1. The Universe of Things. A got me a set of Philips Hue bulbs for Christmas. It’s the first step in automating our house, so it turns on lights when we walk into a room and turns down the heat when we’re not home. There are a bunch of controllers out there you can buy, but the best one we’ve found is OpenHab. It’s an open-source platform, meaning that it doesn’t rely on any proprietary technology — it will let us make things talk to other things, even if the manufacturers decide to stop making them compatible. Of course,  it’s also about the most user-unfriendly interface ever.  And yes, I eagerly await the day when our robot overlords rule the earth.

2. Let the Mileage Games Begin.  The internet is full of rabbit holes, and a few weeks ago I inadvertently tumbled into the world of points and miles. We’ve been using the Capital One Venture Card for about five years now, and that’s been good for a free trip just about every year. But if you play the game right and rotate your way through sign up bonuses, it’s possible to turn that free trip into a first class flight and luxury hotel. Or to fund a 25 day honeymoon on points and miles. Hawaii, here we come!

3. My Grandma. Z’s language started exploding a couple months ago, right around when she turned two. It’s been incredible to watch. This weekend, she picked up the “grandma” concept.  Both our parents live on the East Coast, so we do a lot of phone calls. I’d called my parents to say hello, as we do pretty often these days. When Z heard my mom, she grabbed the phone and said “My Grandma.”  When she saw my in-laws, who are in town for the holidays, she did it again. Which is pretty cool to me, because she’s figured out that she’s got two different grandmas.

4. wp-1451311149951.jpegHoliday Cards. Our cards are sealed, addressed, and ready to go. The last time A and I sent cards out, we were still living in Manhattan.  We bought five or six different cards, carefully curated our mailing list, and sent handwritten, hand-addressed cards to everyone. This year, I really wanted to handwritten cards again, but our holiday mailing list was over fifty people. Not a lot if you’ve got a few hours to sit down and write them all in one session.  Way too many if you’re trying to cram cards in between naps and dishes and generally preventing your toddler from causing mayhem. So we compromised. We did photo cards, and I wrote the New Year’s Wish for the back. Then Z and I stamped snowflakes on the back of the cards, because, snowflakes!

5. No-one’s ever lost forever. My quasi-father-in-law passed away last week, and I very much regret that I didn’t have time to get to know him better. It’s funny how our parents change as we get older. Part of this is the process of growing up and realizing that our parents are separate people with their own wants and desires. And part of it is that people do change. The parents that my middle brother and I grew up with are different people than the parents my youngest brother grew up with. We relate differently to each other as well, especially now that I have a kid. I don’t like to think about losing my parents, especially now that they’ve become people whose company I enjoy, but I also know it’s inevitable.

(NB: The link is to an Amanda Palmer music video. She’s a bit of an acquired taste, but I love the way this song progresses from the most mundane type of loss, misplacing a wallet, to the most profound. )

Closing Tabs

Filed under “best Christmas present ever.”

My sister-in-law made a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning, and it was great. This is a brilliant idea, and one that definitely needs more airtime than just Christmas morning.  Breakfast made the night before, so that all I have to do is roll out of bed and stick it in the oven?  Yes please!  I don’t have L’s recipe, but here’s one that came across my feed earlier in the week that looks pretty similar.

I’ve been hanging onto this in my Pending folder for a few weeks, and now seems like a good time to share it with you.  It’s a post by the author of a semi-autobiographical novel about a teenager whose father dies of AIDS in the early ’90s talking about why she chose to write the book.

If I lived in Paris in the ’20s, I would totally drink here.

The first webpage turned 25 last week.  In a testament to the fact that all things in life are circular, it looks much more like today’s webpages than those blinking, garish Geocities pages we all had back in the day.

Question of the Week

I think I mentioned before that I’m not thrilled with “Monday Roundup.” What do you all think of “The Monday Review” instead?

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
Start date 28-12-2015 06:00:00
End date 03-01-2016 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Which title do you like?

Voting will close at midnight on January 3.