All articles, tagged with “et cetera”

dear lazyweb: pimp me on your iphone headphones

I am, apparently, a slow learner.  Three-plus years of replacing the Apple-supplied earbuds in my ears every ten paces when they fall out is quite enough, I think.  So, my omniscient readers, pimp me your headphones.  Here are my meagre qualifications:

  1. Must be relatively small and lightweight.  I’m not necessarily married to the earbud form-factor, but this will be for walking around in, and I already look ridiculous enough on my own without adding a set of enormous cans to the ensemble.  So Grado SR-60s are probably out.
  2. Must be comfortable, duh.
  3. Must stay put.  If they fall off any time I walk faster than a saunter, they’re no improvement on the status quo.  But that said…
  4. …no in-ear earbuds.  I already have (and love) a set of Etymotics, but anything that blocks out that much external sound is, IMHO, simply not safe for urban maneuvering.  If a car is coming up behind me quickly, I need to have a fighting chance of hearing it.
  5. Must function as a full iPhone headset: minimally there needs to be a mic and an answer/hangup button.  Volume control would be nice, but isn’t essential.
  6. I don’t pretend to be an audiophile, and we’re talking about listening to mp3s here, but given those caveats it’d still be nice if they sounded good.  Decent but not overwhelming bass response would be helpful given my taste in music.

Needless to say, I would also like a pony.  Lay it on me.

grading on the curve

[Pre-explanation: my erstwhile employers subscribe to an employee evaluation system of “OKRs”, AKA “Objectives and Key Results”.  Shorn of management-consultant babble this means that at the start of every quarter you write down what your goals are, and then at the end of the quarter you grade yourself on a scale of 0 to 1 of how many of those goals you fully completed.]

OKR Grading for Paternity Leave:

- Survive solo-parenting trip to east coast: 0.8

Timing a with-baby-sans-mom trip to NYC and Philadelphia during the middle of the worst July heatwave in recorded history may not have been the smartest bit of planning I’ve ever done in my life, but nobody died of heat prostration, and after one thoroughly miserable night of sweaty non-sleeping, a rough circadian equilibrium was re-established.  As a side-note, if I’d known that having a child was what it took to finally get my mother to buy an air conditioner, I’d’ve tried much harder to get my teenage girlfriends knocked up.

- Introduce solid foods: 0.7

The “stretch goals” of cheerios and bread crusts are blocked waiting on the delivery of molars.  Pureed fruits and veg are completely go, however.  Pureed meats being evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The output side of the I/O algorithm is increasingly polluted, but this may be an inevitable side-effect of processing more diverse inputs.

- Crawling: 0.5

The subject is clearly* capable* of crawling, but her ability to remember and apply the skill is still strangely situational.  Some obvious bugs: she will back herself into a corner or wedge herself under the chaise, and not understand that she is capable of crawling forward to escape.  She will, on the other hand, crawl quickly and reliably toward the cat who is most likely to swat her when she approaches, which possibly bodes poorly for her dating habits in 15+ years.

- Baby-proof apartment: 0.5

Established a gated “enrichment center” in the living room (delivery of Weighted Companion Cube still pending), which the subject will occasionally tolerate being placed into without direct supervision.  Successfully swapped out the CD shelf for one with locking doors, so the music collection is secured.  Still waiting on delivery of the door-enabled stereo stand, but a wall of couch pillows is sufficing as a stopgap measure to keep the subject from chewing on the electrical cords.

- Retain ability to communicate with adults: 0.3

Hopefully the urge to initiate greetings by checking my corworkers’ diapers will fade after a few days.


Way, way, way too many people to thank individually for all the well-wishes. So thank you one and all.

at last it can be told

cue the exploding heads:

Lorem Ipsum Hambro(/Mehl)

two ‘X’ chromosomes, if you care about such things
Arriving late November / Early December 2009
you have five months to reach minimum safe distance

may none of us ever need this advice

File under, “What they didn’t teach you in high school civics class:”

bay to breakers 2009

First ever actual race.

Longest distance ever run. (8.03 miles)

Best personal mile time ever. (7:38)

Average pace 8:46 per mile.

…and then I walked another ~3 miles through Golden Gate park and around the Sunset.

Pretty sure I could do this in under an hour next year.

Thanks to , who made an excellent running partner.


(Why did my gps count it as 8 miles when 12km = 7.45mi? Not 100% sure, but I’m guessing the amount of side-to-side weaving I had to do to get around the people in costume had a lot to do with it.)

sic transit

My first ever job was at the age of 13, delivering newspapers for the Ann Arbor News. From this experience, I learned the joys of honest work, self-reliance, blowing my paycheck on comic books and candy, getting shaken down for spare change by my customers’ high-school-aged sons, getting threatened with a thorough ass-kicking by the fathers of those sons when I questioned their family’s entrepreneurial spirit, how to spot the early warning signs of frostbite while pushing a shopping cart full of Sunday editions through 3-foot-high snowdrifts, and the joys of waking hallucinations while attempting to deliver papers in minus-20 fahrenheit weather while running a plus-104 fahrenheit fever from my first ever case of strep throat.

All in all, a classic, Norman Rockwell-style slice of Americana.

But it appears that despite the best efforts of the Ann Arbor News to kill me off before I even lost my virginity, I have in fact not only survived, but outlived them: the “Snooze” will publish its last edition this July.

Despite our adversarial relationship during my adolescence, and despite the fact that the Snooze’s demise will be a very small footnote in the long and sad stories of the decline and fall of both the newspaper business and the state of Michigan, it’s still a tragedy: their old building downtown was a block-long monolith that buzzed with activity when I walked past it on a daily basis in high school. Hundreds of people, hundreds of jobs, now vanished like so many others from what I still think of as my “home town.” In a generation, nobody will remember they were even there.

awwww yeah

My new year’s present to myself: a completely empty inbox, for the first time since… since… since…

…god, I have no idea. Ever?

We’ll see how long this can last.

Next stop: the work inbox.

today’s lesson from accumulated experience


Any sufficiently arbitrary universe is, from the perspective of the individual organism, indistinguishable from an implacably hostile one.

in passing

As everyone and their cat has mentioned, requiscat in pace the Notorious Bettie Page. From all accounts, she spent the end and majority of her life as a devout Christian, at best strongly ambivalent about her continued adulation by the likes of me and mine, but now being beyond all cares, she is unlikely to mind our well-wishes.

On the same day, one of the oddest people I have ever worked for, Doctor Bernard Ackerman, has apparently passed. He was a giant in his field and utterly unknown out of it, which seemed to suit him just fine.

I was his office secretary during the summer of 1992 in Philadelphia. I had just been fired (for, as far as I could tell, being too faggoty) from a terrible tech-support job in the same hospital, was limping along in the final dregs of a doomed relationship, and in general was at a personal-lowest ebb. Bernie and his office manager/assistant Florence hired me on the spot after a brief interview, and proceeded to make the next several months into a complete joy. Of the uncountable temp jobs I worked at in my late adolescence and early adulthood, it was without any question the best.

Dr. Ackerman was a natural-born American monster in the best possible sense: subsisting on 4 hours of sleep a day, mostly caught on his sofa in-between slide-viewing sessions with a never-ending procession of awed students, he seemed to effortlessly juggle the demands of teaching, running several journals, giving dozens of talks, publishing article after article, and operating what was essentially the court of final appeal for melanoma diagnoses for the entire eastern seaboard. He could be an insanely difficult person to work with, but largely for the simple reason that he expected other people to perform the nearly impossible task of keeping up with him, and it was always a moment of sublime personal validation when he seemed to approve of my work ethic. To this day I still think back to him on days when I’m feeling overwhelmed by my workload, and often re-consider my angst.

Several years later, a newly arrived immigrant to the strange country of Boston, MA, I answered an ad in the Boston Phoenix to acquire some used furniture from a BU med student who was leaving to start his residency elsewhere. We chatted briefly and I found out that he was doing a dermatology residence: I mentioned that I’d worked for some guy named Bernie Ackerman back in Philly.

“Some guy?!” he sputtered, completely losing his composure. “You worked for Bernie Ackerman?! The man’s a fucking legend.”

Bernie, I think, would have been quite pleased.