25 Random Things About Me

I already posted this to pacify the Facebook meme, but I figured I’d put it here, too. Nothing new here if you’ve already seen it there

I am probably the last person in all of Teh Facebooks to do this but that’s ok…

You know the drill. Type up 25 random things about yourself. Tag other people. Etc.

25 Random Facts About Me.

1.) I used to love acting and theater. I spent a lot of my time in high school on the stage. Now, the thought of memorizing lines again terrifies me, so I’m not so much about the acting anymore.

2.) I eat cereal dry with milk on the side. I think I had soggy cereal once when I was a child and it scarred me I guess. No milk in my cereal please.

3.) In fact, I’m pretty particular about texture when it comes to food. Crunchy is good, mushy is out. This is why I like vegetables raw but hate them cooked.

4.) I’ve worked for the same company for 14 years now. That blows my mind. I mean, I was in grade school for 12 years and that seemed like forever.

5.) I enjoy programming computers, but I don’t particularly enjoy talking about computers outside of work. I like being a computer user (browsing the web, games, etc.) when I’m not working, but don’t really enjoy being a computer programmer when I’m not working.

6.) I love football, basketball, baseball, and hockey, but in the last couple of years I’ve developed quite an appetite for soccer.

7.) I’m not a baby person. Even after becoming the father of the two awesomest girls on the face of the planet, I am still pretty meh about other people’s babies. Sorry.

8.) Did I mention my girls are the awesomest? They are so much more fun now than when they were infants. Every day with them is more fun than the last day and I can’t wait to see how much fun they will be in one year, two year, five years, and ten years.

9.) I’m always resistant to new technology (blogging, iPods, Facebook, now Twitter), but I eventually cave in and I’m usually glad when I do.

10.) I like traveling but I don’t particularly enjoy flying. Not because I’m scared of flying but because it’s such a hassle. This limits my travel destinations severely.

11.) I’m a compulsive multi-tasker. It is virtually impossible for me to watch TV without being on the computer or reading a book at the same time.

12.) Yes, I’m watching the TV (Tech-Clemson basketball game) as I write this.

13.) I have had a beer with a CCM artist at a bar before.

14.) I’m not naming any names.

15.) I have inadvertently insulted a musical artist before.

16.) I’m not naming any names.

17.) I own a bass guitar, mandolin, and a lap dulcimer, but I can’t play any of them very well. It’s probably because I started trying to learn music too late in life or I’m not willing to commit time to practice them.

18.) I also have two sets of golf clubs, but I’m a pretty poor golfer. Also probably because I’m not willing to commit time to practice golf.

19.) Judging by my skill in golf and music, I’m the type of person that would rather try everything poorly than be good at one thing. I really am a jack-of-all-trades, but master of none.

20.) I’m actually trying to become a better photographer and learn the art of photography, so maybe I’ll finally commit to becoming good at something.

21.) I don’t hate the University of Georgia as much as I used to.

22.) Don’t tell my UGA friends because they will be obnoxious about it.

23.) Don’t tell my Tech friends either because they will think I’m getting soft.

24.) I compulsively listen to music in chronological order. I may or may not have several playlists for several different bands all in chrono. order. I may or may not have one giant playlist that starts with Elvis and the Beatles and goes all the way up to the Coldplay/Jay-Z mashups I downloaded last week.

25.) I listen to A LOT of music. I don’t know what I’m ever going to do if I get a job where I can’t listen to music while I work.

New Toy, uh I mean, Lens!


My friend Alisa decided recently to put her Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens up for sale. I was hesitant to make an offer for it because I didn’t really need it, but it sure would be nice to have. She made me a deal I couldn’t refuse and so now it has found a new home.

When Nikon first announced this lens, everyone went crazy about it hoping it would be the “silver bullet” that would work for any occasion for DX cameras. Since then, the enthusiasm has tempered a little bit and there’s even been a little backlash, but at the end of the day, it’s a great lens for what it is made for. It’s clearly a “jack of all trades, master of none lens” that is perfect for those days that you want to go out and shoot pictures and not carry around a bag of lenses. Is it as wide as my 12-24mm Tokina lens? Nope. Is it as sharp or as bokeh-licious as my 50mm f/1.8 lens? Nope. Does it zoom as far as my 70-300mm lens? Nope. Is it a low-light zooming monster like the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens that I sometimes rent? Nope.

What it will do is allow me to take shots I couldn’t before when I just want to take the camera out at a social occassion and not drag everything else along. It will get me every shot I want, be it up close or far away. The VR on the lens is pretty awesome too. I haven’t tried a direct comparision, but I’m sure it will outperform my 70-300mm lens at similar focal ranges for sharpness just by eliminating motion blur for my shaky little hands. I’m curious to see how slow I’ll be able to shoot with it where the VR can still compensate for the blur.

So far, the only event I’ve gotten to use it for was the Chick-fil-A Bowl Parade. You can click the link to see how some of the photos turned out. The other locations were shot with a variety of lenses, but the parade was exclusively with this lens. I’m really pleased with it as I was able to get a variety of shots at different focal lengths. The bokeh wasn’t really as terrible as everyone made it out to be, though I would certainly use a different lens if I was doing portrait shots. I did notice, however, the VR does use up the battery faster, but it wasn’t so much that I ran out while shooting.

Overall, so far I’m really pleased with it, but I think I won’t really start to appreciate it until I’ve gone to a couple more parties and events and such and start to enjoy not bumping into everyone with my camera bag or having to stop and change lenses when everyone wants a closeup shot and I’ve got my telephoto lens mounted. That’s when the lens is really going to start paying off for me.

How To Have Fun When Your Team Is Losing By 35

The week had set up so well. We had just returned from visiting Adriene’s parents in Savannah and had a great Christmas with them. When we got home, I renewed one of my favorite post-Christmas traditions, the Atlanta Playstation Smackdown. I joined some of my Cornerstone friends to play Rock Band late into the night (pretty much the same as always, bass-hard, guitar-medium, vocals-medium, drums-easy. Holy cow, I stink at drums.) Once again I delivered my Micheal Stipe impersonation with “Orange Crush” and gave everyone nightmares with my version of “Epic” by Faith No More. After that, it was out to my parents’ house to drop the girls off with them for a couple of days so we could celebrate the Chick-fil-A Bowl in style.

The day itself even went so well. Even though it was cold and windy, Adriene and I enjoyed the parade with friends. We went to the FanFest and had a great time there. After a nice dinner, it was off to the Georgia Dome for the game. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I guess it could go down like this.

When LSU drove the ball down the field on the first drive, I wasn’t too worried. Tech scored a field goal at the end of the first quarter and it looked like we were in for a good game. The second quarter ruined everything. At the start of the second quarter, LSU moved down the field again and scored another touchdown. LSU then caught Tech off guard with an onside kick and got the ball right back. Another touchdown made the score 21-3 and now it was time to get a little worried, but things really went downhill from here. I’ve been pretty pleased with Paul Johnson’s play-calling all season, but with the ball on their own 22 on 4th and 8, Johnson made an egregiously bad call to fake a punt. I guess that’s the gambler in Johnson, but he came up snake eyes here. I didn’t like the call at all and naturally it set up LSU with a short field which resulted in another touchdown. By the time LSU scored their fourth touchdown of a nightmare quarter, I was wishing this game was on my Nintendo so I could push the “reset” button. I was pretty much resigned at that point that we were going to lose and badly.

In the third quarter, I stood up and announced to everyone (perhaps with some profanity) that I had paid a lot of money for these tickets and I was going to have a good time no matter what. After all, Adriene and I only get something like one night a month away from the kids and I wasn’t going to let a football game ruin it. So for the rest of the night, we pretty much treated the whole event as a black comedy, taking particular humor in all the Tech fans that had given up on the game and developed more interest in throwing paper airplanes onto the field. That’s the last time the Chick-fil-A Bowl committee allows paper in their gift bags, I’ll bet. This is what happens when engineers get bored.

I didn’t even get mad in the second half until LSU’s Head Coach Les Miles decided that apparently a 35 point margin wasn’t enough and started to rub it in by keeping his starters in the game and continuing to throw the ball downfield. The fake punt that he called in the 4th quarter was bush league and embarrassing. I have no idea what he was trying to prove, but it sure torqued me.

Oh well, no matter. After all, there was New Year’s Eve to celebrate. Joined by some of my old friends, we closed out the year in a hotel downtown. It was good to see everyone as many of my friends I don’t get to see very much and we even got a surprise appearance from a friend overseas. Of course there was champagne and inevitably, board games. Even though I just watched my favorite football team get their pants pulled down on national television, I couldn’t complain too much when I was closing out the year with good friends. Here’s to 2009.

Pictures of all the fun on Flickr!

My Favorite New Music of 2008

I’ve been busy and on the move over the last week, but not around the Internet a lot. So, I’ve got a lot to write about but before I cover all of that, I thought I’d take one last look at 2008 before cruising on into the new year. Every year, I do a review of the albums I bought in the previous year and name my favorites. They don’t necessarily have to have been released in 2008, just new to me in 2008. I got a couple things late in the year (like Copeland’s You Are My Sunshine) that I didn’t really have time to listen to so they aren’t on the list. I’m not much for ranking, so there’s not really an order to the list. With all that said, on to my favorites of 2008…

Matthew Perryman Jones – Swallow The Sea, Throwing Punches in the Dark
Swallow The Sea is probably my album of the year. I love it. MPJ kind of has a Pete Yorn sound with his slurring, relaxed vocals. The band behind him is top notch (I was totally unsurprised that one of my favorite guitarists, Paul Moak, was involved with the album) and he ranges from slow-dancing ballads like “Amelia” to a powerful anthemic drawn-out title song. It’s one of those albums that works no matter what kind of mood you’re in. I also really enjoyed his previous album, Throwing Punches in the Dark.

Coldplay – Viva La Vida, Prospekt’s March
I’ve got to admit that my expectations for a new Coldplay album were pretty low. I wasn’t too big on X&Y and I kinda felt like Coldplay was a little, no pun intended, played out. This album totally surprised me and I think Brian Eno’s influence is a big reason why I like this CD so much. It’s not drastically different for Coldplay, but it’s different enough to push themselves forward from their previous work. The EP Prospekt’s March that they released a little later in the year is even better with awesome syncopation in “Glass of Water” and augmented versions of “Life in Technicolor” and “Lovers in Japan” that are even better than the originals.

The 77’s – Holy Ghost Building
Great job by Mike Roe, Bruce Spencer, and Mark Harmon to go back and revisit old gospel spirituals and give them new life. Mike Roe does his best Dylan imitation, his best Jagger imitation, and his best Jimmy Page imitation on different songs for a rollicking good time. This is the best 77’s release in a long, long time.

Mike Farris – Salvation in Lights
Speaking of old gospel spirituals, Mike Farris was a new artist for me this year. It’s a fresh take on old Negro spirituals done with white boy soul, ala Taylor Hicks. The band behind him is top notch, but I’ve heard it’s even better live. I’m hoping I get a chance to see him someday in concert.

We Shot the Moon – Fear and Love
Nice piano based work with lots of teenaged angst and wistfulness. They have great vocals and nice harmonies. I took a flyer on this album not really having heard much, but recommended by a friend, and I’m glad I did.

Paper Route – Are We All Forgotten?
It’s a short EP, but I really hope Paper Route is on a trajectory towards becoming a big-name band. Their “folktronica” sound blends techno beats with heart-wrenching ballads and ponderous stories. They bring so many instruments to the table with xylophones, harmonicas, guitars, keys, drums, bells and more that each song is so dense musically.

Common Children – Delicate Fade
New to me, at least. It sounds a little dated now, but this album lacks the pretense of a similar sounding band like Collective Soul. It cranks up the intensity and emotion and also gives hints of Marc Byrd’s meandering ambient sound that he mostly produces now. This is another in a long line of bands that I am sad that I found after they broke up.

Andrew Osenga – Letters to the Editor, Vol. 2.
Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken – Ampersand

These are just short EP’s, but each has their own charm. Andrew Osenga releases his second set of fan-driven songs with all of the tracks inspired by letters, photos, and suggestions from listeners. “Staring Out A Window (My Confession)” might be my favorite song of the year and in many ways sums up where I am in life right now. Derek and Sandra combined their fantastic lyric-writing skills to put together a short album of essentially love songs. It’s not nearly as sappy as say, Sonny and Cher, but it does have a certain sweet romantic quality when they write songs to and for each other.