Belgium by bike

Belgium, specifically Ghent had quite a few interesting bicycles. We also went biking with our friends. Katja was quite happy to be biking on the road and touring the inner city. … though the cobblestone did give her some troubles.

Bike culture surfaces in interesting ways. For example some interesting hitches exist as these are embedded into concrete walls.

Bike hitch.
Bike hitch in wall.

I took some photos of the different ways that parents move their kids about.

Seat behind driver and seat between driver and handlebars.
The long Yuba with room for two or three kids behind. Foot rails and front basket.
Child facing front and back.
Two kids in a bucket with shoulder straps.
Shoulder straps.
With a cover
Two kids upfront.
Two seats in the back.
Two seats with a rail.
Cargo bike in Switzerland
Bike in Germany with full waterproof surround pouch and two batteries.
Full waterproof bag.
Child carrier in Germany
Bitwin in model.


Walking into an assisted living facility (where elderly couples can live together) with Katja brought a lot of joy to some elderly people tonight. I'm glad that we were able to be the material source of these happy moments.

For me though there is some mixed feelings. I mean why aren't these people living with their families? Where are their grandchildren? Are we living in a broken society that ships grandma and grandpa off to an independent living facility without a second thought? I understand that sometimes there are a lot, or complex medical issues. For instance my grandpa had Alzheimer's and he was a bit much for my full-time-working-aunt to care for towards the very end of his life (she had worked with him for several years prior). I understand that tough decisions have to be made all the time. I just wonder if the lack of age integration in the United States society (family) leads to stunted or detrimnetal development in the family structure and relationships. If our stratal age based society in some way robs our children of proper development and experience with aging. Just tonight I can see that it seems to rob the elderly of proper joy from interactions with the young.

It makes me think about my future, not where do I want to live, but how do want to live. I don't want to live in an assisted living facility. It might rather die young.

But we weren't just walking into any living facility. We were going to see Betsy and Eddy, the people who spent a significant amount of time raising Becky when she was little. I met them before they moved to the assisted care facility. So there was a bit more context for me. It's also a bit hard for me to watch Becky as she processes their aging. Eddy has always been "old" to both Becky and me - he served in the second world war. It does not make the task any easier when we have a little 11 month old who likes to run and get into things - everything. It sometimes seems as if we are a nuisance, but I know that the visits mean something to everyone. There just has to be a way to make this kind of social function amenable to little kids... if someone has something that has worked for them, please comment below.

For me visiting these places reminds me of visiting my dad's elderly relatives in New York City. I understand that they meant something to him. I mean he had more relational context than I did for those relatives. As a child I remember sitting for what seemed like hours not being able to do anything interesting and not being engaged with the adults in any way. Sometimes it was in a hospital, sometimes a long term care facility, sometimes it was an over crowded apartment. As a young child it was boring - as an adult it is not much better. I think it was appropriate for my dad to visit his relatives. I even think it was appropriate for me to be there. But I wonder if there's a more appropriate way to integrate children into the lives of the elderly who are not elderly care givers to the children.

Wall of honor: a picture gallery of people who live here and have served in the military

Wall of honor: a picture gallery of people who live here and have served in the military. Are we honoring them with the joy of children?

A Facebook position 

My Facebook Use

A Facebook position isn't easy. I have multiple positions on multiple different aspects of Facebook. I was in early adopter Facebook, I have been there from almost the beginning - I have a lot invested in my interactions via Facebook. I remember Facebook rolling out Facebook graph, the iOS phone app, messenger, the various redesigns, policy changes, and the announcement of the IPO. It has been an interesting journey through the development of the Facebook brand and product.

In short this post says: “Yes, I use Facebook, but please don't post photos of my kids, or of the inside of my house on Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram.”

A Facebook position is important, it helps us think about when and where it might be appropriate to use Facebook - weather as an individual, a business, or a large corporation. A Facebook position is going to be unique to every individual. In this post I will discuss it in three aspects. I run a small business, I run a personal blog, and I have kids (well an 11 month old daughter). In general, Facebook's terms of service is of some help to Facebook users in understanding some of Facebook's positions on what it wants to do with the data metadata and relationships between data that it gathers from its users.
I'm a big believer in personal privacy. Part of personal privacy I think is controlling for the connections between data points (the relationships between associated data), and also controlling for metadata.

In contrast to personal privacy and self revelation of personal data, Social privacy is a lot more difficult to control for, because other people make revelations about you that you may or may not appreciate. These revelations may be new data points or they may be new relationships between existing data points. For instance, in the Facebook world, a new data point might be a photo and a new relationship might be tagging someone in that photo and making that tag connect to that person’s profile.
One of Facebook's goals is to make it conducive and easy for people to share information about the other people that they know. So Facebook is engineered and designed to help create accurate metadata and relationships between data points among users. 
Truth is though even though I am a big personal privacy advocate, I do like to share information with others, but I like to do so on my own terms. That is why when Facebook pushed out a new version of their iOS app which required users to let Facebook to have unlimited access to your phone's microphone, I deleted the app and disabled functionality from Facebook to my phone.
Because I am a long-time Facebook user I have a quite a network of personal and professional contacts from various time depths of my life on Facebook. It is to my advantage to leverage these contacts in the various personal and business dealings I have. That's why Becky and I use a business oriented Facebook page for updates about our work in Nigeria. I also connect Facebook with various blog post of mine from my independently run WordPress site. This allows me to connect with new and existing audiences via Facebook.

Facebook and kids

Facebook requires that one be 13 or older to have their own account. You can see the policy guidelines here:

As far as I can tell that is because there are certain US federal regulations about privacy for children that Facebook would have to comply with if it aloud younger people to create accounts.

Some countries have a lower or higher age limit, Yet, other countries like Ireland have no specific age limit at all. There's an interesting discussion helping parents think through issues from an Irish national perspective here:

Because others have lengthy and detailed discussions about age appropriateness and issues for young users of social to consider when using these complex platforms, I am not going to directly discuss those issues here.
For me is more important to understand the Facebook business model, and to ask: “How do I want to engage with that business model and how do I want to engage my children with that business model.”
For me I want to let my children choose to engage with the Facebook business model when they are old enough to independently think about the consequences. It does not mean that I won't discuss it with them or help them think it through, but I would rather them enter the marketplace of their own accord, rather than me inducing them in from birth.
This means for my children that I want to give them the option to put their personal information into the hands of another company's structured information set.
It doesn't mean that I don't believe in sharing photos of my kids (I do share photos through this blog and another website here:, it means that I don't believe the medium best suited for sharing those photos is Facebook. For me owning the distribution and connectivity platform means that if I want to remove the source image from the web I can. In contrast to Facebook if I want to remove content from Facebook I am not guaranteed that Facebook will actually remove that content. Facebook even acknowledges that my data and data about me may persist even after I delete my account. There are several good articles which give a rundown about Facebook's Terms of Service (TOS). One from the Huffington Post is here: (Because we all know that even reading the TOS of a platform we love can be confusing.)

My opinions about use of Facebook with my kids and property apply to WhatsApp, Instagram (link to TOS), and Facebook, which are all owned by Facebook.

Photos of Kids

I may be off my rocker, but I really think that parents have a responsibility to protect their kids. Part of that may be from the encroachment of social media companies (data collectors) into the personal lives of our kids (not to mention other powerful marketing forces that parents need to protect their kids from). I would also like to think that parents should have the privilege of approving the use of photos of their kids in all cases, although I realize that in public places, permission to photograph children in the United States might be considered a first amendment right (this often includes school sports games). A short bit of googling shows that there is different jurisdictions with different laws (discussion for the UK context), and there are also different protocols for different types of photos (see discussion 1, and discussion 2 ), such as the intended use of the photo, like commercial marketing. The complexity with respect to social media (beyond the persistence of personal data) is that The social media platform may apply a license to the photos allowing for commercial use. For a general overview of the topic consider looking at the wikipedia article for Photography and the law.