The posts tagged with 'Personal' are listed below. You can get to each post by clicking the title in the list.


Trying Something New

I'm trying something new in my career, going in a relatively new direction, but doing something I've loved doing my entire career. Everyone I've told about this new role has an a-ha moment, following up with comments like "I can't believe we never thought of this before." My new role is in the technical product marketing team at Microsoft, in a small team (we call ourselves the Fantastic Four) who contribute to the creation of demos for conferences like Build, Connect, and others.

When I learned of this position from a colleague and that I'd be working with some familiar colleagues like Erika Ehrli, Craig Kitterman, and Omar Khan, with whom I've worked in my engineering and evangelism roles at Microsoft it was obvious coming to work every day would be a pleasure. These people are just - they're awesome, creative folks who love the product and the engineers behind it and feel honored to demonstrate what can be done with our products. This team contributed to the inspiring demo Scott Hanselman did focusing on diabetes tech, IoT, Azure, and more, and maintain the Bike Sharing demo from last year's Connect event.

Once we got together and chatted, it felt right, so I'm taking a dive into a new area of the developer experience from the marketing perspective, where my role will be to help create these amazing demo experiences. I'll also be working with some great event planning and engineering folks on the Microsoft Tech Summit events.

i love docs

The past year, my sixth at Microsoft, I worked for an exciting team of folks building the next generation of developer and product documentation on the docs.microsoft.com team. The experience was rewarding, with lots of hard work that paid off for our customers. The team has evolved under the leadership of Jeff Sandquist and Dan Fernandez to include some exciting new areas, like developer advocacy. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with peers like Rob Eisenberg and Den Delimarchi and with developers like Duncan Mackenzie, the content of whom I've been reading since college.

The past just-over-a-year included activities like working closely with my old team in the Azure SDK world to use Swagger to document REST APIs, to use various code-commenting techniques and conventions to output rich reference documentation, and so much more. I'm proud of the docs.ms.com team, and I'm excited to see how the team of talented Cloud Developer Advocates will round out my old team. I was also able to see the sheer, massive amounts of heroic work the team does to deliver amazing content in so many languages.

It isn't ever easy to leave a team of talented people, especially when the product you've built is so obviously valuable to customers.

But sometimes, your aspirations evolve, and you learn things. Or, in my case, you remember things.

i love conference excitement more

I can't sit still. I walk around in meetings - motion creates emotion, and I find it easier to focus and get engaged in the conversations in meetings when I'm not staring at my computer. This sort of excitement-lust is great for being conference-driven. Being conference-driven in engineering is hell, being conference-driven in content is the seventh ring of hell. But you can't deny though all the stress they cause, that conferences are a great way of driving excitement in the products and offer our community an opportunity to meet the heroes behind the products.

That excitement drives me to come to work every day, and I'd missed it in my role in content as it wasn't really a component of my role. So after a few road shows after a year's hiatus from them, learning about the technical product marketing demo team seemed like a message, a hint that I should try this one out.

what changes?

In terms of my blogging, there'll be more, as it'll be more of a component of my role and not something I feel guilty doing for fear that I'm missing a deadline - the blogging, demo-creating, event planning, and conferencing is the role, rather than it being a side component of an otherwise already-full role.

I'll still be contributing to the Azure Tools for Visual Studio Code extension, which may be evolving due to some internal team adoption opportunities. It has been great to see how folks like Matt Hernandez and Jonathan Carter have supported the ATVSC and how we're working together to create a reusable set of components rather than sioling ourselves. The organic growth of opportunities for Azure tooling work in Visual Studio Code are evident and strong, and as long as the real heroes building the products will let me tinker, I'll tinker.

let's do this!

So keep tabs on my twitter, this space, and I'll keep you posted of new things in devops (a new area where I'll be focusing), and all the great tools that'll help motivate you to keep partying in the cloud.


Hello 2017

Over the past however-many months this blog has been inactive in spite of the volume of my activity. One could argue that the blog failed to emulate life but instead suffered from it. A few folks asked me why I'd been so quiet, so I wanted to answer that question. The post evolved into a recap of the past year. Even more, it provided a cathartic first post using a new blog engine I'll tell you more about in a moment.

What have I been working on?

I haven't not been busy. Here's a quick run-down of what I've been up to since my last post.

Visual Studio App Service Tools

I helped design and implement a number of changes to the Visual Studio Azure App Service Tools extension and helped customers and partners understand the opportunities these tools provide by speaking at a few conferences and writing a few release blog posts as we churned out numerous SDK releases.

docs.microsoft.com

Though I truly enjoyed the tooling world a great opportunity opened up in the docs.microsoft.com team working with some of my heroes and I changed roles. Together we're changing the way Microsoft does documentation. It hasn't been easy, but it has been rewarding to work in the team that inspired me when I was a graduate student reading MSDN SiteBuilder every week. Since I've joined the team I've been helping overhaul numerous reference experiences for topics such as:

Here I am with my my new teammate Rob Eisenberg (I'm so not worthy of these colleagues and constantly suffer from impostor symdrome) in our fancy team room:

Rob with Brady in his cave

Azure Tools for Visual Studio Code

I created the Azure Tools for Visual Studio Code extension using Node.js and the Azure Node.js SDK. Two of my goals for 2017 are to improve the Node.js reference documentation for the Azure SDK and to learn more about Visual Studio Code extension development. So late in 2016 I created this extension in the hopes of forcing myself to learn Node.js and to use the existing documentation from the perspective of a truly n00b customer so I could better ask our awesome developers on the team to make a great Node.js SDK documentation experience. Below is a screen shot of the commands made available using the extension.

Azure Tools for VS Code

In the last weeks of 2016 started working on a new blogging engine. More on this in a moment.

How's the family and Seattle going?

One of the other reasons I've been so busy is that my family and I have thoroughly been enjoying the Puget Sound Area, Seattle, and all the amazing sights and natural majesty the area offers:

In addition to all the work I've been doing I've also been familying and really enjoing it. Our first few years in the area were - well - weird, but we've gotten stronger out of it and really work together as a great team.

As if the global news, radical uptick in people-you-grew-up-with dying in 2016, and the stresses of work and personal life weren't enough, I had some personal tragedies as well. My father died, as well as a few other family members. It wasn't easy, but in the case of my dad, neither would be watching someone I love suffer for much longer.

In spite of the numerous explosions of the year it was an amazing year of change in our family and we're optimistic about the future. We moved into a cute little neighborhood after living on a scarily busy street and life has been a lot better as a result. The entire family has gotten involved in soccer, so we have numerous matches each week. Mostly indoor. Yes, it does rain here a little, but in spite of that it is an amazing and beautiful place to live and the whole family has been finding new people and places to enjoy.

I've gotten into MIDI

Since my last post another thing that's taken a ton of time has been that I've gotten back into producing music at home and have learned a lot about MIDI and how to use it to create music. By omitting a computer from the recording and creative process altogether I was forced to learn more about using the actual devices and building a decent rig of hardware. This has become quite a passion, as has been coming up with strange new sounds in the home office.

Home studio

One of my failed goals for the year was to write a blog series on these devices, how I made the decisions I made, and how to make interesting things happen with your devices. Again, the blog was neglected, even though I so badly wanted to sit down and write about it I got blocked each time.

I wrote a new blog engine using ASP.NET Core and Markdown

The truth is, I've been fickle with blog engines because I've been using blog engines written by other people who have different goals. My last engine, Miniblog, has far and away been my favorite. It is so convenient with a simple-to-use WYSIWYG editor in the browser, and even supports Live Writer. I can't say anything bad about MiniBlog, but we had to break up. It isn't MiniBlog, it's me. You see, I'm a creature of habit and I finally admitted I prefer the way I blog using Markdown and git to the way MiniBlog enabled me to blog. I realized my enjoyment of writing on my personal blog had been waning because everything about the writing process was different from what I'd gotten used to. The worst part was that I have a ton of work-related pet projects like the Azure Tools for Visual Studio Code extension and my MIDI tinkering, but my engine kept getting in my way. So, I started working on downr.

Most of the blogging and content publishing tools I use at work make use of Markdown. The open-source engine we use for docs.microsoft.com, DocFX, makes great use of Markdown, and our publishing systems support it. Additionally, Markdown is my medium of choice for all my open-source projects.

Some friends had also told me about Ghost, but it seemed a little too large for a single developer blog's need. There are numerous awesome options out there that would enable my desired workflow, but it seemed there wasn't anything that would be precisely what I was after written in ASP.NET Core. Though I've demonstrated a ton of ASP.NET Core things and done a ton of Web API work, I'd not built a custom site or web app in some time. I'd also wanted to do something a little more interesting with Grunt, so I took the opportunity of a greenfield project to use it to automate the build.

So in the final hours of my holiday vacation, I set out to create a blogging engine that I would use. I took inspiration from the tools and processes I use at work but made things a lot simpler and geared towards bloggers than comprehensive documentation. Then I converted my blog to use it and wrote a converter to migrate my content to my new engine. This blog is now using the downr engine, which you can learn more about in my Introduction to downr post.

2017 will be awesome

The turn of each year always offers promise and hope, and this year's turn is probably the most glaring example of this in recent memory for me.

We have some amazing new projects and ideas for documentation in the team and we've refined our process, made improvements to our tools, and have some new ideas for documentation next year that are sure to be exciting.

My pet projects - the Azure Tools for Visual Studio Code and the new downr blogging engine - are also great outlets for me to try the products I work to make easy to use for our customers.

Good luck to you in the new year!


So long and thanks for all the memories!

Dear Charlotte,

Tomorrow's the day my family leaves Charlotte for Seattle. So, the timing is perfect for the "buh-bye" post, and this is it. If you've been a part of my network you might want to read this. Then again, maybe not. There's going to be some good stuff and some bad stuff, and I hope everyone gets what I'm trying to say and that this post fails to burn any bridges. That's not my intent. My intent, as it always has been, is to empower Charlotte. 

Good News First. You're probably in this first list if you're reading this blog post, and you're probably going to blush at some point because I'm going to name names in this section. You have done good, groundbreaking work, made my professional life in Charlotte livable and memorable, and you deserve to have a light shined on you. This is in no particular order aside from the order in which you popped into my head tonight, so don't take your list placement personally, for your list placement has no relevance on your list placement in terms of your effect on my career and ways of thinking. Sorry if this sounds like an Academy Awards acceptance speech or suicide note, as that's not the intent. The intent is to thank you for the awesomely positive impact you've made in my life here in Charlotte and for seriously reducing the suck factors, which will be discussed later in the post. These folks have been the gold stars in my lives for the past 8 years, and they all deserve to be reminded. 

Bad News Last. If you don't want to read this, stop here and just be happy.

Not everything in the Charlotte technical industry is as it should be. I won't name names, but trust me, there are some folks here, some companies here, who need to remember that they got into technology because they liked to solve problems and make things easier, not because it was an easy industry in which you could find a niche' and become complacent. If you think I'm talking to you, then maybe you should stop doing it the way you're doing it because you've broken it already. That's not to say it can't be fixed. Some rules of the road first, based on things I've seen happening in the Charlotte technical world that I don't think I've seen anywhere else or at least not in the velocity and repetitive nature I've seen here. I want to be a lesson-teacher, so hopefully you'll take these points as positive criticism and guidance and not just bitching. I know it isn't just me bitching, because I know Charlotte technical folks want to and have the capacity to fix Charlotte the technology industry and some are already proving it to me. 

Take this harsh aspect of the email with a grain of salt, Charlotte, and remember. I love you as a town and wanted to live here since the first time I walked into the 1313 club to see Soundgarden in concert, and I knew it the first time I saw a Panther run a touchdown across the goal line. I know Charlotte can do some amazing things. Just forgive your own mistakes, forget your bad memories, remember your passion, and use it to make things improve. It really is up to you, not the guys on the 100th floors of those buildings uptown. Those guys wouldn't be on those 100th floors if they didn't need 99 floors of good people like yourself, who have passion, motivation, and love for what you do. So flex your muscles, ask the ones with bigger muscles and thicker glasses how they do what they do, and when they start answering your question, don't ignore them in anticipation of what you plan on saying next. Actually. Hear. Them. And try to comprehend how their wisdom can aid in your progression. 

And above all. Code with happiness and remember how you felt the first time you solved a problem. Guess what - it could happen as often as it used to if you let it.


The Red Pill

You may have noticed I’ve been getting into Azure recently. You could say my head’s going to be even more in the cloud than usual, because I’ve accepted a position with Microsoft as an Azure Technical Evangelist.

Admittedly, I was relatively late to the Azure party. I’ve been seeing so many colleagues do amazing things with it - Brian Hitney with Rock, Paper, Azure, Mike Linnen with his Netduino/Service Bus/WP7 solution, and Mike Diiorio’s presentation at the Richmond Code Camp . Once I dove in, I couldn’t look back, and now, I’ll be finding just how far the cloud goes.

Building 24 My team is amazing and I’m honored to be a part of it. I’ll be working with/for Wade Wegner, Nathan Totten, James Conard, Drew Robbins, and a lot of other bright, talented folks in Building 24. I’m not sure what specific Azure areas I’ll focus on out of the gate, but API’s and SOA’s are areas of interest to me and I hope to focus in those areas. Right now, I’m just thankful to have the opportunity and look forward to getting started.

The next few months will be interesting, to say the least. The position is based out of Redmond, so after years of wanting to near Seattle (my favorite city so far), my family will finally have the opportunity. We’ve started investigating our options and preparing ourselves, and we have been overwhelmed at how hospitable and helpful Microsoft is being to help in the transition.


Happily Employed Again

My search is over. The best part was that I not only secured a position, but that I secured a position with a company for whom I've had a great amount of respect for the past few years. My new employer, NouvEON, offers consulting services in the Charlotte, NC area and in cities nearby throughout the southeast. I had the pleasure of working with some NouvEON consultants in a previous position and had nothing but fond memories of their work ethic, code quality, and commitment to delivering the best product possible. I am proud to have secured a position doing what I love doing - consulting with small companies - via NouvEON, and look forward to helping our clients achieve success. I couldn't be happier and more excited to be consulting again, and for an organization that I've been truly admiring since my first experience with their staff.

I really appreciate all the help my colleagues provided me and all the support I received from friends, family, and my professional network.Like any industry, information technology professionals should nurture and maintain their relationships - with past clients, employers, recruiters, and peers. I've been reminded of the most valuable lesson one can learn about being a professional - your network will work as hard for you as you do for it. When I sounded the alarm of my need for work I had colleagues from every corner of my career pop up to help me. My relationship with the NouvEON consultants helped me out tremendously, and I wholeheartedly appreciate their referral to my new employer. I am very excited for my own fortune and for the blessing of being employed by such an exciting company.


Job Hunting Update

Things are going well. I'm finding a good deal of leads and getting back into the technology I've for so long enjoyed only to have been forced to abandon for the last year in my daily work life.

I've gotten back into the web browser and I have to say I'm enjoying it, as much as I'm enjoying learning about NHibernate, Ninject, and a host of other topics I've somewhat disregarded as a result of being pretty sure they wouldn't be of much use to my previous job anyway. I actually discovered Ninject some time back when it was still under initial development and didn't give it the time it deserved so I'm excited to get into it now to learn.

Ultimately, I'm happy I'm no longer working in an environment where my own professional goals aren't totally in accordance with those of my employer and I feel pretty certain I'm going to have an exciting few weeks getting re-acquainted with the technologies I've been bookmarking and finding interesting, only to lack the ability to put to use in my work life.

Through this rough first week of unemployment, my wife has been amazingly supportive. This is nothing new, she's always been a rock in my life and in the lives of so many other friends and neighbors. I am really lucky to have such a wonderful wife and child, and though we're entering a relatively scary time together I know we're entering it together, and that's all that really matters in the end. I'm pretty sure I tell her often enough to make sure she knows how confident I am that I'd fall on my face without her, but it never hurts to put it out there to make sure she's reminded as often as possible. 

Bottom line is that I'm happy in spite of the stress of looking for a job. I have an amazing network of peers, colleagues, and good people on my side. Each call I make to my network instills in me the faith that I've built a good one, and that they're going to do everything to repay the help I've tried to give them for the past few years. I've always known that looking out for recruiters and colleagues would pay off in professional karma in good time, and right now I'm seeing evidence all over that I was accurate in my faithful estimates.

My departure was a blessing, and I look forward to the next steps I'll take in my career. 


Proust Was a Neuroscientist

I began reading a new book last night entitled Proust Was a Neuroscientist . First some background...

Once during my college education I envisioned something I'll refer to here as The Duality. At the time I had been doing a great deal of psychological research to satisfy my educational requirements. At the same time I was reading a good deal of philosophy, specifically some of Zeno's Paradoxes, so it's a safe assumption that I was receiving a good deal of signals from sources that eventually collided. In a sense, during my personal periods of contemplation I had been evaluating the possibility of quantification of emotion. As I walked around campus, listened to music, or attended lectures, I was plagued by the continuous need to evaluate each stimulus from two angles - to think about the stimulus in a deductive, rational mindset while at the same time attempting to actively determine what emotional content the stimulus activated within me. During a particular "thought session" The Duality appeared to me as two bands of color that drew continuously closer to one another yet never actually met (I'm sure this was inspired by Zeno's Paradox that motion is not possible). One of the colors in my mind represented the rational side of my thought process, while the other color represented my Emotional side (and I'm not talking about left-brain-right-brain stuff here). 

Whenever I discussed this notion with friends, colleagues, even teachers, I was usually met with a sympathetic stare and a statement that I was "over thinking things a bit much." Usually I felt the need (as I do now) to convince my audience that studying The Duality was necessary, if not something that I felt had become just shy of an obsession for me. To accomplish this and to persuade them to believe me I would implement metaphor similar to the following:

Let's say you have a really spirited, independent friend who has a heroin addiction. On the one hand you share with this friend the agreement that being a friend means accepting someone for who they are and not trying to change them. Yet, as a human who loves his friends and feels sorrow when they depart, observing the friend do themselves in with heroin causes me pain and to feel compelled to help them stop using the drug. Sure, the human side retains the ability to behave in a selfish manner, and that very manner would cause the desire to stop the friend from hurting himself. 

Therein arose my conflict. The rational side wants to allow the friend the independence. The rational side opposes influence and prefers observation to affection. However, the emotional side felt fearful, felt painful on behalf of the friend and desired to impact their direction. The two sides, in a sense, would create a conflicted state in the observer that, if given a good deal of time and consideration, would yield nothing short of more conflict and inability-of-decision. 

Given the influence of Zeno's paradoxical studies and the influence of my psychological training, I eventually spiraled completely out of control upon realization that I could not determine how to behave; should I continue to perform my duties as a human being using rationality as a directive or should I give in to my human-ness and allow my emotions to rule over my decision-making? Being a perfectionist (and being somewhat young and naive, I guess, at the time), I sort of lost it right there. Eventually I switched from psychology to computer science because I couldn't move past this Duality, this inability to cut reason with emotion or vice-versa. I just ended that course of study as a profession and adopted a new one. In computers I found the answer - they aren't very emotional, so I could look at my work with one angle and remove the other angle from the equation.

In my own summation, I gave up on the quest to comprehend how to two could exist together and be used together to understand everything. It just didn't seem possible.

Back to the book, the one I began reading last night.

It gave me a moment to digest this Duality in the words of a far-more polished author and researcher than I'd ever have the patience to become. His name is Jonah Lehrer and he has a blog called The Frontal Cortex .  Recently he posted about recent book reviews he'd been receiving and I felt like it couldn't just be chance that I started reading, thought of this blog post I wanted to write, and that he was blogging about incoming reviews. So this is mine, despite not having finished the book yet. 

So far the book is amazing and I insist that you read this as your next book. Especially if you are anything like me and you're into the idea of meta-thought. PWAN discusses, in a sense, the mutual need for both art and science as a dualistic means to understand the world in which we live. Through careful examination of artists, writers, and other nifty people, he uses their art and the relevant science of the era in which their arts were produced to point out how one can't exist without the other. This thinking really grabbed my attention as it seems akin to my own Duality some 15 years ago. Though I was looking at it in a slightly variant light the work has already proven to me that I wasn't over-thinking the idea or that even if I was, there are others out there who share my desire to gain insight into the way we derive understanding about our world. If anything, I felt a degree of camaraderie with Jonah, and look forward to reading more of the book. 


Swan-diving Back into the Market

As of this afternoon I am officially on the market. I'd gone in a different direction with my career than I think I maybe should have and - in retrospect - feel this might steer things back on the course I should've been on the whole time. My schtick is browser-based application development, the middleware that drives that type of application, and whenever possible the act of educating people in the teensy shreds of knowledge I've gained over the years in knowing how to do such arts on their own. I hadn't been doing many of those things in my last position.

Despite taking the most gigantic technical leaps of my career in recent years, thanks to some amazing colleagues who reminded me of the never-ending directions one can go in using the .NET Framework, I never felt like I was doing the thing I got into this industry to do - connect people using the web . I thank my ex-co-workers for their knowledge-sharing and their instruction in so many areas, and wish them the best. I have nothing but hope for their efforts and organization. Likewise, I have nothing but faith that I've been put back into the fray for a reason, and that said reason will present itself in short order if I say a few prayers, direct myself, and keep my chin up. 

Now I'm off to find the next challenge, and hope that it comes knocking relatively quickly because this is a mildly discomforing first for me...


The Best Part of Waking Up

Anyone who knows me knows darned well that I'll be a coffee fan to the end so it's not surprising that I'll start a post like this. Granted, the first thing I do in the morning on the way through through the kitchen is to push the little green button on the front of the coffee maker. The second thing I do is to fill this little metal pot we have next to the kitchen sink with warm water. Into this water I place an 8oz. bottle - excuse me, bobbiez - where it sits, warming for a few moments while I execute the greatest part of my morning. 

This best part, like my good friend Scott, is when I get to wake up my kid, Gabe. Granted, I'm not the first one out of the bed every single morning, but seeing Scott post and realizing that the morning involves Gabe's best mood of the day, has inspired me to do my best each morning to be the one who gets up first. At 7 AM, Gabe is usually lying in his crib talking. The walls, the posts, the mattress, the animals on the wall, we're not sure. Either way, he's lying there talking. When I go into his crib I open the blinds, watching him the whole time because it's quite adorable to see him cover his eyes. Then I say "where is GAY-BREE-UHL?" really loudly, and he reveals his face. We usually play this game for a few moments while I prepare myself for the gift I'll be removing from his diaper (this takes courage some mornings, when I know from the smell that's found it's way into the kitchen what awaits. We remove nighty, change diaper, all the while talking and rubbing the animal stickers on the wall next to the changing table. He stares up, he waves, he kicks, I gently hold his legs and put them into the legs of his little jeans, sweatpants, or cargo pants. I pull his shirt over his massive grape (head) and we play peek-a-boo again. Then I pick him up and bring him into the kitchen, where mom is usually up and rubbing her eyes or pouring the now-brewed coffee into at least one of our mugs. She sits down in the arm chair with him and the room-temperature bobbiez and I at the kitchen bar with my laptop (and coffee) and the three of us kick off our day. 

Another good friend told me to enjoy this time, to hold him and play with him and to let him giggle and what-not because the times wouldn't last long. That is so true. Now that I'm at home more, I love the time I get to spend with him in the morning. He is in his absolute best mood at 7 AM - and sometimes in his worst mood 12 hours later, which for the first few months of his life was about the only time I would see him. These mornings are awesome and start me off in the best possible mood. He is absolutely amazing, the best, most complicated, most rewarding thing I've ever done. The best part is that I consistently find myself remembering that he's something I can bank on for the rest of my life, something I can depend on. It is truly a blessing to be a parent (and to have such great friends and family who inspire you to be better)!


a new addition on the contact page

on my new contact page, i've included a new validation component i've written that ensures my form won't get spammed (as has been the trend for the past few months). so drop me a note - if you're a human!


what edwards should have said

according, of course, to The Rude Pundit . not quite work-safe. hell, neither is cnn most mornings any more.


(in your best barry white voice)

the periodic table of funk, baby. ooooooh yeaaaaaah.


books - a heartbreaking work of staggering genius

book cover : ahwosg every now and then you hear of a new book. a friend tells you about it, you read about it on someone else's web site, or amazon spams you and you find a gem or two within the lines of the message. a co-worker dropped dave eggers' ahwosg (i'm using the abbreviation eggers himself uses frequently) on my desk and said "it's depressing, but really, really good." the co-worker in question is kind a west coast, ex-surfer, scientific kind of guy who never really gets excited or rapid-fire about anything really. he's just a mellow beach bum who meanders about his day coming up with new inventions and electrical doodads. so the fact that he didn't get too excited about it didn't raise any alarms. i took the book and started reading it that night, having no idea what the book was about, the author's style, the subject matter - nothing. within the pages of the book i found a truly discomforting catharsis. as i read eggers' never-ending rant about death, loss, and dissatisfaction, i felt relieved; in the moments when his pain and anguish over the loss of parental figures and the frustration in having to care for his little brother are most obvious, my own demons - the loss of my mother some two years ago - were inexplicably made tangible through the characters' behavior and vocabulary. the anger his characters embody as a result of their loss is truly felt throughout the book, as is the confusion and disenchantment with most everything the characters are forced to withstand. the most notable affect, though, was the humility i felt and the realization that i'd been a whining, self-centered child. eggers' characters' pain is only matched by their selfishness and inability to see the forest from the trees at times. throughout the book are exemplifications of rage that is misdirected - at loved ones, immigrants, co-workers, the system, the man - everywhere but at the source. throughout my own grief i have felt what eggers makes concise throughout the text - that the loss of a parental figure (or in the worst of imaginable disasters, both parental figures) - can thrust even the most well-adjusted child into a confused, selfish frenzy during which nothing makes sense. it is during those moments when eggers' rage humiliated and enlightened me. enlightenment as a result of the reminder that everyone has the capacity to feel just as i had felt for nearly two years. that, in the face of the loss of a parent everyone is filled with fear, with the despair that your protector has been taken away and that the shield you have had to hide behind has been forever withdrawn to leave you standing naked and defenseless. this was the first part of the catharsis for me - in remembering what i was told by those who had already been through it and wanted to let me know, to warn me, that it was acceptable that i feel these things. the second aspect of the catharsis was found in the humiliation. the humiliation that i hadn't listened to these people, who had come to me in my darkest hour to allow me to feel the pain and the loss. and in my selfish, pious moments of loathing and despair that i had turned away their friendly gestures and instead, relished - wallowed, more like it - in my own guilt and abandon. that i had become a self-victimizing soul that embodied eggers' "screw you if you haven't been through what i've been through" attitude, and who relished the opportunity to share his pain with the world through any of the various methodologies (screaming, kicking, complaining, whining, or just plain hiding under the covers until noon). through this very humiliation i found the most powerful catharsis since the loss of my mother - the feeling that i'd really been a spoiled little brat who had been wallowing in it because it just felt damn good to wallow in it, to remember it, and to complain about it because i'd not moved past the venting frustration and rage associated with it. in a sense, i'd forgotten what it was like to not worry about, to not think about, and to not be frustrated about, death and loss. and in that humiliation i realized the true point of his work. that the main character, like myself and many others, have the potential to engage in self-indulgent battles of self-loathing, which drives the discovery of more avenues and directions for their anger to be thrust upon and that the battle for properly placing the blame never quite stops. the humiliating part was that, in reading his descriptions of my own actions, i saw just how pointless the behavioral patterns can be and how selfish and completely self-involved the process of grieving can make anyone - even the most giddy of souls - become. in a sense, that grief contains the power to make the most childlike person turn into and embody the most childish of traits. and in those late nights, reading by the light of my nightstand and listening to the crickets outside in the yard, i felt as though eggers' work - a work truly deserving of the title's inclusion, of staggering genius - had been the gatekeeper to the prison i'd placed myself into. that this book had served as a mirror into the behavior isolating me for so long and that in that reflection my own idiosyncrasies became visible.

disaster recovery

i'd heard of this term. my friend jason works with the term pretty frequently, helping his clients do all sorts of things to make sure that their data isn't ever lost. i remember once in college, this evening when i found myself sitting in the computer lab of my residence hall writing away on a paper that was due some time in the next - i'm guessing given my ability to wait until the very last moment all through school - 24-to-36- hours. i was working frantically through the night trying to make sure that the paper was finished in time for a thorought (ha!) review and some sleepytime. then the monitor of the little apple 2-c/e/x/p/whatever-it-was flickered. not one of those lines-down-the-front-of-it flickers. no, not anything that comfortable. rather, it blinked. then, diagonal lines ran all over the front of the little beige box. i quickly realized that the computer was dying, how long had it been since i'd.... saved? needless to say, i became a keyboard person after that. i figure, you've got your hands on the keyboard, chances you'll hit ctrl-s (or apple-s or whatever it was on that device) escalate profoundly. you save more, you have less frustration. something like that happened on a grand scale last night. my hard drive... it... it's so sad to say it.... crashed. i've heard of this happening to my peers. i'd heard the horror stories of the machine just slowing to a crawl, then turning off for no reason. that's what happened yesterday afternoon as i carefully replied to a colleague's email. it slowed, stopped, and then rebooted. blue screen after blue screen. safe mode, safe more with command prompt, safe mode with networking. nothing. all failed attempts. i'm a software guy, and i'm powerless to hardware issues. so when i learned of the hardware guy downstairs i realized there was a glimmer of hope. he located a disaster recovery software package he'd had for years. i drove to pick up another hard drive. together we booted the laptop up, copied some of the data. more crashes. the c drive vanished from the program's explorer window. amazingly enough, reboot attempts allowed us the chance to get pieces of the last few months' work. i was able to save all the files from my existing project save a few that were downloaded this morning once i arrived to the office. but my pictures, my emails, my code, all lost. thousands of memorable conversations, lost. sure, i should have backed up, but i'll tell you what - "things like that don't happen to me." you smirk when you hear it and realize that it's so like a professional coder to think things of that nature. you giggle inside if it's never happened to you, and chills run down your spine if it has happened to you. i think that a hard drive crashing is the equivalent of being, well, beaten senselessly by a complete stranger only to be left for dead once the beating is complete. you feel abused. you feel confused. most of all, you feel ashamed because you should have known better and you should have been backing everything up on a daily basis. in a way, i feel like i've been educated by the whole experience. in the end, i feel like it may have been, from a personal perspective and in no way involving my project partners who've been totally frustrated with me by the whole experience, it was a good thing. i no longer have those bad apps to "rely on" when i don't want to write the code again. i'll be forced to remember how those architectures i had on the machine worked, and those that i've been wanting to rewrite but hadn't found the inspiration will now be rewritten - from scratch and not from their problematic roots. in a way, it's a very cleansing experience. but painful at the same time. the good thing is, i've got the information i need to complete this project. i've got a new, bigger, faster hard drive. and, it's clean. lovely!


football and politics

according to Urban Legends Reference Pages: Sports (Winning Tradition), we should definitely be pulling for the packers on my birthday. take note.


americans flock to canada('s immigration site)

not too bad an idea if you're really, really unhappy with the current state of your own country. of course, the idea of moving to canada seems all well and good right now, but let's see what happens when those very same people see the tax rates. the thing is, americans aren't accustomed to paying for what they want these days. we're so eager to take and so reluctant to earn. it's the whole "take a pill instead of drinking your orange juice (to get your vitamin c)" paradigm. we want it, but we don't think we should have to do anything to get it. and keep remembering, despite what mtv says, that 1 out of every 10 young americans put down the bong and went to the polls. they scream and yell for change but when the line's too long and they'll end up missing their favorite game show, the same whiners roll right back into their living rooms for more of the same.


best birthday ever

first of all, the birthday story. it was, without a doubt, the single best birthday of my life. we had a meeting early in the evening with the pastor who will be presiding over our wedding. the gentleman was in town doing a seminar on a group he oversees. this group does work for families in nicaragua. it's mission-focused, Christian in nature, and all-around very rewarding. turns out the guy needed a web site for his initiative, so g and i will be helping him get one set up and designed. Once the conversation and info session was over we headed to our friend norm's new bar for a drink with friends. turns out there was a little more than that in store for me. when i walked into the joint, everyone i know in this city was there awaiting our arrival. g looked at me and said "you said you'd never had a surprise party.... so...." all of our friends were there, and they all toasted me and my birthday. we laughed a lot about how shocked i was, took pictures, and all that typical surprise birthday stuff. (i say typical, but this was my first ever surprise birthday party and i loved every minute of it) at one point late in the night, the whole crowd began to sing happy birthday to me and a cake appeared with one burning candle. i prepared to blow out the candle by closing my eyes in preparation for wishmaking. and then i heard someone behind me say "wait, you forgot something." i turn around and see g hunching over, holding what appeared to be... no, it couldn't be... but it was - a guitar case with the word "fender" on it. i couldn't believe it. i opened the case and saw the holy grail of gifts - the mark knopfler signature series fender stratocaster . gina got me a guitar. for my birthday. and not just any guitar, mind you, but THE guitar - of my dreams. i could have never guessed this was coming, but from the looks on all of my friends' faces, they'd all known - and kept it a secret, something that i couldn't imagine being able to do on my own - for weeks. so i've had the best birthday ever. i got a few other gifts - some technical books and an awesome mogwai cd from my amazon wish list, to name a few. but i'll tell you, nothing could ever top this. all of the guys agreed, "you've got the perfect girl, man. you'd better be good to her." amen, i say. she's the best. she made it the best. thanks, babe!


evidence of communal laziness is everywhere

g and i were having this talk the other day. we were discussing how, when we were kids, it infuriated us to hear our parents say things like "when i was your age people didn't do that," or "when i was your age i didn't have toys like that," and the ever-popular "when i was your age things weren't so easy, your generation is lazy." the topic of our talk was in the reality that we're now hearing such things emit from ourselves, because we keep seeing evidence everywhere that people expect too much today. sure, i love technology. it pays the bills. not only that, it makes paying the bills easier. for one thing, technology is a lot of fun - i'm a geek for pete's sake, of course i love chips, electricity, simplicity, and above all, gadgetry. like everything else in the world, though, technology and the dependency we all have upon it must be kept on a short leash. we have got to stop taking things for granted, and we've got to curb the pattern of behavior resident and obvious everywhere these days. need an example of the point i'm making? here you go . you want a cat, you gotta accept some responsibility. those engineers plan on coming up with a cat that doesn't need food or water so you don't have to trouble yourself with taking care of the little thing? likewise, you gotta take the good with the bad. i love g, and she has two cats. so for the first 6 months of our incredibly happy relationship i had to spend each and every day waking up with a runny nose. i had to deal with allergies, and i had to start taking medication (again) each day to deal with it. things got easier, i got over the whole debacle and the allergic reactions rapidly dissipated, and now i've got two new wonderful, furry little feline friends. it sucked at first, but it was well worth it - i've grown to love the pets, and each day is happier as a result of having them around. i can't explain how happy it's made me to have such adorable little friends. it's awesome! but i didn't whine about it. i didn't expect the allergies to become easier over time to deal with (even though my body did aclimate and the allergies went away with time and exposure). i just knew it was something i had to live with if i planned to live with her. i take the good with the bad. i adapt, i overcome, and in the end i have a much better life as a result of having tried harded to "deal with it." and that's the point. people, you have to take the good with the bad. my kids will not grow up expecting everything be handed to them on silver freaking platters. the kids in school today (so i hear) are whiney little snots because mommy and daddy have taught them well, taught them that life owes them something. i've heard stories of overcrowded schools that have to use mobile homes for added space whose offices began to receive phone calls from pissy parents who say to them "i live in such-and-such [well-to-do-average-home-cost-around-a-mil] neighborhood, and i've heard that my son goes to class in a trailer. isn't there something we can do about that?" likewise, the parents who call in to complain about the grades their spoiled little brat kids earned - "oh isn't there something that can be done? duke university doesn't accept students who make 'b' grades, there's got to be something that can be done."

my bet - when asked on the ballot about "new taxes" that will be used to make the school systems better these very same people laugh and check the "deny" box. the same people who bitch about overcrowding refuse to pay more taxes to spend money on schools so that they don't have the overcrowding problem in the first place.

this pretty much sums up...

how 99.9999999% of my colleagues feel about the process of developing software. funny though it is to me that, despite the widespread agreement that such a problem exists it continues to thrive. you'd think.... oh forget about it.


why so quiet since elections?

i've not had much to say about politics since the elections are over. truth is, i don't have too much to say about it. perhaps i know there's no point whatsoever in getting all pissy. i know there's absolutely no point to bitching about it. moreso, i know that i'll accomplish nothing save absolute frustration if i begin to read all the articles that go into the discrepancies and what-not. the truth is, i feel completely and totally disenfranchised. not because of the vote count, not because i don't believe it (i do believe all was legal, in fact, and i'll be shocked if i learn otherwise to be the case), and not because bush won. he DID win. who care how many million people "can't be wrong" or whatever. the rest of the world (like those of us who voted for kerry) know that bush is bad for the country and the world. but that's beside the point. my point, my anger, and the only thing that i will say about this whole thing, is that the electoral college needs to go away, for good, and never, ever return. if the us citizens don't stand up now and voice the discontent over this group, we're more moronic than anyone who'd be stupid enough to opt for a white house address. i feel i have the right to say this because certain states had their red/blue color painted throughout prior to 100% of the votes in the states being counted. that's crap, plain and simple. who has the right to say, at around 9 pm, that north carolina (for example, i'm not trying to get flamed for whatever, i just live here, ok?) has "gone to bush" when the people are still standing in line to vote a few miles away? that's crap. its also crap to me that any other state with people standing in line was called. it disenfranchises each and every person who was in line, who hadn't yet voted. to boot, i think that it may have even screwed up the voting entirely - how would you feel if you were standing in line to vote and you heard that the state in which you lived - and were about to vote - had already been called? would you continue to stand there? would you waste your time? would you feel swayed when you finally got up to the poll? well? that's my point - if we as a people, as a country, are the ones who get to decide who goes into the white house, how in the hell can the electoral college vote unless every single vote had been counted? huh? tell me? for that matter, why don't the individual states have a college? how come the people in north carolina get the elect their own governor, but don't get the right to elect their own president? it ticks me off that the same rules fail to apply between state and federal elections. that's it and that's all. its the end of my rant, the end of my complaints about the whole fiasco that was the 2004 election. i hope we can all band together now to make a better country. i hope we can all get past the blue-state/red-state thing and just be one big redm white, and blue country, with a focus on making its relationship with all the other countries a little more productive and a lot more peaceful.


Secret Santa 2004

i remember these cheesy girls from my high school. every high school had a group of girls like this - they drove vw cabriolet convertibles, had long blonde hair all cut the same way, every friday dressed up in cheerleader costumes, and bubbled everywhere they went. they called themselves the "secret santas" because each year they'd surprised one another with cutesy little presents at lunch time just before the christmas break. as it turns out there were a lot of other secret santas out there in the world. so much so that the concept has spread to the internet. Secret Santa 2004 allows you (provided you have an amazon wish list - here's mine, no really, right here, here's my wishlist in a new window ). toss your name into the hat and get a gift yourself!


happy new year and all that....

well, i've been a little quiet, as my favorite aunt (who just had a birthday!) likes to remind me. sorry about that, i've just been busy. everything's going well, i'm not moving, or quitting, or sick, or anything like that. nothing of the sort. i've been pretty busy. what's nice about the business is that i've been focusing on my job. not my "own work" or anything, but on my job. if i'm coding, it's been at work during working hours and not on the couch at home. when i'm at home i'm playing with roxanne and her new friend bob (the bass i picked up to augment my recordings). sorry if i've been slack, i've just had too many things going on to write down my thoughts on all the things that are going on. i'll see what i can do about picking up the pace a little.


New Scientist - Novel calendar system creates regular dates

swatch proposed its own version of a universal time format some years back. no link for that in this post (feeling lazy and underachiever-ish today), but a very interesting fellow has proposed a new yearly calendar . i think his idea of "newton week" sounds pretty cool, but the idea of a sunday Christmas every year sucks - we'll always have one less day of holiday time. suckage. other than that, a fabulous idea. (i do wonder and will attempt calculation at some point today to determine the day of the week that my birthday - halloween - will always faill upon)


NY Times Cites Ender's Game Influence in Military Training

i remember hearing orson scott card speak while an undergraduate student at appalachian state university. this small "college-within-the-college" residential program called watuaga college that took one of those neo-70's hip-ducation angles, with social commentary and philo-socio-techno-analysis as focii of the faculty and reading material. these people had ecotopia as required summer reading, if that gives you any better picture of the type of scene. not that that's a bad thing, mind you, it's just really frickin liberal and forward-thinking. almost bold. balls.., yeah... education with balls). anyway, orson taught - and still teaches, i think - a really interesting novel-writing class in the asu new york city soho loft for watuaga college. a week with the guy, writing a novel. getting torn up by him and your peers. i heard good things, but always thought i had "better" things to do with my spring breaks than spend them writing. (who'd-a-thought?) well, we read a now-legendary book by the name of enders game by card, and it was amazing. i've been meaning to read the others in this series for some time. the really funny thing is that, just a few days ago we went to pick up some take-out at the pizzeria nearby. while there this little kid sat down next to me with a copy of one of the books in the series. i told him i'd met card and he got all excited. talking to a super-bright tot about ender and card... that's cool, i tell ya. turns out that someone somewhere's gotten a great idea and taken the amazing tale of a gifted child who - whilst thinking he's playing a game designed to train him in the ways of cosmic warfare ends up saving the universe - can be used as something just shy of a methodological plan of execution for the training of the military . i just noticed that this article's over a year old. weird that i'm finding it now by way of a more recent link i spotted over at slashdot .


a geeky week

man, i'm just sucked into my work again. but this time, i'm really enjoying it from a lot of different angles. my current situation allows quite a bit of focus on the ideas and notions behind reusability; remember, my organization is rich in a process dedicated to "doing your job so well you automate your own existence." from a darwinian perspective i guess that's not such a great attitude to adopt in such a competitive environment. of course, that's when you have bad managers. good managers see these reuses as "holy smokes, we just too how many hours out of everyone's process?" and redeem your provisions to the group. it's nice, but then again, can be a little confusing to some. think of it this way - you know you're a geek when you come up with a provider-model-based architecture to process text files in a linear format. yeah, it ain't art or anything, and by no means is the notion of screen scraping anywhere near remotely entertaning. that is, unless you decide to make it entertaining. to make it challenging. i like to take that attitude of "if i have to do it today i'll probably have to - or someone else'll have to - do something pretty similar to it." thus, why not create a "driving or genetic mechanism" that observers (to quote our GOF-loving counterparts) can just hook into? yeah, that sounds like more fun than 28 functions.


hats off, bow, major recognition for ingenious asseninism

when my aggregator caught wind today of the comments made by a fellow north-cakalakian .netter in response to a colleague of ours - and yes, i would refer to this dude as a colleague for reasons i'll explain in a moment - i was impressed. and i had to read this colleague's story. here's the deal. if you don't know about comment spam, how much it sucks, or CAPTCHA, you might not want to continue reading the rest of this post. if you don't think there's anything cool about hacking, or about technological jokes, you might want to stop reading too. those of you who continued might not like the rest of what i say, so if you're easily offended by people who innovate in even the most frustrating mechanism, go read cnet.com or something. you won't like what comes next. this guy is cool. he wrote a hack for captcha using ai constructs . he's even an mvp, and the way he spammed everyone was ingenious he did it in the form of an apology, but in a way proving the defecit of a valued technology. i have a colleague who did the same thing to protect his own financial interests and it landed him in court. do i defend these people? do i think that these techno-terrorists (for you right-wing nutjobs out there) are cool? hell yes i do and why? i bitch about spam all the time? i wrote my own captcha generator (it's on the comment page, and i'd love to see my fellow homeboy crack it - that's not a dare, his algo could smoke mine as well as could his gray matter) because i got so sick of comment spam. but here's the deal - i wouldn't have written it unless i had received comment spam. the spam was the reason for the code, and the code wouldn't have happened without the need. somewhere someone the great idea (for sales purposes, that is) of spamming blogs. it sucks, but it had to happen somehow. then came captcha. so then someone, somewhere, had to think up an even more complex software package - or algo - that would top captcha, and this guy was able to pull that off, single-handedly, in what i'm guessing was a long night's work. he didn't run out all over the web exploiting people, but rather, did it in the best way possible - he told the people who need to know in the most objectionable - and obviously impactful - mechanism. i think that's awesome, because it definitely got everyone's attention, and now we know that the particular captcha mechanism he exploited pretty much sucks. we need to think harder, we need to write better captcha mechanisms and algo's, and we need - in a word - to be more intelligent than the very machines we created and that we make follow our instructions. hats off, pal. you are one of the true innovators, and you're the kind of cat that makes people work harder.


a beginning and an end

everything that goes up must come down. blah blah. so now i'm married. it was perfect. of course, there was some stress, there was a whole lot to do. a whole lot of people to talk to, and all sorts of things to run around and busy ourselves with throughout the weekend. rehearsal, the dinner, then the big day. awesome. all perfect. for those of you who aren't married - you men, rather - the best moment of your life up to the point in question is when you see your new bride in her dress for the first time. that's just an amazing feeling that i couldn't possibly - or won't, for reasons i'll go into in a moment - describe. lovely, gorgeous, perfect, she was. she walked down that aisle, looking at me the whole time as the preacher promised me she would. a perfectly gorgeous woman who created for me a perfectly gorgeous moment. and who will, for the rest of my life, create a perfectly gorgeous, harmonious partnership. then the honeymoon in st lucia. words can't describe that one. i'm working on getting some pictures of the resort and of the island up on my flickr page (where you can see some amazing pictures of my bride ). a short version of the week-long honeymoon story contains mentions of snorkeling, a comical english couple 20 years our senior, mountain-climbing, fort ruins, "no pressure no problem," drifting through the pool all day, 4x4'ing through a rainforest, a delictably terrifying ride in a van through the sketchier parts of st lucia, a few hundred games of pool, piton beer, "sierra," a pool at the edge of the room, a hobie cat, and a few thousand other memories. -- and the ending? well, this is it. this site is of today, done. i'll leave it to justin hall's outlook on the world of blogging, who made one point very clear. if you dump your heart and your life on the internet for all the world to read, what in your life is sacred, private, and truly intimate? answer - very little. i'm tired of that way. i have a life that i've been reminded is awesome. don't misinterpret - my wedding wasn't the cause of the demise of this site. it was, rather, the catalyst. i've poured a lot into this site over the years, in hopes that some of you would get the point, would learn about me, and so on. the truth is, i'm tired of the blogging way. i'm tired of "taking pictures" instead of "enjoying the vacation." now, my life is chocked full of intimacy (please get your mind out of the gutter for that, k?) now. it has been, and you may have noticed a downturn in my writing frequency. there's a reason for that. i've put down the pen and picked up the life again. and no, this isn't an "end" to my online existence. just tatochip. an old friend once noted to me that "tatochip" wasn't the same person as "brady gaster." in fact, she claimed that tatochip seemed to be something short of an alter ego. 7 years later, i see what she meant by that. that alter-ego has no more purpose these days. i've learned that i can't change the dirty pool-playing. i can't teach old dogs new tricks. and for that matter, i've learned that i like cats better anyway. in the end, there's no real reason to continue with this alter-ego, so this, my friends, will be the last post of this site. i've got a new domain name now that makes a little more sense semantically speaking (bradygaster.com for the personal stuff, bradygaster.net for the programming stuff, thanks to my family, who's suggested for years that i should split my work life from my personal life). for now, i bid you all farewell. thanks for keeping up with what became a pretty annoying habit for the past 5 years. its time to get back to meatspace, where the roses have a scent, the brides have voices and smell nice, and the world isn't filtered by firewalls.


CNN.com - High court OKs personal property seizures

According to this article on CNN it is now conceivaly viable that your city government could come along and tear down your house to allow for the creation of shopping mall. There's something awfully frightening about this article. No more than a mile from our home some groundwork was completed for a soon-to-be-built shopping mall. I think a Macy's was coming to town or something, who knows. Anyway, they cut field of all its trees, cleared it out, and built a huge fence right around the outside (I guess to protect passers-by who might have otherwise wandered off into a workzone). The lot directly behind the lot cut for the mall - as in, 3 or 4 feet from the fence itself - is a million-dollar home. A huge mansion is next to it, a few more, and then you reach a golf course. The one where the Wachovia cup is held each year, no less. After the huge lot was cut someone made a clerical error of some sort somewhere and the mall people decided not to come in. So there's this huge field of red dirt surrounded by an institutional-looking orange fence smack dab in the middle of one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the city. What if the mall people decided that they'd like to re-up on the original deal, only this time make the mall larger than was originally planned based on research performed on the profitability of the area? What if some deals uptown, and even more in Raleigh (NC's state capitol)? Well, under this new motion, the city could allow seizure and destruction of that lot next door which hosts the million-dollar home. And the next one, and the next. And goodness knows it would never get to this, but maybe even the golf course? I mean - that's prime real estate if you think about it.


wedding rings - made of bone

yeah. human bones. like. no way. i love my girl and all that, but i'm not going to give her a wedding ring made out of my bone material . somehow i doubt she'd find the gift all that... um.. romantic.


If I weren't such a

If I weren't such a class warrior, I wouldn't find humor in the fact that a millionaire CEO is about to go to jail for 25 years . But you see, I am a class warrior, so I think its absolutely hilarious.


office pain

[What follows is what I (and a few other peeps in my area) would love to say to the lady beast two or three cubes away] Lady, I know you have to be on the phone all day. I know it is a priority that you speak with your customers and business partners on a regular basis. And I know that you are somewhat large in stature, and resultingly have a voice that carries. I mean, look at me, I'm over six feet tall and have the build of an out-of-shape linebacker. I know how it is. But lady, its like this. I can hear every word of your conversation. The girl on the opposite side of me than you can hear every word of your conversation, as can her teammembers who work on the other side of her cube. If you hadn't been counting, that's over 4 aisles away. We can hear you clearly, as though we were in the meeting with you. It wouldn't be so bad if you were on the phone for 20 minutes a day. Heck, it wouldn't be so bad if you were on the phone for an hour a day, at said volume. The thing is, you are on the phone all day long. At the same volume. It is absolutely shocking to me that you have the amount of breath requisite for such long-winded chats; I know that my own moments of loud long-windedness rarely fail to exceed the 10-minute mark. So I ask you, on behalf of everyone within earshot (which is most likely everyone on this floor), respect your peers and lower your volume. I'm sure that your volume is not only aggravating, but most likely fails to comply with our corporate privacy policy [since she is talking to yelling at external customers]. If that's the case, you are not only violating our earspace, but most likely the law, as well. So how about you lower your volume. Or get a door. Or just move to the basement. Whatever it takes, just make sure you don't bug the rest of us all day, every day, any more. Thanks.


Buzzwords- Plog

Apparently someone already beat me to the punch on my word creation from yesterday. See: Plog . I never was a good trendsetter (thank goodness, that's a helluva lot of responsibility).


Our House is the Sierra Club Headquarters

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but I've become a cat lover. If you're seen the commercial for the allergy medicine in which a young woman has a cat, her man an allergy to cats, and the two an uncompromising love for one another you already have a clue as to how my relationship with cats began. G has been a cat lover for years, myself a cat allergic and thereby cynical of their true value to humankind. You could definitely say that times have changed. I've been adopted by a loving Burmese cat named Sierra . Ther was once a child in the house, a child who pronounced Sierra's name with the shrill cry of a 4-year-old not yet familliar with the "r" sound. Place great emphasis on the "EE" sound of the word. The resulting cacophony fills the house


Transgressional Fiction

I got to speaking about interesting Fight Club assignments this morning with a peer over the Internet. Given that I think FC is about the best work of the past 10 years, the most groundbreaking idea to hit the minds of any penis-enabled individual this generation, and pretty much seeing as how I consider the ties that bind us to be self-imposed, I found the definition of Transgressional fiction to be of interest. Albeit ironic that there's a terminology for this literary style, one must appreciate the feasibility of the human psyche's inability to deal with things that can't (or refuse to be) labelled and thereby deal with the fact that labels are requisite for communication, even when the mere act of labelling something refutes the very point of it in the first place. Camus said that to "define yourself as an existentialist would refute the term itself," since no man is anything but himself and should never allow labels to be accepted. Camus, being obviously an idiot, couldn't have imagined how fucking vapid and idealess we as a modern culture could have ever become. We need labels, because labels group us into categories that make understanding where YOU are in your process via a simplistic comparison to EVERYONE ELSE. Therefore it seems obvious that self-definition is impossible, and that the only truths are those that arise from comparison. Pretty sad if you let yourself think about it. So don't. Just do your own thing. But however you do it, read at least one of these books. Then, come back and we'll chat.


amusingly uncomfortable medical experiences

I'll spare you the details, especially in the case of the fact that you might be eating. Don't worry, I'm fine, this involves no sort of accident but rather a severely discomforting situation, some blood, some humility, and the mention of the term "scalpel." So I was freaking a little about it and G was right there with me. Cracking jokes, from time to time, the ones that you know everyone wants to crack but only someone who really loves you could not only get away with saying, but damn near be complimented for the perfect-a-mundo timing and contextual humility requisite to get the humor. That, a smile that could disarm a viking searching for the last chicken wing, and you've got an obvious in-love moment for the grandkids to hear about. Yep, I knew she loved me that one night when she was in the hospital because I freaked out at the sight of a little...

I mean, I would've done it for her too, aside from the jokes. And that's another thing - don't ever, especially when you're bilogically predisposed to not only misunderstand but just find the topic of amusingly uncomfortable medical experiences a little less-than-important-enough-to-get-bent-out-of-shape-about (a.k.a. being a man ) - joke about someone's amusignly uncomfortable medical experiences. They will come back to bite you in the ass, I can promise you that.


Chatting with an Old Friend

I was chatting with an old friend online today and it made me think about how cool the guy is. I tend not to rant about how much I dig my colleagues and friends, but I have to now - I got it stuck in my head and now I just gotta get it off of my chest. Scott Cate is the main reason for my career success while I was in residing in Phoenix, AZ. He taught me a great deal about my own talent as a programmer and reminded me - through his own enthusiasm and vision for how things could be improved upon - of how much fun this industry can be. During my professional engagement with Scott, I witnessed him motivate hundreds of people - through his humor, his willingness to remind those around him of their merits, and most importantly - in reminding them how rewarding the act of perpetuating a community can truly be. Scott was not only focused on improving the developer community in Phoenix, but as a lifelong resident of the city, he has contributed hundreds of hours to making people feel better about their own talents. Likewise, Scott has this innate ability to make you remember that you figured out a better way, so that must mean that there's an even better way right around the corner, and that you're only going to find the really sugary moments after a lot of thought, practice, and patience. Those kinds of people - the ones who motivate you to be better out of the sheer possibillity that you could be better - are the types of people that make evolution happen. Heck, he's a great drinking partner too. Plus, the guy's got a stroke of unpredictability that an obsessive compulsive would envy; just to make sure I made it in time for a Radiohead concert my best friend had purchased tickets to, Scott helped me drive home - from Phoenix to Atlanta. That's no joke. Scott, I'm glad you're my dawg.


Glenn Feron - The Art of Retouching

So you think all those honies you've been looking at in the magazines really look all that schnazzy? Think again. This is for all the women out there who've looked at the images their men (or sons) stare at for hours with a short rebuttal consisting of "looks airbrushed." Turns out our women have been smarter than we were all the while (as if they didn't know this already).


A Little Repsect for the Home Team

Its super to see that the SI guys are definitely hooking up the Panthers in the upcoming season picks. So far we look awesome and appear to be having a good deal better luck than last season. I'm maintaining a great amount of hope that the SI.com picks are right this time.


ESPN.com - NFL - Panthers offer tickets to New Orleans evacuees

Truly an excellent display of southern hospitality by our home team. Short version if you can't read the article yourself - the Panthers are giving away 350 tickets to the Katrina survivors who've been evacuated to our area, where they've been for the past few days.


Happy Birthday to my Mom

Wherever you are, happy 64th today, Mom!


Yo, Pat! I'm the one from CNN

This morning I found out that our old confused little friend Pat Robertson is up to his old antics again, spewing his own form and flavor of [what he refers to as] Christianity. I didn't like what I heard, so when asked by the television (CNN, specifically) to send in via email my thoughts on the matter, I did so with furious vigor. A few minutes later I heard my name come out of the television and looked up to see that my letter was being read aloud! So if you missed it, here's the transcript, which I'm not ashamed or afraid of admitting is my own writing.

Pat Robertson has, as many other Christians have, lost his way. At some point he and his political cohorts and their respective, collective agendas have taken precedence over their spiritual backgrounds. He is not - repeat not - a voice that I or any other Christian should have speaking on our behalf. No Christian should support assassination, or practice hatred, or greed.

Gina and I in Seattle and SFO

Gina and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary this week. We took a train ride on the Pacific Coast Starlight Amtrak train from San Francisco (well, Oakland, specifically) to Seattle. It was an amazing trip. More details later but for now, here's some photos of our journey .


The Airport Lady

This is one of those times when I hear something and don't really think about it while it's happening. Then I tell the story a few times and start thinking about how it all sounds weirder each time I tell it. When there's no way I can deny the curiosity for another moment, I'm forced to peel through 5 or 10 minutes of research from the websites of newsrooms (such research would have taken weeks and many phone calls a few years back, thank goodness for the internet) in remote areas of West Virginia. Only tonight, when I found the data I was searching for my feet rushed with a chill no less sharp than the chill I'm sure the dead brother of the woman in the airport died from in the mountains of West Virginia. Seriously, you've got to hear this. Last week I was in Vegas, for business. I'm not a Vegas kind of guy really, but I won't digress. This story happened the last night of my trip, when I was sitting in terminal A17 at the Vegas airport. Between the hours of 10 and midnight. I'm sitting after a nice jaunt through the terminal muttering to myself about how strangely intrusive it seemed when the elderly clerk in the airport general store looked at me and said "son, don't rush," when I simply wanted to leave her store and the people who had no concept of personal space to find a seat in which I could finally.sit.down. I hear the shaky voice of another lady next to me. Sir, are you getting on the flight to Charlotte? Yes, is there something I can do for you? I'm so sorry to ask. She giggles apologetically. I haven't slept in a few days. If I fall asleep would you wake me up before the plane leaves? Sure. I can't help it. I can't stop it. As much as I wish I could and that I didn't see her eyes asking me to ask, I hear myself. Ma'am? Would you mind if I asked why you haven't slept? Is everything ok? Imagine a forest here, ok? Think to yourself what it would look like to be standing in a forest and to look up and see a waterfall. Think of how loud, if you were the only thing around in a huge forest, a 200-foot waterfall would be. Obvious. Powerful. Pure. Something like that. The small shell in front of me held a woman who I'm guessing was in her sixties, yet who exhibited the curiosity of an infant, the wisdom of a 100-year-old monk, the pain of a child who has lost their first pet. Something about her was inexplicably un-ignorable. I had to listen to what I felt she had no choice but to say. [For the sake of privacy, I've omitted some of the details to spare the airport lady's family's privacy. If things seem a little vague, they are so by design, so just bear with me here for a moment.] She told me the story of how her brother had died, her adopted brother, and how she was traveling to the east coast to see him. Well, not him, but his body. How she would be with her mother soon, and how she had recently been with her brother who was in the process of driving to the Bay Area to live with her. Her brother had led a difficult life, was an artistic and musically-minded individual who loved being outdoors. How his body was found after some time in the middle of nowhere, and how he had apparently died of natural causes related to the mountainous terrain in that area. She told me about the trooper who had relayed the information of her brother's death and how it all seemed so strange. She told me of her mother, father, her own life. I know that this lady is a dancer, and that she teaches young people to dance. I also know that this lady was close to her family, and that her family - like many


Two Logos, One Look

I just noticed, when looking at the Amtrak web site, that there was something familliar about the logo. Something about the wave. I recalled the logo of my bank . When I looked at my bank's site, it hit me where I'd seen it.


523 Mentos + 200 Liters of Diet Coke

= A do-it-yourself representation of a [rather sticky] copy of the Bellagio's dancing water fountains. Video here .


Fire With Fire

Wow. So many things, so little time. And so few with interest enough to actually read this space. Coupled with dwindling motivation and one must begin to ask the question "If a blog is a place that no one reads is it really a blog?" In fact, that very question was posited to me recently by someone commenting on my site. That someone refers to themself as "Jesus Christ." I'm sure they've chosen this name in spite of - or because of - the fact that I am a Christian. I'm sure they find it amusing to post comments on my site masked as the Holy Savior because of my commitment to my faith. In fact, this individual was enjoying the act of commenting on my original site, too. First I got mad, then I just turned the site off in spite of my enjoyment with it. The comments increased in volume and decreased in taste, and eventually I had enough and just shut the site down. Later I re-launched the site under this new domain. Seemed to make more sense anyway, so why not? The posts continued, the tenacity increasing, and the hilariousness of the situation at once became pretty overwhelming to me. After about a year or so of not saying anything about it - keeping in line with the whole "ignore them and they'll go away" notion seemed to be a good idea at the time - I'm ready to speak my mind. Whoever you are, you originally affected me. I've never understood those who walk this earth finding joy in the destruction of the mood of another person. Regrettably, these people have had a pretty adverse affect on me throughout my life; I don't comprehend the notion of reveling in someone else's discomfort and thus fail to comprehend the joy in doing so. So yeah, I was annoyed enough to shut down my site. But I did what I felt was best at the time in not responding. I was right in doing (or rather, not doing) so and in giving myself time to contemplate the behavior "Jesus" was executing. After awhile it became amusing. Think about it like this: There's this person out there who either hates me or Jesus so badly that they felt it requisite to mask their identity in His name for the sole purpose of posting comments on my site. The comments themselves, I noted, were relatively indicative of someone who'd actually taken the time to really read what I was writing. And, as you know, I'm not the most succinct person on the web, so reading my words takes a degree of commitment and time. So this person, posing as Jesus Chris, was spending RAM cycles browsing to my site each day to see if I'd posted. Or at least, every few days. When I would post, they would spend their [I'm guessing here, but this person must be pretty busy, as we all tend to be these days] much-valued personal/work time reading my ramblings thoroughly enough that they'd be able to make inflamatory comments. The more I thought about this, the funnier it became. There is someone out there who gets off on keeping tabs on my site just so they can post hateful things on it. They're going out of their way, while I'm just doing what I do. Pretty funny - they're working to keep up with me. And in not saying anything, my guess is they got even more irritated. So perhaps, addressing it is giving some degree of power to this individual. As if, in a way, they've won by virtue of the fact that I'm giving them the indication that they got what they wanted - a rise out of me. But here's the best part. Whoever you are, you haven't gotten any rises in many months. You haven't stirred me, you haven't done anything save motivate me to pray for you. You're obviously confused, hate me and/or My personal savior enough to spin your wheels, spend your time, and accomplish nothing of value or impact. I ask you, "JC," - what have you really accomplished, now that you know you are as significant to me as is the dead skin on the end of my big toe? Don't allow the fact that I am giving you credit in this post go to your head - I'm writing this because I find it amusing and pitiful; that a human soul could be as tumultuously gripped in anger and resentment to the degree that they would lower themselves to suggest such indecencies as you have suggested. Anonymously, to boot. Though you obviously have such disdain for me and my Savior, you haven't even the courage to claim your own opinions. I am not intimidated by you, I am not annoyed by you, and I have not been rattled by you in some time. I am, I'm happy to say, sorry for you. I pray for you, I pray that you find peace in your own life and no longer in attempting to ruin others' and that you learn the happiness in He whose name you falsely use as your own. -- Why now? Because I've been fighting fire with fire. I've been angry at those who were angry at me and retaliated in childish form at those who childishly attempt to drive me crazy. I've allowed the little things that matter about as much as the dead skin on the end of my big toe affect me to the degree that the big, important things seem like distractions from what matters - the stupid stuff that ticks me off. There's no reason for that sort of behavior, and when you break it down at 7 PM on a Friday night in your head things sometimes fall into place in ways they hadn't prior. I'm not changing myself, or making any promises. I've been trying, as a colleague said once when asked what their goal for the year was that year, "trying to be a better person." Part of that means harboring fewer moments of resentment, seeing the errors in the tantrums and understanding options to them, and continually blowing off the kiddy stuff. Like cowards who lack the courage neccessary to express their emotions like adults do.


Eric Sink Outs His Own WTF

You have to give a developer some props when they out their own WTF-able code . Yes, folks, that's right. There is no shame amongst developers who pride themselves in their own quest to great[code]ness.


Viva Le Pete!

Pete Wright caught my attention a few years ago when he took the words right out of my mouth and today he comes back with the perfect manifesto. Good going, Pete. Between this guy and my new co-worker, I've decided to start learning Ruby. Yes, Ruby. To quote my co-worker, "MS stuff is what I do at work, but I gotta have something to do for fun. That's why I like PHP and Apache." I can't stand Apache, but I'm getting into Ruby these days. Expect more on that too. Expect .Net stuff not to go away, because that's what we do at work and I'm still cool with it and what-not. But, like my co-worker and Pete, I recognize the overwhelming, stinky, ever-rising pile of dung that is the MS way, and how it feeds into the greedy money-lined pockets of the very people with whom I've chosen to spar for the past 2 decades. I'm not into marketing, I'm not into the rich, and for goodness sake, I am into the passionate aspects of the career path I've chosen. So, I might as well have a little fun in the process, eh?


Why Users Can Suck Sometimes (my words, not Matt's)

Matt Darby, I feel you are a kindered soul.


10 Seconds with Tyler Durden

10 Seconds with TylerDurden is a product written by OpenSoft Development . I need this app. I'm not sure how it works so I may have to install it on my wife's Mac to get an idea of how it works. Bottom line is, this app sounds awesome and it needs to be copied so us PC users can have little hints of wisdom every so often.


Blogotaggation

Thanks to Scott Cate and his desire to maintain a cool e-ego I've been tagged and now am forced to maintain my own e-ego by disclosing five little-known facts about myself. So here goes....

1. Skating. Like Scott, I too grew up roller skating when I was a yute. I loved it. I had two-tone Zinger wheels, the low-top black with white stripes, and all that. I think it may have been the perfect solution for a single mom who parented an extremely hyperactive young man.

2. I am absolutely positively terrified of spiders. A girlfriend in high school learned this and once trapped a spider in a little plastic jar. She told me she had a surprise for me, and when I went to her house she sat me down - on a (open) window ledge 2 floors from the ground - and stuck it into my face. I damn near fell out and broke my neck I was so shocked.

3. My goal in life is to be a rock star. Seriously. Not in the red-leather-and-big-hair way or anything, but I love to play music and have always felt very comfortable doing so. Like a fish in water, I usually feel most at home when I'm making music. I would love to do this for a living one day.

4. Speaking of fish and water, I love swimming, diving, cliff diving, and anything else that involves my body being in the water. Ocean, lake, stream, pool, tub, it really doesn't matter.

5. I had an email read on CNN. Remember when Pat Robertson said something about how we needed to assassinate Chavez? I was working at home that day and when CNN asked for people to send in emails, I did so. The email was pretty straight-up, but they read it anyway. That was a few seconds ripped out of my 15 minutes. Hopefully the other 14.3 minutes will be used one day by me playing guitar in front of a lot of people. Who knows? And with that, I will tag my current boss, Harvey .


If I was a make-a-wish kid...

I know exactly what I would wish for. I would wish for Rick Rubin to work with me, to educate me on how things work in the music industry, and to help me better understand my capabilities as a musician myself. Not really because I am totally in love with Slayer, or the Peppers, or Danzig. I mean, I do like all those cats. Not even because of the fact that I consider the Cult's Electric to be the single most influential album of my childhood. I just feel this thing for Rick Rubin, like he and I kind of share a few opinions about music, how it is supposed to sound, and what it is supposed to do for people. Quotes like this one from an interview I found online make it abundantly clear that Rick Rubin and I share a few opinions and outlooks about how music is and can be created.

And then the actual work of having to get it there is just going through the process. Once you hear it in your head, it???s like being a carpenter???trying to build the thing when you already know what it is.
I've tried for months to describe how it feels to be in front of my instruments and my computer, with a concept in my head. A whole opus raging between my ears, while my fingers work frantically to reproduce the imaginary sounds before they're gone. This quote sums it up perfectly for me, and makes me want even more than I did before (which I considered damn near impossible) to have coffee, a jam session, a walk on the beach, or a five-minute chat with Rubin. I know I'd learn from it. Maybe he'd even make a cool new friend!!??!

Third-Person Day

Today in our office we have declared a new practice. Today will be Third Person Day. All day, each of the members of the game will be required to talk about themselves in third person ONLY. No "I" or "me" will be allowed. Brady believes (caught myself there) that it will be an interesting experiment. For motivation, the group has decided that each usage of the disallowed pronouns will result in the purchase of 1 beer for the rest. Point is, Brady needs to be careful not to talk about himself today. At least not in that tense....


Why you shouldn't smoke crack

If you smoke crack you might end up having to get saved from alligator jaws .


DIY Guitar Amp Stand

IMG_0685 Inspired by a Makezine article I read last week covering the construction of a guitar amp stand from pvc, I came up with my own design. I've uploaded a Sketchup rendering of the amp stand so you can have some ideas on the measurements. I also created a flickr set that shows the process of construction and the finished product itself. I'm pretty happy with the outcome. I ended up with an almost perfect angle - 50 degrees - to aim my amp's signal right into my face. Works almost as well as a stag monitor, but this monitor has a spot for my effects board, a Line6 PodXT Live floor model, as well.

Sc8 Goes Negative

Scott Cate (Sc8) always blasts me for my negativity towards Microsoft. I love it that he's taking the black pill with me today.


On the Charm of Twitter

I have been wondering what it is that's so special about twitter for a few weeks now and have been completely unable to figure out why I'd ever want to use the service. I signed up but hadn't used it until last night when it occurred to me. Twitter is a tool that lets me chat in an asynchronous fashion with the rest of the blogosphere (or at least those who have chosen to follow me ).


34-32

Even though they can't pronounce the name of my alma mater properly, these Buckeyes fans in DC watching Michigan lose to Appalachian State seem to be some of our newest fans. Sure is a good day to be a Mountaineer!


TechCrunch and 23andme

TechCrunch's Michael Arrington has decided to take the plunge with self-perpetuated DNA testing . He raises some very interesting points about the process the company 23andme has initiated . If you haven't heard about it, here's the skinny - you can order your own DNA testing to be done for less than a grand. With this information you can learn basically anything you would ever want to know about yourself, your body, and your future (genetically speaking). As Michael points out, some of these items might not be the most comforting, but if you're game the knowledge can be all yours. I'll be following his story closely. I'm anxious to hear what he learns.


The National Post Review of the John from Cincinnati Finale

Not too pleased with National Post's Review of John From Cincinnati's Finale . I wasn't that pleased with the finale either, to be frank.

At first the show definitely caught my attention. It lost my wife's after episode two, but I was committed at that point to see where David Milch would take me. Admittedly I would find myself coding through most episodes by virtue of having been lost in the meandering dialogue. I was pleased by some of the plot twists and symbolism that never actually twisted into anything of any consequence (the dead guy from the room, the corpse, Shawn at the bar). So at the end I felt Milch tied things together rather well. I don't think one could refer to Milch as a cop-out by ending so abruptly because to cop out one must first actually direct one's self in a particular direction, something Milch refused to do with this series. If the god-head or devil-head was the point of the show why make it so obvious that the series should have ended during the second episode? Likewise, if Milch had intended on inferring dramatic symbolism from time to time in creepy, noir scenes, why just allude to a meaning and never make a legitimate attempt to tell us the point?

Not sure I can answer those questions nor that I can admit to not being if even a teensy bit annoyed at the whole thing. But, I can say this - he kept it interesting enough to give my friends and I something to chat about with a good deal of passion and enthusiasm. That's a lot more than 99% of the "reality" television, game shows, and ridiculously depressing news programs that repeat themselves between deafening commercials every two minutes. Like, the birds . Please spare me the confusion and just tell me about the birds. Were they simply harbingers of un-death or vessels for departed souls once close to the cast members? I still want to know what in the hell was with those teddy bears . If I ever make a horror movie I swear I will find those two bears to use as cast members. I can just see them sitting in the corner rasping out choruses of "RED RUM!!! RED RUM!!!"

John also gave us some really catchy phrases and inside jokes. You haven't lived until you've seen my friend Renee's impression of John's repetitive phrase "I don't know Butchie instead." Despite the comedic tone and laughter our trivia team shared the night she started her displaying her impression skills, we all agreed to have no idea what the phrase actually means. We really believed that in no time at all - this week, for sure - we'd have some better idea of how the whole puzzle that is Imperial Beach was supposed to fit together.

And that hope - that there had to be some point or meaning to it all, even if that meaning was dictated purely by Milch - was what I think kept us watching for the past 2 months. Maybe Milch was the god-head the whole time, by sending us all those mixed and confusing messages only to leave us hanging at the end with little more clue than in week one. Maybe John, with his sideways, shit-eating grin and inability to actually express himself except for through the words of others is (as National Post hypothesized to a degree) is the manifestation of Milch, who is repeatedly forced to express himself and his film via the actors who implement his visions?

Who knows.  At least Milch gave us some excellent surfing shots, a litmus test to define the lowest possible expectation for acting ability (no naming of names please), and the inspiration for my friend Renee's impression.


Bill's Last Day

Nice video on YouTube of Bill Gate's CES keynote speech . Apparently he's changing his direction somewhat. Quite an interesting blip on the radar. Indicative? Reactionary?