blog post. Fortunately there’s a site devoted to the topic the Daily Drop Cap. How convenient! Except it’s almost impossible to find any past examples since there’s no collection of links, and obscure urls etc. ah well. I can go with the flow.

All from Jessica Hische over in Brooklyn. Lovely.

From earlier this week another casual shot of the work place…


feeds, realtime, and stuff. a link dump.

Some of the stuff we’ve been exploring lately…

Quoc Pham, Patagonia Nano Puff, and the Rapha scarf


You keep asking. I keep answering. No, It’s not like me to discuss this stuff publicly, it’s just clothes and stuff… I do enjoy the search for beautiful things that work (hmmm, sounds like a tag line) and I am happy to share. In the end, find stuff you love and wear it down to a nubbin.

I don’t know where I first learned about Quoc Pham‘s shoes, but I loved the simple bike friendly design. And without going over the top, they fit into the office wear easily. (In case it hasn’t become clear, that is a persistent theme “clothes and products that work on and off the bike”.)


They were not sold through any “stockists,” as the Brits say, here in the US, and I decided that working through a 3rd party internationally was going to be a bad idea for shoes, but not too long after Quoc wrote saying he’d updated his website and I could order shoes directly from him. One of the joys of working with small companies and individuals—essentially “direct trade”, is that there’s a person there and they give a darn. Strange that personal attention from someone selling a product is of note.

The shoes are elegant looking and functioning. You can’t see the pedal ready support or the just enough flexibility for comfortable walking. The sole’s slim profile hides the mechanics of the shoe and supports the sensual lines of the last. The stitching and finishing work is excellent. The heel cup is right on. There is a slash of reflective material on the back of the heel, but it doesn’t intrude or scream bike shoe as much as some. The tongue is attached on one side and Quoc reviews lacing on his website. He makes other colors and styles, go get yourself a pair.


Recently I mentioned the Patagonia Nano Puff. This piece’s purpose is simple. It fits beneath virtually everything I wear as outerwear, it can be worn by itself since it has a DWR coating, is very warm for its weight, and can be packed into its own chest pocket, which has a loop so that you can hang off any handy clip (or a ‘biner). Plus, it’s orange! You can’t go wrong with orange.

A word about the warmth. I used to be “the warm guy” requesting the seat under the air conditioner vent at work. I used to walk about with nothing more than windbreaker for most of the winter. But since I started cholesterol meds and aspirin I’ve been cold a lot of the time. I wear sweaters in air conditioned spaces all summer. Clothing that is warm and lightweight has become very important to my ability to focus on anything other than “I’m cold.” So when I say warm for its weight, it’s important to me that it has a slim profile, doesn’t weigh much and is warm. Warm and bulky is easy. Warm and light is not.

Now you’re going to have forgive the picture, as I grabbed this snap in a mirror on my way out the door at 6 o’dark this morning with phone camera… and I was also trying to display the Rapha scarf I got as a gift form my wife a year or so ago. I can sometimes pull off wearing it in an “of course” sort of way. Other times I rip it from my neck as I realize with horror that I look like a popinjay. This picture leans in that direction, but not when I actually zipped up the jacket to go out, only in my attempt to display it. It does a great job of filling the space between collars and neck, and quiets the drafts wonderfully well. But it is well executed, in terms of size (not too large, not too small) and the simple gear pattern that form the background. BTW, I’m not alone in my appreciation of the scarf.

As always, you’d know none of this if you saw me walking down the street. And for my sense of comfort and style, that is also key.


Outlier Tailored Performance (The Houndstooth Chronicles)


I’m not sure where I came across Outlier, but I thought it was cool that couple guys in Brooklyn, were creating clothes for the tween space between on bike and off. It’s hard to make things work in both environments, it takes serious effort. I also dug that they were having the clothes made in NYC. I have some family connection to the “Shmata” trade, and I’m all for local sourcing and direct trade.

Occasionally they experiment with stuff publicly and make a few of an item. I think the first piece I grabbed was the Workwear Hoodie. The durable Workwear fabric ( Schoeller Dry Skin Extreme + Nanosphere) has worn extremely well. I haven’t taken any spills in it (thankfully) but it puts up with everything my rambuctious 4 year old can throw at it… Cookie and cracker crumbs, water, chocolate, miscellaneous dirt from goodness knows where have all rolled off. The fabric exterior is a canvas like nylon, and the inside a softish fleece that is warm and comfortable against the skin. It dries fast too, although it takes a lot to get it wet. The cut is clean and a bit smaller than is generally found in American brands. If you want to wear it with sweaters underneath order up. I find myself wearing this piece a lot as a spring/autumn jacket, and a layer through the winter. The helmet sized hood makes it a great piece to pair with a hoodless jacket. The Patagonia Nano Puff I recently started to wear leaps to mind. Awesome stuff.


The next couple of pieces I ordered together. The Nailhead Cap and the Empire Merino Tee. I’ll go ahead and quote directly: “Nailhead is one of our favorite worsted wools around. Its subtle pinprick pattern gives it an incredible depth of texture, and as a fine suiting fabric it tends to be made from the softest and longest wool fibers available. That makes it one of the best performance fabrics in the world, but you’d never know since it tends to be used in expensive men’s suits and nothing but.” I can tell you that the cap is comfy, looks good whether I’m dressed down (as I usually am) in jeans and a sweater, or dressed up in a long wool coat. I’ve worn it every day since I got it. As with almost all hats, I could use a version where the crown to ear depth is shorter… but it’s close, close.


I added the Empire T because Merino is darn comfortable. I love all the clothes I have that use this wonderful stuff, and the execution here is spot on. Yeah, in the end it’s an expensive T-Shirt, but it is one that you can wear as a base layer, or not. It’ll keep you cool and warm. It’ll do all that even if it gets wet… and it *doesn’t* become as odiferous as new fangled technical materials seem to. Wool is the original, and as far as I’m concerned most super, fabric. Properly chosen and tailored it’s perfect whether in a favorite houndstooth lightweight pant, a Filson Mackinaw jacket, or this excellent shirt. I only wish I could afford a passle of them.

I’d love to try some of the pants they’ve made, but I really need to try on pants since I have short legs, and prefer a short rise, especially on the bike. Maybe if I beg, Abe & Tyler will send me some…

Anyway, go check out there stuff. Designed and manufactured here in New York City with amazing fabric and materials. While they put out a “hipster” vibe, it’s not required. The designs are flexible enough to apply to us plain ole’ workin’ dads and our bikes.



feed view

TapLynx out of the box…

The TapLynx framework in action. 35 minutes from never having seen it to a working app with some changed icons, colors, splash screen and my feeds. (and most of that was messing around with graphics.) Rockin!!

Congrats to everyone at Newsgator!

Brent and I have a long history… especially for two people who’ve never met in person. And many times in the past I’ve had the fun of being the first person to get some technology he worked on running outside the lab. It goes back at least to the 24 hours of Democracy project, Manila, and others. So it was cool to find out that I was granted this opportunity again… and that TapLynx worked great out of the box.

Stormy Kromer and Twin Six (It’s not all about houndstooth)


Some mornings require Stormy Kromer. The pics don’t tell the quality story. They started out as a cap company because ‘ol Stormy got tired of his hats flyin’ away. The best products always seem to start this way. As usual, picked up on clearance. I’m not avant when it comes to clothes. Matched today with the “Bat Out Of Hell T” from Twin Six, which sadly you can’t get. (A limited edition). You can’t really see it in the product shot, but it’s leaves beneath the bicycles wheels that turn into bats. a beautiful touch. Yeah, I look like autumn today, but then it was 37F when I walked out the door this morning…can you blame me? I thought not.


Five Ten Impacts and Piloti (The Footwear Chronicles cont.)


Comfy sneaks with lots of grip. Keeps my ankles protected for those times when I begin to believe I can huck a bike off of anything, or when I just stumble over myself. Picked them up on clearance a couple years back and have no regrets. Looking particularly hip in this case with the Panache Cycling houndtooth socks.

Next up are my Piloti shoes. they don’t seem to make this model anymore, which explains why they were also on clearance. About three years into the wearing, they’re great shoes for a Sunday, or end of the week commute because they’re designed for driving, and work reasonably well on a bike (A stiffer sole would help on the bike, but would probably lose some of the sensitivity that makes them work so well when driving). The round heel cup and extended edging make for comfortable driving, even if you get into a bit of heel and toe work, but there’s enough cush to make errands, shopping, and other weekend activities a pleasure.

Don’t be fooled, Piloti makes serious race shoes if you’re part of the horsepower set, and they’re well made touring shoes look is well designed for the Concours folks. But I find that for a day in and out of the car, or longer trips they’re an excellent choice. The fit and finish on these is excellent and the more luxurious versions can easily hide in an office where no one will know that in your head you’re taking the off camber on your favorite twisty mountain road.

On this day, they’re paired with Rapha merino wool socks (the black with the pink accent.) Nice.