free html hit counter

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I've gotta start blogging earlier. Tonight I got a post done at 11:50pm, but our wifi network went down, keeping me from posting it from my Mac, so instead I'm just throwing up a quicky from my PC.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday Report

We are officially heading into crunch time at work, so I'm trying to rearrange our commute schedule so that I can get to work earlier and stay later for the next few months. That means that I need to get up extra early in the morning, so this is yet another quick blog.

Of course, right at the start of the big pre-release push, I'm going to take off half a day on Thursday to help judge History Day for the museum. Think "science fair" for history. I did it last year, and it was actually pretty fun.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fast Typing

Not some kind of late-binding language typing, actual fast text entry. It's 11:46, and I've just reached a good Seaside tutorial stopping place, and I need to blog fast to make my midnight deadline.

Heather Marie and I went out to Gulley Park in Fayetteville this afternoon to play Frisbee Golf, only to discover that the golf course had been removed. After I got to thinking about it, I do think I vaguely recall something in the news about that, but it was still disappointing at the time. It was probably just as well, though, since it turned out that Heather wasn't too good at throwing a frisbee anyway, and trying to play golf with one would've been really frustrating for both of us.

Instead we just spent an hour or so practicing throwing one back and forth, and by the end she was getting pretty good. I don't know how she managed to grow up without learning that, but then I guess she lacked the weeks of practice I got during trips to Philmont.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I'm trying out Google's new Blogger Dashboard widget for posting this.  The interface is pretty terse, but I don't need tons of options anyway, and it should be pretty handy for quickie posts like this.  Too bad it arrives just as I begin seriously considering fleeing Blogspot to escape all the dang splog.  I'd also like a blog program that supports tagging, so I'm thinking about getting one of the free (or at least cheap) programs that I can run on Redboar.

Pretty fun weekend so far.  Went to the gym and played racquetball with my father-in-law.  I won, but it wasn't quite as easy to win as I'd expected.

And, finally, thank goodness the Razorbacks finally managed to get a quality road win in the SEC!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Crunch Time

The next few months are going to be pretty wild and hairy at work. We're pretty laid back most of the time, but I can easily imagine some 50-60 hour weeks until we ship our next version. It's been a long road, but we've learned a lot, and we're finally nearing the end.

Maybe one of the most frustrating aspects for me has been that over the course of 3+ years working with Visual Studio, C#, and .NET, I've discovered much better tools. It's been rather like having a job delivering pizzas in a Ford Festiva, but getting to drive a BMW 325 on nights and weekends.

I've often considered trying to calculate how much time I spend in an average day going through the build-run-test-rebuild cycle, but I don't think I really want to know. I shudder at the thought of learning for sure that I spend several days a year watching build messages. With VS2005, C# is finally getting VB's edit-continue feature, which will help enormously, but it's still not really on par with some other environments and languages I've used.

Heather Marie's parents are visiting this weekend, and we're looking forward to having some fun while they're here. I definitely feel like it's past my bedtime, though.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Long day at work today, then tonight I went with a friend from work to the second of a series of digital photography classes we signed up for. This one was "advanced" digital photography, and covered about what I expected from the previous basic class. It was worth attending, though, and we had a good time anyway.

As soon as I got home, I tried to finish off my chore list for the week to get ready for Heather Marie's parents' visit this weekend. I just now finished, and I'm about to fall asleep as I sit here typing.

Off to bed!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I am an Introvert

Yes, although it may come as a surprise to people who have never met me, I am an introvert. I've had a couple of discussions lately where the topic has come up, and we've talked about what it means to be introverted. Then today, in a wonderful example of synchronicity, I ran across two related articles about being an introvert.

It had never really occurred to me before that introverts might actually be unintentionally oppressed. It was always obvious to me that extroverts had enormous social advantages, but I hadn't considered that those advantages might be parlayed into political and economic advantages. Now that it's been pointed out to me, it's painfully obvious, of course.

I did find it amusing, though, that the concepts of introverts and extroverts were new to the author in the late 90's, when I'd been hearing of the theory most of my life.

So I think there really could be some benefit from an Introvert Awareness Movement of some kind. Unfortunately, none of us are the people who could really spearhead it. What horrible irony, huh?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Back to my roots

Some of the guys at work today were setting some stuff up on a new Linux box, and they called on my (scant) expertise to help them out. Now that was a blast from the past! I haven't done any serious work on a Linux system since I finished grad school. While I was an undergrad, I worked on the Desktop Unix Support Team at the UA, installing, configuring, and (duh) supporting faculty and staff Sun Solaris workstations. It's been a long time, but I was surprised how quickly most of it came back to me. Maybe I need to think again about building a home print/fileserver based on Linux....

I just discovered that Wilco is coming to the WAC in March, but it looks like the tickets are all sold out. Bummer!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bad Business

After a short day at work (in late and out early due to road conditions), I was looking forward to a very nice evening at home with Heather Marie. I'd planned for use to have some childlike fun with fingerpaints making a poster similar to the ones the dorm dwellers used to make back in the day (a painted collage of random stuff), but I ran into two problems.

The first (and simpler) problem, was the dismal quality of the posterboard at Wal-Mart. Remember how posterboard is? Stiff, with a smooth side and a rough side? Wrong. Only rough now, on both sides. It was also pretty thin and limp. In fact, it was so flimsy that I really think it would have creased itself if it had simply been held wrong. I'm sure the cheap posterboard is probably several cents less than the good stuff, which is undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings every year. Good for them. And good luck with that, since Hobby Lobby still sells the good stuff, and that's where I'll go to get mine next time.

The second, worse problem was with the fingerpaints. They really don't make them anymore (or at least Wal-Mart doesn't carry them). Oh, sure, Crayola makes some silly paint system that is mess-free because it only works on their special paper (nice product lock-in there, by the way), and Elmer makes some in low-mess squeeze tubes, but they're obviously missing the point.

I'm sure parents hate it, but the mess is the whole point!!! Fingerpaints are all about breaking out of stuffy restrictions about brushes and neatness and lines. Why do they have to be mess-free?! Can't we turn kids loose and let them have at least some unfettered play? Non-toxic and water-soluble fingerpaints are obviously good things, of course, but special paper? Please. Here you go, kids, be creative...but only on the special paper! Get messy, go wild...but only with carefully-squeezed amounts.

I really can't fault Elmer's much, since the paints I got from them were pretty good, I just don't like their buying into the whole anti-mess idea. I'll also admit that the Crayola stuff is really pretty cool, but it's not really fingerpainting, although I could see the appeal when working with large groups of kids.

I really want to see some fingerpaint company that understands the attraction of their product, and honestly advertises them as being "Extra messy, extra fun!" Maybe Hobby Lobby has some of those, too.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cabin Fever

After being stuck in the house all day today, I am really glad now that we went to the museum yesterday! Pat McManus wrote once about "Two Man Tent Fever," and I could feel it starting today. I'm definitely looking forward to going to work tomorrow, provided the roads are clear enough.

I've really only had three real cabin fever experiences that I recall. (The tent time on the "Monsoon Trek" during my first trip to Philmont was bad, but at least it was broken up by the daily hikes in the rain.)

My first (and most severe) cabin fever experience came during the great Freeze of '83, an ice storm that locked central Arkansas up for the better part of two weeks. The worst part was that we were without power nearly the whole time. That meant that we had to eat only what we could cook over sterno, and sleep on the fold-out sofa in front of the fireplace, waking up every couple of hours to stoke the fire. We had bed sheets hung over the exits from the den to keep in the warm air, so we actually had to put on coats to go to the bathroom down the hall. And worst of all, at least for an 8 year-old, was that I couldn't go out and play in the snow, since there was no way to get dry and warm after coming in. I got to go out a little each day, but not for the woods-walking, creek-splashing romps that were my wont during snowfalls.

My second experience with cabin fever was during a snowstorm in college, and it was only second hand. We'd shut up in the dorm for several days, but I was pretty much ok with it. I could go to Brough for meals, and I spent most of my time playing Action Quake anyway, so it didn't particularly bother me to be confined. I knew Heather was bothered by it, but I didn't realize how nuts it was making her until she marched by my room on her way to the door, announcing that she was walking to Blockbuster to get movies, and that if I wanted to go I had until she got to the door to join her. Blockbuster was two miles away. That actually turned into a really fun snow trek adventure with a bunch of our dorm friends, but I was really worried about my girlfriend's sanity for a little while.

Finally, my latest bout of cabin fever came during the Great Ice Storm of 2000, when Heather Marie and I didn't escape central Arkansas in time, and wound up spending most of a week with her parents in the trailer they lived in at the time. At least we had a generator, though, so TV, cooking, heat, and hot water were available. We'd also just gotten Magaidh about a month before, and I was still pretty stressed out over having an inside dog for the first time, so I think a few days of forced proximity really helped me bond with her.

So, compared to those periods of confinement, this weekend wasn't too bad. We never lost power, we got out a little bit yesterday, and we knew that we could get out today if we absolutely had to. Besides, it isn't too unusual for us to spend entire Sundays at home without leaving the house anyway, so it wasn't too much of a stretch for us.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Snow Light

The title isn't a typo for "light snow," since that definitely doesn't describe the weather here this weekend. The "1 to 3 inches" of snow the local weather guys predicted last night turned into more like 5 to 6 inches while we slept.

I got up to get something from the kitchen at about 1am this morning, and I happened to look out the sliding glass door. It was beautiful! The snow was falling pretty heavily, and the diffused light shining through it illuminated the backyard like twilight. I love nights like that! You could've read by the light, but it was so diffuse that there were almost no shadows.

Unfortunately, Heather Marie still had to go to work this morning. I wasn't about to let her try to drive herself, so I took her, and carried along my laptop and some other stuff to work on, reasoning that it would be better to spend the day at the museum, thereby only making one round trip instead of two. Since we mostly got snow, the roads weren't too bad, but I still drove the whole way at about 25 mph.

As it turns out, I spent the entire time working on some Access database issues for them. That was kind of fun, in a way. It was a small, finite problem, and something I could mostly finish in just a few hours. So even though I groused like an old badger at having to drive around today, it was actually pretty reinvigorating. The only real drawback was that all the code was written in Visual Basic, which is, of course, my favorite language in the world.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Let It Snow

Thank goodness it's finally Friday! Work was a little frustrating this week, with some things still changing enough to interfere with stuff I needed to work on. Hopefully they're settling down and firming up now.

That frustration made spending the evening with Heather Marie even nicer than it would have been otherwise. We lit a fire in the fireplace, ordered pizza, and played games while watching the Olympics and letting the snow (well, mostly sleet) fall outside. Now we're just hoping that the museum will be closed tomorrow, so she won't have to go to work and we can spend the day snuggled up all warm inside.

On the 80's nostalgia front, I heard on Paul Harvey today that the Navy's last F-14 Tomcat flew its last mission this week. Wow. Growing up, that was the coolest plane ever, even before Top Gun came out. I hadn't realized that they were being phased out already. I thought they were still going to be around until the new joint strike fighter was ready. Kind of a piece of my childhood flying off into the sunset.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Blogger Without A Topic

Nothing terribly interesting going on today. Heather Marie and I took the afternoon off to run some errands in Rogers, and we were indoors during the weather change. When we went in, the temp was in the 70s. When we came out an hour later, it was in the 40s. Crazy. We're glad to finally get some seasonal weather, though.

Then tonight while Heather was gone to teach her belly dance class, I took the opportunity to catch up on some long-delayed work on my laptop. Well, actually, to be more precise, I took the opportunity to fall asleep in our armchair with my iBook on my lap and Live and Let Die on the TV.

I was watching Bond because I didn't think there were any Olympic events tonight that particularly interested me, though. Fortunately, Heather Marie came home and changed the channel in time for me to catch the mens' snowboard cross. Now that's a cool sport! Not quite as awesome as rocketing down a hill at 80 mph, but still pretty neat, and a lot of fun to watch.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I've been trying to work on my website this week, but I keep alternating back and forth between Sandvox and Rapidweaver. Both a very nice in different ways, and I can't decide yet which aspects are most important to me.

I've also been trying to make time to work on my web app hobby project, but I haven't had much this week. Again, I'm still somewhat torn between Seaside and Rails. I'll admit that I have a bias toward printed documentation, and there's yet another excellent Rails book coming out soon. On the flipside, Seaside and Lisp's Uncommon Web are somewhat lacking in that department. Logically, lots of factors are stacking up in Rails' favor: Ruby is more familiar than Smalltalk, Rails has better documentation, Rails has a larger active community, and Rails-friendly hosts are much more common. Rationally, I should just go ahead and use Rails, and

Even though Smalltalk is still pretty foreign to me, when it comes to the frameworks, I somehow feel like I'm grokking Seaside better. It just seems to be closer to the way I think about web programming.

Heather Marie is working this Saturday, so I may take my personal time that day to do some more experimentation. The basis of my project is pretty simple, so I may be able to implement the basic features it in both frameworks in order to get a better feel for which framework is the better tool for the job at hand, as well as which one is really a better fit for me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day, and even though we did most of our celebrating on Sunday, we did exchange presents today. Then we spent a quiet evening watching Gilmore Girls. And I think this is quite enough blogging for tonight.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Seeking Simplicity

What is it about the human compulsion to replace simple, straight-forward, transparent systems with increasingly byzantine systems to perform the same function?

The new figure skating score system has caused me to think about this a lot this past weekend. In the wake of the 2002 judging scandal, figure skating admitted that it was in dire need of reforms. What appears to have actually been decided is that figure skating would never again be embarassed by a judging they developed an intricate, randomized, anonymous system. The goal being not to prevent cheating, just to keep it from being discovered.

Despite complaints about the scoring in 2002, I think the system worked perfectly. By being relatively simple and transparent, it made the irregularities immediately obvious and the cheaters undeniably accountable, which is exactly what they should want. Under the new system, it won't be necessary for a judge (or judges) to do anything as obvious as scoring exceptionally high or low, all they'll have to do is shave a few points here and there.

It's also not obvious to audience members how many points are possible, so it's unclear what a good score is.

Plus, on top of all of that, it turns out that the new system may not work at all! Good grief.

Now, I'll happily admit that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a figure skater. I think minimizing some of the subjectivity in the old system was probably good, and I don't completely understand the new system.

Why is this a problem? Because people like me are their audience. Imagine how many people would be interested in watching baseball if the players were awarded 1 run for crossing homeplate, plus 0-3 additional runs based on a random selection of scores anonymously awarded by the umpires for how stylishly they tagged the bases.

If your audience can't understand the scores, they aren't going to care about them.

It's easy to sit on the couch and say, "Wow, I think a 5.2 was really too low!" It's something else to say, "I think a 59.2 was probably a little low, but they may have lost points for turning out of the jump too soon, or maybe it had to do with how the footwork in that middle section not being difficult"

Put me down with the guys from 37signals who favor simplicity over complexity.

Sunday, February 12, 2006!

Heather Marie and I went on a Valentine's Day date to the Celtic Grill in Bentonville this afternoon. It's a really neat place for fans of Irish food and atmosphere. It's not in nearly the same league as Kilkenny's in Tulsa or O'Flaherty's in New Orleans, but it has definite potential and some really good food. And, of course, it has Guinness on tap!

After eating lunch and perusing the shelves of Barnes & Noble, we stopped at Office Depot to get a new ink cartridge for our printer. This is where the worst design rant starts.

Even though I don't like it, I understand the printer company business model: sell printers cheap and charge through the nose for proprietary ink refills. That's fine, in its own way. My complaint is the horrible design decisions they made in the process. We have an HP DeskJet. Why are there at least 20 different black ink cartridges for HP printers? Would it not have been dramatically more efficient to design a univeral HP ink cartridge interface? At most, they could have 5 different black and color cartridge sizes.

Granted, that would make it easier for 3rd party manufacturers to compete with the manufacturer's own cartridges, but I suspect that was just a "happy" side-effect of their poor design decisions, rather than an intentional obstacle, and the benefits of consolidated manufacturing and lower customer confusion would seem to be well worth it. They don't even have to lower prices, just make it simpler and less confusing!!!

Not to pick on HP in particular. None of the other manufacturers are significantly better as far as I know. But when a crucial part of your business model is structured around gouging your customers to various degrees, it's probably time to re-examine some things.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Quiet Snowy Day

Today was really pretty. The weather alternated between snow flurries (heavy at times) and partly cloudy sunshive. Occassionally we got both at the same time, which was really neat.

While Heather Marie was at her bellydance class this morning, I went to the gym and did my running. Yesterday and today, I was up to 2 minutes of walking followed by 5 minutes of running for 30 minutes. I'm off tomorrow, then I think it's another step up to 1-5 on Monday, if I recall. I've had to push myself more this week than any other so far, but I suspect it'll be even harder next week. Hangin' in there, though!

Other than our athletic endeavors this morning, we spent the day snuggled up inside watching the snow fall, which was pretty nice.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Let the Games Begin!

Heather Marie and I are enjoying watching the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Games, and so far it's very nice.

I'm disappointed, however, that yet another Olympiad has arrived and we're still stuck with preposterously inadequate coverage. NBC does a fairly good job (except for their silly insistence on pretending that it's live coverage), but they are just one channel. I have 200 cable channels available to me, probably five percent of which are sports-oriented, so why are there events that I won't be able to see? NBC itself controls at least five channels, so it wouldn't even have to relinquish control to show us more events!

Ultimately, what I want to happen is for the IOC to license the individual events to the highest bidders. It's a win-win-win-win proposition. The big networks will still get the high-dollar events, since they'll be the only ones who can afford them. The other networks get to attract some new viewers by airing the more obscure events. The less-watched events (Judo, curling, etc) get more exposure than ever. And the IOC rakes in unheardof amounts of money.

The fifth winner would be viewers and fans of minor sports, who'd finally get to see them without staying up until 3am to watch.

Two more years until Beijing! Somebody get this going!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Quick Post

So, just as I sat down at 11:00 to write up my post for the day, Heather Marie screamed in frustration. She'd just discovered that Blogger was down and not scheduled to come back up until midnight!

Heather's been doing the blogathon with Lance and me, and this will really mess her up. Of course, she's in much better shape than I am. She'd actually written hers, and only discovered that Blogger was down when she tried to post it. It may have been posted, or at least saved, before the maintenance started. I'm stuck, though, writing this offline and hoping it comes back up in time.

Bummer, too, since I had a really good idea for a post today. :-
Fortunately, it just came back up! In the nick of time!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I thought I was watching the count carefully, but apparently I wasn't, since I wrote my 100th post without realizing it. Oh, well. It's been fun so far, and hopefully it hasn't been a waste of time to read for most people. :-)

We were talking today at work about how most of us are looking for (or have) hobbies outside the normal geeky tech stuff. Things like golf, art, music, or woodwork have two advantages over technology: they're cheaper to accessorize, and they're more accessible to friends and family.

Which is easier to deal with?
"What do you want for Christmas?"
"Well, I'd like to get back into World of Warcraft, but I really need at least a Radeon X800 or GeForce 6800 to get the framerates I need."
or this?
"What do you want for Christmas?"
"I could use some new colored pencils, and maybe some nice fine grained paper."
Likewise, most geeky stuff is just harder to explain:
"How was your weekend?"
"Oh, it was great! I got to play a full round Saturday. The weather was beautiful, and I even managed a birdy on the 8th hole!"
"How was your weekend?"
"It was great! I was trying to figure out how to get search results from a webservice in small sets, then combine them together for storage in the database, and I figured out the coolest sorting algorithm for ordering the results as they're combined instead of doing them all at once later!"
Granted, any field can get technical and geeky, not just computers, but for some reason, most people seem less bewildered and intimidated by other fields. I would hope that for my generation and those that follow, technology will be as comfortable and commonplace as cars and sports equipment are to most people today. It'll be interesting to see.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tech Frustration

What an incredibly frustrating day. At work, most of the stuff I've been working on for the past week and a half was rendered unnecessary by other changes elsewhere in the program. That's not bad, since the new changes will be much better in the long run, but it is frustrating that there are still so many things changing in our codebase that I can't ever be sure that the stuff I build one day will still work (or even be there) the next. Sigh....

At home, Heather Marie is working on a podcast for the museum. It seems to be going pretty well, but I really don't know much about audio editing, so I'm of limited help. I can do all the podcast-specific stuff with no problem, but the other stuff is giving me fits. Heather's having a hard time finding resources that explain it in layman's terms, and I don't know enough about it to help explain it.

On top of that, she's having trouble loading podcasts onto her iPod. Instead of showing up in the podcasts list, they're just showing up under the artist/album that they're part of. She's found a couple of purported solutions, but so far none that have soluted anything.

The NWADNUG meeting tonight wasn't bad, but it was a little awkward, since I didn't know anyone. Put 22 unfamiliar computer geeks in a room with each other, and just watch the socialization fly! The presentation wasn't bad, but it wasn't much that I didn't know. At least I'll have something to report tomorrow at work.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Lookin' for Apple Love

Come on, Apple! Where's the love? There actually are lots of people outside major metropolitan areas who use your products, and there are many more who would choose to do so if they had a good chance to try them. Yet I see that Denver is getting yet another Apple Store to go with the two they already have, while here in Northwest Arkansas (one of the fastest growing soon-to-be-metro areas in the country, I might add!) our nearest Apple Store is 3.5 hours away in Oklahoma City. And even that is an improvement over the 5 hour trip to Kansas City that was our previous nearest Apple Store. Show us some love! It doesn't even have to be here. Tulsa would be fine! Or Springfield/Branson -- make it a tourist destination!

In other news, there is no news. Today was just another Monday at work, neither better nor worse than usual. Tomorrow should be interesting, at least, since I'll be going to the NWA .NET User Group meeting in the evening. I've been meaning to go for a while, and the presentation tomorrow is on NUnit, which we're going to start using at work soon, so it should be a fruitful trip. At the very least I'll score some free pizza for supper.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bowl Free

I take some degree of pride from the fact that I haven't really watched a Super Bowl since about 1998 or so. Around that time, Heather Marie and I decided to skip the game and go see Titanic instead, so as to avoid the crowds. It worked like a charm, and we enjoyed what was practially a private showing. It also taught us that we both enjoy spending that time together instead of spending it watching a game neither of us really cares about.

Don't get me wrong, I like football, but professional sports in general just leave me a little cold. It really has nothing to do with the astronomical salaries (more power to 'em!) I really think it's because at that level, the players are just too good. To me, they're just too polished and poised to be as much fun to watch as college players. Pro tennis and baseball are the exceptions, probably because I've always understood them better.

We wanted to go see a movie this afternoon, but couldn't find anything we were interested, so instead we just watched the Puppy Bowl and went shopping. I expect the Man Police to show up and confiscate my Y-chromosome at any moment.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

On Monte Ne

We went to a great presentation on Monte Ne this morning at the museum where Heather Marie works. Monte Ne has a fascinating history, and there's a lot of interest in it right now, since Beaver Lake is so low.

We went out with our friends Bill and David to see it when they were here in December, and since we've only gotten a little rain since then, the water level is probably lower now. Still, if you've seen one part of an 80-year-old submerged resort, you've seen pretty much all of it, so we probably won't go back unless the lake falls to the same levels it did in 1977, when the entire structure was exposed. Hopefully we'll get some rain soon, though, and it won't quite get that bad.

The presentation was really good. Heather Marie and I recorded it, planning to turn it into a podcast to post on the museum's site, but the audio is going to need a lot of cleaning. This was our first real recording at the museum, and it's obvious that they're going to need to get a small mixer in order to control the audio levels better. If it's well-received, then we'll probably be helping them with some more podcast material in the next year.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Whither Website?

I was looking for something on the UA Computer Science Department website this week, when I noticed that my account on the department server is finally gone. That really marks the end of an era, since that was my last UA computer account.

It also happened to be the last online copy of my first (and only) homepage, although it's still available via the Wayback Machine.

So, why don't I have a decent website anymore? After all, my wife was able to put together a pretty nice website with just a couple of weeks of work. Why haven't I built one, even after several years of effort? It's not as if web design is really hard or anything, especially with modern tools. In fact, I've long thought that was the reason: web design is a solved problem. It's not novel or challenging or interesting to me, so I just prefer to do other things. I still think that's true to some extent, but now I'm thinking that there's something more.

I think my own expectations are intimidating. It makes sense, now that I think about it. For one thing, being a computer geek, I feel like I'd darn well better have a really nice website. However, that requires a considerable degree of effort and expertise, probably more than I care to develop in an area that doesn't particularly interest me. So, to some degree, having no website at all is preferable to having a lame one.

The geekily-acceptable alternative to an incredibly cool website is a super-simple one. To pull that off, though, you really need to be an uber-geek. You need to have enough "geek cred" that your skills are absolutely beyond doubt. Check out Larry Wall's or John McCarthy's websites. Yeah, they're not much to look at, but anybody who knows what they've done will have no doubt that they could do far, far better if they really wanted to. Kind of a zen master approach.

Being neither a web guru nor a recognized genius, that leaves me with only the alternative of throwing up YALMW -- Yet Another Lame, Mediocre Website. Realizing this, though, leads me to the conclusion that this is only a perceived alternative. It's really a decision to remain with those "cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat," at least online.

The other liberating realization was that I am neither a Wall nor a McCarthy, and that precious few people will care in the least what any website I have is like. So, armed with my new understanding, I'm now more determined than ever to re-establish a personal web presence beyond my blog.

Who knows? Maybe I'll actually do it this time! ;-)

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I saw the most beautiful thing tonight.

Heather Marie and I went to see the Lipizzaner Stallions in Fayetteville this afternoon. They were fantastic! If you ever get a chance to see them perform, you simply must go! They're truly gorgeous animals.

I was surprised to learn how long they live. Thirty to thirty-five years isn't unusual, and they don't even reach their primes until they're in their twenties. They don't even start their training until they're 3-5 years old -- an age at which race horses are already washed up -- then it takes at least another six years to complete their training. Absolutely incredible.

Reading the program, I was amused by the story of their rescue during WWII. Essentially, as soon as it became obvious to the rank-and-file German troops that defeat was imminent, they immediately started conspiring with the Americans against both the SS and the Soviets to rescue the horses. It's interesting to think that, in many ways, the normal German troops had more in common with the Americans than with their fanatical Nazi countrymen, while the Americans had more in common with the normal Germans than with their Russian "allies." Heh.

So, what was the most beautiful sight I spoke of? Not the horses. As the show was starting, I glanced over at my lovely bride, and the look on her face touched me so deeply I wanted to cry. It was a look of pure, unadulterated joy and excitement. She's wanted to see the Lipizzaners perform since she was a little girl, and looking at her joy-teared eyes watching the performance tonight, I could see that excited little girl shining through the lovely young woman. What a beautiful sight....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Groundhog Day

No, as I write this, it isn't technically Groundhog Day yet, but it will be soon, and once again I'm amazed that Groundhog Day, which seems to be all over the TV at Christmas time, is traceless on Groundhog Day itself. Go figure.

Heather Marie finally made me watch Miracle of the White Stallions today, since we're actually going to see them tomorrow. We're both really looking forward to it, and judging from the performances shown in the movie, it should be quite a show. I mean, who doesn't love dancing horses?!