Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

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For Free

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It has been a while since I became enamored with an entire album of recorded songs by a particular artist. With everything coming at us in streaming form these days, listening to a complete album seems a little archaic. Doing so throws me back to my days working in a record store and devouring music on vinyl LPs, one side at a time.

This month I was lucky to stumble upon news of David Crosby releasing his latest effort, titled “For Free.” I navigated to my Apple Music account for a listen and a day later found myself replaying the chorus of the opening song in my head as a pleasing earworm. I always take this as a good sign when I’m not yet familiar with a song but my mind is already hooked on a part of it.

Very often the song that does this for me aligns with the eventual “hit” song that ends up achieving radio play and wide popularity, but not always since my tastes are a little broader than average.

That pleasant looping refrain in my brain usually leads me to follow-up listening sessions and with “For Free,” doing so quickly hooked me on multiple cuts. I’m a fan of most music David Crosby has created and thoroughly enjoy the sound of his singing.

One aspect of his vocal sound on this album impressed me for the way it belies his age. David is almost 80 and can still sing like his younger self. At the same time, I detected occasional words with a pronunciation that hinted he’s not 29 anymore, but instead of that being an unpleasant aspect, I’m finding it more endearing and intimate when it occurs.

The lyrics are engaging, the musicianship inspiring, and David’s familiar singing voice a true gift to the ears.

His collaboration with Sarah Jarosz on the title track cover of Joni Mitchell’s song is a gem and provided my first introduction to her artistry. I’ll be exploring her recordings in the near future, for sure.

Several places throughout multiple songs I found myself enthused with the enticing momentum provided by a pleasing bass and drumset energy, for which I assume Crosby’s son James Raymond deserves credit as album producer.

I’m consuming this album in numerical order from beginning to end, on repeat. If you are a music fan with any appreciation for David Crosby, I invite you to give the whole album a full listen.

The old man turns 80 in August, for heaven’s sake. Everyone should hear what he is still doing at this age.



Had Enough

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Have you had enough of the wayback machine by now? Since I am on vacation, all these wayback posts were formatted and scheduled before I left. At that time, I didn’t have a sense of whether they would be met with an appreciation or come across as a repeating annoyance.

It’s a random results generator. I’m guessing your response will have everything to do with which posts from the archive showed up for you.

I had thought about curating my own pick of ten old posts for the duration of my vacation but didn’t have the time it would take to scour the thousands of possibilities to come up with ones that seemed worthy. And worthy to whom? It’s a big world out there on the interweb where these blog posts can be found. Posts about chickens? Optimal health? Trekking the Himalayas? Words on images? Destigmatizing depression? All things love-related?

Okay, I suppose I could have found ten topics like those and horses and Portugal, and posted a gem for each, but remember that thing about not having time?

When the idea came to me for a random generator, I liked the thought that each reader would end up with a unique old re-post. Everyone would end up seeing something different.

When Julian successfully pulled off his manipulations of the coding in the span of one short phone conversation, I was giddy with delight. It was so much fun for me to use, I decided it didn’t matter if anyone else liked it.

I liked it.

Go ahead. Take another spin. You might find a gem.



Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2021 at 6:00 am

Wayback Anew

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Everything old is new again. Click the image to enjoy a new look at something old.


Today I will be departing the bike tour early after riding to Wabasha. Cyndie will pick me up so we can drive north to Hayward, joining her family for a weekend of remembrance for her father who died a year ago on the 24th of June..


Written by johnwhays

June 23, 2021 at 6:00 am

More Waybacking

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It’s like birthdays and holidays all wrapped up in one big surprise click! What will you uncover today? It’s utter random madness!

(Cyndie thought the picture should be bigger to better see my cute little boy face.)



Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2021 at 6:00 am

Wayback Again

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What will you find this time? You’ll only discover it by clicking the image…



Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2021 at 6:00 am

Another Wayback

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Same as yesterday. You know what to do…



Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

Wayback Somethings

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The calendar has arrived upon the week of my [abbreviated] Tour of Minnesota bike trip, this year combined with a long weekend Friswold family lake place gathering, during which time I will be taking a break from posting new content.

However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be something unexpected for you to find here each day. You know me better than that.

All you need to do is click the image below for an adventure with the Relative Something Random Wayback Machine, courtesy of creative technical support provided by our son, Julian.

Each day that I’m gone, a new invitation will appear, encouraging you to try your luck with a click on the Previous Somethings carrousel that is programmed to randomly load a post from my archive of over ten years of stories and pictures.

I offer no guarantee of high-value results, as there are plenty of clunkers mixed in with the sublime and the mundane that could pop up. If you believe in the possibility strongly enough, you might succeed in revisiting an old favorite, or maybe a specific message that you were meant to see on this particular day.

Take a chance! Click!




Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2021 at 6:00 am

Human Race

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This image is a sad statement of an unfortunate trait of the human condition, that this would be allowed to happen.

This year, the weather window for climbing Everest was tight and the number of climbers high. So, people lined up like a train of pack animals to make the slow trudge in the death zone to the peak, and this photo showed the result to the world. It’s not the first time overcrowding has happened, but this image is the most dramatic depiction I have seen, and it reveals that the government has yet to take effective steps to stop it from happening again.

It is crazy that so many people choose (and can afford) to do this, and it is sad that Nepal has deemed it worth the overcrowding to maximize income from climbing fees.






Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2019 at 6:00 am

Noticing Privilege

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I stumbled upon an article yesterday that gobbled up my attention and hung on to it for much longer than I usually allow most politically charged stories to occupy my mind.

While I was being held prisoner to traffic on Interstate 94 last Thursday, I passed some of the mind-numbing, slow-rolling-brakelights time listening to Brett Kavanaugh’s opening statement and a few Senator’s worth of questions and his responses (“responses” because sometimes they weren’t answers).

Some of what he said, and the raw emotion with which he said it, seemed pretty compelling. Having not had the opportunity to hear Christine Blasey Ford’s session, I had nothing to compare to his version of the issue. I figured he had a lock on the needed votes to be confirmed for a lifetime term on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Despite what I figured, my gut and my intuition were providing me with an alternative take.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

Reading Nathan J. Robinson’s very long and excruciatingly thorough Current Affairs exposé, “How We Know Kavanaugh is Lying” was incredibly validating of my suspicions.

One of the reasons this article was so compelling for me is that most of the evidence presented is taken directly from the words I heard spoken live on the radio. When analyzed in the way Kavanaugh’s statements are laid out in the article, his own words seem to sabotage his defense. Combined with how often he avoids answering potentially harmful questions, frequently with bizarre redirecting responses, my first impression of his pretty compelling argument was completely dashed.

I just don’t know how anyone could in good conscience vote to confirm his nomination at this point. However, given the state of this country’s political situation, I won’t be surprised if those intent on furthering their agenda will do anything to get him seated on the nation’s highest court.

Pondering that possibility yesterday riled me up something fierce. How could they?! It would be a travesty! We can’t let this happen!

That was when I received an insight that privilege was framing my outrage. In my moment of upset over the possible injustice of this man being allowed to serve despite the preponderance of likelihood he is not worthy, it occurred to me how often similar injustices have been thrust upon groups of people throughout this country’s history.

Over and over again. So often that they come to expect it. Why would it be any other way? Why would indigenous people of multiple tribal nations ever trust the US government? Why would women be surprised to find out they weren’t being treated equal to men? Why would people of color be surprised to find out voting district boundaries had been gerrymandered to influence election results against their best interests?

If the outcome of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination doesn’t go the way I think it should, I hope I am able to contain my outrage and maintain some dignity, despite the injustice.

Generations of good people have endured far worse for far longer and continued to hold their heads high and carry on with hope for better days.

I’m all for better days. I’m even going to hope for sooner than later.


Finding Votograph

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Who’s up for a little fun and games?  I just so happen to know a guy who knows a guy at a local software development firm that created a new opportunity for phone-camera enthusiasts to enjoy some healthily addictive entertainment. My son, Julian Hays, and fellow developer Tyson Acker (currently answering from New Zealand’s time zone) agreed to be interviewed about the app they created called, “Votograph.”

Relative Something: How would you describe what Votograph is to someone who has never heard of it?

Julian Hays: Votograph is a social photo game for mobile devices. Players compete by submitting a photo that matches or somehow relates to a given challenge phrase. Players then vote on the best photo for each challenge. The player whose photo has the most votes when time is up wins the challenge.

Tyson Acker:  Votograph is a platform for all the photo nerds out there that has more of a game focus than other social media apps. You’re not merely sharing your photos–you’re trying to out-do your friends and family (or, in public groups, the entire world!) on a given topic. Users can either join ongoing public challenges or create private challenges of their own; in either case you have a specified length of time to submit a photo and vote for the best.

RS: So, just to clarify, when you say “mobile devices,” will Votograph run on tablets, in additions to phones, but not on a PC or laptop computer?

JH: Votograph is not available on tablets at the moment- only “phones”, or phone-sized devices for now. But it is available on both iOS and Android platforms.

RS: Can you describe how the idea for Votograph originated?

JH: The initial game concept came from DevMode’s owner, John Bailey. He proposed the idea and DevMode began working on the project in our spare time between client work. The project served as a means to learn more about project architecture and to refine our skills.

RS: Do the photographs submitted for a challenge need to be taken in the moment, or can they be old images already on a person’s phone?

JH: For the daily public challenges, you can submit either a photo you capture using the Votograph camera, or a photo from your library. That allows you to use your phone’s camera app if it helps you capture a better photo, or if you want to submit a picture you captured earlier. That also means images you found and downloaded from the internet are fair game. 

If you are creating your own challenge for a private group, you have the option of whether or not you would like to allow existing photos from someone’s library. Sometimes forcing “camera-only” works well for a challenge at an event, such as “Best Mullet At The State Fair”.

RS: What if two people submit the same image? Can we see the other images that have already been submitted to a particular challenge?

JH: That’s another option- by default, the public challenges are “blind” challenges, meaning you cannot see or vote on other submissions until after you have submitted. When you create a private challenge, you have the option of toggling “Allow Vote Before Submission”, which would allow anyone to see and vote on submissions at any time. 

If you choose not to submit a photo, you can still see and vote on the submissions once the challenge enters the “Vote” stage after submissions have closed. Challenges can be set to a duration of 1, 4, 8, or 24 hours. The “Vote” stage would be the final 15, 30 or 60 minutes depending on the length of the challenge. 

So, on a “blind” challenge, it is possible that people could submit the same image or same idea without knowing it. At the end of the challenge, if there is a tie between submissions with the most votes, the win is awarded to the photo that was submitted first. 

RS: If a player has already voted for an image, can they change their vote if a new submission arrives that they like better?

JH: Yes, players can change their vote as many times as they would like until the challenge has ended.

RS: When did DevMode release Votograph?

JH: January 11th, 2018.

RS: How is DevMode feeling about the response thus far?

JH: Interest has been light so far- but we haven’t really had time to put forth much of a marketing effort quite yet. Hopefully we can reach out a bit more and start gaining some more traction. 

RS: I see Votograph as appealing to people who want to take the “perfect” beautiful picture, as well as to those who like the more intellectual aspect of interpreting the challenges in quirky or obscure ways. Have you seen any patterns that reveal one or the other methods have met with greater success in challenges played thus far?

TA: Good question! So far I actually see that as one of the drawbacks of the app: I think users might be discouraged from submitting if they feel like they don’t have a “perfect” photo. We have a series of achievements which attempt to add some positive feedback on multiple levels, so users can feel like they’re accomplishing something without necessarily winning a challenge. But I fear that it isn’t enough to coax some of our more cautious users into increased participation. We still have some work to do in that area.

As for the quirky/obscure angle, I did manage to win a recent challenge with a crude line drawing. So it can be done!

JH: Tough to say- So far there have been a variety of winning strategies. And that has been part of the fun. Sometimes the best-looking photo wins, sometimes the tastiest-looking item in a photo wins, sometimes the obviously-quirky photo wins. It might be too early yet to say which strategy sees greater success. I think the given challenge phrase matters a lot- the quality of the phrase is pretty clear based on how many submissions come in for it. The less interesting phrases certainly do not get as many submissions.

This is probably a good spot to point out users can submit phrase suggestions for public groups- Here’s how:

From the main screen, tap the yellow “+” button in the top right corner. Then, select a Public group from the list. You will then see a text input where you can submit your phrase suggestion. We’ll review it and if it looks good it will get added to the master list.

RS: Can a user submit more than one image to a challenge? If the game were happening instantaneously, like an in-person card game, that question wouldn’t probably come up, but when the challenge lasts 24 hours, there can be tempting opportunities of better shots that arise before time runs out. 

JH: No- once the submission is in, that’s it! One photo submission per user, per challenge. 

RS: So make it a good one! Fair enough. I suppose this would be a fine time to ask how people can get the App and what it will cost. Where can photo-gamers find Votograph for downloading to their camera phones?

JH: It is a free download at both the Apple Store and Google Play Store:

We’d love to hear feedback- feel free to send your thoughts to

Thanks for the support & good luck to all players! 

RS: Thank you for bringing new fun to our camera-phones and taking the time to describe Votograph to the Relative Something followers. I think I have an idea to submit for a challenge… Wonder what images would be submitted for “Relative Something?”




Written by johnwhays

March 3, 2018 at 10:18 am