Only Half USA Children Raised by Biological Parents

I was reading: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/only-half-of-us-children-are-being-raised-by-their-married-parents-25600

 

Since I’ve spent the last 7 years of my life dedicated to helping improve outcomes for students placed in a school setting with devices, I’ve become more acutely aware of the larger societal shifts which are making it difficult for children to overcome the hurdles being thrown in their way by the culture in the USA.

There’s plenty of evidence backing up the concept that the environment most likely to help a child grow into a successful adult overwhelmingly points to a household with a married biological mother & father.  That doesn’t mean other household environments can’t raise good children, it just means the odds are best in this setting.

As an overall culture, it should be a major disappointment to us then to find out that half of all children in our country are in a less than optimal home setting by the time they graduate high school.  With an all-time low in married adults, it appears that we’re heading towards even lower percentages of children growing up in a home with their parents.

What are the implications of this going to be down the road?  Will other home settings, schools and/or other community organizations be able to adapt and fill in whatever it is that’s missing from the home?

Tent Camping Reviews

My family has really started to love getting the tent out and camping together.  So much so that I thought a nice post to remind me of what we’ve liked and didn’t like.  I have a family with 5 small kids, oldest is only born in 2008, so we’re more into quiet wooded sights, beginner level hiking, and good sites to see etc…

Unfortunately, the majority of campers or camping these days refers to people that want electric sites for their RV or we’ve even seen people with window unit air conditioners for there tent!  That’s not us; when we go camping, we like the old-fashioned non-electric site and a tent.  We even sleep on the ground!   The camp chef grill is the one major luxury that we take along every time.

Missouri Tent Camping

  • Knob Knoster State Park *****  Stayed there 2 nights in summer 2016.  They have nice wooded sites, pretty good hiking trails, and a nature center with nightly shows that the kids really liked.  We really enjoyed this one and would go back.
  • Lewis & Clark State Park **  Stayed there for 2 nights in summer 2017.  We were really disappointed by the campgrounds here which weren’t really “out in nature” much.  One side was right behind residential fencing between people’s backyards.  The pros were that there was a nice playground, a pretty good beginner hiking trail within walking distance, and the lake is right there.

Iowa Tent Camping

  • Palisades-Kepler State Park *****  Stayed there one night summer of 2018 and we wished we could have stayed longer.  The drop-in process was easy, the campsites were wooded with quite a few non-electric off to themselves.  An easy hike led to a great spot on the river nearby.

Illinois Tent Camping

  • Pere Marquette State Park *****  Went through St. Charles MO and took the Grafton Ferry in summer of 2018.  We really liked this park.  It has an older separate section away from all the RVs for the tent camping and the Lodge is within walking distance.
  • Illini State Park **** This was a nice park with a nice variety of sites.  We stayed there in summer of 2018 in a really wooded site instead of staying by the river or a little more out in the open.

Wisconsin Tent Camping

  • Pike Lake State Park **** We stayed here in summer of 2018.  We really liked the nearby lake for it’s nice swimming area.  The one piece we didn’t like was the check-in process or vehicle fees that go with the Wisconsin state parks.
  • Apostle Islands Area Campground **** We stayed here two nights in summer of 2018.  The best part of this campground is the location.  It’s proximity to the Apostle Islands and Bayfield were perfect.  The tent sites were off and away from the RVs which we also like.  The restrooms and showers should be in a little better shape but all-in-all, this was a good place for us.

imovie not exporting video to file (error 10004)

I was running into this issue and most of the help I found on the internet was either too time consuming or didn’t work. In this case, I eventually found the answer on an apple forum. In the past I’ve had bad luck finding such information later on so I figure’d I’d save it off on my small corner of the web.

Here are the symptoms I was experiencing:
– I had recorded a video with a different piece of software and imported to iMovie
– I added voice over & edited the video and all seemed well
– Went to export to a file and immediately it throws the error 10004 before the pie starts to fill up at all

Thanks to Bruno’s review I was able to easily resolve the issue. If only that were the first advice that I’d seen….

Anyhow, just delete the first second of the video clip and add a freeze frame if necessary to make up for it.

Then exporting works fine for me. Hooray!

4 Ted Videos to Inspire Small Business Leaders

I love the Ted series of videos but I don’t always like having to sift through the speeches to find the ones I find valuable.  I’ve helped found and continue to run what’s become a small business for 7 years now and gone through all sorts of ups and downs, successes and failures, etc…

These four videos inspire me in different ways that are helpful but more insightful than practical in their application.  If you’re a small business owner and have an hour to get rejuvenated, these videos are perfect.

Work-Life Balance from a Titan of TV

With the runaway success of shows like Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes has become one of Hollywood’s most powerful icons.  She goes through how she loves work too much at times and how saying yes to playing with her children is her particular outlet for getting her peak drive and motivation levels back when she hits a lull.
Takeaway It’s natural to go through peaks and valleys. Am I taking that right amount time to recreate?

Built for 100 Years

Martin Reeves, a biologist by trade and now a consultant, shares six principles from living organisms to build resilient businesses that flourish in the face of change. I’m not trying to build a flash in the pan or a get rich quick company that I flip for millions or billions. I want to create a lasting impact and spend my time working on something meaningful.
Takeaway Of the 6 principles, Prudence may just be the most important trait of a small business that helps it create lasting impact.

Exploration vs. Exploitation

Knut Haanaes makes a compelling case to think more explicitly about which mode or mindset a company is spending it’s time and effort within. Too much of either leads to failure while the right balance can result in wonderful growth.
TakeawayIt’s critical to spend the company’s time & money on the right balance of activities. Don’t get complacent or too greedy with something that’s working.

Frugal Innovation

Navi Radjou looks at examples of innovation in emerging markets with particular emphasis on interesting inventions from Africa and Asia that have helped millions of people by taking advantage of what resources are plentiful instead of waiting on the western world. Many of these entrepreneurs have no funding, little to no education, and yet they create remarkable solutions to real world issues in their region.
TakeawayDon’t fall into the trap that more employees, more funding, more something is all I need to get over the next hurdle.

Hopefully this post about TED videos for small business leaders has guided you to some of the better TED videos from the past few years and provided a valuable time of reflection. Now, go back and keep at it.

Troubling Post about Parents and Kids Having Phones

If you are thinking about whether or not to get your child a phone and let them spend time on facebook, snapchat, twitter, etc…  You really need to read this article:  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

Below are a few quotes that really jumped out at me.

The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.

There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness.

The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who play sports, go to religious services, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly.

 

Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan.

 

Children who use a media device right before bed are more likely to sleep less than they should, more likely to sleep poorly, and more than twice as likely to be sleepy during the day.

And What to Do

The article suggests that the executives in silicon valley that bring us the devices and social media services that are behind all of this are unlikely to allow the amount of use that’s associated with the troublesome increases in unhappiness, loneliness, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Even Steve Jobs limited his kids’ use of the devices he brought into the world.

 

Debugging Dependencies of Django Project in Eclipse

This is another one of those posts to help myself in the future.  I’ve got some legacy python projects whose directions only get you a django app running in a virtualenv within eclipse but the dependencies themselves are not debuggable.

It was straightforward once I found the right advice.

If you’re like me and have a build that creates a virtualenv with everything installed already by pip and a requirements.txt file.  Here’s how to get the environment and eclipse changed so that you can debug any dependency.

#Step 1.  Remove the dependencies files from the virtualenv

This works for mac and uninstalls files that might have spaces in them too

python setup.py install --record files.txt
# inspect files.txt to make sure it looks ok. Then:
tr '\n' '\0' < files.txt | xargs -0 sudo rm -f --

I figured that out after a few different attempts and the best way to do it came from StackOverflow here:  https://stackoverflow.com/a/25209129

 

#Step 2. Add the source folder as an external build dependency on the Python Interpreter Path

Add source folder to eclipse for debugging dependency

 

 

 

 

 

Credit for this step goes to a small sentence buried here:  https://lukeplant.me.uk/blog/posts/eclipse-pydev-and-virtualenv/

 

That’s it.  Restart your django server and set a breakpoint inside that internal dependency.

This will save you a ton of time vs. all those import pdb; pdb.set_trace() statements

Drawbacks

This will break the virtualenv from the command line so for things like python manage.py commands.  For those items, I went ahead and set up a second virtualenv.

django manage.py show stacktrace

This is a quick one more to save me time than anything else.

If you’re looking for how to get the stacktrace when a django manage.py command crashes, the –traceback option is what you’re looking for.

Use it like this:

python manage.py <methodname> --traceback

DIY: Fall off the bone BBQ Ribs in 2 hours

My grandpa made ribs this way and as a kid I would watch and even help.  My mom continued on the tradition and now this is one of my favorite meals to serve for friends and family.  I mentioned at lunch today at a great BBQ place that I don’t order ribs because I always wish I was eating my own!

Here’s what you need:

  • Heavy duty aluminum foil.  As good and strong as you can find.  I buy mine at costco.
  • Soy Sauce
  • Liquid Smoke ( Your favorite flavor)
  • St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs – This cut of ribs is just the right thickness to get meaty, delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs in 2 hours
  • A large tray for carrying the ribs around and working on them during cooking.
  • BBQ sauce –  Know your audience.  More on this later.
  • Spices ( Optional if you buy pre-rubbed ribs ).

Here’s what you do:

  • Open up the ribs, apply your rub and stick the ribs in the fridge for a couple hours.  Sometimes I buy a couple slabs that have already been rubbed and skip this step.
  • Take everything down by your grill and fire the grill up hot enough to sear.  I usually go to 500 degrees.
  • Sear each side of the slab 6-8 minutes with a quarter turn halfway through so you get real good grill marks and seal the juices in.
  • After searing, quickly place the ribs into the heavy duty aluminum foil.  Put a light line of liquid smoke down the ribs.  Similarly sprinkle the ribs with Soy sauce.  Put on your bbq sauce.  A couple of notes about this step.  The soy sauce seems to soften up the meat a little bit more than normal.  For the BBQ sauce, if everyone likes the same kind of sauce, put a bunch of that on.  If your group all likes different, some sweet, some hot, etc…  then just put a little bit of a traditional sauce and they can pick their own sauce later.
  • Foil them up real good.  With the heavy duty foil and some good tongs, you shouldn’t puncture the foil.  If you’re worried that you might, go ahead and wrap in foil a second time.  We want to keep those juices in there.
  • Place the foiled ribs back on the grill on indirect heat at about 300 degrees for 90-120 minutes depending on the thickness of the ribs.  If your grill isn’t big enough to get truly indirect heat, do the best you can and rotate the ribs every 15 or 20 minutes turning a burner or two back on to get the grill back up to temperature.
  • Final step, cut them with kitchen scissors!  Using a knife can pull the meat off the bone.

Now I know a lot of BBQ smoker experts don’t like their ribs this way, but nearly everyone else I’ve ever met thinks these are the most delicious ribs they’ve ever tasted.

If I’ve forwarded this recipe and you’ve got questions, let me know.

Happy grilling!

-Keith

 

Download Latest iTunes Reviews with a Quick Python Script

Ever wanted to be able to download the latest itunes reviews for your app to display on your website, understand & analyze user requests better, or just have a copy for yourself?

I was trying to do just that and was happy to find that itunes support RSS feeds for every app in iTunes using the app id.

It’s super simple once you know the format to start fetching your reviews and doing whatever you want with them programmatically.

How to Download Latest iTunes Reviews

1.  Find your app’s id by looking at the url to your app on itunes.

2.  Construct the url to your RSS feed by replacing the <id> with your id (just the number part).

https://itunes.apple.com/rss/customerreviews/id=<app-id-goes-here>/json

3.  Start writing code to do whatever you want with reviews

A Quick Python Demo

This sample is pretty simple but quickly shows what is possible by printing out the rating and review for the most recent reviews of the app.

import json
import requests

resp = requests.get('https://itunes.apple.com/rss/customerreviews/id=<app-id-goes-here>/json')
itunesrssjson = json.loads( resp.content)

for entry in itunesrssjson['feed']['entry']:
 print "{1}".format( entry.get("im:rating").get("label"), \
                     entry.get('content').get('label'))

Let’s say you only want to look at 5 star reviews.  Just add a quick little if statement in there.

for entry in itunesrssjson['feed']['entry']:
 if entry.get('content') and entry.get("im:rating").get("label") in ["5"]:
   print "{1}".format( entry.get("im:rating").get("label"), \
                       entry.get('content').get('label'))

 

That’s it!  Use or learn some python skills to sort, filter, fetch additional reviews and more.  Or you can always use whatever language you’re best at.

Have fun getting your reviews the quick and easy way.

Family Friendly Internet: Free Tips for a Safer Home

These are the basic steps I have taken to getting family friendly internet and device usage in my home.  If you’re concerned that your kids are seeing things they shouldn’t or are tired of stumbling onto things yourself, these steps make it much less likely that anyones eyes will accidentally fall onto some of the terrible content that’s online.

What made me put these steps for Family Friendly Internet together?

I was trying to purchase school pictures this morning and mistyped the url from the form by one character.  You know what happens next; bam…ton’s of sinful garbage I don’t want to see spewed into my face during the morning coffee.  It’s not the first time it’s happened but I was finally motivated to try and make it the last time that garbage comes up by accident.

My Strategy

I do not believe it’s completely possible to block all of the filth.  If an intelligent person knows what they are doing, there are many ways to trick filters and other systems into letting you find content if you would like.  However, in this case, I have made it more difficult to either accidentally or intentionally find the garbage on my home network.

This only supplements the need for a strong policy on how and where devices can be used in the home.  In a world with so many social sites full of user uploaded content, at some point, anyone who wants to find the filth is going to find it.

  • Block Content at the Router
  • Limit Device Usage to Open Rooms

How to Block Content at the Router

Implement a content filtering policy at the router level so that every device connected to your network will have it’s content filtered.  Software filtering is too big of a pain since it requires an installation of every device.

Implement Basic Content Filtering

I use OpenDNS Family Shield to setup my router.  It’s very straightforward and there are really only two steps to getting free basic family filtering on your router.  Once this is setup, any device that connects to the wireless network will by default have a family friendly internet setup that can only connect to web domains that are considered appropriate for a family audience.

Point the router DNS static IP addresses to the OpenDNS family friendly filter IP Addresses:

208.67.222.123
208.67.220.123

Once the router is updated, restart your devices so that they will pick up the new DNS settings from the router.

Test after restarting using the link at the bottom of the OpenDNS Family Shield web page.

Note that this only “suggests” to every device on the network what DNS servers to use and that an adept user can override this from each device.

Limitations With Most Routers

Even after telling the router to use OpenDNS, safe sites like Google will still be able to find all the garbage.  While only the cached content will be there, using the safe search option on each search engine should keep the filth away.  In order to keep the garbage out of search engines, the average router cannot be setup to always force a Safe Search!

I am currently shopping for routers that can provide this level filtering.  I will update this post once I’ve found and tested a better router.  A koala router that was on kickstarter recently appears to be the best right now.

Restrict Device Usage

Finally, discourage or eliminate usage of devices behind closed doors.  No matter how good the routers get, there will be ways for smart kids to get past them.  Be especially careful with devices that have access to the mobile network since none of these steps will help with that problem.

In our home, we don’t allow devices into the bedrooms or bathrooms and when the kids are old enough for their own phones, they will stay downstairs as well.