Saturday, December 23, 2006

For the Weird Al/Star Wars lover

I lied, I think this is my favorite Weird Al video.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
My thoughts on the whole Christmas tree bru-haha at Seattle-Tucoma airport in Washington? I think it's ridiculous.

I hate the way that this whole season has become politicized. For the last couple of years I've heard about the movement to "save Christmas". How it's up to us to keep stores from putting up generic "Happy Holiday" signs and selling "holiday trees".

Christmas doesn't need to be saved by us. Christmas will stand on it's own without any help from us. It doesn't matter if people wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, or Happy Chanukkah, it doesn't take anything away from my Christmas. It doesn't change who Jesus is, or the fact that He is still firm on His throne. The fact of the matter is, one of the rights of this country is the freedom of religion. If I were a store owner, I would put up Christmas decorations. It would not matter to me what Jewish or Muslim people thought. I don't celebrate their holidays, so it shouldn't be expected that I put up decorations for them. And they, in turn have the right not to shop at my store. I reserve the right to decorate my establishment as I please.

Just as store owners may decorate how they please. If they're Jewish, I don't expect them to Deck the Halls. If they're Muslim, I don't expect to see a Nativity scene in the window. Some stores choose to go with a generic "Happy Holidays" versus specifying any specific holiday. That's their prerogative. Just as it's mine to choose not to shop at those stores.

I don't believe in forcing Christmas down anyone's throat. I won't even get started on the fact that Christmas trees are more than likely a pagan thing and we probably shouldn't have them at all anyway.

If you see someone not celebrating Christmas, the answer isn't to force them to put up a tree or get them to start saying "Merry Christmas". The answer is to share with them the reason we have Christmas -- Jesus. It is certainly NOT threatening to sue, or threatening the life of someone who was unhappy because there were no Chanukkah decorations in the airport.

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2:8-11, NLT)

I'm sitting in my sister-in-law's old bedroom at my mother-in-law's house. For the first time ever, I believe, I've managed to get my shopping done before the day before Christmas. I have a few items that need to be wrapped when I get home, but it shouldn't be like years past where I've stayed up till 4am wrapping presents. I did the youth Christmas party on Wednesday, so that's out of the way. For the most part, it seems like things are pretty calm at the moment. We'll do our Christmas with Wife's family tomorrow, enjoy a nice meal out tomorrow night, stay for a bit on Sunday, and drive home sometime that day.

Amidst it all, sadly, I become burdened and stressed with this season. I want to enjoy Christmas. I really do. But so much is going on and there are so many demands that make it difficult to enjoy this time of year. Christmas has become so much different than what it should be.

I wish I could be there 2005 years ago. Luke's gospel shares with us what happened then. The Shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks, and the angel comes to them, and brings to them the Good News -- that the promised Messiah has been born! I can only imagine how their hearts were filled with joy at this incredible proclamation! For so many years the Messiah that would deliver Israel had been promised, and that day had come!

My favorite song at Christmas is "The Little Drummer Boy". To me, it symbolizes what Christmas should be. It has nothing to do with fancy gifts. It has nothing to do with shopping malls. It has nothing to do with family and friends, even. What it has to do with is humbling ourselves before Christ and bringing to him everything we have.

Little Baby, I am a poor boy too.
I have no gift to bring, that's fit to give a King.
Shall I play for Him? On my drum?

That's probably the most beautiful line of the whole song. The little drummer boy recognizes that he has nothing fit to give his King, but gives him everything he has. It's like the widow and her 2 mites. She didn't have much, but she gave all she had to give to God.

This Christmas, I want to really remember what the holiday is about. I want a sense of renewal where I desire nothing more than to just lay my life before Christ, presenting to Him all I have, recognizing that no matter how much I have, none of it is fit to give my King.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Hope Diamond on display at the Smithsonian museum of Natural History

The end of the adventure. Today, as many of you know, was Friday (OK, technically speaking, today, as I type this, it's Saturday. Either way, it's the end of the week). I honestly can't remember the last time I had so much fun at a conference (granted, I haven't been to that many, but still....). This year was better than last year's (and last year's was great!). I'm sure next year will be even better.

I'll miss the people I've met on the trip. Come Monday, I won't be able to chat all day, discussing GoogleTM pitchforks, OS's and GoogleTM rule #2 (oh, what the heck, there were so many jokes about GoogleTM I lost count), how Canadians are really brain-eating zombies (that was started when one of the speakers, talking about tech in the military, was asked why we hadn't taken over Canada. His answer was, “because we want to fight someone who will fight back”), and what we really think of the people giving the talks. And how can I forget the person who added a caffeine packet to a 20oz bottle of Diet Pepsi? While I am ready to get back and see Wife, I really did have a good time this year, and hope to be able to attend next year. However, there are two things that could stand in my way – 1) Baptist State Convention, if it's scheduled for the same time period as it has been the last two years, will also happen the same week and 2) Co-Worker was supposed to go this year, but he opted not to. By all rights, he should have dibs on next year. I would actually like to see him go, but honestly, I just don't think he's that interested. I guess you get to a point in life where travel and hanging out with a bunch of geeks just doesn't do much for you. At any rate, I have plenty to keep me busy before now and then that there's no point in thinking about it now.

So, today was the last day of the conference. I began my day around the same time I did every other day this week, ~6:45. Took a shower, threw on clothes, and debated between OpenCity and McDonald's for breakfast. Did the McDonald's thing. I had plans for what I wanted to do tonight for dinner, which would pretty much calorically take care of my meals for the day anyway (oh, heck, for the next 3 days!), so I was going to try something pretty light. Went for the egg mcmuffin, sans hashbrown. Sadly, they forgot the “sans hashbrown” part and gave it to me anyway. So, that was my breakfast. Didn't hang out too long in the restaurant, though I did read out of Ezekiel while I was there. Went on back to the hotel to hear one of the talks. The speaker was really good, though, for the life of me, I can't remember what the title of his talk was. I do remember lots of pretty pictures. Which is always a good thing.

After the first talk, went out for some coffee at break and ended up right back in the same conference room for the next talk. The next talk was really good, though the speaker was quite a bit different than the first was. He was very “shiny” and wore a suit. I joked with some others that he looked like he bathed regularly, and wore a suit, so he wasn't a true geek. At any rate, both of the morning sessions were very good.

After the second talk, it was lunch. I went across the hall to the terminal room where I could go and use my laptop and print out what I needed. It took me about an hour to figure out what I wanted to do, where to go, when to go. Took my stuff up to the room, ditched the unnecessary stuff, and left.

I didn't remember it being so cold when I went to McD's for breakfast, but when I went out to catch the Metro, it was COLD! Took the Metro to Metro Center, the big hub of everything metro-y. Went out on the street, and wandered around. Was trying to find “The National Mall”, and eventually did. I had three places I'd intended to go – Holocaust Museum, FBI bulding, and the Printing and Engraving building. The first two I'd done when Wife and I came to DC back in 98 and really wanted to visit them again. The third we couldn't for some reason, so I wanted to go there on this trip. So, where did I start? The Natural History Museum. Which, though I liked it, I'm upset about because I spent more time than I would've liked. After that, went to the Holocaust Museum. As I was walking through it, it occurred to me that we had just had the anniversary of the bombing at Peal Harbor, which brought the US into the war. The Holocaust Museum was very powerful – seeing the pictures taken, watching the videos, and hearing the testimonies of those who survived. There was a picture of a group of 4 survivors who gathered in 1999 and proudly displayed their arms with their id numbers tattooed on their arms. I watched a video on the various experiments the Nazis conducted on their prisoners, which just made me ill. But for some reason, one of the most moving parts was the hall with wall the shoes in it. Seeing the shoes of the victims in those bins just really moved me. Thinking of the women and children who were separated from one another, or killed together broke my heart. What made me mad was, in order to really get to appreciate the museum, it takes about 3 hours. I only had an hour and a half.

One of the most interesting things I learned about in the museum was the Nazi rise to power. I don't know if I never learned this in school, or how I missed it (I will admit I was far from the most astute student in High School). After WW1, Germany was completely devastated and there was no real leadership in the governement. The people were hurt, demoralized, frustrated, and confused. The people were desperate for order. Though several parties tried to fill the gap (Communists, Socialists, Liberal and Conservative, I believe), none of them could really get their acts together enough to convince the people they could make things better. Hitler was able to do what the others couldn't. Although he didn't get elected President, he was made Chancellor, and eventually, through fear and tyranny, became dictator. He went on to kill 6 million Jews, plus many, many more of those he deemed “inferior”.

I'd often wondered what it was that could make an entire country buy into “The Final Solution”. These were good people who were looking for hope, peace, and solace from their government. With Hitler's charisma and incredible propaganda machine, he was able to convince the country that he could make things better.

What I think what was even more amazing was the fact that, as the Jews were desperate to leave Europe, no one wanted to help them. Not even the US. What could've been prevented if the US had gotten involved earlier?

The Museum was absolutely amazing.

After the museum, I made my way on the Metro to Clarendon, where I would visit the highlight of my trip – CheeseCake Factory! I hadn't eaten lunch, so I was ready. Ended up eating all the bread they gave me, then my turkey sandwich/house salad/clam chowder combo I ordered. Then, the grand finale – Adam's Peanut Butter Chocolate Reese's all-sorts-of-bad-sugar-and-fat things cheesecake! Sadly, by this point, I was so full, but I was NOT going to leave CCF without eating their cheesecake. So I ate it. And I was incredibly uncomfortable for the rest of the evening.

After that, I took the Metro to Gallery Pl. Wandered around in below freezing temperatures for a little while before finally finding the movie theater. I was hoping that it would be in a shopping mall so I could hang out till the movie started at 10:05, but no such luck. The Capitals were playing down the street, which would've been fun. But yeah....

Got to the movie theater, bought my ticket, and tried to figure out what to do for 3 hours. Hopped on the Metro, went back to Metro Center, because there was a Barnes & Noble near by. Was walking by a table and a cover caught my eye – The Unusual Suspect. It's a play on The Usual Suspects, a movie that starred, among others, Stephen Baldwin.

For those who aren't familiar with him, Stephen is probably the goofiest of the Baldwin brothers. I didn't get to read a whole lot, but several years ago (I believe it was shortly after 09/11/2001), he gave his life to Christ and began an extreme sports ministry to reach out to youth called Livin It . Because of this ministry, he's able to reach youth in a way that others can't (or won't).

What amazes me about the book is, he's not an elegant writer. He doesn't use big, theological, smart-sounding words. It's simple, but he tells his story. And that's what a testimony is, just telling the story of what Christ is doing through you.

My hat's off to you, Stephen!

I'm posting, as this has been a week in the making. Will continue later.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Maybe THIS is what did Mikey in....

OK, so one of the folks from the irc channel was telling me about this. No explanation needed. However, it DOES make me wonder if Coke and Mentos can do what Coke and Pop-Rocks couldn't :)


The last night here....the terminal room.

This is where I've come to waste copious amounts of time for the last few days. The picture above doesn't do it justice, it's a big room. Lots and lots of wires and power supplies and wireless access points. And, when it's not 12:41am, a good number or people as well. As you can imagine, there will be significantly more during the day than the night.

Because the terminal room is actually closing tomorrow around noon, this is going to be my last night in the terminal room. I will be in DC till Saturday morning, however.

This week has been a lot of fun. I don't know that I've made it any secret that I love to travel. I really do. I don't like being away from my wife, church, friends, and youth, but it's nice to just get away and not have to worry about (many) things. That being said, there was so much here!

  • I've gotten to hear some really good speakers on really good topics, and have found several applications I'm taking back to try in the work place.
  • Because of the IRC channel, I was able to comfortably meet others I would not have normally met. It's much easier to announce "I'm going to be by the big tree; come meet me for dinner if you want to" than it is to just randomly introduce myself to people. Yes, I have issues.
  • I got to ride a train for the first time -- well, ride a train for any extensive length of time for the first time. That was a great experience, and I believe I would enjoy doing it again sometime.
  • DC -- although I haven't gotten the chance to really go out into the city (I can hear my poor Mom yelling, "NO, NO, PLEASE DON'T!!!!", where I'm staying is really nice. I absolutely love the metro. It's a great way to get around the city.
  • I've gotten to spend more time with my computer than I ever want to. Wife will be happy that, once I get home, I'll have no interest in doing anything at all with the computer for a while. It's a good thing I did bills before the trip.
  • I've gotten to meet people from GoogleTM. I really don't know why I'm so fascinated with them, except maybe the fact that GoogleTM sounds a lot like working here.
  • It was like a vacation. Which is not really good, because I had a lot that I planned on/needed to do while I was here, and didn't do any of it. So, all the things I put off for a week, I now get to go home and work on and stress about.
All in all, it's been a great trip. I really enjoyed San Diego last year, and this one was even better. Next year it's in Dallas, TX. Honestly, the idea of Dallas doesn't excite me, but I love to travel and the conference is so much fun I'll eagerly jump on it if given the opportunity.

Not sure how I'm going to spend today. I'm going to go to a few of the talks this morning, then probably jump on the Metro at lunch and head towards the reall city. If nothing else, I'd like to visit the Holocaust Museum, the FBI building, and the Mint (Wife and I did the first two several years ago, and they are definitely worth going back to. Did not get to go to the Mint, though, which would be interesting). The evening will end with Cheesecake Factory and the new 007 movie. Somehow, b/t now and lunch, I've got to figure how to make all this happen....

Hopefully I'll get lots of good pics this afternoon.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Star Struck

Star Struck

*** Note: Image used without the permission of Usenix or the people who are represented. Which means I'll probably get sued :)

LISA stands for "Large Installation System Administration" (I think, and am too lazy to confirm). It's a conference for IT professionals. A large conference -- I think they reported 1100+ attendees this year.

This is my second year going. The first year I went to San Diego. And I pretty much hung out with some other folks from University. We didn't do much at the conference nor meet any new people. I enjoyed having them to hang out with.

This year's been a bit different. There are some others from University here, but I've been sort of being a loner. Nothing against them; they're both great people, but I've been trying to take more advantage of the conference. I've met some people through the #lisa06 IRC channel. I've tried to actually talk to people I don't know (I really have a hard time with that). I've spent more time around the hotel and the conference than I did last year.

As I've gone through the conference, it's been amazing to me the people who are here. It's been cool when you have someone point out to you that "that guy helped write RRDTool/MRTG" or "that person co-authored super special book on FreeRadius", or "that guy started GoogleTM in his basement". People that, the population at large, would have no clue about (I actually would be one of them, though, once they've been pointed out I'm sort of star struck).

What amazes me, though, is a lot of these people who are involved in writing Free/Open Source Software. Again, I'll spare you the technical details, but ultimately, they began writing their software because they had something they needed to do and there was nothing available that could do it. So they wrote it, and, believing it might prove useful to other people, they released it and said, "here's the code, do what you like with it, modify, improve it The only thing I ask is, if you do that, and you give the improved software to other people, you must include the source to what you did along with it, because that's what I did". (That's a very simplistic, and probably flawed, explanation of the GNU General Public License , but there are other Free/Open Source licenses to choose from).

Now, I'm NOT one of these people that believes that Free software is the be all and end all panacea to the world's problems. But they have made a significant contribution to the way the world interacts....

The internet would be a very different place. People would communicate in different ways (granted, we might actually talk to one another, but still). Science would probably be farther behind if they didn't have access to inexpensive servers because they can use free Linux versus very expensive OS licenses from Sun, IBM, Microsoft, etc. I could go on, but I know you'd rather I didn't.

Anyway, it's been cool to be able to hear these people speak. Hats off to the people who are more interested in helping people than making money!

This is the picture that greeted me the first time I walked out of the Terminal Room on Monday. There was another conference going on, and they had the US Coast Guard Color Guard (I think that's what it was, but I may be getting confused with something else). I remember standing there for what seemed forever in awe. They stood perfectly still, in perfect formation, until they were finally introduced and walked in.

Throughout the week I've been taking various seemingly random pictures and posting them. That's what this was going to be. But this morning it took on new meaning.

When I finally recovered from the fact that I went to be around 2:20 this morning, and had gotten myself dressed and out the door, I went to the elevator. Waiting for the elevator was a serviceman, in full uniform. Throughout the week I've seen many servicemen around and had wanted to just go up and say thank you to them, but was always too chicken. So, when I've seen them I've said nothing. But, today, since I'd be riding in the elevator with him, I thought I would talk to him.

I said good morning to him and asked him which branch of the military he served in (I felt sort of stupid, because the uniform should've been giveaway....). He told me he was in the National Guard and had been for 13 years. I mentioned that Dad served in the Nat'l Guard till he retired several years ago. We stepped in the elevator and continued talking. I finally got the chance to say thank you to him and the other men and women who serve their country with such pride. I told them that, in spite of the idiots who say otherwise, the job they're doing is important and there are those of us who are proud of our military and want to see them succeed. As we continued walking out the door, he told me that, contrary to what Senator Kerry says, he's currently working on his Master's degree (I didn't quite understand what he said it was in). He mentioned his undergrad was done in IT, and I asked him if he was here for LISA, and then rethought that as he was in uniform. Sure enough, he was here for some military recruiting conference.

We continued walking down the street. I'd decided that I was going to do McDonald's for breakfast and didn't know where the soldier was going. As we got to the door of McD's, he mentioned he was stepping in to get breakfast. So, I went in with him.

He and I sat down and ate. There was nothing particularly spectacular about the conversation, typical small talk.

But I ate as if I was in the presence of some foreign dignitary or someone equally important. You'd think I wouldn't have that reaction having grown up with a father in the Nat'l Guard. I saw soldiers on a regular basis.

But maybe I've done some growing. As I've heard the stories about the casualties in the war, as I've heard about the sacrifices our military men and women have made for this country, as I've heard about the SUCCESS they've had in Afghanistan and Iraq, and as I've heard the callous criticism of our troops that comes from those who have no clue of what it means to give oneself for something greater than their own self-interest, the military has taken on a brand new light.

To Walter and to all our service men and women, both at home and over seas....thank you.

My travels


So, to my left (/me does Vanna pose) is a map of the DC Metro system, painstakingly made by yours truly and modified (I REALLY wanted to do this using, but didn't really have the time or the over whelming motivation to figure out the API and javascript that would be involved. OK, time I technicallly have. That darn motivation, however....). So anyway, I've taken this image and done some modifications. If you can actually see the image (while I type this, it looks VERY small), there are 4 stations that have a yellow dot surrounded by a black circle (like this:

Those are the places that I've been so far (on the Metro at least, although I haven't strayed far from the vein). I probably could've been fancier, but again, didn't really want to put in the time it would take. Sooooo, anyway.....

1) Union Station (most right station, on the 'red line') - This is where I arrived Sunday. It's actually the Metro and Amtrak station.
2) Woodley Park (most northern station, on the 'red line') - This is where my hotel is.
3) Pentagon City (most southern station, on the 'blue' and 'yellow' lines) - This is where I went Monday night. "Pentagon City Fashion Mall" is right on top of it. Also had "Pentagon City Centre".
4) Dupont Circle (one stop south of "Woodley Park", on the 'red' line) - This is where I was last night We actually walked there for sushi, and then rode the Metro back to the hotel.

I'd really like to figure out how to mark things in Google Maps and may yet. But, I thought this would be interesting to the folks back home.

It's 8 min to 2 in the morning. I think I need to get to bed. 'Night!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This is my hotel room, in all its cluttered glory!

I didn't get to take any pictures last night, which saddened me. The day was spent in "Over the Edge System Administration", which was a GREAT class. The guy who spoke is a prof at NorthEastern College/University and was just an excellent speaker. He told us about ways to "think outside the box" -- a little cliche, but basically taking tools that are familiar to sysadmins and using them in new ways (he started out by using the lpr program, which is used for printing, and using that to play music!).

Decided to try to meet some folks at the conference for dinner, so I arranged a "real life" meeting with some folks from the LISA '06 irc channel. Mom told me I shouldn't be anti-social, which is slowly what I'm becoming, so I decided to try to meet some folks. So, at 5:30, after the class (and we could go back to our respective rooms), we met in the lobby by the big Christmas tree (pictures of that to come). Four of us decided to go out for sushi.

Now, I'll readily admit, I've eaten and enjoyed sushi. But, the extent of my sushi experience is what I could pick up in the hospital cafeteria/grocery store. I've never gone out for sushi. So, it intrigued me (by the way, to dispel common myth, very little sushi is raw....). And off we went.

We got to what looked like a little hole in the wall and went inside. Inside, however, was far different than what the outside portrayed. It was probably one of the fanciest restaurants I've ever been to! Because we didn't have a reservation, we sat traditional Japanese style, shoe's off and on the floor! I was sooooo embarassed! I covered my legs with my jacket for fear that my feet would not smell pleasant.

The group I was with decided to get a communal plate and share it, so we got a large platter to share. Among them was tuna, seered salmon, shrimp, california rolls, squid, eel, and salmon roe. It was all VERY good, and I was adventurous and tried everything, including the roe!

The trip for sushi ended up taking longer than I'd hoped, which was fine as it was good to actually hang out with people. The beer and ice cream social was b/t 7 and 9, and we just barely missed it. Which is fine by me, because I didn't want the beer, and really didn't need the ice cream. Ended up spending the rest of the evening in the terminal room with one of the people I went to dinner with, and a student from NorthEastern University. Had a good talk.....

And then, as the night went on, I noticed my tummy wasn't feeling very good. The sushi that I had enjoyed earlier apparently didn't agree with me and my stomach was feeling quite upset. The room closed at 2am, and I would've enjoyed staying till then, but about 12:30 I had to go back to the room. Ended up brushing my teeth and going to bed in the hopes the pain would go away. Slept soundly till the alarm went off this morning.

Fortunately, I ended up feeling fine this morning. I'm not a big seafood fan, and I just believe that something I ate just didn't agree with my stomach (though you can't be too careful when dealing with seafood). I talked with one of the folks I went with and he didn't mention feeling ill, so I really just think it was me. As I mentioned, I woke up this morning and felt fine.

Took a walk this morning down to OpenCity for breakfast. I've enjoyed my meals there. I'm bothered that I've had eggs everyday this week so far, and they only recommend 3 eggs a week (I think). But, if I don't get eggs, my only other option is some pastry, which I really want to avoid. So this morning it was two poached eggs, light/easy, with wheat toast and cottage cheese. Very good. Read out of Acts while I was waiting on the food. Ate, and came back to the hotel for the keynote speaker.

I'm going to go ahead and publish this and will add more after lunch.

OK, so it's after lunch now. I've had a good morning. The keynote speaker was OK, nothing too terribly earthshattering. He spoke about how, essentially, the big corporations are slowly eroding our rights as consumers. How they're becoming more and more restrictive with what we can do with things we buy and how it doesn't take much for us to accept those pesky "end user agreements" that big corporations are fond of. I won't bore you with what I think on the matter, but I'm not one of those people who believe we should be able to do whatever we want with music/movies/entertainment we purchase. I don't believe we have the right to take that media and distribute it to whomever we wish. And I do not believe that we have some sort of right to free music/movies just because the media cartel is a bunch of crooks and thugs (and I do believe the latter part, but regardless, that doesn't give me the right to break the law). What I DO have a problem with is that, legally, I cannot take a movie that I bought on DVD and play it on my Linux laptop. That's wrong. If I bought it, I should be able to play it on whatever device I wish. But because of copy protection, your normal dvd players and software shipped with Windows and Macs are able to play because those people have paid a licensing fee so that they can decode the protection on the dvds. Because there is no licensed DVD software for Linux, to play the DVD on my laptop violates the DMCA, and is therefore illegal. Despite the fact that I bought the disc, and I'm just viewing it for myself. I'm not making copies and distributing it to every Tom, Dick, and Harry that comes along. So, that calls into question, "if it's a stupid law, is it justifiable to break it?" I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader (obviously, the answer is 'no'....the law is the law....).

OK, I know I said I wouldn't bore you, and I have. But, it is an important issue that has far-reaching effects....the only thing the MPAA and RIAA are interested in is money, and they will do whatever they can get away with to get it. OK, I'll stop.

After the keynote, it was snack time. They had bagels and coffee. Having already eaten breakfast, I opted out of the bagel, but desperately needed the coffee. Grabbed that and headed to the terminal room. Hung out in here till 12, when the vendor exhibition opened. And, with vendor exhibitions comes free stuff! The thing is, I don't like just walking around like a vulture and gobbling up free stuff. Because if you swoop in for the free stuff, the vendors want to talk to you. And sadly, what the vendors have I don't do much with. But I did get to talk to some folks from GoogleTM which was cool. Google is a great company and, I have to admit, I would love to work there. But I enjoy both of my current jobs and I'm not eager to move anywhere anytime soon. Saw a couple of other products that does pertain to my job and take back to the folks at University. Got a free hat and shirt! Oh, and a Google yo-yo!

After making my way through the vendor space, I went to lunch. It was OpenCity again :) . Their caesar salad and vegetable chili was the first meal I had when I got here Sunday, and it was really good. So I repeated that. And it was just as good.

At 2, we had "Tech Sessions". My first one was listening to a GoogleTM employee talk about his first months at GoogleTM. Learned a lot of good stuff about GoogleTM and it was PACKED!

(Did I mention, GoogleTM that I love you and want to come work for you????)

Nothing much to report there, got done, had our snack. I think I took the last cookie. Which really made me sad when I realized that break time was really 3:30 - 4, and it was only 3:10, and the other sessions hadn't let out yet :( But, I didn't know that at the time, and if I didn't take it, the one behind me would. I feel justified! And it was a peanut butter cookie too! :)

And that brings us to where we are now. Virtualization: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. How about, "The Boring"? The speaker kind of reminds me of Richard Dreyfuss. And I think there are people using virtual servers in far different and complex ways than I do.

Not sure what I'm going to do after this. I want to do some of the conferencey things they have, but by the same token, I want to take advantage of my time in DC and look around. I may hang out at the hotel tonight, probably just doing laptop things. There's a "Carnival" tomorrow night which I want to go to.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

As Promised....

These are the pictures I took at the 4 story mall yesterday. The first one is what I took from the 4th story, the second is what I took from the ground as I entered the mall. It was very impressive, but, as you can imagine, there wasn't much for a man at a place called "The Pentagon City Fashion Place". There were a few stores that I do enjoy, such as the Apple store, but given I'll see more of my laptop this week than I really care to, the thought of seeing even MORE computers didn't enthuse me that much. That, and everytime I go in there, my laptop can smell the Mac on my hands and gets insanely jealous :)

As mentioned, there wasn't much for me at the mall. There were a lot of stores, and it was very different than what I'm used to. I made it through each level and then came back down again. I was trying to decide what to do about dinner. After touring the mall, I kept the Ruby Tuesday's that was in it as a potential eatery, then decided to brave the cold and see what might be within walking distance. Across the street was "Pentagon City Centre" which had a Costco, Best Buy, Borders, California Kitchen, some Mexican restaurant, and some other stores. In my 230 lb days I would've jumped all over the CA Pizza Kitchen, but in my 150 lb days, I decided I didn't want pizza at that time. So, I went back across the street and had Ruby Tuesdays. Salad bar and turkey sandwich combo. I probably ate just as much as I would've if I'd gone to CPK. But, oh well.

After dinner, I went back across the street to the Borders. Had planned on just sitting down for a while and relaxing with a book, but didn't see any books that I wanted to read, so I didn't stay long. Went back to the Metro and came on back to the hotel, with a brief stop at the CVS on the corner for 2 2ltr Coke Zeros. I love that stuff :)

This is a picture of my hotel on the way back from the street. I took it this morning as I was coming back from OpenCity. I described it to Wife as looking like the "Tower of Terror" at MGM Studios in FL, but it doesn't quite have that effect in early morning. Trust me, seeing it in the dark gives it a much eerier feel. I may try to catch it, but sadly, the camera on my phone doesn't do night pictures very well. Although, the image that shows up on the phone is vastly different than what gets delivered to the computer, so I may give it a go just to see. Which, I may add, I've been very impressed with the pictures my phone has taken. It's been convenient to use it to get images of my travels. And, I look less like a tourist :)

Today I'm in tutorials all day, beginning at 9. I'm not sure what my plans this evening are. I should mingle with my geek brethren (because, you know, we're such social group!). Mom told me not to be anti-social. Once upon a time, I used to really want to be with people, but as I've grown older, I've lost that interest. There are those I'm close to (if you're reading this, there's a 99.9999% chance you're one of them) that I enjoy spending time with and look forward to talking to, but people, for the most part, tax me. I think Children's_Minister is rubbing off on me :) Oh, continuing with the potential mingling. Tonight they have "Beer and Ice Cream". I have no interest in the beer, and only slightly more interest in the ice cream (hey, if I can't sit down and eat half a tub of ice cream, it's just not worth it!), so I don't know if I'll do that or not. In addition to that, but does anyone else think "Beer and Ice Cream" just sounds....wrong?

I didn't write much about my trip on the Metro last night. When I left the hotel, it was pretty much rush hour, so the Metro had some very crowded times. It was interesting to see the people and hear what they talked about. Much more different than life in Rougemont, NC. As I was sitting on the train, I got to thinking of the major cities I've gotten a chance to visit -- New York, San Diego, Chicago, Nashville, and Frankfurt (Germany). I enjoy visiting them and sometimes wonder if it might be a place I could live. I don't think so, as I love where I live now, and if I moved, it would be closer to the mountains. But there is something about "the big city" that's sort of alluring.

When I got back to the hotel room last night (after playing downstairs for a bit), I decided to put in "Never Say Never Again". It featured Sean Connery as an aging (OK, AGED) James Bond. I didn't get past the first 10 min before falling asleep (not that it was that boring, mind you, but I was just ready to pass out). I woke up this morning without my glasses on, and was scared to death that I'd crushed them in my sleep last night. Fortunately, they were on the floor, no damage to them! Still debating if I want to see the new 007 movie. If I do, it'll be Friday night. I may see if there's a Cheesecake Factory nearby and have that for dinner that night! :)

OK, I'm going to take care of some other stuff before heading to class. Will type more later!

Monday, December 04, 2006

More pics on the way

Tonight I actually ventured on the Metro for dinner. I got some pictures of the mall I ultimately ended up at, but it's been difficult to get them off the phone. I'm going to try to do it tomorrow.

Right now I'm hanging out in the "Terminal Room" for the conference. This is the room that's been set up for computer users to bring their laptops and hang out. No one actually talks to anyone else, unless it's through instant messaging. Geeks are a funny breed.

As I was on the train, I saw something very sad. There was a man of middle eastern ethnicity, and there was an older black man standing by the door. All of a sudden, I hear the older gentleman say, "what are you looking at? You look like a ******* terrorist!". He continued in a similar vein, and the other man didn't say anything. Fortunately, the older man got off at the next stop.

I hate to see that that sort of thing still happens. I hate that, because of the actions of a few extremists, people of certain ethnicity are labeled terrorists. I hate the ignorance that persists among the world and the stereotypes that are applied broadly across those we don't know, and have no interest in knowing.

powered by performancing firefox

Union Station

This is Union Station, the train station I arrived at yesterday. It was absolutely amazing. It's what I imagined all train stations are like (yes, I don't do much traveling :) ).

I'll have to take a picture of the station I departed from in Durham yesterday :)

Getting breakfast

I'm currently sitting in the OpenCity cafe waiting for breakfast. I'm able to browse the web while waiting, enjoying my cup of coffee.

Life is good.

Woke up this morning at 4:30....(that's what happens when you go to bed at 9:30!). Fixed some coffee in the little coffee maker in the room and read my Bible. Ezekiel and Acts. Well, not the whole books :) Enjoyed my coffee (though, I can't believe they only give you 2 things of sweetener, sugar, and cream!). Once I finished getting ready, sat down and had prayer, then left the room. Hung out in the lobby and did some updates to my laptop. Finished that and came here for breakfast.

And now my food's here :)

powered by performancing firefox

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Planes, trains, automobiles and Bond...James Bond

OK, it was really more like trains and James Bond....that's how my day was spent.

Today, I left for Washington, DC. By train. As I've never traveled an extensive amount of time by train, I was very excited about the trip. I figured DC was too close to go by plane, so I thought the train would be an adventure.

VERY NICE! I chose business class because it worked out cheaper than a coach plane ticket. There was a ton of leg room, complimentary soda/water, and electrical outlets for laptops. It was weird because I was used to having a seatbelt on a plane, and having to turn off electrical devices during take off and leaving. On the train, I could keep my cell phone/laptop on the whole time, there was no seat belt, and I was free to move about as much as I wanted. It was a 6 hour trip, and was just very relaxing.

I was excited about the trip because I figured with so much time on my hands, I would be able to get in a bunch of sleep and reading. Well, I discovered that the James Bond movies I taped from Spike would work on my laptop, so I brought them along. I ended up watching "License to Kill" and "Moonraker" the entire time. It was great! Sadly, at 3 hours apiece (stupid commercials! That, and my ability to not know that my dvd program came with a fast forward button), it didn't leave much time for sleep.

The thing about Bond...James Bond is, I've never really watched any of them. I've seen a couple of the Brosnan ones, but none of the older ones. I've always wanted to, but I just didn't. So, that's why I recorded them when they came on Spike. And was really happy to find out they would play on my laptop.

What I was upset about was some of the commercials Spike ran during the marathon. Three that stuck out were a "Girls Gone Wild" commercial, a "Trojans condom" commercial, and a "Spike: get more action' commercial that feature a swimsuit clad woman coming out of the water.

Before I knew I could fast forward them, I had to let them play (I swear it's true!). I was so embarassed and ashamed of them, I minimized my window so that the little old ladies on the train wouldn't be shocked. Well, that and I wanted to avert my eyes from the almost-porn.

More on my thoughts later.

powered by performancing firefox

Friday, December 01, 2006

another whine, er, rant, er....random thoughts

As mentioned in the below post, during my lunch break I went to the store in the student center. For the last 5 years, I've bought a poster for my dad and gotten it signed by the basketball team. I would go to the basketball office, drop it off the first Monday of the month, and they would call me when it's ready. I thought that was a pretty neat gift that dad always enjoyed.

So I bought 2 posters -- one for dad, one for myself (in the years I've done this, I've meant to, but never did, get a poster for myself. This was going to be the first year). $20 for the two. Had arranged with a co-worker to drop them off next Monday, as that's the first Monday of the month, and I wouldn't be here. Wrote my name/phone number on the back of them. In pen. Then decided to call the basketball office to make sure he could drop them off next Monday.

Imagine how excited I was to hear that there was a policy change, and that no more drop-offs were allowed, but for $20, they would sign a poster and mail it to me.

So now I'm stuck with posters that, while I love our basketball team, I have nothing I can do with them. I like the posters, but I get them for the signatures, not the poster itself. If I weren't getting the stupid thing signed, I wouldn't put out the $10 for it!

Thank you, UNIVERSITY, for once again demonstrating that you're more interested in the all-mighty dollar than you are in good-will towards your fans. You know, like when you started charging the people who actually want to come watch your crappy football team $5 to park at the football games. Because, you know, you don't want ANYONE to show up to them....

World Aids Day

If you are sexually active, use a new condom or latex dam every time you have oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Condoms, latex dams, and water-based lubricants are available for free at the UNIVERSITY Student Health Center and the East Campus Wellness Clinic.

OK, what is that? That is what I was handed today while I was at the Student Center picking up posters to be signed by the basketball players....which is another rant entirely. Anyway, as I was walking out of the center, I was handed a piece of paper with a little red ribbon attached to it. The above is what was on the ribbon.

Now, let me state for the record that AIDS is a horrible plague. I believe that recognition and education needs to be brought to it. My heart is broken for the children who have never had sex, done drugs, nor anything to actively be infected by this horrible plague, and yet contracted it just because they were born to parents who did.

What I have is a HUGE problem with is the "recognition" and "education" about AIDS that goes around. The answer to the AIDS epidemic is NOT to preach "safe" sex (and I use the term very, very, very loosely), in which we say, "if you're sexually active, take these measures....", and it is certainly not to hand them out for free at Universities, but instead say, "DON'T BE SEXUALLY ACTIVE OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE!"

It disgusts me that people believe the answer to this problem is to hand out free contraceptives to college students! This idea that people "are going to do it anyway, so we want to make it as safe as possible" is bull! It's like the irresponsible parents/guardians who let their underage children throw a party and buy the alcohol for them. "Well, they're just going to do it anyway, so I'd rather them do it at home...." ARRRRGH!

I don't know why I even bother being outraged by the idiocy of the world. Nothing new is under the sun, and the prophets of the Old Testament were preaching to deaf ears. Sigh.

flogging dead horses (was: Convention Stuff)

A week ago, I was treated to a trip to the North Carolina Baptist State Convention in Greensboro, NC. Some people would probably cringe at the thought of spending 2 days in what essentially boils down to one long business meeting, but I happen to really enjoy it. I've heard of "Robert's Rules of Order", but it's really cool to see them in action! Especially when you have deep threading as a vote on a motion to call the question on debate on a motion to amend an amendment! I actually voted against a motion to call the question on a debate, and the 3 folks with me thought I'd lost my mind. In hindsight, there was no reason not to end the debate/discussion, since my mind was already made up (which, I guess, is ultimately why you would probably not want to end discussion -- because you want to hear more in order to cast an informed vote), but I did enjoy hearing what each side was presenting.

The reason I wanted to post today is because I subscribed to "The Biblical Recorder" feed this morning, which is "The North Carolina Baptists' News Journal". There were some editorials on one of the more controversial topics of the convention -- that of what to do with "homosexual friendly" churches. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THIS IS A BIG QUESTION!!!!

First of all, let it be known that 1) I have homosexual friends and 2) I have a homosexual family member. So, the issue is somewhat personal for me. I talked to people in my church about my homosexual family member.


When I came back from the convention, my mother mentioned the big, bold headline that said something like State Baptists pass anti-gay ban. She wanted to know why we want to keep homosexuals out when we should be loving them. The media wants to skew the issue. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH KEEPING THEM OUT OF THE CHURCH! We're all sinners! It's not about picking and hating a group of people. I KNOW that homosexuals are welcome in our church. Heck, they can come sit with me and I wouldn't have a problem with it at all. I know that those in our congregation who UNDERSTAND WHO CHRIST IS AND WHAT HE'S ABOUT would have no problem with homosexuals in the church.

So what is it about? It's about standing on the Word of God. And God's Word says that there must be repentance in a believer's life! It doesn't matter what the sin is, there has to be repentance from it.

The question I have for the people who disagree with the Convention's amendment is, if your pastor got up before your congregation and said, "I've been having an affair for the past year. I don't see a problem with cheating on my wife, I will continue doing it, and I plan to continue being the pastor of this church", what would you do? Would you continue letting him pastor your church knowing this? What if he got before you and said he habitually looked at pornography? Stole? Cheated on his taxes? Killed people? Lied? Gossiped? What if he habitually did any of these things, and had no problem with it?

He doesn't need to lead the church. Period. And I believe that most people in the church would agree with that.

What if it wasn't your pastor, but someone who professed to know Christ and wanted to become a member of your church? And they got before the church and admitted they were involved in a sin and had no intention of turning away from it?

They don't need to become a member of the church, because there is no conversion!!! The Bible doesn't mince words on the issue:

5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is
light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth
. (1 John 1:5-6, NLT)

We cannot have the fellowship with God that He desires if we do not recognize our sin, whatever it is, and repent of it!

Yet, there are people who don't see the same thing with homosexuality.
When it comes to homosexuals, you're seen as an evil, evil monster if you stand on God's Word on the issue. We should just love one another.

Yes we should. Jesus welcomed every type of sinner. He ate with them, He talked with them, He called them as disciples and apostles.

And He expected them to turn from their sin.

We need to love everyone. We need to love them enough to tell them the Truth.

I could go on and on, but I'm hungry and I have a Christmas tree to purchase.

In closing, people seem to be more eager to do the second great commandment than the first....