Category Archives: thoughts – insightful

on bugs (the software kind)

This week at work, I’ve fixed quite a few bugs in the new application I’m working on.  I never know what to think when it comes to fixing bugs in an application. On the one hand, it’s good to make software work correctly, of course: it pays the bills, and there is a sense of satisfaction that comes from it as well.  On the other, there is always the possibility that I was responsible for the bug in the first place (as has been the case many times this week), so that’s never fun.

We have sometimes played a game at the office affectionately known as “who’s the blockhead” where we examine the history of code to see who’s responsible for the really insidious bugs. it’s all in good fun, really; no one’s job is at stake or anything. But even so, it’s always a little sad to see when it’s your fault.

I don’t tend to talk about my job much in this space: most people probably wouldn’t find it particularly interesting. But there is one thing that I think is pretty unique about software development: it’s one of a very few professions where workers are fully expected to have issues come up regarding their work that are a) unintended consequences of well-intentioned effort, and b) can occur some time (years, even) after the work has actually taken place.  I don’t think there’s a programmer out there that has written anything non-trivial that has never introduced a bug into their code.  In the end, you just hope that the ones that you’re responsible for aren’t too bad and that you can fix them quickly.

I am from Alabama, after all

I admit it…I’m staying up late tonight to see if it snows.

Snow doesn’t happen often enough here to not be a big deal. I’ve lived in Birmingham over five winters, and I’ve seen snow that accumulated one time. And even that wasn’t all that much.

I guess it’s also the inner child in me. I like seeing it snow; I love seeing the ground covered in white. It’ll be interesting if it does happen, seeing it on my own yard for the first time. I think about Ricky and Tammy’s new baby, about the fact that she might see snow for the first time before she’s two weeks old. Part of me wishes we already had our new dog so we could see it playing in the snow. I hope that there’s enough to make snowballs, so I can have a snowball fight with my wife for the first time (entirely good-natured fighting, of course).

Snow’s more magical for us here in the south. Up north, it’s just another seasonal event. (For what it’s worth, we probably take warm beaches for granted.) And I’m glad that I’m not so grown up that the part of me that wants to see the magic happen as soon as I can can still convince the tired man who worked hard all week to stay up, just in case crystalline ice flakes fall from the sky.

And given that, even if it doesn’t snow, I think it’s time well spent.

the night of 1000 words

Here it is, my friends…the entry that will have you recalling the banner years of pressing on…where posts occurred every day, and sometimes more than once a day, and tended to be longer than just a couple of paragraphs. The entry so huge, it’s filed under four, count ’em, four, categories.

Do I sound enough like an NBC promo?

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thoughts on one month

Taking a little downtime after a hard day of writing and debugging code, I’ve stopped to think a little bit about what the past month (now a month and two days) has meant to me.

  • It’s been over a month, and I’m still in disbelief that she said yes.
  • Ever since I can remember, I’ve thought about how I would treat someone special in my life. I’ve tried to be that kind of guy throughout this month. I hope that I’ve succeeded, and I hope to continue to do so in the future. She deserves it.
  • I’ve found a great dance partner. Girl’s got rhythm.
  • It’s amazing how often the phrase “just looking at you” can be used as a response and never sound redundant.
  • I’m 5’9″, but I feel at least a foot taller when she takes my arm when we walk.
  • Sometimes it costs me twice as much what it would if I were alone to eat out. Sometimes it doesn’t cost me anything. And I’m perfectly happy either way.
  • I can’t wait for the day when we can have conversations with just our eyes.
  • She brings out things in me that I didn’t know were there.
  • Thus far, I’ve counted about ten different ways that she smiles, and three different ways that she laughs. I look forward to finding more of them.
  • I’ve told my friends down here that I’m a happy victim of God’s perfect timing. That may be the best way to put it.
  • And to sum up, she is simply wonderful. I know that she’s not perfect, just as she knows that I am not. But she is indeed wonderful.

in rememberance

I was one of the lucky ones. I had three and a half more hours in the old world than most did.

At approximately noon on September 11, 2001, I awoke and started my daily routine, the first thing of which involved breakfast. I don’t remember what I was getting. I just remember saying good morning/afternoon to Mr. Guy (what I call my grandfather).

“Boy,” he answered, “have you seen this about the plane flying into the building?”

I hadn’t, I answered, and continued to get whatever it was I planned to eat. Then I went into the living room to see what he was talking about.

Suddenly, I wasn’t very hungry anymore.

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In defense of the real tree

So I went over to Stacy’s page today and answered the poll question. I’m kind of surprised at the results so far.

I mean, I know that I just went and bought an artificial tree myself, and I claimed that it was the “perfect tree”, but it’s only as good as an artificial one can be. There’s just something about a real tree; there’s its texture, and of course the way the whole house smells like pine (or fir, whatever your preference). Sure, it’s a little more upkeep, but there are some handy tips to help out with that. For example, a small rake works wonders for getting up all the needles…

Real Christmas trees aren’t perfect. They’re usually shaped well, but there’s always a spot that isn’t quite as full as they should be. In my opinion, this is actually a good thing. I’ve discussed this before with respect to the ornaments on the tree, but it’s just as true for the tree itself when it’s real.

And it’s not just about the actual tree itself; it’s also about the background behind the tree. For about five or six years, in my middle and high school years, our family got real trees. We always had a great time going around to the various farms and finding the right tree. Of course, being the one to find the tree was a badge of honor worn throughout the season.

With an artificial tree, you open a box and assemble it. Admittedly, the process is faster than a real tree, but should something like decorating a Christmas tree be about speed?

I know that some people can’t have real trees for various reasons. And I know that some people can’t afford to get a real tree year after year. But if you can do it one year, I’d say try it.

Things I’m thankful for

  • Getting my paycheck earlier than I thought.
  • Suit pants that can be taken out a couple of inches.
  • Being able to help my grandparents with Thanksgiving preparations.
  • Knowing that I’ll see my sister and brother-in-law tonight.
  • Holding the upper hand on my pro-Tiger family members this year. 🙂
  • My Christmas CDs, just ready to be played.
  • Not having to worry about going to bed at a “reasonable” hour tonight.
  • Friends who help me with my job quest (thanks, Mary Lisa and Thomas!)
  • Revelations from God.

What are you thankful for?

passing through the gates of time

NW 5th and Robinson.

I’ll never forget that intersection.

My cousin Hesper and I made our way into downtown Oklahoma City that Monday afternoon. We went to Bricktown and ate at a wonderful Italian restaurant. Then we walked around the canal for a little while and went over to Bricktown Ballpark, the minor-league baseball stadium.

Then Hesper asked, “Do you want to go see the Memorial?”

We drove up to the intersection of NW 5th and Robinson. I noticed the rubble on the other side of the street where the YMCA had once stood, not yet cleared.

As we walked up to the Memorial, the first thing that I noticed was a huge granite pillar with an inscription on it:


Then I walked through the entryway, and passed through the gate of time.

Inscribed on the back of that pillar is “9:01”. On the other side of the memorial grounds, a similar pillar simply states “9:03”. They stand, twin bookends forever for that moment in time that we shall never forget.

There were a few people around the grounds that day. Many were standing by the reflecting pool that ran for most of the way between the gates of time. I found out later that this area was where NW 5th Street originally was before the bombing. It was closed off for use in the memorial grounds.

Then I took a look to my left, and saw the chairs. All 168 of them. I learned that they were placed in honor of the location of the fallen in the building. There were nine floors in the building; nine rows of chairs echoed the loss.

We walked around to “the fence”. This was where people had left items in remembrance of the victims. Most of it has been taken down, but a section remains for people to leave things. It was still full, with everything from letters to flowers to ribbons.

The museum was not open, so we came back around to the grounds and walked up to the Survivor Tree, the symbol of the memorial. It was an American Elm that endured the blast and rubble and still stands today. Surrounding it was a terrace with a vantage point of the entire memorial. I saw the tree and the inscription written on the wall surrounding it, then took a long, slow look out at the entire memorial grounds, again to the 168 empty chairs, the reflecting pool, both gates of time.

Then, I said “Okay” to Hesper, and we headed back towards the “9:01” gate of time to her car.

Passing back through the gate, I knew that I had just done something very important. The goodness of people is often disputed in today’s world, but seeing this memorial firsthand brought to mind the people that died and a nation that sought to comfort the survivors in any way they could. I would later learn that people came from all over the country to help these people, and didn’t ask for anything in return. The memorial stands as their tribute as well.

If anyone cares anything about being an American, they owe it to themselves to one day take a trip to Oklahoma City. Go to the intersection of NW 5th and Robinson. And pass through the gates of time themselves.

the power of teaching

Yesterday, I taught someone how to make a web page. Today, I helped my campus minister set up Outlook on his computer to check multiple e-mail accounts.

Big deal, you say. And yeah, it might be. But something really hit me when I was doing those things. I discovered, again, how much I really like to teach people how to do things. It really makes me feel good about myself when I can help someone learn how to do something, and when they feel good as a result of having done it.

In the classic golf journal, The Little Red Book, Harvey Penick tells of one of his favorite pupils of all time. She was a young lady who just wanted to learn how to play golf well enough to enjoy the game with her husband. The problem was that she could never get any loft on the ball at all. He worked with her and worked with her. And finally, she hit her first shot into the air. She was elated that she had been able to finally hit a true golf shot. She eventually reached her goal, and started playing with her husband regularly.

Penick’s point in all of this was that it’s the simple joys of teaching that make teaching worthwhile, like seeing someone succeed and begin to understand (and maybe even enjoy) something that you love to do. In Penick’s case, it was golf; he was perhaps the best golf teacher of all time. In my case, I love helping people with web design and computers in general. I don’t necesarily have to get paid to do it (in fact, both of the situations I mentioned I did for free); payment can be made with an understanding nod, a “thank you”, or genuine interest in what I’ve shown them.

That’s the power of teaching. It’s something that makes both the teacher and the student feel good.

Christmas tree life

Ever noticed that you never see an ugly Christmas tree?

Doesn’t happen, does it? Everywhere you look, whether the decorations are handmade or storebought, old or new, all one color scheme or a tremendous variety, it all looks right when it’s on a Christmas tree.

Now, there are particular ornaments that come to mind (usually my handmade efforts as a child qualify here) that could be classified as “not-so-nice-looking”. But even when you intersperse these among everything else, it all looks right.

I’m 23 years and change old now, and one of my favorite things to do still is look at a Christmas tree all lit up with all of the lamps and overhead lights turned off. There’s something perfect about it, as if in that one moment everything is just right with the world.

I’ve sometimes wondered why that is. I guess that you could just call it part of the mystery of the season. But I prefer to think that we’re more in the spirit to see the beauty in everything.

Translating that to the everyday, we need to see the “Christmas tree” in everything in our lives. It’s hard to do on a day-by-day basis. I know. But you’ll notice that there are people who can do it. You’ll also note that they tend to be very happy and content with their lives. There’s something to it.

I’m trying to live my life being content with it. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, I find that I can find the “Christmas tree” in things.