Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon

Darkness there, and nothing more.

Edgar Allan Poe
"The Raven"

It's the middle of the day - 1:50 PM as I start writing this, to be precise - and I'm sitting in my basement. Not unusual, mind you, because it's a workday and I work in my basement. What is unusual, however, is that all of the lights are off in the basement, my computer's monitor brightness is considerably lessened from its normal setting, and I'm wearing sunglasses. I have a huge headache and I am extremely sensitive to light today, although I'm not necessarily ready to pronounce that I've got a full on migraine. That can wait until after I'm done with the devotional at WVIHOP, at which point I'll crash on the bed and start whining like a baby for Holli to take care of me.

Nonetheless, here I sit like Bono, sunglasses on in a very dark room, much too cool for the schooling that's going on upstairs. So, while I wait for the internet to bring me what I need, I'll ramble a little bit.

Brianna is spending the week with her grandmother, who had surgery on her foot. Our eldest is being a servant this week, taking care of her grandma, bringing her things, and being her feet so that grandma can rest. I could not be more proud of her.

My distaste for secular media continues to grow, which is actually somewhat shocking to me considering how much distaste I hold for it in general at this point. I've decided today that I'm going back to a low-media-content information diet, and eliminating all of the news sites I visit. If something truly important happened in the world while I wasn't paying attention, someone I talk to during the day will tell me or I'll find out about it when I check up on my friends on Facebook.

I'm looking forward to some opportunities that are coming up. I won't say anything further, though, as I don't want to jinx any of them. So how about y'all just pray for me and we'll go from there?

Oh, look. The Internet has faithfully brought me what I needed. Back to work now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Been a while since you've had one of those, hasn't it?

George Lowe
as Space Ghost
"Baffler Meal"
Space Ghost Coast to Coast

You know, I don't know why I don't come here to write anymore, to be honest. I love to write, and my abandonment of the blog as an outlet for that has been somewhat sudden and unexpected. I blame Facebook and Twitter. I'm going to have to get back to posting here, but in a somewhat random and undisciplined fashion as fitting with the way I do everything else, really.

No time for a recap of what's happened in the months since I've posted, so let's just say that life is largely amazing right now and go from there. No, today I come here for a purpose: to talk about being unconventional. Quite literally, in fact, before moving on to the figurative.

I am literally casting aside conventions today. Specifically, I'm hereby refusing to use the established database naming conventions that I've used for seven years now. I was encouraged to use them by the last boss I had before going into self-employment, and carried the practice on into my entrepreneurship. Why do I do it that way? Well, I started doing it because it's what everyone else does; using the naming conventions makes life easier for anyone else who might follow you and need to use your code, and it also makes it easier for you if you're the type who forgets what type one of your database variables is. You know what? I'm not going to forget what one of my variables, I honestly don't care if anyone could carry on my work if I were dead, and if I ever hire someone, they'd better be smart enough to work from my existing code. If I have to hamstring the way I work to accommodate an employee, I should probably have picked a better employee.

I also used those naming conventions because it was the way I'd been doing it for years. It felt comfortable, even though it might be somewhat contrary to the way my mind works. It was just the rote memory thing to do when I created a database to slap those prefixes I've been using for years on it. I don't know if there's anyone else out there whose brain works that way, but I know at least that when I do the same thing over and over and over again, I start to develop patterns of working. Even if, as in this case, they're actually detrimental to my performance.

So, effective with the database I'm writing today, the conventions are out of FortySixTen Studios' corporate policy manual (which is totally not pencil notes on a napkin). I hate them, they slow me down, and they're counterintuitive to an ambidextrous brain such as my own. This makes me want to kick myself for having done it for so long, but like I said, that's the way I'd been doing it for years and it's the way everyone else does it, so why stop doing it?

Because it's the wrong way for me to do things, that's why.

I am somewhat unconventional. I'm working out of my quote-unquote office, which is a six-foot folding table in my basement, which doubles as the master bedroom in our home. My beautiful wife homeschools our kids, and I spend at least three days a week playing music for my God and an empty room at the local House of Prayer. We don't have cable, or even a TV antenna to watch your favorite network programming. I - and by extension, my family, what with me being the family's leader and all - just kinda weird.

Today, I embraced a small part of that. I need to keep on it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why BattleTech Is the Best Game on the Planet

Though the scientific reality of fusion engines prevents them from exploding, the dramatic effect of such an expensive piece of machinery blowing up in a huge ball of fire is so appealing to the majority of BattleTech players that this rule was created to satisfy the common desire for a good explosion.

Tactical Operations
Catalyst Game Labs

Warning! Beyond here there be geek stuff!

I've been playing BattleTech, the aforementioned best game on the planet, with Connor lately. It's inherent in parents to share what we love with our kids; we do it with faith, with food, with music, and with our leisure activities. It's designed for ages twelve and up according to the box, but at almost eight now, he seems to be handling it just fine.

Anyway, we had a two-on-two battle tonight, up from the one-on-one affairs we'd had at Connor's request. He fielded an old-style Spider and a shiny, 75-ton Lao-Hu against my Hatchetman and Caesar. Not fair, perhaps, but blame the Random Assignment Tables.

Things did not go well for the boy. He rushed up with the Lao-Hu and was able to do significant damage to my Caesar, but at the cost of taking significant damage himself and letting the Hatchetman get behind him to, well, do what its name implies. The Hatchetman didn't get the chance, though, as the damage from all the fire it absorbed and a failed piloting roll knocked it down to the ground. He survived the boot to the right torso from the Hatchetman, though, and we went on to the next turn.

On the following turn, my Caesar was content to stay right where it was and keep firing at the downed Lao-Hu. Naturally, Connor tried to stand, but he failed another piloting roll. He crashed to the ground again, and through some odds-defying rolls of the dice blew up his mech's engine in spectacular fashion, leaving him with just the tiny Spider and almost certain defeat.

Not wanting him to go away empty handed, I fished out TacOps and looked up the rule for engine explosion. Four engine criticals in a turn? Check. Roll ten or more on the dice? Connor took care of that one with boxcars. So the engine explodes in spectacular fashion. The resulting nuclear fireball flayed armor off of my Hatchetman and tore one of its arms off completely, in addition to nearly coring the nearby Spider. The Spider then promptly turned tail and fled the battlefield, Connor's way of forfeiting.

What makes this so awesome, you ask? Imagination painting out the picture of what happened. You've got a two-story tall, 75-ton, anthropomorphic, walking tank that just fell down, causing the fiery, nuclear heart within its chest that gave it life to explode in a giant ball of flame, severely crippling the other two giant, anthropomorphic, walking tanks nearby. I'd go see that movie. But even better, I got to share that memory with a seven-year-old boy. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Want to Drink More Food

This is like drinking pumpkin pie!

Larry Swank

Thanks to Christmas Creep, I guess the Christmas season is upon us? Meh. I hate Christmas Creep. Stop trying to sell me Christmas presents and make everyone think that Christmas is about presents and commercialism instead of the birth of our Lord and Savior into this world as a man. But that's not what this blog post is about.

This blog post is about one of the good things about Christmas Creep: the early advent of specialty foods. In this case, specifically, Prairie Farms Old Recipe milk. They've got egg nog, candy cane milk, chocolate cherry, and chocolate mint milk. They're delicious, and each quart comes with a free punch to the arteries. They've also got a pumpkin spice flavor (which I suppose is more a Thanksgiving thing negating my ramble at the beginning of the post, but it stays anyway) which tastes exactly like drinking pumpkin pie. It's like you took a piece of pumpkin pie - just the awesome guts part, not the crust - stuck it in a blender with some milk, and then drank what came out on the other side. It is incredible, and I recommend that you try it immediately.

It got me thinking, though, that we need to have more foods liquefied for our convenience, though. Foods like these:

  • Lasagna. It's got cheese in it so the dairy base is already there. It wouldn't be hard to come up with some tangy, smooth drinking lasagna milk. How delicious would that be for a quick lunch, huh? Yes, I'm completely serious. Chug down some milk and get the tangy taste of tomato sauce and some well-spiced sausage as it goes down. Yum.

  • Jell-O. Yeah, I know that such a thing as fruit juice exists, but it's not the same. You know how if you have a chocolate shake and let it melt and then drink it that it tastes similar to - but distinctly different from - chocolate milk? I'm proposing that the same would be true with Jell-O. There's this flavor quality in Jell-O that doesn't exist in real fruit. I chalk it up to what Jell-O is actually made of. In any case, Liquid Jell-O, please. And don't tell me just to make Jell-O and drink it before it hardens. I want to buy this stuff at a Speedway when I'm in a hurry.

  • Brownies and apple pie. I used to work at Steak and Shake when I was in high school, and we were all the time making non-standard shakes for ourselves. Our two favorites were hot fudge brownie shakes and apple pie shakes. We'd make the original desert, heated up and all, and then dump it into the blender with some ice milk to make the best shakes ever. Someone box this up for me.

  • Bologna and eggs. Here's how you make bologna and eggs - scramble some eggs, dump in some fried bologna, and then melt cheese over it before serving. Try it, think about how delicious it is, and then imagine drinking such a concoction. This is one you'd have to serve warm, maybe before bed.

  • Creme brule. This is probably the most reasonable of my suggestions. Take the richest dessert I can think of and liquefy it. Is this so hard? Honestly. I mean, you couldn't set it on fire or burn the top of it or anything, but that's not the point. The point is that I want to drink creme brule. If you've got to burn something to enjoy it, set fire to the carton with a blowtorch after you empty it.

  • Your favorite kids' breakfast cereal. Doesn't matter what it is, this would be a goldmine. You know that the best part of any bowl of cereal is the milk leavins'. Count Chocula is delicious, yeah, but the Count Chocula flavored milk that's left over after you finish the cereal? That's a delicacy. You could ship that stuff east and come back with boat loads of spices and gunpowder if you survived the voyage. We've been to the moon, so why can't I buy milk that tastes like there's been Captain Crunch sitting in it for half an hour? And Frosted Flakes flavored milk? That's the king of milk leavins'. That could replace cow-flavored milk in every American household. You know it's better than normal milk.

  • Bacon. That's right, liquid bacon. This one doesn't need any explanation at all, quite honestly. It's liquid bacon. It'd be delicious. And just think of the potential for it as a topping! Squirt a little liqiud bacon on top of any cheeseburger or on your eggs (or even your bologna and eggs) and you've got an instant party!
And yes, I'm completely serious. I'd drink all of that stuff. I'd buy liquid bacon by the case, I'd have a gallon of Frosted Flakes flavored milk in my fridge at all times, and creme brule flavored milk would likely put me in ICU in short order. C'mon, corporate America food producers! Put your chemicals and hormones to good use for once and make something awesome!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

About Me

I've never written one of these here [my Facebook page], which is somewhat surprising to me given my tendency to ramble from the fingers ...

Larry Swank

At home, I am a husband to beautiful, Godly woman. I am father to three wonderful children: my princess, my best buddy, and my little ball of joy. I am Mr. Swank, the principal of FortySixTen Academy, for three glorious hours every weekday morning. I am a guy always looking for a game to play with someone. I play Pokemon, because somewhere just under the surface I still have the joy of remembering how to have fun like a child.

At work, I am a web developer. I am a database architect. I am a I'm a graphic designer. I create things that work the way they're supposed to. I am my own worst critic. I come in when I want and work as long as I want, and my non-existent boss is cool with that. I wear fuzzy slippers, and I work literally a foot from where I sleep.

At church, I am a disciple. I am the bass player. I used to be the audio guy, but I graduated, leaving my wife to be the audio babe. I am the webmaster. I make cakes, which are occasionally well decorated. When necessary, I am manual labor, because skill in labor isn't one of my strengths.

Wherever I go, I am a child of God. I am a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, fully God and fully man, and I profess my faith in Him as my Lord and Savior. Although I often sin, I have been forgiven and made clean by the blood of the Lamb. I am thankful for the victory of Jesus on the cross.

Friday, October 16, 2009



Gabe Sapolsky
as Jimmy Bower
Former Ring of Honor broadcaster

Any of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook might have seen me post that phrase a time or two before. Usually, I post it right as I'm about to drive somewhere. It's the equivalent of Boromir blowing his horn before leaving on a long journey to warn the foes of Gondor that he's about. "I'm on the road, so you stay off if you know what's good for you." That sort of thing.

It originates from old DVDs for the indie wrestling promotion Ring of Honor. The Booker, Gabe Sapolsky, played a character named Jimmy Bower, one of the announcers in the fed's early days. When something especially dangerous would happen - a head drop suplex, a stupid dive through a table, or so on - Bower would belt out with his trademark call of "Dangerous!" It was always my favorite part of any show; partly because something ridiculous was guaranteed to have just happened, but partly because I really like the call. It resonated with me.

I read Wild at Heart by John Eldredge this past week. If you've never read it and are either a man trying to understand yourself better or a woman trying to understand men better, I recommend picking it up, as it's an excellent read. Eldredge talks about what's at the heart of a man - what God has programmed into us from the beginning of His creation - and spends a lot of time pointing out that men are inherently dangerous creatures. We like doing dangerous, adventurous things. We're all, deep down, Likes to Fight Guy.

This has been a remarkable eye opener for me. Three and a half years ago, I made the most dangerous decision of my life. I left a job that gave me a steady (if somewhat meager) paycheck to jump into the wild unknown of entrepreneurship. God blessed that greatly almost immediately, giving me an amazing client I still have the privilege of working with to this day, and has continued to bless that boldness.

Somewhere along the line, though, I lost that. I lost the desire to take risks. I got complacent in my success. I forgot that what made me successful in the first place was the blessing that God gave me for trusting Him and walking forward boldly in that trust.

I'm trying to recapture that now. I'm trying to find the adventurous spirit that He put in me that enabled me to be an entrepreneur in the first place. More importantly, I'm trying to find the path he wants me to walk down in my business now. I'm sure it's going to be risky, but that's the point sometimes. If everything is safe, we can't trust Him.

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline."
- 2 Timothy 1:7 (NASB)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Aunt Bethany Should Say Grace

Grace? She passed away thirty years ago.

They want you to say grace. The blessing!

Mae Questel as Aunt Bethany
and William Hickey as Uncle Lewis
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (2009)

I spent the past weekend at a campground in Clay City, working as a volunteer at a Walk to Emmaus Christian retreat. If you have never been on one - and there are Emmaus communities in every state so your location is no excuse - I highly recommend that you go. They're among the most enlightening and enriching spiritual experiences I can imagine having here on this earth.

Getting to work at the Walk, though, that was something different. It rained on us all weekend, for starters, so I spent the weekend walking around in the mud. I was on my feet more than someone clocking in at 232 pound at my height probably should be for the four days. I was routinely one of the last people on the campground to go to bed and one of the first to get up. The first day, it rained so hard as we got set up that I had to change all of my clothes, as they'd all been soaked through. The cinder block cabin I stayed in was, from all appearances, the birthing place of all spiders.

And I would not change any of it. It was, with no exaggeration, the most spiritually fulfilling thing that I've ever done.

I was privileged to spend those days in the company of thirty-three guys seeking to have a deeper walk with their Lord. I was able to serve them in whatever capacity I was needed, and got to see them change from their arrival on Thursday to their departure on Sunday. And, true to His form, God found plenty of time to work in me while He was doing His thing with the acutal Pilgrims. I spent the weekend surrounded by love and filled with the Holy Spirit, and got to expend every ounce of myself in service to my Lord and my fellow man. I honestly don't know how it could get any better than that.

I was unsure what to expect going in. I didn't think it would be nearly as enriching as actually experiencing the walk as a pilgrim was. It turned out to be even more enriching and more meaningful for me, though, which is one of God's little miracles considering how fantastic an experience it was the first time.

Alright, enough gushing. Go to a Walk if you've never been. Work one if you have. The experiences will change your life.