General

per posterous

Okay. Everything is set up on Posterous now with my domains pointing here. The theme may change with some frequency in the near future as I figure things out, but for now it's all stable.

sore eyes for the site

Ugh. For now, I'm sick of trying to mess with Wordpress. If I had more time to fiddle with it and figure out how to present my content in the way I wanted, I'd do it. But in my breaks between school, work, being a husband, and taking/editing pictures, I can't really add that extra stuff.

I'm going to see if there's a way to import my WP blog to Tumblr, or something. Unless anybody knows a good, fairly fluid theme for WP that handles large images well and still allows me to include text posts/asides/stuff like that.

So pardon the jankity look of this site - the misaligned elements, the photos pushing out of their boundaries, etc. I just don't have the time/energy to make it work better right now.

dead

Last night Twitter erupted with news of Osama bin Laden's death. Traditional media soon followed, and much of the country likely tuned in while the president announced the special forces operation that resulted in the bin Laden's death and the retrieval of his body.

I remember when the planes hit on 9/11, and I remember being terrified at the time because my dad made frequent trips to the World Trade Center for business. He was okay, it turned out, though he lost old friends and colleagues, as did many others that day. So it's understandable that victims and our nation as a whole would feel a sense of relieve at last night's news. Osama bin Laden's death doesn't bring anybody back but, having been exorcised from this earth, he can do no more harm. So I'm not, in all honesty, sitting here wishing he was still alive. But I'm not celebrating his death, either. Osama bin Laden was a man of terribly evil intent, but he was a fallen and sinful man separated from God, as much in need of saving as me.

I only celebrate the death of one man, and it's not because He's dead. Rather it's because of why He died. And because He didn't stay dead. I celebrate Christ's death and resurrection every week when I take communion at church because it's the only death that actually restores anything - actually provides relief and healing.

So I'm not going to be some dude going around trying to scold people who celebrate the death of bin Laden. I'm sympathetic to their revelry, and I don't miss the man. But I'm not going to participate in cheering one person, made in God's image, lost to sin and death.

samurai key

I drive a Volkswagen with a key fob where the key flips out like a switchblade. Every day, when leaving the building, I extract my keys from my pocket and open the car key. I extend my right hand along my side, not quite resting at my hip, key angled slightly out and down, like a katana.

institutional apathy

check boxes

lists of action items and discussions offline
that started offline in a meeting around a conference table to begin with

goals with no purpose beyond self-congratulatory displays
of business acumen

check dem boxes so you can keep your job

check dem boxes so your boss can check his boxes
so your boss can check her boxes
so his boss
her boss
can deliver a pat on the back

so you can get a pat on the back
with all the force of a golf clap

check dem boxes so you can prove you did something this year
so you can earn your paycheck
so you can climb that ladder
so you can check different boxes
on a different list

wit and weiss-dom

At special request from my sister-in-law, here's a little touch of beer nerdery.

For the longest time I was pretty sure I wasn't a fan of wheat beer. All wheat beer. I know, that's like saying, "I only drink red wine," or "I only drive cars over emperor penguins," but so goes my irrational mind sometimes. The point is, having tasted a few wheat beers over the past decade, I had come to the conclusion that they all had an unrefined bite and little more than summer trend status here in the US. Silly lemon wedge. So when the warmer months rolled around I generally avoided the slim, straight-sided glasses of cloudy blonde libation and stuck to my cloying brown ales instead.

About two weeks ago, however, I sat down at the bar of one of my favorite watering holes and was offered (without asking) a taste of a new Belgian ale on tap. I still don't remember the name of it, but it do remember that it was a "Belgian white" and it was incredible. I've since tried (and quite enjoyed) a few others, and it led me to examine just what differentiates wheat beers from each other.

First off, almost every wheat beer on the market is an ale. That means it's fermented warm with ale yeast which often results in a fuller and sweeter (if only in aroma) brew. There are rare wheat lagers out there, and they're likely more crisp and light. Beyond that distinction, we have two major schools of wheat beer: the German "weissbier" or "weizen," and the Belgian "witbier."

Hefeweizen seems to be the big German player here in The States, and that's basically an unfiltered wheat beer made from at least 50% malted wheat (as opposed to all barley). It's usually quite carbonated to balance out the sweetness factor, and that may be what I don't like too much about it. But it sure seemed to be a gateway drug to Beer Land for my wife and sister-in-law, so it can't be all bad.

The Belgian witbier is often made with raw wheat (unmalted) and brewed with a spice/flavoring blend called "gruit" that is often made up of coriander, orange, and hops. This stuff is magical to my palate, and it's the style of beer that I photographed - and later consumed - in my post last week (Ommegang is the brewery, and the beer was incredible).

I wish I had some witbier right now, actually. It's hot and humid outside today, and it's well past 5 o'clock at this somewhere.

Starting (over) small.

I wouldn't exactly consider myself to have OCD, but I'm certainly a man of quirky routines. It's not always about the comfort of familiarity, either. Often, for me, it's about creating a process. Once I have my process, I can improve and compete against my own past performance. This silly business allows me to turn mundane portions of my day into games and minor achievements.

All of this to say that one of my main routines is the drive back from class (I'm still a graduate student) to the house twice a week. I'm not the type to require a lot of "me" time, but this semi-weekly trip is about right for my needs, so I stretch it out by taking a slightly longer route than necessary. I get enough time to hear an extra song or two, think over whatever's coursing through my head, and decompress from a long day of work and school. Most of the "game" portion of this routine comes from trying to beat traffic signals, make it off the line faster than my neighbor in the next lane, and time my braking/downshifting so that I infrequently come to a complete stop. I assure you I do this within the bounds of posted speed limits and I always use my turn signals.

The latter stage of this drive takes me down Overbrook Rd. underneath Interstate 95. The weather has finally come down from its woeful high temperatures so I've been comfortable driving home with the windows down for the first time in recent memory. So I'm driving along Overbrook as usual and head underneath I-95 where I smelled the familiar stink of city-provided hydrocarbon.

Overpass gas.

5 years

So yesterday was pretty busy. I spent half my day puzzling over a PL/SQL issue at work, then I had my finance class in the evening which pretty much drained my brain of any remaining useful cognition. It seems, however, that I missed something. A milestone, if that really means anything around here. Yesterday, July 19th, marked 5 years since my first post on this website.

In May of 2008 I hit 1000 posts after what was probably the most concentrated period of blogging this site has ever seen, but in the 2+ years since that time I've only managed another 541 posts (including this one) and I'm now barely posting more than monthly. Truth be told, prime blogging time for me used to be at the office. But as my responsibilities and workload have continued to ramp-up and I've gone back to school (in the past year), my chances to sit down and find interesting content, let alone create any, have greatly diminished.

My readership, too, has dwindled. Most of my daily hits come from indexing services, and even those folks who I can tell are real people check infrequently. I'm sure there's a fairly direct relationship to my posting rate, of course.

I'm still here, though. No more vacuous promises of a design change or coding adventures or whatever. Just the occasional photo that I took or random question/opinion/review/what-have-you.

That's that, I suppose.

a different tack

Ch-ch-ch-changes! AGAIN!

So I put the WordPress blog back in place, but I've commented out all the CSS.

I didn't feel like tackling two things at once right now (learning EE and CSS) while I'm preparing to be a grad student. Also, I was tired of things like embedded objects showing up all screwy.

So, my RSS feed should work again, people searching for stuff should be able to find the pages they're looking for, and I have my nice, comfy admin panel back :-)

Maybe now I'll start hacking up the CSS a touch to gradually shape the page into the form that I want. We'll see. At this pace, I'll have columns in five years!

Dark Night of the Blog's Soul

The last few regulars remaining no doubt have noticed that my writing has grown spare. I've been posting with low frequency and when I actually do add to the site it's typically been a photograph, a video, or a link with minor annotation.

Maybe it's been an uptick in work (I mean, hey, the workday is prime blogging time) or a general lack of things to say, but I just don't have much in me lately. Not a bad thing, and I'm not upset about it - just some observations.

The funniest part about this is that I've come to such conclusions in the past as well where I feel that my blogging dries up - only to be struck by some diarrheic typing moments later. Whatever. I just had to say something that wasn't "wow, this video is so cool" or "check out my pictures."

It's easier when the decision is made for you.

When you really want something and it doesn't materialize, disappointment comes easily. I experienced that, not for the first time, this morning. To be honest, I'm a little more bummed about it than I thought I'd be, and I'm trying to rest in the knowledge that what happens isn't a surprise to God, but mostly I'm just feeling gloomy to the point where I'm distracted at work.

I think all of that will wear off by the end of the day, because the alternatives to what I really wanted are both very good things, each with their own distinct advantages. I could just use a little Novocaine for the ego right now, preferably in the form of no more rain, time for photography, and a visit to Penny Lane pub with friends. Maybe at least some of that will be in the cards this weekend :-)

April Foolish

I'm a nerd and a snob rolled into one unfortunate clump, so it should come as no surprise that I have strong feelings about something so trivial as April Fools Day.

I think it's the result of one too many lame April Fools gags...I can remember in high school one year that I was getting ready to drive off in the car on an errand for my parents, and it wouldn't start. After asking for help, my step-dad came outside with the ignition fuse in his hand, and happily declared, "April Fools!" It was a great practical joke. But was I fooled? They set up a situation over which I had no control, and my only conclusion was that the car wouldn't start. It's not like I was lead to believe it wouldn't start when it was really okay. The car actually couldn't start because it had been tampered with.

There was also a prank in college where several girls from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship decided to raid the medicine cabinets of a number of guys' apartments, purloining our toothbrushes. They left notes behind, or something similar, to indicate that it was some big April Fools gag. Harmless, clever, and fun, but I still don't think anybody was fooled here. Maybe a bunch of guys felt as if they'd lost their toothbrushes, but they weren't really fooled in the sense that they believed a lie told to them.

When did April Fools day become a day for general pranks? Or has it always been that way? Maybe I need to get some history on this...I think I just miss people actually trying to trick one another in good-natured ways. Only when you convince somebody that some absurd story is true should you be able to declare, triumphantly, "April Fools!"

So I don't mean to spoil anybody's fun - by all means, joke away. Try to fool me. Play tricks on me. I try to trick people as well. Just don't do something to me that's a practical joke and try to claim that you fooled me. That's just bad form.

Rainy Beach Escape

I'm heading down to Corolla, NC, in the Outer Banks for the weekend with Valerie. We're staying with some friends in some glorious rental house, and while it's expected to be cold and rainy the entire time, I'm not terribly worried. We'll be out of town and near the ocean, so it's bound to be an awesome time.

Oh yeah, and I'll have the camera and laptop with me, so there may be some pictures along the way.

Something Awesome This Way Comes

I feel giddy. Oh so giddy. There are parcels making their respective ways to my office this week. They're coming from different locations but depend on one another. I bet regulars could guess pretty easily what I'm talking about, but either way, I'll be posting all about it when the time comes.

Until then, I just had to type away some of the excitement :-)

Stream of Consciousness

Regular readers of this site may have noticed that I've been a bit thin on content lately. Part of that is because the last two rolls of film I developed weren't exactly successful (though I hope the slide film I pick up today is a different story), and certainly photography-related posts have become a staple around here.

A bigger reason, however, is that I've simply not had a lot to say lately. I doubt that I'm bumping up against the limits of my blogging. It's just that there haven't been a whole lot of primary sources of input for me lately. It's much less desirable for me, these days, to re-post something I've seen elsewhere (unless it's REALLY good), and even in that department I've lately run thin because I'm in a rut as far as my daily web reads are concerned (maybe that's a good thing considering my real life reads have increased at least a little bit). I suppose if I took some time to read some articles I'd at least be able to write some sort of response or rendered opinion.

But really, if I had to choose one main reason for my lack of insight, humor, or what-have-you around these digital parts is that I'm under a bit of stress these days, both good and bad, and I've only recently begun to realize how that's affecting my mood, attention span, and enthusiasm for outside stimuli. I've recently transitioned to a new church, I'm waiting on graduate school details, I have to do my taxes, blah blah blah blah blah.

I can just sum it up by saying I'm a bit distracted these days.

The grand irony, of course, is that such circumstances have, in this post, generated one of the longer pieces of writing I've posted in quite some time. That's probably more a result my long-winded writing style (when unfocused, as here and now) than really having anything to say. I also can't help but think that I'm likely to find a host of small and trivial things to post over the next day now that I've made such a statement. I often find that my later actions contradict my earlier words, but I'm certainly not going to hold back sharing something funny or interesting should I come across any.

Whatevs...that's all for now.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

Just in case I'm not blogging tomorrow on, oh, CHRISTMAS DAY, I figured I'd take a moment to wish a very merry Christmas to all who do and might read my website. Travel safely, if that's what you're doing, and God bless everybody.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- John 1:14, ESV