Election 2016

Election 2016 – Things I’m grateful for:

Here’s a TLDR list. The longer version can be found below.

  • Peaceful, professional transition of power
  • The voting process was easy and the ballots were balanced
  • Excellent open data provided quickly by a portfolio of media sources:

Fox News | CNN | Google | New York Times

  • Referendum to decriminalize Marijuana in my home state passed! Less people in prison, less government involvement in an individuals choices (which don’t effect others) and the state government is likely to see a tax revenue injection that will surprise us all
  • Lessons Learned

Peaceful, Professional Transition of Power

non-peaceful transition of power
While living in Chile, I witnessed violent elections. It’s not preferable.

I’ve been in foreign countries and seen ugly elections. One time specifically, I was advised to stay home and not leave the house for the day. It was a violent day where people were hurt, bombs were thrown and arrests were made.

President Obama invited President-elect Trump to the White House. They will work together on details and soon enough, President Obama will have his life back. He can continue to lead afterwards in harmony with the new national leadership.

I would have preferred to see Hillary Clinton win. At the same time, I recognize that the majority of US citizens feel passionately that what she represents, is not the best for the country. That’s how we play the game. The representational democracy picked him and I believe in that process more than anything else.

 

‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

– Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

 

Easy Voting Process with Quality Ballots

Voting was easy. Registering took a few minutes online. At the University of Nevada, there wasn’t even a line to stand in when I voted early.

nevada voter experience

The Nevada Sample Ballot

The sample ballot that arrived was a quick 15 minute read and told the story of the addendum opportunities and the candidates. It did so from both perspectives and had research based arguments. If it was longer, it would have been burdensome to read. If it were shorter, I feel it would have been to incomplete to give a full picture of the questions.

Excellent Open Data and Election Coverage

I watched the election on Fox News, CNN, Google, Twitter and more. Though some were better than others, they all told a very similar story.

Hat tip to CNN. They had the best design and technology on their side.

The New York Times was the first to give Mr. Trump a 95% + likelihood of winning from what I saw.

Overall, there was a lot of excellence happening all over the media. We in the United States enjoy excellent election coverage.

Decriminalizing Marijuana in Nevada

So proud of the referendum outcome for question #2 in Nevada. I prefer beer, but knowing that the pot smokers will soon be free of the fear of imprisonment is PHENOMENAL!

What happened to Colorado may happen to Nevada! What does this mean for the state?

Image #1

Colorado Road Mortality since Marijuana legalization
Data pulled on Road Mortalities in Colorado. I separated it via the red line from when Marijuana was decriminalized in 2012.
Source: https://www.codot.gov/library/traffic/safety-crash-data/fatal-crash-data-city-county/fatalities-by-person-type/view

 

Image #2

incarceration rates and the effect of Marijuana decriminalization
So crime dropped steadily, while incarceration rates PLUMMETED. All this while population grew! 😀
Source: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dcj-ors/ors-crimestats

 

marijuana penalties that will go away

Lessons Learned

I didn’t think Trump had any chance of winning and I didn’t want him to. This goes to show that I didn’t have any idea what was going on. My perception last night was that we were sitting down to watch her take the election, but I got it 100% wrong.

Some very smart people had it right.

This election taught me that I need to listen better and try to find the lower level clues as to what is actually going on in the world.

Your thoughts?

I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for this election. Please let me know in the comment section below.

Before the Flood – Thoughts

Before the Flood!

This is a heroic achievement in the craft of storytelling. Even if you’re a climate skeptic and you’re confident in that position, I recommend watching this movie. It’s a beautiful piece of art containing stunning videography, fascinating scientific insights and a look at the global community.

Merchants of Doubt

I’m currently reading Merchants of Doubt. Elon Musk recommended it during his long conversation at the Baron’s investment. This book tells the story of the scientists who fought the scientific community when they concluded that cigarette smoking was bad for your health.

Apparently, this same group of thinkers are selling doubt around climate change. The term, “Merchants of Doubt” was found during the investigation of a cigarette company. The cigarette executive used that term to define how they fought back against the scientific community.

So, if you want to go deeper into this subject, listen to this book on audio.

If you’re a climate denier, PLEASE READ MERCHANTS OF DOUBT. I’ll read any book you suggest and we can share notes. I’m always open to changing my mind on things. Please, it needs to be a book or some other referenced document that is based around scientific inquiry.

Some Strange Pieces of Information

The film is called Before the Flood, but the story of the film uses The Garden of Earthly Delights as it’s visual metaphor.

While doing some research, I mistakenly became nervous after I googled “Before the Flood.” As you can see, Before the Flood is a different painting than the painting which is a center piece for the movie’s story.

The Garden of Earthly Delights

The Garden of Earthly Delights Hieronymus Bosch

The World Before the Flood

William Etty's The World Before the Flood

Respectably, Not a Great Title

Why they named the film Before the Flood rather than The Garden of Earthly Delights is beyond me. Before the flood signifies inevitable disaster. This is a negative emotion. Wouldn’t we better call this movie The Garden of Earthly Delights? It focuses the attention on the abundant future we will continue to work towards.

Politics is the art of the possible.

I think proponents of an environmentally sound future should express excitement, optimism, and abundance thinking to invite more into this global mission.

Kevin Kelly

If you’d like to fall in love with science, watch this movie about why Kevin Kelly loves science.

Kevin Kelly is confident that the earth is NOT doomed. I believe that we can win the climate conversation when we focus on optimism and abundance that Kevin talks about.

Taking Action

 

WHAT YOU BUY | WHAT YOU EAT | HOW YOU GET YOUR POWER

It’s easy to start. The best thing we can all do is to stop eating beef and pork. Chicken is delicious anyway!

Brined in Buttermilk, and dredged in two coatings of seasoned flour.
Brined in Buttermilk, and dredged in two coatings of seasoned flour.

Going Deeper

So at the end of the film, the following URL comes up:

www.carbotax.org

When you go to the above URL you take a quick 30 question survey that helps us get a sense of the carbon impact of our day to day lives.

The website then suggests an amount that you can pay to offset your greenhouse gas emissions.  But is it ok to trust them with funding? How could I feel safe in knowing the money will be well spent?

Can we Trust Our Payment?

First off, the money goes to The Forest and Sea Fund which appears to be a pass-through organization for Natural Capital Partners and the Sustainable Markets Foundation (guidestar). Jay Halfon seems to play a critical roll in the finances of the organization. They use REDD funds as a way to implement carbon credits. REDD is a smart model developed in partnership with the United Nations to fund carbon emission reductions.

There are some harsh, well referenced critical thoughts for the Sustainable Markets Foundation, but the arguments have a political tone rather than a scientific tone. Most of his arguments were unconvincing to me.

So I’m going to say it’s trustworthy enough for me to make a substantial donation to feel that I’m doing my part (and my podcast production company’s part) to become carbon neutral.

I hope you join me in doing that.

Unfortunately, I’m a big part of this problem. Click below to get your score.

Offsetting the carbon

At the end of the day, I think Before the Flood was a great film and the world is better to have it here. Thank you, Leonardo, for the great work. Also, please go visit our friends in Australia. They are experts on the Great Barrier Reef.

carbo-tax-badge

Zion National Park

Zion National Park in Utah is my favorite of the national parks in the USA. This is a bold statement when we consider Yosemite, Yellowstone, Badlands and hundreds more. The contrasting look Zion has is the most astounding in my experience.

If you’re planning a trip to Zion, check out the video below. I tried to make it interesting for those planning their trip.

Zion National Park Camping

Finding official camping in Zion National Park is expensive and there is a very low inventory with a lot of demand. Making a reservation through the Federal Government’s reservation website is also a painfully slow process.

Zion National Park Camping

It drops queries all the time and I couldn’t find a single opening this year. Also, I think it’s kind of a bad deal to spend $30 to go camping. The good news is that this doesn’t matter.

It’s 100% legal to camp on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The government calls it dispersed camping and you can learn about the specifics of the regulation here. The area around Zion in Utah is full of BLM land.

Camping Near Zion National Park
The Yellow Overlay Signifies BLM land, which you can camp on for free.

BLM Land SignsWhen you’re getting close to the park. You can pull off the main road and drive down a road with less traffic. From that road, you can pull off to a dirt road. Many of these dirt roads have signs like the one pictured to the right. If you find these, you’re in good shape and can camp there legally.

We did our backcountry camping about 15 minutes outside of Zion for free. It was quiet, we heard coyotes and owls and in the morning we drove into the park and were able to go to the Narrows and Angel’s Landing.

That makes for a really good trip.

Zion National Park Images

Angels Landing Hike - Zion National Park Tossing a stick in the narrows - Zion National Park Springdale just outside Zion National Park From Angels Landing Zion National Park Zion National Park Virgin River - Zion National Park On the way to Angels Landing in Zion National Park

 

Zion National Park Hikes

I’ve only done two hikes at Zion National Park, but they were both two of the best hikes of my life. Here’s my breakdown of both.

Narrows

To do the Narrows you need to go to the last stop on the shuttle. To get to Narrows you take the Riverwalk, which is a lovely walk alongside the river. Narrows is a river hike so be prepared as you will get your feet wet. You can rent shoes at the park which are specifically for trekking through water, get your own sneakers wet, or do what we did and go barefoot! It’s beautiful and it’s alot of fun. We hiked deep into the canyon, just beyond the first fork in the river.

If you watch the video above, we mention the specifics here.

Angel’s Landing

When hiking to Angel’s Landing you’ll experience a very fast change in elevation. The reports say it’s a 1,488-foot (454 m) climb. It’s a very well trodden path so there is little to no chance of getting lost or going the wrong way. Even though there are some REALLY scary spots because of how tall the cliffs are, there are no places where you need to be an expert climber.

There are chains on the last .5 miles, along all the portions that are more dangerous, but I don’t think I ever actually needed them. You can easily walk the whole thing without using the chains.

That said, it is scary, especially if you’re afraid of heights. V was a bit freaked out up at the top of the landing, being that we were standing on a ginormous rock nearly 1,500 feet high and overlooking the entire valley.

Zion National Park Shuttle

The shuttle is actually really great. There is an audio recording telling the history of the park so you get to learn while riding. The shuttles run so frequently that you never wait more than 10 minutes to get on one. It’s an excellent system and it takes away all the hard parts of driving your own car around and parking. Honestly, I would take the shuttle over driving from place to place. The shuttles are actually the only mode of transport to get to each trail during high season, so this makes things really easy.

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 - Maya

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 is a lot of fun. It’s honestly one of my favorite festivals in the world now, topped only by Burning Man.

Sonkran is a celebration of the Thai New Year. It happens in April and we went in 2016. You can learn from the organizers at the Songkran website.

During the 3 days, Chiang Mai becomes a city that is experiencing the most intense water fighting on earth. You will not be able to walk down the streets without getting very wet. Plan accordingly.

Water Fights and Songkran

Why water fights? This is a holy day right?

The traditional thing to do is to go to temples and pour water on holy statues. My guess is that a little water pouring turned into someone splashing someone a little bit for fun. That evolved into a full on water fight over the past 100 years. Inexpensive plastics and water gun entrepreneurs have created a situation that can only be explained as unbridled war.

I’m being over dramatic. The event is a blast and you don’t actually feel anything other than glee during the whole thing. It’s not really a fight. It’s just a lot of fun.

Golden Guns

Water guns are available everywhere during the festival. Most look like toys. You can purchase gold spray paint and make your guns look like they are made of blocks of gold. This will get you a lot more attention, which might not actually be good. I’m confident we became targets more often because of our golden guns. If you think it’s fun to get attacked in a water fight, then the gold guns are helpful.

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 - Family Water Fight

Party Plans

We didn’t plan anything specific for Songkran Chiang Mai 2016. All we did was get geared up and walk down the street.

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 - Girls

If you need a plan, here’s a good one:

  • Start at Maya – There is a big cool party happening out front of the mall. It’s fun.
  • Walk down main road headed towards the Old City – There are lots of cool parties happening here. The walk is crazy, but you’ll enjoy it.
  • Old City – This place is great. Feel free to wander around. If you need specific spots, you can check the map, but I suggest wandering

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 - Walking Map

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 – Be Careful

Make sure to drink lots of water and stop to eat in a restaurant where people aren’t throwing water at you. There are a lot of people drinking so make sure you’re being defensive with where you’re walking.

Also, don’t drink too much. You’ll find beer for sale everywhere and lots of people just give beer to you as you’re walking around. So don’t go crazy. Remember you’ve got to be smart. This is a very free place. The only person who can ensure your safety is you.

Chiang Mai Songkran 2016 - Skill Barber

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Similan Islands Scuba Diving

Similan Islands SCUBA Diving is some of the best in the world. We’ve done a lot of diving in the Great Barrier Reef and in the Carribbean. The GBR is still the best in my book, but the Similian Islands is a close second.

In this video, we go for a 3 day live-aboard dive trip with Wicked Diving: http://wickeddiving.com/

Wicked Diving is a great organization. The purpose of this video is to show the style of the way they do live aboard trips. As part of the trip, we spend a bit of time cleaning up a beach in the national park. That’s great. Also they do a great job of drawing maps of the dive plans and telling the story of the sea life we will see while on the dive.
For more information about diving the Similan Islands, check out wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Similan_Islands

Be sure to subscribe to our channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/irobinson1984

Want another SCUBA diving video set in Thailand? Check out this video where we went diving off the coast of Koh Lanta =

Music By Hurley Mower. It’s a song called Gem =
https://soundcloud.com/nedmowermusic/gems

Touring the Family I’ve never met in Connecticut

Visiting Hoskins Cottage

In July of 2015 Veronica and I traveled around Connecticut to visit the family that I never knew.

My grandfather was from Connecticut, but he moved to the west coast when my mother was a young child. My entire immediate family is almost exclusively living on the west coast, either in Nevada or California. So it was very strange to be in a place that feels so foreign and talking to family. It was strange, but really great. Definitely worth the trip from New York City.

Worth it

I’m really happy that we took a few days to make this journey. We met my cousin Jason in Redding. He took us for a walk near one of the lakes near his house.

Visiting Family in Connecticut

Family

Learning more about family is a really powerful experience. The video you see above is designed to be fun to watch, but it doesn’t capture the real value of this trip.

To be honest, I don’t know if I could even make a video that expresses that feeling. Honestly, it’s probably best that I travel to meet family more often. That’s the only way I can think of to really get it.

The Hoskins Family Tree

Testing Club W – Bringing Digital Preference Tools to the Wine Game?

TLDR – updated November 1st, 2016

Overall the delivery needs to be signed for, they send a lot of emails and texts and they rope you unwillingly into monthly subscriptions. They then force you to call in to cancel your order. You can ‘pause’ online, but you have to call in to cancel. Quite the inconvenient service. For me, it makes more sense to buy wine from the supermarket.

The long story –

While listening to the Joe Rogan podcast, I heard him talking about the innovative way that ClubW suggests wines.

Try to get wine delivered by ClubW (if you end up buying, you’ll get some sort of discount).

How it Works

Club W is offering a digital algorithm process for selecting the wine that is suited to be best for you. They make decisions based on your self reported food preferences. It’s a quick 5 question survey.

They ask things like:

  • How do you like your coffee?
  • How much do you like to salt food?
  • How much do you like citrus flavors?
  • How much do you like earthy flavors like mushrooms?
  • Do you like eating berries?
  • How adventurous are you with other food.

Club W will then suggest a collection of wines based on your responses.

My Order

My wine life as of today has been that I’m almost 100% indifferent as to what sort of fancy label or magic that is behind the brand. I perceive wine as a very fascinating marketing game where people make crazy pricing decisions based on an unfathomable array of different lifestyle beliefs, media influences and other factors.

I think about Jay-Z selling millions of bottles of sweet champagne at >$200 a bottle, while I personally can’t differentiate “two-buck-chuck” ($2 Charles Schaw red wine) from the expensive red wines.

  • 2014 Alma Libre® Red Blend
  • 2014 Alchymist Noir™ Red Blend
  • 2014 La Muleta® Garnacha
  • 2014 Nouvelle Ère Bordeaux Blend

clubw-wines-technical-review

Club W is to wine what Pandora is to music?

Pandora is amazing. You enter one song that you love and they feed you a limitless collection of music that mimics that song. With a quick thumbs up or thumbs down, you can start to craft the music that is sent to you. It’s magic.

Could this be done for wine?

Well… maybe Club W is working on that. They aren’t going for this angle in their marketing… I just ordered… so time will tell.

These bottles all cost a little more than what I can get regularly good wines for. So for this to be good enough for me to suggest to people, the wine will have to be significantly better than the less-expensive red wine I can grab at Trader Joe’s for a few dollars.

Update October 3rd, 2016

From Alice at (Club W)

Hi Ian,

Happy Sunday 🙂

I received your message via sms. I apologize that you missed your package and since the delivery contains wines, Law states a person aged 21+ must sign to receive it.

It will be reattempt delivered to you on Tue 10/04/2016 by end of day.

Another option is, you can hold it in a FedEx location for pick up. The nearest FedEx location based on your shipping address…

 

Cheers,

Alice
Club W Concierge
www.clubw.com

This is a bit of a bummer. Because I’m never around the place, the signing for packages is a big pain for me. I guess it’s the law though so I can’t hold it against Club W…. but now I’m going to have to go pick it up at the post office which is already more of a hassle than just buying it at a local grocery store. I’ll keep you updated as progress develops.

can grab at Trader Joe’s for a few dollars.

Update November 1st, 2016

Not cool. Apparently they roped me into a monthly service that I never asked for. So I woke up yesterday morning to learn that I had additional bottles being delivered.

So I’m short another $50 for wine I don’t especially want. That isn’t a big deal, the bigger problem is that I can expect about 20 emails and texts from Winc as they fail to deliver wine because I’m not waiting at home for it to be delivered.

Those things are a minor inconvenience, but they top off the insult by forcing me to call in to cancel my account. I have to sit on hold for 5 minutes before I get on the phone with a person who informs me that they can’t turn the order around.

Overall the delivery needs to be signed for, they send a lot of emails and texts and they rope you unwillingly into monthly subscriptions. For me, it makes more sense to buy wine from the supermarket.

Bootcamp Prep – The Videos I Wish I Had When I Started

Coding Bootcamp Prep Course
The view from the App Academy building… awash in code.

It’s challenging to prepare for the technical interview application process at immersive coding
bootcamps like App Academy and Hack Reactor.

I’m trying to make it easier… here’s a collection of videos that I think make it easier.

Creation Story

For most of 2016, I was working hard to learn the needed coding skills to pass the technical interviews. My goal was to get accepted to the top programming bootcamps in San Francisco.

In July of 2016, I applied to MakerSquare, Hack Reactor and App Academy.

I was accepted into Hack Reactor and App Academy, both of which are considered very challenging schools to get into.

After a lot of deliberation I chose to be a part of the November, 2016 cohort at App Academy.

At the time of writing this, I have 2 months until the start of the cohort so I want to spend the time teaching others how I think about the technical challenges and provide material to speed the skill acquisition of future aspiring programmers.

Tools

There are a lot of tools to get hung up on. If you follow along with the video course, you can skip that.

In this course we will use Node and a simple text editor. Both are easy installs.

Programmers are crazy about their tools and that is a good thing. We’re learning the basics so we don’t need the fancy stuff. Fancy tools will actually hurt you during your coding interview because they become a crutch.
During many interviews, you won’t be able to run your code or write in an editor that gives you hints on syntax. We’re doing this spartan style so you have the core ability to pass the technical interview no matter what tools they ask you to program in.

Language

We will be using JavaScript. Here’s why:

JavaScript is used to build almost all websites these days.

Even if you’re going to a school that focuses on Ruby or Python, you will still find yourself using JavaScript (or it’s derivatives) to display the results of your code on a website.

For that reason, it makes sense to learn JavaScript first. The syntax is more challenging (IMHO) and therefore it is better to start there. Once you get good at JavaScript, Ruby and Python are easy to pick up. I transitioned from Ruby to JavaScript and I think it would have been easier to go the other way.

When I started, I learned Ruby. After transitioning to JavaScript, I wish I had started there and moved to Ruby later.

I hope you find this useful.

You can download the course material as I create it via this GitHub repository.