A map of my writing organized by topic

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Flower arrangement by Maggie Friend. Photo by the author.

Moments @ Home


Design

A Wayback Machine tour of what was and will never be again

A blond woman in a red upholstered theater seat holds her hand to her mouth in astonishment while holding a bucket of popcorn and a soft drink.
A blond woman in a red upholstered theater seat holds her hand to her mouth in astonishment while holding a bucket of popcorn and a soft drink.
Photo by Алекке Блажин from Pexels

1993 IMDb has grown from a USENET group about actresses with beautiful eyes to where a presence on the foundling web under the name Cardiff Internet Movie Database seems necessary to expand access. Three years later, IMDb was incorporated in the UK as Internet Movie Database Ltd. but was still pretty much solely the work of Col Needham. The site in those days was coded in PERL, a point of pride for myself as PERL was my second language after English.

1998The company is sold to Amazon for $55 million and here starts our story.

I was feeling like each…


The Medieval Project Manager

The life and death of right-sizing your defenses

Two knights in plate armor and some chainmail battle in close quarters with broadswords.
Two knights in plate armor and some chainmail battle in close quarters with broadswords.
Plate and mail armor. Photo courtesy of Dziurek via Adobe Stock

Armor for hand-to-hand combat dates back to the Greek Mycenaean Era in 1400 B.C. where bronze smiths created helmets, armor, and shields. 4th century Japan used tankō and keikō, iron plates tied with leather thongs, worn by footmen and horsemen. Most western cultures tend to think of the European suits of armor from the 13th to 15th centuries, a brief slice of time when metal smithing focused on elaborate plate armor and heavy swords before shifting to making cannons and muskets, turning personal armor into the stuff of legend.

The Middle Ages had a wide variety of armor based on…


Food

The Women’s Home Companion Cookbook

A mother and son stand at a kitchen counter stirring batter together.
A mother and son stand at a kitchen counter stirring batter together.
Photo by Vanessa Loring from Pexels

My earliest memories are in the kitchen and many are of cooking with my mother. Licking the bowl was probably my first form of participation in the art of cooking and, at the drop of a cookie, my mother will tell you how I asked her not to use the rubber spatula “because it eats too much”.

Cooking was my first science class where I learned about the interaction of ingredients, the effect of heat, measuring solids, liquids, and granules, and how to follow the instructions of a recipe. …


Open Letters

Go outside and play!

Image of ant colony model from shaners becker from seattle, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Sugar Ants,

We had an agreement about the kitchen and indoor spaces in general if you will remember. But of course, you don’t. You’re a hardworking bunch but your documentation and institutional knowledge are for shit. It may have to do with your short lifespans so I will go over this again.

You are not allowed indoors. Period. I’m keeping it simple here as there seems to be a deep misunderstanding based on the “finders keepers” rule of colonialism. You don’t want to be colonists, do you? Oh, that’s right, you are the O.G. Colony.

In that case, I…


Business

The Incredible Rebound of Slinky Maker Betty James

The vintage Slinky box with a partially blurred Slinky fanned out in the foreground.
The vintage Slinky box with a partially blurred Slinky fanned out in the foreground.
Image by MattHrusc from Pixabay

If you have kids or have been a kid, you eventually have a dead Slinky on your hands. The causes of death are many but the most common one is getting stepped on in the dark. Once the wires are bent from their original spiral there is no returning it to its original perfection. At best, a zombie Slinky will limp down a step or two before keeling over.

The principles of the Slinky were discovered accidentally by an engineer working with springs to steady shipboard equipment. He and his wife, Betty James, made 400 of the toys to sell…


A new feature for new opportunities

A woman sits cross legged on the floor of a library with a Mac laptop surrounded by technical books.
A woman sits cross legged on the floor of a library with a Mac laptop surrounded by technical books.
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

I was updating my profile page today and noticed a new feature on the tab bar — Lists (New).


Urban Living

A look at the intersection of walkability and affordability

A waiter in a brown apron writes down the order of two men seated at a table with cups of coffee.
A waiter in a brown apron writes down the order of two men seated at a table with cups of coffee.
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

While recently sitting at a café in Sausalito enjoying the bay breeze on a warm afternoon, it occurred to me the busboy clearing the next table must have had a long commute. The houses that nestle into the hillside with views of San Francisco and the East Bay are well out of my league as are the sailboats in the harbor. The nearest community with any affordable housing would be San Rafael and as for low-income housing, I doubt I could find a place within an hour of where I was sipping an iced latte.

Pre-Covid, my commute was 15…


Current Events

Highlights of Lowlifes by USA Today

A man dressed in black breaks a window on the USS Capitol. Below him are several men dressed for cold and/or combat.
A man dressed in black breaks a window on the USS Capitol. Below him are several men dressed for cold and/or combat.
Photo courtesy of ruperto miller via Flickr. Public Domain.

I never thought I would be touting the journalism of USA Today. The newspaper got its start as the only national newspaper and was most renowned for having street boxes that looked like TVs and being the free courtesy paper dropped at hotel doors.

Like Teen Vogue it appears that hard times require hard reporting and journalists have stepped up in unlikely places. If you are looking for details on the Jan 6 rioters I can recommend this USA Today piece by Dinah Pulver, Rachel Axon, Josh Salman, Katie Wedell, and Erin Mansfield. …

Paul Coogan

Project Manager, Artist, and Data Visualization/Activist Geek

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