Monthly Archives: April 2009

My Twitter Rulebook

I’ve been using Twitter for a little over a year now. During that time, I’ve developed a few internal rules that help me use the system to my best advantage. These rules stem from three guiding principles:

  • Trust Your Friends
  • Time Is Precious
  • Ideas Need Exposure

In the following article I’ll discuss the guiding principles and then I’ll talk about the rules that help me stick to the principles.
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Nasal Allergies and the Neti Pot

I’ve had nasal allergies for most of my life. From first grade up through now, I’ve bounced back and forth through various types of medicine, a variety of symptoms, and unpredictable outcomes.

My most recent regimen of meds was Flonase, Zyrtec, and, added just before Esme was born, Astelin. Together, These three seemed to take care of my symptoms pretty well.

However, one day recently I was playing around with Google Health. I had imported my prescription records, and it popped up some notices for me that the three medicines I was taking were from the same family, and that it didn’t recommend taking more than two at a time.

I also started reading about some side effects of the medications, particularly Astelin, and began to think about some things I’d recently been feeling: lethargic, grumpy, unmotivated, gaining weight. I had written these off as post-baby situational stress and symptoms. However, I realized that they matched up pretty well with the symptoms that other people had been reporting.

At that point, I made the decision to go cold turkey on my allergy medicines. Within a day or two, I felt that I had more energy and was not as grumpy as I had been recently. But I was still feeling my allergy symptoms. So I started to look into an option I’d been thinking about for a while: the Neti Pot. My friend Amy Walton had recommended it several years ago, but in my pride I asserted that modern allergy medicines were the best way to go and that I wasn’t going to have anything to do with pouring salt water down my nose.

Well, I’ve been using a Neti Pot for almost two weeks now, and I have to apologize to Amy: you were right. This thing is amazing! After the very first time using it, my nose felt better, and my symptoms went away. I used it two or three times a day the first week, and since then I’ve cut back a bit. I actually haven’t used it since last Thursday, and I still feel fine!

The real test will come this summer, when my allergies have typically been in full bloom. I suspect that I’ll need to use the Neti Pot more often to get things cleared out. But I’d much rather do that than take drugs that have potentially undesirable side effects! And it costs less, too! The Neti Pot kit I got was only $10 and came with 30 packets of saline mixture. You can buy a 100-pack for under $15, which should last a couple months. Or you can make your own solution at home! In any case, it’s cheaper than the $55/month I had been paying for my allergy medicine, and thus far, it seems to work even better!

So to all of the nasal allergy sufferers who haven’t yet tried the Neti Pot… give it a go! I think you’ll be glad you did.

Earth Day, 2009

This Earth Day started out sunny and warm. With the threat of rain later in the day knew we should enjoy the weather while we could. Catherine, Esme and I went out to the store and purchased a flat of marigolds, three basil seedlings and a handful of other veggie and herb seed packets.

Before heading home we hit the playground for some climbing and the Danversport boat launch for a picnic lunch. So far the sun stayed with us.

Once home, and once Esme was sound asleep, Catherine and I set to work planting the flowers. Catherine did a lion’s share of the weeding, digging and planting. She also rounded up a large number of worms and transported them to the compost bin. I think I’ll call her the Worm Whisperer from now on!

The sun has since retreated behind clouds and it seems rain is imminent. Catherine was a bit upset that we couldn’t plant the seeds in the garden today, so we went in and planted them in some sixpack containers. Hopefully they’ll sprout soon and we can transplant them out into the garden.

Here’s some photos of our flower planting adventures!

Spring has Sprung

We took advantage of the warmer weather this weekend and spent some time in the great outdoors with friends!

Friday afternoon Catherine, Esme and I met up with our new friends Kirsten and Madeleine at Endicott Park. Amidst every other family with young kids C and M had a fun time swinging, digging in the sand and otherwise exploring the playground. Our plan was to have the Dads come over after work with dinner and we’d all have a picnic. Unfortunately, Peter got stuck at work a little late and missed the picnic part!

After dinner we walked to see the horses, and then to the barn with the chicken and sheep. By then Peter showed up and we spent some time tossing pebbles into the pond. It was a beautiful evening to be outdoors…even the mosquitoes thought so! As the sun set we walked back to the cars and headed home.
[more photos here]

Sunday was another bright, sunny day. We took a little jaunt up to Ipswich, picked up Bethany and headed over to Crane Beach for a stroll. It was breezy and chilly, but the sun shone bright and warm. Catherine was thrilled at the feeling of sand between her toes and she wore herself out running up and down the beach. It wasn’t a long visit, but it got me longing for warm summer days at the ocean!
[more photos here]

Reflections on “The Survey”

A List Apart recently published the findings of their 2008 Survey For People Who Make Websites.If you’re in the web design, development, or other similar fields, you might find it interesting to read to see just where you fit into the demographic spectrum of web developers.

Much of the survey didn’t surprise me: most respondents were white males from the United States. Most had personal websites. Most worked around 40 hours per week. But there were a few things that I thought were notable enough to share my observations:

  • I work for a company that’s larger than 78% of respondents’ companies (around 500 employees)
  • I’ve been in the field for longer than 75% of respondents (nine years).
  • I’ve been at my current job for longer than 95% of respondents (nine years).
  • I get more paid vacation than most (about five weeks).
  • I get about the same paid holidays as most (six days… I assumed most people got more).
  • My salary is better than the average (gentlemen do not divulge their actual salary figures).
  • Freelancers really don’t have great salaries (and I suspect that many of them are not sole providers for their family, something I’d like to see covered in a future iteration of the survey).
  • If you want a killer salary, be a creative director or UX expert.

So those are my thoughts. If you’re in the field, what did you find interesting about the survey?


On Wednesday, March 25, around 9:30pm, Rebecca, Esme and I were on our way back from Ikea. My parents were up visiting for the week, and that evening they were watching Catherine so that we could shop and browse in relative peace. We had a wagon-full of new dining room chairs and were just about to take the Route 128 part of the 128/95 split familiar to anyone who travels on the North Shore.

I had just pointed out a new revision to the Route 128 exit sign (a new yellow label that said “LEFT”) when we heard a horrifying, loud sound from the back of the car. It felt as though we were driving over an enormous rumble strip, and I found it very difficult to control the car. I tried to steer left and right to no avail. Suddenly, we seemed to break free, and it was at that moment our car began to spin.

The spin seemed to happen in slow motion, even though we were traveling at close to 60mph. We spun around so that I could see the headlights of cars that were rushing towards us. I swung my head around behind us to check on the most important thing: Esme. Her car seat was held securely in place, so I breathed a sigh of relief. In what I can only describe as a miracle, as we continued to spin into the left-most lane, not a single oncoming car got even close enough to hit us. I had time enough to pull off to the left side of the road. I am positive that it was by God’s grace and protection alone that we avoided any further damage.

I didn’t even see who or what had hit us, but Rebecca told me that it had been a tractor trailer.  We did a quick check in the car, and everyone was fine, with no injuries. Esme was just starting to wake up, I think only because the car had stopped.

At this point, we got out of the car to assess the damage. In the photo below, you can see how the semi’s hubcap slammed into us and opened up the body “like a can opener,” as Rebecca described it.

Damage from the crash

Damage from the crash

I don’t want to think of what might have happened if the impact had been a few feet further forward, on the wheel, or on the rear passenger door, which Esme was sleeping behind.

At this point, a friendly motorist stopped to help us out. She called the State Police and provided some comfort while we waited for them to arrive. After they arrived, the officer escorted us over to the right shoulder of the road to get our side of the story and information.

According to the officer, as the truck driver described it, he attempted to change lanes and “met with some resistance,” which of course was us. He gave us some paperwork, and did a quick check of the car to see if there was any damage that might impact our safety. He said that it looked to be mostly body damage, and after confirming that I didn’t notice any problems while driving across the highway, he sent us on our way.

In the weeks that have followed, I’ve worked with our insurance company (first time I’ve dealt with MetLife, and I’ll say that their customer service could use some help), the auto body shop (the excellent Auto Body Clinic in Beverly, MA, highly recommended from this and past experience), and the car rental company (we got a 2009 Nissan Altima Hybird from Enterprise, cool for the hybird, but not cool for the lack of trunk space), and we finally got our beloved Subaru Legacy Wagon back today. As we suspected, the driver of the truck was found at fault, and his insurance company covered the complete cost of the repairs and car rental.

Overall, the psychological and emotional terror of the accident was much worse than any physical damage. The damage to our car was not structural or mechanical – all body damage. And the impact and accident itself were both relatively minor, all things considered. We’re just glad that everything turned out okay.

See a few more photos of the crash site and damage.