1,200 Days

Yesterday I noticed my Day One streak is 1,200 strong.

I journal every single day. It’s fun to look back and see what I was doing a few years ago.

I have been using Day One for 10 years. It has its problems but it’s been a good app.


My entire news feed is filled to the brim with thoughts, opinions and articles about a certain bird website and its very rich owner. I felt left out so I wanted to say something on my own.

I’m trying out the Mastodon network. The iPhone/iPad apps are really great! You can find me on the server mas.to, under @ajbourg. The only problem I have experienced so far is that none of my bird website or real-life friends have a Mastodon presence. So let’s fix that!

What it is. Mastodon isn’t a social media site, it’s a network of a bunch of servers. Think about email. You can have your email hosted at Gmail, somebody else who used to be cool in the 90s can have their email hosted at Hotmail, and there are a billion other email servers out there. They all talk with protocols and know how to route a message for bob @ random domain dot com.

Mastodon is basically that but for short form blog posts. I have my ‘presence’ on one server, but I can follow anybody on any server as long as that server speaks the Mastodon protocols. Just like email. And anybody can follow me back, no matter what server they use.

Why that’s sorta cool. Anybody can start a server. It truly is a ‘public square’ where anyone with a voice and an internet connection can speak into the void.

But what about creating a hell house of content moderation problems? Most people believe there should be some content moderation in any public square. Everyone disagrees where those lines should be drawn. Mastodon allows you a lot more control. I can pick a server with moderation policies I like. Maybe the server I like is a free for all. Maybe it’s moderated to the 9s. Up to me. I can still follow other people on other servers that have other moderation policies. And if it becomes a problem, I can block servers that are full of any content I don’t like. Moderation becomes decentralized.

What server should I pick? This is probably the hardest decision to make because every server is different and I have only had a Mastodon presence for like 37 hours so I can’t really say which ones are good and which ones are bad. Worse, you have to pick a server as your first act. Yikes. This is where I always stopped in the past. But after reading something about your account being portable between servers — you can literally pack your bags and move servers and all your followers and followings come with you (but not, interestingly, your post history) — I decided it is a low impact decision I can change later when I know more about the network. I picked Mas.to as it was one of the more popular options I was presented with. Maybe at some point I will create my own server. Maybe I’ll migrate later. Who knows.

How do I get started? Download the app, pick a server, and away you go. Then find me and follow me! 😁

Other benefits… I re-tooted (I think that’s the official terminology and I do not like it) a post about how there are so many fewer metrics and gimmicks trying to bait you into using the Mastodon apps (web or mobile).

The big social media companies have all kinds of tricks to get you to keep posting, keel clicking, keep refreshing. At first it’s fun, but over time it gets overwhelming and I just don’t think our brains were wired to get dopamine or serotonin or whatever chemical reward it is we get when we refresh and get that little ding. There are teams of dozens or hundreds of people in these apps that want you to keep coming back and they have all the metrics around whether you do or don’t, and they’re constantly looking to make the app that much more addictive.

I don’t know if Mastodon is literally a one man shop, but probably the whole sum of people working on Mastodon (including server admins) is less then just the people who are dedicated to juicing metrics at the big social platforms. That means Mastodon is not quite as sticky, there have been times I’ve opened it and nothing new has appeared since the last time I opened it — wonderful!

In some ways it feels like a return to the early 2000s when I used to surf message boards on niche topics just for fun. Nobody is here for money. Just the fun. And social media, at least on Mastodon, is starting to feel fun again.

But I’m only 37.5 hours in. We’ll see how it goes.


A kid recently asked me why there are so many ads on YouTube about voting. I told him that it’s an election year and that as citizens it’s important for us to stay informed on all the issues so when we fill out our ballots we make informed decisions.

Sometimes the things and people we vote for win, and sometimes they lose. That’s democracy. We can complain about it and be frustrated but we always take the wins with the losses.

I showed him my ballot and showed him how voting works. You just fill out the little boxes, put it in your envelope, sign it!, and then drop it off. Really easy. Really monumental.

I didn’t tell him this but I really worry about the future of our country. It seemed like in the past, people strongly disagreed with each other, but they accepted whatever the majority said. I don’t think 2020 is a complete aberration, I think there’s been a general trend towards distrust of democracy. I hope more people realize how special what we have is and wake up and protect it, even if it means accepting losing specific races or issues.

New Car

I posted about this one month ago and we now have a new car! And it’s electric. It’s nearly impossible to find an electric car that fast and I don’t know how we got lucky. I just decided what I wanted after doing a bunch of research and emailed a bunch of dealers.

Most of my email contact with dealers was somewhat negative. I asked upfront how much each dealer was charging over MSRP. Every dealer gave a direct answer, and I eliminated every dealer that charged $5k-$10k. Way more than I was willing to spend.

One dealer I was emailing back and forth with said they just had someone drop their reservation, do I want it? It was a higher trim (and higher price) then I really wanted to buy, but it was on a boat and it would mean waiting a month instead of 2 years, so I said yes. I figured, and confirmed, that if it came and we didn’t like it we could just walk away, they would sell it to the next person on the list, and we would all be happy.

Anyway. We paid a bit more than we planned, but not on dealer markups, just on extra features and all these extra features are so nice. The other cars in our garage are 15 and 17 years old, so all the new features are amazing. It’s like upgrading from a kids trike to a spaceship.

The only downside so far is the slow charger is slooooooow. Completely expected and we can manage for now. Doing research on level two chargers and just need to get an electrician out to install the service.

Self Driving Cars Are Going Nowhere

Great article on how little progress has been made in self-driving cars.

I have always thought most self driving systems were too ambitious. There are so many variables, and you can’t account for all of them. I have for years thought that they should set their sights a bit lower.

Here in Colorado we have various HOV/toll lanes on many of our highways. Why don’t we start out with self driving in those lanes? I, as a driver, can handle the city driving, the accelerating to highway speeds, and the changing lanes. But after that? Let the computer do most of the work from there on out.

All the adaptive cruise control shows most of the work is ready for highway driving. And on a highway there are far fewer corner cases to consider, no turns, no bicycles, no pedestrians. If you encounter a cone zone, you hand it over to the human driver. If there’s inclement weather, sorry, you’re driving yourself.

Sure. It won’t “revolutionize” travel. But as a car owner, it would make a lot of difference on road trips. And if I still commuted, it would help probably for about 30% of my commuting.

But then no idiot is going to pay Musk or anyone else thousands and thousands of dollars for a system that just helps on the highways. And the billionaires can’t commoditize all the Uber/taxi/bus/truck drivers and suck out billions of dollars in profit for themselves. And that’s the main reason self driving needs to be complete. If there’s a driver involved, they can’t print money by hijacking a major part of day to day life.

Engineering in Plain Sight

I’ve been following the Practical Engineering channel for the past year or two, and it’s got tons of great civil engineering information. Now, there’s a book: Engineering in Plain Sight. I pre-ordered it months ago and it arrived last night and I love it. Lots of accessible descriptions, and wonderful drawings. I got lost in it last night.

I highly recommend it, especially if you have any kids (or adults) on your Christmas list who like legos and building things, I think they’ll love it.

Recent Photos

I keep meaning to post some photos from my new camera. I would write about how much I love it, and how motivated I have been recently to go out and take pictures. But enough of the yippy yappy, here’s some of my recent favorite pictures. (I hate editing, and I don’t bother with RAW. All these jpegs are straight out of the camera.)

Car Shopping

We’re looking at electric vehicles and just the thought of dealing with a car dealer is draining me.

I think Tesla is on the right track for going direct to consumer, but I would never buy a Tesla for a few reasons:

  • Elon Musk. There was a time I liked and even admired him. How cringe. That changed quite a bit when he called one of the rescue cave divers a pedophile.
  • I have read too many accounts of poor service from Tesla. Add to it poor quality control.
  • Tesla’s base model is approaching $50k, which is more than I really want to pay for a car that will just get me from point A to point B.

I might consider a used Tesla which solves, mostly, the first and third issues, if push came to shove, but I’d rather get a different car anyway

I emailed a few dealers and, even over email, I hate dealing with dealers. Most of them are up-charging $5k-$10k above MSRP, and none of the cars I’m looking at are worth as much as 25% more. I’ve found one dealer that isn’t doing that, and has been relatively responsive, and isn’t trying to push me into a phone call to pressure me into buying a car, so that’s probably the dealer I’ll use. But it shouldn’t be this hard to buy a car.

72ish Hours with the Apple Watch

Now that I’ve had the S8 a bit longer, it has really grown on me. A few things I really like:

Fast charging. It actually does charge plenty fast, if you have a 20 watt or higher brick. (Which I do, I think from my iPad. This should have been included with the Apple Watch, however)

Beautiful screen. The OLED screen really is spectacular. Most of my watch faces have color back grounds and they look amazing.

Fast switching of Watch faces. I never did this on the S3 because it was just slow, but on the new watch it’s really fast to switch different watch faces. I have one that I use that’s more activity focused, showing my heart rate throughout the day and my rings progress. The next one shows me all the location data from the compass. The live altimeter is really cool (I live at about 5,360 feet). I have about 5 other faces I use to mix things up and they all switch and load quickly enough I do find myself switching throughout the day.

Always on display. Sure, it dims when you’re not actively using it, but being able to glance down and see the time is so important in a watch. I know some people turn off the always on display to increase battery life but this feature alone is why I went S8 instead of SE2.