I don't write much about the projects I work on during the day, mostly because I assume that anyone interested is already following the Institute for Justice on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or any of the other countless ways to keep up to speed with our activities. Besides, a lot of the work I do is pretty mundane from an outside perspective. Updating the web site content management system and migrating an operations database from one version to the next is certainly important, but it isn't glamorous.
This morning though, we launched a project I was involved in that has been a few years in the making. The Institute for Justice's License to Work report is the first national study to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs. We examined licensing requirements for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations -- such as barber, massage therapist and preschool teacher -- across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and ranked each state and occupation according to how burdensome these licensing requirements are.
We had a whole team of people on this project, doing everything from gathering data to crunching the numbers to designing the report. As usual, we have an incredible video to go with the launch that Isaac put a lot of time into.
Most of the work I did was translating the data into an interactive online data model to allow visitors to our web site to view the report at the state or occupation level. For example, you can view the breakdown of occupational licensing data for the state of Ohio on the License to Work site by visiting http://ij.org/ol/OH. Similarly, you can view reports for how widespread licensing is for a given occupation, interior design for one, by visiting each occupation's designated page.
It's pretty common that a task I take on at work stretches me a bit, but this project took this to the extreme. It made me use every bit of knowledge I had learned and forgot in advanced statistics class (Thanks Dr. Case!) and really twisted my brain into knots from time to time, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It's a pretty fascinating study, and if you're interested you can check out the full report at http://ij.org/LicenseToWork.
I have a lot of catching up to do on my reading goal, so this post is going to be a short one. Things in March got a little off track, as I felt very much more like watching movies than I did reading. And I'm not even talking about good movies, I'm talking about watching the entire Transporter and Mission: Impossible series. Those were dark days, but I've since gotten my Kindle recharged and am determined to get back on track
This is the one that really got me hung up. It took me a little more than a month to read this one. I really did enjoy it, although it did delve into a lot of details on a lot of things that didn't feel overly necessary. There was one chapter in particular where Clancy went into a lot of detail to introduce a new character, only to have him die in a helicopter crash mere pages later. Worth the read, but I'm not sure I can say when I'll be ready to read the next in the Jack Ryan series.
The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy -
I'm allowing myself to re-read a maximum of one book per month this year, and in April I decided to crack open this classic again. I read it for the first time almost exactly ten years ago, and I loved it even more this time than I did then. Some things you love and you can't really put a finger on exactly why, and this is one of those books for me. It gives me a strange sense of nostalgia for a time that I didn't even live in, reading about Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty discovering themselves and America, living life on their own terms with all of the good and the bad that comes with it. It's the perfect balance of hopeful youth and mild despondence. More than that, though, it reminded me of my life when I read it the first time, in April of 2002, and all of the good and bad that came along with it. I look forward to reading it again, perhaps in April of 2022, and feeling those same emotions about this current time in my life.
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac -
I almost violated my rule on only re-reading one book per month by opening up Ender's Game again. January was reading that this month, and it made me want to go back to this wonderful book. Instead, I read this collection of short stories from the Ender series. The first two stories are a more in-depth introduction to Ender's dad, John Paul, and how he was almost recruited for Battle School when he was just a child and how he met Ender's mother while attending college. The third story is the original version of Ender's Game, and really just focuses on the period after Ender begins training with his own Dragon Team in Battle School. The final story takes place several hundred years after the events of Ender's Game, and explores a little bit of Ender's life while in exile. I enjoyed all the stories, but they were really just a taste of the brilliance of the full version of Ender's Game. Definitely worth a read just to fill out your understanding of the series, and certainly a quick read, but nothing amazing.
First Meetings, by Orson Scott Card -
Haruki Murakami is one of my all-time favorite authors, but this is the one book if his that got away from me. The English version of this book was published in 2007 and I remember first trying to read it while January and I were on our makeup honeymoon on Sanibel Island. For whatever reason I just couldn't get into this book back then and I ended up putting it down after only reading a quarter or so of it. I picked it back up this month, all these years later, to give it another shot. I must have just not been in a reading mood the first time around, because this time I got through it all very easily. It's pretty typical of Murakami's work, featuring a cast of interesting characters with their own quirks and mysteries, but I can't say it was my favorite of his books. Worth the read if you've read everything else he's written and just want more of the same, but there's no new ground covered here. If you haven't read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or A Wild Sheep Chase yet, I'd recommend those instead.
After Dark, by Haruki Murakami -
I don't claim to know what makes art "art," much less what makes good art "good." But, to steal an expression from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, I know it when I see it. John Lee is an aspiring artist living in Pennsylvania who paints under the moniker of Clohnart. John is one of January's oldest friends, and one of my newest, and this coming week his work will appear at Gallery 831 in the Brewery District.
Last summer, John and his family visited us over the Fourth of July weekend and brought along a couple of his paintings to share. The arrangement was that we could put them on display in our home and make them available for sale to anyone who visits us who is interested. We've had these two pieces on display in our home since then and, if I'm being honest, I hope for selfish reasons that nobody ever is interested. This first piece, titled Twice Finished, was January's pick and sits on the bar in our dining room, right next to where I work most days. I'm not going to wax poetic about the brushstrokes or the technique used, but all I can say about it is that I have enjoyed its presense in my work space for the past eight months.
This was my pick, titled Double Cycolps #2. If I'm being honest, the main reason that I picked it was because it was his most recent work among the offerings he brought that day, but time has convinced me that I made the right choice. It sits on our mantle, between our cardboard buffalo, Beatrix, and our two ceramic owls, Schmandy and Lucille. I think the four of them really go together well.
John Lee will be displaying more of his work this coming week at Gallery 831, and the opening reception will take place this coming Saturday evening from 7-10pm. I'll be there, and I hope to see some of you as well. January and I will be bringing Lucy, so I'm sure it will be very family friendly if you want to bring any of your little ones as well.
If you want to learn more about his work in the meantime, you can check out his web site at http://clohnart.com. He also posts some of his latest work to Twitter at @clohnart as well as on his Instagram account of the same name.
Hope to see you this Saturday!
Follow the Brush - Featuring the work of John Lee (Clohnart) and Rachel McFarlane
Gallery 831: 831 S. Front Street, Columbus, OH 43206
April 27 - May 4, 2012
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 28, 7 - 10pm
One year ago today, I took the first of around 300 photos of myself. The goal was to take a single photo every day, but I know I missed a few days here and there. January introduced me to an iPhone app called "Everyday" that makes this super easy, by giving you reminders and helping you line up your shot with guides. At any point, you can compile all of the photos into a video, so I thought today would be a good day to finally use that feature. I would like to present you with roughly 300 photos of my face, in roughly one minute of video
If you watch closely, you can see my beard grow to a ridiculous length, over and over, until I finally give in and trim it up. You can also follow the transitions from the "don't give a crap because I work at home" to my quarterly "going into the office so I'd better get fancied up" ensembles.
I couldn't have done this without the support of all my devoted photobombers. Here are just a handful of my favorites.
Lucy made her photobomb debut on day 2 of this project, and has shown up on a regular basis ever since. Second only to Lucy in frequency of appearance is our cat Frankie. January is in surprisingly few shots, but she did make a cameo when we were in Prague, driving into the city.
My good friend Mark made a brief appearance when we were in Las Vegas this past Fall, and Kurt made a very slight cameo while shooting a picture at this past year's RBI Tournament. Finally, a shout-out to this random coffee shop girl who I'm sure thought I was just some creeper trying to get her picture. Joke's on you, ma'am!
Check back next year for the exciting sequel -- Two years of Andy in one minute: Twice the photos, twice the speed!