Ben, 2017 (the nice part of scrolling through Lightroom is finding the ones to keep).

I told myself I needed to get into Lightroom and start culling last night. Tonight I managed to get 2018 in pretty good order, then turned myself to 2017 … the 18,000 picture year.

Wow. What a mess. Thousands and thousands of pictures. “Here’s this thing from this angle, with these settings … now here it is from this angle with these settings. What does ‘film simulation bracket’ mean? Oh! It means three versions of every shot! Why the hell did I take a picture of that thing anyhow? Why did I need three of it?”

And worse than the ones that were just bad pictures of weird shit were the ones where I can see what I saw, and see how I missed what I was after. Not thousands of those, but hundreds.

Over and over. Past me is sometimes inscrutable, frequently awful. There are series of photos of the same thing that just go on and on. Dozens. I’m seeing myself worrying at some idea, trying to untie some knot, and failing a lot.

Occasionally, through the noise, something emerges: I found it, or figured it out, and it worked. As I swiped through Lightroom, those rare ones that click made the iPad feel extra fragile until I could mark them as something to be kept, set aside in a safe folder. Then back to swiping through hundreds of the not so great, watching myself learn.

The U.S. is putting asylum seekers on planes to Guatemala — often without telling them where they’re going

It’s journalistic malpractice that the Orwellian turn of phrase “safe third country” isn’t put in quotation marks every time it’s repeated.

“Sanders Denies Telling Warren Women Can’t Win”

The primaries are a legit source of dread to me. Setting aside the truth content of this one story, it’s the template for many more to come, and it’s the kind of reporting our national media understands.

I’m really fond of the Kobo Forma’s large, rubbery physical buttons and didn’t realize how much I had come to dislike the Kindle Voyage’s haptic feedback.

The first few generations of Kindles had physical buttons, then there was a switch to using the screen to change pages. If the Kindle were a fast or responsive device, that might be fine–touch works fine on Kindle for iPad–but it’s not and it felt like a challenge to get it to register a touch reliably. I bought a Kindle Voyage because of the haptic feedback feature, which seemed to be the closest we were going to get to buttons.

Haptic feedback felt like a big improvement. Over time, though, I began to feel like I had to rest my thumb just so on the edge of the device. For whatever reason, my thumb always drifted toward the “back” region of the touch-sensitive area and I’d end up on the previous page.

Having real buttons back is nice. The Forma largely feels like it is a bit more responsive than any Kindle I’ve used. It also has a setting to only refresh the screen at chapter breaks, which does a lot to make page turns feel snappier while ensuring that the e-ink screen will occasionally get a power wash.

I’ve got a few other appliances and devices that have gone where the Voyage did, with flush, touch-like mechanical switches underneath a uniform surface: My dishwasher, an air purifier, a humidifier. None of them are great. Whatever the switch mechanisms are under the mildly flex plastic touch surfaces, they are dialed in to need a level of force I never quite get right: they register too much force as a double-tap, but won’t acknowledge the kind of grazing tap we’ve been conditioned to deliver with smartphone touch screens.

I think a generation of industrial designers got the memo that physical is out, touch is in, but are misapplying the principle with poor “touch-like” mechanical interfaces.

Pictures from the coast. (Mostly Oregon)

I replaced my Apple Watch. I’ve tried a few other times, once with an EcoDrive watch (not enough sunlight) and once with an automatic (I guess I don’t move around enough). This one takes batteries and sits on my wrist like a more rugged Timex Camper.

Another on-this-day thing: Meeting Randy Couture and Matt Lindland in 2007. That was just before Couture’s fight with Tim Sylvia was announced. Couture won two months later, ending the most tedious heavyweight reign of all time.

Goodness I was opinionated:

Sylvia doesn’t fight to win or reestablish his right to the title … he fights to not lose and to keep his belt, which he adores.

When he’s pressed on the issue, he insults fans who are bored with his caution by accusing them of being knuckleheads who just want to watch a slug match and claims the “real insiders” know what he’s up to. That is self-serving pap.

Couture was 44 or so at the time, too, which made the whole thing even more amazing. Five rounds against a 6’8” guy and he came up off the mat after the fifth round looking like he’d just taken a light jog.

maintain 5:30 a.m. waking time on a Sunday ✅
remember to use Libby and reserve ebooks I briefly considered buying ✅
fix Ben’s toilet ✅
fix Ben’s bathroom door ✅
put a motion detector in the bathroom where everyone leaves the lights on ✅
put the front porch lights on dusk/dawn sensor ✅
get rid of the terrible smart lock on the front door, replace with dumb keypad ✅
fiiiiinally replace that burned out oven hood light ✅

… and Al goes back to work tomorrow after seven months off.

The one thing I didn’t get figured out this weekend is getting a smart switch installed for the living room. We’ve got a three-switch panel, with one of the switches turning an outlet on and off (I’m guessing that’s for a lamp), but we don’t touch it because there’s a Hue switch next to it. I found a cool “build your own panel” kit that would let me mix and match faders and switches, and just put a blank in place for that needless switch, but they were missing the color I needed.

Next weekend.

Seventeen years ago today, I made a special RSS feed on dot unplanned for a friend who hated it when I blogged about Mac news. That was love.


Pictures of carnivals


The Hawthorne

Riot cops



A few days ago I came across this joyous, exuberant, mildly nebbishy in a “senior solos spring concert that never ended” sort of way cover of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.”

That led me to the real thing

… and that led me to this equally joyous, exuberant, 26-minute-long breakdown of why it’s such a great song.

I was in third grade when I first heard this song. The two coolest girls in class – Julie and Patty – did a dance routine for the school talent show. That night I went home and had a dream that I married Julie and carried her through a field of flowers.

Then the song just sorta became a thing that you know about, heard at a time in your life when you couldn’t really appreciate what’s going on in there, and then a thing played to death on FM stations, and then a banal cliché you can’t hear at all.

Sorta nice to serendipitously stumble into a set of things that show how much was going on in something I haven’t heard with fresh ears in 44 years.

“In a ritual to be repeated dozens of times, I would heave my armored torso into the driver’s seat of a Land Cruiser, chamber a round in my M4, lock the doors and wave a gloved goodbye to the Macedonian gate guard …”
— Pete Buttigieg, Shortest Way Home

Does he put his head, legs, arms, etc. in the Land Cruiser after the torso is in there and then drive away? Does he reassemble to do this? Or does the torso drive away and the rest just waits for it to come back?

that X-Pro3 clarity lag

Last night while I was walking to the Max stop I turned on the “clarity” setting on the X-Pro3 to see if the image save delay was that terrible. It’s not great—maybe 1-1.5 seconds—but if you were in a deliberate mood or out shooting on a hike or contemplative walkabout it wouldn’t be so bad. Still hope they fix it.


dot unplanned has been a going concern for almost twenty years. It started life as a Greymatter blog for a brief while, then moved on to MovableType, wandered briefly into OctoPress, then settled into a self-hosted WordPress blog for a bunch of years.

Last year I gave the blog a long read, going all the way back to the beginning, and I didn’t like a lot of what I saw. It didn’t feel representative of me: The earliest stuff was pretty coarse and angry, and some of the stuff in the middle felt misguided and potentially hurtful to people I’ve learned more about over the years.

I struggled with that for a little bit, then decided to just take most of it down and put back only some recent things I would stand by, plus a few posts of historic interest. The rest went into a personal diary app that pings me on the anniversary of each post (2,000 of them), where I can still have access to content that amounted to a public journal and where I can be reminded of where I used to be.

I decided at the time that my main creative outlet had become photography, so I built a hosted WordPress site with a heavy emphasis on photography. I didn’t end up using it much after the initial setup lift: Clunky, constant plugin updates, didn’t feel graceful.

So now I’m on for blog stuff and SmugMug for photo hosting. is pretty awesome. I looked at it a year ago and shied away. I still wanted a little complexity and I wanted a “substantial” platform, and thought I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed by WordPress. What I get with it, though, is a really simple way to share ideas and status without the heavy feeling of WordPress. There’s room for customization that’s not much to manage if you’re used to something like Jekyll. I was able to bring my personal domain over (with SmugMug, too) and add a few menu links to other bits of my web presence without a lot of hassle.

One thing I’ve noticed now that I’ve internalized that I have this as an outlet, is a willingness to write little things that are longer than tweets but smaller than stuff I would have reserved for WordPress. It’s a sort of megatwitter that isn’t as willfully esoteric as Mastodon feels and that leaves room for acting as the anchor for a web identity.

When I think back to that first Greymatter blog, wow. My laptop weighed eight pounds and got three hours of battery life. I don’t think I’d even given in to having a mobile phone at that point (but did have a Handspring Visor). I splurged for a 2 megapixel digital camera. The world I live in now, where just an iPhone and a mirrorless camera would allow me to maintain a ‘net presence, is so far away from that.

Last night went to figuring out how to get all my Kindle books into a format I could use on my new Kobo.

“Figuring out” isn’t quite right, because it sounds like I figured it out. It isn’t particularly hard, so what I was really doing was picking through a few Google results to find instructions that worked for someone on a Mac. The race between Amazon and book liberation hobbyists seems sort of slow-moving, so there was one false start because the author of the page forgot to mention that the process they were documenting didn’t work any longer until the very end of the guide. Judging from the number and quality of the ads plastered on that page, I attribute that organizational choice to simple dinginess of spirit on the part of the author. Anyhow … it was a quick process.

The Kobo links to Dropbox, by the way, so there’s a cable-free way to move things onto it.

So, I liberated a bunch of books and moved them onto the Kobo and was pretty happy with the results: The cover images came over, everything looked fine, I was reminded of books I bought but didn’t read, and I was happy to actually have my books back instead of simply knowing I could probably have my books back.

Then this morning the Libby app notified me an ebook I put on hold at the library was available, and then there it was on the Kobo.

It was sort of interesting to pause and think about how good it was to take a few weeks off of work. I was sick for the first part of it, but it was an amazing feeling to wake up feeling better after fretting I’d spend the entire break sick and realizing I had nine more days ahead of me. I haven’t taken that much time off in over ten years.

The time went to a few hobbies that have been languishing, so the feeling of having my e-reading situation sorted added to a general glow I’ve been experiencing of finally having things squared away in such a way that my time away from work can be spent enjoying the hobby instead of organizing the hobby.


I’d been putting off Joker until it was rentable, so that was last night’s viewing.

I dunno.

I had a few moments where I enjoyed it as a piece of motion picture craft. Like, literally “for the medium of pictures that move I admire the composition of this shot or the motion of the camera in this scene or the shades and tones of the whole thing.”

I think much younger me, ca. my early 20s would have liked it much more because I would have read its unrelenting, dismal, grim, seedy, grinding spiral of squalor as authentic. Last night I read it as monotonous.

A few other things about it:

  • I agree with a sentiment I saw go by on Twitter that Joker as a character is best without an origin story. The Joker that walks into the frame in The Dark Knight is enough, and the running “how did your face get like that” bit underscores the point. It reminded me of a paper I wrote a while back about the nature of villainy in spy movies: Spy novels of the ‘50s and ‘60s are ideologically motivated; the corresponding movies are usually recast as struggles of a precarious global order against chaos and non-state actors.

  • Joaquin Phoenix was generally good. There were only a few moments where I felt like I was being grabbed by the face and pointed at ACTING, and those were more directorial choices.

  • I can’t connect this Joker with any Joker that comes after. If someone felt like doing a Gotham ComicCinematic Universe that played this thread out, I guess I’d be curious about how they’d get us from this Joker to the Joker we know. I don’t understand how this Joker would survive long enough to become that Joker. I’d still wait for them to come out as rentals.

  • I deleted a paragraph about the gender politics of the movie, because I think the script blinked on Thomas Wayne and arranged the scales in such a way that Penny Fleck is Arthur’s bigger problem. As I sit here typing, I think it’s probably wrong to try to turn this into a just-so story about Todd Phillips’ misogyny; I also think it’s wrong to let him off the hook for how he chose to arrange the pieces.


Tonight’s walk to the Max