Category Archives: Blogging

Blog Changes

Just a quick note – I’m switching my domain name ( from one web service to another, and I’ll also be switching from Blogger to WordPress with all the fun that entails. Just so everybody knows, the site may be down or messed up in the next week or so.


Go ahead, live a little

I’m starting to think of my blog as a side project that I don’t have time for. Thanks to the advent of Twitter, my thoughts can be put out faster, in shorter snippets, to a larger audience. Three or four years ago my thoughts would have been put out into a LiveJournal blog but that was kind of boring.

Ok, really boring. I was not a great blogger in high school…but what has changed, eh? Ha!

Then, of course, came Facebook status updates (did I join in 2005 or 2006?), but until about 2007 or so, Facebook didn’t do a great job of parsing those out for other users to read. Users had to go to each others’ pages to see what was up (gasp, I know!) Thanks, Facebook, for feeding our inner stalkers by adding the News Feed and Live Feed. They make it so easy to find out what’s going on with friends (not that it’s always useful). Plenty of people had problems with the ease-of-stalking Facebook has enabled, but I for one have it to thank for helping my mindless drivel find its way into the “cloud.” Also, kudos to Facebook and Twitter both for working seamlessly together.

Thinking of side projects that I don’t have/make time for anymore, aside from neglecting the blog:  photography and reading.

As far as photography goes, I’m in that rut where I keep taking photos (several hundred in fact) but I lack the time, and often interest, to go through marathon processing and uploading (and then naming, describing, tagging, etc.) sessions to get the final product on Flickr. I’m doing well if I get up 2-3 photos a month here lately, so needless to say, I’m falling behind. I’ve already mentally checked off some photo shoots that I’m not likely to ever touch again from 2009, but there is still about half a year of photos piling up in Adobe Lightroom.

And then on the reading front, suffice it to say that I’ve had four geography texts checked out from the UTM library and I’ve renewed them four times already. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider that one of the renewals included the Christmas break so it was about a month long… You see where this is going. Fortunately, I think faculty/staff can renew books indefinitely, instead of the three time max limit for students. Mostly, I read Twitter and the news. I even get the news from Twitter (CNN, BBC).

I hate to end this in a circle, but going back to blog subject, I’ve been thinking of switching over to WordPress. Problem is, I don’t know if I want to have them host it and just migrate my domain over, or pay for cheap hosting and run their content management system (CMS) from the host. Then there’s the whole issue of having to migrate the content from this blog over, which shouldn’t be a big nightmare, but is still a few extra steps.

I didn’t make any resolutions for 2010, so I’m not going to promise that I’ll blog more or post photos more, etc. …

But I’ll try, on occasion. You know, before I get to grad school and have no life for 5-7 years.

Life as a Balancing Act

(First, a bit of housekeeping: Since I blog infrequently, and occasionally hear from people in the real world that they check the site regularly for updates, I thought I would point out that this is not a necessity! For one, since I DO post so infrequently and know that it is a shame, I try to diligently post a link to the blog with a notice that something new has arrived on my Twitter account, which also updates my Facebook status. Thus if you already follow me on those sites, you “won’t miss a thang” as Aerosmith would put it. However if you are not quite up-to-date with the 21st Century, there is a nice, old school way to see if I have updated my site without actually clicking through to it or typing in the address: RSS. See “What is RSS?” if you are unfamiliar. To subscribe to my RSS, simply go to this link: or add that to your RSS reader. That’s your technology time-saver of the day.)

Now on with the post.

My life has been a real balancing act lately. Don’t get me wrong; it’s nothing compared to last semester’s terror of balancing all the preparation necessary for graduating (as a Scholar, no less!) and getting married. But still it’s been interesting, to say the least, that my “mentally relaxing” year off from school and education to prepare for grad school has turned out this hectic.

First of all are the health problems. (In case you missed it, I might have Crohn’s disease or something else unpleasant.) It’s cost time, money and productivity. There have been plenty of days where I haven’t felt like doing a thing at work, other than put my head on the desk and wait for my stomach pain to cease. Those were fun days. Fortunately, I haven’t felt nearly that bad in two weeks. Unfortunately, after over a month of seeing Dr. Nuako I still don’t have a diagnosis. (This is in no way his fault, of course. My symptoms aren’t playing nicely. He said yesterday that this would be easier to figure out if my symptoms were worse.) Instead, I have four or five potential diagnoses, and a handful of expensive tests that should figure it all out. So we’ll see where all that goes. I tell you what, though, if I’m not reeling in pain I’m less inclined to bother with all the tests. Dr. Nuako himself said that he didn’t really think all of the tests recommended by the pathologists were necessary. So for now I continue on in “wait mode.” Like I said, as long as I’m not throwing up in pain and I don’t have tuberculosis (yeah, I’m being tested for that, too), I’ll be ok.

But that’s just one part of the balancing act. Then there’s work. Ah, work. I’ve been pushing very hard to finish Phase I of my project over the last couple weeks, and did so successfully. After a meeting with the boss and others this week, it’s now time to turn to the longer, more excruciating part of the job: video interviews with students. I don’t know how easy or hard this will be, in all honesty, but I imagine it’s going to be hard work to coordinate. The big picture deadline is a looong time away, fortunately, so there’s lots of time to get this done.

The third and final part of the balancing act is the colossal grad school application project. After four days in Wisconsin and Minnesota over fall break, my work ethic on this front has had a new fervor. The looming deadline of Nov. 3 is drawing nigh: the day on which I take the GRE. (It’s named the Graduate Record Exam, but you could also call it the Great Reckoning of Eternity. Kidding, but only slightly.)

Most people have said not to worry about the GRE and to just get some sleep before hand… but are you kidding me? I’m studying as hard as I can! My reasoning is pretty solid: I’m shooting for as high a score as possible, given that I’m applying to four top-10 geography programs and the odd-ball Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP!) program, but even that is at Virginia Tech. All of these applications consider the same key things: GRE scores, undergraduate record, letters of recommendation/statement of intent, and compatibility with faculty. So the GRE is one of four key components. People apply to these programs with perfect 1600s. So what number do you think I’m shooting for?

Just one more reason my life is a balancing act.

Living in the Clutter

Today I had a sneaking suspicion that everyone — even the most clean among us — have one place or space in their lives that are utterly void of organization, and perhaps, cleanliness.

I think it’s human nature.

It’s what separates us mere mortals who claim to be OCD-esque in nature from those who truly have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (No matter how much you think you are like Adrian Monk from, well, the TV show Monk, you probably don’t have OCD.)

And that utterly unorganized space in your life? Well that’s just proof that you’re human.

I started thinking about this when I walked by my coworker Josh’s car this morning. Despite maintaining a cubicle that tops the office in terms of organization and feng shui, his car had to have at least half a dozen empty plastic water bottles in the passenger seat, bowling shoes in the back, and I have his word that up until a week or two ago, his tuxedo from the David Johnson Chorus had been in the back of the car since the end of their performance season in April.

For geography professor Dr. Mark Simpson, it’s his UTM office that is catastrophically cluttered. The man is a meteorology/climatology professor, but it looks like a tornado might be sneaking through his windows at night. (No offense, Dr. Simpson.)

For The Pacer staff, it’s pretty much the entire office. Everyone’s desk space mimics that of former Pacer managing editor Will York to some degree. Now that I’m gone, I think cleanliness will fall even further from the priority list.

My mom has her scrapbooking room, a room for creative clutter (though I’m sure she’ll tell you it’s not that bad).

My sister and her husband have…their entire house. OK, maybe they don’t fit into that “most clean” category I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Rachel has a nasty habit of rearranging every four to six months anyway, so whatever works for them…

But for Karen and me, it’s our “office” or “study” at home. The office is the one room we have yet to fully tackle in our new half-duplex. Nevermind the dishes in the kitchen that never seem to stop piling up (our dishwasher is small). It’s the office that I can’t stand.

Maybe we just have too many things going on in there.

For one, it’s home to our music, and that means a keyboard on one wall and my bass guitar rig next to it in a corner, not to mention our extensive collective sheet music library scattered in boxes and bags everywhere. We need a filing cabinet. Badly. I keep thinking to myself that if we could just get that done, then the rest of the room might fall in place. I think we’re going to buy a filing cabinet or something from Wal-Mart or look at office product stores in Jackson this weekend.

It can’t wait any longer.

Then there are our desks. I bought mine for (get this) $15 on and it’s a very nice desk. Karen’s came from her mom, and it, too, is a nice computer desk. But there’s the problem of drawer space. Not a single drawer on either desk. This is a problem, especially when you consider that we both “moved desks” from our apartments in the University Village, which came with three-drawer desks and an upper shelf in the provided furniture. Most of my “desk stuff” is in two shoe boxes on my desk’s shelves; everything else is clutter and crammed on top of the desk. Karen’s stuff is everywhere, from the floor to on top of her desk.

We never spend much time in the office. Why bother when you can hardly see the floor? I don’t even use my Macbook much anymore, though that’s partly to blame because I sit at this computer at work seven to eight hours a day, plus there’s the iPhone in my pocket. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the Internet are in my pocket, so why bother climbing through the office to use my laptop? I blame this for my lack of posting pictures to Flickr, by the way. I’m so far behind on that. I think I’ve uploaded six or seven Costa Rica photos out of several dozen, then there are plenty of photos of our puppy, and the Tennessee Safari Park from last Saturday…

It seems never ending.

So what should we do with this office? There’s no where else in the house to put stuff; we’ve finally improved the other rooms of the house to the point that they are livable and the floor is visible. We’ve thought about putting shelves in the office as one possible solution, and certainly the music library going into a filing cabinet will help, but what are your thoughts?

Such a Bum

Man, it’s hard to be a blogger.

Well, OK, it’s not that difficult if you’re someone like a fellow Weakley Countian, newscoma, who worked for the local newspaper and blogs a ton. She could probably pull off making a living just through blogging if she set herself up with the right amount of advertising or paid subscriptions, or whatever. (Hey, it works for Dooce, right? In case you don’t know, Dooce makes a living blogging about being a mom and other stuff. I don’t read it, but Karen does.)

But I’m not going to go into the monetizing of online content spiel, because I’m not in a mass-comm-discussing mood.

So anyway, I’ve had my iPhone 3GS for just under two days now. I feel that my productivity has shot up quite a bit, now that I have the Internet in my pocket. There’s no way I will ever go back to going without a phone with a data plan ever again. I’d give up cable way before giving up a data plan. Seriously, Karen and I pretty much watch three or four channels in our 70+ cable subscription. Animal Planet, ESPN/ESPN 2, and Fox Sports South (when they carry the Cardinals games). Aside from Animal Planet, following sports is pretty easy with the iPhone, not to mention MLB has an application which lets you watch games on your phone. We’ve mostly used our TV to watch movies, which is more fun anyway. Before we became obsessive with the iPhones over the last 48 hours (and I’m sure it will subside, at least a bit) we were reading more than watching TV.

Wait, didn’t I say that I wasn’t in a mass-comm mood? Maybe I was just kidding myself.

Since I’m on an iPhone kick anyway, I may as well post some of the more interesting applications I’ve downloaded to increase its functionality. Granted, not all of these are really great or anything, but all but one have been free so I’m taking that trade-off.

  • Twitterific (For following twitter updates)
  • Stanza (eBook reader with several libraries of free books)
  • Facebook
  • USA Today
  • Lose It! (A food/exercise counter similar to NutriMirror)
  • AT&T myWireless (account manager and bill pay)
  • e*Trades Mobile Pro
  • Shazam
  • Remote (iTunes remote control)
  • Yelp
  • Restaurants Nutrition
  • 8 (a “glasses of water” counter)
  • iFitness (the only paid app, has 100’s of exercises demonstrated, plus user workouts)
  • Instapaper (Downloads Web pages you don’t have time to read so you can come back to them later)
  • Bible
  • Barnes & Noble Bookstore
  • Flixter (movie times, trailers)
  • WebMD
  • Free German Essentials (a trial version with only 130 or so vocabulary words; the full version has 1000’s of vocab to learn)
  • Currency converter
  • Wikipanion (Wikipedia search)
  • AP Mobile (though I’m liking USA Today better, might get rid of this one)
  • Wi-Fi Finder
  • Mancala
  • myLite (flashlight plus some other cool things like strobe light)
  • Harry Potter 6 (interactive game, haven’t looked at it yet)
  • iSniper lite (Free trial game, kinda boring)
  • iHandgun (Sound emulator)
  • Lightsaber (Sound emulator)

See what fun can be had! Why do I get the feeling that some of you are criticizing my productivity…

Blogging from Work

I’m two days into my new job as an IT Specialist II at the Instructional Technology Center at UTM and I’m already out of things to do.

Well, sort of…

I’m lacking some of the key software I need to get started on Web developing, but I thought I’d blog since it’s been at least a blue moon since my last post.

Since then I’ve:

Successfully defended my Scholars Project.
Finished finals.
Moved out of university housing and back into my parentals’ house for three weeks. This includes moving plenty of furniture, and lots of Karen’s stuff.
Joined the church league softball team…and subsequently only made it to one game of four. (Is it sad that I’m too busy to play softball during the summer?)
Drowned in insurance options from the university as a full-time staff person.
Set up my new cubicle and Mac Pro.
Received free swag for being a new employee (including scissors, tape dispenser and stapler!)
Drunk lots of coffee to stay awake after getting up at 7 since I have to be at work at 8ish.

And there’s more…but enough for now.

Michael Jordan quote

I found a great Michael Jordan quote today from “flipping through” a few blogs.

“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot . . . and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why . . . I succeed.”

Michael Jordan

I’m running with that theme of stay positive as much as I can from now until April 17 at 5 p.m. (Scholars Defense)

Bits and Pieces

In case some of you haven’t noticed, I’m now twittering, which amounts to writing the occasional update to what I’m doing with my life. The “tweets” as they are called show up in the right column over there. Go check it out.

Also, I bought my own domain name this weekend, You will all want to update your bookmarks to get to my blog which is now at I’ll also find some time to get an actual Web site up at Eventually.

TaTa, and happy Monday.

The Future

Ever wonder what the future may have in store?

Boy I sure do.

In case you are wondering, this post is only semi-professional in nature, but I didn’t want to go to the trouble of using Dreamweaver to update my mCook Web site. I know. I’m a slacker. Whatev.

So anyway, back to the future. (It’s good to be punny sometimes.)

At some point in my life I stopped daydreaming on a regular basis about how I wanted my future to turn out. I don’t know why; I don’t know when. I just stopped. Maybe I was disillusioned, maybe hurt from a relationship or two…but regardless, I stopped doing it on a regular basis.

Now, “regular basis” are two key words there. I still daydream from time to time, and I do think about the future, but these days I’m more apt to be planning for the future instead of dreaming, waiting for it to come smack me in the face.

A few things have made me aware of this:

1) Spring Break free time. Spring Break has been good, mostly. I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I wanted to/should have. I need to read more about Berlin. I definitely need to get caught up in meteorology. I’m like four labs and six chapters behind. No joke. But the break has had its high points, too. I’ve had three birthday dinners, and my birthday was a week ago. That’s pretty amazing. Take my advice: turn 21 as often as you can. People like to feed you at this age, apparently. Other than just my stomach, the rest of me has enjoyed the break by relaxing, sleeping in, playing cards/catch with K and family. All of the free time has given me plenty of opportunities to think, and that has been the primary reason for becoming aware of my lack of future-dreaming.

2) The second reason for remembering how I used to think my future would turn out came about from an unlikely source —pulling a box of cards off of my bookshelf last week that haven’t been used since middle school. Back in the day, a couple friends and I would spend every day we had off from school and half the summer playing cards at one of their mom’s office in downtown Martin and then go (religiously) at three o’clock to the local card shop (at the time) Home Plate. This was our heyday of dreaming and (dare I say) scheming. We started playing guitars. We started wishing we could drive. We started thinking about girls. (Well, at least I did.) And then high school came. And we lost one of our friends to a move to Massachusetts. And then I got bogged down with school and stuff (and girls…and band…etc.) And somewhere in there the blinders were put on so that I couldn’t see much past graduating high school.

3) The final reason for becoming aware of the lack of future-dreaming is that my brother-in-law Blair told us tonight that he won’t be going to UK for grad school, at least next year. He’s still waiting on East Carolina University, which is another fine music school. The trouble is, the geography program at ECU isn’t stellar and it doesn’t have the focus that I want for grad school.

As you can probably guess, I let myself dream a little when he said he was applying at UK because UK has an excellent grad program in human geography, and so I started looking a little closer at what they had to offer. I had a dream. There’s no telling what may happen with that dream. I would be happy even if the four of us (B, my sister, K and me) didn’t end up in the same area after we leave Martin, but I can’t help but think that it would be much more fun and enjoyable if we all did end up in the same place.

The odds aren’t exactly stellar for us ending up at the same university, given that there are only a handful of universities with great music schools and great human geography programs. Dreaming was fun for a while, but realism inevitably settles in and sets up shop.

I am a self-described realist; others often confuse this for pessimism. Some people wonder why I am a realist, and I’m not entirely sure why I see the world the way I do, but I suspect that it comes down to change and how it is handled. Change has made me strive to see what is real, what is out there in black and white, instead of what would be ideal.

Change has made me a writer, an editor, a geographer, a traveler, a Germanophile, and lately, a supporter of the Democratic party. There, I said it. I want Barrack Obama to be our next president. But enough politics. In high school, and certainly in middle school, I would have called you liar if you told me I’d be all those things in 4-8 years.

I don’t have a witty saying to end this post, and I don’t really want to search for an inspiring JFK quote to show that maybe there is still some hope for the future.

But I did anyway.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” ~John F. Kennedy