In the summer of 2016, I asked who wanted to try riding the Morro Bay Lighthouse Century with me in October (100-mile bike ride up the Pacific Coast Highway) . Rowan raised his hand and told me that the ride would mark the anniversary of his double lung transplant, and that he liked to celebrate each anniversary by doing something physically difficult — it was his way of showing that not only had he stayed alive against the odds, but that he was fully embracing life, living every experience to the max.
Our kids had gone through elementary school together, but I’d never really gotten to know him. Over the next few months, we did a series of training rides together, all over the East Bay, plus an unforgettable climb to the top of Mt. Tamalpais in dense fog. In the course of those rides, through all kinds of weather, through intense sweat and crazy descents, I got to know Rowan and was blown away daily by his relentless joy and optimism, his profound appreciation for his lung donor, and for the second chance at life he’d been gifted. Rowan became a sort of role model for me, an example of how we all ought to be living.
That October, we traveled to Morro Bay together and shared a hotel, then rode with another friend the next morning. Rowan wasn’t the fastest guy on the course – he was riding with the lungs of a 16-year-old girl! – but he was steady and determined, and there was never any question that he’d finish. The minute his odometer rolled over to that 100-mile mark, we stopped and high-fived each other and he let out a huge whoop of joy.
When I heard the news today that Rowan had passed, I broke down in my wife’s arms. This cruel world has taken one of our brightest beacons. I’ll remember you forever Rowan – thanks for sharing that incredible adventure with me, and for sharing your bounty of optimism with all of us.
That version of bash we’ve been using on MacOS since forever hasn’t been updated since forever (for GPL licensing reasons). With Catalina, Apple finally got with the program and pushed bash into the background in favor of zsh. Nothing earth-shattering there – zsh has been available forever, but now it’s the default, and the Terminal will bug you on every launch if you don’t follow its instructions to migrate.
Once you do move over, run don’t walk to Oh My Zsh for a wonderful rabbit hole of themes, plugins, and configuration options to make zsh sing for you. By default, it knows how to detect whether the current directory contains a git checkout, and will show the active branch in the prompt, which is worth the price of admission alone.
Google has made large donations to climate science deniers. Reconfiguring your browser to use the Ecosia search engine is easy, and every search you do builds revenue to fund tree-planting efforts around the world. 80% of profits go straight to carbon reduction. Ecosia is responsible for the planting of 75 million trees over the past nine years! Takes just a couple of clicks to set up – go for it.
The first image below is real – I shot it on the Bay Trail, riding through Pt. Isabelle into the fog last weekend. The rest of these are total lies – I made them from the original in about five seconds each. Most images you see in the world are retouched in some way, but the community of Luminar users has rightly erupted into controversy over the “AI Sky Replacement” feature in Luminar 4, which was just released. Already there’s a growing marketplace of “sky packs” you can purchase as plugins. The line between retouching and total fabrication of truth gets more blurry every year. We’ve always had Photoshop, but what changes is the access and the ease of photo and video manipulation tools. It used to take real skill to lie with photos; now it’s effortless.
We are in Southeast Asia. A temple and some statues are faded white. We are part of a group painting them colorful and glittery. The government gets upset and cracks down on us.
We try to film it but they smash our phones with batons. I realize that somehow the protestors think it’s my fault that their phones were all broken. They say I have terrible command and control. I am hiding out with a friend, we are cooking breakfast. He gives me a bag of scorpions, a bag of mud, and a tool. Tells me to aerate muddy scorpions with the tool, and I do. He forgets to put the aerated scorpions into our omelette. I find an old typewriter and start to peck out:
I HAVE NO COMMAND I HAVE NO CONTROL MY PHONE WAS BROKEN TOO
All of the reasons I give for never again wanting to live in a city just don’t apply in Singapore: There are virtually no traffic problems, virtually no crime, no hypodermic needles or feces on the sidewalks, everything is clean and well-maintained. Everyone is gracious and polite, most buildings are beautiful. Everything smells either delicious or fresh, homelessness is virtually non-existent, public transportation is the cleanest, quietest, and best-organized I’ve seen in any city… In many ways, Singapore is about as close as you get to a metropolitan utopia.
But these advantages come at a price, in the form of limited free speech, government-recommend behavior, heavy surveillance, strong police presence, and laws that some westerners find oppressive. No vaping is allowed period, cigarette smoking is heavily restricted, no chewing gum allowed (technically it’s legal to chew, but illegal to buy or sell), etc. And if you want to protest something, you have to apply for a permit (guess who gets to approve or deny your permit?).
In my business, this graph is known as “the duck curve,” and it’s a sort-of paradox. Home solar installations generate power when no one is home to use it, but then everyone goes home and suddenly needs power.
Where does the unused daytime energy go? Back into the grid in most cases, but then utilities must decrease output to match what solar customers are pumping into it. The other alternative is battery storage – either via things like Tesla’s “PowerWall” or by charging electric vehicles.
What most people don’t understand about the grid is that its total power must remain stable at all times. Even if the utilities are fully supportive of home power generation, the duck curve presents a challenge for them, because the more homes you have dumping power onto the grid, the more the utility must decrease its power generation to keep the total power precisely stable. And when everyone comes home in the evening, and solar generation decreases, the opposite must happen. All of this must happen in real time. Large fluctuations are harder to handle than small fluctuations, so more solar means means the challenge gets harder.
Because output fluctuates, renewable energy generation and battery storage go together like peanut butter and jelly – they must become tightly coupled. Now we just need cheap/light batteries to make it feasible everywhere. And so we can finally replace jet fuel with electric airplanes.
Enjoying all of the nostalgia around MAD Magazine, and the bummer of it closing down last week. In a weird way, I learned a lot about the world around me as a young teen reading MAD (including how to disco dance by kicking your feet up in the air above your head, which I actually did at my first dance, thanks MAD!) Anyway, this was my dear Aunt Gerry, reading issue 79 (June 1963) at the hairdresser. Family heirloom.