Category Archives: Blogging

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

The Professional Blog of Matt Cook

So I started another Web site today…another blog. I just can’t help myself sometimes. That’s not to say I’m abandoning mCook, but as that site clearly states, it is the [somewhat] professional blog of me.

This is to be the professional blog. It will last long after mCook at UT Martin dies (I have to graduate sometime, after all.) And so for that reason, I decided to go ahead and get a Blogger account (conveniently tied to my Google account) set up.