Showing posts from July, 2009

What's in a name?

Quite a bit, actually. There is a reason why I have been thinking about names and labels recently and had a thought that gave me some pause. I was in a meeting yesterday and had a shirt on with "Eddie Bauer" across the front of it. It has to be one of my favorite shirts of all time because it is a quality (albeit fading) shirt and it fits me well. I was thinking that I would have a harder time wearing the shirt (or buying it in the first place) if it was manufactured by a company called "Bowel Movement"...especially if the company name was emblazoned on the front of the shirt. I would have a hard time overcoming the name of the company no matter how good the product was or how nicely it fit me. Unfortunately for me, as purely human and in an of myself, perception equals reality. There is nothing that I can do to overcome that. My five senses (and perhaps conscience) being what they are is the only portal through which I can interpret anything about this world. What

Google Voice

Yes, I admit it, I am a bit of a Google nut. I love Google Docs, Google Gears, Desktop search, Picasa, iGoogle, GMail...all of it. Well, now there's more Google to love as I have accepted the invitation to Google Voice. Basically, Google Voice is a way to manage incoming calls via a ring schedule that is placed on my new Google phone number. I can easily block callers, send text messages to other cell phones and, by dialing my Google phone number on another phone (a local call), I can make free calls anywhere in the continental United States. One of the interesting things is that if someone leaves me a voice mail the web application will attempt to transcribe its content into text so that I can read it like an email. All very interesting and I am finding more and more uses for it. So, my cell phone doesn't receive text messages, but you can always text me on my Google Voice account using my Google phone number. Another interesting service offering that has broad implications fo

The trench and the youngest

So, in an effort to alleviate the water problems we have been having in the front garden, we have decided to dig a French drain of sorts. Right now the trench is about 2 feet wide, a foot deep, and 35 feet long. I will be draining the water into a dry well of sorts that will be 24 inches across and 24 inches deep. I plan to use some PVC pipe to drain the collected water and a boat load of gravel. The trench and drain is just about 85% dug out and the next big thing will be laying the landscape fabric down so that the gravel won't get filled in with a bunch of dirt. I am looking to finish up the project by this weekend and will then install a raised garden in the back yard with all of the dirt I hauled out of the front. My youngest son learned to ride a two-wheeler over the weekend and he did really well. He was a little skittish steering initially but we told him that he could spend his birthday gift cards at Toys R Us if he learned to stay on the sidewalk with the bike rather than

Unique individuals

OK, so I told someone that someone else was a unique individual. That kind of drove me nuts for about 7 seconds as one could not be unique and not be an individual nor could someone be an individual and not unique. Modifying the word "individual" with "unique" is not an effective use of words. But that's all right, for the most part, as he understood what I meant. And that is communication - precision sometimes gets in the way. I recently violated this credo when I wrote a comment that used the technical terms "white list" and "black list" to communicate what kind of Internet filtering strategy I was going to employ when my children become more enamored with what is on line. Of course these terms needed clarification and if I clarified them at that point I would have been a more effective communicator. I didn't and I wasn't. Thank God for lessons learned. There was a time when I used to write to try impress people. Some of those tende

Nothing some of this here rope can't solve...

I was reading an article on Yahoo news today and found a piece of it that struck me as funny. The article was detailing some suit trouble that one of the astronauts was having (not the funny part) and his fellow spacewalker had a rather ingenious way of getting back to the ISS: Wolf noted that his idea for stringing safety tethers together, with minimal hookups in case of an emergency, "worked like a charm." "Never thought we'd use it," he said as he made his way toward the hatch, hand over hand. Now I have to hand it to David Wolf for using what amounts to a rope to get back into the ISS. I also found it interesting that the most low-tech approach to maneuvering in space was just what was needed at the time. It just reminds me that the most technologically advanced solution possible is not always the order of the day...but it does make the day a lot more fun.

Unbridled, unadulterated, unrestrained...

I love the words unbridled, unadulterated, unrestrained or any other word that communicates a purity of an activity. What makes me fall even more in love with these words is if they precede others like stupidity, idiocy, or any other world that communicates a lack of any common sense. From what I can tell, it is hard (even for me) to display an unbridled stupidity or do something that is completely lacking in any wisdom whatsoever. I offer this as an example: if I am confronted with a particularly unpleasant activity, I often say that I would rather "drink a cup full of razor blades" rather than have to participate in it. Now, drinking a cup full of razor blades is stupid, but is it an example of unbridled stupidity? The easy answer is "yes", but, upon closer examination, we find that there is a bit more wisdom in that statement than meets the eye: I would be drinking the razor blades instead of eating them which would save my precious gums I would be holding the ra

Uncertain things

A man lays his life down For another man Uncertain things have Happened again And again and again and again - Imagine That, Lost Dogs Yes - given my proclivity and the trajectory I was on I would have surely fallen far. He invaded my life and caused uncertain things to happen. The Rock He set me on is sure but it is so different, so unnatural. There is nothing more to say than this: a miracle has happened and it keeps happening again, and again, and again...and it's strange. Stranger still my constant embrace of my former way of life. No, even stranger His work of works in my life to produce in me something that I didn't want. This holiness is now my passion where it once was an object that I scorned. This is life. I couldn't even imagine what is happening to me right now.

My big mouth and aching bum

So, shooting my mouth off recently has made me ache where I would rather not. My wife was visiting with a friend and I mentioned that I might be interested in running a 5K in October. OK, it was more like an "I am there if you and your husband are there." Well, I guess I hadn't realized how close October really is until her husband stopped me on Sunday and basically said, in a manner of speaking, "I am doing it and so are you. So...don't punk me." So I tanked my workout yesterday but got on the treadmill today. That was dumb as my bum in now numb. I will be running this 5K in October and my main goal is to not embarrass myself. Notice I didn't say not go into cardiac arrest because that will be less embarrassing than having some women (read: my wife and her friend that are looking at participating in a parallel event) walk two miles faster than I can run 3.5 - which is a definite possibility now with the way I feel. So I need to get on the stick. Big tim

A time when there was more answers than questions

"You struck my heart like lightning ..." - King's X, I'll Never Be The Same I can't say my journey to Christ started in the Summer between my Junior and Senior year in high school because that would discount the obvious work that God did in my life before that point. What I can say, though, is that God began to bring more answers into my mind than questions. There was no doubt that Junior year in high school was, up to that point, the most demanding year in my life from an academic, social, and spiritual standpoint. The faith that I had developed was no match for the personal challenges that I faced; it simply held no answers to the questions that were so prevalent at that time. Then it happened. I was on a Summer retreat that was mandatory for the Peer Ministry course I signed up for. There, and in one night in particular, I saw and heard about a real relationship that some of my teachers had with Christ. I remember that they faced similar challenges, but did an

Random bits of whatever

A truly interesting weekend (if you were me): We'll be looking at digging a drainage trench in our front garden in an attempt to dry it out so that we can effectively plant whatever we want to in there. We got some good advice about how to do that and Operation Bury Plastic Corrugated pipe will commence in 5...4...3... We found some really cool planes that launch from a spring-loaded-gun thingy for 50% off at Touys R Us and promptly bought four of them. These are actually replacements for planes that the boys had a while back and we had been looking for them for about a year now. The boys are digging the distances these planes fly as they launch them continually for what seems like hours on end. Such a simple and fun toy. My sons are into Star Wars Lego now in a big way as the youngest has received quite a few of them for his birthday. They never saw a Star Wars movie in their lives, but their Dad is full of all kinds of trivia about the 5.35 movies that he has seen. Are you still

Todd and the list

My wife reminded me that I left off a member of the Gallery of the Strange. He has been added. Lists, by their very nature, are both exclusionary and affirming at the same time. Recently there was a list that I wasn't sure I was going to be on or not. I had to examine myself to find out why I wanted to be on the list, what would be different if I was on or off of the list, and how I would react to the potential for my exclusion from it. My struggle brought to mind a list that I did make. I was trying out for the 7th and 8th grade basketball team at the school I attended from Kindergarten through eighth grade. I was a 7th grader at the time and wasn't a shoe in for the team by any stretch of the matter. There was another person trying out. His name was Todd and he was having a rough year. Everyone knew it and knew that his inclusion on the list would lift his spirits to a great degree. He didn't make the team. I did. I remember the tears that he cried that evening and went t

Gallery of the Strange

My wife and I have a running Gallery of the Strange which are people that have some curious habits that we run into on occasion. The current entries are: Beer Lawn Guy Shih Tzu Lady and Walking Cigar Guy Mortar Boy (not the brick kind, the explosive kind) I have a new nominee for this gallery: Feng Shui Walk Lady. I am not a believer in feng shui, but there is a lady that walks through our neighborhood that has to be. Her walk is so unique that I think she modifies her gait based on the direction that she is walking. I thought it was a fluke that I saw this strange ambulation, but I caught site of her yesterday and and almost gasped at the site of the way her arms swung, trunk swayed, and legs moved. It was almost like she was trying to secure a nomination in the Gallery of the Strange, but I think it was more of a concerted effort to tap into a flow of good qi. So there it is. Her nomination is complete and the voting will commence soon. Stay tuned for the results.


It is one of those little things that just brings great focus to how different my wife and I are in the way we think and do things. This morning, as I was preparing my lunch, I was looking for a sandwich bag and a snack bag (about 1/3 the size of a sandwich bag) and accessed the lazy susan that holds all manner of stuff. Everything you can imagine that one could use to wrap or preserve food is stored in there from wax paper to plastic wrap to Tupperware containers. Well, there is one area in particular that houses plastic bags: sandwich, storage, snack, freezer...all of them are there which is a good thing if you have a brain like my wife's. It is a bad thing for me because of what I am about to share. So, back to the story. I needed a snack bag and I reached into the bag area and pulled out a quart-sized freezer bag. Nope - back it goes. Then my next acquisition was a quart-sized storage bag. Same resulting action as the previous find. Stuffing it back in the box I realized someth

OS independent operating systems

We (meaning us techie-type people) have always lamented that the web browser has been co-opted to do things that it was never meant to do. Although "browsing the web" has gotten more and more complex there were some things that you just shouldn't do with a web browser...or so we thought. Well, the shouldn'ts have officially been thrown to the wind as both Google and now Microsoft have been actively engaged in preparing browser-based operating systems. So, in effect, this is an operating system that is independent of an operating system. There have been efforts along these lines before (eyeOS comes to mind) and we know full well how nifty browser-based-applications can be, but this takes it to another level. I can't say that I am not excited about this. I am always looking for ways to do my work in an OS-independent manner and the promise that these systems hold is quite extraordinary. For example, it would be great to run a Linux instance

This keeps happening - part deux

There is another consistent dy namic in my life that has me looking at my schedule and thinking that some thing or some day will be excruciatingly long and never end. We had a huge weekend, that actually started on Friday night, and I knew...really knew...that it would be too much. I knew that it would never end and that all of the activities would somehow slow the march time so much that I would come out on the other side thinking "Never ever again." But now, it is 2:53 p.m. on Monday and the only thing that I can say is "Where did it go?" and "Is that all there is?" The build up was not inappropriate and there were plenty of smiling, laughing, knowing glances and hand holding to justify the anticpation. But, it's over now. Or is it? No, it actually isn't. The temporal pleasures that were mine were born in His heart and given to me even today pregnant with it's own gifts. His heart still blesses mine so much so that I want my heart to bless Hi

Stuff like this just keeps happening

There have been a couple of situations recently that I was, by and large, dreading but that have turned out to be surprisingly pleasant. I do wonder if the pleasantness has to do with the fact that I was dreading them so much, or had more to do with the genuine goodness of how they have turned out. In the midst of the situations I found myself, more than once, thinking, "Wow, that shouldn't have happened." or just "Wow...". Things are rarely as they seem as I am going through them so I don't know why I judge impending situations or try forecast them to be this, that, or the other. I am not thinking it is a lack of trust in God. God has put me through difficult situations before. I think it is more my inability to realize how little I actually know and how awful I am at anticipating how things will turn out. I am sorry if this is vague. One of the things I will learn to mutter more and more is, "Well, we'll see won't we?" Of course this need

iGoogle, public restrooms, and Mr. Hot

I am really (I mean really) digging iGoogle to a great degree. I am fascinated by the concept of consolidating information in portal environments (especially when it promotes collaboration) and the flexibility that I have with iGoogle is really quite nice. The most useful thing that I have found to do with it is to consolidate all of my RSS feeds into tabs that I have designated as Home, Mail, News, and Stuff. On my home page I have RSS feeds for Slashdot , David Whiting Live , and my Facebook notifications, the News tab has RSS feeds from CNN, the Beeb, CNET, Computerworld, the Christian Science Monitor, and live weather and radar for Rochester. Another thing that I have found to be really great is that I now have the ability to monitor my personal Gmail and Yahoo mail accounts at a glance (in the Mail tab). The Stuff tab is just a collection of hoo-hah that I read on occasion and new posts in the Aquaria Central's General Freshwater forum is in there now. All good stuff and it s

Thankfully they close the door

An alternative post title could be "The Daily Guffaw." Every working day at 9:00 a.m. our creative group in my place of employment gathers to update each other on the work that is to be performed that day in an effort to provide direction to and coordination with each other concerning it. More often than not the place where they are gathered erupts in laughter and gets me thinking about what they are actually accomplishing in there. On this particular day it also makes me lament the fact that I forgot my iPod and will not have the ability to drown out their laughter with anything slightly more appealing to my ears and mind. I have noticed that Monday's guffaws are fewer and farther between than Friday's. I have also noticed that they get a lot of people in that room. On a separate and completely unrelated note I remember a Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving video (or special...can't remember which) where Tigger was uselessly bouncing around saying "thank you"


For the longest time, probably since hearing the Titles track on Vangelis' Chariots of Fire soundtrack, I have been attracted to and intrigued by electronic music. For me, a piece of music cannot be too sparse, angular, or sterile. I have no idea why this is as my temperament and personality suggest something completely opposite as I do not have a tendency to be as organized and mathematical as some electronic music happens to be. I remember meditating long and hard on the purity of the tone that emanated from the synthesizers that made up the vast majority of the music I listened to. Even the human voice sounded more music-like to my ear if it was processed through a computer like that first. I remember buying certain albums and being disappointed when I found out that there was a human voice singing on them - Kitaro was a major offender in this area, but Andreas Wollenweider threw some in as well on occasion. I have moderated to a great degree in my musical tastes but there is no

Starcraft 2 - no LAN support

OK, I have to be honest, I have been at least mildly excited about the upcoming Starcraft 2 release as I have fond memories of the initial release. I never really got the hang of any of the races other than Terran, but I did have a lot of fun playing it over a LAN. To know that LAN support is not going to be part of the new release of Starcraft is mildly disappointing to say the least. At first I thought that the option would be a fine replacement, but after reading some very good commentary on that on Slashdot I think that not having LAN support is a bit of a mistake on Blizzard's side. I would like to think that the hue and cry over its LAN-lessness would prompt Blizzard to rethink its inclusion in the rlease. I would also like to think that Blizzard would not wait for tanking sales of the title (if it indeed materializes) to force it to issue an upadate adding LAN support. Then, again, I am not part of the uber-geek crowd that willl be camped out to raid the Best Buy

Faith for all of life

There wasn't a boatload of opportunity for interaction, but we are saying farewell for now to some good friends of ours that stayed with us for a couple of days. They are headed back down to Pennsylvania and our home has been made richer through their presence with us. One of the methods I (we) have adopted for building the faith of my (our) children is to expose them to people of varying ages who have saving faith in Christ. I want them to know that faith is not just for little kids, or women, or men, but should be for all people in all stages of their lives. The friends that we hosted love the Lord in word and deed and I want my children to fall in love with people like that. I know that, for me, my so called faith was rocked in high school when I caught a glimpse of a genuine relationship with Christ that was born out in the lives of a few of my teachers at Cardinal Mooney. God, through them, created a desire in me for Himself that continues to this day. So there it is, my sons,