Slower traffic keep right

If there’s one thing that quite irritates me on the road, it’s people not keeping right (or left in the UK) when they’re not overtaking.

In the vast majority of states, it is the law to keep right unless you are overtaking and this is far from the norm on the roadways as many of you are probably already aware.

It makes the roads so much slower than they need to be. By keeping slower traffic right and faster traffic left, traffic moves much smoother and causes less road rage in people being held up by those not obeying the law.

Ken Robinson: My idol and his views on education

Ken Robinson is an absolute genius. I remember seeing his first TED talk on a podcast back in about 2006, and it really resonated with me. It became an instant hit and I’ve watched it many times since.

Ken has spent decades looking at education systems worldwide and advising governments on how their education systems are failing so many children, typically in the arts.

I challenge you to watch these videos and not be inspired by his wisdom, humour and challenges. It has made me want to explore my creative side and to set the stage for my unborn daughter to be able to explore her creativity and be what she wishes to be as she grows up.

The balance between oversharing and pulling back from sharing publicly

I’ve been posting a lot less here in the last few years. When I look back at when I was posting here the most between 2014 & 2016, I was posting about all sorts of stuff with some regularity.

These days, I’m a busier guy for sure. That’s definitely playing a part. However, I’ve also been hesitant to post about some things which I definitely wasn’t shy to post about 5 years ago. It’s not that I have less to say because God only knows there’s been so much to talk about in just this year alone. There’s a lot on my mind and maybe I’ll get back into the habit of posting again because I find the writing cathartic.

Building a wood storage rack above my garage door

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve taken up a new hobby/skill in woodworking. Now I’ve found myself collecting some common lumber ready for if I suddenly want to undertake a project, as well as off-cuts from previous projects. Trouble is, I don’t have much room to store it, not to mention that lumber can be hard to store neatly.

That’s where my new wood storage rack comes in.

I’ve been meaning to make more use of the ceiling in my garage for storing some larger, less-commonly-used items. I decided that lumber fits into this category perfectly. So, I did a bit of research to get some inspiration for how to help build some storage that I could use to keep my lumber at bay and I found surprisingly little information about people using the garage ceilings for this use.

Create direct link to chat in Microsoft Teams without going through browser

Lately, for my engineering projects, I’ve been creating “project dashboards” in OneNote for colleagues to find all of the key information, contacts and documents for the project.

I wanted to be able to link the names of key people directly to a chat window in Microsoft Teams to that you can just start chatting with them immediately.

I found a few guides online which recommend a URL scheme utilising https://teams.microsoft.com. I tested it out and it does indeed work, but it does so by opening a browser window first. Not only does this add to the delay, but it means opening extraneous tabs which need to be closed again. Since I’m all about efficiency, I wanted to find a way around that.

Sleep is your superpower

We’ve long heard that not getting enough sleep is not good for you, but you might be hard-pressed to say why. You might be able to conjure up something about not performing very well cognitively the following day, but the reality is far more grave.

It is not a stretch to say that sleep is central to everything regarding our long-term health. After listening to a recent TED talk by Matt Walker, a sleep scientist, it became very apparent just how much we’re jeopardising our health by missing out on sleep.

My “Oh, Joy Begin” tattoo

A couple of years ago, I got a tattoo in tribute to my daughter. Ever since then, I’ve been thinking and planning for the equivalent for my son, who is a couple of years younger than she is.

My wife discovered a tattoo artist in Bend, OR (Kailah Bartolome at Black Opal Tattoo), whom she instantly fell in love with. After looking at her work, I too came to love her work and her style.

My wife also introduced me to a song which, as soon as I heard it, knew was a perfect for Jack. The song is Samuari Cop by Dave Matthews Band and it talks about the joy that his child being born brought into his world and the importance of appreciating the younger years with your children.

What Trump can teach us about Constitutional Law

I feel it is my civic duty to share with you my absolute favourite new podcast: What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law, or Trump Con Law for short.

Before you see the word Trump and instantly start forming opinions for yourself about what this podcast is, let me inform you. The beauty of this podcast is that it gives a really deep dive into constitutional law with a lot of case law, assuming that you have next to no knowledge of the Constitution, and the topics are prompted by the things that Trump says or does; that is, it takes current affairs, and looks at how the Constitution applies to them and provides the case law that establishes the precedents.

One of the main values of bringing Trump into the equation is not too rally behind him, or rail against him, but rather to give us context for these constitutional principles and how they apply to our lives.

Becoming an American citizen

I live and die by my to-do list. Anything that needs doing needs to be in there or it won’t get done. So, when I got my permanent green card 12 years ago, I set up a reminder for earlier this year that I would need to renew it.

After taking a look at the situation, I was presented with a choice: renew my green card for 10 years for $540, or become an American citizen and pay $725 one time.

Previously, I’d never given it much thought. I had zero desire to become an American citizen and very much wanted to retain my British citizenship. But after actually thinking about it and asking myself the question, I decided there were definitely some benefits to becoming an American citizen:

Why I returned my Nest in favour of an Ecobee

I got a Nest thermostat about 18 months ago. I wanted to take advantage of its smart home capabilities and to use that to help reduce our electricity usage (both for its cost benefits and for the good it does the environment).

Nest seemed like a great choice. With all of the great rebates that were on offer to us in the Portland area, we paid very little for it, and we were excited about how we could customise our thermostat to do whatever we wanted.

Except, we couldn’t.

The logistics of a cross-country move in USA

It’s coming up on nearly three years now since our family moved from Florida to Portland, OR. I wish I had written this post a little sooner, but alas, we’ve been out exploring and enjoying our new home!

While this post is mostly about the logistics of a cross-country move, I have a separate post going over the route we took and the places that we saw.

Our move was very much a DIY move. We didn’t have any packers, no trucking company, no nothing. We did everything ourselves, and we learned a few things along the way, which I’d like to share with you to help you avoid some of the inconveniences and pitfalls that we hit.

Getting ready to move

Once you know you’re moving, some planning and organising can really help you out and help you to save some money.

We needed to have a good sense of how much this whole thing was going to cost, so we started looking at costs early on. In doing so, some of the bigger expenses were targets for finding savings. The most obvious of these in our case was the moving truck.

How to get trip data from Automatic into Google Maps

I’ve had Automatic for a few years now and it’s quietly been collecting a wealth of information about my driving habits. Usually, I’ve never had too much reason to want to use it in great detail, but after my cross-country road trip, moving from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR, I really wanted to recall my route and use it to illustrate my travels.

I didn’t know until I started digging into it just how hard that is to do. Automatic stores the paths (routes) that you take as an encoded polyline, which makes sense for them, as it reduces the size of this information considerably, however it makes the data really hard to utilise and manipulate.

Here’s an example of what an encoded polyline looks like:

{[email protected][email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]

Any idea what to do with that? Yeah. Nor did I. But after some perseverance (because I really wanted to use that data from my 4,100-mile trip!), I figured out a solution.