May 31, 2006

Throwing Cards

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 7:15 pm

Throwing cards such that they’ll stick in a piece of hard fruit or drywall.

Gotta work on that. A side benefit is the ability to crack open walnuts one-handed.

What’s not to love?


May 25, 2006

Take it where you can get it

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 6:33 pm

I want to draw more, but feel like I don’t get much chance to fit it in.

I want to get more done at work, but feel like I spend all this time in long meetings.

Put the two together, and it’s “surreptitiously draw the meeting participants!”

I have a far-too-vast collection of art supplies – using those would call attention to my activities.

So, I’ve settled on a 0.7mm mechanical pencil and blank 3×5 index cards.

Here’s guy #1, from earlier this week:

May 24, 2006

The World We Do Not Inhabit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 6:23 am

Kevin Cornell posts a view of the world where the geeks really do get the girls.

I have this triangle…

May 21, 2006

Whose Jesus, indeed…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 7:40 pm

Eric Siegmund posted about a song called “My Jesus” making the rounds on Christian radio. The lyrics are here

Eric called out this part as being not to his liking:

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet
But He reached for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He’d prefer Beal St. to the stained glass crowd…

(I swear that when I hear this song, it’s “High Street,” and not “Beale Street.” High Street is the main north-south street through Columbus, Ohio – where the radio station I hear the song is based…)

Anyhow – I understand a distaste for the song. It’s is more than a little presumptuous to claim Him for one’s self. Eric put it better than I would have…

…whenever I hear someone begin a sentence with the words “My Jesus,” it raises a red flag, because what often follows would be better expressed as “Here’s how I imbue Jesus with my stereotypes, biases, and preconceived notions.”

But it got me to thinking. I like the song, pomposity aside. I was wondering why I wasn’t bothered by it as much as some others were, and here’s my theory:

First, it’s important to know that I’m a relatively “new” Christian. After much thought and consideration, I was baptized and joined my church just this past January.

OK – now here’s the theory: maybe a song like “My Jesus” is a better song for new Christians than for more experienced ones. When Todd Agnew sings, “If Ephesians says to imitate Christ / Why do you look so much like the world?” I hear that as an honest question I should ask myself. I don’t hear the singer saying that he knows Jesus better than I do – though he very well may. For me, it’s a thought-provoker, and I need those.

And maybe – once I’ve read the whole Bible a few times, and lived through more of life through that lens; once I’ve more consistently and consciously tried to apply His teachings, and more fully and habitually put my wants behind His — maybe then I’ll be turned off by things like this. Maybe then the dissing of the Church (the “stained-glass crowd”) will bother me more than the questions will help me, and I won’t much care for songs like this anymore.

I don’t know. I am a beginner, here. And I’ve been a beginner at enough things to know that most look different after some experience. Maybe this is one of those things.

Just thinking out loud, here.

May 19, 2006

Things That Sound Better in Texas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 8:15 pm

The theoretical:

“I’ll ask him, but I don’t think he’ll be very keen. He’s already got one, you see?”

“Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries!”

“‘Fetche la vache!’ [Mooooooo]”

The actual

“‘Woah, there‘ (that was Arthur)”

“Git Away!”

“Where did you get the coconuts?”

Now I have to go back and listen to the rest of ’em… I hadn’t been following these very closely…

I am so totally like a genius or something

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 8:04 pm

Via Gwynne (who, by the way, is nothing like a maniacal dictator, near as I can tell)…

What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by

May 18, 2006

Aye, Mehm.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 10:49 am

Jennifer did it and Eric did it and Jim did it and Gwynne did it. Oh, wait. No she didn’t.

I AM too tall to fit in many cars.

I WANT to be more organized.

I WISH I could find a good watercolor class.

I HATE standing close to other tall people. I don’t know how normal-sized people tolerate not being able to see over the crowd.

I MISSpell when I type because my fingers have minds of their own.

I HEAR the new iBooks are out, with Intel processors…

I WONDER how much more we don’t know, and how much of what we do know is wrong.

I REGRET very little, now that you mention it.

I AM NOT a sports fan, try though I may.

I DANCE not.

I CRY when necessary.

I AM NOT ALWAYS as disciplined as I want to be.

I MAKE WITH MY HANDS sketches and drawings and decks and playsets and bicycles and toys and whatever else I can possibly build.

I WRITE with many words where perhaps few would suffice.

I CONFUSE “tolerating” and “condoning”

I NEED focus.

I SHOULD draw more.

I START too many things.

I FINISH what needs to be finished.

I TAG my stuff with keywords so I can find it all…

May 16, 2006

Ile Flotante

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 7:37 pm

That’s French for “Marshmallow with Dog Hair,” as seen on the cover of this month’s “Martha Stewart Living” magazine. Click the picture to see the recipe at Martha’s website.

Soccer and the Bean

Filed under: beanquest, soccer — Brian @ 7:28 pm

Our final game will be Saturday, and the last practice was yesterday. Six of the original 12 showed up for the practice. One has quit, and another has mono, so he’s out. So, out of the ten remaining, just over half showed. Our past three games we’ve had only 7 or 8 guys show — there’s supposed to be 8 on the field at once, so everyone’s been playing the whole game, which is tiring. There are eight games in the season, and it’s looking like we’ll be stretched thin for half of them.

I can understand missing a game now and then – I missed two myself – but one of them missed because he had a conflict with swimming, and chose swimming. One of the key things to instill at this age (I think) is the idea of a “team.” Choosing to go swimming meant choosing to not be there for the team. That was OK with his parents, but I don’t think it should have been.

The same kid missed another game later because his father’s golf game was running late and couldn’t be interrupted. *sigh*

We have a few excellent players on the team. One who was marginal at the outset has improved remarkably. Another was very good at first and is even better now. Probably half of those still participating are not very interested in the game or the practices. Yes, Gwynne, I have one who routinely stops what he’s doing to pick grass and clover. Another who is afraid of the flying insects near the goal.

I have learned a lot through this:

– Being a volunteer coach is a significant commitment. Apart from the time (probably 4 – 5 hours per week), you get wrapped up in the kids and their progress. It’s hard to push the ones who want to be pushed without knocking over the ones who aren’t interested.

– A shout of, “Thanks, coach!” and a high-five from a 6-year-old is sufficient payment for the time invested.

– You need to know a little about soccer to coach 6 year-olds. But not much.

– You need to know a little more about soccer to appease the parents.

– The hardest part during games is keeping track of who hasn’t yet gotten to do a throw-in. If you let one guy do it twice before everyone else has done it once, they *will* tell you.

– The most important part is pointing out during games when you see one of them try something from practice, or avoid a mistake they’ve made before. A shout of “good eye, Joe!” or “well done, Pat!” puts a little grin on a little face.

– Kindergarten teachers are underappreciated. However much they’re appreciated, it’s not enough. I don’t know how they keep control of so many distractible and distracting little people at once for so long.

It has been a lot of fun, and I am so very glad I did it. Partly for the experience and partly so that these 12 boys could have a chance to try soccer out and see if they like it this year. Remember that I volunteered only when I heard there were not enough coaches – I think kids should get a chance to try stuff, and I’m glad to have been able to help that happen for a few.

I’m not quite of the right mindset, though, to work with that age. I don’t know what to do with the grass-pickers and chit-chatters and ball-ignorers. Not in a large group. One-on-one I can get into their heads, but in a group, I can’t focus that much on one without losing all the others. And once they’re lost, man are they tough to get back! At the last practice, when I looked up from one boy recovering from a ball to the face, I found that three others were off, about 80 yards away from me (and about 70 of those away from the practice area) just kind of wandering around…

Maybe it’s a combination of the age and the sport. I’m not a big soccer person. I don’t have anything like a “love for the game,” and that works against me. I do like the idea of working with kids – just ones that are a little bit older (I’m thinking Jr. High and High School) and on something I have more personal interest in.

I’ll have to keep an eye out for opportunities to work with older kids.

The Backlogged Life (a borrowed title)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brian @ 6:43 am

Greg Knauss understands.

Years ago, someone phoned you and you weren’t home, you missed the call and they had to try back — now, the messages queue up in voice-mail. … The Web originally required me to actually go out and do something as quaint as visit sites to read them — these days, my feed reader pulls down megabytes of data — a large portion of it, of course, cat pictures — and piles it up, forever. Each of these swollen reservoirs of data silently mocks me with my inadequacy.

I have reduced the things I get via RSS to only the blogs in my “the neighborhood” blogroll. When I had Safari pulling down feeds from all the sites I visit that offered them, it drove me nuts to see how many possibly-good articles were out there for me to read. There was a number – I had to get it to zero. Of course, as soon as I did, it would pop right back up again. (There is *always* something interesting to read. Repeat after me… you cannot – not you *should* not, not that “it would take a long time” but – you cannot read it all.)

You know those NetFlix commercials, where the person comes home to find the house filled with centurions or youg ladies dressed for a ball – representing the movie that’s arrived on DVD while the person was away? Those have done a great job to convince me *not* to use NetFlix, though I was tempted. And no way am I getting a TiVo, though I wanted one for a time.

I don’t want all that stuff piling up, begging for my attention. I tell ya – if I come home someday to a house full of roman centurions, there will be a brief but complete lesson in modern weaponry right quick.

I trust my wife would take care of the corset-and-gown set for me, but really – she’s got better things to do.

The proper solution, of course, is to further improve the tools. There are plenty of rants out there about how to fix feed readers and e-mail clients and DVRs, or to allow community filtering and sort-by-affinity and Bayesian ranking. And that’s all great, and I’ll heartily welcome the day when Outlook is smart enough to simply trash the messages that I’m going to trash anyway, before I even see them. (Rule: “From: Boss” to “Deleted Items”.)

But I’m not waiting until then. As of now, my fancy-pants, community-generated, emergent-behavior data-sorting heuristic is: a calendar. If I haven’t gotten to something in a week, it dies. Stick that in your attention economy and smoke it. I’m re-booting. Feed list: empty. In-box: empty.

Bayesian filtering of e-mails was supposed to kill the spam. It catches over a hundred a day for me, but still lets through 10 – 30. I need a new e-mail address so I can start over, but I don’t want to hassle with making the switch right now.

GMail was supposed to make e-mail easier. But now I have to open a web browser, bring up a bookmark, type in my password, and wait for the screen to render after … every … single … mouseclick …

Windows at work, Mac at home, dreams of the perfectly-efficient, command-line-driven Linux at home (currently seriously considering a customized Knoppix live CD for the operating system and a USB thumb drive for the config files and documents – can I make it harder on myself, here?) — it all conspires to keep me from creating a system that works in more than one place.

I have one that works at work. I have a completely different one at home that almost works. Most of the time. When I keep up with it.

So screw you, info-glut! I’m not going to be the responsible info-citizen I’m expected to info-be anymore. If I get to it, I get to it. If I don’t, well, then it couldn’t have been very important in the first place. I suspect that burning children and drowning buildings will still get the attention they need. But the year-old e-mails that are stinking up the bottom of my in-box? The month-old “Daily Shows”? The three dozen Waxy Links that I’ve flagged and sorted and pinned to a corkboard for further study some day? Gone. And good riddance.

You’re on notice, Entirety of Human Knowledge. You get a week. If you can’t get my attention in that time — and it’s plenty of time — then you’re tossed, junked, thrown away and forgotten.

I get the sense that people are doing this to me anyhow. E-mailed questions sometimes go unanswered until I re-ask them several times. Lots of things really *do* go away if you ignore them. And that works both ways.

I’m learning to use the best in real-time, Person-2-Person communication tools: the telephone. Anything that requires me to “do something” and then “wait for someone to respond” is now at the bottom of my list of communication choices.

My motto has become this: Do It Now.

It’s working. I’m still behind, and still have too many commitments, but it’s getting better.

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