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Dec. 31st, 2011 @ 11:00 pm Looking forward to looking back
We're a few short hours away from the end of 2011 here in the GMT-5 zone, and I can say that it's really been quite the year. In 2009 and 2010, I wrote retrospective summaries of the year, so here we go again in much the same vein. Looking at the calendar on here, I've only written five journal entries for the entire year so far. This is of course has been supplemented by Facebook and Twitter to a large degree, but it's still a little sad to see the loss of long-form blogging in my creative output. Ah well, this change and we move on.

First obvious difference here, from my perspective anyway, is that I'm typing this on a Macintosh computer. For those who have known me for a very long time, this should be a shocking development. I used to hate Macs, and once I discovered Unix and started hating Windows, I still hated Macs more. They were always too cute and condescending for me, and daft in all kinds of odd ways. Maybe I'm getting older, maybe Apple's getting smarter, or maybe we've finally met in the middle. However it worked, I never thought I'd drop into the Cult Of Mac, but I have to admit that the MacBook Air is a fantastically capable little ultralight machine. It floats the right balance for me between a netbook and a notebook, and the fact that it's got Unix under the hood means that I already know how to tweak it more than the average Mac head right out of the box. In fact, first thing I did was set up my Terminal environment and unmap a bunch of stupid Apple keyboard settings so that I could use it. Now, we get along nicely, and I'm officially a three-platform computer user. I still have my hulking Win7 box at home for gaming, recording, art, and general stuff, but even that's feeling much less necessary these days. Who knows, we may see more little apples around my life in the future.

Speaking of computers, you may now call me Master. Of Science. Last January, I embarked on a completely insane semester of two simultaneous graduate classes, both of which had a fairly significant course load. One with lots of reading and report writing, the other with a sizeable programming project. This is of course on top of working full time, but more on that in a bit. It was a crazy amount of work, and there were times that I wasn't sure I was actually going to make it out. But somehow, be it luck, grace, or cowardice, I survived to graduate in June with my MS in CS. And oh man did it feel good to be done! Not too long after that, my little sister graduated from law school. Almost no one in my family has a degree, and now we've got two advanced degrees to be proud of. That is a very cool thing.

And then there was work. I rang in my eleventh year at MITRE, a longevity that becomes more rare in my generation each year. I still hold to the thought that if I get bored, I'm going to find something else to do. Thankfully, I've not been lacking for interesting things to do and haven't needed to look somewhere else. I traveled a fair bit this year, ending up in San Francisco three times last year for difference conferences on top of a few trips to other places throughout the year. I'm glad to say that I was better this year about getting out and seeing interesting things on these trips instead of just holing up in my hotel room for the duration. Got to see a lot more of the SF Bay area than ever before, even getting out into the woods a few times. This was especially true of my last trip down to DC. Even though I'm in the area a few times every year, I haven't really ever made it a point to get out and see the city at all, but this last time I made it to the Smithsonian for the first time since I was a kid. I need to make it a point to do that more often in the future.

But work was a lot more than just traveling. I was running my first real project at the start of the year, finally getting to drive the boat in an official fashion. Even though I'd been technical lead a ton of times before, being the actual project leader finally gave me the flexibility to really do things how I saw best. Around March, I ended up taking over the leadership of a second project as well, and running two research projects at the same time was more work than I ever anticipated, especially considering that this all happened in the middle of my crazy last semester of graduate school. I'm really proud of both of the projects and think we accomplished a lot of really great work.

And with all of this going on, and somewhat because of it, about a third of the way through the year I got a promotion! This bumped me up from "senior" staff to "lead" staff, and I still haven't printed up new business cards. I want to come up with something interesting for the title though, more so than "Lead Social Computing Research Scientist" or somesuch dreariness. But I guess this means I'm doing at least something right. Now I just need to make sure that I don't tick off too many important people.

And to the home life: Luc has changed phenomenally in the last twelve months. It's been dumbfounding to watch him grow up before our eyes. This time last year, he was crawling, and only just so, and wasn't talking at all. Now we can't keep him from climbing on everything, and he surprises us with new sentences every day. He understands constructs in language and social structure that we never explicitly taught him, and he really gets it. Kid's a sponge. This terrifies me though, because it's my job to make sure he soaks up all the right stuff in his early life here. I think we're doing well enough so far. It's been a bit of a tough ride, with this year being so busy and my being on the road so much., but I'm thankful for all of the moments that I do get with him. He makes me glad to be a dad and hopeful that I can be a good one.

Even though I began the year with full intentions to get a new Psycliq full length album out in 2011 and didn't make that goal, I've been cranking away at projects throughout the year nonetheless. I made a chiptune soundtrack for Rock Paper Armageddon, a Facebook game that I wrote for school. The entire album was composed in Renoise, and I even put some of it together while sitting on an airplane. That was a pretty cool way to work. I upgraded just about all of the software in my home studio, which gave me some really cool new tools to work with. Wanting to stretch my wings a bit with the new setup, I set off to do a quick cover song with the new stuff. I ended up doing for different remixes of House of the Rising Sun, enough to release it as its own EP. Even tried my hand at doing some mastering on this recording, only to find that I'm really not very good at mastering audio. I'm going to look into professional mixing and mastering services for my next album, which I am still working on in the background here.

I joined up with Magnatune, which has been really good for exposure to a whole new audience set. You can now find Psycliq music on just about every music service out there, and I'm trying to make sure it's included on any new ones that I come across. I also re-launched the Electric Goodies newsletter this fall, and I hope to keep growing the fanbase the future. The band's not huge and I'm not making a living from it, but I'm making music that I like and at least a few other people out there seem to like it as well. That's a very satisfying feeling as an artist.

Oh yeah, in the middle of all of this other stuff going on, I turned 30. We celebrated by going out to see Over The Rhine on my birthday, in boston. It was fantastic. I also managed to get out to see Battles later in the year, which was a fantastic concert. But yeah, I'm old now. I work with some people who were born in the 90's. That's just freaky to me.

We've been trying to eat a lot healthier this past year, getting a lot of our food from the farm share with Farmer Dave's and local farmer's markets. Partially because we're both getting older, partially because of Luc, and partially just because we're smarter about it now than we ever were. It's been an interesting trick to do what we can to eat better food but also stay within a budget that we can afford. I may have gotten a promotion at work, but we're still a one income family living in the greater Boston metro area. Not easy, that.

2011 was a big year for the rest of the world too, from the Arab spring to the Occupy protests, the world map is changing in ways that you won't find in an atlas. It's a fascinating time to be alive, because not only is the whole world being altered as we speak, we can actually hear about it as it happens thanks to the technology that we have today. It makes me proud to work on that very technology every day.

Now we're a bit away from 2012, and I don't really know what's to come.

I'm mostly OK with that. Life is good, with all of its ups and downs. See y'all on the other side.
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Nov. 20th, 2011 @ 06:55 am Recipes
A couple folks have recently asked for some recipes from me, so here they are for posterity's sake.

Caesar Salad a la Brooks
  • 3-5 whole cloves garlic (depending on how awesome you are. Go for 5 if you can.)
  • 1tsp salt (coarse fresh ground seas salt if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (coarse fresh ground if possible)
  • 1 tsp worcestershire
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dijon
  • 1/2 lemon worth of juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 1 egg yolk (coddled)
  • a few dashes of red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
A solid wood salad bowl is strongly recommended for preparation, as it helps to crush the garlic as well getting seasoned over time with use.

Crush the garlic cloves into the wooden bowl with the back of a fork along with the salt and pepper. The salt and pepper will act as abrasive agents and help break down the garlic.

Meanwhile, coddle an egg by placing it in boiling water for about 40 seconds. This aids in yolk separation.

Add in the worcestershire, soy, dijon, lemon juice and egg yolk. Stir to combine, continuing to crush larger bits of garlic with your fork as you find them.

Add in the oil and vinegar, emulsify with fork.

Now the part that just takes practice: taste the dressing and adjust as needed. Add salt to enhance flavors, bring them into sharper relief. Add vinegar to mellow things out. Add lemon to sweeten it. I've found that a little extra salt and a little extra lemon is generally needed, so I put them in at the start, but don't until you try it out.

Makes enough dressing to cover 2-3 heads of chopped romaine lettuce.

Bit Cookie Dough
  • 1c (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 12oz pkg bits (chocolate chips, M&M's, fried shrimps, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, cream butter & sugars until light & fluffy. This is a very important step: don't just combine the sugars and butter, you really have to cream the heck out of them, letting the sugar granules lacerate the butter and then begin to break down themselves. It should start to look and feel like a slightly gritty buttercream frosting when it's ready. (Use an electric stand mixer unless you're a masochist.)

Beat in egg & vanilla.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, & salt.

Gradually blend dry ingredient mix into creamed mixture.

Stir in bits.

Portion out on to silicone baking mat, bake 10-13 mins until edges are slightly browned.

Let cool for 1 minute on baking mat, then transition to cooling rack.
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Jun. 12th, 2011 @ 10:53 am Projects
I can't seem to live without a mound of projects and to-dos. I don't do nothing very well.

A few weeks back, I finished my Master of Science degree. It was a lot of work and it took me four and a half years, with the last six months being particularly nuts. Between school, work, and family, I was generally not sure which way was up most of the time. But it's done now, and we're finally spending some time together as a family, including the first vacation I've taken in a while. My little sister finished her Law degree this year, too, so it's been a lot of family time and graduations all around. Luc's definitely been loving seeing everybody more often, including Daddy.

But now summer is just about upon us, and it's time to start all the home construction projects. We're putting in a split air conditioner to cool the top floor of the house, and it's definitely a more involved project than I thought it'd be. My friend Tristan came over yesterday and we managed to drill a hole through the side of the house and run all of the electrical wiring. However, it looks like the refrigerant lines are going to need a professional, so we don't have it up and running quite yet. I'm hoping that we can get him by sometime this coming week to get that going before the heat really kicks off again.

We're also looking to put in a patio this summer to replace the old rotting wooden walkway that's out there now. I've replaced a handful of boards and one full section already, but I still put my foot through it yesterday. Again. Really, it's time for it to go. I learned a bit about putting in paving stones by making a base for the air conditioner's compressor unit the other day, though, so at least that's a start on that skillset. Maybe we'll have a "let's build a patio" party this summer.

I'm also looking to update my music studio a bit this year, as a sort of graduation present thing. Much of my software is quite a few years old and doesn't run particularly well on modern systems. I've been able to patch it up and get it hobbling along, but I think I'm at the point of diminishing returns and just need to bite the bullet and put together a new studio. Once all that's together, I can start working on the next Psycliq album for real, and I really look forward to that. I've got a decent handful of songs that really want to see more life but haven't been given the chance yet.

I've also got a backlog of video games, movies, books, and stuff like that that I've been wanting to get through. I've already managed to finish a couple of games and am nearly done with a book I've been reading for months now, but at the same time it's very hard not to just make the pile even bigger in the mean time. After all, I've got all this free time, right?

So I guess it's going to be as busy a summer as ever. But I'm looking forward to it. Chapters have closed and new ones have opened. This is the proper way of things.
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Jan. 21st, 2011 @ 06:00 pm Life on Easy Mode
Today, I did something I didn't think I'd ever do. I paid somebody else to shovel snow for me. A neighbor of mine let me know about a guy down the block who owns a bobcat and who came out to help him, and suggested that we look into using him as well. A few dollars later, and the heavy roadslush at the front of my house is all taken care of. Probably saved me about an hour and a half of shoveling, as well as no need to get the snowblower out. I think that we might just have to continue this.

I've also been putting just about every bill I have on auto-pay, something that I previously wasn't a fan of. I used to like having finer control of how and when things got paid, but not anymore. Now, I mostly care that things get paid. And I can figure out the details in one lump at the end of the month instead of every week.

Furthermore, in the past few months, I've let go of some ego and started playing some games on easy mode. That's how I beat God of War II and Gears of War. Hard mode just takes too much time and investment, more than I can give it right now. As much as I love games, and as much as I know that I can beat them still, I've got other things to take care of. And I'd rather spend time with Luc anyway.

The change in games is an appropriate metaphor for the rest of my life. As I grow older and my responsibilities become more complicated, I'm trading in unnecessary challenges. If anecdotal evidence has anything to say, this is fairly common. If anything, I held out longer than most. With classes starting up in just a few days and my life about to kick into an incredible overdrive, I've got a lot of good reasons for automating things now.

However, I wonder something: since we all crave challenge as a means of fulfillment, and I certainly know that I do, what am I going to take on once things calm down? Ponderous, that.
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Jan. 12th, 2011 @ 06:46 pm Storms and Productivity
We just got hit with a pretty sizable snowstorm here. I went out around 11:30 this morning to clear out what I could, and came back in over two hours later after having shoveled a good foot and a half of snow. Even lugging around a snowblower is exhausting with that much to toss about. It was still coming down the whole time I was out there, too, though it had seemed to have started lightening up for a bit.

Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, the storm picked up again for a little bit. Looking outside now, though, I think the precipitation has stopped and we've got only about an inch or two out there from when I went out this morning. I'm not sure whether I want to brave the cold dark night and finish up the shoveling task at hand or just leave it for first thing in the morning tomorrow. I have a feeling procrastination will win out.

Needless to say, I telecommuted today, as did just about everyone else in my office that I'm aware of. In spite of my company's repeated efforts to make remote access impossible, I actually managed to get a fair bit of work done. It's simply wonderful what one can accomplish with a pile of SSH terminals and a web browser at hand. It's also wonderful what one can accomplish without people interrupting one every ten minutes.

I've also been spending a chunk of time on StackOverflow today. What a cool site, that. I've been a passive consumer of it for a while now, but now that my company's got an OpenID server I've bothered to log in and start asking and answering questions. My reputation jumped from '8' this morning to '73' at last check. That's still tiny by community standards, but still, it's quite interesting to me to see that in action. People will do amazing things just to get worthless little gold stars, and it seems I'm not immune.
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Jan. 1st, 2011 @ 04:58 pm I'm beginning to hear whispers
And before you know it, 2010 has come to a close. I really liked the retrospective I posted last year, so I figured I'd do another one here. I should take time to blog a bit more regularly, but with all the tweeting and facebooking, I guess I never feel like I've got enough built up to make a post. It's as if my internet catharsis release valve got much more sensitive.

Anyway, the year. It will have been last year by the time I finish this. On the whole, it was a good year, and it went by very fast by my reckoning. Compared to 2009, 2010 was downright tame, but even so it had its fair share of cool stuff.

Toward the beginning of the year, I had Lightwell, a game I designed and built, make a minor explosion on the internet thanks to plugs from both Hunz and Microsoft, among a few others that picked it up. Probably the first time my game work of any kind has really been publicly recognized outside of my immediate circle.

Right around that time, the gaming project I have at work got thrown through a blender. It was already a confusing setup to begin with and I nearly found something else to do at the office entirely, but in the end I still believe we're building something really cool. I've got a pretty great team of folks working with me on stuff, and it's largely let me take a designer's role. That's been an interesting change, but I'm finding that I prefer the designer role instead of the implementer role when it comes to games. I look forward to the day when I've got a publicly-available demo I can throw people at.

And this past year, finally, I've been able to get my own project at work. It's a small research project, basically enough funding for me and one other developer. But still -- I've been handed a budget and asked to go do cool stuff, stuff that I said that needed to be done. This has already resulted in me publishing a pair of IETF Internet Drafts: XML Encoding and Instance Information, both extensions for OAuth2, which I've also been deeply involved with. I'd be lying to say I wasn't terrified of screwing up this awesome opportunity to do cool stuff, but I'm just doing what I can.

For that project and others, I flew to California three times in 2010, not to mention a couple trips to DC and even one to Austin. Oddly enough, it was snowing when I landed in Texas. That isn't really supposed to happen, as best as I can tell. I was certainly one of only a handful of drivers that knew how to drive in the quarter inch of snow and slush on the ground. Let me tell you, that was an unnerving state of affairs. Still, that was a fun trip. I'm headed back to California at least twice this year, maybe more if I can swing it. Debbie and Luc even got to come with me to California one of the times. Luc was a champ on the six-hour flight there and back, spent most of his time flirting with the ladies in the seats behind us. The time change was a bit rough on him, but I think he had a pretty great time overall. I'm really glad we went when we did, since I think he's far too mobile now to really make the flight a realistic thing.

Luc has been growing like a weed this year. A very heavy weed; the kid is built like a little tank. We celebrated his first birthday this summer, and I can't believe that's already five months back. The change in him over the course of the year is amazing. He's got a handful of words for things (the first of which was "kitty cat"), he can walk when he feels bothered enough to do so, and in general he is still taking in all the world around him as quickly and deeply as he can. Debbie says he's made me melt, and I can't entirely disagree with her. I've certainly done more silly dances than ever before.

With Deb being a full-time stay at home mom, this has been our first full year on a single income. It's been a little tight from time to time, but in general we've gotten along just fine. This can actually work, and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to say that.

Speaking of jobs and California, I got headhunted by Google this year. That was an odd little experience. Their interview was very strange, and it became pretty clear to me that it wouldn't have been a good fit. They wanted a code monkey, and I'm really not a code monkey. I can write code, and do so when given the chance, but I really don't want to just sit in a cube someplace and fill in someone else's design spec.

I'm nearly done with school at this point, and in fact I'm going to be taking my final two classes this semester, which starts the end of this month. The next five months or so are going to be absolutely nuts because of that, but then I'll be done with my degree. Done! I really look forward to that.

My music really started to take on a life of its own this past year. It seems like this is the year that things actually became "legit" for my little project. For instance, Psycliq now has its very own website and domain, Facebook page, and Twitter account. I even have a mailing list set up. I also managed to release Results Not Typical in the midst of all of this. Also, the Kickstarter project was a roaring success, giving me not only the capital but also the wherewithal to get my albums up on Amazon.com and iTunes, among a few dozen other places. I'm still using the bandcamp site for things, and I really love the grassrootsness of it. Plus, it lets me put out special-edition albums and things that I don't really want to go through the overhead of a normal release, like the cover songs and remixes album, which is not only a free download but also an ongoing project that I've added two tracks to since its inception in July. This is also where I put the annual Christmas album, but since it's New Years, you've all sadly missed that -- you'll have to tune in next December and get it then.

Hm, I should really put something together for the Psycliq website about the new year and what's coming. Maybe I'll work on that after this is done. But I'm really excited for the future of Psycliq. I've got a ton of new ideas and song snippets, even some potential titles for the next album. Or albums, if I use more than one in the future. I have some ambitious things that I really want to do here. I've got a whole bunch of new tools at my disposal to make it happen, too: a Seagull acoustic guitar, Korg X50 synth, Radium61 MIDI controller (for software synths), and a Korg NanoKontrol (for controlling the mixing and recording software). I actually had to go out and buy a new USB hub to fit it all into the computer.

Speaking of which, I did manage to build myself a new machine this year. First time I did a complete build since 1998. I was hesitant to spend the cash, but I really needed it. The new machine is so much more capable of getting things done it's a little crazy. I recorded and mixed all of Results Not Typical on here, and I simply wouldn't have been able to on the old one. Now it's a year old and some things feel a little dusty, but really, I think I'll have plenty of growing room on here for a long time. That's the idea at least. Like with cars, I'd rather pay a little bit to keep something going than just throw out what I have and buy a new one every couple years. I even put my old desktop hard to work as the new file server in the house.

Speaking of servers, I need to really look into moving some of my hosting stuff outside of my house. I'm just not keen on keeping things up to date all the time and fighting off hackers. My mail server got hit with a zero-day exploit just a few weeks ago, and while cleanup wasn't too bad, I really didn't like being cut off for a few days like that. Unfortunately, I've really grown to like my ultra-custom setup and I don't really want to have a hosting bill each month to deal with.

With all the commitments on my time, I had to give up my Aikido training, at least for a little while. In the very least, I'm out until after my degree is wrapped up, and we'll just have to see how long it takes me to spool back up into it. I do miss it, but my attendance was so sporadic that it simply wasn't worth kidding myself anymore. My training has been stagnated for well over a year now, and if I'm going to do this, I want to be able to really do it. I hope that when I do get back to it I can really dive into it again and actually progress.

That's a lot of text, and I'm positive that I'm forgetting several major events. But in short, 2010 was a decent year. More stressful in a lot of ways than many previous, but it was a good one on balance. 2011 is here now, and I've got to figure out what I'm going to do with it. Finishing a master's degree, running my own project, turning 30, and having a 2-year-old son are all going to be interesting adventures. Many adventures in this life, with much to come.

Welcome to the party, 2011. Let's see what you've got.
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Dec. 1st, 2010 @ 10:03 am Almost there
Current Music: Radio Way - Sheffield Youth [All Things Make Believe: A Tribute to Joy Electric]
Seems that we've made it to December again. Even though it's 50 degrees and raining outside today, winter is still noticeably on its way. If it's reasonably dry and unfrigid this weekend, I'll even have a chance to finish cleaning up the yard for the season. Thankfully we managed to get a windstorm this year that took down most of the oak leaves at once instead of them slowly piling up over months.

The final project for my current class is coming along, which is a good thing as it's due next Monday night. We'll be trying to finish it up in a long session tomorrow night, and I'm hoping it won't bleed into the weekend. After that, it's just the final one week later, and that class will be done. Then I get about a month off before starting in with two classes at once to finish this degree for good. Spring will be a bit crazy, especially with two week-long trips to California already planned.

And then there's work, which is going fairly well at the moment, even if it's tough to keep track of everything that's going on. I'm really enjoying the flexibility of running my own project. Not that I didn't basically do my own thing before anyway, but this means I don't have to clear certain things with other people. And that's a very good thing. Also means that I've got to be responsible playing a zero-sum game with actual money. That should be an interesting exercise, but it'll probably work out by the end of the year. I hope.

The Science Fair I'm running here at the office is in just a couple of days. I'm already getting pinged about a few things, most of which boil down to people trying to make it way more complicated than it needs to be. I'm really looking forward to the event, and hope to talk to a lot of people about cool stuff. I really want this to be a success.

We're also full into the winter holiday season. I'm mostly done with shopping, just have a couple things to try and figure out. Unfortunately, one of them is proving to be impossible to find, anywhere. I thought that in this internet age one could buy anything they wanted to online. That may be true, but it does you little good if you can't find it.
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Nov. 27th, 2010 @ 07:42 am Free Christmas music
Just like last year, I've gone and put together a Psycliq Christmas album, free for the taking. You can even listen to the whole thing right here:

Each year, I've tried to make a new song for it, and this year I'm featuring a mellow electronic arrangement of "In the Bleak Midwinter".

This album will only be available through the Christmas season, and then it gets put away for another year. So if you want a copy, grab it today!
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Nov. 12th, 2010 @ 04:00 pm change in the air
Current Music: Psycliq - Setting Out [Results Not Typical]
This week has given me opportunity to shuffle a few things in my life that will have some major impacts over the next year or so. The two main things are tangentially related, in that they're about managing my time and commitments to different things.

First off, I've signed up for two simultaneous classes this coming spring, which should be enough to finish out my final semester in the master's degree program. It's been a long time working at this, and now I'm in a position to really put it to rest with one final push. I went back and forth on this for a long while, trying to figure out if I really did want to put myself through what will almost certainly be a huge amount of work, frustration, and stress. I don't want to just skate through things, I want to give it a real effort and commitment. But in the end, it's going to be a bit painful but only for a short while. And then I'll be done, with a degree in hand. That's something I look forward to very much.

The other item is my aikido training. Or, more specifically, the recent lack thereof. In the past year or so, I've slowly dwindled down to about once a month at the dojo, and my training has suffered as a result. Each class, it takes me a bunch of time to get back into the swing of things, both physically and mentally, and then by the time I can start what I'd consider "real" training, I'm already exhausted. It's just not a good place to be in, and my study of martial arts deserves more than that. So with that, I'm taking a break from shobu until at least after grad school, even though it kinda hurts to say that. As part of this, I need to figure out some kind of exercise regimen that I can actually stick to. Aikido *was* my major source of physical activity, so now that I've really not been doing it I'm really getting out of shape. That's something that I seek to fix.

In the end, it's a trade off, and a coming to terms with reality for me. I am not yet sure what this will mean for other aspects of my life, like family, work, and music. But like I always have, I'm sure I'll figure some way to get all of my priorities represented in there somehow.

All said, I really can't say why I'm making things harder for myself like that. But in many ways, I think this will be better in the long run.
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Oct. 28th, 2010 @ 11:38 am On Cars
Ever since we both traded in our ancient chevys, both Deb and I have had pretty good luck with our cars. Mine even has a sensor in it that tells me when I'm supposed to change the oil, and that hasn't gone off yet. But in the last couple weeks we've had a few things creep up on us. Deb's exhaust has a little hole in it that makes a big noise, not to mention the leaking exhaust fumes that are surely spilling out of it. Until this morning, I thought mine was fine. On my way into work, a woman pulled up beside me and made a point to let me know she thought something was wrong with my car. She said there was a smell and I was leaking fluid from the back right side. Both of these are obviously a bit troubling, let alone together. Thing is, when I pulled into the parking lot here and looked, I couldn't see anything wrong. Now, I'm really not a mechanic, but there really didn't seem to be any problem to me. The only smell I smelled was car exhaust fumes, and the only fluid I saw was water dripping from the undercarriage. Considering it rained last night, that really doesn't surprise me. But even so, if it's enough for someone to point it out, it certainly makes me wonder if everything's still running as it should.
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Sep. 23rd, 2010 @ 04:26 pm On Breathing Room
It's been really nice having a bit of breathing room around the office this past week. Last week was such a firestorm that it left my head spinning. This week, though, I've been able to get to a lot of things what needed doing but I couldn't make the time to do previously. Documentation, disk recovery, software installation, all that fun daily stuff that having Too Much Real Work gets in the way of. But with this minor respite I'll be able to start the new year off in a much cleaner state.
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Sep. 20th, 2010 @ 10:23 am I'm glad that's over
Last week at the office was nuts. Major fires in every project I'm attached to, and some I'm only barely attached to. But the week is over, and we survived. We found the causes of bugs, we fixed said bugs, we ran demos, we presented ideas to division heads, we briefed results to VPs, we tested systems with real users. We did a lot.

And I have to say that in the face of all that was going on, we totally rocked it.

And I say "we" because I'm not about to take all the credit for everything last week, even though I certainly worked my butt off the whole time. Even though there were times when I felt like I had to pick up a lot of slack just to make sure things got done, I knew that most everyone was working to their capacity. One can't really ask for more than that.

This week will be decidedly more low-key. At least, I certainly hope it is. I could use some lower keys. Of course, I just couldn't bring myself to slow down at all this weekend. Mostly took care of a few good things around the house. There is always something that needs doing, and there always will be. I admit, I'd be bored if I had nothing to do. Might be able to stand less to do, but who's to say.

The new Psycliq album has filtered out to iTunes and a bunch of other places, you can buy CDs, and you can even join a newsletter and get free MP3s of works-in-progress. More info on the band website, that I'm trying to update on a somewhat regular basis now. But with school starting up for me and the load that entails, progress on any new material will likely slow once again. Though I should try to pick a Christmas song to do again this year. Those are always fun. And now that I've got the X50, I've got a new palette of possibilities.

But anyway, I must get myself back to work. Here's to hoping an increasing trend of better sleep, more exercise, and lower stress levels. For all of us.
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Aug. 4th, 2010 @ 12:09 pm Numa's Biography
The following is a transcription of a hand-written collection of stories by my great-grandfather's brother. His name was Numa Boudreaux, and my great-grandfather is the Sidney mentioned in the story below. Numa wrote this down a years ago, before he passed away. I've tried to keep the punctuation, spelling, line breaks (since they seem to be important to structure in places), and word choice intact as much as I can. I have not attempted to keep the letter capitalization the same as the original, as the handwriting seems to make little distinction between letter forms in context. I have not edited this to make any more sense than the original words on the page did to me at the time I read them. One result of this approach is that the story is practically one enormous run-on sentence. Another is that interjections and corrections laid out on the page may not fit in to the running text. Also, due to the fact that this is handwritten and a photocopy, I may not have things quite right in places; there are a few words that I just could not make out, so I made my best guess. But in the end this was all just too fascinating not to be recorded in some way. I originally posted this up on my LiveJournal account, so I can't guarantee the formatting translated if you're reading this elsewhere.

Enjoy this little piece of my family history.

They was Boudreauxs
on both side

Hi I am Numa Pa-Pa Boudreaux
I was born in Donner LA. Feb 3 1911
Papa is from Houma Mama is from
Donner LA. Before he got married
he worked on Ashland Plantation
building cane wagons and wagon
wheels - when I was 1 year old
Papa moved below below Berwick LA
across the river on a farm he planted
vegatable raised cattles and hogs + chicks.
When I was 3yr old world war broke out
every body had that bad flu. Then millions of
people died then we all had the flu then
but we survived we aint had no kind
of convenience then we had to sleep
under mosquito bars they used to scrud
the floor with a brush and powdred brick
they used to pound the red brick with a
hammer - mama had it preetty hard
we would wait until the old man go to town
to do our pranks - if he would find out
that was a whipping - myy oldr borthers used
to cut fire wood durning the summer
we went to a one room school house on
the island - papa used canning tomatoes
in the next room - one time Lillian
was about 2 yrs old she went out on
the wharf and she fell off the wharf
on to some water lilies papa was running
a cat fish line then. When he seen her
he rushed over and saved her brought her
in the house. He was so mad he beat
Florence my older sister up for not watching
her - When Papa had company if we acted
out of line he would give us that crooked
eye we know what he meant
one time we went in his boat they had
some sugar we would eat sugar and
lean over the side and catch some river
water I leaned too far and fell over
board almost drowned lucky my brother
caught me - Papa had some honey beehives
when it came time to get the honey
he would get me to hold the pan while
he get the honey he had a smoker would
use that on the bees would quiet them down
we had on long sleeve shirt and cheese
cloth around our hats so the bees wouldnt
sting us - when the old man would go to
town we would shuck off go swimming in the
nude - one time they had a hurricane they
took us all in the boat - took us to a
stern wheeler that was tied up in
the bayou peru they treated us nice
they gave us food + drink
the next morning we went back home
one time my brother Sidney took a
shot gun shell apart Papa got mad took
a shot gun after hum he just wanted to
scare him Sidney ran under the house
Sidney found a chicken egg he says look
Papa I found a chicken egg - made Sidney
believe he had to stay out all night
After Florence got married - Mama had
to do all the house work by herself
the old man was mad at his soninlaw for
taking his daughter away from him
One time Papa had a Jersey Cow named Red
every time Pop tried to milk her she
would kick the pail so he put a hole in
the wall put a 2 by 4 in the wall
in front of Reds legs had me hold the
other end she kicked the 2X4 and
knocked me down Pop raised hell
at me and told me to hold on
thats where we was living at when he
learned to make moonshine -
when the corn would play out in the fall
my brothers would pile all them corn stalks
and weeds up around the late fall Pop would
set that a fire the lil. rabbit would run
out I would catch them and raise them
several of them burnt up
I would shove a chicken feather through
a stopper and nurse the lil. rabbits
we used to sleep on moss mattress and
corn shucks used that instead of springs
my old grandpa came visit while we was
living there thats the only time i met
him. Somebody talked Pop into moving - so we
moved between Avoca Island and Rock Bayou
so we moved there he wanted some
farming there it - was large stretch of land
that was irrigated with a levey all around
we only had cistern water to use
and never brushed our teeth we never
knew what a tooth brush was or tooth paste
the old man started farming he planted
russet potatoes - when it came time to dig his
potatoes - they had some roots in the ground
with a pointed end would go clean through
the potatoes - Pop bought a farm truck
with a wooden top all the way to the back
covered with canvas with 2 benches - and
he would sit us all in the back and tell
us all to stay put - on Sunday he told us
we was going to visit the Domanque wich was
a little related to us it rained while
we was at the Domanques
The road going back to that sretch
of land was dirt. So we started back home
when we got to that road we started
sliding from one side to the other - when
we got half way home - the truck bogged
we had to walk the rest of the way
so Pop said thats it we are moving to morgan
city - so he sold all his animals + chickens to a
butcher - Gus Michel and his borther that had a son
named Rudolph - when they would butcher a
hog Rudolph would get a coffee-cup and catch
that blood when they would bleed a hog
and drink it - so we moved to Morgan City
we moved on the corner of Second St
and Brasher - the approach of the the old Morgan
City bridge passes over - on the river front
they had a saw mill Brownell + Drew and
a big field by the house that was the lumber
yard we would go play in that lumber
yard - Pop took us to Convent to enroll us in
scool - when I seen them nuns with that
black outfit on that white corrugate
thing on their head I started to cry! I wanted
to go back home - Pop said thats some nuns *
they whill teach us school. At that time
I had the 7 yr. itch from playing with
dogs every summer i would get it
we didn't go to the convent long
enough to make our first communion
me and Milton went show case gaving
I seen one of them dummys in the show case
she was necked I told Milton look at that
nude woman he say thats a dummy
thats when my older brother Alley met
his wife Viola Renaut - her mama was an
old witch - then we moved on 4th st one
time Pop bought a BlueBird overland car - one
time coming on Avoca Island rom visiting a
woman his car caught on fire and burnt up
the gas can was above the engine at that time
the gas station man forgot to put the gas
cap back on - he towed that back home
and he rebuilt it made an old truck out
of it he was good at every thing he dig
I started school again them days then they had
low and high grade - in my class they had a red
haired boyy named Russel Brownelu - who
became doctor and later became mayor of
Berwick LA - I finished third grade and quit
school I carried 4 lunch pails to the shell
crusher for 50¢ each a week - then I went
to work for Dave Rhodes Restaurant and
Confectionary washing dishes - the dishes
would pile up the waitress would holler
at me I would tell her to shut up then
after a while he shut the restaurant down
and opened up a pool hall. Had me racking the
pool balls I was only 14 YRr then - I became a
good pool player had a guy would play with
me often - I would beath him more often and
he would get mad at me - they had like a French
market on Front St. by the river side with a
fur buyer stall he would buy rabbits from
the hunters and hang them in front of his
shop to sell - they also had 1 restaurant
2 butcher stalls 2 vegetable stalls so Papa
rented one to sell vegatables the was a
blind to sell his moonshine - I left school
to help him out they vegatables one day
I went over there to help him when I got
there I seen 2 policemen coming out with
Pop in the middle the one in back had
a jug of whiskey going to jail - I wanted
to go talk to him but I was scared - So a friend
of mine said you want to go see your Pop come on
I went talk to him he told me go back
home and tell your Mom not to tell them where
his distillery was I went back to tell mom
but it was too ate she done told them
it was in the attic he had a 5 gallon
behind the armoir
Another time black preacher put a revival
tent of the lot in front of the house - we
would go watch them get the Holy Ghost
some boys would get in the big oak tree
and throw some eggs at them - one night
some came there and they had a free
for all - the next morning we went there
and all the benches were turned over
and I found a large Bible on the ground
I brought it to Papa I think he gave it
back to them - in Aug 1926 they had a
hurricane. We passed it in a bungalow when
we would get a strong blow - that house
would do lie a windjammer 2 block
from us a hose caught on fire it made
a red glare in the sky. Alls those womens
thought the End of the World was coming to an
end they all started crying and praying
next morning we went back to the house
half of the roofing paper was off the
house - the following year the Morgan LA
Leve proke we had high water we were
scaffold up to the windows I would go in
the water up to my neck kick myself
up started paddling thats how I learned
to swim.. It got raw between my toes
when I was working for Dave Rhodes
a street fair came to town they gave
my boss some riding tickets so he gave
them to me so I went to the fair
met a Italian friend there I got him
to come on the ferris wheel with
me so he did they kept us on for a
while after a while he says I am getting
sick of the stomach I said try and hold it
but he let out a bunch of spaghetti
on top of a couple below. When they
let us down I took off. After I that I got on the
swings I started getting sick of the stomach
when I got off I went behind a tent and
threw up. When I was small there was
a Morgan Line carrying freight to Morgan City
and all them other towns. Large vessels
them days they didnt have all them 18
whellers then - back to when I was
working for Dave Rhodes he sold his
soda fountain to Billy Mule he talked me
into going to work for him. I worked
there for a while then I found out he
was a mafia I quit him told him we
was moving out of town - years later
he got show murdered mafia style
in 1928 we moved to Green Wood 3 mile
east of Morgan City - one year later
had the stock market crash - Huey Long
was governor - he had a highway go paved
had bridges built - I worked for LeBlanc
Construction out of Baton Rouge
moving houses out of the right of
way for the highway
I also worked building fence along
the highway - that was after Marie and
I was married then - Before I was married
I was 18 went to work at the Texas Co Shock
Mill I worked there one year the mill shut
down - then went to work on a oyester boat one
winter thats when Marie and I got married by
the Judge - one time before I was
married a colored man pond a revolver a
John Siracusas store and he sold to me for
two dollars - I went by the bayou snde
put a can on a post started shooting toward
across the bayou - across the bayou they
had a farmerm plowing his land one of the bullets
hit his horse - the next he came to the
store and inquire about who was shooting
across the bayou - he asked me I told
him I didnt know - another time we
me Milton and Alton Keller Maries cousin
went frog hunting we caught one frog
had him tied by the leg - we would take
turns shooting at objects with my 38
s+w Milton took the revolver and shot
I thought he had shot the last shell - I took the
gun + said I will shoot you in the foot
I thought the gun was empty - wasnt
aiming at his foot - when the gun
went off it vared toward his foot
the bullet went between his toes
he had a pair of leather soled shoes on
the billet didnt go through. Boy the
old man was hot. He called me all kinds of
names before I was married I made
cross ties for the railroad track - with
a broad ax iron wedge and seldge - I worked
on the Ramos Bridge 1/2 mile East of Greenwood
Before I got married Pop called Marie
a lil. winch Maries Pop god mad - and tackled
Pop till they had a fight - I hd 2 fights
on account of Marie - we moved to
Morgan City worked a-while longer
then quit went to work on shell crusher
tug with Capt. Alley my brother
worked there a few years - thats when
Randolph would cut around Marie while
I was on the boat - one night I came
home from work - Ther was a note it
says Honey I am going stay with Randolph
I dont love any more I took it hard
for a long time wold go in the bar
room get me a quart of beer and a
glass and start drinking - in July 1945
me and a friend of mine went to
work in Orange Texas worked 6 month
came back to Morgan City
went back to work on the shell
crusher tug then Lena and I got together
stayed together for 1 year then got
married - then we moved to Second St
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Jun. 30th, 2010 @ 01:21 pm on time and its passage
Tomorrow is July. I can hardly believe that we're in summer now, and closer to 2011 than 2009. And Luc's first birthday is a month away! The past year has been quite an adventure. Along with the arrival of the bean, there's been a ton of house construction, a new car, an album release, and all kinds of stuff in between. But even though I know of everything that's happened in that time span, I don't really remember experiencing that time.

I'm getting older, and life is passing me by faster (due to the theory of fractional-lifetime temporal experience, I'd say). I feel like if I blink just a little too long then I'm going to miss something really important. Acting on such feelings can lead to dry eyes.
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Jun. 16th, 2010 @ 10:59 am (no subject)
I've been doing a lot of random Psycliq stuff lately. Foremost is work on the new album. I've got four songs pretty much finished at this point and several more started. I'm going to be borrowing a friend's Wavedrum to lay down some rhythm. Live drums will be a first here! And speaking of firsts, I've been putting the new Seagull acoustic guitar through its paces. Really liking the instrument, but having a hard time getting the recorded sound of it to be decent. Maybe I should take another audio engineering course. Hm, I think I have one elective coming up at the end of my grad school career, maybe I can do that.

I've also been working a lot on the homepage with music players and content, and promoting the band. Set up a Facebook fan page so you can "Like" the band on there now. Go do that! And then I went and set up a Facebook ad that points directly to the music page where people can listen to stuff and download if they want. So far it's just cost me a lot of money, but hopefully it'll eventually turn into fans and maybe even album sales. I'm bad at promotion and marketing, it always feels like I'm being self-aggrandizing when I do it. Believe it or not, I don't actually like trying to be the center of attention.

OK, back to work with me now. Got a hot lunch date, too, so today can't be all that bad.
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Apr. 19th, 2010 @ 10:56 am A dying community
Current Music: Mercury Switch - Tonight, Tonight [If You Love Me, You'd Take Me To The City]
I noticed something on Livejournal here recently: the friends page feed is date-limited as well as content-number limited. This was never an issue in previous years, as the content was always being refilled.

Today, though, there's a single group post on that page. I haven't seen a personal journal update from a friend in months, and I haven't even posted anything since mid-March.

It's sad to see this community dying.
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Mar. 19th, 2010 @ 07:22 pm until then i will live each day in awe and wonder ()
Current Music: Mute Math - Break The Same [Mute Math]
All the little things in life never seem to stop. It doesn't matter if you've been out of town, or not getting to sleep, or just had too many other things going on. Bills still need to be paid, laundry needs to be done, and dishes washed and washed again. So here I sit paying bills while Deb and Luc are out at the grocery store because I've got a few quiet moments when I can use both hands. Later tonight, I get to curl up with my laptop and try to figure out OpenGL projection shadowing. There is something seriously screwy with my shadow code, but the rest of it seems fine. I'm more than likely not clearing or resetting something where I ought. At least I have until Wednesday to figure it out.

Maybe Deb and I will get to catch up on LOST before we fall asleep tonight. That'd be nice.

We've got our taxes done for the year, and all filed. Time to just wait for the refunds to come in. Those will be nice, and I get to use some of it to build up a new computer. The current Xerxes is so old at this point that there's not really anything worth salvaging. I mean, the case and DVD drive are fine, but that's about it. So at that rate, I might as well build a whole new system from the get-go and keep the current Xerxes as a secondary system for ... something. Maybe time to throw a bunch of emulators on it or something? Make it dedicated to recording? Set up a Linux desktop? I'm not really sure, but I'll take suggestions. Also if I keep the old system, I'm going to need a new name. I'm thinking it might be time to let Xerxes follow the old system and name the new one Artaxerxes. Seems fitting to me.

So much has been happening in life lately and I feel neglectful for not having written a blasted thing about it in here. Spent a few days in Texas, then last week in San Francisco at GDC was an amazingly great time.

So much is happening to talk about. But nothing has the chance to be said. Sad.
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Feb. 23rd, 2010 @ 04:00 am the wrong side of sunrise
I'm up at quarter to four in the morning with a sick Debbie. Since it seems to be some kind of food poisoning, and we ate the same thing for dinner, I'm obviously a bit nervous here. It doesn't help things that I was going to be up in a couple hours anyway to board a plane to Texas. This is of course if the weather holds out. Seems I've decided to fly to the lonestar state in a time when it's snowing at both ends of the trip. I was under the impression that it didn't really snow in Texas.

In any case, I'm awake now, and there's not much I can do to fix that. At least today's a planned travel day. I wondered what was going to be on TV at this hour, and the answer seems to be the olympics. It's the competitions that were on as I went to bed, almost like I'd paused it where it was. Take that, broadcast Tv.
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Feb. 16th, 2010 @ 07:00 pm (no subject)
Called bank of america tonight for a routine tax question. Ended up talking to a refinancing rep and got a good deal on a new loan. Cut our rate down by over a percent and cut the term by 10 years (effectively only seven) and ended up with the same basic payments. Crazy how much of a ripoff this whole thing really is.
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Feb. 8th, 2010 @ 11:12 am (no subject)
Current Music: Poor Old Lu - Sunlight & Shadows [The Waiting Room]
We had Luc's first Superbowl last night. He seemed to really like watching it, lots of things going on to see, and the kid definitely loves looking at exciting things. To the point that we had a little trouble getting him to bed either during or after the game, but he did eventually conk out. Woke up in a great mood this morning though, so we're hoping that continues.

Speaking of the big game, Deb and I made a couple of game-day foods to munch on during the footballs. Deb made a delicious multi-layer dip, and I made some homemade fries for chili-cheese-fries. Since it was only the two of us eating, I ended up eating waaaaay too much. I still feel full this morning, and all I had for breakfast was a muffin. Even the Wii Fit was mad at me for it.

Speaking of Wii Fit, we're going to try and start that up again. We've even picked up the Plus update. If nothing more than a daily weigh-in so I know where things are headed vis-a-vis my body mass. I desire to be less massive than I currently am.
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