A Bit of Scary Weather

Tornado warnings? Take shelter now? Oh my!

So last night a line of severe thunderstorms rolled through our area – which is nothing unusual – but then both my wife and I looked down at our phones and saw something that nobody wants to see: a tornado warning urging us to seek shelter immediately.

Emergency Alert: Tornado Warning, Take shelter now
Well, shit.

Now, tornados are not a normal occurrence here in New Jersey – they do happen, but it’s rare. Still, this was my first time seeing an actual tornado warning as opposed to a watch – and checking the details showed that this alert was based on radar-indicated rotation, not an actual sighting. Still, we decided that it would probably be best to take shelter anyway – just in case. (I was born in the midwest and lived my first 7 years there, so I have a healthy respect for tornado warnings.)

So we quickly grabbed our pet carrier and shoved two very confused & grouchy bunnies into it (they were in the middle of their dinner) and headed down into our basement.

I wasn’t terribly worried – tornadoes in this part of the country tend not to last very long due to the terrain, so the odds were in our favor in that regard. Plus, even if there was a tornado, it might not have touched down, and it probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as powerful as the ones you get in more open areas. Still, with the heavy rain soaking the ground and strong winds, there is always the possibility of a tree coming down on the house. We trim and maintain our trees pretty well for this reason, but you never know.

So that’s how we found ourselves sitting in the basement with the bunnies for about a half hour while we waited out the storm. Our house was built on a 2-3 inch concrete slab on top of steel I-beams, so the basement is a very safe place.

Bunnies in their pet carrier
The buns did not appreciate having their dinner interrupted.

In the end, the worst of the storm ended up passing just to the north of us, so we didn’t get much more than some very heavy rain.

So, that was our sort-of close call with severe weather – our first real bad scary weather incident in our house. Thankfully nothing really came from it (at least for us; others in parts of the state were not so lucky).

The buns got back to their dinner and everything returned to normal.

A Mini-Rant on Presidents

A mini rant on what “the President” actually means, since so many people seem to have forgotten.

No one “serves” the President – you only “serve” monarchs or dictators.

The presidency is an office, not a person, and “loyalty” (if any) is only due to that office, not to a specific person.

The President is not the highest power in the land – the people are. All government authority in this country derives from the people. (“We the people…”)

The President is not even the highest authority in government – he is explicitly answerable to Congress (through the process of impeachment), and no amount of crying “executive privilege” is going to change this fact.

The President isn’t really meant to be a leader, he’s meant to be an administrator – his duty is to faithfully execute the laws that Congress passes with the money Congress grants. In this way, the President kind of serves Congress (which itself serves the people) – and not the other way around. (And this is how it should be – unless you personally enjoy dictatorships.)

The President is only really a “leader” of his own party, and only has “authority” that his party grants him, through their control (or lack thereof) of Congress.

If you want to think of it as a business (which it is not, but for the sake of argument we’ll make the comparison), the President is the CEO, Congress is the Board of Directors, and the people are the shareholders. A CEO may be “in charge” of the company, but he’s answerable to the board, and needs the board’s approval for major decisions. And if a CEO does things that decrease the value of the company and hurt the shareholders, he – along with the board of directors, if they went along with it – is going to rightfully find himself in very hot water with some very angry shareholders.

Oh, and the President absolutely cannot pardon himself. That is the logic of a 5 year old.

Computers & Optimism – Then vs Now

Looking back at the optimism I felt about computers and technology when I was young

Ever since I was very young, I was enamoured with computers (and this should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me). But from the very beginning, I was also excited about the potential of computers – of computing in general – to improve the world and to help people.

Even as a little kid playing pretend (because I couldn’t afford a computer; they were too expensive back then), I realized how world-changing computers could be.

I looked forward to the day when we’d be able to have the complete sum of all human knowledge instantly available to everyone, to being able to communicate almost instantly with one another regardless of distance – all for free or at virtually no cost, because why wouldn’t you?

As a side note, this is why I was so excited when Wikipedia first started up – in many ways it is a realization of at least part of the dream I had, to bring together all the knowledge that humanity has and share it freely for the benefit of all.

Now it’s been some 30 years since I was that naive little kid playing pretend computer – but I still hold on to that same belief, that computers (and all the technology that goes with them) can – and should – be used to solve problems and improve the world.

Indeed, I think we have a responsibility to do so, which is why it pains me so when I see computers and technology used to create problems rather than solve them, to hurt people rather than help them, to hold on to systems of the past rather than new and better systems for the future.

There is a moral aspect to computers and technology in general that I think I missed when I was a kid – but maybe that’s just what being naive means – you don’t think about how things could be used for evil; it never enters your head that someone would even want to take something so fantastic and twist it in that way.

As I grow older, I continue to think about these things, about how we can learn from our failures to use computers in the way that most benefits us all… and I hope other people think about these things as well.

A Social Media Vacation

When something stops bringing you joy, maybe it’s time to stop using it – and so it has become with my social media feed (at least for now).

Recently, I found myself enjoying my social media feed less and less. Despite scrolling past all the negative comments and the bad news, I still couldn’t help seeing it as it went by – and just the sheer volume of negativity out there was starting to be come unavoidable, even if I just perceived it subconsciously. As a result, instead of feeling happy at the cute pictures I was seeing, or excited about people sharing photos, or talking about that neat thing they saw on the way to work or the latest thing about their favorite show or movie… instead, I was feeling angry and stressed – and I was feeling it more and more.

As a result, I decided to take a vacation from social media.

This wasn’t something I did lightly – I enjoy my social media (which for me is primarily just Twitter and its semi-replacement, Mastodon) and seeing lots of cool art, pictures, funny stories, and of course hearing how other people are doing. But between the “algorithms” as they are these days, and also just the nature of the world at large, my feed – though carefully curated – still became a source of anguish for me, rather than joy. So taking the stance that if something doesn’t bring me joy it shouldn’t be in my life, I logged out and committed myself to taking a break from using social media for a time – until perhaps I think the situation has improved or until I feel like I don’t miss it anymore.

“But Keith,” I hear you say, “isn’t this blog a kind of social media? And didn’t I see this posted on your Twitter and also on Tumblr?” Ah yes, well, that’s just the magic of cross-posting at work. I haven’t deleted my accounts or anything, after all. I also do still use my Instagram, since that is basically just photos.

And all silliness aside, I do still like to let people know that I’m still here and doing well – I’ve seen too many other people disappear from social media without a trace, and I’m always left thinking, “I wonder how they’re doing these days?” But with their accounts gone silent or deleted, I’ll never be able to find out.

So, that’s the story of why I’m taking a social media vacation. We’ll see how long this “vacation” ends up lasting, but thus far it has been all right. I’m actually hoping to blog more – less time spent scrolling feeds will hopefully mean more time to write for myself. I still find myself reflexively reaching for those apps on my phone from time to time, but the urge is declining steadily as each day goes by.

In any case, I hope you have a great day and thanks for reading!

Living with Bunnies: So much for “low maintenance”

With Easter coming up, I thought I’d do a series of posts on what it’s really like to own a rabbit (or to be a “bunny slave” as they would put it) – just in case any of you see my photos and think “gee, bunnies sure are cute – maybe I’ll get one for Easter!”


A lot of people are under the misconception that rabbits are a “set it and forget it” type of pet – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Those of you who follow my bunny photos on Twitter, Instagram, or Mastodon, will probably notice that I often post the most photos in the morning and I sometimes refer to this as “morning playtime.”

This is because rabbits need exercise just like any other pet. If you keep them in an enclosure (as I do), you have to let them out to run around – just as you need to take dogs for a walk if you keep them inside.

Most rabbits are much, much bigger than hamsters, gerbils, or even guinea pigs, so unless you have an absolutely enormous enclosure for them, you’ll need to let them out to play and run around. And unless your rabbits are very well behaved, and your house perfectly bunny-proofed, you’ll also need to spend that same time watching or supervising them as they play. Bunnies have a natural instinct to chew on things (much like how cats have an instinct to scratch) so you need to keep an eye on them in case they do something naughty.

Some rabbits can be placated with chew toys (much like how you’d give a cat a scratching post), but not all can – different rabbits have different personalities and respond to things differently.

With my buns, I generally let them out for about an hour in the morning and again in the evening – and during that time I have to stay and watch them pretty closely, as they still haven’t quite learned not to chew things (mainly biting at the carpet).

So, unless you’re willing to spend that time with a rabbit each day (or if you can afford to give them enough space – like an entire room, which also needs to be protected from the rabbit’s instinct to chew things), maybe a rabbit isn’t for you and you should consider another pet – or just get a chocolate or candy rabbit if you’re thinking about Easter.

Stay tuned for more insights as to the “true” experience of being a rabbit owner!