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Home Runs for Homeless Youth 2014

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 No comments

This past Sunday I had a lot of fun playing in a charity kickball tournament to benefit homeless youth. My company had a team in the tournament and we were called the One Kick Wonders.

The day started off with a round robin tournament. We played terribly in our first couple of games and were obliterated by both teams. I don’t think we ever got anybody on base.We had never practiced together. Many of us had never met each other before. We were playing agaist people who play in kickball leagues. After our 2nd game, we had a bit of a break and we spent that time practicing and strategizing. We were much better after that. We lost the next game by only one run and that was mostly because the umpire didn’t do a good job of keeping track of outs. The captain of the other team even told us that we got screwed. After that we were in kind of a loser’s bracket. We won every game we had after that. We ended up in 3rd place overall out of 15 teams. Who says nerds can’t do sports?

One Kick Wonders 2014
It’s was fun being athletic again even though I’m sore as hell 2 days later. This was the first time I’ve been in any kind of athletic competition since I was in junior high. I’m not counting bowling because bowling isn’t really a sport. Kickball is more of a sport than bowling :). Anyway, now I want to join a league around here. I think I would enjoy kickball, volleyball, or softball. It was cool that we turned things around as a team and came in 3rd place. And it was all for a great cause. I hope we do this again next year.

I’m Not Sad

Monday, May 19th, 2014 No comments

I made a post on Facebook earlier.  I figured I would post it here and maybe expand a little.

I admit that it’s a little sad sometimes when I see my friends getting married, buying houses together, having children together, going on vacation together, etc.  I want the same thing for myself one day.  I can be happy for them, but sad for myself, right?  I haven’t been on a real date in well over a decade.  I’m frequently reminded of how inadequate I am, for dating a least.  A lot of people have the idea that everyone will find there one special someone if they look hard enough.  I honestly believe that not everyone will find that someone, but it doesn’t mean you should stop trying.  Also, you can live a happy life even if you don’t have someone.

When I get sad about these things, it’s only for a few minutes.  Then I go back to my happy self.  Life is good.

Nostalgia Kicks In

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 No comments

I know I’ve mentioned my good friend John on here before.  We’re both big music fans.  When we first started hanging out back in Starkville, MS, we spent a lot of time introducing each other to new music, mostly songs by Tori Amos and Pearl Jam.  He’s a big Tori Amos fan.  I had heard some of her big hits, but he introduced me to many more of her songs.  I’m a big Pearl Jam fan.  He had heard some of their big hits, but I introduced him to many more of their songs.  I made copies of many of my Pearl Jam albums for him and he did the same for me with his Tori Amos albums.

John has hundreds of CDs.  A lot of time he had to shuffle through his many CD cases to find a particular song that he was looking for.  If we were going somewhere together, sometimes it would take a long time to leave because he had to find the right song to listen to.  I suggested that he  get mp3 player.  He got the idea, but never got around to buying one.  At one point I was researching a Zune (yes, a Zune) for myself even though I didn’t have nearly as many CDs as him.

We became roommates after a while.  When he got a job out of town and had to move away, I got him an iPod as a going away present.  I didn’t get myself an iPod until later that year.  John had to leave pretty quickly, so he didn’t move all of his stuff out of our apartment immediately.  I spent the next few weeks ripping all of his music to his iPod.  I even put a lot of Pearl Jam songs on there.

This is around the time of the year that he started that job 6 years ago.  He  tells me that he still uses his iPod every day at work. Every once in a while I’ll get a text or email with a lyric from a Pearl Jam song that he’s discovered or gotten into lately.  Today he sent me lyrics from a song called “Wishlist” and I immediately starting getting nostalgic.

Man, why are most of my close friends so far away?

I Promise I’m Not a Rich Jerk

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 No comments

I’m at a point again where I’m doing almost everything alone.  The #1 reason that my friends around here give for not doing things is that they don’t have the money.

I always say that I’m far from rich, but I do well for myself.  I remember a time when a candy bar or an item off the Wendy’s dollar menu was all I could afford to eat in a day.  Anything more would mean running out of money before my next paycheck.  I had to walk to class and work because I couldn’t afford to put gas in my car. Now I’m doing better.

I not talking about taking trips to Europe or the Caribbean, though that would be nice.  I’m pretty sure I won’t do that unless I have someone to go with me.  Short trips to nearby cities or local activities where no trip is involved are what I usually suggest.  They can’t do any of that.  Sometimes I just want to go to a movie, but I hear the same excuse. I love my friends, but it’s frustrating.  I do like to leave home occasionally and doing stuff alone all the time gets old.

Maybe money is just an excuse and they just don’t really want to go.  They seem interested in the ideas I bring up and I’m not always the one bringing up the ideas.  Maybe they just don’t want to go with me.

I guess there’s no real solution to this problem other than them increasing their income or saving more.  Or making more friends, which can be hard when you’re a busy adult.  I’m glad to have Internet friends from all over the place.  A lot of them do like to do things and we can meet up in other cities from time to time.  This makes me happy.

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Reasons Why I’m a Shitty Programmer

Monday, April 28th, 2014 No comments

I’ve noticed behaviors and opinions in other programmers that I’ve gone to school with, worked it, or come across in other various ways. These behaviors make me feel like I’m a shitty programmer.  I’ve listed a few.

  • I’m not in love with the command line. I started out on the command line, but I love my graphical interfaces. I’m more comfortable in Windows than Linux. Even in Linux, I look for graphical tools. I hate typing out a command to do something that 2 clicks will handle just as well. I heard someone smugly say recently, “We don’t use file explorers in Linux”. I do. People complain about bugs in Windows, but Linux seems far more unstable to me.
  • I am not in love with vi. On Solaris systems, I tended to use emacs, but on Linux I started using gedit. When it comes to development, I prefer an IDE. I know that IDEs have a lot of features you don’t need, but the ones that I like make it worth it.
  • I don’t like to talk about programming ALL THE TIME. At my first job in this industry, my co-workers had a rule that we didn’t talk about work away from the office. In the years since, I’ve tried to adhere to that rule. I’m the kind of person that needs a break. Some of the co-workers I’ve had since then have made it difficult, talking about work or programming in general throughout lunch, while walking to and from meetings, in the car on the way to some place, etc. Just let my mind have a break.
  • I don’t like to participate in random arguments/discussions. I don’t want to argue about which language is better, which framework is better, etc. If it’s related to a specific task, that’s good, but otherwise what’s the point?
  • I’m not app crazy. I’m not constantly looking for new apps to do what I can already do pretty well.
  • I don’t do a lot of development outside of work. I have ideas for projects that I want to work on in my free time, but I never get around to them because I would rather watch TV or read a book. I can only spend so much time hunched over a computer in a week.
  • I have an iPhone. It seems like the majority of programmers love Android phones. I thought about getting an Android phone earlier this year. I even went to the Verizon store to get one. In the end, I kept my iPhone. I have an Android tablet and I love it, but I like Apple devices more. That’s probably because I’m more used to it.
  • I don’t speak on every subject like I’m an expert. If I don’t know a lot about something, I’ll tell you I don’t know much about it.
  • I don’t like to “read the docs”. I can see some smug, smart ass jerk on stack overflow telling someone to read the docs, maybe even posting a link. Some people don’t learn well that way and I’m one of them. Some documentation is terrible, but I have a hard time focusing on the good documentation long enough to get anything useful out of it. A short explanation and even an example will do much more for me than the docs.

I know I’m not a shitty programmer. I always get great employee evaluations and I’ve been employed for all except 6 weeks since I got my first real job after grad school 8 years ago. I know that many in my profession and other professions feel like others know way more than them. Sometimes I wonder if people think less of me because of the reasons I listed above. It’s probably all in my head.

My Poor Dog

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 2 comments

As many of you know, it’s been a tough week for my little dog Reese. Today is Tuesday and it started last Tuesday when I noticed that his tail was hanging limp during our morning walk. He also hesitated to climb up on his steps to get on the couch. I left work early and took him to see the vet. The vet figured it might be a back problem that dachshunds tend to have and recommended rest and medicine.

Wednesday morning he seemed to be feeling better, but when I got home that night he was doing worse.

Thursday morning he was having trouble getting up, so I took him back to the vet’s office. His normal vet was doing procedures all morning so we saw a different vet. When we got to the vet, he was almost normal again. The doctor thinks it was adrenaline making him feel better. She prescribed more medicine. When I got home from work that night he was once again not wanting to get up. I think at this point I had to bring food to him and squirt water in his mouse. I took him to the emergency vet. They took x-rays, but didn’t see anything that warranted surgery. The doctor upped the dosage on his pain meds. That night he was up all night whining. Neither of us got much sleep. I carried him outside to do his business, but he couldn’t because he couldn’t stand up.

Friday morning I gave him his medicine and went to work even though he was whining. I called my vet and left him message. When he called back, he recommended I take Reese to see a surgeon. I left work immediately and took him to see one. She did a more thorough examination and did a CAT scan. The CAT scan showed that he had a herniated disc and that it was pretty bad. She performed surgery on him that day. He could come home the next day or the day after that.

On Saturday, I spent some time getting the place ready for him to come back. He needs to have his movement restricted for the next 8 weeks. He doesn’t need to do a lot of waling and he doesn’t need to be on the furniture.

On Sunday, I brought him home. It’s so hard to look at the incision on his back. He whined all day, but finally got a little sleep at night. The doctor thinks the whininess might be a side effect the pouch he’s wearing to help with the pain. Since I took half the patch off, he hasn’t been whining nearly as much. I’ve been so nervous about him doing something to hurt himself, but he’s been fine so far.

He seems to be doing much better now physically. He doesn’t have trouble getting up and laying down like he did when I brought him home. He starts to run after me sometimes like he normally does and I always make him stay where he is. He walks slightly differently and arches his back when he’s peeing. He has a follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Friday. Here’s hoping the rest of his recovery is as easy. I’m finally starting to relax a little today.

If you’re a pet owner, I highly recommend getting pet insurance if you can. I pay $30 a month for mine. I got it a couple of years ago. I’ve heard many stories about people going broke when something happens to their pets. I should have to pay hardly any of the cost of his surgery.

Closer to Normal

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 No comments

Earlier in the month, we had about 4 days of snow. It was the most snow I’ve seen since I moved to Portland. This coincided with my assignment ended at work. I ended up getting a week off from work unexpectedly and started a new assignment the following week. The new assignment is going well so far. I really like the team.

Podcasting has been going well. It’s taking up a lot of my time, but it’s a lot of fun

I didn’t get a chance to take the swimming class I was supposed to start in January that I had signed up for because I was working late. I signed up for another class that started in Feb. I’m enjoying it. I might not be good at all the kicks and whatnot, but at least I’m comfortable in the water. I need to work on floating on and swimming on my back.

I’m glad work isn’t as crazy as it was in January. Things almost feel normal again around here.

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Portland Comic Con 2014

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 No comments

This past weekend was the 2nd annual Wizard World Portland Comic Con. It was bigger and better than the first one.

My biggest problem with this con was lack of organization. The lines were badly managed. The volunteers didn’t know information that needed to be known. They didn’t have information on the website that would have been helpful to attendees. I kept hearing about panels, but they weren’t listed on the website. I didn’t go to any panels because I didn’t know about them until after the fact. Maybe they were in the pamphlet that I saw a few people with, but I never got a pamphlet. The website said some people would appear on certain days, but not what time they would be doing what. I’ll do a better job of seeking this information out next year. Next year I’ll be getting a VIP pass.

I didn’t go on Friday even though I had a 3-day pass. None of the celebrities I wanted to see were scheduled to be there that day as far as I knew. Now I know that CM Punk had a panel that night. I would have loved to have seen that.

On Saturday, I got there about an hour before it opened. I had on a red and blue striped shirt that people said made me look like Freddy Kreuger. It wasn’t intentional. Robert Englund was one of the guests that weekend and I saw him signing autographs. The first thing I wanted to do was get Summer Glau’s autograph for my friend John and get a picture with her. It was hard to figure out what to do with the voucher I purchased in advance. I got sent to one place and then got sent back to where I started. When I got to meet her, she was super sweet. If you wanted a picture with her, it had to be taken with your own camera. Her fiancee took the picture. After he snapped the photo, he had this weird look on his face. My immediate thought was that the picture was going to be blurry and that I would be forever disappointed. Then he said, “I don’t know if it’s the camera or me, but this is a really good picture.” I glanced at it quickly and closed the viewer so I could get out of the way, but Summer said that she wanted to see it. I showed it to her and she also thought it was a good picture. I am pleased with it. I walked around the floor for a couple of hours after that.
Summer Glau

Later that day I got to get Bruce Campbell’s autograph. I had planned out what I wanted to say to him, including asking him to record a bumper for Intro to Brisco. He was moving everyone through the line quickly. Before I could say anything, he started asking me questions about me and before I knew it, he was handing my autographed photo back to me. Before I left, I did mention the podcast though.
Bruce Campbell's autograph

On Sunday, I got there early as well. I was really only there to get a photograph with William Shatner. I found out what time it was going to be and after looking around the floor I hung out around the area where I knew the line was going to be. I was one of the first people in line after the VIPs, so it didn’t take long. My time with Shatner was even shorter than my time with Bruce Campbell, but at least I got to speak to him.
William Shatner

I had a great time. I think the main reason I like going to cons is take pictures of people in their costumes. There were some good ones. Some people showed up in their underwear or in tights that didn’t leave much to the imagination. There was a Leeloo that I tried to get a pic with, but the person who took the pic didn’t know how to use my camera and I didn’t want to ask for another. Anyway, my first con of the year down. Who knows how many more to go.
Martian Manhunter

cosplayers at Portland Comic Con 2014

I’m a Podcaster Now

Sunday, January 19th, 2014 No comments

I have been listening to podcasts for years, but now I have become a podcaster myself.  I’ve been a guests on podcasts before.  I’ve thought about doing my own for years.  I even had a podcast about The Legend of the Seeker set up in iTunes a few years ago, but never did it because I couldn’t find a cohost.  Now I’ve finally motivated myself enough to do it.  Beginning this month, I’ll be on two introcasts (introductory podcasts).

One is called Intro to  Brisco.  It’s a podcast about The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.  My cohost Caitlin and I are new to the series.  I’ve been meaning to watch this show for a while.  I bought the DVDs about 3 or 4 years ago, but never got around to them.  Now I have a chance.  I’ve heard good things about it. Matt and Mel are veterans of the show.  We just spend 3 hours recording our first episode.  The pilot episode of Brisco was 2 hours and we had lots of feedback.

The other one is called Downbelow: A Babylon 5 IntroCast.  As you can probably tell, it’s a podcast about Babylon 5, which is one of my favorite TV shows ever.  Cohost Ian is also a veteran and Elisabeth and Heidi are newbies.  I’m so excited to introduce people to this show.  We’ve released 2 episodes already.  The pilot movie was 2 hours and it took a long time to cover it.

I’m having fun so far doing these podcasts.  It’s a lot of work.  I hope people understand that I’m new and it will take a little while for everyone to become comfortable.  I’m learning a lot.  I got some new equipment this past week and learning how to properly use it has been a slightly frustrating experience.  I’m also learning audio editing using Audacity.  Give these shows a try if they sound interested.  Constructive criticism is appreciated.

The End of 2013 is Here

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 No comments

With 2012 being such a spectacular and life-changing year, there was no way that 2013 could be just as good, right?  While that turned out to be true, 2013 was still a fantastic year.

I lost my job, which caused me to lose the house I was a few days away from closing on.  However, I landed a new job about 6 weeks later.  I still haven’t had any desire to start looking for another house again.  One of these days…

I think I did more traveling this year than any previous year.  I went to Las Vegas, Canada, Reno, Tahoe, San Francisco, Seattle, and New Orleans.  I had a great time on each trip.

I got to spend time with old friends this year and make new ones.  The 2-week visit from my good friend John and our trip to Canada was one of the highlights of the year.  I’ve become involved in some local groups, so I’m even more socially active.

I’m looking forward to 2014.  I think it’ll be even better than this year.  I have some things in the works and I hope there will be some good surprises.