Friday, February 27, 2009

It's Go Time

He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it.

Herman Melville
Moby Dick (1851)

It's go time. There is no way - none - that I make it through the rest of this year as a web developer without my own blade server somewhere. None. Period. I'm not joking. I'll become a circus clown or start wandering the earth solving problems like Kwai Chang Caine, but I will not keep doing this. The state of affairs is unacceptable.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Video Games

Capcom loves money, plans more Monster Hunter for PSP

I've not talked much about video games since I came off of the media fast. This is for a good reason: I've not played video games much since I came off the media fast. There's not been any particular reason, mind you - I'm not abstaining further from them or anything like that. I just don't have as big an appetite for them as I used to.

This year has been about setting things right for me in a lot of areas. I'm following through with my diet, clocking in today at a less-beefy-than-ever 216 pounds. I'm also making huge strides in how I spend my time, particularly in attempting to waste as little of it as possible. One of the things that has gone by the wayside has been entertainment that's for "just me." I used to sit down in the evening, fire up a PS3 game, and play to have fun for three or four hours. The idea of letting three or four hours go by like that now is anathema to me, especially when there are so many other productive things that I could be doing.

Now, that's not to say I'm not playing video games at all, mind you, but my gaming time has just been trimmed. I very rarely play alone anymore, and when I do, it's in specialized circumstances. Larry's Now Playing list of games is as follows:

iMafia (iPhone) - Yeah, an iPhone game is on top of the list. I can log in, play for five minutes once or twice a day, and then it does everything else without me having to interact with it. This appeals to me. For those of you without an iPhone, it's basically the Mafia Wars Facebook game, except you win not by having the most friends but by actually, you know, using strategy.

Monster Hunter Freedom (PSP) - It's freaking Monster Hunter! Of course I still play it. Best game ever.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP) - This is the "play with Holli" game. We hook it up to the TV and progress through the story, because she loves to watch the story unfold as I play. It's good "us" time when we just need to veg, which we still do en temps de temps. I then do the side quests as time allows between sessions with Holli.

Umm, yeah. That's it. That's the list.

Did you notice a pattern to all of them? They're all portable and meant to be consumed in bite-sized chunks. That's pretty much my gaming style now. I just can't bring myself to sit down in front of the TV and kill hours of time gaming anymore. It's not a bad thing - it's just not my thing.


Maybe you have to know darkness before you can appreciate the light.

Madeline L'Engle
A Ring of Endless Light (1980)

If you know me or follow the blog, you know that I work at night. I don't do it out of pure necessity, but rather for reasons of productivity; I split my day into two shifts, taking care of client contact and business-type-things during the day and doing my actual project work at night. Everyone around here is asleep when I work and the phone doesn't ring, so I'm more productive at night because there aren't any distractions around me. It also ends up giving me more time with my family, so on the whole, it's a good decision.

I'm starting to become acutely aware of the fact that there's not much of anything around me at night, though, most particularly light. This wasn't a big deal to me before, but the more and more I'm exposed to it, the more and more it's starting to bother me. The darkness in the house is palpable. It's cut in the bedroom as I work by the light from my laptop, which really just serves to emphasize the darkness that surrounds me. It's literally like there's this tiny little bubble of light I can see that just barely encompasses me, and there's this oppressive darkness pushing in on me, trying to break into my security.

It's bothering me. I hope this is just a passing thing, or at the very least my growing phobia starts to plateau soon, because this is getting tough to deal with. Maybe that's why I'm blogging about it now - it's the closest thing I can get to human interaction at the moment. I really just want someone to hug or high-five or something, but since that's not an option, y'all will have to do.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not My Ten Favorite Songs

This list is invalid.


I love top howevermany lists. Doesn't matter what the subject is. Top Ten Terre Haute Sanitation Companies? Done. Bring it on. And Jamax better be on the top or the list is going to be rendered invalid. See? I'm doing it right now for an imaginary, nonsense list. I can't get enough of them.

When Holli told me that she was writing a list of her top fifty or so songs on her blog, which was posted last week, I had to jump in on that action. I sat down to do it, though, and I just can't. I've tried to write this post five different times, and there's no way I can quantify it.

There's some music that I absolutely love, but only some of the time. Mark Schultz is a perfect example; I love his music, but a lot of it makes me really emotional, which I don't necessarily want all the time. There's music that might not make a top ten list of my favorite songs strictly as a song, but when wrapped up into another medium becomes exponentially better. I'm looking at you, "Jeremy," a great rock song in its own right, but with the dubious distinction of being the best music video ever. Ever. It's not even in question. How do I quantify that?

What about songs that I only like when they're played a certain, non-standard way? I love the song "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe, but only when it's played in a soft, melancholy style. The harder, rocking version that got most of the airplay sucks, because it goes from being a sad song to an angry song, and that doesn't fit the lyrics.

This is to say nothing of Holli Syndrome. How can I write the Top Ten list and leave one or two incredible songs off? And who does a Top Twelve list? And even if I started doing a Top Twelve list, what about the one or two incredible songs that got left off? The cycle perpetuates until I'm now trying to rank every song that's ever been recorded by anyone.

See? I'm getting agitated writing about all of this right now. I just can't write this list, and considering how much I love lists, this is truly frustrating for me. But I'm bound and determined that there's going to be a list here, so here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to start up my iPod, pull up the list of all of my music, hit shuffle, and write down the first twenty songs that come up. That's it, that's the list. Since I'm copping out, I suppose I'll give a little commentary on each one.

  1. "Closer to You" from Stories and Songs by Mark Schultz
    Mark Schultz is awesome, although this isn't actually one of my favorite songs of his. It's a great song, he's just got so much more that I like better than this.
  2. "Ill-M-I" from Welcome to Diverse City by tobyMac
    If the iPhone put out enough bass to be obnoxious this would have been my ringtone the day I bought the thing. It might still be unless I come up with something better. I'm nowhere near cool enough to have something like this as my ringtone, which is what makes it awesome.
  3. "Come on Back to Me" from Chronology, Volume Two by Third Day
    Best rock band on the planet. Not best Christian rock band on the planet, mind you, but just the best rock band on the planet.
  4. "I Am the Way" from Live ... A Night of Stories and Songs by Mark Schultz
    This is a concert album from Mark, which means it's absolutely phenomenal. He's just such a great performer live. I highly recommend that you go see him if you ever get the chance.
  5. "Fate" from Beethoven's Last Night by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
    Trans-Siberian Orchestra, famous for mail-order commercials for their CDs every Christmas season during the 80's and more recently for the "Wizards of Winter" Budweiser commercial, doesn't just do Christmas music! They do, however, refuse to make music that isn't awesome.
  6. "Sing a Song" from Chronology, Volume Two by Third Day
    Tremendous. Holli can't stand this song. I don't know why, because it's awesome, but she just doesn't like it. I approve of its presence in this list.
  7. "Requiem (the Fifth)" from Beethoven's Last Night by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
    Beethoven's Fifth as done by TSO. There is nothing not to like here.
  8. "Diverse City" from Welcome to Diverse City by tobyMac
    tobyMac reminds me that I actually do like rap and hip-hop music. I've got to take it in measured doses, but I enjoy it.
  9. "It Is Well With My Soul" from Singalong by Phil Wickham
    You know, favorite albums would have been much easier than favorite songs. Why? Because this would have been on top.
  10. "Overcome" from Awake: the Best of Live by Live
    Live is awesome. I think that Ed Kowalczyk's voice is just phenomenal. One of my favorite songs from high school was "I Alone," and it made me a fan for life. I know they're not a Christian band, but a lot of their songs explore Christian themes, and that just adds to the appeal for me.
  11. "What If" from WOW Hits 2008 by PureNRG
    I was going to stop this list at ten songs, but I was having fun and wanted to keep going. I am immediately rewarded by having to explain why there's a bubblegum pop group on my iPod. Umm ... because it was on a compilation album and I just ported the whole thing over. Yeah, that sounds good.
  12. "Slow Down" from Revelation by Third Day
    I've covered that they're the best rock band on the planet, right? I have? Alright, then, moving on.
  13. "Fulfilled Desire" from the original soundtrack to Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII by Kazuhiko Toyama
    That's right. It's music from a video game's soundtrack. I'm a big geek.
  14. "How Great Thou Art" from Singalong by Phil Wickham
    This is my favorite of the old hymns from Singalong. Phil does an absolutely phenomenal job with it, and hearing the crowd with him throughout just adds to the power of it. It's one of the songs that will stop whatever work I'm doing when it comes up to listen to it in full.
  15. "Remember" from The Lost Christmas Eve by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
    This is another act you should go see live if given the chance. Which, of course, you are every Christmas. It's like an old school arena rock show with fireworks, lasers, and enormous walls of speakers.
  16. "You Are a Child of Mine" from Live ... A Night of Stories and Songs by Mark Schultz
    Here we go. It's live, so it's largely better than his studio stuff, and it's one of his songs that doesn't make me cry.
  17. "So Long Self" from WOW Hits 2007 by MercyMe
    I like MercyMe, but I don't have any MercyMe albums. All I have from them comes from compilation albums. I should probably remedy this.
  18. "My Heart Goes Out" from Warren Barfield by Warren Barfield
    If you've never heard this song, I recommend going out of your way to give it a listen. It's a good song with really powerful lyrics.
  19. "To Be Continued" from the original soundtrack to Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII by Takeharu Ishimoto
    More geek music. Because I'm a geek, you see.
  20. "Samuel's Awakening" from Open Up the Earth by Jason Upton
    I love Upton. His music is an acquired taste and not something that everyone can get with, but I love it. The passion in his voice as he sings is just unmatched.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's Been a Long Week

Just one more dune.

Bill Pullman as Lonestar
Spaceballs (1987)

This week has seemed to last forever. The laptop issue left me with a lot of downtime when I would normally be working, and a lot of working to do when I normally wouldn't be. I'm starting to play the guitar. I've been busting the hump the last couple of days to try to get everything caught up from the outage. I've gotten tons done this week - which is something I'm grateful for - but time has just dragged for the week. I'm ready for the sun to set tomorrow and my week to be over.

I'm just ready for a little bit of rest. I'm ready to get to throw myself into worship the next couple of days. I'm ready to recharge the batteries, because at this point, I've got nothing in the tank. The fact that the work I'm doing right now is work that I find to be somewhat tedious and will take a few hours to complete isn't helping matters, either.

You know, I've got nothing left for the blog tonight, either. I'll see y'all on Monday.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Miss Me?

Guess who's back
Back again
Shady's back
Tell a friend

"Without Me"
The Eminem Show (2002)

Well, my computer works again, so that's good. That's not to say I don't still have a lot to do to get things back up to speed, though. I've got to download all of my software, and that's the big thing. Now, before anyone gets their undies in a bunch about piracy, I'll point out that I'm using Linux and all of my software is free, so I'm not stealing anything. It's just a somewhat time consuming process, that's all.

I don't plan on doing any of that tonight, though. Tonight's going to be spent going through my e-mail and getting fully caught up on that front, although the iPhone - which I do still promise to give a full post to - has been a blessing in keeping it from piling up too much on me. I've got a couple of little client issues I'll be knocking out, as well. Again, nothing huge, but just a few little things to keep myself from falling too far behind.

I'm pleased to be sitting at a functional laptop tonight. I don't ever intend on doing business with Dell again after the customer service fiasco that I went through, but I will offer a short thought on the subject. A company that offers consistently excellent service, outsources said service to India and sees a significant degradation in the quality of service, and then offers to let you pay them more money for the privilege of getting the service they used to provide clearly hates its customers. I would drive down to Round Rock, Texas - directions avaialble via iPhone, by the way - and throw poop at Dell's corporate offices if I thought I'd be the first person to do it this week, but I'm sure I wouldn't be.

On a similar (but slightly less disgusting) line of thought, if there's anyone out there who can provide me with an actual, working phone number to Dell's corporate headquarters, there could be a prize in it for you. I might be able to provide you with, say, nothing. Perhaps thrice nothing if I can pull together enough sponsors.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Disaster Strikes, A Note from Holli

As long as you're not going to come back and tell me to reformat the drive, that's fine.

Larry, on the phone with Dell this afternoon

So, Larry's hard drive is dead. Again. On the laptop we bought in August. What. The. Heck.

This happened to my desktop in 2005, his last laptop soon after we bought it, and my laptop as well. I'm sensing a pattern.

Anyway, I'm blogging for Larry at his request, since I have a functional computer and he does not until at the very least Monday. So, you'll have to wait for his warm, fuzzy, happy comments until then. Or enjoy the silence. Whichever suits you.

And in the meantime, you can read MY blog!

Now playing: Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence
via FoxyTunes

A Somewhat Comprehensive List of Things that Make Me Cry

Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number hree is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it - if you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're gonna have something special.

Jim Valvano

I figured after last night's Mark Schultz post, I'd just go the Full Monty and show everyone what a big baby I am. Below is a list of things that make me cry, without fail, every single time I'm exposed to them. Notable exceptions will be listed below. Larry's list is as follows:

  • About half of the Mark Schultz song catalog, as we discussed yesterday.
  • The Lifehouse Everything skit. It's like its own little prayer to me. I don't know any better way to explain it.
  • The video WGN showed from the end of the Cubs' 2004 season, which thanks to MLB's fascist media policies I can't show to you because it's not posted anywhere. It was played to Finger Eleven's "One Thing," it had Todd Walker doing the Superman slide across home plate, it was just awesome. And then Chip Caray and Steve Stone both quit. I'm crying right now as I type this.
  • The charge of the Rohirrim from the film version of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Everything Peter Jackson screwed up when making those movies - a list I could write an entire blog ranting and raving about, mind you - is forgiven by this scene.
  • Jimmy V's ESPY speech from 1993. The man was dying of cancer - so weak that he had to be helped down the stairs - and he still managed to be a better human being than I could ever hope to be.
  • The Passion of the Christ. Granted, I've only seen it once, but it absolutely overwhelmed me. I was crying for three people when I saw it in the theater.
  • October 14th, 2003
The notable exceptions I mentioned at the start of the post: my family. Not because I don't love them, mind you, because they mean the world to me. But because I'm daddy to the kids and husband to Holli, the things that would make me cry - most notably, any pain they might experience - I've got to help them get past. So when Holli is feeling down, one of the girls is going through the stuff little girls go through, or Connor rips his ear open on the posts outside our church, I don't have the luxury of being able to cry with them. I have to stay calm and do my job, because at that time, I'm called upon to be their support. For a crybaby, as I've now been totally revealed to be, that can be difficult.

Mark Schultz: The Rainmaker

I guarantee you there isn't gonna be a dry eye in the house.

Mike Weaver from Big Daddy Weave
Introducing Mark Schultz at a concert here in Terre Haute

I'm working right now, because that's what I do at night, and as is typical I'm doing it to the sounds of my music library. Mark Schultz came up on the iPod, and uncharacteristically I turned him off. I just didn't feel like crying tonight.

I say that in the most complimentary way that I possibly can, too. Mark is a gifted singer and pianist, and he puts out some beautiful music. Beyond his abilities as a performer, though, I think he's an absolutely brilliant songwriter, and he writes some of the most powerful, emotional music I've ever heard - a large majority of which makes me bawl.

Seriously, it's kind of sad to watch. "Letters from War" comes up and I cry every single time I hear it. I'm not a soldier. I've never been a soldier. My dad kind of spent some time in the Navy, which is to say he hung out at a base somewhere in California and worked as a mechanic for a few years, but he never saw combat or anything. Only very recently have I become close friends with someone who's really been involved in war; not because of any adversion to it, but just because it had never happened in my life up until that point. I see war on the TV - I did when I had one, at least - and that's about it. None of that matters. The song still makes me weep like a little girl, and I consider the ability to make people feel like that a great gift that I'm happy he chooses to share with the world.

Just not tonight, that's all. Such is the power of the skip button. Or the part of the screen that has the arrow pointing to the right. Either one works.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Server to Rule Them All

"I pass the test," she said. "I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel."

J.R.R. Tolkein
The Lord of the Rings (1957)

The server guys got me again. I had a client send me an e-mail today, very distressed about a bunch of errors that were showing up in the code I'd written for him. Now, when I'd turned the code over to him, said errors didn't exist, so needless to say I was a bit perplexed. I'm a dutiful web dork, though, so I sat down in front of the trusty Lappy to investigate things this evening.

What did I find? I found that a server monkey somewhere changed a setting that had absolutely no business being changed that made MySQL think that the queries I'd written - which it had no problems with last time I saw them - were now suddenly too complicated. In case you're wondering, they're not, but that's beside the point. The point is that, yet again, a server monkey on a shared host has made a change that's somehow jacked up my code.

Slow, deep breaths, Larry. Slow, deep breaths.

I plan on expanding the business this year. I've got a good friend of mine I'm going to sit down and have a long conversation with, because he'd be the guy I'd pick to be my Number One out of anyone in the world. Whether it's him I start with or someone I bring in from the outside, I'm going to build this business this year.

I'm doing it for a lot of reasons. I'm doing it because I have the ultimate goal of making myself expendable to the business, so that I can drop off the face of the earth to do missions work for weeks at a time and my family can still eat. I'm doing it so that I can go use more of the gifts God's given me to His glory. I'm doing it because, as my accountant - the real one, not my wife - so succinctly put it, "there's only one way for a business to go." I'm doing it because I feel like I've finally been given release by the Lord to do it; like it's finally in His plan for me to do it.

The number one reason I'm doing it, though, is to get my own server. I'm going to buy a big, fat, expensive Linux box, put it somewhere with a huge, treetrunk of a pipe it can plug into, and pay someone who knows what they're doing to set it up and maintain it according to my specifications. When I have my server set up, I will migrate all of my clients that I host over to it. I will demand that any new clients I work with either host on my server or sign a waiver stating that they get absolutely no free support from me after the initial consultation, because I'm not going to fix what a server monkey breaks. My server shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Blogs

Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!

Jon Lovitz as a talking, cardboard standup of Jay Sherman
The Critic

Time to pimp out my new blogs! The first is Next Year Chronicles, my new Cubs blog. I'm going to be - strangely enough - chronicling the upcoming season in the hopes that I end up with an awesome log of the Cubs' magic World Series winning season. Stop laughing.

My other is Truth In Internet Marketing, which is going to serve as my manifesto against all of the scummy things a lot of internet marketers do to make a quick buck. Being on the inside of the industry like I am, I get exposed to a lot of it. This is my attempt to try to help protect people from the large majority of the vultures that are out there trying to sell stuff on the internet.

These are both, in some small way, business ventures, so any support you throw my way through visiting and spreading the word about both blogs will be greatly appreciated. Hopefully they'll both be decent reads, though. As I've lamented to friends before, I only know one way to write, so what you'll see in both other spots will look a lot like what you see here. If you like this blog, you might like the others, too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Catchup Time

My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry 'til a more convenient season.

Mary Todd Lincoln

I've been slacking a little on the blog as work has overwhelmed me, but no more! I've got a lot of things to talk about, so in lieu of a real blog post for today, here's a list of the things that are coming up in future blog posts:

  • The iPhone ... yes, I have one now.
  • Expansion ... and I'm not talking about gaming here.
  • More blogs ... which I will ruthlessly hound you all to be new readers thereof.
  • Music ... I like it a lot.
  • My wife ... she writes poetry, you see.
Stay tuned! Same Bat-time, Same Bat-channel!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It Stands for What You See Is What You Get

The phrase was originally a catch phrase popularized by Flip Wilson's drag persona "Geraldine" (from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In in the late 60s and then on The Flip Wilson Show until 1974), who would often say "What you see is what you get" to excuse her quirky behavior.

Wikipedia: WYSIWYG

Congratulations to my pastor, Eric Starkey, for winning the grand prize of twice nothing for winning the "Help Larry Rename His Blog Sweepstakes!" His twice nothing will be getting delivered via not-an-armored car sometime in the future. Everybody give Eric a big hand.

It works for me. Despite its apparent etymology, its current nomenclature belongs to the geeks. It's commonly used in reference to text or HTML editors now, implying that what you see on the screen as you're editing is what the finished product will actually look like. So it's dorky, which means it fits me.

It also works for me in the more literal sense, because that's what I'm trying to give people a glimpse of with the blog: who I actually am. As Eric himself has pointed out before, the beauty of just being yourself with everyone is that it's so easy on you; you're not having to constantly adjust what you're doing to be one way at church, another at work, another at home, and so on.

I'm just Larry. I love God, I love my family, I love my friends, and when it's not frustrating me, I love my job. I'm trying hard to be a better Christian on a daily basis, and I fail frequently. I love the Cubs. I'm a big geek. I fight a constant struggle with my weight and health. I'm something of a wiseacre, to put it mildly. Hopefully, this blog will reflect who I actually am.

What you see is what you get.