• Did you ever notice what we can get away with in the name of Christmas? Lying, concealing major purchases from your significant other, discussing the purchase of intimate apparel with pretty (mall) working women, etc. Does Jesus condone this??

  • I've discovered that I finally get around to liking Christmas music about 1 or 2 days after The Holiday. I think someone needs to retune my Christmas Spirit Biological Clock. What's worse, once I finally come to enjoying these aural gems, they take them away and put them back in the box for next year...

  • Saw Memoirs of a Geisha yesterday. It's a beautiful movie, and not really about sex at all, if that was your hangup. It's even a bit frightening, seeing what was accepted in this odd social heirarchy.

  • Got Half-Life 2. They should have called it "Gordon Freeman Gets Screwed Again." Had to activate it over a DIALUP. That aspect alone should have changed the title to "Half YOUR Life."

  • However, I did finally get it running. Holy freakin' pixelshaders, Batman! I am a gamer, and this is my crack. I won't be available for a few weeks now.

  • "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." ~Eleanor Roosevelt. I learned that when I bought The Princess Diaries for my wife and watched it with her on Christmas Eve. Yep, I learned something from a girly movie.

  • My new favorite joke: "An ant and an elephant marry. The first night of their honeymoon, the two make love, but the elephant has a heart attack and dies. The ant is devastated and says, "Five minutes of passion, and now I have to spend the rest of my life digging a grave."

"We live, we love, we forgive and never give up..."



I've had a sort of spiritual epiphany recently, and I hope you don't mind if I share it with you. Proselytizing was never one of my goals here, but I sometimes feel like I've come upon some notion that might be helpful to my gentle readers.

It all started with Romans 12:1, a scripture that was a part of the sermon this past Sunday:

"I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. " (RSV)

I'd heard this passage many times before, and I imagine you have too. Only this time, I felt it take on a new meaning. Sacrifice means to give up something of value, so if we're to be living sacrifices, what are we giving up? Time and money usually come to mind first, but I think there's more. You don't offer your body as a living sacrifice by giving money to a church or spending time at a worship service. I think you offer your body as a living sacrifice when you make the intentional choice to give up the very desires that your flesh seems to have "hard wired" within you.

I heard it put this way once: we each have "IT." "IT" is our secret sin, our failing that we always have, the temptation that gets us every time. Sacrificing our bodies means giving up our desire for "IT." The only problem is that we keep wanting to take "IT" back. We keep coming back to the things that tempt us because we still desire them, and we can't give up those thoughts and actions. Paul even says

"But I give blows to my body, and keep it under control, for fear that, after having given the good news to others, I myself might not have God's approval. " (Rom 9:27, BBE)

At first, this seems to be a cruel calling. It's unfair to expect us to break free of and go beyond our own humanity; the flesh we were born with and cannot escape until death. But here there is a profound difference between the truth of God and the lie of Satan. The way of God is not restrictive, it is freeing. Living with the self control of a holy life is to achieve ultimate humanity, not to submit to something less. The commandments of God do not make your life worse, they make it better.

So lately, I've been fighting a battle of thought. The war for the soul begins in the mind, and it's often the hardest battleground to fight on. Psychologists (and especially the vaunted Dr. Phil) talk all the time about the "tape loops" we have playing in our head - the unconscious repeating thoughts that define who we are and how we see our world. "I'm just not a reliable person." "I'm just always going to want that, even though I know it's bad for me." "I can't help it, every time I look at a woman, I just feel that way." These and many more are the thoughts that we hobble ourselves with, the things that we've just always lived with and never realized were there. The challenge for you and me is to seek out those thoughts and break the loop before it gets started. To be consciously aware of what you're feeling, and to realize when your mind drifts to the comfort of an ultimately destructive train of thought. I've caught myself when this happens, and I literally say in my mind "Lord, I sacrifice these thoughts to you." A silly mantra, some would say. Perhaps, but the biggest part of the war for your mind is to realize when to fight.

"Dare you to live like today never happened before..."



To all those wonderful and amazing Spouses, Significant Others, Family and Friends of the human type we affectionately refer to as a "geek", lemme give you some help this Holiday Season.

You're trying to find a gift for your favorite Geek, and you haven't a clue what to get them. After all, once they start talking about what's on their Christmas list, you need a degree in rocket science to figure it all out, so all you know is that these toys are going to be expensive. Even if they happen to give you the exact brand name and model number of the gizmo they want, what if your local Gizmo City (TM) doesn't have the exact thing? What if your geek wants the 220, and all they have is the 240? A higher number is better, right? Isn't it??

Folks, have no fear. We're going to suss out how to find the perfect gift for a geek, because you and I are going to take a brief journey into the psyche of a geek. We're going to find out what makes them "tick" (even if they probably don't own a single analog timekeeping device), and give you some keys to finding something they'll actually like.

Here's the key, the overarching rule that's going to guide you to the Christmas Present Xanadu:

All Geeks Are Problem Solvers.

Too simple? Let's discuss the implications. You see, all your geeks just love a mental challenge, because that's what we do best. We're usually nowhere near being a physical specimen, so we like to challenge our brains. This is why a lot of geeks are computer programmers, because at it's core, programming is the use of technology to solve or simplify a human problem. Even if the problem is something as seemingly inane as trying to defeat the boss stage on level 5, finding a solution to a problem fills your average geek with a warm fuzziness usually reserved for Precious Moments figurines. Your geek LOVES a good problem, and even more so, LOVES coming up with a solution.

So, to find a gift that will satisfy the geek in your life, it needs to accomplish one of two things:

  1. It needs to offer a suitably challenging problem, or

  2. It needs to help solve a problem they are already working on.

Now, understanding what problems the geek is or would like to work on may seem difficult, but it's not impossible. For example, let's take the series of problems that led me to become obsessed with PDAs. The first "PDA" I ever owned was actually called a "Phone Card." It was a small computer the size of 5 or so business cards stacked on top of each other. All it did was store the names and phone numbers of people you typed into it - up to 100. It would also work as a calculator, but like any geek kid, I already had a watch that could do that. ;-) My dad gave it to me when he upgraded to another kind of PDA that did about the same thing, just more and better. Both devices solved the simple problem of having your friend's phone numbers available at any time - because cell phones with their built-in phonebooks weren't around yet.

So, problem solved, right? Well, not exactly. You see, when the geek solves a problem, they want it solved for ever more in every case possible. I had storage for 100 names, but what if I needed 200? It doesn't matter that I probably couldn't come up with 200 numbers I absolutely had to have with me at all times, I just wanted to be able to do it. And thus began my foray into the world of the Personal Digital Assistant. A better device holds all the addresses and phone numbers I could ever want, but what about my calendar? And then I wonder if I could just put all the books or magazines I want to read on there, so I don't have to be without them. And then, what if I just put the entire online Wikipedia on there, so I've got the Internet Community's knowledge on any of thousands of subjects available at my fingertips? And why can't this thing play movies or surf the internet or check my email or... you get the idea.

So now that we know all this, let's find a great present. A good start is to find something that geeks use to solve a lot of problems. When my mother-in-law was looking for a present for my brother-in-law, I asked if he had a small cordless screwdriver for taking apart computer cases. I knew that, since he's a geek like me, he cracked into his fair share of computers and would welcome something to help him do that. Your geek's mileage may vary however. Some geeks are obsessed with satisfying the problems that come from their photography hobby, so they need a bigger memory card to let them take more pictures. Some geeks are just bored and want a good game to take their minds off things for a while. If you know what your geek is into, chances are they have some problems that need a tool to fix.

The other category of good geek gifts actually CREATE problems. I don't mean that they do this by breaking or failing all the time, but that they create a whole new realm of possibility. For my last birthday, my Mom got me a 20Q Ball - a little electronic device with an LED display wthat will actually play 20 questions with you, based on your input. It has a very basic fuzzy logic AI that responds to what the average human will choose, and narrows down the possibilities though it's predesigned questions. It's a totally neat geek gift that solves a problem that I didn't even know existed - a cool geek toy I could put on my desk at work that people could come by, pick up and play with when they were visiting. Now that this realm of possibilitty has opened up, I'm wishing I had a keychain version, so I had a novel conversation piece always with me. It created a desire to find more, and as such it's a great geek gift.

If nothing has popped in your head yet and you're still looking for inspiration, I'd suggest looking at Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools. This is a repository of tools that really work to solve real problems for real geeks of all kinds as submitted to the author, so there's probably a solution in there somewhere for your geek's interests.

I hope this helps you find something for that geeky someone that's always hard to shop for. Merry Christmas!

P.S. - This very post is brought to you by a number of solutions to a problem I'd been researching - how to create blog posts on my PDA. Thanks to a foldable keyboard and the services of AvantBlog, I'm able to create a post whenever I want and publish it over my PDA's Wi-Fi connection, or when I sync with my connected desktop. Now that I can blog from bed, I don't think I'm EVER going to get to sleep. :-)



Do you ever get those random letters from people you know (or don't) during Christmas, usually instead of the traditional Christmas Card? My wife is putting me through that experience this year. It's nothing that my parents ever did, but it seems like an okay idea, so long as you limit the address list to people who actually know you and yours and actually care. SO, since I'm kind of on a roll with rules:

Eric's Rules For The Christmas Letter

  1. "Independent Recreational Pharmaceuticals Distributer" is NOT a good job title for little Johnny.

  2. Your purpose is to inform, not persuade people how great you are. "Joe bought a boat this year" is ok. "Susan bravely left Highland Park this year to teach those underpriviliged children in Plano" is borderline. "Paul would like to give a shout out to God, his Mamma, and to all the playa's in the 818" is not allowed.

  3. If you're trying to show us how you look today, putting on elf costumes (or any costumes for that matter) in the Family Photo simply defeates the purpose. We don't think it's festive, we just laugh at you.

  4. Nobody's gonna die if your letter arrives the day after Christmas.

  5. We are looking for one page of text only. If you've got more, you're sharing too much information. COROLLARY: If you're using more than one stamp on the envelope, you need to re-evaluate your budgeting for Holiday Correspondence.

  6. GOOD IDEA: Including your contact information at the end of the letter. BAD IDEA: Including your financial information at the end of the letter.

  7. And my favorite...

  8. BLOGGING your Christmas Letter is a BAD thing.

"Caroling, caroling through the snow, Christmas bells are ringing..."



I find a lot of humor in the world around me. Stuff like names - have you ever noticed that some people have COMPLETELY inappropriate names? Just recently I was watching a TV show where one of the characters was a girl named Cherish. Sure, sounds all cute and nice for now, but what happens when this girl gets married??

"...to honor, love and cherish Cherish until death do you part..."

Sure, you've probably seen other inappropriate names, especially in pairings: Justin Case, Amanda Sue Goode (she's a lawyer), etc. Did you know that there is actually a very wealthy family here in Dallas called the Hoggs? And did you know that one inebriated patriarch (we'll call him Boss Hogg) actually named his daughters Ima and Ura?? To this day, if I go to the Meyerson and look at the featured donators wall, I gotta laugh when I see Ima Hogg prominently displayed in golden script. I'm sure she's a perfectly wonderful lady (if she's still alive, not sure about that), but any time you combine a symphony with a swine, that's cause for humor.

So with that,I'd like to offer Eric's rules for naming offspring:

1. Holidays are out (that means YOU, Miss Christmas Bond Girl), and so are days of the week. Seasons are okay.

2. Naming your child after actual objects is just fine, but only if that object elicits positive connotations. Apple is okay, Denim is borderline, and Rocket is not acceptible.

3. Names shall be easily written on the signature line of a check, for the sake of all of us that will ever stand behind your child at the grocery store, and so that they won't have to order custom-sized credit cards.

4. Elements of a name should at least appear to come from a similar ethnic background, or at least the same family of language. Naming your child Maximus al-Muhammad de Vostok is like trying to celebrate Christmahanukwanzaakas.

5. Names should be appropriate to the projected physical characteristics and personality traits of the child. Let's face it - if you're 5'7", and your wife is barely cracking 5', you have no right naming ANY progeny "Golliath". LIkewise, if you're the leader of a death metal rock band and your wife has both "pornstar" and "former Baywatch babe" on her resume, names like "Serenity" and "Chastity" are not allowed on your list.

Of course, I reserve the right to add to this list or change it, especially if I feel like breaking any of these rules once I'm a Dad.

"...see, I've been through the desert on a horse with no name..."



Has it really been a month? Geez. This post has been sitting in my "drafts" pile since 11/9/05, so count it as a post during that month, ok? Thanks. More coming later.

There's a radio station here in town that seems to just fit every aspect of the community concept I mentioned. They do all the normal sports radio station things - give away t-shirts and koozies, have random hot girls paid to show up at their remotes and talk to the listeners that show up, etc. - but the one thing that sticks out in my mind is what you hear on the air. They call their community of listeners the "P1s," treating it almost as a badge of honor. They have more inside jokes going around than a gaggle of giggling girls at a slumber party. They rehash and replay tons of bits, drops, and sounds from shows previous - stuff that if you just turned in would sound completely non sequitur for the lack of context. In fact, that's the key point - entering their community takes some acclamation, some research even. It's not easy to be a "P1", and they're perfectly fine with that.

There are some who would say you need to make your community as accessible as possible - avoid inside jokes, jargon, skewed connotations and the like. But I disagree - these are the very things that MAKE a community. One of the most important aspects of any group is that it can be identified, and that members can identify each other.

So the key here is for you to go out and actively create identifiers for your community, if you want it to grow in strength and numbers. The inside jokes and repeated quotes will come with time, but you can encourage them by recognizing them and reusing them yourself. Think of some small, physical thing you can provide each member - perhaps something to wear, or something to carry in their pockets during the day. Something about which someone else can ask "why do you carry(wear) that?"

Symbols of community create identifcation within the group and to the outside world, whether they're physical or just ideological. If you want your community to grow, give it a name, give it symbols, and create its mark on the map more permanently.



I've recently been charged with jumping the shark (an unforgivable sin), even though I was just having some search-engine generated fun. This shall not stand. I've had a lot of bloggable ideas floating around my head, so let's put a real meat-and-potatoes posting out there. Something anyone can use - at work, at home, or even at church.

Question: What is the #1 human need?

Answer: Love.

It's a four-letter word, and for some, an overly simplistic answer. But love here is not a couple on a park bench with a heart shape floating above. We use this word to define CONNECTION. Even the most solitary hermit needs to find a connection with Nature, while most of us greatly prefer to find that in the company of other humans. It is central to the human condition to need, search and find that connection. Once we do, we label it many different things (for example, if you're at Harding, you might call it camaraderie, even if you didn't know how to spell it), but I think the best word to use is community.

All of us need to be a part of a community, and all of us seek to find that community. A community is any entity with which you find a connection. This connection can be positive or negative, conscious or unconscious. We'll talk in a moment about the types of communities and what binds them together, but what you need to make clear is that all humans are in at least one community.

The communities you are a part of have a radical effect on your life, and are therefore well worth our study. After all, how many of us have heard of someone that just "fell in with the wrong kind of people?" Or think about it this way: why would we have the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses" if the Joneses weren't a part of a community we desparately wanted to stay in? Here's just a few things that the community (or communities) you're in can affect in your life:

  • Purchases - Peer pressure is always a strong motivator in spending, especially discretionary (see "Joneses" example above). However, the communities you are in can influence the advice you receieve, the products you hear about, and even the brands you prefer. After all, you're likely using the same toothpaste as your parents...

  • Worldview - As 1984 as it may sound, there is some validity to groupthink. Take a look at what happens to people within a racist organization, for example. That's an extreme result, but the people you are around will definitely serve to maintain or subvert certain beliefs and perspectives you have.

  • Mental Topics - If you listen to sports radio all the time like me, you know about Terrell Owens' latest media lash-out, or if you watch Jim Cramer's Mad Money, you'd know he's bullish on video game stocks right now. The connections you make with others determine the information you receive, and therefore, what you're thinking about right now.

Here's the payoff: you can use this Power of Community to your advantage! Here's some ideas I had, but I'm sure you can think of others:

  • Your Church - involvement is always a problem at even the largest of churches, so you can use this built-in environment for fostering community to lead to involvment, and by that, stronger relationships with God through His people. Communities build on share of information between people, so take every chance to make that possible between as many members as you can. One person speaking to many from a pulpit does create connection, but not near as much as a small group all sharing with each other. Seat your classes in circles or around tables, all facing each other. Involve the entire church in shared experiences, even small ones like everyone singing a kids song, WITH motions. Create chances for new shared experiences, like retreats, teambuilding exercises, socials and meals. If you're at the pulpit, recognize others in the congregation, as that creates another point of connection for everyone other than yourself. Actively encourage everyone to share their ideologies without fear of having the "right" answer.

  • Your Company - We call ourselves "team members" and "team leaders", but pehaps the right term is a Community Of Workers. Many companies harp on the shared experience of driving business for the company as a whole, but that's not enough. Teambuilding exercises create shared experiences out of work - new connection points for the community that build its strength. More importantly, at the workplace, you can take the time to GET UP and go talk to someone face-to-face instead of emailing them - this creates a much stronger shared experience for both of you, and it strengthens that relationship within the company. "Higher-ups" actually talking to "lower-downs" is INVALUABLE as a way of building vertical strength within a company. Many teams have community relationships within themselves, but not with the company as a whole. The result is a silo effect, where everyone's focused on thier own little realm without having a mind for the big picture. Don't create meetings, create relationships.

  • Your Family - Eating around the table is often seen as a way to build your family, because it creates equal points of connection within that community over one of the best shared experiences out there: FOOD. It's also important to seek out new ways to create connections within the family, things out of the norm. Baseball games, family game night, working out together, family bike rides, notes, cards, text messages during the day - any new way you can create a connection is valuable, because it develops the strength of your community.

I really think this concept of community has some legs, because it applies to practically anything involving people. I may even post some more applications of this concept later for you. In the mean time, what do you think? Tell me what's on your mind, and let's build a new online community.



So it's late, and I'm freakin tired because I just schlepped myself all the 6 hour drive to my alma mater, and I'm ready to crash. But first, a quick post. I passed a couple of schools on the way here that I would love to have graduated from:

Bland Elementary
No kiddin, this school really is BLAND! I have no clue what their mascot is, but can you imagine it?

We're the Bland Pirates!
Half hearted sigh: "Arrrrrr..."

I just think it's funny. All those Bland 3rd graders wishing desparately to grow up so they can grow up to be Bland 6th graders, so they can finally understand why everyone's snickering behind their backs.

Princeton High School
This one is BEGGING for resume fraud.
"So it says here you went to Princeton."
"Yes sir, that's true."
"So what was your major?"
"Uhh....Class Aide?"

Seriously though, their High School was more beautiful than most I've seen in cities. It was out in the middle of a huge field, like some distorted School Of Dreams (If you build it, they will drop out...). Princeton graduates, I salute you. And I wish you nothing but the best in pursuing that other Princeton. I hear they're taking applications all the time.

"And afterall, you're my wonderwall..."

P.S. Since I've recently been accused of jumping the shark, I'm going to have to do something to regain my tenuous hold on dignity. Look for a big, serious post after this weekend.




Ah, intermittent posts. I love thee.

Fun With Googlism

    • eric is out of the factory
    • eric is a concept
    • eric is an acronym for the educational resources information
    • eric is to be credited with this exhibit along with tamara
    • eric is the best python
    • eric is having a good day
    • eric is gone
    • eric is allergic to girls
    • eric is in the picture too
    • eric is sleepy
    • eric is the coolest
    • eric is soooooo cute
    • eric is the front man for this band
    • eric is no wilting flower
    • eric is real nice and so full of spice girls die to meet him men love to greet him
    • eric is on tour with disney on ice until further notice
"Live through this and you won't look back."



My pretty Firefox screen is alight with a full row of Blogger "B"s as I've been inspired to delve into the writings of my fellow bloggers. Big props go to Kent for the link here from his blog, and for links to many other amazing writers. Maybe it's because I came from a very conservative Church of Christ (i.e. songs must come from the hymnal), but I'm constantly amazed at the number of Christians that are joyously and passionately embracing the Web, and technology as a whole. Moving to Vista Ridge, my wife and I were amazed that they had an email list, and that people actuall read it! I think that religion so often around me has been completely focused on methods of introducing this guy we call "Jesus" to the world that jused to have great success "back then" but just don't apply to today's information-saturated crowd. The problem isn't anymore that people just don't know Christ. The problem is that they've met him already - through us - and gotten the wrong first impression.

It's inspiring, motiviating, startling and almost weird to hear people so thoroughly and proudly wrestle with what it means to be like Christ using such a public forum. I get this feeling like when I was in college - going to a Christian college, everyone there was completely open and almost in your face about their spirituality. It's a rare environment when Christians are so honest and vocal, and for a guy like me, it can be intimidating. I know in my mind that these people are all fallen, that they have their own secret sins, and that they're all just as much a sinner as I am. I know this, and yet I feel inferior. They so loudly proclaim their light that you can't see any darkness but your own. I know these are "real people," but sometimes I think they're on a different plane.

I think that's the hallmark of my Christianity. I KNOW that I'm a sinner. I KNOW that I'm a failure without the complete erasure of my sins - past, present, and future - by the blood of the overwhelmingly holy Christ. If I'm not forgiven, I'm going to Hell. No choice, no chance, no refuge. And that attitude will always fill my response to others - I'm no better than you, I'm no more than you, but there's a God I'd like to introduce you to. You may have met Him before, but trust me, you don't REALLY know Him. I don't, and I've been trying to for over 11 years. But, I think if you tried - honestly, without cynicism or sarcasm, without reservation or hesitation just TRIED - to meet the REAL Yahweh, it would change your life. And you'll spend the rest of it trying again and again and again.

"We read to know that we are not alone. We write to let others know that they are not alone."



Lately I've been playing around a lot with some new Palm software - trying better to set reminders of all sorts for myself on there, because it seems that the more crucial the appointment or task is, the more my memory resembles that of an ADHD Jack Russel Terrier.

So, here's my latest favorites:

  • DateBk5 - okay, I actually paid for this application, so you know it's got to be good. This thing lets you make a positively BEAUTIFUL calendar complete with color coding, icons and adjustable views. You can also open up your ToDo list, Address Book or MemoPad in a split-screen view with your calendar, so you can work with tasks and appointments at the same time. If you're into GTD, this app dovetails with it very nicely.

  • WavAlarms - Sony apparently was a bit of a jerk when they put together their Clie hardware. They were supporting the ADPCM standard for the longest time as an opposition to MP3. In fact, if you own a PSP, you're very lucky that it supports MP3's - it was released just around the time Sony got on the bandwagon. Since I love DateBk5 so much, I was rather bummed when I found out that this little terf war creates the following problem. So what am I to do if I want to use DateBk5's alarms, but don't want a dumb beep coming back at me? Enter WavAlarms. I just downloaded it, and it's only a 7-day trial, but I'm probably going to buy it. Through this little app, you can assign uncompressed .wav files (on your memory card) to application alarms, including DateBk5, along with other reminder programs like OhYeah!. I've since entered alarm nirvana, because now my appointments chime in with a chorus of "Bring out yer' dead!"

  • OhYeah! - Like a sticky note with an alarm on it - write any note in your own handwriting, and set it for a time to beep at you (works on duration from point set, not specific time). Link goes to the free "lite" version, which is what I've used so far. If you want to pay for the full version, go here. I use this for those times when I was just told to do something, and I need to remember to do it when I get back to my desk, out of the car, back home, etc.

  • PalmBible+ - I've already mentioned that this is my favorite bible reader. Lately I've found a daily reading planner program, aptly named Reading Planner, that plans out what you want to read based on books and dates you have available, and then automatically takes you to the right place in Bible+ for that day. It even lets you choose your favorite default version, for those that have more than one.

  • PrayerPal - Just got this one too. Basically lets you create a database of prayer requests, then keep track of them. It's pretty in-depth as far as how many fields it has for each request, so I don't know if I'm going to stay with it.

  • Big Clock - you got your standard big clock and calendar, world time zones, stopwatch, timer and some pretty backgrounds. Not bad for freeware.

  • Backgammon - I like me some free games, and lately I've been into Backgammon. Haven't tried this one out yet, but it's free, so that's good.... right?




Just recently stumbled on this article (link starts in the middle, for you impatient folks), extolling and analysing the virtues of my favorite molecule, caffeine. Join with me, and let's find out which is the best beverage to get wired on.



...THIS is my space, or rather, my space on MySpace.com. Confused yet? If you're already registered there, probably not. Go here and view my profile and add me as a friend!

there's a little black spot on the sun today...



Great minds think alike, but then again, weak ones do too.



So I have to admit it: lately I've been watching the Fox "reality" show "So You Think You Can Dance" with my wife. See, she was a dancer all through high school and college (musicals, not poles), and so anything that has the word "dance" in the title or is vaguely dancing related holds a deep-seated interest for her. That Richard Gere movie with Jennifer Lopez and a ballroom floor? Yep, had to see it. Anyome remember a pointless title called "Center Stage"? She owns it. I'm tellin' ya, if it involves the movement of the body to music in an attempt at genuine performance, she's usually there.

So we're watching this little attempt to find America's (or at least American adults watching televison ages 18-24's) favorite dancer. They've got all the key elements needed to draw in the soon-to-be-over-it American Idol crowd during the summer:

  • British overly-honest guy on the judging panel? Check.

  • Annoying moments of overdramaticism and unnecessary delays? Check.

  • The "cover it up with glam" stage with a production budget higher than, but just as misused as the one for "Battlefield Earth"? Check.

  • Awkward confluences of performers forced into styles completely not their own? (e.g. breakdancers doing the foxtrot, ballroomers doing hip-hop, and anyone on stage doing disco) Check, Check, and Check.

Then there's my favorite lady, she's one of the judges. Her name is Ms. Mary Murphy. This lady is the ballroom expert amongst the judging panel, and very proud of it. My favorite part, however, is her face. This lady has had SO much botox, that there is NOTHING that moves above her upper lip! Look at her, watch the show! There ain't a thing going on - it's all been paralyzed into insensitivity. Lady, you can move your feet, but when your eyebrows are just hanging on for the ride, it's not worth it.

But amonst the entire show, I love the audience the most. At the end of the competitors' dancing sequences, they turn around and stand to face the judges. As you can guess, they have to stand there whilst these erstwhile Evaluators of Groove pontificate in their opinions. What's great is the audience's reaction: the moment the judges say ANYTHING positive, it's "YAAAAAYYYY" and a rousing cheer from the Hillary Duff fans. Anything negative at all, and it's "BOOOOOOOO" from the same crowd. I've joked about this with the wife while watching, but I swear, these judges could sit up there and just say "I like chicken!" and get the biggest applause of their performing career. But, the moment you bring out some critique of the evening's performance, get ready to be less popular than Bill Buckner. Are the pre-teens and precocious adolescents of America so mired in corporate double-think that they have to accept whatever icon Our Corporate Sponsors can pay to put on a national stage? It's frightening to know that with enough money, you really CAN make ANYONE a pop star, at least for a moment.

"Taaaaaaaake onnnnn meeeeeee....."



...buyRegrowth: Katrina from Threadless. It's a cool design, and most importantly, $10 per tee sold is donated to the Red Cross. If I had something in some sort of a fashion budget right now, I'd be dropping my card number on this site as fast as my 10-key skills would allow.

Threadless.com Product - Regrowth: Katrina


I've changed some more things on "ye olde bloge", so please come by and take a look. 

Yes, that IS an actual t-shirt that I own.



Yes folks, I've joined the ranks of the most A-list of blogs, and I should now be recognized for what I am: a veritable FORCE on the web. How do I know this? I have been considered important enough to receive comment spam! I'm so happy I could cry.

SO, I've turned on Blogger's nifty word verification system, to hopefully cut down on this nefarious phenomenon. I hope both of my readers don't mind.



For both of the readers still checking out my blog, I hope you notice the redesign. This isn't the end of the change, and it's a reflection of how I'm trying to teach myself CSS design. I also did most of the changes from a computer that's not mine, so I could only make CSS changes - I'll have beautiful gifs and flash yumminess coming later. If you have any ideas for how I can make things better, just let me know!

...a wiggida wiggida wiggida wack...



This cute little tidbit was something I had discovered about a year ago, and forgot about until it came up again in a recent conversation. They call it "The Human Clock - A Photo for Every Minute of the Day" - people across the world submit photos with a specific set of numbers incorporated - 3:59 for example. Upload your photo to The Human Clock, and when it's time, you may see your numerological masterpiece. What I love about it is the world-wide span of it all. You regularly see pictures from outside the U.S.; each minute, you get to broaden your horizons outside your computer screen.



Hi all,

Yeah, it's been two months since my last post. Yeah, that's a long time. One of the people I work with was talking about a meeting we would schedule some time in the future, and he said "we'll schedule it when you come up for air." How appropriate.

Have you ever been truly behind the 8-ball? Felt the pressure of the rock AND the hard place? If you work, have you ever had to get away from your cubicle/office and go out to your car just so you could be alone for a while and let your heart race until it was too tired and the weight of your worry passed for a moment? If you have, welcome to where I've been.

Early in May, THE boss called me into his office. Actually, he first scheduled one of those one-on-one meetings - called it a debrief or somesuch. He even rescheduled it a couple of times; something that I thought meant this wouldn't be a big deal. Turns out it was just a sign of his wish to avoid confict. Finally, I get called in. He asks me to close the door - never a good sign. He then proceeds to tell me my work has been far below par, and that if I don't get it back to snuff in the next 30 days, he's going to have to "give me my notice" - fire me. That moment hits you like a sledgehammer.

I kept having flashbacks of my last job, a sales job. I WAS fired from that one. And honestly, I don't blame them now. I wasn't good at it. You take a 23 year old kid, put him in front of a 50+ Vice President of a publicly traded company and ask the kid to convince the Veep to spend thousands of dollars with your company - we'll see how well you fare. It's like asking a fish to herd cattle. I'm smart, and I'm even a bit cocky, but I'm not that.

But then you think of your family. Your obligations. The bills you pay every month. The rent, the mortgage, the loans. The wound to your self esteem feels the salt of reality poured in. You can't breathe very well - you can't even think very well. Fight-or-flight response has taken over, and it's screaming "flight" very clearly.

It's amazing how much you can survive when you have to. It's amazing how hard you'll work when you're whipped on by your own fear. I won't hold you in suspense - I still have the same job, and I honestly feel like I've turned things around. Here's some things I've learned:

  • Pray. I don't care what your religion is, you can't handle the levels of worry and fear you will find in The Real World. Prayer is how you cope.

  • Breathe. Your brain won't work without oxygen.

  • If you aren't fired yet, you're still working. Do your job, and do it better, because you hvae a chance. Trust can be earned back.

  • Don't get comfortable. Be calm, but don't be unfocused. You're paid to make the company's problems YOUR problems.

  • Realize you have a life. You are not your job. Even getting fired doesn't eliminate who you are.

So that's what I've had to deal with, so can you give me a break on not posting for a while? I kept having ideas for posts, and that's why I'm back. I'm going to have more, and I hope you enjoy it.



Just found a cool site from a guy named Kevin Kelly - he's got a section to his site with some of his "Cool Tools" - real-life gadgets he things really work. I.E., his favorite pocket knife is a $1 boxcutter. I just started checking it out, so comment if you find anything really good.



Lately I've become a HUGE fan of a mash-up DJ by the name of Luke Enlow, known to his buds as Lenlow. You should run on over to his music page and download pretty much everything that's posted. And while you're at it, if you'd like to know more about him, check his blog


Have any of you seen a mention about the UK-based graffiti artist named Bansky? Turns out the Brits have a counter-culture genius on their hands. Take a look at his website, by all means, but first check out this article about his latest exploit. Turns out the man decides to waltz in to some of the greatest museums of our time (including The Brooklyn Museum, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New York's Museum of Natural History) and decides to hang his own pieces of art right next to the masters. What's worse, one of his pieces was up there for THREE DAYS! By any measure, that is just GREATNESS.



Last weekend, I learned of two evils in this world. Two puissant forces determined to drive the wedge of hostility amongst betwixt ourselves and our bretheren of the human race, and to entrench painful despair in our very souls.

Of these evils I speak, the first is the underfunded gift card.

My wife got a nice gift card from a relative this Christmas, and has yet to spend it. Why, you may ask? There's a very good reason. The card was for a certain dollar amount, let's call it X. The average purchase at the store whereat this gift card is honored is another dollar amount - let's call that Y. Now, you can probably guess that Y is greater than X. Quite a bit greater, actually. Of course, one could buy some little trinket or tchotchke, but what use is that when you could easily buy the same item yourself at a different store for much less? You, my friend, are left in a quandry. A chasm of unparalleled agony from which you can not escape. Either you waste the gift card on a meaningless purchase, thus stripping the intended value of the holiday gift away and tossing it carlessly away as rubbish, or you invest so much of your own money in purchasing a real gift for yourself from the carded establishment that it negates the worth of the gift card all together. A true evil in this world my friends, indeed.

The second of these horrors I speak also deals with shoppping. I shall call it "the unanswerable display."

Consider this: you are shopping for clothes with your significant other. You're in the clothing department of the opposite sex, which, for a man, means you might as well be in another nation. Your dearest love is perusing the racked wares, sometimes pausing, other times moving quickly by. And then, it comes. The Moment. Your mate removes a piece of clothing from the rack and holds it up, saying nothing but merely wearing a quizzical expression. And, at that moment, you are stuck between a solidity of rock and gravity of a hard place between which you have never been before. For what shall be your answer?

Either you assume she likes said garment, and is seeking your outside approval only to affirm the inclinations she is already feeling in her heart - meaning you should offer some token praise for the raiment, even if you feel it's more deserving of display upon some cell wall within Arkahm Asylum.

Or, she is feeling a moment of whimsy, and raises the foul fabric design aloft merely to mock it with some sarcastic remark as "Oh, this is SOOOO me!". Your proper response then is to join in the sarcasm, relishing in its irony, or perhaps heaping some derogatory comment upon the woven wreck hung so impossibly from the cheap plastic incorrrectly-assigned-as-another-size hanger.

Fail to determine the correct response, and you have either insulted a garment which your loved one truly felt a yearning towards, or you have intimated that she should garb herself with images too mind-numbing to be seen in public. You balance a tight rope above a lake of burining sulfur, with the Sword of Damocles suspended above.

Truly, these are great and heavy perils.

"...I want a girl with a short skirt and a looooooong jacket..."



"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." -Hebrews 12:1

Those of you who have read some of my previous blog entries will know I'm always amazed at how the Biblical authors can make these statements of belief, faith, fact or action with such certainty and ease. The Hebrews passage above just says to "throw off" everything that's keeping you down, like you can just do a metaphysical wet-dog shake and clear your life of everything. It boggles the mind.
See, more these days I feel like Paul as he's speaking in Romans 7">Romans 7 where he says he's doing the very things he doesn't want to do. You know, this may come as a shock to all you good, strong readers out there, but nobody's perfect. Even the Christians. Sometimes especially the Christians. I focus so much on the things I'm not doing, the ways I'm not right, or the times I fall short. I don't see my Walk as a race, but more of a stumbling crawl through the dust at times. That's not to say that I don't also have my moments, but that my overall perception is much more negative.

And that's where I think I've got it wrong.

See, when I'm thinking about anything other than the present; when I'm reminding myself of past failures or lapses or
when I'm at those moments I'm letting the evil win the game. Despair, self-defeat, looking back, pity-parties, deep sighs of regret - whatever you call them, they're all a part of the ways we push God out of our lives. This isn't what a "spirit of power" does. Repentance means recognizing you were wrong and turning away completely - from the sin AND the guilt. Because if God's grace doesn't work until you've beaten yourself up enough, until you've moped about enough, then our salvation is locked off in some limbo, and we've got no certainty.
Take a look at your failures. Remember them, learn from them, and then walk on. Lay it ALL aside.

"But I'm holding on underneath this shroud...Rain."



A nice friend of mine recommended I try Plucker for reading an HTML book she sent me. I gave the app a little research, and I'm finding it to me MUCH superior for reading RSS feeds. Much better than my AvantGo/MobileRSS combination. I haven't worked all the kinks out of Plucker yet, but I feel it has room for greatness. Why? Autoscroll, faster read times, thumbnailed images, and a funky pacifier-looking logo.



Ah, we are a dying breed, aren't we? Outside of the standout Treo (note this link takes you to Handspring's former site - the Treo is about all they have left!), there's not much good news in the Palm world. PDA sales are down, and Palm OS market share is WAY down. Sony, the maker of my favored Clié, has pulled out of the PDA market entirely.

But take heart, my bretheren, the Palm OS is still an incredible PDA platform, and there's still plenty of software out there to use - even some good FREE stuff. I've been asked about where to get the best goods before, so here's a list of my favorite apps and sites.

  • Numero Uno, you need to have AvantGo. I mean, I read this stuff EVERY DAY, and it's always refreshed when I sync. Kinda like carrying a magazine rack around.
  • Documents To Go is a suite that came with my Clié, and it's honestly the best way to work with Word, Excel or PowerPoint on your Palm PDA. So, of course, it's not free.
  • If you can't spend the money on DtG, you're going to need some kind of PDB Converter so you can work with documents and read some ebooks on your PDA. The one linked here is free.
  • Once you've got things converted to Palm Database Format (PDB), you're going to need some kind of reader. HandStory Basic has been highly espoused on download.com. I use ReadThemAll, because I like its auto-scroll function and small footprint.
  • Adobe Reader has a Palm OS format program, which I think is the best way to read ebooks out there. It has a desktop componenent for converting PDFs to a mobile format, and a reader you install on your PDA. I read the entire Harry Potter series with this program.
  • Putting The Bible on my PDA has been one of the greatest things for my spiritual life that I've ever done. The Bibles you mark in and highlight are just too big for comfortable reading late at night, and they certainly aren't backlit. I'm currently using Palm Bible+. Follow that link, and they've got great instructions for how to set it up and how to install multiple versions on your PDA. I've got four free ones on mine right now, and I love it. It's very cool to switch between versions on the fly to get better context while you're reading. Before I got Palm Bible+, I used Olive Tree Bible Software, which also worked just fine.

    All work and no play makes your PDA blow up, so let's talk about some games:

  • PopCap has some of the best portable games I've ever played, including the great Bejeweled. Go ahead and download their trial versions - most of them just have a "please register" waiting screen that gets longer the more you use them. For games like Bookworm, Bejeweled and Alchemy, there's no locked-off levels to worry about, so once the screen gets annoying, uninstall the thing and download yourself a new copy.
  • Dope Wars. A minute to learn, a lifetime to master, and lots of time wasted in the process.
  • Palm Boulevard has a number of games available for free download. Some are very good, some are very bad. Most are for Palm OS 4 and earlier, but you can find some good OS 5 files if you look around.
  • Card House is a great soliataire package, and the demo works just as well as the real-deal. If you've got some money to spend, though, go get Acid Solitaire.
  • I've tried Nintendo Gameboy and Sega GameGear emulators before, but never had much luck with them. Unfortunately, Sony's audio programming is different than other Palm OS PDAs, and so most of these emulators don't have any sound if you're using one. Phoinix is the most popular Gameboy emulator, if you'd like to try it.

    After that, there's tons of little do-dads and gizmos that you can stuff in there. After the big apps take up most of your memory, try tossing in a few things like:

  • There are lots of mirror programs out there - basically they turn your screen black (or dark grey if you have color), so you can see the natural reflection of the glass. Not perfect, but not useless. The best one is here.
  • The reverse of this is called Flashlight, which turns your screen all white (or all black if you're in grayscale mode) so you can illuminate the room. Remarkably useful when you're fumbling around at night after reading.
  • If your PDA has IR capability, there's a ton of programs you can use to make it control your TV, VCR, DVD player or whatever. Enjoy.
  • And finally, if I had an old Palm PDA that was just gathering dust, here's what I would do with it in a heartbeat.

"I dare you to move..."



Creativity, it's a privilege, not a right.

Last night I watched this presentation on my PDA by two guys from Belief, a broadcast design and live action studio in Santa Monica, CA. A friend of mine showed this to me, and I've finally had the chance to watch it all. I have no clue who these guys are, but their presentation is incredible.

Their goal is to answer all those popular questions about creativity - where do original ideas come from? What makes one idea "more creative" than another? How can a person engage in creative work within the commercial framework of advertising? What can I do to become "more creative"?

Great thoughts, great questions, great answers. Go download the thing (it's about 45 minutes, but worth it) and expand your mind.


Q & A

We're now able to catch up with the elusive Mr. Swan...ah, there he is! Mr. Swan! Mr. Swan! Could we have a word? Oh, you do have a minute? Excellent, let's roll tape on this and get a few statements for the record.

  • Can you tell us where you've been for over a month?
    Well, naturally, I've had a number of commitments to attend to, not the least of which being my work. After all, they're kind enough to look the other way as I blog my little heart out - the least I can do is actually accomplish that which they hired me to do.

  • Mr. Swan, that's extremely boring. Can't you do better?
    Sure. I've been training with Iron Chef Masahara Morimoto, who has been instructing me in the finer arts of sushi. And Japanese food. And blowfish dissection.

    Ok, so he actually took me to McDonalds a couple of times, but the art he can create with a McNugget and a sharp plastic blade is truly breathtaking!

  • So, what's in your bag these days?
    I'm so glad you asked. I've recently gotten addicted to this Flickr meme, and I've been recently taking stock of what I'm carrying around these days. Here's a good list:

    1. Sony Clie TJ-37
    2. Clie data cable w/power & data dongle
    3. Leatherman Wave
    4. Notepad portfolio w/random papers stuffed in there
    5. Gym clothes I was going to use when I went there yesterday, before work got crazy. Again.
    6. Scrabble® Keychain (yeah, I'm a nerd. Deal.)
    7. Vinyl/rubber change holder (it's not a purse)
    8. Contact drops
    9. Oral-B Brush-ups (thanks, mother-in-law!)
    10. Archos Gmini 220 MP3 player w/included mediocre earbuds
    11. Gmini data cable & power brick
    12. CD wallet (I'm ripping them to the player at work)
    13. Unidentifiable bills, papers, and other things I was supposed to do something with.

  • Mr. Swan, you mentioned visiting the gym, is that a new development?
    Why yes, it is. Since I last posted to this lovely blog, I've joined and now work out 3 days a week at a gym. I've actually had a trainer for these past few weeks, and my last training session is tomorrow. Going to the gym has been good, but also an extremely steep learning and accustomization curve. I'm not in terrible shape, but put me on that stair mill for half an hour, and I might belive I'm having a heart attack. Weights are good too, but when you can't straighten your arm completely afterwards for a day or so, it's kinda uncomfortable. I asked my trainer the fateful question: "It goes away after a couple weeks when you're used to working out again, doesn't it?" "No, not really. I'm in pain all the time. But it's a GOOD pain." Heh.

  • Mr. Swan, after such a long hiatus from blogging, what are your plans for this corner of cyberspace?
    First, I'm making a commitment to myself to blog more often. It's a valuable exercise in writing, a powerful outlet for the mind, and a great jump-start for those creative juices. Blogging doesn't have to begin with a careful meme in mind, it can just be a foolish idea for an interview metaphor that ends up taking way more time in your day than you thought it would. Rest assured people, I shall still attempt to make you laugh, think, wonder about my mental health, and jump to far corners of the internet I have visited.

Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Swan.



First: Sorry about all the delay in posting ANYTHING to this blog. Let me reassure you that while I am not like the posting-frenzied team of BoingBoing, I am still posting here, and will still continue to express my thoughts in the online genre. I''ve got plenty of ideas, folks, just getting a little more time would be nice...

And now, your quote of the day:

"I may be grumpy, but at least I've got a good filing system."



I've had more than one comment expressing shock, terror, or perhaps curiosity over my last pictorial post, I GOT BORED.

Friends, countrymen, let me relieve you of your fear. That funny thing hanging from my nose is NOT some sort of mutant booger, but just the friendly fun of a TangleToy. Go take a look at them, get one of your own - they're great for having around the cubicle.

And just think of the pictures YOU'LL take.

"All I want is to feel this way, to be this close, to feel the same..."



Ok, Google has officially taken the plunge. They've seen fit to give me FIFTY (that's FIVE-ZERO or 50) Gmail invites. Why don't they just take off the "Beta" tag and post the darn thing online so anyone and their dog can sign up for it? Anyway, if you want to join Gmail, just send me a little message, and I'll be happy to hook you up. Even if I have NO clue who you are, I don't mind sending you one at all. "Let them use Gmail!"



Got the chance to see an interesting movie yesterday, Joel Schumacher's Phantom of the Opera. Now, Phantom is probably my favorite musical of all time, and don't try to tell me about Les Miserables, or Rent or some other show you've seen. I'll readily admit that Phantom has its cheesy moments, but it just strikes a profound chord with me...

...one that recently changed.

See, whenever I'd go to see it in person, I always identified with the Phantom. The scarred, ostracized and tortured genius part of his character always resonated with what I was feeling. Wbat can I say, I was in high school, and I hadn't yet developed much in the way of quality self-esteem. There's a line that Christine Daae says before she kisses the Phantom: "God give me the courage to help you know you are not alone." I wanted that feeling. Not that some girl had to psych her self up and ask the Lord himself for the courage to lock lips with me, but the redemptive love of someone that just wants to be with you so you're not alone. I didn't necessarily want sex or status or control out of a relationship - I just didn't want to be alone. (Insert wailing violins, dime-store psychoanalysis of my origins as an only child here)

Last night was the first time I'd seen Phantom since beeing married. And funny thing - I didn't identify with the Phantom near as much as I used to. I think this ideological avatar of "The Phantom" is just a part of us that wants to be accepted, even appreciated. The ultimate destination of this character's journey is to believe he's too scarred to even acept Christine's love when he's forced her to, and that's the trap of indulging your inner "Phantom." Call it a self-pity party, call it a bout of depression, whatever, but ultimately you tell yourself you're too scarred so many times that you have to believe it and you won't let yourself be healed.

But then, I got past it.
But then, I let myself leave the Phantom behind.

And then I got married, and now, maybe I'm the long-haired hero. Nice.



See Inspiration Here

Have you ever actually looked at some of the product/service names some of our favorite companies come up with? I like Starbucks, but why in the world are they summoning up the name of an Aztec goddess to sell me hot chocolate with enough butter in it for me to feel my arteries clogging?
In the same vein, as I was parking today, I noticed some of the carpool spots we have in our garage. But can they call them "Carpool Spots"? No! The sign has to say "Reserved For RideShare." Why is it that companies believe that if you put two words together without spacing it makes them hip or cool? Another example was a company I used to work for - their customer database software was called InsideTrak.

(And here's another mini-rant. "Trak" is not a word. "Track" is. Why does misspelling something make it cooler? How would you like if your next word processing program was called "Kewl Werdz 4 U?")

Until corporate America corrects this, I'd like to refer to this blog from now on as SwanSpeak.





  1. 1. Don't wear a mock-turtleneck on the day you plan on going to get a haircut. Itchy agony.

  2. 2. CLOMB, JEEZ, and FEIJOA are all acceptable words in Scrabble. However, there is NO word that uses four "N"s.

  3. 3. Kittens do not understand that it is gross to pull something out of the bathroom trash and play with it.

  4. 4. Don't wash stuffed animals in your clothes washer. If My Little Pony(R)'s cranial seam splits open and her fuzz-innards get all in the drain pump, it screws the thing up GOOD.

  5. 5. If it's not one thing, it really is another. And another.

  6. 6. Based on recent useage statistics, your content is most popular in Texas, South Carolina, and Ohio. Need to increase following in Portugal, Netherlands.

  7. "A pointless nostalgic, that's me..."