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Category: Musings

The Audience

Isn’t it funny how we use all these means of mass communication when so often we have an audience of one in mind? Tweets and status updates, blogs and away messages. We offer up random, but carefully worded nuggets of information about ourselves; pictures of places we’ve been, and things we ate, people we’re with, things we like and dislike. We vaguebook, we allude, we’re passive-aggressive, and yet, so much of it is with the hope that a specific person is paying attention. And when you do see it — as has been my hope all along — I’ll show that I’m embarrassed and take on a, “What, this old thing?” attitude, though I smile behind my hand. I’ll feign surprise, but be secretly thrilled. My nonchalance might even amaze you. Silently, I’ll wait for you to bring it up. I’m holding my … Continue reading

Why I Give Money To Bums

Well the term “bum” is derogatory, but I was just trying to get your attention. Now that I have it, I want you to think about the last time this topic came up between you and your friends or you and your family and remember just how hostile a few of them got. Maybe you’re the one that’s hostile. Maybe you say, “Piece of shit should get a job. I have a job. I work for my money.” I don’t blame you. In fact, I appreciate that you have a job because, it means that you and I have at least one thing in common: we work to pay for stuff we want and need. That’s important, because that’s how our country is run. It’s a pretty good system, all things considered. Still, people tend to get heated on this point, … Continue reading

Geekwise Academy

The Big, Fat Idea [ 16-26 year-olds, please take the survey. ] There are some of us in the Valley that think we can do tech education, specifically for web development, better.  We think we need more geeks — good ones — to help push our region in the right direction. You see, there’s about to be a big gap in the industry.  We can already see the beginning of it.  People who are not developers are having ideas (some of them are good!) and want to build the next big thing.  Instead of hiring out to software firms, or potentially spending tens of thousands of dollars to have their idea built, the smart first step is to get a rapid prototype out there and see if the idea floats. The Problem We’ve seen a lot of this happen:  Entrepreneurs — … Continue reading

In Pursuit of Happiness. The Prequel.

Warning:  There are a lot of parenthesis in this blog post. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Over and over again you hear this thing: “Do what you love,” or, “Do what makes you happy,” or some variation on that theme.  Which, I have to say, sounds like great advice except that it’s useless to me. And if you’re like me (you are, I can tell) you have a pretty severe problem with that advice.  The problem is that you don’t know what you would love to do. Or put another way: We don’t know what makes us happy. Does that sound ridiculous?  Ok, kind of.  But not when you think it through.  Consider this scenario: You are given enough money to make your ends meet for 6 months; no strings attached.  That’s enough to quit your job and start fresh.  What do you do? (Or … Continue reading

Good Teacher

I was a teacher, once, for a year, at a high school where I learned that: There are students who will succeed no matter what you do, how you teach, or how hard you work. There are students who will fail no matter what you do, how you teach, or how hard you work. These two facts do not let you off the hook, but they will make you feel pretty stupid when you forget them. Being a good [subject] teacher, does not necessarily produce students that are good at [subject]. In my case, teaching Interactive Game Design for 11th and 12th graders, you’d think that being a good teacher would produce good game designers.  That makes sense, right?  That’s what I was being paid to do…right?  No.  That’s stupid and too simple. Honestly, we shouldn’t be aiming for that … Continue reading

Mexican Medicine

This post is not about the swine flu. This about real illnesses and real people. Some of them live next to you, or in the shanty behind your house.  Some of them mow your lawn and clean your pool.  Some of them have fixed your cars with five-dollar parts from the “swap meet”.  Most of them are related to me.  This post is about Mexicans. In order to understand this post, you have to understand Mexican families.  We have rules.  They are never broken. Growing up, we rarely went to the doctor.  Don’t ask me why.  My parents had rockin’ health insurance, so that wasn’t it.  We’re a very do-it-yourself breed, so that’s probably to blame. When you are young and (Mexican and) sick, you do whatever grandma tells you to do to remedy the problem.  It doesn’t matter how absurd it … Continue reading

Dear Dad,

It’s been a while since we last spoke, hasn’t it?  No need to place blame.  I think we both know what happened. Let me bring you up to speed: I know you know about grandpa, no need to go into a whole story about that.  Say hi to him for us. Your son got married (Jeanine, thank the Lord). They bought a house, and you now have two grandchildren.  They’re both going to be wicked smart, which scares the pants off of all of us because we know we’re about to be outwitted by amateurs.  Heaven help us when they are old enough to band together; we won’t stand a chance. Your other daughter went to “medical school” and she worked for several years in a gastroenterology clinic.  All her good stories start with, “So I was in the middle of … Continue reading

Dispelling the Launch Myth

I’m just going to lay it down in small words: “If you build it, they will come,” is a crock of shit. To borrow a phrase, if I had a nickle for every time a website launch was delayed on account of the imperfections… As a web programmer, I see a lot of projects come and go. We depend on the project manager’s ability to say, “We could spend more time polishing and adding features, but let’s get this in front of some eyes,” which is a hard thing to say, I’ll admit, because there are 10,000 things that could be better.  If you happen to be the project manager, then that burden is on you. And what makes it even harder is this strange voice in your head that says, in no uncertain terms, that as soon as you upload those … Continue reading

What Learning Actually Looks Like

My stance that the one reliable way to determine if your audience is learning is by eavesdropping. Continue reading

Accidents & Inspiration

…will lead you to your destination. — Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Long Way Home I went to school on an academic scholarship, and I wish I could say that I got to do that on account of my incredible foresight,  determination, and hard work.  But that’s not at all what happened.  Here’s how it went down: When I was fairly young (7), I realized it felt really good to do well on my homework.  When you’re seven, you don’t really think of things in terms of hard and not-hard.  You think of things in terms of in-trouble versus not-in-trouble.  I didn’t think about being smarter than everyone else, I just saw an easy way to not agitate the adults at home or at school, and that seemed just fine to me. Compliments about being smart were nice, but really, I was … Continue reading