Cameron in retrograde

I’ve never considered myself a luddite, but in the past couple years I’ve re-evaluated my use of personal electronic devices and have made choices based around the notion of “satisficing.” For some, the devices I use might seem downright regressive, but they satisfy my level of need / want without feeling like I’m either depriving or indulging myself.

The Phone

Kyocera Verve

My “AI” (average intelligence) phone, the Kyocera Verve.

The most significant switch I made in this age of the smartphone was going to a feature phone, or as I like to call it “a phone of average intelligence.” When I bought a tablet a few years ago (the now discontinued Google Nexus 7), I was using my smartphone less frequently. When I did use it to go on the Internet, I found it increasingly frustrating compared to the speed and size of the tablet. So rather than try to find a faster and bigger phone, I opted for a device that can just make calls and send text messages, things I do infrequently, but have a need for like anyone else. I also switched my carrier to Ting, a non-contract carrier that charges you based on what you use. I’m a pretty low volume caller and texter, so my phone bill has worked out to around $16 a month for the last year (I’d be paying at least double this to keep a smartphone).

The only time I’ve found a need for mobile data is when we travel. My wife has a smartphone, so that usually covers the bases. If I were to spring for mobile data, I’d probably get a mobile hotspot over a phone, which would allow me to use my tablet on-the-go. I haven’t reached a tipping point for that yet, since I don’t travel by myself very often, but I’d probably get something like the Karma, another pay-for-what-you-use mobile service provider.

The Watch

Timex Ironman

Great for timing contractions and seeing what time baby woke up for a feeding.

About a year ago I also started wearing a wrist watch again. The main reason I dug out my Timex Ironman was because we were getting ready to have a baby and I wanted something easy to look at to time contractions. Having a watch also turned out handy for life with a newborn and the habit just (re)stuck after that. However, this doesn’t mean I see any use for a smartwatch, especially since I don’t have a companion phone for one. I do think it’s interesting that at one point cell phones effectively did away with wearing something on your wrist, and now it’s come back, after a fashion.

The Internet

The final piece of personal satisficing I want to share concerns my home Internet service, which I get through Comcast. At one point I had a phone and Internet bundle, but did away with the phone part and kept the Internet (which I now understand is very hard to do unless you get really aggressive with the Comcast customer service rep). Not only that, I downgraded the Internet speed to the “Performance Starter” 6 mbps download / 1 mbps upload speed.

For the most part this is more than enough for our uses – the only time the speed is noticeably slow is when I’m uploading photos to Flickr, but I can easily walk away and come back to it when it’s finished. Streaming content from YouTube and the like is also plenty functional. I know I’m not getting the best deal for the performance, but the alternative is having a decent – but short-term price – and then having to get on the phone and renegotiate my rates after that term has ended. Suffice it to say, I HATE doing that sort of thing and not having to deal with customer (lack of) service on a regular basis is worth much more to me in terms of quality of life and sanity.

Not satisficed?

If you want to learn more about satisficing, a good place to start is Barry Schwartz’s “The Paradox of Choice.” The book is on my list of favorites (though admittedly the first chapter is kind of tedious as he lists all the choices we have about jeans, laundry detergent, etc.).

Also, check out this TED Talk:


Just B-Cosplayin’

Another San Diego Comic Con has come and gone. I wasn’t able to make it this year, but it’s been interesting living vicariously through the wealth of photos on Flickr. The best part is always the costume players (or cosplayers). The subculture being what it is, the women usually get the most attention, but this year seemed to have an unusually good showing from the men. Here are a few of the standouts:

The Joker: This guy’s wardrobe and makeup are great, but it’s the expression that sells it.


The Prometheus Engineer: Not many people (especially the nerds of Comic Con) can pull off this look. I’m thinking this guy was hired, but regardless, he’s pretty awesome.

Prometheus Engineer

Galactus: Impressive fabricating skills.


Red Skull: Amazing mask detail and color.

Red Skull

And the winner for most layers of genre, Female Steampunk Joker Duela Dent:

Comic-Con 2012


Thoughts on turning 40 (minus one)

Based on the adage, “You’re only as young as you feel.” I would say I’m hovering around 28.

I’ve gotten past the awkward, post-college period of trying to figure myself (and my small section of the world) out, but not been around enough to think I’ve seen it all.

I suppose the latter will be true regardless of how old I get, and I’d like to think that as the years go by I will continue to have an open mind and heart to the things around me.

When the young complain about the old, it’s usually because they are resistant to change on various levels. One of my hopes as I move into that “older” category is that I never will be accused of being “set in my ways.”

If I do, I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of young people around to let me know what I’m doing wrong.


New theme

I’ve been looking to try a new theme to freshen things up a bit, but had some difficulty finding something I liked as well as Lightword. I finally settled on Arclite, but not without some tweaks. Frankly, there are a few things about the design that had me scratching my head. The worst is the look of the submenus, but my distaste for it kind of forced me to be a little cleaner in how I organized my Photography page.

Here are the CSS overrides I wound up implementing:

#main-content {padding: 0 1em 1em 1em;}

a:hover {color: #0071BB; text-decoration: underline;}

.widget_tag_cloud a:hover {background: none repeat scroll 0 0; color: #369;}

h3 {font-family: “Union”, “Lucida Grande”, “Lucida Sans Unicode”, Arial, Helvetica, Sans, FreeSans, Jamrul, Garuda, Kalimati;
text-shadow: none;}

.post p.post-date,.post p.post-author {display:none;}

#pagetitle h1.logo {font-variant: normal; letter-spacing: -.1;}

.block-content {width: 960px; max-width: 960px;}

.box {
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
background: none;
-webkit-border-radius: 5px;
-moz-border-radius: 5px;
-o-border-radius: 5px;
border-radius: 5px;

.box .titlewrap {background: none; padding-left: 0px;}
.box .titlewrap h4 {background: none; color: #333; border-bottom: 1px solid #333;}
.box .wrapleft {background: none;}
.box .wrapright {background: none;}
.box .bl {background: none;}
.box .tl {background: none;}
.box .br {background: none;}
.box .tr {background: none;}

ul#nav li a:hover {color: #CCC;}

h3.post-title, h2.post-title {font-size: 250%; font-weight: normal; text-shadow: gray 1px 1px 1px;}
h3.post-title a:hover, h2.post-title a:hover {color: #333;}

.post-content img, .attachment img, .navigation .alignleft img, .navigation .alignright img {margin: 4px 10px 4px 0;}


30 Day Song Challenge

My song selections for the Facebook meme:

Day 01 – Your favorite song – INVISIBLE INK (Aimee Mann)
Day 02 – Your least favorite song – GIVE ME ONE REASON (Tracy Chapman)
Day 03 – A song that makes you happy – CLONIE (Nellie McKay)
Day 04 – A song that makes you sad – FULL OF GRACE (Sarah McLachlan)
Day 05 – A song that reminds you of someone – I HUNG MY HEAD (Sting)
Day 06 – A song that reminds you of somewhere WEST POINT (Jonatha Brooke)
Day 07 – A song that reminds you of a certain event FALLING SLOWLY (Glen and Marketa)
Day 08 – A song that you know all the words to THE OTHER END OF THE TELESCOPE (‘Til Tuesday)
Day 09 – A song that you can dance to AIN’T NO WAY (Aretha Franklin)
Day 10 – A song that makes you fall asleep OVER THE RAINBOW (The Innocence Mission)
Day 11 – A song from your favorite band MOUTHFUL OF DIAMONDS (Phantogram)
Day 12 – A song from a band you hate I GOTTA FEELING (Black Eyed Peas)
Day 13 – A song that is a guilty pleasure THAT’S THE WAY IT IS (Celine Dion)
Day 14 – A song that no one would expect you to love MAD (Ne-Yo)
Day 15 – A song that describes you HAND IN MY POCKET (Alanis Morrisette)
Day 16 – A song that you used to love but now hate KISS ME (Sixpence)
Day 17 – A song that you hear often on the radio ROCKET MAN (Elton John)
Day 18 – A song that you wish you heard on the radio DANCING ON MY OWN (Robyn)
Day 19 – A song from your favorite album RED VINES – BACHELOR NO. 2 (Aimee Mann)
Day 20 – A song that you listen to when you’re angry GIMME SOME TRUTH (Sam Phillips)
Day 21 – A song you listen to when you’re happy YOU MAKE MY DREAMS (Hall and Oates)
Day 22 – A song you listen to when you’re sad GUESS I’M DOING FINE (Beck)
Day 23 – A song you want to play at your wedding – NEVER FINISH (Leigh Nash)
Day 24 – A song you want to play at your funeral – FIELDS OF GOLD (Sting)
Day 25 – A song that makes you laugh A COMPLICATED SONG (“Weird” Al Yankovic)
Day 26 – A song you can play on an instrument TWINKLE TWINKLE
Day 27 – A song you wish you could play VIVALDI LA STRAVAGANZA
Day 28 – A song that makes you feel guilty HELLO IN THERE (John Prine)
Day 29 – A song from your childhood THE LONELY GOATHERD (from the Sound of Music)
Day 30 – Your favorite song at this time last year TURN IT OFF (Phantogram)


Phantogram on Fallon!

UPDATE: The Late Night video expired, so I replaced it with Phantogram’s video for “When I’m Small.”

One of the reasons I was digging out Phantogram pics was because of their TV debut last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon! Usually first time live TV performances are a bit laced with nerves, but they didn’t show it. Unless Sarah Barthel’s endearing head shimmy is a nervous tick.


The shaving razor’s cold and it stings …sometimes

Merkur Razor

The Merkur double-edged razor.

In what seems to be my lifelong pursuit of a close but comfortable shave, I gave the retro stylings of a double-edged razor a try after many years of compromising with an electric. While no doubt an impressively designed and machined grooming tool, the mass produced and commercial Mach 3 razor ultimately gives me as good a shave. The Merkur can of course do more damage if I’m not careful, and I admit there is a certain enjoyment in that risk, or perhaps in the successful avoidance of major bloodletting. But for my regular grooming routine I think the Mach 3 meets all the requirements. For the novelty and enjoyment of the shaving experience I’ll use the Merkur, but I suspect those occasions will be few and far between, not unlike my feasting on filet mignon and 50-year old Scotch.