Perserverance

A great Japanese proverb for the new year, from the amazing Scott Jurek:

“Stumble seven times, get up eight times.” This is the Japanese proverb, 七転び八起き, nanakorobi yaoki. Perseverance over defeat.

It’s time to pick a new challenge. Will faster times be enough for me for 2008?

Resolutions

In 2006, I resolve to:

  • Be more organized and productive with blogging. My friend Dave Seah‘s blog is a great model for using a blog to aid with personal organization, particularly with professional and creative development. He has a knack for both clean design and clean writing, each of which are skills which I resolve to develop.
  • Enjoy a few low-stress personal programming projects. Over the holiday I’ve been catching up on GTK+ and C on Windows, and hope to be able to scratch some itches soon on Gaim. I have also been playing briefly with Cocoa and Objective C on Mac OS X, and it’s weird enough that I’m enjoying it (at least when the tutorials don’t have confusing typos).
  • Purchase some property. Rent sucks, and I’m already considering a few properties in the Charlotte area. The current favorite will involve a daily commute to work, but will hopefully put me in prime location for a daily early-morning trail run, as it is directly across from Reedy Creek Nature Preserve.

Thoughts on disaster

I talked with my mom today, and I was surprised when she told me “we have cable”, when I was simply hoping to hear they had power again. My grandfather’s house in Louisiana was mostly spared any significant damage, and he and my aunt will return to my parents’ house in a day or so.

Stories of people being contacted via email for phone numbers, mothers’ letters hand-delivered and read to daughters over the phone. Modern telecommunications are not just gears for business, for sure.

I’ve mostly be wondering about my friend Roy from college, a born and bred New Orleans boy with no desire to go anywhere else. I hope he is safe. I want to know if his family is safe. I haven’t seen him since I left Oxford.

This is not meant to be argumentative; I have a particular opinion of human hypocracy, and my opinions of how we all get along together best definitely come from the left. However, with my very limited exposure, the following quote from an article I just read sums up many of my feelings:

The disaster, it seems to me, is the failure of a philosophy. A philosophy of small government, tax cuts, deficits, and privatization. The federal government should have arrived sooner but the federal government was doing other things.

The night of the hurricane, there was a rush for gasoline even in Charlotte; cars wound the blocks as stations emptied. The same thing happens with any weather threat. Fuck the rest of the community, the neighborhood, the city. Give me my gas, my bread, my water.

Modern power and communications infrastructure is magic to most people. The more advanced it is, the harder it is for people to comprehend, and people are forced to take magic for granted. When it’s taken away, it’s even more of an emotional blow? Does the failure of more and more advanced technology throw us faster and faster back to chaotic selfishness in times of complete disaster?

I usually don’t try to be very specific with my social criticisms to my mother, more out of general feeling of politeness than out of any threat of disagreement. I guess it’s more that I’m looking for simple sympathy from parents these days, rather than any answers. I wish I believed there were answers to all of these issues.

Confidence

I’ve been pushing myself a little too hard the past weeks, but I readily admit that I like it. I like working hard hours, and not just for the simple sake of having done something difficult. At least I don’t think that’s it.

I dreamt last night that I was helping a new generic somebody with a programming task at work. I sat at their computer and showed them a few things, and put things here and here and here, and then hooked it all together just so. They were so excited, it was so clean and tidy, and I was proud.

I don’t remember having had another confident dream like that. I rarely give myself such credit in the waking world, but I’m also a sneaky bastard like that.

A little work update

I’ve been quite bummed lately about Larry not working for us anymore, but I think it will make best sense for everyone in the long run. Everyone has to follow their own gut; I’ve never regretted following mine, so how can I fault others for doing the same thing? Good things will continue for all of us.

Even with the unexpected recent events, I continue to love my new job. It’s both exhilerating and exhausting, just like I like it. I’m currently in the middle of a pretty serious rush, though a lull came last night when a storm knocked out most of the power on my block. I didn’t get a photo, but there was a dramatic downed power line. Huge white sparks, flames, even a fire truck. As it got dark, I just decided to go to sleep, and probably slept ten hours.

Over the past two days I’ve finally gotten a feel for Adobe Illustrator as I’ve been designing some interface mock-ups. Looking forward to actually being proficient with vector-based tools. I’ll likely give Inkscape a go when I have some more time at home.

My new first rule of writing a networked server application is that the following piece of client pseudocode, when implemented, should not crash your server:

  1. Open socket to server’s IP address and port
  2. Close socket
  3. Repeat

Remember, don’t crash. Thank you.

Emotionally compelling sport

Ever since it started, I’ve been (almost daily) watching the OLN coverage of the Tour de France. I had just gotten my TiVo around this time last year, and I found myself enjoying the cycling coverage quite a bit more when I could skip bits here and there. I’ve lost a bit of my usual fire for running for the past few weeks, and I’ve absolutely loved watching the coverage while using my elliptical in the mornings. I have a very deep respect for the endurance required to race at their level, and because of that I think I find it more emotionally compelling than most other televised sports. I think it was Charles Barkley who said on the HBO Costas show that, however great Armstrong is as an athelete, when comparing him to other sporting greats he’s still “just riding a bike”, or something to that effect. While I understand sometimes Sir Charles likes to say things just for a little inflammatory fun, I think very few in the American population have any real respect for exceptional physical endurance. When you do, you find events like the Tour de France and marathons more deeply emotionally compelling than a basketball or hockey game could ever be.

How’s Charlotte?

I find myself wanting to journal something most every day or so, but for one reason or another find that I don’t want to post it. So I don’t. And weeks pass and I’m eventually compelled to stamp out a nothing post.

I was asked “how’s Charlotte?” tonight, and my answer was honest and involved something to effect that I don’t really know, as I spend probably 95% of my time within about a 200-yard stretch of land that includes my apartment and work. This might sound a bit pathetic, but I really don’t feel that it is. I’m enjoying my work enormously, and I really don’t multitask very well, so exploring the area hasn’t been a big priority.

When I finally get some time to do so, however, I don’t expect to like it very much. I like the Raleigh area, and I loved having Umstead Park so close. There is nothing quite like that in Charlotte. My bad impression of Charlotte mostly involves Independence Blvd., where it seems like half of the buildings are empty department store shells and every other car is missing its front bumper. My good impression of Charlotte is the upscale Southpark Mall area, which is one of the few shopping malls that I’ve ever thought to be the slightest bit sophisticated. Go figure. I guess I just can’t get a good appreciation for the beauty of urban decay.

What I’m saying is that I don’t really care if I like Charlotte. I like my work, and because of that I’m loving my time in Charlotte. When it’s not fun anymore, I’ll almost certainly head west.

Birthday wishes

July 4 has always been a happy day for my family, being the birthday of my mom’s dad and my dad’s mom. My grandfather is 92 today, which is cause for wonderful celebration, but we lost my grandmother this year.


I will always love this photo of her with my sister, from this past Christmas holiday visit.

One more week

I’m sitting on an air mattress, borrowing a neighbor’s wireless connection, surrounded by all of my belongings in boxes. Every time I move, I’m getting more organized; I throw tons of shit away. Still, I have far too much. Stuff. In my defense, probably two thirds of my boxed mass is books, CDs, movies, and clothes, and I’ve become pretty ruthless about throwing out old books. Still, I find the task of packing (and culling) to be both liberating and depressing. Part of me loves my (very heavy) music collection, and another part of me just wants a backpack and a motorcycle.

I’ve been on the move for well over a month, now. Jeff was kind enough to deliver my bed along with his things when he moved last weekend, so I’ve enjoyed having a real bed to sleep on this past week. But, still. Ready to be settled.

My running has suffered this past month (I skipped a long run altogether this weekend, which was a good idea but still disappointing), but I can still safely train for San Diego. I’m quite disappointed that I haven’t managed to start any fundraising, but I suppose my situation is understandable. Alas, major life upheaveal periods probably aren’t the best time to try to raise a few thousand dollars for charity.

My new work is every bit as fun and exciting as I hoped, and if moving were ten times harder it would still be worth it.

DFW

So, I’m sitting here at DFW in the lame AA C terminal, and I, for the first time, feel a familiar/nostalgic/home tinge from an airport. Which is odd, since I have spent a far greater amount of time at RDU, but I suspect I never get to soak up the details of RDU as I’m always either in a rush to make a flight or in a rush to get home. In DFW, I sit and chat with friends. I walk to other terminals. I notice the wall advertisements (I must have the multi-use power adapter that Radio Shack is advertising; I have at least three in my pack right now). I notice that nobody is dressed for Texas, and that terminal A and terminal C have different wifi providers (A is cheaper at $7/day, but C is T-Mobile if you’re already a customer). Seattle’s Best Coffee is all over the place (the larger one in C is my preference), but you can hit a Starbucks as you enter Terminal A. There aren’t really any power outlets anywhere. The boarding areas are too shallow, so lines are constantly in the walk path. It’s reasonably tame today, and it’s still packed compared to most. CNN is rambling about the murder of the Pantera’s guitarist and the sale of IBM’s PC business to Lenovo (I find I don’t really mind television news so long as I’m not looking at the screen).

Despite warnings to the contrary, the flight here was pleasantly empty, and I was able to stretch and doze. That kinda makes up for almost sleeping too late this morning, stepping in dog shit on the way to the car, and not having time to make park-and-ride. Oh, and in case your custom is otherwise, you are supposed to tip the curbside baggage checkers; for whatever reason this hadn’t occurred to me in the past, so I made up for it today.

While at Target last night I discovered the most wonderful invention: vacuum-seal laundry bags. There is a one-way air vent in what is basically a huge ziplock bag; you put in your drawers, squash it, and presto! — underwear bacon. For all I know these things have been around for decades.

Flight to Denver + Vail leaves in a few hours, where at least a three-day snowboarding class and a showshoeing afternoon await.