Old Stuff

First, Complaint Hub was a blog. As you may know, everyone was put here on earth for a purpose. After years of soul searching and contemplation, I have come to the realization that my purpose here is to complain. Do what you know, they say. And so I am.

Complaining is something I know. Complaining is something I’m good at. It may not always be appreciated, but true greatness never is in its time. History will vindicate me.

Then, it was a place where you could share your complaints, too.

And then it was two blogs, with the addition of From Harvard Street, a blog about my life as a new resident of Washington, DC. More recently, I decided that it was too much trouble to maintain two blogs. From Harvard Street was a nice experiment in using a different blogging engine, but WordPress is a much more mature application, and I really don’t want to have to worry about two sites anymore.

Then, it wasn’t a place where you could share complaints anymore because my webhost decided to upgrade their version of Ruby on Rails (Otherwise I’m very happy with them, and this is a complaint more about what the Rails people did in their update than a complaint about Dreamhost), and everything broke. Unfortunately for anyone wanting to complain here, this is not anywhere near the top of my ToDo list, so it’s probably not getting fixed any time soon.

And now, I’ve switched from WordPress to Drupal. I’m really happy with Drupal so far, and the site got a needed redesign (Although my mother-in-law doesn’t like it). More changes are coming, including a return of Your Complaints.

As for me, I’m a software engineer doing soul-sucking government contracting work. I’m on a new job since April 2008, and while the work is still dumb, at least my boss is cool. In my spare time, I like photography, writing, traveling, and hanging out with my wife. I have a really loud and needy cat named Biscuit, who is barely tolerated in public but secretly loved by my wife.

And in September, I will be a new dad. I will probably forget to update this page when the kid pops out, but you can keep up with the latest and greatest on my dad-hood via the front page. You can contact me at complaint hub at gmail.


Whoa, this hasn’t been updated in a while. I have a different job. I have two kids. That one I was just talking about in the paragraph above? She’s in kindergarten. I started another blog that turned into a small business that failed and now the LLC that used to be the business owns a gorgeous home in Annapolis. Life is weird sometimes.

Now I work with government accountants. I ride my bike a lot. I love my wife and kids and the rest of my family, who I see more lately than I used to, which is good. This blog is likely to have a lot of stuff about bikes, living in DC, stupid intellectual property law (especially pertaining to ebooks), and complaining. You’ve been warned.

The shrinking American social network

Last night, Barb and I had dinner at the little Mexican bar/restaurant across the street. We hadn’t been, because last time we went it was an Indian place. We were the only native English-speakers in the restaurant, which wasn’t a surprise. I think it’s a good sign for a Mexican restaurant to be full of Latinos – it probably means the food is good. Which it was.

Everyone in the bar seemed to know each other. Partly it’s a small place, so many of them probably came together. But I suspect that it’s also because we have a large Spanish-speaking community right around here, and my impression is that these communities tend to keep a bit to themselves. The language barrier probably contributes to that.

Today I saw this article that tells of a study that found that Americans are more socially isolated than we were twenty years ago. We have fewer close friends now than we did in 1985.

I think it’s causing problems in our society. How many people know their next-door neighbor? The family across the street? People are social by nature, and I don’t really understand why Americans as a society have pulled away from that. Is it television? Do we turn on the tv and ignore the rest of the world? Are we spending more time in online communities? There’s probably not one answer.

But I’m curious why the Latino communities I see still have that sense of togetherness, of knowing everyone, and I’m also curious if they’re better off for it.

I know I have friends who live less than ten minutes away on foot, and I see them maybe once a month. I spend the vast majority of my time at work, or alone with Barb. And not that spending time alone with Barb is bad – it’s actually great. But maybe we’re missing something. And it will be even more important when we have kids. I think Barb and I are even ahead of the game. We both have close friends that we can turn to when we need something.

So, I don’t know what this study means, or what can be done about it. Harvard University Public Policy Professor Robert Putnam suggests in the article that flexible work schedules would allow people more time for community, but that sounds like a pretty simplistic answer. Working fewer hours a week might help, if we turned to community activities to fill the extra time. But there’s no guarantee we would. I’d love to see the construction industry start planning housing developments to be more community oriented. But we can hardly put the responsibility on them, as much as they might make an easy target in these days of over-development.

Anyway, go out and meet your neighbor. Offer him a beer or a cup of coffee. Or maybe brush up on your Spanish and head to the local Mexican bar. And don’t work so much. Tell your boss some guy from Harvard said so.

England Wins!

I’m mostly just testing the Flickr’s “Blog This” option. But it seems appropriate to post a photo from London right after David Beckham and his immaculate hair gave England a 1-0 win over Ecuador. It was really a nice goal, even if he does need to remember that he’s a football player, not a fashion model.

Not really a complaint

Well, maybe one little complaint, to start things off. It’s POURING outside. It has been most of the morning. They’ve been predicting thunderstorms that we haven’t gotten for weeks, and the rain all came today. I think there’s some guy in a kayak out in the parking lot right now.

And then, not a complaint. The Argentina-Mexico second round World Cup game yesterday. That was some nice soccer. I’ve been keeping an eye on the games with the little Google home page plugin, but I haven’t been able to watch too many of the games since they all happen while I’m at work.

But I watched Argentina-Mexico. A lot of people are raving about Argentina’s Maxi Rodriguez’s goal in overtime. It was a pretty goal, but honestly, I don’t think he was even looking when he shot it. A little bit of luck was probably involved. No, my favorite goal of the match was the little flick and then goal by Mexico’s Rafael Marquez. That, and how Marquez started sucking his thumb before a teammate jumped on his head. Thumb-sucking is always a classy goal celebration.

Anyway, the reason that I liked that goal was that it was obviously a scripted play, and it couldn’t possibly have happened any better. A quarter second earlier or later and Marquez doesn’t score that. It was just a beautiful team effort.

And now it’s almost time for England-Ecuador.