The Daily Thought
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    Courtesy Non-Flush

    In the realm of public-restroom etiquette, everyone has heard of the "courtesy flush". This week, I decided to institute a "courtesy non-flush". I was using the urinal and heard a co-worker on a phone call in the stall behind me. Rather than risk embarrassing him and/or the person on the other end of his call, I refrained from flushing, and ran the water in the sink quietly on my way out of the bathroom.

    So, you're welcome, mystery co-worker.


    Hardware Update

    I have a dream that someday, I'll be able to choose "Hardware Update..." and get all the cool features of the new hardware, just like I can with software. One click, and my machine morphs itself into the latest and greatest. I don't think that's too much to ask.

    Hardware Update Menu


    Cocktail Party Friends

    Think about your real friends. People you'd hang out with when you're in almost any mood. People you'd vacation with. People you'd love to work with if given the chance.

    Now think about a contrasting group. I call them "cocktail party friends". They are the kind of people you meet that would be great to hang out with at a cocktail party, but you don't want to interact with them any deeper than that. They are great for 10 minutes at a time, interesting, funny, smart, quirky, and make for stories or information you can take away from the conversation.

    Have you ever had a disconnect, where someone you know thought of you as a real friend, but you thought of them as a cocktail friend? And let's not forget the more unsettling thought, do any of your "real friends" see you that way?


    How The Daily Thought Works

    So the question I get the most often about this blog is, "How do you manage to post consistently every day in the wee hours of the morning?" The answer to that requires a bit more context for how I run The Daily Thought. (cue the "man behind the curtain" music...)

    Here's what it looks like for a post to get from my head to your RSS reader. (Warning, this gets a bit geeky.)

    1. I write a post in TextMate, my favorite editor for the Mac. I use the built-in blogging bundle. That provides all sorts of nice macros for writing using the Markdown syntax, and for publishing posts.

    2. When I'm done with the post, I'll preview it in TextMate, and then publish it via XMLRPC to, which is a private site that I developed using Ruby on Rails, hosted on Heroku. In order to get it to accept published posts from the TextMate blogging bundle, I implemented it to masquerade as an XMLRPC blog endpoint, using a custom library I wrote for the purpose, xmlrpc-endpoint.

    3. A post enters my admin tool in draft mode. At that point, I go in, preview it with the final formatting, add tags, and mark it as "ready". I can see all the posts I have in the queue at any given time, and I can drag-and-drop reorder them to help control what flows out to you when. I typically have 1 - 10 posts ready to go. I don't write them months or even weeks in advance, but I do get nervous when I'm sitting right around zero posts in the queue, don't want to miss a day!

    4. Every night, a program behind-the-scenes runs, it looks for the next post that's ready to go, and it publishes that post via XMLRPC to The Daily Thought. It then sends me an email if there are less than 5 items remaining in the queue to remind me to write more blog posts.

    5. The Daily Thought itself is a blog hosted on Squarespace with a slightly modified stock template. The RSS feed is delivered using Google's FeedbBurner.

    So there you have it. End-to-end, a picture of TDT.


    Retiree Time

    Clearly, perception of the "speed of time" changes throughout ones life. I wonder if this is more due to one's age, or the amount of activity, responsibility, and day-to-day business of one's life?

    For example, when someone retires, do they sense that time continues to speed up, because each passing minute is a smaller percentage of their life than the minute before? Or does time slow down because suddenly they have more unstructured time and less daily responsibility?


    Immigration Game Shows

    Here's a thought I just resurfaced from about 10 years ago, when the hybrid of Reality TV and Game Shows was really hot.

    I've long thought we should solve the U.S. battles over immigration policy by crowd-sourcing the problem to the American people via mass-media game shows.

    We could do a simple show, Big Brother "Wikipedia Entry: Big Brother") style. Put 16 immigrants into a house for 8 weeks, let them compete in games of skill and chance, and ultimately win the hearts of the American people. America will vote out those who aren't going to make good neighbors, and the rest get Green Cards at the well-publicized finale.

    Other variations could include "Who wants to marry an American?", "Who wants to be an American?", and "Jose Millionaire". Or you could do Double Dare style physical challenges, like wading races across a river, or swimming to shore from a sea-bound raft.

    Such an approach would put the power back in the hands of Americans to elect our fellow citizens, what could be more democratic?

    Some of you may be thinking, "that's awful, you are humiliating immigrants, degrading them", to which I reply...

    1. These are the same kinds of game shows that fame-seeking Americans go crazy to star in
    2. Is it really less degrading than getting hunted down by the INS, arrested in front of your whole community, and deported? Or worse, shot at the border by maverick unofficial border guards?

    I think giving folks from around the world a shot at legitimate permanent resident status they so desire, and the rare opportunity to leverage the fleeting love of a TV-addicted American public into a true American dream of fame and fortune, it'd actually be a pretty good deal! I promise you'd have great contestants and an American public lining up for it.



    I'd rather be talked badly about behind my back than not talked about at all. I'm less afraid of being disliked than I am of being irrelevant.


    Golf Club

    It says something about a person whether, when they hear "golf club", they first think of

    • golf club : a metal or wooden head on a slender flexible shaft, an implement in the game of golf

    or rather

    • golf club : exclusive private club with closed membership, with exclusive privileges and facilities, including golf, tennis, swimming, and polo

    Secret Steps

    One the great elegances of modern cryptography is that you can have all of the steps full documented and open up front, and still not compromise security. Open-source security protocols like SSL (used in your browser ever time you visit an "https" site like your bank) are well-understood, but still not breakable.

    I like plans in the real world that don't require any secret steps, too. There's power in being able to announce "here's what I'm going to do, whether you like it or not" and still not put the plans at risk.


    "Life" Insurance

    We get fire insurance to protect against fire. We get flood insurance to protect against flood. We get life insurance to protect against...wait a minute!

    Shouldn't it be called "death insurance"? You aren't insuring against living forever. You are insuring against death. You could buy it from the venerable MetDeath