Ivory for Mastodon

The new Ivory client for Mastodon was just released for iOS and I was skeptical if it would be that much better than the official Mastodon app, but it really is great.

This just makes me wish we had a similar app for blog publishing. The WordPress app is fine but it would be nice to have something a little more polished.


From Alan Jacobs:

We get angry at broken things, and want to throw them out — and this impulse often governs us even when the broken thing is not a car or a drain but democracy or education. (Maybe democracy and education are not objects but rather hyperobjects.) But what if we were to think not that our education has betrayed us but rather that its need is greater than ours? What if we were to think that towards even something so vast and complex we have the obligations of friendship? And, if we meet those obligations, perhaps we could even enjoy the benefits of friendship. 

The Friendliness of Objects

While this is focused on objects — who among us has tried to repair a shoe instead of buying new shoes? — I think our cultural values around objects are starting to shape our views of relationships and people. It’s easier to get new friends then it is to repair friendships. It’s easier to throw a relationship out then to do healing repair work.

Foster Care

There’s a hundred things I want to say about this but I don’t have the words. We are fostering again, a wonderful teenage boy. Who knows what the future holds though we hope to do everything we can to help his hopes and dreams.

Parenting has been one of the best and hardest things I have ever done. It’s revealed a million flaws in my own life and my own heart. Pray I can do it. Not by my own strength.

Switzerland 2022

Earlier this year, Alissa and I decided we wanted to take a big trip just the two of us for the first time since 2018 when we went to Peru together. With a son off in college and a (for now) empty nest, the world a bit more open since Covid, this fall seemed like the perfect time.

We debated a bunch of different destinations. Hawaii? Greece? Iceland? New Zealand? All sounded great but not quite right, and I threw out: what about Switzerland? I think we both latched onto that idea and it felt just right. Trains and villages and mountains. All things we love.

We flew direct on Lufthansa from Denver to Munich. Then Munich to Zurich, which I didn’t realize was going to just be a 35 minute flight. Haha.

We did not come into this trip with any pre-planned agendas. “Ride trains and look at mountains” was about all we had planned. We booked a hotel in Zurich for one night, and two nights in St. Moritz, beyond that we planned to play it by ear and see where the wind would take us. Here’s where the wind ended up taking us:

  • Day 1. Zurich. Rest in the hotel from jet lag, and exploration of the old town during the evening.
  • Day 2. Train ride to St. Moritz, via a quick stop in Chur. Beautiful lakes, spectacular mountains. St. Moritz has a beautiful lake and town.
  • Day 3. Bernina Express train to and from Tirano, Italy. Viewing the village of Poschiavo from above with the alps in the background might stick with me as one of the most spectacular villages I’ve ever seen.
  • Day 4. St. Moritz back to Chur for a single night here. I spent most of the 2+ hour train ride in the observation car taking pictures. Spectacular! And since I was taking pictures from a moving train, I had to be fast. The first time landscape photography felt kind of like sports photography! Had some local Chur wine with dinner, so good!
  • Day 5. Chur back to Zurich, to Bern, to Interlaken. Wow, what a spectacular little town Interlaken is! The mountains around the town remind me so much of when we visited Banff, Canada.
  • Day 6. Paid the money to see Jungfraujoch, the “top of Europe”. It involves riding a cog-railway train inside a mountain and a spectacular gondola ride into an environment that feels a lot like Hoth in Star Wars.
  • Day 7. Visited the Matterhorn. Uh. Wow. I thought yesterday was spectacular but this is even better. We took the lift up to the Klein Matterhorn and wow, just wow! We could see all the way to Mount Blanc on the Italian/French border which stretches up 15,774 feet high.
  • Day 8. A more low-key day. Took the Harderkulm above Interlaken. Then took a several hour cruise on Lake Thun.
  • Day 9. What better way to spend the day than to cross the entire country by train? Went from Interlaken to Bern to Geneva. Lake Geneva is cool and the town is old and beautiful. Got lunch and then headed from Geneva (the far south west corner of Switzerland, right on the border of France) to Zurich (on the north east side, closer to Germany).
  • Day 10. Airport and travel home, heart completely full.

If you decide to travel to Switzerland (and you should), we recommend the Swiss Travel Pass. I also used Holafly with an e-sim on my iPhone to get unlimited mobile data to keep me in touch with Instagram. Do it for the gram!

Apple Watch Altimeter Fix

A few weeks ago I hopped on a plane and my altimeter on my  Watch has not been the same. Either it wouldn’t show a value (just three dashes) or it shows a wildly incorrect one. (off by 2,500-5,000 feet)

A live view of my elevation while hiking was one of the factors for upgrading my watch so this was a bit frustrating. I tried a lot of things on my own, and finally ended up contacting Apple support for the first time in … ever? Even unpairing my watch didn’t do the trick.

Last week I let my watch sleep overnight turned off. In the morning I decided to try something different. I turned my iPhone off, then I turned my Apple Watch on.

That was about a week ago. It’s been correct ever since, even through two additional flights.

Hope this helps someone out there.

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.