Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1 year

One year ago, I sat in the law school, locked out of my house, and started a blog. Well. Looks like a failure. Kinds of feels like a failure too. I can't tell you how many blogs I've been to where their hundredth post proceeds their blog's birthday by a mile. And mine...not so much.

To tell the truth, I've thought about this blog several times since I last posted. And then, sometime, probably a month ago decided that part of my problem was that I lacked focus. I don't really have an interesting enough life (at least the parts that I feel like sharing) to keep this blog personal. And yet, I'm not sure I'm a witty enough writer, or one with strong enough opinions, to write about current events or anything of the sort. Not knowledgeable enough to have a single subject blog.

But I don't really want to give it up. Even though I haven't participated much in the blog world, I've been an active consumer. And in some senses, even though the web is replete with wittier, more interesting, and smarter people than myself, I still feel the tug to "Produce before you consume, serve before you seek entertainment" (Josh Harris).

Another thing I've realized (okay, I realized it before too), but I'm realizing it anew--I like to make stuff. I need a little bit of creativity. So. I'm going to try to get more on top of using my camera and recording these projects. And this is going to be my "making things better by making stuff" blog. With maybe a couple of "making things better in a grander and less selfish sense" ideas or opinions thrown in here and there. But mostly, I think I gotta start small.

I'm writing this post, and hopefully a couple of extras in advance, so maybe that will make me feel like a good blogger and allow me to post more frequently. Maybe. Just maybe.

picture by flickr user pasotraspaso

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A little more beauty in my life

And now in the category of "not spending the inheritance of your firstborn," free entertainment for many this Saturday: Museum Day 2008

Sponsored by the Smithsonian Museum, there are a bunch of participating museums. I'm thinking about surprising Adam* with a trip to the art museum, which we haven't visited yet. Admittedly, we're spoiled by the museums in Boston, but it should be a good way to celebrate his first Saturday at home in three weeks.

*he actually knows this blog exists, and is subscribed to it in Google Reader, but I don't think he ever checks, so I think I'm safe.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

I wonder...

How in the world did people manage footnotes (especially really dense footnote-age, like in law review articles) when they were using typewriters?

Monday, July 28, 2008

One year!

It's been one year since I married that man o' mine. Thanks to everyone who celebrated with us, in body or in spirit.

And, as a special present to y'all, since I haven't done this yet...want some pictures? (what? twelve months isn't a long time or anything!).

Photos credits all belong to our photographer, the wonderful Cherry Li, high school friend of Adam's and photographer extraordinaire. Seriously people. These are all un-retouched and done without any additional lighting. A girl and her camera. And we don't look too bad, considering it was super hot and muggy (as it is apt to be at the end of July in Boston).

Friday, July 4, 2008

Great Video

I kind of want to subtitle it "Joy to the World."

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Happy 4th!

Enjoy some grilling, some time with friends and/or family, and some pyrotechnics!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tales of Long Ago and Faraway Places

After Adam got done with classes, we headed out for a post-exam, pre-internship, exploratory tour.

We were actually in two new states for Adam (North and South Carolina), but we weren't even in SC long enough to see a welcome station.

Near Charlotte is an absolutely amazing fabric store--Mary Jo's Cloth Store--and it just so happened that I needed some fabric (of course I needed fabric. Have I ever not needed fabric?). Quilt backing, for our summer "let's try to not spend the inheritance of our firstborn on air-conditioning" bed-covering.

We quite enjoyed wandering around downtown Charlotte, though it was less-than-spectacularly-active on Saturday night. Highlights included:

  • A little mini-library next to a park (which we didn't really get to see because someone was having a wedding reception).

  • Pizzeria Uno's. Despite having earned a reputation in college for being anti-Uno's, we were both in the mood for some deep dish pizza. And I guess it's a good thing. When we got back, we looked it up, and the only Uno's in the state of Tennessee is in Maryville. The only one.

  • Wachovia plaza. Pretty. A really dark photo, though.

  • The building with a quiz. I can't remember what it was called, but it had these touch pads, and if you touched them, there was a sound (gong, bell, etc.). Apparently if you hit them in the right order (there's a clue on the side of the building), there's some extended song that plays and the building lights up). I didn't try to test Adam's patience by actually doing it though.

  • Staying in a hotel with a tv. I guess that's not so crazy now that we have a tv in our place (thanks Mom and Dad--we actually watched it for the first time last night for the Lakers/Celtics game). But in Charlotte we watched Top Chef, or something of the sort, and an episode of Project Runway.

And that was just the first (full) day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reasons Why I am the Worst Computer Geek Ever

I originally titled this "Why I am the worst nerd ever," but then I realized that I still fit the nerd bill pretty well. I'm interested in academics, I read non-fiction for fun. As a matter of fact, that picture on my sidebar is me at the Fourth of July reading a discrete math textbook. Because nothing says holiday like discrete math. I have a compunction, instilled by my immediate family, to look up answers to questions that are pondered aloud. Adam thinks it's funny that he can go to my house and wonder about the origins of "dead ringer,"* and someone will inevitably get up and look it up on the internet, or in the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins.

So, all in all, I'm not a bad nerd. Which will definitely surprise many who know me. But I discover time and time again that I'm a bad computer geek. Not to say that computer geeks are all alike. I am one. I just don't adhere to many of the stereotypes.

  1. I don't wear much black. From what I hear, CS majors in college are supposed to wear all black so that it doesn't show when they haven't taken a shower in a long time. I look dead in black. I don't really like looking dead.

  2. I don't/haven't played very many video or computer games. No LAN parties for me. I was into Sierra computer games (Dr. Brain anyone?), but I never played any games with expansion packs or bonus levels that you could only get to by pressing "zoieufa" while the opening was playing.

  3. I'm not really a technophile. There are plenty of computer geeks who also fall in this category, but I still sort of feel that it makes me a bad geek. I don't have an iPhone, I don't know off the top of my head the specs of the computer I'm running (though I could find out quickly enough), I don't have any desire to have an eBook, or whatever the latest-and-greatest is. I like cool tools (see I Love the Library), I appreciate innovation, but I'm not an early adopter.

  4. I'm totally unaware of stinking code repositories. Maybe it's because, while my CS background is fine, my Software Engineering is a little lacking. Maybe it's because I'm just dense. But do yourself a favor, and if you're trying to write some code, go and see if there's a repository for the language you're using (hint: there's code out there for every language I've ever come across).

  5. I have only once ever opened the case of a CPU. And here I am telling my husband that I can install a new hard drive in a computer we inherited, and I "haven't gotten around to it" because, even though it's been sitting in our office since we moved in, and I've gotten several relevant books from various library book sales, I don't know what I'm doing

  6. I'm not really messy, and I'm not really neat. Most of the people that I think "Wow, they're hard core," at least with respect to computers are either fanatically neat or fantastically messy. They may have bags from Wendy's stacked three high beside their computers because they've been working/playing so hard that they haven't really emerged from their caves in ages. Or they may know where every scrap of paper and test program is, file structures in their drawers mirrored by their directory structures. I'm just sort of meh.

I'm sorry if some of the preceding was confusing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

On Appreciation*

This weekend, Adam and I decided we wanted to go on an outing. What with houseguests and holidays, and upcoming exams and the like, it's been a while since we've done something like that for the weekend. Tossed around some ideas of places we'd like to go (we're compiling a road trip wishlist...if you're within weekend trip distance of Nashville and want to show us around your area, we'd love to hear). Ended up driving down to the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg, TN.

Lynchburg is this tiny, tiny town. Their sign says population 361, though the tour guide said they're probably at 450-500 now. And this distillery makes all of the Jack Daniel's sold. All of it.

Now, I'm not a super-huge fan of the alcohols. Adam thinks I was scarred by accidentally drinking my grandfather's martini at the age of 7 (I thought it was my water glass and I took a big sip. Not cool.). But I love me a good factory tour. Seeing how something is made makes me appreciate the labor that goes into a product, from the people actually running the lines, to the people who designed all the machinery and packaging. It makes me realize how many things can go wrong in the process.

Tennessee whiskey is made by mixing corn, barley, rye, and the water from an underground spring (Daniel discovered the spring and decided it made perfect whiskey. Now they say that's because the water has no iron in it). Add some yeast, and let the whole thing ferment for 6 days. They showed us a batch that had been working for 6 hours, and it looked like a witches cauldron a-brewing and a-boiling. And if you got your nose close, and got a whiff of all that carbon dioxide, well, in the words of our tourguide, "that stuff'll untie your shoelaces". This fermented stuff is called brewer's beer. They distill that (boil off the alcohol), and then drip the resulting alcohol through big tunnels of charcoal (made by burning big bundles of sugar maple wood). Then it gets put into handmade barrels and stored for about six years. The changing temperature opens and closes the pores of the wood of the barrel, and the whiskey gets sucked in and forced back out as time goes by. (Can I mention how cool barrel-making is? You can make something to hold liquid with just a bunch of wood, and something to hold the pieces of wood together. I would totally learn to be a cooper.). And that's it. They have tasters who go try the barrels that might be ready since they all age at slightly different rates.

The whole of the valley smells a little bit like a loaf of bread (it's all that yeast and all those grains). And you can almost smell it in the finished product. So I tried it again after we got home (Moore County is a dry county. So they can give their employees a pint once a month, but they can't sell any to the visitors that come through town), and...

I still don't really like it. But I think it's much cooler than I used to.

I think it's a lesson I need to learn in general: how to appreciate things I don't really like. Appreciating all people as God's children, appreciating why people might have opinions different from my own, appreciating attempts to aid that don't necessarily help (whether it's attempts to help me, or attempts to help the world).

*Okay, so it's been a long time since I've posted. I have a couple of draft posts, but I realized before publishing that they were a little whinier than I really wanted to put out there. Plus, I guess I'm still trying to find that balance of being vague enough to protect myself and some of the other people in my life, and being specific enough to make sense to someone other than myself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I love the library

Okay, making things better isn't always about making the world better. Sometimes it's about making life easier or more fun. I've recently been reading a decent amount about productivity, which I think appeals to the poor, suppressed organized person that lives inside of me. A couple of favorites include LifeHacker(geek to live=great slogan), which led me to David Allen's Getting Things Done.

Anyway (puts self back on original tangent), I found out today about the LibraryLookup project. For other people who love the library (or who read more books than their current income should really support), you know that when you're browsing Amazon, and you find a great book, you want to see if your local library (or, if you're lucky enough, the higher education institution with which you are affiliated's library...more about how sad I will be to lose such an affiliation later) has the book that is setting off your imagination. Back in the day, you would write down the name of the book on some running list, and look the next time you were at the library. Online card catalogues made it that much you open another tab, copy and paste the name of the book or the ISBN into your local library catalog's search feature and out pops the availability. even easier way! Go to LibraryLookup. Figure out what cataloging system your library uses. Make a "bookmarklet" and drag it up to your bookmarks toolbar. Now, anytime you're on a website that uses the ISBN of a book in its URL (the handiest example being Amazon), you can click the bookmarklet and badda-bing, badda-boom, up will pop a window with all of the information on your library's holdings. No copy/paste required.

Apparently, there's more (the geeky among you should read an update from the creator of LibraryLookup), but I'm not going to look now.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A wrinkly day

I know I said the previous post was enough for one day. And it probably is. But I don't want to be one of the many single-entry blog stumps all over the internet.

I was going to write about my post-Christmas travel day yesterday (which was a little bit...not so hot). But now I don't think I'm going to do that. I'll just say here that A and I now have a list of things to take care of while he's in beginning-of-the-semester ease.

Plans were changed by an email from a friend asking for prayers for the situation in Kenya. She was there not long ago, and taken by the people and the place. Apparently racial tensions were exacerbated by elections last week, and it has turned violent. And since it is known for being one of the most politically stable countries in Africa, that's saying something.

I don't know what to do (that's often the case for me...that's why I'm aspiring), other than pray, and spread knowledge. This has made me realize that one of my resolutions for this year again needs to be following the news more. It's easy for me to say that I'll read the news online, saving myself a newspaper subscription fee. But I don't often do it. So maybe it's time to invest in the physical media, and rely on the internet for more information.

What does that mean?

I decided I would like a forum for my stories and thoughts. "Ameliorant" is a noun form of ameliorate, and while I am not always good at following through, I would like to think that one of my callings is to make things better--improve life, improve the world.

Part of that is thinking about ways to improve processes whether it be working out a recipe or a pattern, but I want to remember that part of that is also thinking about how to serve the least of these.

And the last four letters, which led me to settle on the word, may be more or less important. I do hope, however, that my rants will be more or less constructive.

All right, that's self-reflective enough for this New Year's Day.