How farmers are using Twitter

Like more and more farmers across Canada, Black has found that Twitter has become, among other things, a way to bridge the gap between farm and table, and connect Canadians wanting to know more about where their food comes from with the people who make their living producing it.

“We’re able to explain what we do on our farm,” says Black, who farms with his father in Huron County, near Goderich.

In one exchange, Black answered questions on pesticide use. In another, he invited a consumer from Ottawa to come and walk in his soybean field.

CBC News: Tweeting farmers bridge gap between farm, table

Academy Award Voter Leaks Zero Dark Thirty DVD

Another Kathryn Bigelow film has hit the illegal file sharing sites. Like The Hurt Locker, this time Zero Dark Thirty was leaked yesterday, but long before any DVD has been sold. The movie hasn’t even been released beyond New York and Los Angeles. It’s all over your favorite illegal streaming and bit torrent sites.

How did this happen? As the above screenshot shows, it came from an Academy Award voter who received a DVD of the movie. Movie studios often distribute DVDs to voters so they can watch and vote for their films, but the voters are supposed to guard the discs and not distribute them. That didn’t happen, as you can see by the watermark on the screen shot.

APTOPIX Massachusetts Gas Explosion

A hole in the Columbia Gas explosion story

The hole in the ground where the Scores strip club used to be isn’t the only hole in Springfield this morning.

Media reporting has left a gaping, unexplained hole after Columbia Gas admitted the cause of the explosion on Worthington Street was human error.

Here’s a basic timeline of what happened Friday, November 23:

  • potential gas leak reported
  • 4:05pm Columbia gas shows up
  • 4:20pm Columbia gas punctures the pipe
  • Columbia gas reports the puncture and evacuation proceeds
  • 5:25pm explosion

Okay, why/how did Columbia Gas originally show up? It wasn’t for the puncture that happened at 4:20.

In fact, there have been reports of natural gas smells at Scores for some time:

On Friday night, a dancer at the club told the Globe that she had smelled gas in the building over the past four months. She said the club’s owner used deodorizers to mask the scent.

Besides, the puncture happened out on the street, at the building foundation. In one hour how does an overpowering gas smell move from outside to inside the building on the second floor?

Lastly, except for one story in the Boston Globe, media members seem to be afraid to speak with strippers that worked at Scores.  It might upset some sensibilities, but talking to the strippers might push this story along.

Photo from WBUR/AP.

Is it okay to highlight how a website looked before I worked on it?

I’ve got one question for you, web designer pro: is it a dick move for a freelance web designer to point out how a site looked before they started working on it?

Here’s the context of the question. I’m a partner in a small design shop. We’re just getting our business off the rails (we’ve got clients and no live website for our business!), and we’d like to write case studies about our clients on the website to be. In one instance we’d like to show before and after screenshots of the site they hired us to redesign, along with text describing what we did.

The idea for having before and after screenshots of our clients’ websites came from plastic surgeon’s websites. They show before and after photos of their clients, so why can’t I?

I’d appreciate your feedback on this question. I have no sense whether it’s a dick move or not.

Photograph by Elizabeth Runder and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

The Constitution Fetish

The original Constitution was simply filed away and, later, shuffled from one place to another. When City Hall underwent renovations, the Constitution was transferred to the Department of State. The following year, it moved with Congress to Philadelphia and, in 1800, to Washington, where it was stored at the Treasury Department until it was shifted to the War Office. In 1814, three clerks stuffed it into a linen sack and carried it to a gristmill in Virginia, which was fortunate, because the British burned Washington down. In the eighteen-twenties, when someone asked James Madison where it was, he had no idea.

In 1875, the Constitution found a home in a tin box in the bottom of a closet in a new building that housed the Departments of State, War, and Navy. In 1894, it was sealed between glass plates and locked in a safe in the basement. In 1921, Herbert Putnam, a librarian, drove it across town in his Model T. In 1924, it was put on display in the Library of Congress, for the first time ever.

The battle over the Constitution : The New Yorker

Rich Frat Boy Gets a Conscience, Gets Attacked By Other Rich Frat Boys

“Fraternity life is at the core of the college’s human and cultural dysfunctions.” Lohse concluded by recommending that Dartmouth overhaul its Greek system, and perhaps get rid of fraternities entirely.

This did not go over well. At a college where two-thirds of the upperclassmen are members of Greek houses, fraternities essentially control the social life on campus. To criticize Dartmouth’s frats, which date back more than 150 years, is tantamount to criticizing Dartmouth itself, the smallest and most insular school in the Ivy League.

[...]

In response to Lohse’s op-ed, the Dartmouth community let loose a torrent of vitriol against him on The Dartmouth‘s website. Lohse, it was decided, was “disgruntled” and a “criminal.” His “blanket and bitter portrayal of the Greek system” was not only false, complained one alumnus, “but offensive to tens of thousands of Dartmouth alumni who cherished the memories of their fraternities.”

Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses – Rolling Stone

John Roberts Blinked When He Saw His Legacy In The Mirror

Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy – believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law – led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

“He was relentless,” one source said of Kennedy’s efforts. “He was very engaged in this.”

Roberts switched views to uphold health care law – CBS News

Let’s Necklace Romney With Ryan’s Economic Plan!

Updates below

First, according to Wikipedia here’s what necklacing is (you can probably get the drift by looking at the above photo too):

Necklacing is the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tyre, filled with petrol, around a victim’s chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.

The fun bunch in South Africa during the 80s and 90s used to spring this on fellow black folks (it was mostly black on black violence) when someone was “sentenced” as a collaborator with the government.

Sentence Romney By Wrapping The Flaming Ryan Budget Around His Neck

Mitt Romney thought enough of Paul Ryan (and his budget plan) to rope him into the 2012 presidential race. So, we shouldn’t let Romney wiggle away from that budget.

clown paul ryan
The clown, Paul Ryan. From WMxdesign

Despite what you might have heard from the popular media, Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin, 1st District) is a clown. He doesn’t dress up like a clown (not that I know of), but he likes to clown around with budget numbers, and play games like “who’s really going to pay for all this?”.

This page is an archive of all the links to articles detailing exactly what the Ryan budget is proposing. There aren’t a lot of details, mostly just aspirational goals without realistic, specific numbers.

Have you got more evidence from the Ryan Clown College to light that necklace around Romney’s neck? Leave links and comments below.

Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan – David Stockman, the director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985 (The Reagan years!) (NY Times, 8/13/12)

Mr. Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout. But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade.

A true agenda to reform the welfare state would require a sweeping, income-based eligibility test, which would reduce or eliminate social insurance benefits for millions of affluent retirees. Without it, there is no math that can avoid giant tax increases or vast new borrowing. Yet the supposedly courageous Ryan plan would not cut one dime over the next decade from the $1.3 trillion-per-year cost of Social Security and Medicare.

Instead, it shreds the measly means-tested safety net for the vulnerable: the roughly $100 billion per year for food stamps and cash assistance for needy families and the $300 billion budget for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Shifting more Medicaid costs to the states will be mere make-believe if federal financing is drastically cut.

Pink Slime Economics – Paul Krugman (NY Times, 4/1/12)

As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?

None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)

Understanding the Ryan plan – Matt Miller (Washington Post, 8/12/12)

Ryan is not a “fiscal conservative.” A fiscal conservative pays for the government he wants. Ryan never has. His early “Roadmap for America’s Future” didn’t balance the budget until the 2060s and added $60 trillion to the national debt. Ryan’s revised plan, passed by the House in 2011, wouldn’t reach balance until the 2030s while adding $14 trillion in debt. It adds $6 trillion in debt over the next decade alone — yet Republicans had the chutzpah to say they wouldn’t raise the debt limit! (I remain mystified why President Obama never hammered home this reckless contradiction by insisting that the GOP “raise the debt ceiling just by the amount it would take to accommodate the debt in Paul Ryan’s budget.”)

Ryan’s Tax-Rate Drop Would Require Lawmakers to Consider Favored Breaks – Richard Rubin (Bloomberg News, Apr 6, 2011)

The fiscal plan outlined by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan calls for reducing the top individual and corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent, which would require lawmakers to consider eliminating tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction to meet his revenue targets.

Over the next decade, the Wisconsin Republican wants the government to collect $4.2 trillion less than it would if Congress did nothing, and $1.8 trillion less than under the budget proposed Feb. 14 by President Barack Obama. Ryan’s targets in the plan he released yesterday are similar to the amount of revenue that would be raised if Congress extends tax cuts set to expire at the end of 2012.

Lowering rates that much while reaching the revenue targets in Ryan’s budget would require lawmakers to consider eliminating so-called tax expenditures, including the mortgage interest break and the deduction for charitable contributions, said Mel Schwarz, partner at the Washington national tax office of Grant Thornton LLP. Both have long been viewed as politically difficult to challenge.

The Battle Over Climate Science

“There’s really only about 25 of us doing this,” Steve Milloy says, shortly after sitting down at Morton’s, a Washington, D.C., steakhouse favored by lawyers and lobbyists. “A core group of skeptics. It’s a ragtag bunch, very Continental Army.” Milloy, a Fox News commentator and former tobacco-industry advocate, runs a website called JunkScience.com that is an outlet for attacks on those he calls “global-warming alarmists.” Many of those who question mainstream climate science resent being called deniers; they say it unfairly equates them with Holocaust deniers. They prefer doubters, skeptics or realists. “Me, I just stick with denier,” Milloy says. “I’m happy to be a denier.”

Milloy is dressed in a striped pink button-down shirt and khaki pants, classic Potomac prep. He moved into climate denial in the 1990s as funding from the tobacco lobby began to dry up. At the time, conservative and libertarian think tanks were just starting to take aim at climate science. Milloy, who has received funding from entities controlled by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, helps them get their message to the masses.

The Battle Over Climate Science – Popular Science

milton bradley school

What a 2nd grade teacher did this summer

School teachers do all kinds of things in the summer. Hang out, travel, spend time with their families, learn.

My sister Patty took one of her former students, now in the fourth grade, to the zoo. From the story I heard, the little boy has lived a rough life. Already. He was a behavior problem in school, which probably had something to do with having a less than stable home.

Patty brought the student under her wing, staying in touch with him and his family, inside and out of school. At the end of his year in my sister’s class, the boy won a bicycle for being the most improved student. He didn’t know what to do with it. He’d never ridden a bike.

If you were to ask my sister’s colleagues at the elementary school she teaches at, some might say she’s a strange bird. She taught in an inner city school with inner city problems (Springfield, MA); left for a plum job in the suburbs, only to get bored and realize those kids didn’t need her; then come back to the city because the job was more rewarding.

Students in Patty’s class get presents from her at Christmas. Don’t think just pens, pencils, and paper. Depending on the student, the present is more likely to be underwear, socks, or other essentials.

Sometimes, that’s the way teachers in an inner city school roll.

madonna super bowl

Judging By Madonna’s Super Bowl Performance And Twitter, Are You A Crabby Person?

Your reaction to Madonna’s Super Bowl performance, and the kinds of people you follow on Twitter, may hint at whether you’re a positive or negative person. Let me explain.

Watching the wreck that was the Madonna halftime show at the Super Bowl, the first thing I did was reach for my laptop to see what my followers were writing on Twitter. I follow around 330 people, of whom about 50-75 were tweeting about Madonna. Monitoring my stream closely, there wasn’t one positive comment about Madonna’s performance. Not one. Not even a borderline positive comment.

Now check this out: some CEO marketing hack (Mark Ghuneim) from an outfit called Wiredset says that Madonna’s performance had 59% positive, 31% negative, and 11% neutral response on Twitter. How’s that possible?

Am I following very negative people because I’m a negative person (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)? Maybe the people we follow on Twitter does say something about us.

Here are the two Tweets I wrote about Madonna:

Betty White should have done the half time show. #superbowl #nfl

Madonna has chronic fatigue syndrome #superbowl

Did you read any good Madonna take-down tweets?

Trailer Parks and Parking Lots

Last night was a double feature: 3 episodes of Trailer Park Boys then taking in the documentary The Parking Lot Movie. There’s a symmetry there: testosterone and pavement.

A documentary can’t answer every question about its subject in 90 minutes, but sometimes there are omissions so gaping your mind wanders during the film. Parking Lot Movie, I’m talking to you.

For example:

  • How come no women work at the Corner Parking Lot? You’ve really got to answer why there aren’t any women parking lot attendants in the movie.
  • Increasingly parking lots are fully automated; take a ticket, put your money in a machine, and leave. Does the Corner Parking Lot have any plans to automate? Automation must have crossed the lot owner’s mind. Why hasn’t he done it?

You don’t know the Trailer Park Boys? Think live action Beavis & Butt-Head in a trailer park, Canadian style. Watch it and mainline pure stupid/funny.

Steve Jobs Introduces iCloud Storage System At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference

Choose The Right Photo For Your Steve Jobs Tribute

Everyone is writing a Steve Jobs tribute article. I’m not, but I will give you the formula to selecting an evocative photo for your tribute. It’s pretty easy.

Grabbing Attention

Setting the appropriate tone for your tribute can be easily achieved by selecting the right photo.

  • Steve Jobs is dead, so you’ll need a black and white photo to signal the seriousness of the situation.
  • If you’ve got a nice photo but it’s not black and white, breakout PhotoShop and desaturate that thing.
  • Close-up photos are better, especially if it’s a photo from the past 5 years or so (you’ll want stay classy by not displaying his sickly body).
  • To distinguish the photo you’ve ripped off from another Website (like I did), try reversing the photo so Steve is looking at your readers from another angle.
  • If you’re writing about Steve’s early days, then you’ll need Woz in the photo.
  • If Steve has facial hair, that signifies Steve as the “rebel CEO”. Always a good one for business writers.
  • Make sure Steve’s expression is appropriate for your tribute: sad; shit happens; contemplative; genius.
  • If Steve’s looking directly at the camera, that’s better. Dead people staring at the camera lens captures reader’s attention.
ground-zero-9-11-memorial

Two 9/11 memorial designs that should have been built

I was this close to getting my radical, hair brained 9/11 memorial design built on ground zero.

In the spring of 2003 I was taking the graduate course “Memory and Tragedy” with James Young, a professor of English and Judaic Studies at UMass Amherst. Around the world, Professor Young is often consulted about memorials to tragedies. He was the only person from the United States on the committee that chose the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe design in Berlin. He’s a big deal, in addition to being a smart dude with a dark sense of humor.

One class in April Professor Young was 20 minutes late, which was unprecedented, but he had a good excuse: he’d just been asked to be one of 12 jurors of the September 11th Memorial Design Competition.

It was a timely opportunity for the class to explore what kind of memorial should be built. Professor Young led a few conversations about the nature of this future memorial. I think the first question was, is it too soon to design a memorial? What the hell are we memorializing 2 years out from the events? Because the memorials that punch you in the gut hardest both reflect back on the events and have an eye towards the future, we thought about how design could reflect that at the ground zero site in New York City.

I had my ideas. Every week I’d come in with another memorial concept for Professor Young to consider. Here are my two favorites, that funny enough resemble the design that was built, though not in every regard.

  1. Like the memorial that was eventually built, both of my best ideas used the foundations left from the Twin Towers. They called them “tubs” because those walls held back the high water table. Idea number 1 is exactly as you see the current memorial except that instead of water flowing down the walls of the foundation, I thought oil should have been used. Because in 2005 our petroleum future was the reason we’d invaded Iraq — oh, do you remember WMD? Stopping Osama in Iraq before he washed up on our shores? — it seemed fitting that the memorial look towards our oil future.
  2. My second concept, like the first, used the foundation walls, except no oil was involved. This time the memorial was interactive of a sort: it would be a constantly evolving memorial that would be build over time along the foundation walls. With each new country we invaded to keep us safe from terrorism, a mural would be painted on the wall depicting battle scenes in that country — Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., into the future. My goal was to design a “living memorial” for the dead.

The memorial as built is good enough, I guess. Kind of boring, though.

Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies — The Wizard of Oz

There’s something funny about people taking the time to write 1 star reviews of classic films, but in this case, the film is both classic and benign: The Wizard of Oz (ranked #10 on the AFI list of best 100 American movies).

On with the show:

The only reason to ever watch the Wizard of Oz is if you are playing Dark Side of the Moon at the same time. (after the third lion roar start up dark side.)

I do not like the Wizard of Oz. For one thing, I don’t like to watch things with witches in them, especially if one of them is portrayed as a “good witch” – that’s an oxymoron I can’t reconcile with. For another thing I don’t like Judy Garland’s breathless diction or Frank Morgan – The star I give this goes exclusively to the Tin Man, who was always my favourite and still is. But I can’t stand sitting through this movie just to watch him, though I might if I could fast forward the other parts. It’s all just such fantasy fluff, and I like something that has a bit more reality to it. This falls perilously short of the mark. Don’t bother with it.

Irony high and irony low.

Low irony: the soporific singing, combined with a pure-schmaltz storyline, guaranteed box office failure for every theater release and re-release of this film. “Just as good the fifteenth time as it is the first.” Of course, the movie has had outstanding success on television. TV success: Bravo!

High irony: the didactic and gold-plated Message that “there’s no place like home” takes more time to deliver on the bonus material of the DVD edition than the movie itself. Some bonus! Of course this message, like all “Messages to Wayward Children,” is beyond any child’s care or understanding.

This is not a film for children, rather, one for the “child inside every one of us.” One might well subject our inner-child to serial viewings (“Just as good the fifteenth time as it is the first”) in a futile attempt to hammer home the Message. No actual child would willingly submit to such torture.

This film is troublesome on too many counts to list here but I will try.

First, the story is implausible. Oz is not the sort of place children dream of, usually they dream of running or flying or getting lost. The “Oz” story was already a tired conventional hackneyed subject and should never have been filmed in the first place.

The characters are argumentative and malicious, bogged down in their own fantasies and “needs”. No child is going to relate to a woodsman, let alone a woodsman who has had limbs cut off one by one and replaced by tin. (By the way, I never once believed he was made of tin.)

When singing is employed in film, it should be in the background; the characters should not be lipsyncing to the music unless there is a radio playing in the background.

The concept of a “straw man” refers to a malignant red herring thrown into an argument to confuse the debate. Children are not going to pick up on this, and those that do are too intelligent to be watching movies like this.

The fixation with Judy Garland — why? Plain, too fat, simpering and controversial. She had — too put it mildly — a bawdy life as a teenager, and was held high as a role model until the Troubles began. If children read her life’s story, their blood would curdle. Who needs that?

Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies — 2001: A Space Odyssey

Before I even read the one star reviews on Amazon, I knew Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey was going to be a gold mine. This classic movie gets people upset. Interestingly, among the one-star crowd, it makes people feel stupid. I could have given you pages of accusations of intellectual elitism. On the AFI list of 100 best American movies, it’s listed at number 15, which is a little high, I think, but nevertheless a great film.

Let’s get on what we’re here for; enjoy the one star reviews of a classic movie:

Maybe the movie is a little too deep for me. I enjoy deep movies that make you think afterwards, but this is taking it too far. By eliminating anything resembling a coherent plot with interesting dialogue, it makes watching this movie a chore.

I know that as a film student, it’s my duty to like this movie, but I’m sorry. I just can’t. I saw it in a theatrical setting (ie. hard chairs, full-blast surround sound, large screen, but only one bathroom break) and it was easily the most miserable 3+ hours of my life to date. Sorry, but I resent any movie that leaves me with a headache and sick stomach.

Oh my Good! [sic] this movie is bad! It is the most boring movie i have ever seen! Don’t even think about watching it!

Sure, some of the “art” shots of this film were great eye-candy. Wonderful. Now what? Let’s pretend that this self-indulgent piece of “art” is a masterpiece. Why? Because no one could make sense of it. INCLUDING THE ARTIST HIMSELF!

(So much for the sycophant/”psycho”phant who claimed “You’re stupid if you don’t understand this movie.”) That’s right, Chester, there WAS nothing to understand.

Kubrick himself said that the meaning of this film was for each individual to determine. “You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film.
S. Kubrick” Well, Stan, if you had nothing to say, why did it take over two hours to say it?

Art is not good because people don’t understand it. Art is good because people DO understand it.

Classic 1 Star Reviews — 2001
Courtesy of the Website If we don't, remember me.

Is this the film that made current film critics think they had a talent at picking good films because they liked this one. Maybe I’m off my rocker (actually I slept through most of this one in my rocker) but this film can’t be the seminal moment in science fiction movies. This one makes almost as much sense as that other “great” science fiction epic, Rocky Horror Picture Show.

First, a note for reviewer J. Pauley, who has been nothing but rude to those who do not care for this film-

J. Pauley,

Though you insist upon licking the boots of the director you have yet to offer anything in the way of helpful commentary. All you do is ridicule those of us who dare to stain the honor of your dearly beloved Kubrick. If you have some great answer to the objections put forth by the “have-nots” who don’t care for 2001 then by all means let us in on the secret. And please be specific. You seem to love being derisive now let us see if you really have a clue.

To all of the other reviewers who liked this film and are upset in any way by our dislike of the same, or simply feel like being helpful, I would also extend a heartfelt invitation to tell us where we have gone wrong. I am earnest in this invitation and would like an honest discussion with you and will carefully consider your thoughts. Please, bear in mind that many of us fully understand the “deeper meaning” behind the film and still found it (other than the stunning visuals and HAL) to be a bore. Please steer clear of the “higher ideals and language” as some of my fellow reviewers are not philosophy majors and do not care to be beaten to death with over long explanations of a film they already do not like. Be direct. Be specific. Be respectful.

Thank You,
Ross

I couldn’t wait to get this fine example of self-indulgence off my hands. This is precisely why directors shouldn’t be given too much control over a movie. The movie can be summarised thus: Apes, Docking Sequences, Light Shows.

Most of the scenes are long, dull, and pointless. Even Kubrick himself said he wanted the film to be “enigmatic” (I think it’s in the DVD liner notes). Which to me means he wasn’t trying to say anything with the movie, and was hoping some people would regard it as a work of art, and hopefully, elevate it to “great movie” status.

I’ll admit to being influenced by by Roger Ebert’s review when I decided to buy the DVD; he thinks it is one of the “great movies”. Curse you Roger Ebert! May you spend the rest of your days watching docking sequences and stupid light shows!

On The Appalachian Trail — You Won’t Believe The Evolution In 21 Years

I‘m grateful to Bree Carlson, a friend currently working on her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, for taking the photos above (they’re stitched together). They’re full of surprises, but to understand what’s happening you’ll need some context.

When thru-hikers get to the ceremonial halfway point — the Appalachian Trail Conference in Harper’s Ferry, WV — they take a photo. In the old days, like 1990 when I rolled through, Jean Cashin of the ATC used a Polaroid instant camera. Today it looks like they’re using a digital camera. A hiker’s pedigree is written on the photo: real name, trail name, residence, date of the photo, and the hiker number that season. The ATC counts of all the thru hikers that come to the office, every year. Unlike 1990, it looks like they’re also including the start date and email address of the thru-hiker.

Two Suprises

First, if you didn’t notice, Bree had her photo taken 21 years to the day after mine, on June 14. Sitting here in Massachusetts, I think that’s a little trail magic. It’s a positive omen. Watching Bree from afar, it tells me Bree’s going to finish her thru-hike. It’s not just about coincidence. I had different kind of good omen the first week I was on the Trail, and I rode it all the way to Maine.

Surprise number two: look at how many people are thru-hiking! Bree is hiker 424. In 1990 I was 99. That’s a 328% increase in the number of hikers at the ATC by June 14. Walking in 1990 I met another thru-hiker every 4 or 5 days, but today it’s a crowd. It’s hard for me to believe the increased popularity in thru-hiking, because walking more than 2,000 miles, from Georgia to Maine, isn’t a stroll through the woods. It’s hard work. Why are so many people hiding out on the Trail?

And I bet the little businesses that grow-up along the Trail are probably doing well.

Update: The ATC recently went live with a new hiker photo archive — they’ve scanned all the photos from 1979 to the present, tagged them in a searchable database, and it works. Here’s my photo page with info about the other hikers in the photo. And below, the uncropped photo:

1990 @ ATC office - photo probably by Jean Cashin

Top photos used with permission of Bree Carlson.

Grabbing The Right People — Targeting Your Ads With Thesis And WordPress

One of the most annoying experiences on the Web today is being delivered the wrong ad at the wrong time. It doesn’t ruin my experience, but I’m always shaking my head, wondering why the programmers didn’t do a better job.

I was thinking about that during some redesign around here, then decided to solve a problem: deliver my Thesis affiliate image ads only to people that were reading posts related to the Thesis framework. Personally, I don’t like my site cluttered with ads, but at the right time, in the right place, to the right person, I want the flexibility of including an advertisement.

There are probably many other ways to do this, so if you have something interesting to share, please write a comment below. Now I’m going to show you how I did it.

First, you’ll need to have all your Thesis posts slapped with the same tag. You could do the same thing with categories, but I didn’t. I use the tag “thesis”. That’s how I target the right audience.

We’re going to drop some code into either the custom_functions.php file, or using the time saving plugin Thesis OpenHook, at thesis_hook_after_post. I’ll show you how to do this with OpenHook, but using the custom_functions.php file can be done too, with a little more effort.

Using Thesis OpenHook, look for thesis_hook_after_post and drop the following code in there:


<?php if (has_tag('thesis')) { ?>
<p style="text-align: center;">
<a href="http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=202503&amp;u=520806&amp;m=24570&amp;urllink=&amp;afftrack=">
<img src="http://www.shareasale.com/image/24570/468x60.png" alt="Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community" border="0" />
</a></p>
<?php } ?>

thesis-openhook
screenshot of Thesis OpenHook interface
See that first WordPress conditional tag there, has_tag('thesis') — well, some people might have tried using the more common, is_tag(), but they would have been wrong. The difference between the two conditions is that one looks for a binary condition — yes or no — while the other, has_tag is looking for a positive result among many possibilities. Trust me, this is the way you want to do it.

After the beginning — <?php if (has_tag('thesis')) { ?> — you can drop in your affiliate code, what ever it may be. Of course, this method doesn’t only work with Thesis affiliate links. You could use Amazon code in their for book reviews, for example. I’m sure you can think of many other applications.

And you don’t have to put the affiliate code at the end of a post. Using Thesis hooks you can drop it many other places, at the right time, for the right person.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to target ads using Thesis? Drop a comment below.

Photograph by Hans Splinter and republished here under a Creative Commons license.