Archive for March, 2009

My New Barracksmates, the Podcasters

March 23, 2009

I got my very own Army barracks room. This is great. It’s the same size as the room I’m in now, but all mine. Seriously, I’ve had the best  in my long history of many roommates (maybe it’s me…) but to be honest, I’d still rather just be barracks mates with Me, Myself, and I.

I had some help moving some of the heavier things, but mostly it was 100 small trips of stuff I could carry, without trying to pack and repack since I moved, literally, just down the hall. This is the first “move” that didn’t involve stairs. That, in itself, was amazing.

This is all well, and nice, but you may be asking yourself, “Self, why does Mark think this warrants a blog post?” Well, Self, the reason is… the result is completely counter intuitive. Perhaps I got content, or took my great barracks mate for granted (you’re still swell, Chad), but it is so incredibly quiet in here. This is deafening silence: where you can hear nothing, and all you can think about is how there is no sound. Then I get a bit lonely, and start listening to Podcasts.

I hope you listen to podcasts too. It’s like radio that you download in chunks. That’s the best way I can describe it. I listen to ones about history, current technology, video games, books, philosophy, several NPR shows (only the entertaining ones, no news), sermons from churches I used to go to, and other things too niche to describe fully here. Most podcasts have more than one person, since people are social beings and improv is easier with other people to bounce ideas off of. Even with just single host podcasts, it makes it feel like there is another person in the room and a conversation is going on. Granted, the conversation is one sided, but that just reminds me of being a teenager and talking to my dad. (Still love your lectures at 26, Dad.)

What did people do before radio to fill the silence? Did we have such great thinkers in “ancient” times because they had no one to converse with but their own thoughts? Is that one of the reasons for the fall in modern religious attendance, since the need to feel connected and personable is easily replaced with 1’s and 0’s off the Internet now?  Or are there people who really do enjoy the solace and solitude of silence, regardless of how they fill their head?

I think that may be interesting.



March 15, 2009

I consider myself pretty technically proficient. I’m no savant, nor is my mastery gained through some dedicated program of study and research. My knowledge is practical and learned through application. This makes my current situation even more frustrating, because the on the spot troubleshooting skills and forum hunting that has served me so well in the past has completely stumped me on getting a webcam working. Is it a crime to want the people I skype or instant message with to see me? It’s narcissistic, probably, but not a crime.

I know it is a crime to pay for tech support… well, at least it’s embarrasing for me, which is the same thing. When your masculinity is measured not by your sports trivia or knowledge of cars, you better be darn good at whatever else abilities you have, especially since helping other people with technology is my niche.

I had an old webcam. Several years old. According to Logitech, it’s still supported, and it worked on my old computer, but this new desktop I built with Vista is ornery when it comes to anything more than a year old. It was a Logitech Quickcam IM. I’d lost the stand for it, and the clip for the monitor, so it sat on a improvised stand that involved duct tape and a Wii stand I don’t use. It worked.

Until a month ago, that is. So the final answer? I bought a new one. The QuickCam Communicate MP. It has a microphone in it and a makes a much better picture. Was I giving in? No, I didn’t count this as a defeat. Instead, it’s like I escalated the Cold War Arms race, and I’m just keeping up with Vista.  The right answer was to upgrade in the first place.

I’m sure there’s some greater moral about patience, stubborness, not placing my worth in my reputation, and the law of diminishing returns, but I’ll worry about that later. For now, I’m making funny faces and trying to catch myself looking at the camera.


Marathon Update

March 10, 2009

Yes, I am going to the Paris Marathon on 5 April 2009. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to finish it right now. I am recovering from a month long struggle with shoulder bursitis, which is an inflammation of the shoulder joint. This means, when I ran over 4 miles, my shoulder would ache severely due to the constant jarring from the running, and the only way to get rid of bursitis is to wait it out, take anti-inflammatories, and go easy. Apparently I have a family history of this. Thanks, Mom and Dad! I suppose the above average smarts and good looks you gave me will have to make up for the frail health.

This means the long runs of 15, 18, and 20 miles never got done, and my regular runs of 6 or 8 got shortened as well. I am still going, and I am still running, but I don’t plan of finishing the whole marathon, just the half marathon. That is still an acomplishment, I think, since I haven’t run a half marathon in competition yet, although I’ve run the miles at one time.

It will still be Paris, France (just in case you thought it was Paris, Texas) and in the height of the spring season, so it will be gorgeous. My mother is now coming with me, which will be nice since travels shared are better than travels selfishly hoarded. Plus, I’m adding to the 6 days there by going to England for 9, so I am making good use of my time off.

There will be plenty of pictures. Of note, I plan on re-visiting the sites my Grandfather on my mother’s side visited while he was in Paris with the US Army in 1944 or 1945. I imagine the sites will be almost the same as on the postcards he sent back, but now they will be improved since humans have developed the ability to see in color. Or maybe we saw in color and the photographs were behind… either way, it will be great!

If anyone has some suggestions on where to go, or what to see besides the obvious ones like Notre Dame, the Louvre, le Eiffel Tower, etc, let me know. When I travel, I like to “go native” as much as possible, so I try to eat at little places and learn enough of the language to sound local, although this time I’m going to pretend to be a German tourist. We’ll see how well it works.


March 5, 2009

I am trying to make this updating easier by integrating a few things. My facebook, this blog, Flickr for pictures, YouTube for videos, Twitter, Myspace (least updated), and email should all be tightly integrated now. If I update one of these sites, it should update the others. This might prevent another 3 month drought.

This made me type a very long rant and ramble about privacy, social networking, and other modern technological concerns, but it has been said better by other people.

So, at the risk of my privacy, here are links.

YouTube (will repost old videos of Luke eventually)



Guten Appetit!

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