Category: Archived

Best of Wild Rye – 2016

Photo by Andrew Neal via

Photo by Andrew Neal via

How did 2016 stack up here at Wild Rye? A lot of the year’s most popular posts were evergreen topics from years gone by, but the dominant theme seems to be “if you’ve got an itch you gotta scratch it.”

Use Witch Hazel to Cure Posion Oak Rash – Witch Hazel acts as a mild astringent and for my money beats other “cures” such as calamine lotion.

Poison-Oak: the Itch You Can Never Scratch – How and why poison oak makes you itch.

Where to Camp in Ventura County – Some of the best local campsites.

Get 32 AA Batteries from a Single 6 Volt Battery? Maybe Not So Much… – Big batteries are made of smaller batteries. But you’re not likely to find an AA bonanza inside a single lantern battery.

Hike to Two Trees – The hike to Two Trees isn’t Ventura’s best hike, but it is the most asked-about.

Trails – Directions to a few Jeep trails. A little bit useful but not current.

Trail Notes: Ballinger Canyon and Deer Park Jeep Trails – More Jeep trails.

Getting Tough: Building Climbing Calluses – When you start out rock climbing you wish there was some kind of lotion you can put on your hands to help you build calluses. Your wishes are in vain.

Mysterious Sphinx of Malibu Found? – The book Weird California teases about an ancient monument in the Malibu mountains. I discovered the secret location – but it’s just a natural rock formation.

Giant List of the Best Off-Road Camping Trailers – So many awesome trailers, so little time.

Love Camping but Can’t Part with Your Mid-century Modern Life? Try These – Eichler homes on wheels.

Grove of the Titans – Really big trees in an undisclosed location.

Allman Brothers – Deeper Cuts

If your knowledge of the Allman Brothers (like mine) is limited to southern rock toppers like Midnight Rider, Ramblin’ Man or even the straight-up blues of One Way Out then you really haven’t experienced the Allman Brothers. And that’s a little like saying you haven’t experienced the color blue or the fragrance of wisteria on a summer evening or lightning across the desert.

As expressive and transcendent as these hit songs are the band takes things to an entirely different level when they open up and start jamming. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, a song that takes its name from a headstone in a cemetery the band used to visit, lets band members open up their full box of colors. Wikipedia has a stirring review of the Fillmore East live sessions that have been mixed (or unmixed) to create a masterful jazz fusion tour de force that owes more to Miles Davis than to Southern Comfort.

This may be music for sitting and sipping but I’ve added it to my “go for a run” playlist because the Allman Brother’s relentless go-forward rhythms are perfect for the last mile when I’m dogging it.

Scientists Reveal True Face of Jesus…and He Had a Mullet

At last scientists have discovered the real face of Jesus. Broad features, dark skin and an expression that says “really? This is what you guys have spent the last five years studying?

The clincher is the hair. Leviticus says that ye shall not round the corners of your head. And the Apostle Paul says men shouldn’t have long hair. So scientists split the difference and gave Jesus a mullet.

Remember, these are the same scientists who told us that saturated fat is bad for us and that happiness makes you live longer.

[Via Complex | photo: BBC Photo Archive]

Spooky Pageviews at a Distance

I’ve been working pretty hard to promote our eCommerce site, Open Door. And we’re slowly and surely getting traffic. But something weird is happening. I’m seeing quantum effects of all this promotion.

I’m posting and promoting Open Door but I’m seeing most of the growth here on Wild Rye. What the heck? Is this evidence of Einstein’s bogie showing up in my page metrics?

Or maybe I’ve got some Wild Rye ad code in my ads for Open Door.


Photo by Luke Pamer via Unsplash

52 Boxes – Cleaning the Garage as a Way of Life

My howling nightmare of a garage didn’t just get this way by itself. It’s been a thousand bad decisions over the course of years. So this year I’m committed to tackling one box a week and emerging with perfect order and clarity of mind.

Box of packing peanuts

Box 1 Styrofoam Nuggets

Because I’m getting a late start I’m going for the low-hangning fruit here. The only decision to make with a box of packing peanuts is how to recycle them. Our local curbside recycler won’t take styrofoam of any kind. There are other ways to recycle packing peanuts but I’m opting to reuse them. Dump the peanuts in a garbage bag, collapse the box. Boom. I’m done.

Topa Topa Is My Everest

Lesson to be learned – one shouldn’t go from zero adventure to 8 on the strenuous meter in a single day. I’ve always wanted to hike to the top of the TopaTopa bluffs because, you know, they are there. So when Jeff put out the invite and said the trail was 10 miles (which I interpreted as roundtrip, not each way) I jumped at the chance.

Really I knew better, having read the write-up on Homer’s Travels.

The hike in was 6.8 miles with a 1735 ft. gain in elevation. There was rain and I couldn’t remember if my pack had a rainfly so I used my anorak to guard the pack and got soaked to the skin. We camped by some boulders at Chief Peak. We had more rain, freezing wind and our tents were iced.

There were snow flurries in the morning but the rest of the day was clear. 16.7 miles, 2014 ft. ascent, 3573 ft. descent. Got to the point where the smallest incline had me gasping for breath – like Hillary near the peak of Everest. And near the peak is as close as I got, lagging behind Jeff and Kevin who summited.

The hike back was a death march. Not sure how I made it. Feet were ground skinless by my overly stiff Vasque boots.

I wouldn’t do it again for the world – not without being in better shape. But it was worth doing this once.

Did I Just Get a Message from God?

roadmap to my future?

I walked into my office this morning to find my Master Plan to Rule the World peeling off my thinkboard.

Oddly enough my “roadmap” for managing the family trust fund (which btw was taped on top of the Master Plan) was still on the thinkboard. Is this God’s way of telling me to stay focused on the roadmap?

Like Jesus on Toast

How much attention should we pay to random, yet seemingly meaningful happenings? Maybe such events are just Jesus on toast.

Or maybe something deeper is afoot. If a random pattern is indistinguishable from a picture of a face, then how are we to say that it is not, in fact, a picture of a face. Likewise if a fortune cookie or a supermarket horoscope is accidentally meaningful, then how can we say it has no meaning?

I guess the only way to know for sure is to butter the toast and bite.

The Day After Christmas and the Psychology of Storage

Credit: Florian Klauer

So here we are. Most of us just shelled out over $700 for Christmas presents – sure, that’s down slightly from previous years but it still means something on the order of five to 75 new objects joining the parade of crap that comes into our lives.

The neat freaks among us manage to prioritize and purge, clearing out their closets and donating stuff to charities where it either goes back on the market locally or gets baled and shipped abroad where our cast-offs compete against local industries in third world countries. The rest of us simply collect more junk until there’s no place else to stash the junk and it goes into storage.

Self-Storage Is Storage for Your “Self”

One of the things that makes it tough to let go of our crap is that we confuse what we own with who we are. As if that’s not bad enough, the brain interprets parting with belongings the same way it interprets physical pain.

For me personally it looks like 2014 is going to be a tough year. I’ve maxed out our closet space and garage storage and now I have my mother’s belongings to deal with. And the cost of storage is quickly going to add up to more than the stuff is worth.

The Trouble with a Cluttered Mind

The problem with clutter is that every time you see a pile of unordered junk your mind wants to start processing it and it saps energy from the task at hand. For me personally it has gotten to the point where it is difficult to navigate my space and find stuff I want. But I think there is another problem – all this clutteration becomes an identity issue – I don’t know who I am or where my focus should be because there are simply too many options.

2014 The Year of Living Dangerously

De-crapification has got to be my next big project if I want to keep my sanity and move ahead with my life. I don’t really have a plan. I accept that it’s going to be painful. And we’ll see how this adventure goes.

[Image: Florian Klauer via Unsplash]

I, For One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords – Mint Vs Roomba


I loved our Roomba until the day it died. Could any other floor cleaner heal the pain?

It turns out the Mint floor cleaner fills the void nicely.

We have laminate flooring throughout the house. And two dogs, one of which blows out his wiry coat every few months. Unless we stay on top of it every day the dust bunnies start to take over.

What I like most about the Mint is it’s simplicity. The thing is an automated dust mop. A Swiffer with two wheels and a brain. The only care it needs is to be plugged in and have it’s pad changed.

The Roomba on the other hand required a five minute grooming routine every morning. Comb the brushes, empty the dust bucket and worst of all, tease out the dog hair that got wrapped around the front axle. This last task took a set of micro pliers to perform.

Some reviews comparing the Mint floor cleaner to the Roomba make a big deal about the Mint’s navigation system. The Mint builds a map of the room as it travels and doesn’t cover the same area twice. The Roomba is much less efficient, heading off in random directions at every turn.

Efficiency, it turns out, doesn’t equal effectiveness. If a clump of dust gets left behind when the Mint makes a turn the little robot won’t be back later to pick it up. The Roomba, as long as it has life and breath in it’s battery, will go back and collect any dust it missed.

The Roomba with it’s whirling brushes and frenetic edge sweeper brush is the more aggressive cleaner by far. But also the loudest. The Mint is whisper-quiet. As long as it doesn’t get stuck you barely know it’s there. And the Mint gets stuck less than the Roomba. The Mint is better at navigating under low sofas and dressers. The Roomba has beefier tires and is better at driving over power cords and coaxial cables.

Neither cleaner is perfect. But both do a good job at keeping the floor in habitable condition. The Roomba is less likely to leave random clumps of dog hair in it’s wake. But for my money the Mint has the upper hand. After all, what’s the point of having a robot housekeeper if you have to start every day by cleaning the robot?

You Will Be a Newbie Forever – Mastering Technology

I’ve reached a place in my life where I don’t want to learn one more stoopidly designed interface. Take the Shoretel phone system…please. (Although it’s a big improvement over Rolm phones).

Former Wired editor and technology guru Kevin Kelly explains that the technology we need most is not necessarily the technology that’s available today. Instead, we need to become expert at adapting to the speed and revolution of new technologies as they arise.

The life skill you need most is not the mastery of specific technologies, but mastery of the technium as a whole — how technology in general works. I like to think of this ability to deal with any type of new technology as techno-literacy. To be at ease with the flux of technology in modern-day life you’ll need to speak the language of the technium.

Kelly’s insight yields some surprising fruit. For instance, today’s technology is already obsolete, so don’t buy a gadget until you absolutely need it. Limit your options to avoid overload. Get by with the least amount of technology that works for you.

The Technium – Techno Life Skills

In Time for Mother’s Day: Long Stemmed Bacon

Nothing says “I love you” like a bouquet of bacon. kaptaink_cg gives us this mouth-watering Instructable showing the finer points of making artificial roses out of bacon.

Flowers make a nice gift to the friend that needs a smile or for that special someone in your life. Roses are even better. But sometimes even roses don’t cut it. Sometimes you need something a little more non-cliché, something…extraordinary… Sometimes, you need BACON.

Five easy steps with helpful tips in the comments (ie use a nail to punch the bottom of the muffin tin. No shavings plus it will help the grease drain better.)

Bacon Roses Via Neatorama

How to Blog Like Jason Kottke

Jason Kottke calls his blog a wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities. Spare and minimalist in design, with only one banner ad, Kottke’s blog is populated with just a few short posts every day. Topics range from typography to children’s books, design, cooking, soccer and interesting technology. For somebody who clearly has a very strong sense of visual aesthetics, Kottke’s blog is remarkably uncluttered by images.

Kottke’s sources include some of the usual suspects, Waxy and Etsy, but also a lot of Twitter referrals and a growing number of links back to Stellar, the new social bookmarking service that he is launching.

This Week: Shadow Blogging Jason Kottke

This week I’m going to pay close attention to, and maybe even blog in the style of, Jason Kottke.

Kottke once held the #80 spot in the Technoratti Top 100 blogs. He’s dropped in standings but remains a remarkable blogger owing to his highly interesting posts and sparse, minimalist presentation.

Kottke is currently working on Stellar, which looks like a mash-up of tumblr and Stumble Upon.