RIP Larry Hunt

I visited San Francisco today to celebrate the life of street musician Larry Hunt, also known as the “Bucket Man.” I met Larry in the mid-90s when I was a student at Cal. In those days he frequented Sproul Plaza — with a real drum kit if the weather was good, and with a set of buckets when the weather was bad. I was in a pretty awful headspace on the regular back then, but sitting and listening to Larry play and sing always put a smile on my face, and upbeat music in my head. (I was especially fond of his wacky mashup of “Wipeout” and the Batman theme song.) That Larry had amazing talent was obvious to anyone who passed by, but if you got to know the man — and I am glad that I did — you discovered that he had limitless heart. That was what drove him, really: His heart’s chief desire was …

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Offramp Oasis

A short walk from my home in Oakland, in a grove of redwoods and eucalyptuses beside a freeway offramp, a volunteer artist has spent the last year creating an amazing space to sit amongst the trees and watch the world go by. I walked there today to get some snapshots of the ongoing project during the golden hour.

This space feels amazingly tranquil, despite the adjacent traffic. Not long after I got done taking pictures, a pickup truck pulled off the road, and the driver jumped out and started unloading rocks from the truck’s bed. It turned out to be the person who did all this. I got the clear impression they wish to remain anonymous, but it was wonderful to speak to them about their work and give them my thanks for creating this unexpected oasis in my part of the Town.

Announcing mastodon-homefeed-rss: your Mastodon home feed in your RSS reader

the Mastodon logo

tl;dr Want your Mastodon home feed in your RSS reader? I've cooked up just the thing.

I am enjoying Mastodon, the federated Twitter alternative, quite a bit. So far, my experience with it has been extremely pleasant, and reminiscent of the internet of the early 2000s, which was far more decentralized, and far more neighborly.

However! Speaking of the internet of the 2000s, I am one of those people who still misses Google Reader, and still uses an RSS reader. There are 154 feeds in my reader currently, including one for my Twitter home feed (provided by a third party), another for Facebook (ditto), and another for Instagram (ditto). Because this is the twenty first century, dammit, and I should not have to go gallivanting all around the goddam web to find out what's going on! This is why RSS readers got invented, and why they still rock. Anyone who tells you RSS is dead simply stopped using it (or never did).

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1980s Nostalgia Break: Fred Rated for Federated

Amid the ongoing Twitter meltdown, I’ve been enjoying Mastodon quite a bit. (I’m on Every time I see “Federated” over in its sidebar, I think of the bonkers commercials from the 1980s for electronics chain store The Federated Group, with the amazing Shadoe Stevens playing Dr. Fred Rated. These commercials transport me back to a time when a Quasar VHS VCR for $273.11 was an exciting deal. Here, enjoy a few minutes of pure eighties insanity…

Mad Props 2022 General Election Edition

Californians: Mad Props is your 100% independent guide to the statewide propositions on your November ballot. A labor of love since 2008 by yours truly, who is otherwise totally wasting his degree in Political Science. Please spread the link far and wide if you find it useful.

Scenes From a Summer That Was

On this last day of summer, I’m posting some photos that prove that I got out of the house (and even out of town) and did a little living while the days were long this year. Hope you did too!

The end of summer sneaks up on me and breaks my heart every year.

A Long Political Post on a Blog That Wasn’t Supposed to Have Political Posts Anymore

I have been a political junkie for as long as I can remember. My father was a professor of political science, so in my 1980s childhood home, the single television screen was tuned to at least 90 minutes of news each night, plus what few political programs there were in the era before multiple cable news outlets. I remember PBS's Washington Week in Review being a favorite on Friday nights -- along with the MTV Friday Night Video Fights and Night Flight. (Any Night Flight fans out there? Sometimes I think I am the only person who remembers it.)

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I’ve noticed a trend of people posting pics of their positive at-home COVID tests. It didn’t occur to me to do that when I tested positive earlier this week. And while I knew there is no good time to come down with COVID, I can now personally attest that coming down with it just a few days after abdominal surgery — when every single cough generates an entire ocean of pain — is a particularly unpleasant path.

Monterey Bay Getaway

Got out of town for three nights this past weekend, spent them down in Monterey County. Poked around Carmel, Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove, Monterey, and Seaside. Saw some of the most breathtakingly beautiful stretches of Golden State coastline I’ve ever seen. Discovered that “calamari steak and eggs” is a common item on brunch menus down there. Spent one glorious sunny afternoon learning to play bocce, courtesy of awesome friends we had not seen in years. All this and more, and yet, no pics of us doing any of this, because the few shots we took were of the gorgeous scenery. After all these years of carrying smartphones, my wife and I have yet to cultivate an impulse to pull one out and snap a pic when we are having fun.

If you ever hang out with me, and it looks like I am having fun, please take a picture!

photo of Asilomar State Beach

Asilomar State Beach

Finally Got This Place Set Up the Way I Like It

When I launched this site in early 2021, I knew that I would consider it “under construction” until I had implemented proper/modern photo galleries. I finally got that work done this past week, so the museyroom has finally reopened, with an exhibition of galleries from the old site. This site is now capable of sharing just about anything I might want to share online, so I’ve cleaned up the home page and taken the construction sign down. It feels great to finally have the whole place built out.

A Long, Strange Trip

screenshot of tracking details for a package that took too long to arrive

I ordered a used book. It was only a few miles away, in San Francisco, so I figured it would get here soon.

But no: It took more than a week, because first, the USPS sent my book to Las Vegas.

Then to Reno.

Then back to San Francisco, where the journey began. Then to Oakland—where I live! (Getting close, right?)

But then the book went back to San Francisco once more. And then back to Oakland again.

And then, finally, today, the book arrived.

It must be exhausted.

Thirteen years ago this evening, I met a fascinating woman named Makenna, and nothing has been the same since, in all the important and best ways.

Yours Truly on Django Chat

Last year, my colleague Mohammed Shamma tweeted about a project I'd completed using Django, Wagtail, and HTMX. One thing led to another, and now there's an episode of the Django Chat podcast out there in the world that features Mohammed and me as guests. We talk briefly about how we came to be web developers before moving on to how and why our team embraced this excellent trio of technologies, and how we use them to get our jobs done at UC Berkeley.

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Today’s rainy afternoon project: kicking Google Analytics to the curb, and replacing it with GoatCounter for privacy-friendly analytics on this site. The service is free for non-commercial use and its author says he wants to “de-Google-fi the internet a bit, and make pervasive tracking less common.” I am extremely impressed with his creation so far!

I Made This: Introducing Seevooplay

screenshot of Seevooplay in action

screenshot of Seevooplay in action (unthemed)

Today I'm officially introducing a bit of software I crafted earlier this year. Seevooplay is a web app for online invitations and RSVPs, geared toward self-hosters. Throwing a party? Don't give all your friends' email addresses to Evite. Don't expect your friends to be on Facebook. Embrace the indieweb, kick the corporate middleman to the curb, and let your copy of Seevooplay (running on your own website) send email invitations and collect responses for you! That's the pitch, anyway.

Seevooplay is written in Python on the Django framework. It can be easily integrated into any existing Django site or project, but can also run as a standalone app.

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