Mystery of the Day

This is a screenshot of our ecobee temperature report from last night. We have a whole house fan that we turn on at night after opening a bunch of windows. The white line is indoor temperature, green line is outdoor. You can see that the two lines are decently well correlated through the evening because the fan is running, bringing in outdoor air into the house and as the outdoors cool, so does our house.

Around 3am the time on the whole house fan turns off, and here’s the mystery: within an hour the indoor temp jumps from 71º to 78º.

This is the mystery. Why? It’s 4am, the sun’s not out yet, the outdoor temperature continues to decline a little bit, and we’re obviously not running the heater. Why does it jump 7º?

I have noticed the whole house fan has not been as effective in this house as our older house and I’m trying to figure out why. Even if the outside temperature in the middle of the night is mid-low 60ºs, at best our house will be low 70ºs by the time I wake up, warmer than the outside air by a decent amount.

I don’t think it’s a sensor problem as the ecobee has two independent temperature sensors and both are usually within a degree of each other, and we have a couple of clocks with temperature gauges that register very closely as well.

This continues my obsession to lower our energy use and increase our comfort. But I’m really struggling to understand how to better optimize using the cool outside air to keep our house comfortable longer.

Musana

It’s been about a month since I posted to this blog, and that’s because I just spent the last two weeks or so traveling to and from Uganda to see the work of Musana in person.

Musana is the local word for sunshine, and this place is such a light in the communities they operate in. I’ve been involved with Musana since my first trip there in 2012 and it’s amazing to see how many people have been positively impacted by them in the past eleven years.

Their model is entirely based on self financial-sustainability. They use funds from US donors to buy land and build buildings so that local people can build businesses that are financially self-sustainable. Take, for instance, their schools. They operate 6 schools in total and each is excellent, excellent enough to charge a reasonable amount for tuition. This tuition includes a healthy profit margin that is used to support outreach programs, such as scholarships for the neediest and most vulnerable children.

I couldn’t endorse the model more and encourage everyone to check it out for themselves. Take a look at the website which goes into depth about how it all works.

Holding The Space

This post by Anna really resonated with me. The people who have held the space for me when I’m anxious have been some of my most healing moments. And being someone to hold the space for others in their moments of anxiety has been some of my most privileged times.

New Phone Case

I recently got this phone case for my iPhone 13 mini. I keep getting lots of comments on my case. I usually go for a plain black or clear case, so this is the first time I’ve ever gotten so much attention for my case.

Feels really solid. The recycled materials make it look fun. It’s got a bit of grip to it. It has a pretty good lip around both the screen and camera array. I recommend.

Having a cat is great

Ruth, as you may remember, joined our family a few months ago. She and the dog Stanley don’t get along, but she has been such a wonderful addition. She’s so playful, and she gets into absolutely everything. The other day I left my sock drawer slightly ajar and I came back a few hours later to 90% of my socks on the floor.

Because of that we call her the chaos demon. Hear weird sounds at night? “Oh that’s just Ruth the chaos demon.”

But she is SO sweet, her fur is SO soft and when she chooses to sleep on you and purr, you feel like you’ve won the lottery.

Recently: May 2023

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve really let you all peek into my day to day life. Life has gotten very busy on several different fronts and taking the time to write about it publicly felt both too time consuming, and too vulnerable.

  • My boss at work has been out on paternity leave for the past several months, and it’s been busy filling in all the places he was contributing. But in some ways it’s been really nice to have a slightly freer hand to approach projects my own way.
  • My eldest son and I are preparing to go to Uganda to lead a Vacation Bible School (VBS) with our favorite organization. I’m co-leading this trip with a good friend, and we’re taking 30 people. (!!) It’s been a VERY busy season preparing cultural trainings, making lists of supplies, and coordinating all the logistics.
  • My youngest has experienced a number of mental health challenges lately which included a bit of time in the hospital. Our relationship has grown by leaps and bounds and we have overcome a lot together the past several months and I am so proud of him, and proud of us for how we’ve navigated this season with him.
  • The church youth group has been wonderful but also challenged my time management skills. We’re now meeting high school and middle school on separate nights and I’m writing content for both small groups and trying to fill in the gaps where we don’t have a point leader in place.
  • I’ve been loving being back on the bike, but I’m only getting the time to ride a couple of times a week. The weather here has been wonderfully cool, and unseasonably wet which I will take but it has limited when I can ride pretty significantly.

National Foster Care Awareness Month

I’m not entirely sure when I first really thought about foster parenting but I am sure it had to do with my love for super hero stories.

Whether it was Kal-El fleeing his home planet and being found by Martha and Jonathan who raise him to become the hero earth needs.

Or Bruce Wayne who loses both parents in a brutal murder and dedicates himself to fighting for justice. Or Peter Parker who loses both parents and is raised by Aunt May and becomes a crime fighting hero in NYC.

The idea of a kid who can endure such significant adversity but can overcome it to become a hero has always been a common theme in super hero movies. And while flying, x-ray vision and vigilante justice all sound fun, I always thought the part where people were loved into being the best they can be was something I could actually do.

I have always thought that everybody deserves to have someone who really believes in you, never gives up on you, and loves you towards healing. And I have always been dumb enough to think why not me.

Somewhere along the way I encountered foster care. And I didn’t really understand it, and I definitely asked a lot of dumb questions and made even dumber assumptions. But seeing in real life people believe in and love and root for kids was amazing. This is what I want to do with my life.

So I went and did it. There’s commitment. There’s scrutiny. There should be scrutiny. I’m raising someone else’s kid. I should try my best, and learn from my failures, and be able to explain every decision to a whole team of people.

I should cherish the victories — because they are few and so very delayed — but so sweet when they come.

I am stubborn — you have to be. I have wanted to quit nearly fifty-million times. I would love to quit, I would love nothing more than to walk away and never do this again. It is a burden to come alongside someone hurting and to share in their pain (even in such small ways). And when it is too much and all I can think about is quitting — I think about how this kid didn’t choose the pain in their life and I can’t quit on them. I think about what a wonderful future they will have if they just don’t give up.

And if they can’t give up — neither can I.

Honestly. It’s the best worst thing I have ever done. My kids’ stories are not mine to tell but if there’s anything I could do to go back and ensure they never had to deal with what they did, I would do it without hesitation. The next best thing I can think of is to show up, never give up, and always love them towards healing.

May is foster care month, and many people reading this are going to have different experiences with foster care ranging from the ignorant, to the abusive, to the positive to everything in between. I don’t think everyone should be foster parents — there are too many bad ones as it is — but goodness gracious could we ever use a lot more good ones. And, in my opinion, being good is mostly about not quitting, not being too self-interested, and loving kids towards healing.

Anyone can help. Everyone can do something. You need not turn your world upside down and become a foster parent, but can you do something simple for those who do? Here are a few ideas:

  • Find your local CASA organization. Offer them toys, backpacks, school supplies, tickets to your local water park, or a donation. Our kids’ CASAs have been amazing and have connected them to awesome experiences that let them just be kids.
  • Find a local foster closet and sign up to be notified when families need clothes, school supplies or even furniture like beds and dressers.
  • Check to see if there are any kids nite out programs where you live. You can hang out and provide childcare for families so they can have a night away and know their kids are well-cared for.
  • Support the expansion of Medicaid by calling your state legislators. It’s literally been a life-saver for us and we’ve spent a total of something like $4 in out of pocket medical costs since we started fostering. No family should wonder how they will pay for expensive medical costs.
  • Check with your local agency or county to see if there are things they need help with, especially for things like supermarket/gas gift cards. With food and gas so expensive, sometimes families can be right on the edge of making it and a little help on gas can make all the difference.
  • If you know a foster family, offer to hang out with their kids, bring them food, mow their lawn or other practical help. We are (or at least, I am) often very bad at allowing other people to help, but you never know when it could be so timely.

And finally, if you do want to foster, I couldn’t recommend it more. Work on yourself, prepare for a roller coaster that won’t let you go, and just never give up and you’ll make it. And, please, don’t overlook the older kids. Their behaviors and histories will sound scary, but fostering teens has been the highlight of my life. And while I have spent a few sleepless nights worrying about my boys, or sitting in an ER waiting for the doc, I’ve gotten way more sleep and changed far fewer diapers then most parents.

Bellyaching About Apple Software

When I set up this blog I told myself I wouldn’t let it devolve into constant complaining and bellyaching like so much of my social media experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I love complaining. And it’s cathartic. But sometimes all I see on social media is just complaint after complaint after complaint and sometimes it is too much.

But sometimes it you just gotta complain. And today will hopefully be one of those rare times.

I am really starting to get sick of Apple software. I don’t know if there’s a better experience, but my experience with Apple software has severely degraded in recent years. Let me get some of it off my chest:

A recent software update completely changed how my work Macbook Pro handles my external monitor. I have a USB-C hub on my desk to give me a single cord to my work laptop, I can plug my laptop into this one cord and it gets power, my external web-cam, my wireless keyboard (which is not bluetooth), and my external display. For a year this worked perfect. After the most recent Mac update, if my Mac wakes up before my display, all the text and images are blocky. It’s like the resolution is turned down way low but the display is blowing it up, but I’ve checked (and tried changing) the resolution a few times and it never fixes it. The only solution has been to unplug the USB-C dock, let the Mac go back to sleep, then wake up the Mac again before the display sleeps. Sometimes this takes a few tries.

I haven’t even been able to get this to work by turning the display on first. The past 2 or 3 weeks I have been consigned to trying to get this to work by spending the first five minutes of my day fiddling with cables and trying to get the timing right.

Heaven forbid I should leave for a bit and come back to my Mac going to sleep or I get to do this all over again.

My AirPod Pros are stalking me. If I take my AirPod Pros anywhere, when I arrive home I get a notification that someone else’s Airpods are being used to follow me. I appreciate the privacy alert, but these are my AirPods.

I think there may be something wrong with how they are set up. When I go to ‘Find My’, it tells me it can’t locate my AirPods (even when they are in my hand, connected to my phone and Find My tells me they are ‘with you’) and that my setup may be incomplete. If I follow the support article for how to ‘complete’ my setup, the button it tells me to push does not exist.

AirTags are great but please for the love of all that is holy allow us to share location with family members. We have an AirTag on the dog, it’s awesome. It’s on my wife’s account. I take my dog for walkies every day, and every day when I get home I get a notification that someone can track me with a stray AirTag. I know! We share our phone’s locations. It’s not a big deal.

If you’re not going to give me AirTags that are feature complete with the rest of the Find My devices (I can see locations of all of her devices, and she can see mine) at least allow me to disable this notification for this AirTag. I’m only allowed to disable this notification for 1 day, which means the next time we go for walkies I get the notification again. Apple if you are going to say that you know best — well, you just don’t.

Speaking of USB-C and displays, an update broke my Dell USB-C display, then another update fixed it. I have another display on my desk that I recently got from Dell which is natively USB-C. I put my personal MacBook Air on this next to my work display. When I first got it, the USB-C cable worked great. It delivered power, connected the ports on the display, and connected the display.

Inextricably after a Mac update, the display stopped working. Power delivery worked, but not the display. I’d get a notice on the display that there was no signal detected. As a work around, I connected two cables, the USB-C one for power, and another HDMI->USB-C adaptor so I could still use the display.

Fortunately another Mac update a few weeks later fixed this so I’m back to my single cable glory, but I am really starting to worry about applying software updates.


There is more I could say but this has been cathartic enough. Maybe I’m just getting old but the thought of trying to switch to Windows or Linux just sounds too much. I’ll just pray that Apple gets their crap together.