Bagels, bikes, and blogging

An overview of August 2017 for me.

Cooking can be interesting.

What would you do if you got an email that said:

Congratulations! You’ve been nominated by [friend name] to join the group of people who started meeting at my new SF Mission apartment this morning to eat my eggs.

This might happen to you if you know Rob Ochshorn (aka rmo). He has a knack for surreal weekday breakfasts. Sometimes they come with surreal invitations. The quote above comes from an email Rob sent in 2015.

I’m bringing up an email from 2015 because this month, August 2017, I went to a new surreal breakfast. It was run by Rob, but located at Bryan Newbold’s place. Rob made bagels.

Rob had already made some dough, and he had already plied the dough into ring shapes, and he had had already boiled the rings. I watched him put the ring shapes in the oven, and then I watched bagels come out of the oven. We got to eat them hot. Honestly, they were easily some of the best bagels I’ve ever had.

This is eye-opening. How come it’s possible to not just make bagels, but make good ones? Other breakfast attendees were as shocked as I am.

Mostly it was surreal because I didn’t sleep enough before it, so I was pretty quiet for the first hour and a half, until I had drank all the coffee I could find, and then I became pretty animated. But also it was surreal because, viscerally, I didn’t really know that it is possible to make bagels.

Is movement the definition of life?

I remember learning in high school biology that if something moves by itself, that’s most of what it takes for it to be alive. I remember being both impressed and suspicious that you could define life so straightforwardly. (I also remember that viruses aren’t alive, and that they don’t move.)

I used to have a server rack-mounted in Minneapolis, MN. I know this sounds like a non-sequitur, but bear with me for a minute.

The server was hosted by a co-op named Iocoop, and the co-op used to be called Cernio, and a nice person named Graham Freeman poured a lot of his life energy into maintaining and growing Cernio, and I’m truly grateful for that, and anyway Graham Freeman recently wrote a life update (link but it’s private on Facebook) with a mode of urban transit that I found surprisingly appealing.

Picture a red-and-yellow Little Tykes car, but it’s adult-sized. Like a Little Tykes car, it’s pedal-powered. This one is also an electric assist bike. It’s not a car, so no drivers license or insurance needed. You can go 20 mph on the motor, or 25 mph if you help out and pedal.

It fits two adult people and some groceries. Also it’s a pretty cute shade of orange. You can check out a picture by Graham. You won’t get doored because you’re inside a vehicle. If you park it outside, it charges itself via the sun. It’s called an Elf.

I am actually seriously impressed. It makes me think about the different ways I get around a city, and what that has meant for my life over the different places I’ve lived.

Never change, WordPress!

One fun trend in how tech people think about websites is “static site generation.” My personal website has gone back and forth between static and not. In 2001, I used htmlpp, a “HTML pre-processor,” to generate a static site. But then I needed comments, so I added SSIComment (which is sort of like Disqus) to my server,

This static vs. dynamic website issue has gone back and forth over the years. In 2002, I switched my website to being dynamic, via TWiki, but then I got hacked, which was really very sad for me, and so I switched to a tool called pyblosxom which can be used to generate the site statically, but I left it in dynamic mode due to my own laziness. Oh wait, I meant that paragraph to be about broader tech trends. Let me try again.

This static vs. dynamic website issue has gone back and forth over the years. In 2000, everyone journaled on LiveJournal, a dynamic site. In 2001, a blogging system called Movable Type (static generator w/ optional dynamic comments) hit the scene, and it dazzled Chris Chan, myself, and Joi Ito. Then in 2004, WordPress 1.0 happened. People got tired of managing WordPress, so Tom Preston-Werner made Jekyll in 2008 so he could “blog like a hacker.” Now there are twenty bajillion static site generators because everyone wants to be just the same as Tom Preston-Werner, but more indie.

Static sites have one big problem usually, which is you have to edit text files to write blog post drafts. Every few years, I wonder to myself, can I use WordPress as a static site generator?

In 2014, Kenton and Jade showed me Sandstorm. I discovered that Sandstorm could let me use WordPress into a static site generator. That impressed me, so in 2015 I started working at Sandstorm. I worked there for two years, which is the longest I’ve worked anywhere continuously.

This past month, I discovered a new WordPress hosting company called HardyPress. Their big idea is that they’ll let me use WordPress as a static site generator. I have already signed up and paid them money to host a site.

I do what I want!

I was in a choir earlier this year, and I’ll be joining it again for the fall season. I’ve been taking long movies of nothing lately; here’s one. Back in 2011, I wrote and gave talks about how much I love RailsBridge; in 2017, I’m an advisor to BridgeFoundry. I moved into a bigger bedroom in my apartment, mysteriously inspired by a nice catch-up call with Rebekah where we talked about nothing in particular. I bought a 2010-era Kindle because I like both books and honest-to-goodness physical buttons. Now it reads to me, thanks to text-to-speech.

I wrote this blog post in the style of a Matt Levine column.

Also, I borrowed this section title from Mica Swyers. Thanks, Mica.

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