Improved Roads

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When we “improve” a road, what exactly are we improving? My map of Death Valley shows four kinds of roads: paved, improved, unimproved and primitive. As I bounce and rattle over the washboard of the unimproved road past the salt marshes of Saline Valley, I wonder what an “improved” road would do to this place. […]

The Last-Straw Ratchet

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Camel pulling overloaded cart

When companies create bad conditions for good employees, they fall into a last-straw ratchet. What is a last-straw ratchet? Let’s say your caravan is made up of sick, weak camels. If you add straws until you finally break a camel’s back, you can replace the sick, weak camel with a vigorous, strong camel. You ratchet […]

Farmers and Miners

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Farmers When you walk the fields and woods of Vermont, where I grew up, you often encounter long stone walls. These walls were built stone by stone by farmers clearing their fields. The effort put into these walls, three feet high and hundreds of feet long, is staggering. By one estimate, there is enough stone […]

The Hotel on Pluto

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I am seeking investors for a hotel on the planet Pluto. The hotel will be called the Ahwahnee. Lodging will be free, but there is a catch. You’ll have to sign petitions saying that you will believe until your dying day that: Pluto is a planet. The fancy hotel in Yosemite is called the Ahwahnee. […]

Google Chrome Prints Blank Pages from Google Sheets

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You have worked and worked on a spreadsheet or document in Google Sheets or Google Docs (and probably every other GSuite component). You’re finally ready to print and you hit Print, then Next and… BLANK! This is incredibly aggravating and judging from the articles around the web has dozens of causes. None of the solutions […]

The Forgetoir

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Picture of abandoned railway station in the desert

As we edge toward the third decade of the 21st century, I have decided that it is time to forge ahead with a new literary genre — the forgetoir. Unlike a memoir, which records the great events we remember from our lives, the forgetoir records the things we have forgotten. Or pretend we have forgotten. […]

The Complete List of Things You Must Do Everyday in 2018

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It’s the New Year! The plague of our age is lists of 10 Things You Must Do Daily For Your Health and 7 Things You Must Do Every Morning to Boost Your Productivity. These are things like “drink eight glasses of water” (myth), “make a To Do list for the day” (perhaps). I have grown […]

Bug Zappers and Thoreau

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Enjoying the stale air and torturous chairs of modern air travel is only slightly compensated by the sociological joys of studying the in-flight magazine. My first observation as I skip the vacuous article about three perfect days in some predictable destination is that there are a lot of ads focused on men’s hair. At the […]

Changing WordPress Permalinks from Date-Based to Postname Only

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Are you tired of having dates in WordPress permalinks? I’ve been working on two sites lately where events tend to come back around every year. But if the URL has a date in it, that’s confusing to the visitor and will hurt click-through in Google. In both cases, we wanted to switch to a simple […]

Multi-Dimensional and Associative Arrays in Shopify Liquid

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I know. You’re here because you’re sure you’re missing something. You can’t figure out how to create multi-dimensional and associative arrays in Shopify. Sadly, you’re not missing something. In fact, while you can access multi-dimensional arrays just fine, you can’t assign values to them. Similarly you can access objects with named members that have values […]