The Day I Left My Son In The Car

Salon's Kim Brooks gives us the story of a "Good Samaritan" bystander who takes things too far and nearly ruins a good mother's life:

Every year, 30 to 40 children, usually under the age of 6, die after being left alone in cars. Their deaths (usually by suffocation), are slow, torturous, unspeakably tragic. In some instances, they are the result of clear-cut neglect, but more often, they occur because of a change in routine — usually the father drops off at daycare but today it’s the mom and she is tired or harried and forgets the kid is with her and leaves him there for hours. I was aware of these tragedies long before the day I left my son, because, like most anxious, at times over-protective mothers, I spend a not insignificant portion of my time reading about and thinking about and worrying about all the terrible things that can happen to the two little people I’ve devoted my life to protecting.

I know that on a 75-degree day, a closed car can become an oven. I know that a home with an unfenced swimming pool is as dangerous as one with a loaded gun. I know how important it is to install car seats correctly, to adjust and fasten the straps regularly. When my kids were babies I always put them to sleep on their backs, though they hated it. I treated small, chokeable objects like arsenic, put up gates on all our stairways (not the tension-rod kind that can be pushed over, but the kind you bolt into the wall). I immunized them against everything immunizable, sliced their hotdogs lengthwise and removed the casing, made sure their plates and cups were BPA free, limited their screen time, slathered them in sunscreen on sunny days. When my more carefree friends say things like, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I usually have an answer. Sometimes I fantasized about moving with my family to a sun-drenched island in the Mediterranean where my children could spend their days frolicking freely on the beach without worry of speeding cars or communicable diseases, but I never confuse this fantasy with the reality we live in, the reality of risk and danger, the reality that terrible things happen to good, well-meaning people every second of every day.

And so, it came as more than a shock to me when, on the way home from the airport, I listened to a voice mail from an officer at my family’s local police department explaining that a bystander had noticed me leaving my son in the car, had recorded the incident using a phone’s camera, and had then contacted the police. By the time the police arrived, I had already left the scene, and by the time they looked up the license plate number of the minivan and traced it to my parents, I was flying home.

I’d never been charged with a crime before, so the weeks that followed were pure improvisation. I hired a lawyer to talk to the police on my behalf. I sought advice and support from those I loved and trusted. I tried to stay calm. My lawyer told me he’d had a productive conversation with the officer involved, that he’d explained I was a loving and responsible mother who’d had a “lapse in judgment,” and that it seemed quite possible charges would not be pressed. For a while, it looked like he was right. But nine months later, a few minutes after dropping my kids off at school, I was walking to a coffee shop when my cellphone rang. Another officer asked if I was Kim Brooks and if I was aware there was a warrant out for my arrest.

Find some time to head over to Salon and read this one today.

The Best USB Battery Pack for Travel

The Wirecutter:

We spent 15 hours researching nearly 30 USB battery packs, eliminating models that were either too expensive, too bulky, or too short on storage. We settled on 5 finalists based on their ratios of size, weight, and cost compared to the advertised capacity. We then had an electrical engineer spend almost 245 hours testing these finalists in order to find that the $30 IntoCircuit Power Castle 11,200 mAh is the USB power bank that most travelers should carry in their bags or briefcases. Little touches like an LCD that displays the remaining charge by percentage and automatically starting to charge devices you plug in without a button press make it feel more thoughtfully designed than the competition. It’s also the battery pack that held the most mAh per dollar.

$30 for "the best" seems like a steal. Amazon says the list price is $90, so get it now while it's on special.

Sherlock Series 3 on Netflix

If you haven't seen BBC's Sherlock and you have Netflix, you're in for a treat. If you have already seen the first two series of Sherlock and you have Netflix... well, you're also in for a treat.

Series 3 1 went live on the near-ubiquitous streaming service today, so carve some time out of your week to enjoy one of the more unique and clever dramas on television.

  1. Because each new release consists of three episodes at around 90 minutes each, the word “season” doesn’t really apply.

'Multimillions' of Anchovies Spotted Off California Coast

There was quite a sight off the coast of La Jolla, California, yesterday: what looked like a giant dark ink stain, or an oil spill, moving and pulsing like it was alive — because it was.

It was a massive school of anchovies – multimillions of them. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography say it’s the largest such school that’s been seen off the coast of California in 30 years.

Just incredible.

I'm New Here

Neven Mrgan reflects on his time in the States.

But I’ve been in the United States for fifteen years now, and it feels more like home than any other place. The US of A has been inviting and welcoming to me. I’d worried about fitting in—I have always worried this my whole life, and I always will—and was pleasantly surprised to find the people here patient and eager to help a newcomer. This is largely luck, likely; had I been of slightly darker skin, or slightly more visible religious beliefs, or of less middle-class-mainstream needs, things may have turned out differently. That sucks. But this is home now, and the cracks and holes in my home are mine to fix.

We're glad to have you, Neven.

Mad Men's Perfect Character

Interior Design has an interview with Mad Men creator Matt Weiner about their award winning sets, and how the nature and timing of his own upbringing informs his passion for getting all of the details just right:

"I was born in 1965 and lived in Baltimore until I was 11. Then we moved to L.A., where there was a big ’50’s revival going on. And I love the fact that my parents were bourgeois. My father was the first person in his family to go to college. Same with my mom. They filled our house with Milton Glaser posters from MoMA, made sure I heard great music and saw movies like The Maltese Falcon. The first season of Mad Men takes place in 1960, when it was part of American culture to be educated, to be cultured, to be intellectual, to have taste."

The article includes an accompanying slideshow of over 30 images on the set of the show. I particularly appreciate the images that point our focus to the many perspectives and details that can be easily overlooked (or that are never really shown to us) while watching the show. 1

Another cool reveal in the slideshow is the way that the scenic externals of Manhattan (and the Hollywood Hills) are handled. The incredible backdrops that we get glimpses of from inside SC&P are an element of watching Mad Men that I've always enjoyed.

The design and execution of these sets offers a little dose of irony to Mad Men viewers: this show that has deeply connected us to such intensely flawed characters has one predominant character that is, in it's own sneaky way, absolutely flawless.

(via Subtraction)

  1. The Saarinen standing ashtray and accordian-door phone booth are good examples.

Geek Christmas


It's official: Apple's WWDC Keynote event has been announced as scheduled for June 2nd at it's usual time, 10:00 AM Pacific.

While iPhone hardware announcements usually get their own event in the fall, WWDC has historically been a bit of a wild card event where just about everything else is potentially on the table.

Although people who know better than the rest of us have recently revealed that neither the long-awaited iWatch nor an AppleTV update are likely to be unveiled at the event, we will almost surely see a new Mac OS X- expected to have a major facelift- in great detail. We'll also see new toys and features added to iOS, including perhaps at least one new service platform ("Healthbook", which looks intriguing, has reportedly already been leaked).

The bottom line is that there will be an hour or two of shiny new goodness on display, much of which we will get to play with soon thereafter, for free.

"Chaotic But Precise"

I'm always a sucker for even the most basic of decorative ceiling structures, on the occasion that I come across one in a hotel or even just a cafe. With some experience in fabrication and installation, I know just how big of a commitment these kinds of purely ornamental elements can be.

So when I see an especially intricate structure- of any scope or scale- suspended above a room or mounted to a wall, I appreciate it. Not only because the design is often worthy of admiration, but because somebody probably had to passionately stand behind it through multiple design meetings, or protect it through several budget cuts. Somebody who loved it probably had to will it into physical being.

With that said, March Studio- the talented and clearly very passionate group of individuals responsible for creating the ambitious lobby of the Nishi Building in Canberra, Australia- has just raised the bar considerably.

This process, inspiration and philosophy led to the sourcing of reclaimed timber collected from a house; a basketball court; from the Nishi construction site itself; and from off cuts of Nishi’s own lovely Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) timber façade.

Now to the making. The ceiling feature consists of 2150 pieces of said reclaimed wood and “then shiteloads more in the stair”, and 1200 steel rods holding the wood into place. Because of the different wood widths and sizes, no two steel rods are the same, and each has been individually designed with holes of different widths, and at different distances to each other. Sam showed me some of his drawings that I have posted below so you can get an idea of the intricate, precise and just plain mental nature of these details.

Jump over to Hotel Hotel Blog for the whole story and more images.

(via Colossal)

Waking Up

Daniel Agee:

Wide awake at 4AM, there’s not much to do. I played Threes on my phone, browsed Reddit for a bit, habitually checked Instagram and Twitter. That got me to 5AM. I read a book on my Kindle. That got me to 6AM. There’s not much to do at 6AM either.

Unless you decide to catch a sunrise.

We've shared his work here before. Fortunately for all of us, Daniel continues to shoot and share new images all the time. And I must say that his recently published collection, captured on and around Portland's historic St. John's Bridge, is an absolute gem.

Visit Daniel's stunning blog, Photography My Love, 1 to see the rest of the images. Not only are they all worth experiencing, but the accompanying narration of his pre-dawn adventure elevates it from a simple gallery to a charming short story, providing a context to the images that you can immediately relate to.

  1. Seriously, you won't find a better-looking website devoted to photographic story-telling.

The Trouble With "Native" Advertising

"Native" advertising- or paid-for content disguised as editorial content- is not a new idea. We've all seen poorly-masked examples of it before. Unfortunately the almighty dollar is powerful, and even some well-respected sites are no longer fighting the good fight against the practice.

Speaking in a recent interview on Digiday, journalist and blogger Andrew Sullivan described native advertising as journalism ‘surrendering’. “Advertising snuck into the editorial pages in a way that advertising has always wanted to do,” he says. “It used to be an axiom that the job of journalists was to be resistant to that and sustain the clear distinction between advertising and journalism. One side has effectively surrendered.”

Creative Review explores the issue of journalistic credibility, as it pertains to a Netflix-sponsored feature that is currently running on Wired.

Sriracha Factory To Remain In California

It appears like they have come to some kind of resolution, though the relationship doesn't exactly sound as if it's landed on solid ground.

NPR Food has the word:

Sriracha hot sauce maker Huy Fong Foods has been tussling with the city council of Irwindale, Calif., near Los Angeles for months now over whether the factory's spicy smells harm its neighbors. There's been legal action and suggested fixes, but also pleas from other cities for the company to consider moving there.

David Tran, the CEO of Huy Fong, says he escaped from Vietnam almost 35 years ago to be free of the communist government there and its many intrusions.

"Today, I feel almost the same. Even now, we live in [the] USA, and my feeling, the government, not a big difference," Tran says.

Irwindale's city attorney, Fred Galante, says the city loves having the cult condiment factory but must pay attention to the health of residents.

"It's difficult to tell a resident that suffers from asthma or their child that suffers from asthma, 'Sorry, we do not want to be considered business-unfriendly; just keep your child indoors,' " Galante says.

It's nice to hear that this impending national crisis has been averted, for now.

"We Were Still There, Together."

photo credit: Jason Quick

photo credit: Jason Quick

Longtime Blazers beat writer Jason Quick closes the books on an inspirational season for Portland, offering insight on what made this one special:

They had emerged out of a timeout and started out toward the court when they realized the game was still a ways from resuming. So they took a seat along the scorers table near halfcourt.

Nicolas Batum. Robin Lopez. Damian Lillard. LaMarcus Aldridge. And Wesley Matthews.

It would be their final act together, their final stand of the season.

It was such a poignant moment, I felt compelled to take a photo as I sat behind them.

After the game, I showed the photo to each player. Their response reveals more than anything that came out of Wednesday's 104-82 loss in Game 5 that sent the Spurs to the Western Conference finals for the third straight season.

"I was hoping someone got that; I love that picture,'' Lopez said, still staring at the photo. "The important thing is, we were down 18 or 20 and we were still there, together. Instead of splintering, instead of bickering, we were still there together and we were going to go out with pride.''

With arguably the best Starting Five in the League and one of the youngest rosters overall, this club will be heard from again- for years to come.

Besides a ton of talent, the obvious bond this core group shares will be the reason why.

Apple Retail And The Innovator's Dilemma

Smart post from Ben Thompson about the crucial role that the retail stores play in Apple's overall approach to maintaining their lead:

iPhones are not just hardware, but also the software that runs on them. But even that is missing the whole picture. To buy an iPhone is to buy into an experience that includes everything from advertising to following the news to visiting a store to buying a phone to unboxing to downloading apps to visiting a genius and so on and so forth.

It’s no accident that the Apple Store appears twice in that sequence. It’s a critical part of the Apple experience that increases the value of an iPhone (and Mac and iPad) and works in a very specific way to counteract over-serving and help prevent disruption.

Ben, as always, offers some great insight here. Head over to Stratechery and read the rest.

Evernote Makes Business Cards Useful Again

Evernote and LinkedIn announced a partnership today that extends some pretty awesome tech to finally make use of that stack of business cards you have in your drawer.

Today, Evernote becomes an amazing business card scanning app. We’re happy to announce a deeper integration between Evernote and LinkedIn that enhances the way business cards are captured, displayed, and recalled in Evernote. Benefitting from LinkedIn’s network of more than 300 million professionals, Evernote can now automatically build a content-rich note around every business card you scan. With full contact information, a link to their current LinkedIn profile, and a photo, plus a section for notes, business cards become searchable contacts in Evernote.