Enjoy the Silence

More videos by Kristof Luyckx. Watch them all.

Note To Self

Replacements for Google Reader


R.I.P. Google Reader. We had some good times together, since 2005, which seems like just yesterday, if yesterday was eight years ago. But all things must end.

While I’m not entirely sold that the “mailbox” paradigm — where every news item is displayed as an email-like “unread item” — is one I want to stick with for my daily news reading, it’s without question that Reader is such a big part of my daily hunter/gatherer news reading routine that I will want to explore alternatives.

I’m ruling out native apps like Flipboard and Pulse, because I don’t want news reading tied to one specific platform. So, with that constraint in mind, here’s a list of web-based RSS-reading alternatives, listed in order of promise:

As they say, if you have any other potential contenders, leave a suggestion in the comments.

Make-Your-Own TechCrunch Article

It’s happened again:



because after seeing a private presentation, we couldn’t be more certain that they have just dropped

all over the

of their competition with the upcoming announcement of their secret

service. Industry insiders familiar with the product suggest that none other than

personally oversaw the development and creation of the revolutionary new product, and is rumored to unveil the new product live on stage during the upcoming

conference. Reaction to the upcoming announcement from around the TechCrunch offices has been

with one TechCrunch staffer quoted as saying,

Fake Mayor Podcast

From The Vaults: When I first started working at MassLive.com in 2007, producer par excellence Kristen Beam was putting together a very cool weekly podcast interviewing some of the local Western Massachusetts mayors. In order to check audio recording levels and network connectivity in Skype, she would call me first, and I would pretend to be a local mayor. She would test out her questions on me and I would do my absolute best to break her concentration and make her laugh.

Recently an excerpt from one of these test calls was discovered — enjoy.

I’d Take Up To Three Bullets For You, Bro

Would I take a bullet for you? Hell yeah, I would. You know I would, man! You know I would.

I would definitely take a bullet for you. It would be like in the movies, we’d be walking down the street, it’s late at night, probably after having a typical awesome time together, and suddenly a shadowy assassin would leap out of the darkness. I see the glint of the hammer in the darkness and I don’t think, I react: “Nooooooooooo”.

BLAM! First bullet hits me square, caving in my chest cavity. That’s no big deal. I’m all like, it’s worth it, it’s totally worth it for my best bud. I immediately flash to the montage: I’m in the hospital, there’s ER confusion, a clatter of gurney and machines, beeping and yelling; but I get better, and slowly over time you help me walk again. Green Day’s “Time Of Your Life” plays in the background. Teddy bears, balloons, best wishes via tons of Facebook updates. Big thumbs up all around.

But then: BLAM! Second shot rings out, taking a grapefruit-sized chunk of meat out of my shoulder section. Still feeling like a hero, but this is where I get a little skeptical. I’m wondering: Who is this shadowy assassin? Is this his wife? Am I standing in the middle of a private, domestic dispute? You know that’s one of my pet peeves, I don’t like to get in the middle of that sort of thing. So while I would take the second bullet, no problem, you might see a shadow of doubt flicker across my face while the high-pressure blood fountain erupts out of my clavicle.

There’s a beat, a moment of complete silence.

BLAM! Third shot rings out. Proud to do it. When we tell people about this later on, this is going to be the greatest of great stories. This shot hits the side of my head and shears off some of my face and most of my ear. This is where I start to think, Yes, this is almost certainly his wife. Also, due to massive blood loss and severe brain damage, I start to think: Garry Shandling, Popeye’s chicken, underwater level in Super Mario Bros. My eyes go funny and I wonder if I have enough oxygen or if I should swim towards a bubble.

So, to step back, after the third bullet I take for you, I have to wonder: Who wants you dead so bad? What have you done to piss someone off this severely? You know I love you, man, but now I’m sort of questioning motivation, and I’m thinking back to Postal Service Song also, where did you even go? World of Warcraft is a decent game but Things are getting dark, Blood is actually blue until it hits the air and then it turns red, that’s why your veins are blue, Not so much a concern for me, as I spit a wad of something wet out on the sidewalk which is very close by and detailed and interesting and grin with red-rimmed teeth, and I’m smiling wide because I took three bullets for you, bro.

Weekly Punitive Confiscation

Recently, I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite books, Mark Leyner’s 1992 fiction “Et Tu, Babe“; about halfway through the book the protagonist (cunningly named “Mark Leyner”) runs afoul of the law and plea bargains to a deal that sentences him to “Weekly Punitive Confications”. From the book:

The punishment consisted of having one item confiscated each week. At 10 A.M. every Monday morning, the authorities would arrive in a large truck. They’d read the statement that courts required them to read prior to each punitive confiscation, they’d handcuff us, and they’d put us in the truck … We were then allowed to return to our home. We were never told which items was confiscated. Sometimes it was obvious: the piano, the living room sofa, the wall phone in the kitchen, etc. But often we wouldn’t know what was taken until we needed it and it wasn’t there.

I don’t know if Leyner intended it this way, but I have been thinking about this passage a lot, and I have started to view it as a metaphor for adulthood. As you grow older, things start to fail, and things suddenly disappear, and you have to deal with it. You have to carry on with your day, every day, moving forward even without the thing you unknowingly depended on.

What’s really amazing is how often one single absence creates a domino effect that creates a day full of absences, “for want of a nail” style. Some days, leaving your cell phone uncharged causes you to miss the call that causes you to be stuck in traffic which causes your car engine to overheat.

One could make the argument that this all could simply be a function of having too much stuff — certainly it’s hard to break what isn’t there. But as we grow up, we find some Administrative Lifestyle Detritus to be required; car insurance, bed frames, dental floss. So it stands to reason we tend to spend a lot of time trying to strike a balance between what is essential and what is inessential.

So that’s the plan: Find out what is essential. Everything else gets confiscated.

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