1 0 Archive | April, 2013
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double digits

bridgeIt’s hard to believe that ten years ago today, this little guy came into the world.

Today is April 10th, and Callum is turning 10. That’s a special occasion that I had to wait until I was 27 to experience! Instead of a birthday cake, we bought Callum a bunch of different French pastries on a tray, with cream puffs, little chocolate ├ęclairs, mille-feuilles, and other treats.

I’m pretty amazed at the kid Callum has become. It’s interesting both how similar and how different to Yvonne and I he is. He definitely has more of an interest in science and technology than I do; not that I’m not interested in science and technology, but he’s just that much more into it than I am. He’d much rather watch a non-fiction science show like Making Stuff, MythBusters or Prototype This than The Transformers or G.I. Joe, which is what I seem to recall being into when I was 9 or 10, and he’s learned how to solve the Rubik’s Cube and is working on learning the Rubik’s Revenge (the 4×4 cube), which he purchased himself because he wanted to figure it out. While I did have a Rubik’s Cube when I was a kid, I don’t remember bothering to master its solution (that said, now that Callum has been into it, I have also learned how to do it – who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks). He’s also crazy into Minecraft – like a lot of kids these days, it seems.

Callum also seems to have a knack for music. He’s been taking violin lessons since he was little, and has been progressing. Lately I’ve been introducing him to Logic Studio, a popular music creation software made by Apple for the Macintosh computer. He’s into Deadmau5, Daft Punk, and Delerium, so he has acquired an ear for electronic music (that would be my fault). So far I’ve taught him how to work with loops and how to create drum tracks and music sequences using samples – we haven’t started in on mastering, effects, or sound synthesis, but we’ll get there. He’s put together a few songs already – one of them he put together from the ground up, creating his own drum tracks (instead of using loops) and experimenting with different instruments, sounds, and samples. While it needs some work, it’s not bad for a song made by a 9 (now 10) year old. Here’s the song, in case you’re interested in checking it out.

So happy birthday to you, Callum! It’s been incredible learning about all of the amazing aspects of your character that have emerged over the past ten years. I’m looking forward to spending the next decade with you!

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10. Apr, 2013
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what’s in the cards

this-guy-is-awesomeSo here we are in France, and it’s been great! But we never planned for it to be forever… our original goal was to live in France for two or three years, and then to figure out what to do next.

In a way, we’re faced with too many choices – which is a great dilemma to have. As Yvonne is American and I have a dual Canadian and British citizenship, there are so many places where we could choose to live and work. And please do not think that I am bragging or trying to show off by saying this, as I realize it could come across this way… the reality is that this situation was created wholly by where we and our parents happened to be born.

We’ve been in France for almost two and a half years now, and it’s been a great adventure. But it’s been difficult to lay down roots here. It’s almost like we’ve been living like college students (without the keg parties)… always knowing that what you’re doing and where you’re living is temporary. We haven’t bought a house, or even bicycles. But the hardest part about living abroad is being far away from family and friends. So we’ve decided to move back to the States.

But first, we’re going to be staying in Spain for the summer and early fall. We’ve found a place 5 minutes from the beach in the south of Spain, and will be staying there until we head back to the States in November. At that point we’re going to be moving to central Florida; I lived there in Orlando with my family during the mid-90s, and my parents and sister’s family are there. One of Yvonne’s brothers is not too far away in Tennessee, while the rest of her family lives in Texas – not exactly close, but certainly a lot closer than France.

As for where we’re going to be moving, we found a place in Celebration, a town quite close to Disneyworld (in fact, it was originally conceived by Walt Disney himself). We’re going to be living a short walk from a park and swimming pool near the center of the development. Celebration is a neat neighborhood with a great K-8 school, lots of fun things to do in the vicinity, and it’s situated in a spot near where my sister and my parents live. People seem to have mixed views about Celebration… as a planned community, Celebration has a host of different rules and regulations that residents must follow in order to live there, and some people find this rather “Stepford Wives”-ish. But quite honestly, it seems like the kind of neighborhood we will enjoy living in, and a great place to raise a family… I’m really looking forward to it. And I’m also looking forward to the warm weather!

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05. Apr, 2013
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on blogging

bridgeSo after several months of not blogging, I’ve returned to updating my blog every now and then during the early months of 2013. Why is that?

Experiences come and go, but stuff written on a blog can last a long, long time (I won’t say forever, ’cause at the least it will likely be all sorts of lost when our sun eventually expands to engulf the Earth, but hopefully that won’t happen for some time). It’s fun to look back at what I was up to in the early 2000s… the births of the kids, my adventures in grad school, and my early career in software. It will be fun to look back on what I’m writing now, decades into the future.

As the future unfolds, I have a feeling that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will disappear as they are replaced by better stuff… it’s already happened to several social media sites (Vox and Posterous, for example) while other networking sites have seemed to “evolve” over time, often it ways that I don’t particularly like. LiveJournal, where this blog was originally housed, was a clean and easy-to-use service back in 2002, but has since become littered with unattractive ads. I’m not saying that it wasn’t cool to put ads on LiveJournal – it makes sense for LiveJournal’s owners and operators to want to make money off a free service – but it wasn’t something that was part of the picture when I first started using the service, and if the ads had been there on day one, I probably would have gone with something else.

Facebook is another story. To be honest, I think Facebook has lost a lot of its appeal. It used to be a great environment for finding out what’s going on with your friends and getting back in touch with people you haven’t talked to in ages. People used to share longer commentaries about their lives and experiences on their pages. But lately, the only reason I’ve been checking Facebook is for FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and I often leave the site feeling like I’ve wasted a good chunk of my time. Facebook has become chock full of ads and “suggestions for things to like” that I don’t like, and where once people posted original commentary, nowadays a large number of people tend to share humorous images or quotes created by people they don’t know (like those originating from Someecards, for example). While some of these can be funny or interesting to read, a large percentage of them aren’t, and working your way through them to find out what’s really going on with your friends and acquaintances becomes a waste of time. Again, I’m not saying people shouldn’t post pictures from Someecards – it’s their choice to post what they want on their pages. But it’s turning the service into something that I don’t find valuable. And even worse than the shared images are the posts that say stuff like, “Like if you wear jeans, share if you wear t-shirts!” followed by hundreds of thousands of likes and shares. These posts are created by people looking to garner Facebook clout by amassing likes and shares, with the goal of selling the pages they’re associated with for real money. That’s great for them, but what I see is a bunch of pointless spam as I scroll my way down my news feed.

Meanwhile, Twitter is brimming with spammers, Google+ never really got off the ground, and LinkedIn probably has the most boring news feed out of all the social media sites! Until something new and personal comes on the scene – something that will link friends and acquaintances together in an intimate and productive way – I don’t see a lot of value in the social media sites that currently exist.

The real point I’m making here is that if you share your life on social media sites, you’re putting it somewhere where it’s temporary, soon to disappear. Sure, you could go back into Facebook’s timeline and see what people posted in 2007, but as stuff people post is normally tied to the moment, and as there’s often a lot of spam and nonsense tossed into a typical news feed, I don’t know of anyone who actually does go back and look through people’s Facebook or Twitter posts. I certainly don’t do it.

So, I’m back to blogging. I don’t get as many hits on my blog as I do with the stuff I post to Facebook or Twitter, but it’s stuff that is important to me, and stuff that I want to remember in the decades to come. It’s also, thanks to the meticulous archiving of everything that’s tossed onto the Internet, information that my family and friends will be able to read when I’m long gone. Even if by my dying, this particular blog disappears, I’m sure that future tools similar to the Wayback Machine will be on hand to deliver stuff that I’ve written many years into the future. Perhaps you’re reading this post now, and you’re my child, or grandchild, or great-grandchild, and I’m long gone. Or perhaps you’re someone from the 3000s, researching life as it was back in the early 21st century. Posting onto the Internet is like stuffing something into a time capsule and burying it into the ground. Once it’s online, it will persist.

And if not, that’s okay, too… it’s fun to share, and to reminisce, and to remember how things were. And right now, things are pretty good.

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