Manny Rodriguez



March for our Ghost Guns

03/24/2018



While half the country marches for gun control, the other half runs out and... buys more guns. We're a nation with a serious case of split personality disorder, the two sides are not talking to each other, and it's not good.

After Sandy Hook, Newsweek (12/8/17) estimated that an extra 3 million guns were sold in the aftermath. Now, "ghost gun" kits are seeing record sales. 80percentarms.com is currently running 24 hour shifts to keep up with the demand.

A ghost gun kit is a collection of parts that enable someone to build a gun at home. I mean a metal, durable, accurate and deadly clone of an AR-15 or Glock. It's not hard -- if you can operate a handheld power drill and build IKEA furniture you can make a gun.

It's a "ghost" because these homemade guns have no serial numbers. They are completely untraceable, totally bypass existing regulation and are perfectly legal to make.

Ironically, as a direct result of this gun control push, hundreds of thousands of new, untraceable guns are being brought into existence. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Yeah, some will say "ban the ghost guns, along with all the rest!", which misses the point completely. Guns are simple machines. What are we going to do - ban metalworking tools, 3D printers and sheet metal? Give the government EVEN MORE POWER to invade our privacy and 4th Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure?

Haven't we tried this kind of escalation already with the horrendous drug war? How many of you have had your car or home searched and evening ruined because some power-tripping narc thought you were holding a sack of bud?

Einstein wisely said that you can't solve a problem at the level of consciousness that created it. Why are we seeking legal solutions to deep set social and cultural problems?


What is an assault weapon?

02/28/2018



"Assault Weapon" is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the news. But what does that term actually refer to?

Assaultweapon.info does a good job breaking down the history of the term, how it applies to AR15s, and the implications for the ongoing national discussion on gun control.


macOS Automator: Supporting Intentional Computing

02/17/2018



I do a lot on my computer. Sometimes, it feels like too much.

I don't like the feeling when I spend too much aimless time in front of a screen. It brings on a tiredness, a sense of feeling drained even when I haven't done very much.

One thing that really helps me with this is having only the apps open that I need for what I am doing at the moment.

So, if I'm planning -- I want to have OmniFocus, my calendar, and Evernote open. That's it.

I'm I'm working, then it's Terminal, Sublime Text, and a blank browser window.

Having only what I need on my screen improves my focus and helps me keep my sanity.

It also makes it easier to get into the zone: It's so much easier to gain momentum when I'm starting from a blank desktop with nothing open, rather than whatever is up from my last session.

However, closing and opening apps one at a time can be a lot of work!

Automator is an app that comes with macOS that makes it easy to script repeat tasks. It has a graphical interface that's quite intuitive once you get the hang of it.

I've created Automator scripts for each of the 'modes' that I might use my computer for, including planning, banking, and working. Each of those scripts opens the only the apps I need for that mode.

Another script, 'Nuke', immediately closes all open apps. This makes it easy to get to a blank screen.

These scripts have changed how I use my computer. Instead of multitasking with lots of unrelated stuff open, it's much easier to be in the mode of doing just one thing and having exactly what I need for that.

This post on Lifewire has a great intro to Automator and how to use it to write scripts that launch and close apps.


Camera to Inbox on iPhone: Automated!

02/17/2018



My favorite part of being a GTD practitioner is cultivating the habit of quick capture. This means not holding on to things you want to remember in the mind by capturing them somewhere instead.

One of my favorite ways to capture is with my camera phone.

Just the other day, I was at the market and saw a flyer about a board game meetup. Awesome! Just snap a picture and all the info is there for me when I'm in front of my calendar.

Unfortunately, that means I need to process my camera roll as another inbox. The game night may pass me by because it can take me a while to sort through the pictures I take. Deep down I know this, so it's still an open loop in my brain.

For OmniFocus users (an awesome GTD app for Mac and iOS!) I found a really helpful post if the OmniFocus forum describing how to use Workflow to totally automate the process of taking a photo and having it end up in your OmniFocus Inbox. It includes 90% of the work to get you there.

Thanks, chrisvacc!


Cash Money

09/04/2016



It’s pretty amazing to me how spending money with a card feels so different from cash. I get stingy with cash, especially small amounts — but past a certain amount, cash becomes a ‘wad’ and looses meaning. I had this experience when buying a Craigslist car, I had 5 G’s in my pocket. It would have felt the same to carry $700 or $10,000… it’s just a big roll of paper.

With cards, it’s a (seemingly) bottomless pit of swipe swipe swipe. I’m less aware of the amounts involved. There’s no feedback from the process besides the receipt you get back, and the numbers on the receipt are kind of small. Besides, how can you tell how much you have left?

That’s easy with cash - you give someone a twenty, and you get $1.62 back. The experience of getting back change is so dramatic compared to seeing $18.38 on a register and just swiping your card and getting on with it.

So, for me, bank accounts are great for managing large amounts of money, and cash is great for managing small amounts. Of course, small amounts of money turns to large amounts over time!

I’ve been tracking all my spending to the penny for several years now. I’m a big fan of the YNAB (google it) budgeting methodology. The biggest benefit to me has been forcing me to categorize every single expense. Yesterday, I went to Target and bought office supplies, paper towels, Armor All car wipes, pita chips, and kombucha. Out of sheer habit, I dutifully split the whole transaction into parts to match my budget line items — Household, Groceries, Treats, and Car Maintenance. Yay! I actually really enjoy the splitting, I’m a huge data nerd and doing this feels productive.

Unfortunately, all this work doesn’t really help me control my spending! The Treats line item in my budget exploded in red for the last 3 weeks. I half-blame Krishna Lunch for not serving during break week. I got into the habit of going out for lunch and it turned into a 3 week addiction where my per day lunch expenses exploded from $6-7 to over $16! Shit!

I could have adjusted, cooked leftovers or something like that, but I didn’t have awareness of what I was doing until it was time to review the numbers and see the big picture view.

So, for September, I’m trying something different.

I’ve taken my debit card out of my wallet. I bought a binder and put 8 clear pockets in it. The first pocket is labeled “This Month”, and the other 7 are “Monday - Sunday”, one for each day of the week.

Once a month, I’ll withdraw a wad of cash for all my treats for the month, and each week I’ll split it amount the days. Right now, I have $6 in my wallet, $10 in my Monday folder, a $20 in the Tuesday folder, and another $20 in the Thursday folder. Next Saturday, I’ll replenish the folders for the week.

The amounts I chose to give myself are about 10% lower than my average spending for the past 5 months. So I’m challenging myself to spend a little less, but not by much. I feel like I can do this. The real challenge is giving up the swipe habit. I know I’m going to face that moment where I’m out of cash and craving Karma Cream, but the only money available to me is marked “Thursday” and it’s only Monday.

I’m feeling good about this. Wish me luck!


Political Rant

08/28/2016



With all the election related political stuff going on, I've been thinking about what my responsibilities are as a citizen to participate in the political process.

I’m feeling some helplessness about it — It seems inevitable that either Clinton or Trump will be President — and I do not support either of them. But deeper than that, I’m usually scared to even bring up politics in my daily life.

I’m blessed to have lots of space in my life for listening and sharing — and yet it rarely feels appropriate or safe to talk about politics. I feel like the potential for emotional charge with politics is so large, it’s usually not worth bringing up. I’m dissatisfied with this.

I do occasionally have political discussions with close friends. Since I associate mostly with like-minded people, it feels a little like an echo chamber sometimes. I’d like to debate a little, hear different opinions, and have my ideas and beliefs tested.

I’ve thought about engaging online, but it’s hard to really connect with others that way. I don’t think I’ve ever changed my mind on a major political position because of an online comment or Facebook post. It seems clear - person-to-person, with respect and empathy, is the most productive way to have political discussions. I’m setting an intention to open up a little and bring these thoughts and issues up with anyone interested that I interact with face to face, even if it feels risky.