My Climate Summer

Summer 2021 was different in New York than past summers. It wasn’t the relentless brutal heat that we’d experienced the last few years. The heat that finally drove my parents in Vermont to install air conditioning.

That was constant and oppressive, but not acute. You did kind of adapt to it. You learn that the Walkway Over the Hudson opens their gates at 7am, so 6:30am is the earliest bike ride you can take to see the Hudson in the morning before the heat and humidity makes the return climb on the bike just too much. It meant that if it was too humid, maybe a walk at 6am was a better option, back in by 7, then buttoned up in AC the rest of the day. It was definitely climate change, but it onset slow enough through May and June that it felt just like some new normal.

This summer was different. It was acute. The first big hit was a rainstorm in the middle of July. The rains were different this summer. There were almost no rainy days. Only rainy minutes. The bursts would come as a quarter or half inch of rain, in 20 or 30 minutes, then pass. Sometimes with a rainbow on the other side. The rainstorm in July was hard, but not that notable compared to the rest. Except, the watershed is wide. Many of our local streams are fed from tends of miles away in every direction. And the Sprout Creek had more than it could handle.

Flooding damage at Freedom Park

Our daughter was in camp at the park this July. Finally signed up for swimming lessons. And the lake was now closed. It’s still feels incredible to say “climate change cancelled my daughter’s swim lessons.” And just when that was starting to sink in, the second shot.

The Bootleg fire, and the fires raging across western Canada, brought their smoke to NY. I went out for a morning ride on the 19th, and the Sun was definitely the wrong color. It rose as a deep eerie red, both striking and horrifying at the same time. The Sun was weak on the ride. The air cooler than it should have been. It made me think of the 1816 year without summer, or what a future attempt to dim the Sun to address the deadly heat might feel like.

The wildfires and volcanoes of elsewhere have always brought colorful sunsets to the North East, but this time was different. The smoke came down. Sitting on our porch eating dinner that night, I smelled a campfire. Folks in the neighborhood have them all the time. But this time I checked the air quality, and realized, to my shock that I wasn’t smelling a backyard marshmallow roast. This was old forests, 3000 miles away. Forests that were part of carbon offset payments.

The next day my wife started complaining of a headache. I looked, and the AQI was 180 outside where she’d spent the afternoon. And a new habit was formed. Check the AQI every morning when I wake up. Was it healthy enough to go ride a bike. We’ve now got our own Purple Air sensor to help map out this new risk to our region. The wildfires of far that now burn so big, so hot, that they can blanket the entire US in smoke. The world literally on fire.

When Henri formed as a storm, I watched closely. We were predicted for 4 – 6 inches of rain, which I knew would be devastating, having seen Irene and Sandy’s impacts to the region. But modeling rainfall is notoriously hard, and we only saw about 2.5 inches over 2 days. The rivers swelled, but stayed in their banks. The rivers were now high, springtime high, but not dangerous on their own.

We had a interlude. A kid’s birthday party, outside on the Hudson River. Next to the freight rail, which 5 big trains passed us while we were there. I was talking with a friend about climate change and the Hudson River. People forget it’s tidal. That the ocean pushes up it twice a day. It changes direction 4 times a day. And that sea level rise will come for it. I pointed out how exposed the MTA Hudson Line is to sea level rise. To the south it’s barely 2 feet above current high tide. 2 feet of sea level rise, which with no real climate action, will happen within 30 years. Aggressive action might give us a century. And what will this region look like when that train is gone. Pre-covid, those commuter trains were full all the time. The growth of Beacon and Poughkeepsie has been fueled by easy access to New York City. It represents a huge amount of the money flowing into the economy.

And then Ida. The meteorologists were right, Ida should not have taken us by surprise. They wrote the warning for the storm before it had a name, 5 days out. They gave the North East 48 hrs notice of catastrophic flooding possibilities. They couldn’t have done a better job. But people can only hear things that they believe are possible. Their imagination is shaped by what they saw before. When I mentioned to my wife that Weather Underground thought we were going to get 3.5 inches of rain, she said, I hope not. It can be wrong for sure. But they always thought Henri was a 2 inch event for us.

The rains came. Steady at first. And building. And when it was all said and done over 5 inches had fallen here in less than 24 hours. On top of the saturated ground. This time the rivers did not stay put. It took the whole of a sunny day after the storm for with Wappingers creek to crest, and it’s still receding. Areas remain under water, there is no where for the water to go.

Freedom Lake is gone again. This didn’t surprise us. After going 7 years between flood induced rebuilds, this time it was 7 weeks. They’ll have the whole off season to fix it. But for how long?

But the real surprise. The one we weren’t expecting. The trains are stopped.

Riding across the Walkway over the Hudson seeing a silent Poughkeepsie Train station was bizarre. The MTA is working on it, trying to find a way to repair enough for limited service on those lines. It also means Amtrak for Albany to NYC is shuttered until further notice. And there were no freight trains on the CSX rails on the West side of the river yesterday.

Labor day brings the unofficial end of summer. The temperature, humidity, and air quality have all dropped back to extremely pleasant.

But we are only half way through Hurricane season. The ground is saturated, there is no where for more water to go. And we are still in a Pandemic.

Many parts of the world have been living this kind of climate emergency for years. Disaster after disaster, no breathing space between them. We can’t rebuild from climate disasters fast enough. Our town’s park budget is broken, because of Climate Change. And this isn’t a new normal. As we continue to burn fossil fuels, this gets worse every year. This will be “one of the good years” when we look back from mid century. It’s why we have to do everything we can to transform our society away from extraction of dirty fuels, and to something far more collaborative and cleaner. This is a special time in history where the future will really be decided over the next few years. Not many people have the chance to live in a moment in history where this much change is possible. It’s a brutal responsibility, but one that if you embrace you’ll look back knowing you did what you could to really shape the future for the better.

Climate Giving

Image source:

This past week I was talking with my folks on the phone, and my mom asked a question: What climate organizations should she give to? She has typically been giving to various animal welfare organizations, but it’s really been occurring to her that all that work is for naught if we fail to act on climate.

In the chance anyone else is interested in the answers, here we go. Let’s give the simple list, and then why later.

501c4 Lobbying Orgs (non tax deductable): Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Sunrise Movement.

501c3 Orgs:, Environmental Voter Project

Climate Journalism/Media: Drilled News, Heated, Hottake, Our Warm Regards.

501c4 orgs

Many people associate not for profit corporations with tax exempt charity status, but that’s not strictly true. To be granted tax exempt status there are a bunch of rules around it. One of it is that you can’t spend the majority of your resources on Lobbying elected officials (the official rule is something like 10%, so you’ll see lots of charities with a 20 person staff having 1 policy person, that’s fine).

The thing about climate change: it’s a really big problem. A problem that needs systems change to really solve. And that means policy. Which means you really do need to lobby for things. And a few of these orgs are all in for doing that.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is an organization I’ve devoted a lot to. At the heart of the organization is a belief that the way forward on climate is by strengthening democracy, and that a big part of that is training volunteers all over the country to go into elected officials offices as citizen lobbyists, and ask for it. We’ll never outspend the professionals, but we do outnumber them. In the past 3 years I’ve now done over 20 lobby sessions, including 7 with my congressman’s office (once with him directly). I now feel incredibly empowered to sit down with my elected officials and ask them for things. In many of those meetings I’ve had break through moments realizing that we were bringing brand new information and perspectives to the table.

Supporting this org means funding the national staff, who manage education, messaging, and materials for the 195,000 volunteers in the group. I’ve met most of the national staff now, many have become friends. They work on a shoestring budget for what their impact is.

Sunrise Movement is a youth climate organization, founded in 2017, who were thrust onto the national stage through the Green New Deal plan. Sunrise is also one of the organizations most responsible for pushing the Democratic presidential field into being better on climate. They are working off a theory for change from the Civil Rights Movement.

They also only let you join the organization directly if you are under 35. This is a youth centered organization, specifically lifting the voices of millennial and gen z.

So while I can’t join, I can support them financially, which again pays for their leaders to be able to build the movement.

501c3 Orgs – The organization started by Bill McKibben named after the safe atmospheric level of CO2 we need to get to. We’re currently at 414 (pre-industrial was 280ish). Their work of late has been focused on divestment, getting organizations to divest their investments from fossil fuels. When they started this work there was a lot of skepticism that it would mean anything, because there was always more money on the table. But, a decade in, it’s starting to snowball now. The fossil fuel companies are starting to complain about lack of financing, and it’s definitely removing social license from them. was the first charity I gave to who was working on changing systems, not just relieving suffering. I’ve been donating to them for over 10 years, and it’s really great so see this work coming to fruition.

Environmental Voter Project – I first heard about this org 3 years ago, and went all in this year.

It turns out Environmentalists tend to suck at going to the ballot box. And this is one of the reasons why politicians don’t prioritize the issue, because it hasn’t won them elections. EVP exists to change this, by building lists of people where Environment and/or Climate are their top issue, but who don’t vote regularly. And then, we text them, call them, knock on their doors. Remind them an election is coming up. Remind then that voting is a norm. Ask them to say out load to us that they are going to vote.

Because it turns out if you tell someone you are going to do something out loud, you are far more likely to. EVP doesn’t tell anyone how to vote. Just works to make Environmentalists super voters. People that show up to vote for every election, from president, to school board, to dog catcher.

In addition to financial support, I helped organize and run phone banking hours this fall, and activating a lot of CCL volunteers to help make calls. This organization is really running on a shoe string budget, and all money goes into buying the data sets and supporting their very small national staff.

Journalism / Media

One of the dramatic changes that happened on the climate landscape this past couple of years is a whole lot of really talented people (mostly women) ventured out of safer media landscapes and decided there was a lot of climate journalism not being told because of the publishing companies didn’t see value in it. Maybe that’s because of how much ad revenue they get from fossil fuels? Maybe other reasons.

But, these folks changed the narrative, and also showed the appetite for it all.

Drilled – I personally found my way in here via Amy Westervelt’s incredible Drilled podcast (now in season 5). It tells the story of the huge disinformation campaign that’s been waged by the fossil fuel industry for decades to block climate action. This is required listening for anyone wanted to make change in the space. It’s infuriating at times, but sets up the real stakes going forward. Once she made an option to support the effort, I was all in.

Heated – Just of a year ago Emily Atkins quit her job and started a climate news letter full time for people that were angry about climate change. It was great. The first couple of months she did it for free, but was always up front that she would make it subscription based so she could pay the rent. I’m pretty sure I signed up day one that she did. Her voice is amazing, and she’s asking hard questions of powerful people. Her complaints about Twitter’s ad policy around climate denial changed policy there. The list of powerful folks that consider Heated required reading is only growing.

Hot Take – Amy Westervelt teamed up with Mary Annaise Heglar to make a podcast (and now news letter) that discussed the best of climate writing. Not just journalism, but all kinds of writing. It’s great stuff, and the two of them riffing off each other is always incredible. Again, once they had an option to financially support them, I was all in.

Our Warm Regards – This has been a years long project by Jacquelyn Gill and Ramesh Laungani. Jacquelyn is one of my favorite climate voices on twitter. This podcast centers some of the science of climate change, but in often unexpected ways. The recent episode on the Tempestries project (making scarves that show the temperatures changes of time), was really remarkable. This year they setup a patreon to help pay for interns to help with the show. Again, I was all in.

Why so many?

We don’t yet know what will be the winning solution on climate. Will it be insider policy work? Will it be outside pressure? Will it be social license change? Will it be changing the electorate? Will it require all of the above and more?

I’m privileged to be working in an industry where we’re paid quite well. So I feel like I can support a bunch of these efforts both with money and time. I also feel like the journalism side doesn’t get enough attention. Climate journalism is critical to connect these impacts with our day to day lives, and exposing some of the history around industry disinformation to block action.

If you are looking for one answer – Citizens’ Climate Lobby remains the organization I give the most to, and where I think some of the bigest outcomes are likely to be. Especially given that the Senate is going to be somewhere between 52-48 R/D, to 50-50. How we collectively partnered with EVP this fall and activated a huge number of volunteers and leaders to do that work was amazing.


2hrs and 50 minutes. When I looked at my phone yesterday, that’s how much time it said I had left in the audio book of All We Can Save, a remarkable collection of essays and poetry on the climate crisis and solutions. This is just a bit longer than a 30 mile bike ride to New Paltz and back on the rail trail. Having been working since 6am, I decided a long afternoon bike ride was both needed and deserved. I popped on my aftershocks head phones, and off I went.

A bonus of the audio book is that all the poetry is read by the two editors, Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr Katharine Wilkinson, while all the essays are read by a collection of equally impressive woman like Jane Fonda, Julia Luis Dreyfuss, America Ferrera, and many more.

This book is remarkable. The wide range of voices, all with important but different insights. It’s not a single voice with an overriding thesis that keeps trying to convince you of something, it’s a rich chorus of personal experiences. 40 essays and 20 poems, orchestrated in an incredible tempo. There are so many layers in this book, that it will require rereading and relistening, and discussing and absorbing for years to come. And I cherish that idea of coming back to this book time and time again.

It’s hard to pick favorite pieces, but a few stand out in this first reading. (Many of the pieces were published in other forms prior to this book, so I’ll link to earlier versions where I can.)

Did It Ever Occur to You That Maybe You’re Falling in Love? is an irreverent take on “the problem”. It hit really close to home, and I laughed out loud during parts. Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s reading of it was spot on.

Heaven or High Water – Sarah Miller goes “undercover” in Miami pretending to be a Silicon Valley Wife looking for a place in this city under siege. And she keeps asking the realitors about climate change, and how it’s impacting them.

Reciprocity – Janine Benyus tells of her experience in forestry and ecology, and how a dominant narrative of individualism shaped forestry science for 5 decades. This prevented us from understanding what was actually happening beneath the soil, and the ways that trees exchange nutrients, and are healthier in a collective with diverse species.

A Field Guide for Transformation – Dr Leah Stokes lays out her journey, from recycling in 5th grade, to coming to really understand the energy system. How our influence, and collective action, works in widening circles, and how we must not demand perfection or purity in ourselves before tackling larger systems change.

This is just a flavor of the many incredible pieces in here, and only scratches the surface. I can’t recommend this book enough. Go get yourself a copy, and dive in. You won’t regret it.


From 1992 to 1994, a division called Maxis Business Simulations was responsible for making serious professional simulations that looked and played like Maxis games. After Maxis cut the division loose, the company continued to operate independently, taking the simulation game genre in their own direction. Their games found their way into in corporate training rooms and even went as far as the White House.

When SimCity got serious: the story of Maxis Business Simulations and SimRefinery | The Obscuritory

After the success of SimCity, Maxis started making other simulation “games” targeted at industry. It included a refinery game, as well as one to help inform the health care policy debate in the early Clinton white house.

This reminds me a lot of why En-Roads is such an effective tool for doing climate simulations, there is real time feedback, and it feels like a game. But as you move sliders around you can see how complex systems interact, sometimes in surprising ways.

I think the story also gives a really important cautionary tale on tools for policy. SimHealth was built to inform the health care debate. Many approximations and things were left out of the game to make it playable, and then it was largely targeted at policy insiders. Whereas the value was probably more in raising broad understanding for the complexity and interactions of different policy approaches.

30 years later, I still think about C, R, I as the basis for zoning (even though that’s completely inaccurate in a real world), because of years of SimCity play. It makes me wonder how cool it might be to have a SimCity 2050 that starts with a modern prebuilt city (or state), and your job is to rebuild it to net-zero by 2050. What a cool game that would be.

Verifying Folklore

A little while back, the internet was abuzz with the inspirational story of Mary Anning, a pioneering 19th-century paleontologist from Lyme Regis in England. Some of my favorite blogs and magazines got in on the act: Atlas Obscura, QI (Quite Interesting), Dangerous Women, Cracked, and Forbes, to name just a few, published versions of the Mary Anning story. Anning was a woman from a working-class family; her father, a cabinetmaker, was mentioned by Jane Austen in 1804. Despite her lack of formal education, Anning was involved in the discovery of several categories of ancient animals, including the ichthyosaur, the plesiosaur, and the pterosaur. She also figured out that some of the rocks she was finding and breaking open were fossilized feces, becoming one of the discoverers of the coprolite! Because she was a woman, and working class, and a religious minority to boot, she was not always recognized for her achievements, and many of her discoveries were published by Anglican male scientists. [1]

Normally, I’d love the way this story spread. It has everything: pioneer women scientists, Regency and Victorian England, beachcombing, fossils…it’s like Pride and Prejudice at the beach, with feminism, dinosaurs, and poop jokes. What’s not to like?

To be honest, there was one problem: the hook on which most of these blogs hung their story was the assertion that Mary Anning was the inspiration for the tongue twister “she sells seashells on the seashore.” Most of them even included the tongue-twister connection in the title of the blog post. But none of them provided any evidence for their claim.

She Sells Seashells and Mary Anning: Metafolklore with a Twist

Having a young daughter also made me want to believe this, and then today googling I came across this Library of Congress piece from a couple of years ago that dives into verifying it.

It turns out, it’s probably not true. But the entire process of attempting to verify it is amazing all on it’s own. Great read about what rigorous testing of assumptions looks like, and all the other far more interesting things you will find out along the way.

moving on from HVOPEN

18 years ago I had this idea. Linux was on the rise, and wouldn’t it be cool if we had a local Linux user group? How would you even do something like that? It took 18 months, a couple of false starts, driving to a meeting in a snow storm (because I was an idiot), but eventually, in March of 2003, was created. That first meeting I wasn’t even there when it started, as I was loading off of an airplane and got there late.

When you do anything for nearly 2 decades, there are good times, and bad times. I remember sitting in a bar with my friend Ben one of those times I was close to walking away. But that asking for help, got a lot more folks involved, and breathed new life into it. It took use through a new generation of leaders, and even a whole new rebrand into HV Open.

Outside of family and work, I have only so much energy to put into organizing things. Right now, in this moment in history, it’s all going to one place: our local Citizens Climate Lobby Chapter. This is a group I found out about through a friend from college. It’s a volunteer driven organization working to build the political will for a livable future. It starts with getting congress to put a price on carbon pollution, and return that money as a monthly dividend for all adults. It’s been an incredible growth experience in learning what it means to be an engaged citizen in the 21st century. Addressing climate change is a lot less overwhelming when you are acting on it, engaging local media, meeting with local leaders, and sitting down with your member of congress and bringing your concerns to the table.

But that takes time and energy, there is always more to do. And it meant I was really shortchanging HV Open. It was time to pass the torch for good. So I’m doing that.

June was the last meeting I ran. There is now a leadership team with Joe and Matt at the helm that will be fleshing out what’s next. As with any legacy transition, expect a few bumps along the way. I’ll still be at most of the meetings, but I get to just come and listen now, and not have making it all work be my responsibility. It’s a little bit amazing.

Thanks to everyone that helped make HV Open the organization it is today. Things don’t just survive 16 years on their own. I’m really proud of what I helped build, and excited to see how this thing evolves with new voices and new leadership.

Why US Emissions Rose in 2018

The news isn’t good for 2018. US CO2 emissions are estimated to be up 3.4% from last year, from a new Rhodium report. The details of that report are really interesting.

Emissions per sector

Unpacking those in order, we’re doing a good job at electrifying everything, however where we get that electricity from isn’t keeping up with demand. In the past the building of new Natural Gas power generation basically was at the expense of Coal power. But, now we’re at the point where the bulk of new demand is being served by Natural Gas, as we can’t build zero carbon sources nearly fast enough to keep up with new demand (not even to mention retiring old sites). A carbon price would be really effective at changing this equation.

Transport is really interesting, because buried in the report is this really interesting graph:

Are we at peak car?

Even with all the growth, gas demand was down. This further supports the theory that we’re at peak car that’s been floated in a few other places. Transportation sector emissions are still growing though because shipping (via trucks) and air transport are still on a growth path.

Buildings were another area where things were problematic, and a big part of it was the polar vortex last winter. We had just converted over to geothermal, and the fleets of oil trucks running all over last winter were notable. The buildings sector really needs more performance standards/building codes, and pushes for enhanced insulation and heat pump conversions. Our conversion from fuel oil to geothermal last year took 7 metric tons of CO2 off the board, which was the single biggest change we could make as a family.

Industry was the last huge add. I do wonder if they will have deeper numbers on what actually was going on here. What gets in this bucket is not always what you’d expect:

What is industry anyway?

Close to 20% of it is petroleum refining, which means that a lot of this could be attributed to increased US exports of fossil fuels, and the push this administration has made there. It is one of those areas where we get a 2 for 1 if we reduce fossil fuel demand other places. A carbon price would help here quite a bit, and help more generally in the rest of the industrial sector as it would let each part of it figure out how to do what they are doing in a more carbon efficient way.

While the report is not good news, it’s at least helpful to see what actually was driving it to figure out what kinds of policies would help.

Sloop At the Factory

Having lived in the Hudson Valley for over 20 years, I now get to be one of those folks that says things like: “have you been to that new icecream place? It’s across from where that dumpling place used to be, that was a bbq place before it. You know the one in the old bank building.” Businesses and places leave a fossil record, and after 20 years you become aware of the fossil layers beneath the current facade.

But, there are times when the new facade plays so much tribute to the old, and the old was so familiar, that it’s notable in it’s own right. As with Sloop at the Factory, where we were last night.

Sloop Factory Entrance

Sloop is one of the older craft breweries in the area, I remember them with bottles at farmers markets close to 20 years ago. I had heard recently that they had opened a new brewing facility at an old IBM plant, but the way it was described to me at first it didn’t sink in where it was. Which is the old IBM East Fishkill 330C building. The building that was on the other side of the cafeteria from 330D where I first worked when I moved to the Hudson Valley.

The old IBM site is really a great place for a brewery. It’s got all kinds of infrastructure, as this used to be chip manufacturing. 20 years ago they put in a new water pipeline from City of Poughkeepsie to have high quality water for their lithography lines (tolerances for chip manufacturing are much stricter than drinking water standards). And it’s nice to see something using that space instead of it sitting empty.

Drinking water tap
I really have no idea what kind of monitor station this once was, but now it’s the water tap.

But where I truly applaud the Sloop folks is how much they embraced the bones they are built upon. They converted an old monitoring station to their water tap. They have plaques of various IBM invention accomplishments out along the walls. The whole place pays homage to an era that’s past, as they expand into the future. With over 60 breweries in the Hudson River Valley, it feels really appropriate to have one now in an old IBM site, spanning the industries between the generations.

Cozy up to the bar, or pick a table. There are stacks of board games and arcade cabinets around.

Sloop’s always had some great beer. But with all the space available to them in this place they also put in a kitchen (with a kids menu), and have a ton of low, high, and picnic tables through out it. There are stacks of board games, including an old copy of candy land that we played last night. As a parent of a 4 year old I really appreciate this new brewery ethos of being kid friendly (Kings Court is doing this right as well). I like good beer, and being able to bring the whole family along makes for a fun evening.

We’ll definitely be back. And I look forward to taking old friends that used to work in those buildings back as well to get a glimpse of the past and the future all at once.

Book Review: The Sixth Extinction

Over the holidays I finally got around to reading/listening to The Sixth Extinction. It was quite good, but the language was at a density level where I found listening to the audio book to be a lot easier than reading on my kindle. Fortunately for me, both copies were in our library, so after my ebook lend expired I switched to e-audiobook lend to finish it off.

The book uses the lens of a number of extinct or endangered species to look at humanity’s impact on the world. And each species provides an opportunity to dig into a different part of science or the history of science around them.

The chapter on the Mastadon was fascinating. I never realized that the Mastadon, first discovered not that far from here in the Hudson Valley, was the trigger for the idea of species extinction. Unlike the Mamouth, whose teeth can be confused for that of an elephant’s, the Mastadon has cone shaped teeth that can’t be. It was odd enough that Thomas Jefferson believed these beasts were roaming the west, and were part of the reason he sent survey teams out. Eventually it would trigger the idea that species could go extinct, and start the process of reconstructing our past. But it’s super cool this happened in our back yard.

I learned was that Ocean Acidification was kind of accidentally discovered to be a thing after picking through the remains of the failed Biosphere 2 project. It turns out their biosphere wasn’t so good, so CO2 levels got up north of 1000 ppm, which drove the pH of the water quite acidic.

I discovered that I had a closer relationship to bat white-node syndrome than I realized, as Al Hicks was one of the state ecologists that first found it in NY. I met Al last year through at the regional Citizens’ Climate Lobby conference, as he’s also the Albany chapter lead.

And I really liked some of the visuals around the idea of a “new pangea”. It’s interesting to think about how global trade has effectively eliminated all the island barriers that we once had.

Definitely a recommended read. Going to be digesting some of it for a while.

Communication in 2019

Given that google is shuttering hangouts sometime in the next year, I decided this was finally the time to bail out of it. It did a lot of different things.


One thing Hangouts gave me, was a chat system that I could easily use from my computer and my phone, and that didn’t super compress images when my wife and I would exchange kid pics when I was on a trip.

Signal looks like it will be my more or less full replacement for that this year. It’s based on an open and secure protocol, and there is an electron desktop app that seems to work quite well. It also seems to be where a critical mass of the folks I chat with regularly have landed, so nudging over the few stragglers will hopefully not be that hard.

Group Chat

I’m using Slack a lot for work, and for HV Open. Our completely dead IRC channel became a more lively rolling conversation once we moved that community to Slack. And it’s a much better place for a rolling conversation than this long standing group Hangout that we had going a year ago. I’m no longer actively involved in any open source project that uses IRC as their communications base (Home Assistant uses Discord which I start from time to time), so I haven’t run IRC for the better part of a year.


The other thing that Hangouts gave me was convenient video platform that mostly just worked (even on Linux). Fortunately Zoom does that even better. Citizens’ Climate Lobby uses Zoom extensively, and I’ve been using it whenever I can instead of phone calls. Video is so much more expressive. We’ve even had pretty good luck linking in external participants to our CCL monthly meetings.

Hangouts video was also how I called home during business trips. There will be less of those in 2019, but I’ll see how zoom works on the mobile side this year.


I really want to be blogging more often again. This blog is self hosted WordPress. We’ll see if this sticks once I’m back in the office and time slips away. While I’m not planning to drop out of social media in 2019, I do think that giving them less exclusive content is a good thing, and posting more here in the open is good. I use Feedly to read a lot of blogs, so if anyone else who reads this is also writing, drop your RSS url in the comments, and I’d happily follow you on the open internet instead of in a closed garden.

Email / Texting

Email is always good as well. You can always find me at sean at dague dot net. Easy enough. Email has inertia, I get it. Texts are good as well. I’ve tried to go out of my way and check in on folks a little more than I used to, which means my text messages are a thing now (and never used to be). We’ll see how many of those folks (who are not computer people) I can convince to hop to Signal this year.

I do wish Google didn’t auto abandon everything it created, but given that it does, at least there feels like there are good replacement tools now.