My Priorities

The Liberal Party Platform reflects the foundation of my political beliefs.

We live in the real world though, which means I need more concrete, and actionable ideas.

The following are my top priorities.

  • Consecutive term limits for the House and Senate: Being a representative is not a career. Power is corrupting, and even the best representatives should periodically return as normal citizens to the districts they represent.
  • Single-subject rule: Federal lawmaking has become a mess of complex, unreadable, and dishonest legislation. Unpopular provisions are frequently tacked onto necessary or popular bills. Majority of states within the U.S. have single-subject rules requiring a bill to deal with one main subject, we need bring this rule to the federal level of government.
  • Repeal Section 230: Social media giants currently live in a protected bubble, where they are free to act as a publisher, controlling and editing what we see, while avoiding all of the responsibility of a publisher. We need to repeal Section 230, and hold these giants accountable.
  • Address the student loan crisis: Predatory loans, backed by the U.S. Government, were pushed on millions of students. We need to end the federal student loan program, create programs to aid those struggling with their student loans, and create a federal grant program to pay for college for students in high ROI programs.
  • Strategic investment to secure domestic supply chains and provide good paying jobs for Americans: As we seen with COVID-19, our domestic supply chains can be disrupted overnight, leaving us without basic necessities. We need to invest in securing our supply lines, which will in turn support domestic job creation.
  • Automatically issued passports and automatic voter registration: We rely on an antiquated system for determining U.S. citizenship for natural born citizens. There is no reason those born in this country must later prove their citizenship when applying for a passport. Using this system we can also automatically register U.S. citizens to vote at the legal voting age.
  • Simplify the tax filing system for individuals: Again, we are relying on an antiquated system for filing individual taxes. A large portion of individuals have a simple tax situation which could be processed automatically without any effort on their part. The federal government wants your tax money, at the very least they can take most of the burden of calculating and collecting.
  • Legalize marijuana at the federal level: Millions of dollars are wasted, and thousands jailed every year for marijuana related offenses. We’ve seen it decriminalized across the country successfully; it’s time to divert resources from fighting this losing battle towards legitimate issues like the opioid epidemic.
  • Increase investment in our public lands, and expand the EPA: Our public lands are seeing increased use, and are straining under the load. We need to increase investment in our public lands, expand wilderness areas, and ensure a healthy environment for all living creatures.

Day X Production Capacity: The National Need For Domestic Production Capacity Of Necessities

There is an urgent need for planning on the federal level to ensure the ability to produce basic necessities domestically.

Our current inability to do so is a major threat to national security, and the wellbeing of Americans across the country.

As we seen in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, even basic medical supplies are not as readily available as we once believed.

We’re currently in the middle of trade negotiations and trade wars with multiple countries. It is only a matter of time before these weaknesses are leveraged against us. These risks exist during times of peace. In the event of actual hostilities, or natural disasters, the consequences will be much worse.

The federal government must identify areas of domestic production weakness and make the investments necessary to mitigate them.

Necessities can be broken down into categories depending on how quickly we must be able to bring production capacity online assuming imports become unavailable.

Day 0:

  • Common medication and medical supplies: Antibiotics, pain killers, commonly used surgical and hospital equipment.
  • Energy production: Gas, oil, coal, nuclear, solar, etc.
  • Food staples: Hardy to grow and store fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat.
  • Water distribution

Day 30:

  • Manufacturing equipment.
  • Transportation equipment.
  • Munitions production.
  • Specialized medication and medical supplies.

Day 365

  • Energy production equipment: Solar panels, gas turbines, etc.
  • Rare earth metal mining.
  • Semiconductor and high-tech manfacturing.
  • Wider range of food.

And so on…

Not only will this ensure we have what we need when the time comes, it will stimulate the economy, and create a wide range of jobs.

My Top Picks For Creepy And Scary Outdoor Halloween Activities Near Seattle

My girlfriend and I really enjoy the Halloween season, and I enjoy exploring. Over the past few years we’ve visited a handful of spooky locations within a two hour drive of Seattle.

Wanted to share these here this year, especially with the lack of other activities due to COVID-19.

Hope this gives some of you a fun Fall outing this Halloween season.

Melmont Ghost Town

Google Maps

Nice little short hike. Starts at the Fiarfax Bridge, which is a neat sight on it’s own. There’s a few abandoned cars, and remains of older structures. Don’t expect full buildings.

Franklin Ghost Town

Google Maps

Did a video trip report last year which can be found here: Franklin Ghost Town YouTube

The closest ghost town to Seattle I’ve found. Unlike Melmont, there’s less structural remains, but there are several old abandoned graveyards which are very cool. Last time I was there they had a $10 parking fee.Abandoned Snoqualmie

Train Tunnel

Google Maps

Was here last weekend and did a trip report: Biking the abandoned Snoqualmie Tunnel

By far my favorite spooky spot near Seattle. Not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re claustrophobic. This is a two mile long tunnel with NO LIGHTS, bring a flashlight. Walking will take about 45 minutes. Consider what it will be like spending 45 minutes in a wet, dark, and empty tunnel under a mountain, before attempting this.

This spot is great because there’s multiple options for getting here. If you just want to walk the tunnel you can park right next to the entrance at the Hyak Sno-Park parking lot. If you’re looking for more of a challenge you can bike across several amazing abandoned train bridges, and enjoy all the sights of the Iron Horse Trail.

Site of the Wellington Avalanche – Deadliest in US History

Google Maps

WTA Hiking

In 1910 an avalanche killed nearly 100 people trapped in a train depot in Wellington. There is now a hiking trail through the remains of Wellington. Several historical markers along the path, and remains of the former train route.

Living in Renton, Washington; an affordable alternative to Seattle. My Experience 3 years later.

I’m writing this post because, like many of us who moved to the Puget Sound region, I came here for work with the expectation of living in an apartment for a few years before buying my own place. Again, like many of you, I found that it really wasn’t realistic to find a place in Seattle with the salary I was making.

I didn’t find much on what it was actually like to live in Renton back when I was buying for the first time; so I’m giving my insight now.

The Search

In 2017 I started the search for a home in Seattle and Bellevue, quickly my search area expanded outward until I finally started to find places that fit my budget, and weren’t off the market within a few hours of being listed.

After a few weeks I narrowed it down to a place in Lynwood/Alderwood Manor and Renton. I had narrowed it down to these cities because they were about equidistant from both Seattle and the Eastside. I wanted potential commutes to be roughly the same if either myself or my girlfriend moved jobs from one side of the lake to the other.

The Purchase

I ended up making an offer on a place in Renton over Lynwood. Something about the neighborhood I selected reminded me of where I grew up in the Los Angeles area and it had more of a “city” feeling than Lynwood.

Shortly after making the offer I started the regret the decision after spending some more time exploring the area. I grew up in a poor area with its fair share of gang violence, and the Rainier Ave area of Renton seemed sketchier than any area I remember in LA.

Spent the next month until closing questioning the decision, and continued to question it for months after moving in. The first couple of weeks of commuting to Redmond from Renton were brutal, and frequently took 1.5 to 2 hours to get home.

Settling In

After a few weeks I figured out the traffic patterns and side-streets. Normal commute to work takes 30-40 minutes, and if I leave work after 6:30 I can get home in about 30-40 minutes as well. I’ve found enough alternate routes to get home in about a hour during peak hours. Overall I’m content with the amount of traffic now. I’ve commuted into Seattle a few times and travel times are about the same, if not a bit better than the commute to the east side. Many people in my neighborhood work at Amazon and walk to the transit center in Renton, I haven’t heard them complain about the commute so I assume they’re fine with it as well.

Boon Boona Coffee

Downtown Renton has improved quite a bit over the past two years and I love walking downtown on the weekends and grabbing some food and heading to Four Generals Brewing or 8 Bit Arcade Bar. When I get up early enough or when I’m working from home I always try to stop in at Boon Boona Coffee.

Renton is about 30 minutes closer than Seattle to the Cascades and Rainier area, so if you like the outdoors that is a plus.

The lakeside area of Renton is growing a lot, The Landing has a good enough selection of food. There is a huge office park, hotel, and apartment complex being built on the water named Southport which is supposedly has potential tenants like Facebook lined up. There is also a ferry service planned between the new complex and Seattle.

Also on the lake is my now favorite Lake Washington park: Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park. The park is very well maintained and has a great lakeside trail that I love running on during the winter when the park is completely dead and I have it to myself. During the summer we spend a lot of time kayaking out of this park.

Cedar River cuts through Renton and UNDER the Renton Library, which is neat. I enjoy biking along the river, especially in the fall when all the leaves are changing and fog hangs on the trail in the morning.

Seattle isn’t too far, about 10 mins to Georgetown, and 20 minutes to Downtown on the weekend when there’s no traffic. A bus ride into downtown followed by an UBER ride home after dinner and drinks isn’t too expensive.

The Bad

Crime, drugs, and homelessness is an issue, and “good” areas of Renton area only a block or two from the “bad” areas. I know the area well now, but there are streets I feel perfectly fine walking down at night parallel to ones I don’t feel safe walking down. Get to know a local or join a local Facebook group before looking for a place to live in Renton.

The airport and related industry can be extremely noisy. During peak 737 manufacturing there are quite a few large jets taking off during the day, and the rumbles can be heard miles around the airport. Trains also bring 737 fuselages randomly through downtown, when this is happening most of traffic grinds to a halt for 5-10 minutes, the train also blares it’s horns. It’s loud enough that I can’t take work calls while this is happening, and there’s been several times they’ve done this in the middle of the night at 2-3am. The city tweets in advance of these late night deliveries but it is still annoying. If I lived directly downtown I imagine I’d have to wear earplugs to make it through the night without having a heart attack on the nights of these deliveries.

Final thoughts

Since first moving to Renton, I’ve actually purchased a larger home and moved within the same neighborhood. So you could say I’ve enjoyed Renton enough to chose to stay after looking for another home.

People do heavily and somewhat rightly judge Renton. I get quite a bit of jabbing from coworkers for living in Renton, but the people I’ve met here are great and the negative impression people have are keeping prices affordable for the time being.

Would love to see other “Living in XXX” for the less “desirable” places that are still relatively affordable around Seattle.

Attention: If you produce anything of value, screw you.

If you’ve lived within your means, planned accordingly, and produced things of value for society, the current American system doesn’t care about you.

If you built crappy cars, and paid unions too much. Bailout!

If you issued stupid debt, and partook in extremely risky financial practices. Bailout!

If you built planes which nosedive into the ground. Bailout!

If your small or medium sized business produced so little value, or was so poorly managed it can’t even survive a month with diminished revenue, even after years of above average economic activity. Bailout!

If your local state and city government, wasted years of above average tax income. Bailout!

If you were laid off recently, no worries, you’ll make more producing no value! Bailout!

However…

If you’re a grocery store worker risking your health everyday for barely above minimum wage. Screw you.

If you managed your company properly, and can handle this economic downturn without government assistance. Screw you.

If you’re a doctor or nurse, working without proper gear, and risking yours and your families health to save lives. Screw you.

Let the failures fail. Stop the bailouts.

The Coronavirus Has Shown Us Once Again That the United States Is Still the Frontier

Whether or not that is a good thing is open to debate.

Nearly 4 months after the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, after nearly a billion people were quarantined under authoritarian rule, the leader of the free world stated that he “didn’t know people died from the flu”, even though it had killed his grandfather.

Multiple times a week, reporters face the President and Vice President and question their competency in handling this growing crisis. Meanwhile in China; whistleblowers, doctors, vloggers, and many on social media are being silenced and even arrested for speaking about the outbreak.

China’s draconian measures are working.

China is reporting fewer and fewer new cases and has even shuttered the 16 temporary hospitals it built to face the crisis.

It is very likely our cases will surpass those in China, even though we have a faction of the population. Our nation’s experts warn we are passing the point of containment, yet the administration is more concerned with containing the economic damage than the virus itself.

This government will not save you, and it never has.

How can we expect to be saved by a government which cannot save itself? Even the most protected and powerful member of the U.S. Government is not safe. The Precedency is perhaps the most dangerous job in the world, with a fatality rate of nearly 1 in 5, and half of those who died in office being assassinated.

We have the most advanced (and expensive) healthcare system on the planet, yet are bound to handle this worse than a country that spends 1/20th the amount we do per capita.

It’s the reason we are the sole cultural super-power on the planet. This powder keg of pain and riches produces capital, art, and unique individuals like none other.

A country of tortured artists.

We’re a country in search of riches, and individual freedom, at the expense of our well-being. Does this not sound like The Frontier?

We will not come out of this unscathed, but we will be reborn. On the other side opportunity and growth await, as it is our manifest destiny.

This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character. – Frederick Jackson Turner

Promoting moonlighting could benefit your company, and cost you developers.

Hypothetically, lets say I worked at a major cloud provider, we’ll call this company Omozon.

Omozon offers many cloud services. My team in Omozon is responsible for analyzing customer usage data, in order to do that we rely heavily on Omozon’s big data database called MegaDB, and a telemetry platform called ServiceInsights.

MegaDB and ServiceInsights are used by thousands of customers, including dozens of Fortune 500 companies. In spite of this, there is no native integration between MegaDB and ServiceInsights. Our team needs MegaDB telemetry in our ServiceInsights so we can leverage the existing alerting and DRI capabilities we built on ServiceInsights.

After talking with the PMs on MegaDB and ServiceInsights we find that any native integration between the products is at least a year out. Our team can’t wait that long, so one of our developers spends a sprint building a small generic pipeline for pulling our MegaDB telemetry and storing it in ServiceInsights. Thus solving our integration issue.

While building this pipeline the developer found that many of those external customers using MegaDB and ServiceInsights have the same exact issue their team faced. After bringing it up to the team, we decide to speak with management about open sourcing the pipeline.

Unfortunately this goes nowhere, our organization is not involved in the development of MegaDB or ServiceInsights so there is little incentive for management to put further resources into this. What’s worse is the developer on our team cannot take this code and release it on their own given it was developed on company time and is therefore Omozon’s IP.

The end results is a lose-lose-lose situation. The developer is demoralized seeing the potential of their code being squandered, Omozon loses out on potential good will and increased revenue (that pipeline between MegaDB and ServiceTelemetry relies on several other Omozon services), and the customers lose out on a better product experience.

This could have been avoided if Omozon had invested more in open sourcing valuable pieces of its internal codebase.

However, this could have also been avoided by the developer writing this pipeline on their own time.

While not the ideal path, the main developer of this pipeline could have written this generic pipeline on their own computer after work. Once the project was complete they could have published it to their github, then when back in the office, cloned the now open source solution and leverage it on their team within Omozon. 

Now, the customer has access to it, Omozon benefits from the better customer experience and their reliance on additional services, and the developer has full ownership of this valuable open source project, building their reputation as an expert in this field.

In the second situation the developer invested in themselves, and because of their newfound reputation with those in the field, it’s likely they can and will leave for greener pastures. Costing Omozon a valuable developer, a loss which could have been avoided.

You’ve probably bought counterfeit products off Amazon.

Amazon is almost always cheaper than other big box stores; but for the most part, those stores now price match.

Amazon’s shipping is almost always faster than other retailers; but COVID-19 has changed that.

Amazon’s customer service is great; but their employees don’t get the same treatment.

For the most part the Prime reasons for shopping at Amazon have been muted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, there is a good chance that some of the products you’ve purchased from Amazon are counterfeit.

No alt text provided for this image

My first exposure to Amazon’s counterfeit problem came while I was working at a major Hollywood studio several years ago.

At the time I was tasked with purchasing identical collector’s edition box sets of Indiana Jones from every seller listed on Amazon. This wasn’t just a box set of DVDs, this collectors set included a hat and various small pieces of memorabilia. I didn’t suspect there would be very many, if any, counterfeits given the complexity in counterfeiting multiple items for a single product.

Weeks later I came into the office and began going through roughly $15,000 worth of Indiana Jones box sets.

I inspected the boxes, the DVDs, the hats, the printed items, the plastic wrap, the quality of plastic used for the DVD cases (to my surprise, the counterfeit items almost always had more durable DVD cases). I looked at everything.

A good portion of the items I checked were counterfeit, and the experience has left me suspicious of anything I’ve bought off Amazon.

Counterfeiters have grown more sophisticated, and there are few products which cannot be faked.

Have you tried buying a memory card off Amazon recently? Have you wondered why there is such a discrepancy in the reviews? If you run into products where it sounds like the reviews were for completely different products, the most likely reason is that they really are reviewing different products. Some of those reviews are for genuine items, others for cheap counterfeits.

Instead of spending hours verifying if the MicroSD card you bought of Amazon is real (like these people), go to Best Buy or Target and price match, or spend an extra $5 and save yourself the time and effort.

I know what you’re going to say:

But I only buy items marked as Shipped and Sold by Amazon, I don’t buy from third party sellers…

Doesn’t matter, you’re not safe. As mentioned in this Forbes article, products from various sources are frequently stored together and mixed with products from other sellers, including Amazon’s items. So your Shipped and Sold by Amazon purchase could be from any of the various sellers storing items in Amazon’s fulfillment centers.

Use this opportunity, while the Amazon value proposition is crumbling, to break your Amazon addiction. Or at least give it a break until Amazon gets more serious about counterfeits.

How to Find Awesome Free Camping Spots in National Forests

Since moving to Washington from Los Angeles I’ve tried to take advantage of the amazing geography.

I’ve spent a good amount of time driving around the Northwest and exploring forest roads both in person and using Google Maps.

I’ve posted videos of my trips over the past year and have had people reach out asking for the various locations they were filmed at. Instead of listing where I’ve been, I’d rather show you how to find your own. Check out this video to learn how I go about finding my spots. Enjoy.

Having fun with philosophy and zombies.

I like to talk about the various philosophies of Software Engineering. Today I want to do a little exercise in the philosophy of consciousness.

You are most likely the only conscious person right now, or there are multiple consciousnesses experiencing your life.

This is a play on the philosophical zombie argument, but bear with me.

Need to make a couple assumptions for this to work:

  • The future and past exist in spacetime and cannot be changed. What is going to happen cannot be changed (Hard Determinism)
  • At the very least you exist and are conscious
  • Your consciousness only experiences a tiny sliver of reality at any given moment, this sliver is almost infinitely narrow.

Here’s my argument:

  1. You are either the only person conscious or there exists many consciousnesses.
  2. If you are not the only consciousness than you are only experiencing your life at a very specific point in 4D spacetime. Your consciousness is like a record needle on the record of spacetime, only experiencing the exact note under your needle at that moment.
  3. Your consciousness experiences time passing at a different rate than other consciousnesses. When you sleep your needle skips ahead, when moving at different speeds (say close to the speed of light) your consciousness experiences spacetime at varying speeds, there are a multitude of things that can affect the rate your consciousness travels through spacetime.
  4. Given you only experience a moment in time; just a sliver or frame, the chances of two consciousnesses; both traveling through spacetime at different speeds, passing through the same moment in spacetime is infinitesimal or virtually impossible. Like multiple needles moving across a record at different speeds, it’s impossible for them to both stay in sync.
  5. The only way to combat the infinitesimal odds of experiencing reality with another consciousness for there to be an infinite number of consciousnesses, meaning there must be other consciousnesses experiencing your point of view or life.
  6. Conclusion, you must either be the only consciousness at this moment, or there are an infinite number of consciousnesses and more than one experiencing your life or point of view.