Do or Do Not.

Archive for August, 2005

Most deserving

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I’d like to send out some serious congratulations to one of my most favoritest peeps in the whole world, Rebecca Ross, who has apparently just been made the regular music columnist for the Pensacola News Journal. The previous columnist, Troy Moon, had the gig for just about for-frickin’-ever; honestly, I can’t solidly remember a time when he wasn’t “the music guy” at the PNJ. But I guess he decided to move on to doing some other stuff–I haven’t actually checked with Rebecca on the details yet–and whammo! The Divine Miss R is now The Divine Miss R, Weekly Music Columnist.

This news makes me happy beyond all reason, because not only is Rebecca one of my favorite people, she’s also one of my favorite writers. She has an amazingly easy, conversational style that draws the reader in and makes them feel like they’re just hangin’ out with her, sippin’ on their leisure drink of choice, but even better than that: she’s funny. I mean really, really funny. And I don’t get the impression that she has to try to be funny (in the same way that some other people do, for example, cough me)–I get excited every time a see an email in my inbox from her because I know that even her off-the-cuff correspondence is going to make me laugh. Luckily for readers of the PNJ, she’s brought that style with her to her new gig.

I only hope now that she’s not writing that column anywhere near as long as her predecessor did. I hope this job is nothing but a stepping stone to bigger and more wondrous opportunities for her. She deserves to share her funny with the world, and the world deserves to get her funny. ‘Gratz, Rebecca!

Written by Allen

August 26th, 2005 at 12:57 pm

Posted in General

Twenty percent

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As of 10:36 p.m. last night, I’m officially 20% done with the first draft of my long-awatied novel. I say “long-awaited” because I know there’s nothing you fine people anticipate more than my birthing 65,000 words of dark humor, insightful characterization, effervescent yet biting dialogue and pulse-pounding action into the world. But wait a longer, you shall; I still have 80% of those words left to pull from the ether and arrange just so in Mircosoft Word.

I need a goal, a deadline to work toward, so I’m putting this out here in public for all to see, in hopes that the humiliation that will inevitably come from not meeting said deadline will provide proper impetus to push forward: I will be done with the first draft of said novel by the end of October. That’s both a doable and a moderately challenging goal. So there it is…end of October, the novel will be done. Or the first draft, anyway. Forward, ho…

Written by Allen

August 26th, 2005 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Fiction,Writing

On first impressions

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Recently, some friends of mine took their rugrats to a party that, in retrospect, probably wasn’t a place for little kids. Some of the crowd present were parents themselves and didn’t mind (or possibly even enjoyed) the havoc that small children naturally tend to wreak. Others, however, didn’t seem to be quite so accepting of kids running around at what they obviously perceived as being an “adult” party, acting as if the kids had vile communicable diseases streaming from their every pore.

This situation led a new online acquaintance of mine to ask, in all honesty, for someone to describe the appeal of having children. This person doesn’t dislike children, but simply has no experience with them, positive or otherwise. That’s a feeling I can certainly relate to; before my daughters were born, I had virtually no experience with kids myself beyond a few hours spent in the company of friends’ kids. He got a few responses to his question, but the best one I’ve read actually came from his own wife, who has an adorable daughter of her own from a previous marriage:

Picture having a week old baby. You’ve just bathed her and fed her and you’re rocking with her, examining each of her tiny fingers, and seeing her deep blue eyes for pretty much the first time. Silver nitrate, all that, they’ve been pretty much closed. You’re looking at the little milk blister on her upper lip and smiling. She’s staring at you, arms and legs jerkily windmilling, and you wrap her up tighter. She stares at you like she’s memorizing you, like she’s meeting you for the first time.

All of you with kids, go read, because I think you’ll likely smile and nod your head knowingly, and maybe go hug your kids afterward. Those of you without kids, go read, because it might make you want go make some of your own.

As a side note, it’s always interesting meeting new people and seeing unexpected sides to them. I barely know the person who wrote that post–and even to say that I “know” her at all isn’t truly accurate, because at this point, it’s really more that we share the same online space sometimes–so I had no reason either to assume she was a good writer or to assume that she wasn’t. Yet still, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that indeed, she’s a very good writer. She has an astounding ability to write directly to the heart of an emotion (an ability I’m especially envious of given my tendency to avoid doing precisely that).

Written by Allen

August 23rd, 2005 at 9:22 pm

Posted in General

Monday Photo: Warning

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This picture was taken in the Navy Point area of Pensacola, one of the areas that took the biggest hit from Hurrican Ivan last September. Homes that look totally undamaged stand side-by-side with homes that were made unlivable by the storm. Apparently, this area among others had significant problems from looters soon after the hurricane, and I assume this sign was presented as a warning to those miserable sons of bitches who would dare to steal from anyone who’d just had their home destroyed. Other signs were more direct: “Don’t loot the homeless,” said one plea spray-painted on the side one former house.

But I saw other messages around town, too, most frequently painted on the sides of destroyed buildings:

“You are beautiful.”

Written by Allen

August 22nd, 2005 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Photography

Identity programming

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I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks back that I tend to self-identify far, far too much based on what it is I do for a living. And I’m starting to realize that that self-identification is neither accurate nor particularly good for me.

I’m a programmer, I tell myself. And while technically that’s true–it’s what I put in that little box at the bottom of my 1040 form every year–it’s not really how I see myself. I’ve said it for years without thinking about what I was saying. But the more I do think about it, the less comfortable that particular set of clothes gets. It’s not that I don’t enjoy what I do, because I like it well enough, but it’s just not as much a deeply-ingrained part of my persona as I’d always assumed.

What it comes down to with the programming thing is: I’m a whore. I’m doing it for the money. I’m doing it so Terry can stay home while the kids are little and because it’s a job I don’t mind. I’m doing it because I can, and because I can stay in my own little zeroes-and-ones world and not have to interact too much with (shudder) people. But being a programmer isn’t my dream.

Does it have to be? Of course not. Isn’t it good enough that I get paid pretty well and don’t mind doing my job? Yeah, it is.

But it’s the identification part I’ve recently come to have trouble with.

I work with a lot of really bright people, people smarter than I am. And those of you who know me know that for me to say that really means something. These guys (not being sexist; the people I’m talking about all happen to be male) seem to have programming in their blood. They generally seem to have much more experience than I do, true, but to me it seems like it’s more than that: it’s a deep internalization of what they do, a love for the minutae and for the big picture, a passion that comes out when they’re discussing or debating various programming-related points.

And that’s what I ain’t got. Because, as noted, I’m just a whore.

As I hang out with some of these people, both at work and in a newer community of people I’ve recently met, my lack of experience in and passion for hardcore programming concepts has provoked in me a feeling that it took me awhile to recognize, because I hadn’t felt it in so long: I felt stupid.

Now, I can talk to people who have huge chunks of knowledge of subjects I know nothing about, who have mastered arcane disciplines that will serve mainly to allow them to get jobs teaching those same arcane displines to others, and those people don’t make me feel stupid in the least. I respect the work and dedication those people have put into learning what they have, and while I might be a little envious sometimes (I have occasional regrets that I didn’t do more with my education), it has no impact on my self-identity or self-worth.

But when faced with those people in my own field who have that knowledge and passion–yup, makes me feel like I’m holding up a sign with an arrow pointing at my face, a sign that says “You’re all with stupid.” And I suspect that feeling’s compounded by the fact that I don’t really want to learn as much about my field. I want to learn some more, of course, but I just don’t have the passion necessary to do so, so I’m dooming myself always to be among the ign’ant.

Locking too much of my identity in “programmer” and then being faced with people whom the word truly fits has been less than pleasant, I must say, and more than a little rattling to the pillars propping up my self-image. So as far as that goes, I’m adopting and paraphrasing something someone else said recently in a far different context: “Programming is what I do, not who I am.”

If I do want to use a vocation as the basis for my identity, I need to focus more on calling myself a writer. Part of me chafes a bit at that because I’m afraid it sounds pretentious, but it’s a much more valid label. Not only does using that word point me much more solidly in the direction I’d like my future to be going, but it fits me much better–like going from wearing a t-shirt three sizes too small to a finely-tailored Italian suit.

And I think taking the burden of the word “programmer” off of my shoulders will allow me to feel more at ease around these real programmers.

Written by Allen

August 19th, 2005 at 9:10 pm

Posted in General

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