You should all know about my opinions on holiday lighting, and beware that I'll be out again looking for those violators of Christmas incandescence.

In the meantime, here's some recommended lighting options you could go with:



Ok, I put this in my del.icio.us links at the right (you HAVE been checking those out, haven't you?), but I had to embed it here. Never has a funnier moment occurred on Star Trek. Ok, well maybe that time Q soiled himself was pretty funny, but this ranks up there, too.



Pie of Sauron

Great article here about how to make your Halloween a little more geeky. The pic above is my fav, the "Pie of Sauron." Greatness.

powered by performancing firefox



TED stands for Technlology, Entertainment, and Design - but it means much more than that. TED is a conference where the organizers invite the most insightful thought-leaders, the movers and shakers of our society to come and just talk. To exchange their ideas with an audience and inspire or intrigue. The organizer, Chris Anderson, calls it a "preview of Heaven," because part of what will make Heaven so interesting will be the chance to talk to and interact with the most interesting people of all time. Well, while they haven't put Gallileo up on the stage for this thing yet, they've still managed to pull together some amazing minds.

Now, you probably don't have a plane ticket to Monterrey, Cali, or the money to get a ticket to this thing. BUT, you've obviously got an internet connection, so you can watch the TEDTalks in their audio/video section! I was easily entertained and intrigued for a day with this, and I subscribed to their email list to be notified when they post new talks. Each one's about 20 minutes, so it's great content in a good small package.

Here's some of my favorites:

  • Aubrey De Grey - biogerentologist, and the man that may have the cure for aging.

  • Malcom Gladwell - author: The Tipping Point and Blink. Also wins my award for best hair at the conference. He's got some lessons for you that we can learn from spaghetti sauce.

  • Steven Levitt - economics professor at the University of Chicago, and author of Freakonomics. His lessons come from analyzing the books of a gang during the height of crack cocaine sales.

  • Ze Frank - rose to fame with the internet video "How to Dance Properly." Genius comedian with an online twist.

  • Jimmy Wales - founder: Wikipedia

  • Ross Lovegrove - industrial designer that created the Sony Walkman and the Apple iMac.

  • Rick Warren - author: The Purpose-Driven Life, pastor of the Saddleback Church. Best presentation without PowerPoint that I've ever seen.

Go watch one now and be inspired today!

powered by performancing firefox



Yes, I mean that Dallas Observer.  It's a weird concept, I know, because nobody thinks of the Dallas Observer as being a bastion of anything remotely religious, much less Christian.

And yet, in the middle of their very snarky and very fun blog, Unfair Park, I found a little column called "Bible Girl."

It's written by what may be the most rare creature on Earth - an evangelical Christian working in the alternative press. If this isn't "in the world but not of the world," then I don't know what is. I read, re-read, and memorized parts of her post on her struggle with homosexuality entitled The Mystery of Sexual Orientation.

My favorite quote:

My “deliverance” from depression and a broken sexual identity did involve choices. I ultimately wanted to obey God more than I wanted to sin.

If you're using an RSS reader, I encourage you to check in on Bible Girl every chance you get. Actually, even if you don't, you should.

Technorati Tags: , ,


YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO: Check out what I'm reading

Just wanted to let you all know that I've started posting my del.icio.us bookmarks to the site, so you can see what my favorite links of the day are. If you don't know what del.icio.us is, take a gander over here, and enjoy the bathing warmth of net-geek greatness.

For all you others, just check out that sidebar to the right to see what's been crossing my browser lately. If you find somethng cool, let me know!

Technorati Tags: , , ,


QUICK POST: 20 things you didn't know about The Nobel Prizes

This article hooked me, because The Nobel Prizes have always been interesting, and wrapped in mystery. My favorite nugget of interest is at the bottom:

20 Last year's winners include Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of the University of Newcastle in England, who won the peace prize for monitoring the brain of a locust while it watched scenes from Star Wars.

Technorati Tags: , ,



Rinzai monk in Arashiyama, Kyoto

I'm going to be stringing a few different concepts together here, so bear with me...

My Dad works as an engineer, fixing complicated data storage sytems in mostly oil companies and government hush-hush black holes around the world. He's got a favorite saying: when resolving an issue depends much more on the natures of the people involved than the physical electron-routing problem itself, he likes to call this an "Electro-Political Issue."

Apt title, if you ask me. And I know that even if you work at McDonalds flipping burgers for a livin', you deal with politics to some degree. People want to get what they want, and sometimes that means that the right thing, the thing that needs to happen, doesn't. What's more, in order to do the thing you're being paid to do, sometimes you're going to have to bend over backward to get someone else what they want.

I've always been intrigued with the concept of Zen. It's become a very fashionable term: "That's so Zen," or "I just had to zen out," or even Everything Zen. If you take a look at the true meaning of the word, it comes from a form of Buddhism - a religion whose main goal is the end of suffering. Zen seeks to obtain insight into the end of suffering through long periods of meditation; specifically, a seated meditation called zazen. This is a moment of complete self-denial, in which one seeks to completely remove the mind of all thought, so that it may be opened to a new enlightenment. Again, this is the true key of Zen, whether practiced in meditation, archery or even motorcycle maintenance - complete denial of self-thought to focus on a task, even if that task is to clear the mind entirely.

If you work very long in a corporate setting, you'll find plenty of people who want very much to be successful. They put their whole heart and soul into a task to squeeze every last drop of gain, improvement or recognition. Workaholics, we may call them, because their exhaustive grip of passion is so engaged with their work that they can't take a moment to detach and nourish their personal lives. And through this process, could we call them truly successful? Even if they earn tons of money, can we call them a success if their personal lives are in such shambles they have nothing of true worth to spend it on?

Sometimes we get so caught up in playing the game: working the people, gaining the influence, putting my pedestal higher and higher, running after this dangling carrot of a goal. We run and run and run, and even if we finally reach what we want, we find it wasn't worth it in the first place.

What we need at work is a good dose of ZEN, and I think it's the completely Christian thing to do.

I'll show you: take a look at this verse:

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." -- Colossians 3:17

You see, we get all entangled within the vain passions of work when we do it for US. When we put in those extra hours so that WE can get noticed or WE can produce more than the next guy. Our priorities get out of whack because WE think that we can sacrifice the personal to gain in the professional. And yet, when we follow that kind of path, it seems like both suffer in the long run.

Paul here advocates a Zen-like approach to work - a complete denial of self by doing EVERYTHING for God. We don't work to promote ourselves or our agenda, we work because that's what God has put in front of us, and we give it the attention and passion it deserves. BUT, when God puts something else in front of us, like a family that's expecting us home for dinner and kids that need a strong parental role model, we put down the one task to take up the other. There's no regret or hesitation in doing this, because we're completely focused on HIS agenda, not ours. Considering whether a task is worthy of our time takes on a higher meaning, because we've got a whole new paradigm to frame it in.

And, when the office gets political, when things get snippy and catty, when people promote themselves within the guise of a job, we don't take the bait. Why? Because we're only doing God's work on this Earth, and we don't NEED the recognition of a false sense of accomplishment. We don't need to hang our self-worth on an initiative or program, because God makes the call, and we are genuinely content with His answer.

There's a concept in sports called "pushing" or "forcing" your game. It happens when you're so driven to succeed, you start to make rash decisions in the hope of an ever diminishing return. You drive the ball instead of passing, because you want that next hoop so bad. You swing at a pitch that's outside the strike zone, because you want that RBI for your stats so much. You really try to smack the ball off the tee as hard as you can, because you want those extra few yards on your drive. Of course, the result of this phenomenon is that you actually end up getting LESS: more misses, more whiffs, less distance.

When we give up our own agenda in the workplace through a Zen-like medition on what's important to God, we protect ourselves from pushing our own game. When you're not forcing a task into place - trying to will a job to work the way YOU think it should - you're actually MORE productive. Denial of self actually makes your self work BETTER.

Perhaps the Psalmist says it best:

"Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass."
-- Psalms 37:5

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,


I AM HERE TO WASTE YOUR TIME PART II: They're gonna fire me for this...

The name of the game is Sling. YOU are a ball of goo, that somehow has a hand, but not much else. You must bodily (in a goo kinda way) throw yourself from handhold to handhold, while avoiding spikes, traps, walls, the bad guys and failure. You are timed. If you complete all the levels within the "gold" time limit, apparently something good will happen to ya.

Now, for those of you who tried the dot game, I know you had fun and probably wasted some time. But let's face it, the dot was neither cute nor interesting, just maddeningly simplistic in its goal and efficient in its obstacles. This game actually has characters, sound effects, and a sense of humor, so you oughta like it.

Can't write anymore, I've got to get past this level!


P.S. - the game automatically sets a cookie on your computer, so you won't lose your progress if you have to close the browser window.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,



I got the chance to read this article from Salon (you'll have to watch a brief ad to view the whole article) about the Mars Hill Church in Seattle, written by someone who's probably not a Christian but is very interested in this new movement. He labels it the "Disciple Generation," and I can't tell if I'm heartened by seeing a community of believers that bring an honest version of themselves - music, culture, tattoos and all - to worship God, or if I'm concerned about a religion trying to make itself so insular that its members hold tighter to the group than to God.

For example, here's a quote from one of their founding ministers, Mark Driscoll:

"They know there's more to life than waking up, eating what's in the fridge, watching what's on TV, and then going back to bed, than the rest of their porn-addicted, video-game-playing, loser friends," he tells me. "That's what I give them through the Bible. I say, let me give you some rules, not to be a jerk, but to help you out. And when was the last time that anyone in their busted-up family did that?"

I love that concept. But then I read this quote and editorial after the writer describes the church blessing babies on Father's Day:

In a husky voice, the 35-year-old pastor prays for the continuous fertility of his congregation. "We are in a city with less children per capita than any city but San Francisco," he declares, "and we consider it our personal mission to turn that around."

The way Driscoll sees it, the more babies his conservative Christian congregation can produce in this child-poor city, the more they can redirect local politics, public education, and culture in one of the liberal capitals of the world. To complete his trifecta of indoctrinating, voting, and breeding, Driscoll has developed a community that dwarfs any living experiment of the '60s.

Maybe the writer's just being paranoid, or maybe there's something more domineering at work here - I don't know yet. But it's an interesting read, nonetheless.

NOTE: I found out after reading that this is not the same as the Mars Hill Bible Church, home of the incredible speaker Rob Bell. I've actually listened to some of his podcasts, and I really like what he has to say. As far as I know, their beliefs are different than those of the Mars Hill (no Bible) Church.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,


IT'S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!: "We All Use Math Every Day" now online

There's a lot of reasons I haven't updated my blog as often or as quickly I'd like, but now there's definitely one big one off my plate. For the past month, I've been working on the official site for "We All Use Math Every Day," an educational program created by Texas Instruments and NCTM (the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) based on the hit CBS primetime series, NUMB3RS.

Yep, pulled that description right off the press release.

But seriously, this has been a HUGE undertaking for me, and a lot of trust placed in me by TI. I also had the incredible chance to work with a great graphic designer on the images and the look, a talent by the name of Rondo Estrello. Huge props to ya, man - it turned out great.

SO, with that kind of hype, you've got no excuse now. Click on the poster up there, get over to www.weallusematheveryday.com! Tear the code apart, analyze the copy, whatever - let me know what you think!


I AM HERE TO WASTE YOUR TIME: Drag the Dot (which is kinda like a period)

Punctuation by Penny-Arcade

Hee hee - you're not going to get ANYTHING done today. How do I know? Simple. You're going to spend your time playing this game, because you're going to tell yourself "Drag a dot? I can do that! I drag things around on this computer every day!" But see, that's where you're wrong. And I'm not going to tell you you're wrong, I'm going to let you find out for yourself. Because I'm cruel like that. But this builds character...or something.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


Any of ya'll have a random, extremely long hair that just seems to always get in the way? I've got this one under my right arm that sometimes tickles me just enough to think there's a bug trying to bite me in that very unlikely spot. And what's worse, I don't know why the heck it's there! It's like one of my follicles just decided to say "Screw you guys, I'm going to have some fun! WHEEEEEEEE!!!"

Stupid follicles. Except the ones on my head. They're keeping production at a high level, and I'm extremely proud of them.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,



Yes, I haven't updated for an eternity, and yes, that's a bad thing.

See, my only excuse is that I've had a custom template I built that never worked exactly right. And I kept telling myself that I wanted to fix the template before I posted again, which is also a good thing. The only problem is - I never did it.

So I'm here in Houston with my in-laws, and I've finally had some time to create a new template. It's not exactly what I set out to do, but it's close enough. This is a work in progress, so I'd love to hear what you think!

And, if you've been reading my post about writing things down, you'd know that I've got more than a couple ideas stored up. So, look forward to some actual POSTS now!

Technorati Tags: , , ,



I just finished reading this article, and immediately forwarded it to my graphic designer pal here at work when I hit the Photoshop section. When I made it to the end, I was rewarded with the great payoff of this quote:

Computer Arts - 50 ways to become a better designer

As a rule-of-thumb, a good way to deal with clients is actually to treat them with the contempt you would a small horned imp from the ninth layer of hell’s gate.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,


DESKTOP OF THE DAY: Your Next Vacation Stop

Well, it might be! Like, in the year 2217!

This is the coolest high-res photo of Mars you'll see today, and it's a perfect aspect ratio for a dual monitor setup. Try using something like Ultramon to get it to span both monitors.


Technorati Tags: , , , , ,



This site will let you create a motivational poster of your very own with any photo you upload or find on Flickr. Seeing such a great new toy, I just couldn't help myself:

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,



Saw The Shawshank Redemption again yesterday, and this line from Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding (played by the great Morgan Freeman) just stuck out in my mind:
I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Some days I look at my life and I'm so excited that I can barely sit still, because it's a journey of freedom. I hope that I can make it across this life's vaporous border into my own Paradise With No Memory. I hope to see my ultimate Friend and Redeemer and shake His hand, hug Him, or just stand there and look into His eyes. I hope That Place is far greater than it has ever been in my dreams.

I hope.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,



I know I'm young, but I'm old enough (and geek enough) to remember my first days of computing. My dad had a TI-99/4A Home Computer, and man I thought that thing hung the moon. I played "Hunt the Wumpus" for hours on end. I got that computer in my room as a hand-me-down when dad got his brand new 8086 - that's an Intel processor far below a Pentium anything. It had a 10 MB hard drive that I can clearly remember thinking we would never fill up, and I played text-based games on there like Kings Quest and Police Quest. The computers got better and the games got better, all the way through to Wing Commander.

Then, the computer world totally changed. Not because of some new processor, but because of something new hanging out of your computer. A mouse.

I also remember the first time we had Windows 3.1 - a version far before 95. It wasn't pretty, but I remember the features being marketed to us early adopters; key among these was a little feature called Drag & Drop.

The world, and computers, have changed drastically since then. I'm sitting here with hundreds of times more computing power in my laptop than that TI ever imagined. Windows is the de facto standard, and that mouse has even become an Optical wonder. But that little Drag & Drop feature never left us, although we have gone so far beyond our roots that we often forget just how useful it is, especially if you're running a dual-monitor setup. Here's some nifty things you can do with Drag & Drop that you might have forgotten over the years.

  • Forget CTRL-X and CTRL-V for cut and paste, just highlight a section of text in almost any word browser and you can drag it to any other part of the document to drop it right in. Need to copy and paste? Just hold down that CTRL key while you're dragging. This is especiallyuseful when you're pulling text out of one document to another - just have one open in each screen.

  • Moving text or images doesn't just have to happen between two instances of the same program. Try highlighting text in your favorite browser, and dragging it to an instance of Word or Excel - this is great for when you need to save tables or text on web pages.

  • Is your Start Menu overrun with program folders for each application, and shortucts in places you never can find? Everything in the start menu can be dragged and dropped. Click the start button, and you can even right-click in the programs area to create new folders or delete folders.

  • Do you often revisit a specific document or file, and hate having to drill down through tons of folders to get to it? Just create a shortcut for it on your desktop. Use your right mouse button to drag the file to your desktop, and when you let go you'll have all the options you could ever want.

  • If you need to make copies of files from one place to another (like to your thumb drive), just open the start and the destination in separate windows - either on one monitor or two. Highlight all the files by dragging a box around them or hitting CTRL-A, then hold down the CTRL key while you drag them to the destination folder. This works great for burning a CD, too.

  • For those of you using Firefox (and you really should be), go install the Drag and Drop Upload extension. Every time you see a form field with a "Browse" button next to it - usually when attaching a file using a web email client - you'll be able to just drag and drop your file directly to that textbox. This extension puts the path there for you.

There's a thousand other uses, but those are just some of the first that came to mind. So go forth, wield your mouse with confidence, and be productive!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



Apparently, when you drop Mentos candy into Diet Coke, you get a whole lot of fizzy spray coming right back at you. What better purpose to use this phenomenon than the celebration of hydrodynamic art? Or better yet, what happens when you combine 200 literes of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos Mints?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,



Oh lordy we got some catching up to do! But, I've been following my own advice and writing down my ideas in the meantime, so I've got a couple great images for you today.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

This one's a view of the International Space Station from aboge, made by the crew of the space shuttle Discovery. You can read all about it here. This comes to us from a great site for wallpapers, the Astronomy Picture of the Day archive. Each day they post a new and amazing photo from space, with a description by a real astronaut or astronomist.

Click for larger version

Here's a beauty from Airliners.net showing the flight path of a space shuttle launch - that blinding flash at the bottom left is takeoff.

If you're still looking for other good wallpaper images, I always like to try Flickr (usually by going to Popurls first, as mentioned here). If you want to see some photos I loved, check out my Flickr favorites page here. Oh, and if you want to see the few pictures I have posted so far (all of my cat), you can check them here.


Technorati Tags:


I'm sorry I haven't posted recently! Have no fear, your Destop of the Day and a new Personal Productivity article are coming soon. My wife got pretty seriously sick at the end of last week, so that's thrown both of our schedules off. Plus, last night I attended the debacle known as "NBA Western Conference Finals, Game 1" so I'm completely wasted and my arm is sore from waving one of those plastic clappers around as hard as I could. Who knows, maybe I should follow Paul's example and just email everyone I know when I have another blog post. ;-)

Thanks for your patience - I'll make it up to ya!



One of those ugly things about becoming an "adult" is that you learn that slacking through or relying completely on talent just doesn't work anymore. Not following through on a project or not remembering an appointment doesn't just give you a bad grade anymore - it could mean your job, your livelyhood, or your career. It's taken a school of hard knocks for me to learn that I needed to change my wicked and slothful ways, but now I'm pursuing a new path - one I'll be shaing with you. Call this "GTD for the common man" or a "Dummies Guide to Juggling Life," but I'm going to share in this topic ideas I've found that actually work for me - whether they're radically geek or extremely boring old-school.

Like myself, I'm sure many of you think you have a brain. Let me help you with one clear truth - you don't. At least, you don't have the brain you really need. All of us have deficiencies in how our minds work, even the ones that look like they have it all put together. For me, the problem is often that I have too many ideas. I'm an ENFP, which means I'm great at perceiving interrelated ideas or intuitively discovering needs, but I'm terrible at following through on them. I get more lightbulbs above my head than there are on the Vegas strip, but just as fast as you can lose your money on a blackjack table, they're gone. Our brains are incredible processors, but without training or help, they're terrible hard drives.

So when you look at creative types across many disciplines, you'll see one theme running through how they pull down all those ideas - everyone has to write it down. Whether you're an aspiring comedian, web comic artist, creator of fine art, or just a guy trying to get things done
, there's an amazing power in putting your ideas in a written form while you're thinking:

  • Writing your ideas actually helps you remember them, because you engage your visual and kinetic learning paths

  • Writing creates a fixed state for your ideas, so you can look back on them and see how your position has changed - this is why you should write the date on everything

  • Writing ideas creates a small level of commitment - every time you see it, you'll be reminded about what that means for you

What should I write on?
What actual instruments you use are completely up to you. As an avid Palm user, I always love using my PDA, but it's not always the best choice for writing. I've taken to carrying a small notepad with an elastic closure with me where ever I go (not a moleskine, mind you, I'm too cheap for that), because writing my ideas on a small pad of paper eliminates the barriers of Graffiti and styluses (styli?). Whatever you write on should be quick, easy, and present as few barriers as possible for getting the ideas from your mind onto something concrete.

What do I do with what I've written?
Also entirely up to you, but writing an idea down shouldn't be the end of it. If it's a project, you need to move it into some sort of workflow system, even if that's as simple as a to-do-list. The paper is a temporary fix, just getting the idea down and set so that it doesn't float out your mind. Even if you write everything that's ever in your head, if you don't do anything about it you're still stuck at square one. I like to use an icon system of sorts for defining items that require action, are just for my own information, or are related to a phone call I've made. Review your notepad or index cards or whatever as often as possible, so you know that everything that's in there has a place and an action if necessary. If you don't know what to do with what you've written, put it in a different place or on a page called "HUH?" and come back to it later. If it still doesn't do anything for you, you can probably get rid of it.

I hope you'll enjoy embarking upon the path to personal productivity with me, and I really want to see your comments on if you're using this concept!

"Today is where your book begins/ The rest is still unwritten."

Technorati Tags:



I don't know about you guys, but I can't stand a boring desktop wallpaper. One of the first things I do when I get a new computer or after a fresh install is to change the background to something more my style, and then I rotate out about every week. So since I've already done all the research, you can expect a fresh desktop of the day every Monday to keep your screen space looking cool. Today's is an extremely cool virtual landscape care of MyDeskCity - a haven for lots of interesting wallpaper images. The page is in Japanese ( I think?), but don't let that throw you. Enjoy!

(Links to fullsize image)

Technorati Tags:



Bob Dylan

A couple of changes on the site, so if you're reading this via RSS, feel free to take a moment and come look at the thing in full Technicolor!


  • Blogroll, thanks to the good folks at Blogrolling

  • Technorati - Would you believe I had this here all along and didn't realize I'd accidentally broken the code to display it? So sad - I'm turning in my geek card now. Check those links - I'm expecting the "blogs that link to this site" part to grow...hint hint...

  • Google Ads - I don't care if you click them or not - this is more just a testbed for me to figure out how to use AdSense. No actual ads yet - my application's in the "mail."

More fun actual content later. Enjoy!

Technorati Tags: , , ,


  • Google block is now populated with actual ads

  • Also added a tagcloud, which shows you the most popular words I've been talking about of late. Since it's only started recording as of today, it's keyign in on that "Make Your Humaan Boss Laugh" post, and identifying every time I said "boss" there. I like my boss, but I don't plan on that being the main topic of discussion here.



Hi guys, sorry it's been a while since my last post.  I'm working on redesigning/adding new elements to this blog, so all that time I usually take to create a post, I've been playing around with CSS code and the like.

See that title?  My wife and I have been joking that most of my conversations start with that.  My co-workers always tell me that I know all the cool sites.  Well ya know what?  It's time I shared some of those with you.  Lay these bookmarks on your friends, and they'll think you've got all the cool sites, too.

  • You've just gotten home from work and it's time to make dinner, but what to make?  You search through the pantry and fridge and find a random collection of ingredients that just don't seem to go together.  Are you lost and doomed to a life of fast food?  Oh no my friend, check out Allrecipes.com's Recipe Ingredient Search
    . Just enter in those seemingly unrelated ingredients, and this site will spit out great food ideas for that unusual assortment.

  • Got a question? Sure, we all do. Before you go talking to your Uncle Charlie or whoever, check out Ask Metafilter, an online forum for anyone to ask a question and anyone else to answer it. Some of the answers are terrible, but there's also some true gold to be found there. A great search function will help you find if anyone's already asked your question.

  • Great games have great music. Great geeks want the music. Great downloaders can find it here.

  • I like my coffee, especially from my Melitta One:One coffee pod machine. Interested in the one-cup phenomenon? Like every other fad, it has a blog.

  • And if you've lost your coffee mug, here are the twelve principles for finding something lost.

  • If you want to learn more about web development, don't buy a book - it's already online. Meet the Web Developer's Handbook.

  • LIFEHACKER. Lifehacker, lifehacker, lifehacker. If you don't know immediately what this is, go there now. I've found more information to enrich my life here than any other web site. Seriously, it's like second to the Bible in that category.

Technorati Tags:



I think often about money - from how I need to balance my checkbook, to how are we going to afford [BLANK], to what can we do to make our expenses less, to how can I earn more money. It's not an obsession, but it's a topic that certainly covers a lot of areas of my life.

And then I see something like this:

True success will now be defined in terms of fulfillment. If you are experiencing joy while doing what you are doing, you are successful. If your activity is making a meaningful contribution to society and the environment, you are successful. If you are reveling in a progressive collaboration, you are successful. If your intelligence and creativity are being challenged and are growing, you are successful. If you are giving people value, you are successful. If you are happy in the doing, then, with each step, you arrive. Why? Because you are already there.
Thanks, Fred. I needed that.

Technorati Tags: money success life quote



Just found a great article via lifehacker about how to wrestle with your cell phone company and get what you want. The principles here can easily be applied to other customer-service-call nightmares as well.

The Art of Leveraged Bargaining, #2

(Photo courtesy of Threadless)

Technorati Tags: lifehack



I had the joy of visting my dear alma mater this Easter weekend, for the spectacle we all know as Spring Sing. I try to tell people at work why in the world I'm heading back to Arkansas, but they never seem to really get it. By far, the best part about the whole event for my wife and me is getting to see people we were in college with - friends we can reconnect with over shared bonds of wild experiences and lessons learned since. The best time to see everyone is the cast party after the Saturday night show - a tradition that spans at least a decade and has always been in the same place, so all the old folks know where it is. We all gather 'round, do all that sharing, sing our crazy club songs for each other and swelter in an overcrowded room with college students burning up from activity, excitement and adrenaline.

We stayed up late (well, late for us old married folks) into the night, then had to wake up for church at an hour that seemed so early it could probably be only represented by an imaginary number. Blearily my wife and I stumbled into Sunday-appropriate clothes and steadied each other down the shuffling walk to the hotel complimentary breakfast. We'd reached that state of tired where the caffeine wakes your body up just enough that it realizes truly how tired you are and only wants to sleep more. Adding condiments with that level of fine motor control is just a joke, as I managed to turn my preprocessed egg patties into a salty mess in very short order. With the in-laws driving (thankfully), we made it to early service at church and found seats quickly, hoping nobody noticed our almost-a-hangover.

I don't know how you get when you're truly tired, but when I'm at that point, I find that my emotions come to me frighteningly fast. It's as though that buffer of my usual good sense is stripped away by fatigue, and everything I'm feeling strikes to the top in vivid color in every case. I tell you all this to say that while all that tempted me to just dismiss what I felt at worship that day, I couldn't shake these emotions because they seemed grounded in a deeper truth than I planned on encountering.

Worship was great - a well-paced combination of scriptures and songs, with very few moments taken for sermonizing or announcements. My father in-law was so thankful for a tempo that kept him from sleep that he thanked the minister personally! The fully planned part of the service ended with the traditional invitation, a moment that only signalled to my fuzzy mind that it was time to stand, and that the end was near at last. I can honestly say that my mind was upon things Divine during the worship, but I can also say that the chance to eat again and hopefully regain some portion of my energy at lunch was definitely thought of.

With the invitation song fully in stride, and everyone standing to clear the aisles, a father and his daughter made their way to the front row of seats. The girl could only have been 14 or 15 at the most, and she must have had something like Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida, because her motions were forced through tremoring muscles and wavering steps.

She leaned in a familiar way upon her father as she pushed her disobedient body down an aisle that must have seemed 60 feet long to her, even though it would be only 6 feet to a ruler. It was hard to watch her body force her to make several attempts at sitting down, but she seemed to have a peculiar expression on her face - a mixture of determination, happiness and anxiety. The preacher came down to meet her at the front, and a whole row of college students (that probably didn't know her) left their seats to find ones behind her in support.

The song ended and we all sat back down, some finally seeing over the crowd what all the hubub was about. The preacher returned to his pulpit to tell us the good news: Kaitlin, this girl, wanted to be baptized. From that moment, it just caught me; I was so emotionally touched by seeing this girl, wrestling not only with the life questions that come with being a teenager, but also the ones screamed out by this degenerative disease, seeing that in the face of all of this her soul had found it's one true and supreme Love - and that she wanted to show her love in practice. A definite lump lodged itself in my throat and defied any attempts at manly supression. This girl was going to demonstrate to me something deeper than I'd come prepared to see: a naked and beautiful truth about the One I chose for my Lord and Master.

Her father rose to his feet, and lended his strength to help his daughter to hers. He told us that they had rehearsed this occasion thoroughly the night before, but that Kaitlin found herself to be very nervous this Easter morning in the face of all of the reality and all the people (a packed auditorium of easily 500). A muffled laugh swept through the crowd as we all remembered our baptism Day, or just empathized with her stage fright. The father told us he would just go through all the points they talked about, and let her just affirm her answers.

"Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?"


"And do you believe that he came down to Earth?"

Another nod.

"And that He died for our sins and rose again?"

More nods, as the signals for this motion echoed through her neck's muscles.

"And do you believe that He's coming back one day to take us with Him to be in Heaven with the Father?"

"Yes!" - uncertain lips unable to restrain a certain voice.

The father said through tears and joy that he was so proud of her, and that they were now going to baptize her for the remission of her sins. A spotty "Amen" wove through the crowd, and my view of the scene distorted as my eyes suddenly found themselves handling more water than they were capable.

Men and women came forward to help as the parties were separated to their respective sides of the baptistry, where the daughter donned a "gown" (more like a waterproof bag with holes and a zipper), and the father strapped on Arkansas-redneck-appropriate camoflauge waders. The two came together again in the middle through sounds of rustling water, and the daughter again clung to her father for support. Her father's words dropped sotto voce as a crash course in "How to Survive Baptism Without Drowning" with the ever-essential "Chapter 5 - Hold on to Your Nose" was administered. He returned to full volume with words I've always found to be simply magical:

"...I now baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son..."

The daughter broke the plane of the water, finding its symbolic burial below.

"..and of the Holy Spirit."

Her father pulled her from the water to what must have been an incredibly beautiful scene - his "newborn" daughter taking the first breath of her second life. Dry clothes and propriety aside, the father held his daughter tight in joy and love - and I noticed something.

For the first time since I'd seen her begin this journey, she wasn't shaking.

And as I applauded with the rest of the congregation, I couldn't help but think...

My life is wracked daily with the struggles of sin. My spirit has to force my body to walk a straight path each and every second of my life. I lean on my Father, and should do so familiarly as He guides me through my struggle. We walk a path that to His eternal eye seems but a few steps, and seems to me to be the fullness of decades. He washes me in the power of His Redemption through His grace and mercy. And one day He will call me up from the plane I inhabit, and He will view his favorite sight: His child taking the first breath of an eternal life with Him. And even though I may have lived decades, I will cling to Him with joy and love as a child.

And never again will I be shaken.



Alias Underground

My much-maligned former-favorite show is back on tonight for two hours. Will we finally get to see Jennifer Garner POST-baby? Tune in tonight for details....


I hope I can find enough money to buy this one:

Ambition Killed The Cat

Technorati Tags:



Hi all. I've had the request to make my blog feed available via email, like when I was on Xanga. Thanks to the joys of Feedblitz, you can scroll down to the bottom of the left bar and enter your email to get words from the Swan DIRECTLY to your inbox. Do it and all your dreams will come true.


I wasn't planning on blogging tonight, since I'd stayed up reorganizing my RSS feeds back into Sage, but then I found this off one of the most challenging and insightful blogs I read, Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog. I'm sure I'll write more about his work and how I admire it in the future, but I couldn't pass up this tie-in to my recent "Your Boss Is A Human" post. Enjoy!

My favorite quotes:

  • "Just because your boss doesn’t tell jokes doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t have a sense of humor. She may be a carrier of humor, rather than a creator or initiator of humor."

  • "Sarcastic humor is the result of frustration and tension. It works against you."

  • "Humor targeted at you is almost always safe material. And stories coming from your own experiences will be original and fun to listen to. People like others who don’t take themselves too seriously."

Technorati Tags:



So I'm working on this web page list of events. Each one has dates, a title, place, contact information and the like. I get down to one and the contact's name is Barbara Long. Her email is something like blong@whateverheremailaddresswas.com. And I can't help but think...

BLONGGGGG!!!! Bwahahahahahaha!!!!

Yep, you just THINK I've grown up.

Technorati Tags:


My good friend Jeremy asked me how I liked using Performancing for blog posts, since he'd tried it a while ago and found it a tad lacking. I can tell you now that I do like it, but that's a qualified positive review. Let's see if I can lay it all out there for you:

  • Save as Note Feature - save your content to an offline "note" that's easily accessible within the Performancing extension. I have no clue how this works or where it saves everything, but it seems to work quite well.
  • Auto Tags - Post tags to Technorati and Del.icio.us automatically with your post. Also has a nice "bookmarks" window to post pages to your del.icio.us account, which I'm using for my posts now. You can find them at del.icio.us/stoplookingswan.
  • Auto Ping - send your post to Ping-O-Matic, PingoAT, or a custom server
  • Categories - if you're using WordPress or Movable Type, those are there for you.
  • There's a small communication problem between Performancing and Blogger's ATOM API. More accurately, there's a problem with Blogger holding up their end of the bargain. There is a workaround, but it requires you to go back and add titles to your posts, and you can't view titles of your previous posts in "History". No biggie for me, and they say they're going to fix it as soon as Blogger gets their butts in gear.
  • There might be just too many features here for the "casual blogger." If you just want a simple post method, I'd say use BlogThis. Interestingly enough, BlogThis has no problems posting titles to Blogger - probably because they don't allow as many features as Performancing.
  • The online help for Performancing isn't incredible in my opinion - it's done in a blog format, and I'd prefer something more cohesive. It's searchable, and I found the posted workaround for my Blogger problem, but I think it could be better.
I'll let you know more about it as I get more familiar with the extension, but I can say now it's got TONS of potential. Performancing's slogan is "helping bloggers succeed", and I can say they're doing that.

Technorati Tags:


It's hard to admit, isn't it?  Your work situation could be fantastic, but let's face it - your direct supervisor is your most immediate connection to "The Man", and nobody likes "The Man."  Your boss is the only one that is available to hear your official corporate gripes.  Your boss ultimately evaluates your performance and has a direct influence on how much you get paid.  Most of the negative things you feel about your job are most likely not your boss' fault, but they have teh unfortunate position of being the only operator on the telephone line, as it were.

I've started a new job recently, and to date I've heard two questions from bosses that I've never heard before.  Questions that powerfully affected me and my view on my job.

  1. "What factors or things are getting in the way of you being successful at your job?"
  2. A sincerely asked "How are you doing?"
Amazing.  Bosses that assume I'm so phenomenal that if there's anything keeping me from doing a phenomenal job, it must be external to me.  Whether it's a corporate morass of red tape or I'm just having an off day, the assumption is that I'm an incredible worker, and can achieve some kind of GTD Nirvana.

Which brings me to my question for you, dear reader.  What would happen if you asked these questions of YOUR boss?  What would happen if you started caring about the performance of someone not below, but above you?  How much power could we give our employer, our company, and even ourselves if we asked these questions of those that supervise us?  Try it out on your boss - at very least, they'll find it refreshing.  More likely, you'll find that the more you're concerned with the performance of others, the better your performance will appear to be, because you'll be better aligned with the goals your boss wants to reach - the goals your boss will be evaluating you by.

We're all human in this world, and walking into a cubicle doesn't change that.  No matter how quickly we fall into buzzword-speak, we need to get real with the fact that we all face the same kinds of problems.  We also all have the same ultimate solution, but that's a different post.

Technorati Tags:



Yes, it really is essential. I'm just starting out with Performancing, but it looks pretty fun. And DevBoi is incredible - works offline!
Essential List on Firefox Extensions for Webmaster - lifehack.org


Found my latest favorite joke. Ironically, it came when I was feeling particularly scatterbrained...
On attention and lightbulbs | 43 Folders:

Q: How many people with ADD does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: HEY! Let’s ride bikes!!!"



They see me. I'm convinced they see me and the smell of metaphorical fresh meat wafts to their salesperson noses. They call their store "Bath and Body Works." They wear a simple green apron. And yet, I fear them.

You know, you'd think this store was made for women, but I think differently. This is a bridge, a tollway for the male of the species to reach the heart of the female of the species. It's like this: you're on your little "suggestion" trip with your gal. She directs you to the Works, because she already knows that you're a guy, and you need the help. She takes you around the aisles, a vertically ribboned color montage, where the world is archived completely by scent. Round and round the fragrance wheel you go, and then she STOPS. Some little coo of delight comes from her lips and she reaches for some product of a purpose unknown to you. A dab here, a spray there, a spritz into the air that she just walks into. She says it's perfect, turns, and looks at you.

"This fragrance is called 'Moonlight Path.'"

Moonlight Path, Moonlight Path. Lunar Dirt, Celestial Loam, La Luna del Terra Firma - your job is to remember some combination off the night's celestial body and mud and you're golden. You'll come back at some time, be met by the Aproned One, and you'll utter that password to traverse the gap to your lady's heart: "Moonlight Path."

Here's how I know this store was made for guys. You've made it to The Smell, and they have it in every iteration known to man. Were it legal, they'd grind it into a powder that could be inhaled into your nose so you'd never have to smell another thing but That Scent.

You pick 3 random concoctions, take them to the counter, find out there's a discount if you get 4, head back to The Scent and grab something else too, pay more than you had ever planned for, and walk out with a pre-wrapped (typo: warped) offering for the lady of your dreams. You'll never run out of ways to do this, because they'll always crank out a new moisturizer, skin cream, body wash, bath bar, and on and on and on. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

Yeah, I went that route this Christmas. Yeah, it worked.



(Can ya'll tell I'm at my in-laws where they have plentiful and free high-speed wireless internet access, and not at my house where there is plentiful and free crappy slow-drip dialup?)

I took the advice of one Rajesh Setty (via Lifehacker) and finally registered my blog on Technorati. You'll notice the new bug and features at the left. I also noticed through this lovely service that the wonderful Lisa at stopahead took the chance to give me some unsolicited pub last year, and while it's late, I thought I'd return the favor.

So take a moment and go claim your blog on Technorati. You might be surprised who's been reading you!


Last year around this time, I took the chance to clear up some of the confusion about appropriate Holiday lighting. I'd like to add a few more rules to the list.

  1. Outdoor Christmas lights shall be left on at least until midnight. Shutting them off at 10:30 p.m. just because you're concerned about the energy draw means you seriously need more Christmas Spirit. Use a timer, use a clapper, use a 3 year old - I don't care - but shut them off much after you go to bed.

  2. CHECK your lights. It's entirely possible that a bulb or two or twenty went out while you were gone. I'll give you a clue - if Santa's body no longer looks corporeal, then something's wrong.

  3. Before you purchase the lighted Payne Stewart golfer look-alike, please think: just exactly where does this fit into Christmas, Haunakkah, Kwanzaa, or even the entire month of December??

  4. You thought I wouldn't notice that Frosty's not actually holding the "Happy Holidays!" sign in front of him, but that it's actually just stitched to his belly? Oh, I noticed.

  5. When you're stringing a tree with lights, try and actually follow the branches. When you just go up and down while walking around the tree, then come back and circle around the tree with more lights to make it look like you've actually done the work, you haven't. You've created something that looks more like a fragmentation grenade.

Thanks for listening, and let's all try to do better next year, folks!

"Light a candle for me, I'll light a candle for you..."