Saturday, January 29, 2011

"You Are SO DUMB, Spell-Check!"

The title is a quote from Jim Gaffigan, talking about how sometimes the spell/grammar check in MS Word doesn't understand what you're saying.

However, this is an exceptional occurrence. Especially with the spell-check, and especially with the most up to date version of Word.

Some people think it's cheap to rely on spelling and grammar check, but I passionately disagree. The best learning experiences are authentic learning experiences. This means the best way to learn about writing is to write and make mistakes. Spelling and grammar check provide real time feedback, allowing you to be aware of and make mental adjustments immediately AND in the context that you will be in the next time you need to call upon the knowledge.

The absence of red and green squiggles under your text is like a reward system. If you're subconsciously keeping tally of how many squiggles you need to go back and correct, then your "score" should improve every time you write.

"-type-type-type-type-type-type-[space]....... No squiggle on that one! All right!!!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Face Your Fears... I Guess?

I started an online master's course at Buff State yesterday. Our first task was to post on an "Introduce Yourself" message board. The first person to do so claimed that they "Were currently undeclared, but trying hard to be accepted into the Educational Technology program." She ended the same paragraph with "I'm nervous about this class because I've never taken an online course before. I feel lost. I don't blog, or do facebook, or do twitter, so this is all new to me."

Trying to get into the Educational TECHNOLOGY program. Yet, is terrified by an online course and does not participate in any of the modern technological norms.

Maybe I'm cynical. I don't want to take away from someone actively trying to better themselves in an area where they're lacking- isn't that what college is all about anyway? However, you'd think you'd want to pursue a major that would get you into a career that somehow aligns itself with your interests...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Flash in the Pan

I've been in the closet about this for a long time, but I cannot be silent any longer.

*I love indie Flash games*

Love them. LOVE them. I used to think it was really nerdy and embarrassing, but developing an affinity for any new medium or genre inherently carries some shame- simply because it is unfamiliar.

What are Flash games? "Flash" is an Adobe software application used for animation and interactive elements on websites. I will admit, my understanding of the program is very limited, but that's the gist of it. Flash games are video games that are built with Flash (usually), generally are played right in your web browser, and are much simpler in design than the big name 3D games that you buy at the store and play off of a CD.

Why do I love these games so much? Potential. The elements of these games are so straight forward that just a small group of people (2-5) or even a single person can develop one. For this reason, new games are constantly being created and they are emerging with a wide range of 'personalities'. Different types of games (puzzle, platform, point and click, etc), different kinds of artwork, different kinds of controls, unique music, and clever narratives. There is so much potential for new art to thrive. This is why it's exciting to me.

There is a lot of crap out there, but for every 10 cookie-cutter games, there is one game that is truly compelling. Yes, it is because games are fun, but it is so much more than that. Communities have started forming to support and encourage independent game developers. Kongregate and Adult Swim are two of the more successful of these communities. They draw fans to one place and offer monetary rewards and free exposure for talented developers. Some companies employ there own developers and periodically release games under their own brand, such as Nitrome.

The one game that started my obsession was the BRILLIANT game "Machinarium". I should have put the title in italics instead of quotes because it is a MAJOR work. The artwork is breathtaking, the puzzles are clever and challenging, the game play and animations are smooth, the narrative is unique and consuming, and the soundtrack is a sophisticated composition that adds miles of depth to the experience.

However, this game is an exception to many of the Flash game stigmas I mentioned earlier. It was developed by a slightly larger than normal team (7 developers), took a few years, and although the demo can be played free in your browser, the full game must be purchased and downloaded. I'll tell you though, it was quite possibly the best $10 I've ever spent on entertainment.

If I have a point, I guess it's that this game has inspired me and shown me the possibilities in developing Flash games. I've gotten into a little bit of Action Scripting (the Flash language) but my skills are very very limited. If anyone out there is or knows anyone interested in exploring this medium and has a knack for programming, lets put or brains together sometime.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fountain of Spoof

A video has surfaced of a lady face-planting into a mall fountain Micheal Scott style while texting. A different video has now been made public of this lady's appearance on ABC News, speaking about her intentions to proceed with legal actions. By the time I post this blog I'm sure this video will already have completed its viral tour. I'm sorry, I don't care. I have way too much to say about it. I can't embed the video I'm talking about, but if you are so inclined, it's HERE.

  1. Shame on ABC for giving her an outlet and possibly setting the stage for idiot martyrdom.
  2. She is embarrassed that the video leaked- YOU CANNOT EVEN TELL WHO IT IS. The video is so low quality, no one would have ever known who they were watching take a Chevy Chase into 8 inches of water.
  3. She was answering a vague text asking for her birth date and her husband's birth date = She was probably responding to a phishing scam. You should be thanking that fountain for protecting your identity.
  4. "I thought 'let me respond to this text quickly'. Quickly was, I was in the fountain." So- she's either saying she was just 4 or 5 strides away from the fountain when she took her phone out, or it took her half the length of the entire mall to type two dates into her phone. Classic lose-lose scenario.
  5. First thing she thought was "I'm hoping nobody saw me, so let me just walk away." However, NOW she's complaining that no one came to her aid...
  6. When the guy you spoke with in security told you "Be glad that nobody knows you" he probably meant "I'm envious of anyone who doesn't know you."
  7. "I admit, it was funny".... so shut up.
  8. "As you can see in the video, no one came to my aid." You mean the only person around who was a janitor 50 yards away with his back to you didn't run to your aid when he saw you running away from the scene of the crime? I guess I'd be pissed too.
  9. "It could have been anybody's mother, it could have been a senior citizen. Would they have gotten the same treatment as me?" You mean if they also didn't drown and immediately walked away? Probably.
  10. "Don't text and walk- especially to our younger generation." Thanks, but we've picked up on the nuances of texting and multi-tasking.
  11. "The fountain could have been empty... I could have walked into a bus, been hit by a car..." What?? What happens to you when the cameras AREN'T around? On second thought, good for you, ABC. We need to get this lady a reality show...

Poe-es Me

It's great to study American literature, but I don't know if there's ever been a worse time for me to read Edgar Allen Poe, especially "Ligeia".

Poe had a supernatural way with words. Beautiful. Dismantling. Real.

I've had enough 'real' for one year though- or ten.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Diode for Life

I was recently excited to find a website where I was able to buy hundreds of electrical components for around $10. I plan on building new and modifying old musical equipment. This is a hobby that I've picked up over the last year or so- almost to the point of obsession. I've read many books on understanding electrical current, reading schematics, and building devices. My head is filled with knowledge of polarity, resistors, solder, ground loops (and how to avoid them), electromagnetic fields, etc. I have burnt my fingers on soldering irons, cut my thumb stripping wires, and scraped my hands destroying an old xbox- harvesting its heat sinks.

Why the sudden obsession? Well the obvious reason is simply because its cool. But maybe there's more to my obsession. Maybe it's projection. Maybe I want so badly to be able to fix a different kind of circuitry- I am so helpless and lost- that I need to master a different kind of circuitry to save myself from being consumed by aching inertness.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Against These, There is No Law

So it's been a week since my last entry; I'm four (4) entries behind my vow. However, this is due to some awful news about my wife's health. I'll do a simple post about the nine (9) manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit and we'll call it even. Deal? Deal.

  • LOVE
  • JOY
(Gal 5:22-23)

There's really no surprises on this list. These are the characteristics that are expected to appear when the influence of God is on someone's life. It's important to understand what is implied in the scripture. You don't prove to God that you love him by acting this way. Instead, you become this way, on a pseudo-subconscious level, as a result of seeking God. It's the fruit of the Spirit, not the sowing of the Spirit. It is the product of your labor.

The opposite of this list is the "works of the flesh". It's a much longer list, so I won't waste your time here. You can read about it yourself, but basically it's the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (with an emphasis on things that literally please your flesh).

I've spent a lot of time mulling over these things. Mostly because I feel like a walking paradox when I consider them. They are opposites. Logically, you should only be able to represent one or the other. And it's not even as simple as some days I embody the fruits of the Spirit and some days I work in the flesh; there are times when I'm simultaneously faithful and envious, meek and lascivious (not in action), or longsuffering and hating.

What conclusion can be made from this? I suppose being human implies imperfection. Perhaps this is just more evidence supporting the duality of man. The constant struggle between goodness and malice inside ourselves. Maybe what's more important to look at is the ratio between fruit of the Spirit and works of the flesh- making sure that the scale keeps tipping in the right direction.

French composer, Claude Debussy, once wrote asking why compositions must be long and focus on one emotion at a time when incidences of human emotion are often brief and encompass an argument of overlapping emotions...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cage, Coke, and Conceptualization

John Cage has a special place in my brain, resting between the music and philosophy sections, like the pointed oval of commonality on a venn diagram. He isn't the kind of composer that gets a lot of plays on my iPod- he's the kind of composer that can make you see your playlists differently. He first bent my conceptualization of 'music', but he has also seeped into the general philosophy governing my perspective of life.

He sounds kind of like a crazy old man in this clip, but what he is trying to say (about music) is that if there were no conventions to music, no memories of what exists, you would not judge the manifestations of new sounds in music. It's the 'newness' of music that excites him.

At 2:20, he talks about two seemingly identical coca-coal bottles being completely different because they are occupying different spaces, being effected by different stimuli, and being perceived from different angles. Give it a think. (ps- at 3:00 it turns into a French interview and a bunch of music you will hate, so you don't have to watch that far)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Surveying the Dig

This past year, I have forgiven more than I have gotten to thank. My support was sufficient, but my offenders were abundant. I am slow to anger and slow to wrath, but unfortunately, once I get there, I'm quick to speak. Not necessarily to those whom my criticisms are directed, but to those who could be negatively influenced; possibly, in this minutely circulated blog.

Regardless of the extremes of the offenses, I always seem able to forgive- at some point. The Bible tells us that (I'm paraphrasing) if we want God to forgive us, then we must first forgive those who have offended us, no matter what they have done to us. I'm going to forgo the discussion on the association 'forgive' has with 'forget' and 'reconcile'. I'm just talking about 'forgiving', which to me means unclenching the fist that has formed around my heart.

Today is the first time I realized why. The only way I can appreciate all that the Lord has gone through in forgiving me is to do so myself. It's quite a deep understatement to say that I have created some offenses myself. Most obviously to humanity, but secretly against God. But, God knows. And, God forgives.

This past year, I have forgiven more than I have gotten to thank. Perhaps this is God revealing to me a bit more about what he meant when he said that man was created in his own image.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

definitions (1)

Facebook status: (fsbk stts)

1. A customizable heading on the personal web pages of the social networking website, Facebook.

2. Mythological entity, believed to carry the power of granting instant vindication.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sick of Being Tired; Tired of Being Cyclic

Today marks the one year anniversary of my wife's first seizure. I haven't really spent any time thinking about it, but anniversaries have a way of resurfacing memories:

We had been married 2 months and 3 weeks. I had found something I wanted on Craigslist and the seller worked in the Finger Lakes area. Strangely, the seller turned out to be a sound engineering professor at FLCC and had been one of a handful of people who had reviewed my resume that I had submitted for a job a few months prior. He was going to be in the Rochester area, so we agreed to meet up at a gas station there.

Cherisse and I had not been out together in a while, so we decided to make an evening out of it. We would go together and after the transaction we would find someplace nearby to have dinner. She met me at my work when I got out and we rode there in my car.

The seller was extremely friendly; he had even discussed with me my resume, and offered me a tour of the FLCC campus. I remember having a great feeling at this point of the night- I had just bought an Orange 1x12 for cheap and was told 'I should definitely apply if I saw another opening' with body language that did all but wink at me.

There was a Cracker Barrel just around the corner from where we were, so Cherisse and I went there. We were standing in line to be seated when Cherisse excused herself to powder her nose.

That was the end of convention. The last time our lives would like yours.

I stood in line next to be seated. A grumpy old man behind me criticized me openly for not standing close enough to the hostess station. I was a gaping 4 feet away from it. I wanted to lash back at him, but my threshold for tolerance was much larger back then.

I was sat and looked over the menu as I waited for Cherisse. She eventually found the table, but was walking a noticeable amount slower than usual. She sat down and had a face that looked frightened. Her eyes were open wide- barely blinking. Her mouth was slightly held open like she was prepared to scream at any moment. She scanned the room with slow, fluid movements as though she was submerged in water.

"Are you ok?!" I asked. 15 seconds went by. She made eye contact with me, but no response. 20 seconds. 21 seconds. 22 seconds. 22 and one half... each tick of the the clock felt like a door being slammed in the distance- each time more slowly- each time deeper in pitch.

30 seconds brought on a laborious and weak "uhh, um. y---es".

More questions- more soft answers with 30 second delays. Eventually, we figured out she hadn't eaten much that day. Perhaps it's low blood sugar? I ordered for both of us- she could barely hold her fork. We drove home, but this was still going on. It had been well over an hour. We decided to go to [one of the many terrible hospitals in WNY]. After a few hours of waiting, we were finally seen by a nurse practitioner who told us Cherisse had mostly likely had a certain kind of migraine (really??). I want so badly for that to have been true.

Most of you know the rest of the story (in chronological order): more episodes like this, medicine, testing, brain tumor, more medicine, tonic colonic seizures, brain surgery, more medicine, "recovery", new seizures, more testing, more medicine, even newer seizures, good doctor moves, long string of incompetent doctors, yet more medicine, different testing, new medicine, more different seizures, finally another good doctor, even more testing.

I cannot divulge too much information, simply because we don't know much yet, but we are basically back to where we were a year ago. I love my wife so much. If she was going to go through this regardless of her situation, then I feel honored to have the privilege of being her support. I do hope, for her sake, that this NOT cyclical. I do hope this year brings some answers.

Once this is all taken care of, I'm going to take that guy up on his tour of the FLCC campus.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Edifice Sequence

15 minutes away from screwing up my challenge to write every day... That was a close one!

With limited time and a lack of forethought i will simply share a video. After writing my piece on edifying the other day, I was reminded of something from high school. I could only remember small details about it and it is fairly obscure so it took a great deal of googling to find. It's a very compelling animation called "The Edifice Sequence" and is one of many videos in a larger work called "Why Man Creates". I was very moved and inspired seeing this in 11th grade and I believe it still holds value in catalyzing the expansion of the mind. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Facebook photos are like rings on a tree stump; they are reverse chronological from the outside in and they can tell us a great deal about history. The visible bark on the tree is the present, as our first few FB photos are also generally the present. As we go backward from the outside in and study the rings on a tree, we can deduce events that happened to the tree, changes in climate, age, and other specific scientific data. As we go backward from the outside in and study the photos tagged to you on FB, we can deduce hair and clothing changes, friend changes, events, uh... climate...changes- and so on.

I'm sure we've all taken the time to surf back through our photos and think, "Woah, I can't believe that I..." or "Man, I really miss...". This is a wonderful thing! To so easily be able to do a character study on yourself! Never before has being self-aware been so achievable. We have the capability of conveniently evaluating our station and progress in life. We can be happy in how far we've come or we can realize how far we have to go (both good things).

Recently there has been a confusing ring formation on my stump. With no context, it would appear that my body has regressed from young adult form to toddler/infant (Mork and Mindy style). However, this ring merely represents the time period where my mother bought a scanner and uploaded pictures from over 20 years ago:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Edifice

In Christian circles we commonly hear the phrase 'to edify' or 'to be edified'. It is generally understood that this expression refers to gaining wisdom and knowledge of the things of God. To 'edify' literally means to physically build or construct, derived from 'edifice' which means 'building/structure'. However, most dictionaries include a definition that refers to its spiritual or moral connotations.

When edifying is mentioned in Christian circles, we are generally speaking about preaching or reading the Bible. These mediums are the source of our 'edification'- at least in respect to our knowledge and wisdom.
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14

The metaphor is that every concept is a brick and our willing mind is the mortar. With every lesson we are building our mansion "
In my Father's house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. " John 14:2

I submit the idea that knowledge and wisdom are not the only things we need use to edify our spiritual structure. Worship, sacrifice, prayer, and all other aspects of spiritual life can be 'built up' as you grow closer to God. Naturally, humans build up habits, experiences and opinions over time- as opposed to making a quick shift from one extreme to the other over night. Positive change is progressively inched towards- not jumped to.

There is another common expression in Christian circles: backsliding. Many people believe this to refer to completely rejecting what they once accepted as Godly and turning to its antithesis. I (along with most church elders) disagree. If 'edifying' is building up spirituality, then backsliding is the opposite. If you're slowly removing bricks from your edifice or if you simply stop spreading mortar- this is backsliding. You don't have to be back down to your foundation to be guilty of it (make no mistake- i'm talking to myself here).

God isn't so much concerned with the size of your edifice as he is with the status of your construction.

30 Minutes or Less

I need to write more. The reason I don't is that I have no sense of completion when writing. I start writing something at least twice a day, but never allow myself to get to that "I'm finished" stage. Most likely this is for two reasons: (1) A fear of judgment. If it's always a work in progress, then I have never submitted it for your scrutiny. (2) I am scatter brained. My thoughts are always all over the place so it's hard for me to focus on one thing and make a point. Well NO MORE! I am committing myself to writing one blog post per (business) day AND I must complete and submit it within 30 minutes from the first word typed (you can't measure this, so the honor system will have to suffice.) Starting now...