Category Archives: life online

Today: Questioning and Blustering

As a part of my ongoing campaign of shameless self-promotion, I direct you the CanWebbie’s interview with me.  I warn you: it is wholly uninspiring (other than the questi0ns asked) and I offer advice which I don’t follow.

Also, here is a brief, poorly filmed and uninspiring video, shot at about 9:00 this morning, of the meteorological craziness in which we are living today:

That doesn’t really capture it. There’s a significant snow drift behind our van and everywhere else (even if we got out of our driveway we wouldn’t get out of the street) and the winds are blowing snow around at upwards of 70km/h. We are cozy enough in our trailer, though.

The CanWebbies

You may have noticed the little button at the top of my sidebar, which says “2010 CWA NOMINEE”.  It seems that a kind reader (or a couple of readers) has nominated me for the Canadian Weblog Awards in the categories of “Art & Photography” (for Photolicious) andthe sweeping-but-naturally-associated “Religion, Spirituality and Philosophy” (for this blog).

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Nominee 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Nominee

What can I say at a time like this?  I really don’t know…

IT’SANHONOURJUSTTOBENOMINATED!

But seriously, the odds of me winning anything are slim.  Let’s have a look at the criteria by which the judges will be evaluating nominees.

The evaluation is divided into two categories: design and content.  This blog is a slightly altered version of somebody else’s template–a template which, I add, is used by many WordPress users.  So no go on the design element.

I think I do a little better on the content: I’m usually intelligible, clear, transparent and authentic; I generally pay attention to spelling and grammar, although perhaps not as much as I used to. BUT: Am I engaging?  I don’t know.  Am I original?  No. Am I current? Absolutely not. It’s funny (funny unexpected, not funny haha) that I’m nominated in a year in which I have blogged less than ever (other than when I was not blogging).

But it’s nice that I’ve been nominated. Perhaps someone will click on the link on the nomination page and like what they read here.  Perhaps it will motivate me to blog more and with more care.

It’s a decision by jury and more nominations will roll in as the year goes by. Awards will be…awarded in January 2011.

Blogiversary

Nearly forgot that today marks 6 years of the Eagle & Child.  I should have saved yesterday’s post for today, because I don’t have much to say.

We had Madeline’s friend party today. 12 kids running around screaming for 2 hours. (Thankfully we used one of the school’s banquet rooms.) Too much.  I think that marks me as an introvert, doesn’t it?  Or does that kind of crazy affect even the most extroverted of extroverts.

Otherwise, a relaxing day.

Happy blogiversary to me.

Yesterday I purchased an unusual book: A Life in the Bush: Lessons Learned from my Father. I stumbled upon it while browsing the books section at theglobeandmail.com. Every so often I want like to try something different to read. (If I never did that, I wouldn’t have discovered Bill Bryson or P.G. Wodehouse.)  This one is a memoir written by the son of a man who lived most of his life in Ontario’s Algonquin Park. I was planning to read The Culture of Fear, but I may just put everything else aside for now and read it instead.

A chart for your edification.

I just spent way too much time creating the following line chart, which shows the relationship between how full my schedule is and how much blogging I do:

Busy-ness vs. Inspiration Ration

As you can see, my Busy-ness to Inspiration Ratio is pretty high (or is it low? I can never remember.)  September was a productive month both in terms of homework and assignments and blogging.  October, thus far, is a relatively slow month in terms of school work and my blogging quantity reflects that fact.

Comparing this empirically-sound chart and my calendar, I predict that blogging will pick up significantly near the end of November, with a chance of intermittent posting for the rest of October.

Funny ’cause it’s true

The Twouble with Twitter (via):

Lately I’ve been thinking more about all the social networking apps available out there. I’ve resisted getting into many of them. Twitter and Facebook alone occupy enough time. I’ve considered taking a break or quitting both apps completely. I like some of the connections (re)made through Facebook, but I don’t use it for much other than playing Scrabble. And yet I feel compelled to return again and again to see what’s new on Facebook or who Twittered. It’s becoming a habit. A bad one. Some nights if no one tweets for a couple of hours it’s like there is nothing going on in the whole world, which is, of course, absolutely false.

Sometimes it feels like it’s rotting my brain. At other times it’s really quite fun.

But, yeah, Twitter feels, for the most part, like a waste. I try to use it mostly for thoughts and clever things which come to mind with are not lengthy enough to blog. But more often than not I end up posting what I’m doing, which is perhaps interesting for travel, but otherwise? I don’t know.

And the constant checking…

And yet I carry on.

I will diminish

‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.’ – The Fellowship of the Ring

There are few things I desire more than to write–here, at least.  And yet these days I have little to say, little energy/will to say it, and, it feels, even less ability to say it.  I just don’t have the strength to bend my mind to writing.  Lack of discipline, probably.  Story of my life.

At the same time, Dixie is blossoming in her writing–her blog has more depth and more poetry each day, it seems.

My malaise will pass, I hope.  I have the desire, just not the will, if that makes any sense.

By the way: they say you’re not supposed to blog about not wanting to blog or not having anything to say.  Swim against the stream, that’s what I always say.  Stick it to the Blogging Man, is my motto.

* * *

Right now I’m a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information that has been presented in this course on 600 years of church history.  I will not retain much of it and that depresses me: all this money and time and effort and much of it will be forgotten.  My high school chemistry teacher said that he learned (or, rather, re-learned) everything on the job.  But you don’t re-learn church history on the job being a pastor.

It’s the same with books.  Sometimes it seems like I forget what I read as soon as I turn the page.  Stupid memory.

It’s an issue of self-discipline and application again, I guess.  I don’t apply myself as much as perhaps I should.  I did well in school, but I was never studious–like the girls who would have notepads dedicated to listing their homework for the night, who would be working on their papers within days of receiving the syllabus and who took copious notes on anything from which notes could be taken.

Am I just lazy?

I count on this–in this I hope–that in reading and studying and learning I am somehow changed, even if just a little, in a way that will benefit me in unseen ways down the road.  I may never make a conscious connection between my study of Theodore of Mopsuestia and a future argument about some insignificant church issue, but I trust it will be there.

I hope, in other words, that I will somehow benefit from this course (and all others), even if I don’t remember the facts.

Is that just an excuse for laziness or lack of application?

Trip

I’m going on a little trip with Olivia.  

With my iPod Touch it’s much easier to use Twitter than WordPress (although there is a WordPress App that works quite well).  Because of this, I’ve set things up so that theoretically there will be a “digest” post of the day’s Tweets posted at the end of a given day.  I say “theoretically”, because I have it set to do so at 11:59pm and it should have published a post last night at that time, but it didn’t.  It seems to work for some people, but it is still in testing.

If that doesn’t work, I’ve also got my Tweets feeding to the sidebar to the right.  Or you could follow me at twitter.com/vandersluys.  I hope the digest posts work so that it will be integrated into my RSS feed.

I have mixed feelings about Twitter-to-blog integration (Twitter seems so contrary to the blogging spirit), so this is a test for when I go to Chicago at the beginning of February.  Let me know what you think.

Having said that, I believe I’m inheriting my parents’ old laptop (1st generation XP, I believe) which will hopefully function sufficiently.  If I can get the wireless adapter to work, I may post something substantial.

The 2008 Meme

(Stolen from Maryanne)

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Preached a sermon (preached several, in fact).  Also, toboganned in -47 degrees celsius (including windchill).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No and no.  I didn’t really make resolutions, but I did give myself a reading list for the year.   2 books out of 20 are struck out.  I’m easily side-tracked.  I read much less this year than I had hoped.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Possibly.  You tell me.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Dixie’s granny died.

5. What countries did you visit?

Not a one.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

More self-discipline.  (And by “more” I mean “any”, because currently I’m at about “none”.)

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Birthdays and anniversaries, mostly.  April 24 I preached my first sermon.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Preaching a sermon and loving it.  Getting a second job at the church and feeling like it fit.  (Sorry.  I didn’t expect these answers to get so repetitive.)

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not coming up with better answers for this meme.  Except that I’m writing this in 2009 (let’s hope this is my biggest failure).  I’m sure I failed countless times as a father last year.  That’s pretty big.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Several colds, couple of cuts.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

An iPod Touch.  Or any number of books.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My wife’s.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My wife’s.  (I’m kidding)

14. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage.  Diapers (for the kids).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

As a general rule, I don’t get “really, really, really excited” about anything.  The closest thing to “really, really, really excited” was discovering The Arcade Fire.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Something from Funeral.  Or “Keep the Car Running”.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

a) Happier, probably; b) neither thinner nor fatter; c) neither, but possibly a hair poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading.  Exercise.  Sleep.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Spending time on the computer. (In fact, I should be in bed right now)

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

Spent it with the in-laws.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

No.  Stayed in love, though.

22. How many one-night stands?

My night stand is there every night.  Had the same one for 8 years.  They have disposable ones now?

23. What was your favorite TV program?

The Office

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No.  My hate level was stable from 2007 though 2008.

25. What was the best book you read? 

Hard to say.  Either Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright, The Real Jesus by Luke Timothy Johnson, or Yearning by M. Craig Barnes.  The Real Jesus was the most absorbing book I read.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Unquestionably it was The Arcade Fire.  (But emusic.com has forced me to get out of my musical rut and listen to some different things.)

27. What did you want and get?

Books.

28. What did you want and not get?

Harsher punishment for parole violators–no–world peace.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

No Country for Old Men

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Went on a date with my wife.  I was 31 then.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Probably nothing.  Unless a patron was in the cards and I wasn’t aware of it.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

“Hmmm…this item of clothing is on top in the drawer/first in the closet.  I think I’ll wear that.”

33. What kept you sane?

Dixie.  The Office.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Don Rickles.  I don’t know.  I don’t pay much attention.  The Arcade Fire as a group, I guess.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The stupid left/right divide.

36. Who did you miss?

My family.  (That was Maryanne’s answer.  I copied and pasted her whole post and left this one ’cause I couldn’t think of anything.  Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?  I’m just not a “misser”.)

37. Who was the best new person you met?

Did I meet new people this year?  Wait…I did:  Gavin.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

Waiting can be good.  “In the fullness of time” things come my way.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“My horn can pierce the sky!”

Miscellaneous internet related stuff

Google Chrome is out of beta.  Gmail, which is significantly older than Chrome in internet terms, is still in beta.  (Hat tip to Brad Boydston for the observation.)  I don’t understand the “beta” stage, especially for Gmail.  Millions of people have been using it for years, is there really still a question that it works properly?

I just reinstalled Chrome.  I wasn’t that impressed with it when it was first released.  It was fast and simple, but I didn’t like anything else about it (such as how it handled bookmarks and the lack of add-ons).  Firefox is still my preferred browser, but at home I’ve been using Opera so that Dixie and I don’t have to keep signing into our respect online accounts.  Opera claims to be the fastest browser around.  That may well be.  I like Opera, but it still doesn’t feel like a good fit.  And it has issues with iGoogle and various other online apps I use.  So it’s back to Chrome for now.

* * *

As I was typing in the URL for Wikipedia and didn’t notice that I misspelled it.  It took me to a website for bedding or something (I didn’t stick around to find out).  Are the days of accidentally stumbling upon adult content behind us?  There was a time I was terrified of misspelling an URL for fear of where I might end up.  This stems from a time in my early years of web-browsing when I sent my brother a handful of links for gaming websites to download demos.  He emailed me back to inform me that every link I sent him was an adult website.  I was mortified.  I turns out I had entered one too many letters or one too few in the URL or pluralized a letter I shouldn’t have.  It was embarrassing.  So I paid careful attention to my spelling in address bars (and increased my use of cut-and-paste).

I suspect wide use of Google helps.  Back in the day I would occasionally (don’t know if anyone else did) sometimes just type in www dot something related to what I was looking for dot com.  A person looking for the website for the Friends sitcom would intuitively type in “friends dot com”.  Apparently, at that time anyway, friends.com was an adult website.  I don’t think people type in random URLs so much any more.  I certainly don’t.

* * *

It appears as if del.icio.us is no longer, but now goes with the much easier delicious.com.

* * *

I reinstalled WordPress last night in order to make it easier to upgrade in the future.  This reinstall moves me from uploading upgrade files to just clicking one button to upgrade.

Just to be safe I backed up my database in three different ways: creating an SQL file through phpMyAdmin; creating a zipped backup file right from WordPress using a backup plugin; and exporting my blog from WordPress (XML file).

When I had reinstalled WP, I imported the SQL database file.  It said it was successful, but nothing showed up on the blog.  Then I tried importing it to a different database.  That completely screwed up the site.

The lesson: I don’t know how to upload SQL databases.

Next up was the WordPress XML export file.  I new that would work, because I did an export/import of this blog over to vandersluys.wordpress.com.  That export/import worked well, except that it buggered up my category and tag links as well having a comment count of 0 on every post (but comments were, in fact, there).  I was willing to work with that problem as long as I could get my blog back up.  It worked and categories and tags were fine.  Comment count on all posts: 0.

I spent almost an hour looking for a solution to this comment count issue, but could find nothing useful.  Then I poked around the database tables for a while.  I thought I had solved the problem because 2 comments showed up, but I soon realized that one of the comments was new since the reinstall.  I tested a theory and, sure enough, new comments returned comment count to the correct number.

I searched a bit more and found a site which gave an incredibly easy solution.  The problem is that WordPress loses count of the comments, so you have to force it to recount.  You can do that either by posting and deleting a comment on every single post or create a .php file with the code from this page and force the recount on every post in seconds.  If you’ve got the comment count problem, check it out.

* * *

This is an award-winning post: first recipient of Most Boring Post Ever.

Blogging Anniversary

5 years ago today I started blogging.  It was over at 20six.  My blog still exists there.   (I see the title to the last post on that blog has no less than 3 exclamation marks in it.  For shame!)

I used to think that 5 years was a big deal.  I thought 5 years of tree planting was a big deal, but some of the guys I was a rookie with are still in the tree planting business 8 years after I planted my last tree (for a logging company).  Suddenly my 5 years seem like nothing.

With blogging I can’t catch up and never will.  The bloggers that had been writing for 5 years when I started seemed so impressive then (because they started well before the blogging boom), but now they have now done so for 10 years.  So I’ll always feel behind in terms of milestones.

But those 5 years have been good and I have blogged consistently throughout.  The quality and quantity of my content has ebbed and flowed (I’m currently ebbing, I guess), but I’ve been here consistently.  And there is some degree of satisfaction in that.

What’s next for The Eagle & Child?  I don’t know.  Ironically, just at the time that I’m beginning formal theological studies I feel less inclined to post on theological matters.  Perhaps the realization as I begin my studies that there is so little that I know and so much I can learn has had a subconscious effect on my theological blogging output.  So I don’t know what’s next.

What am I doing to celebrate this milestone?  Nothing.  Well, I may be reinstalling WordPress to facilitate easier upgrading in the future (so my blog might be down for a bit tonight), but that has nothing to do with the anniversary.

Also, we used our fireplace tonight for the first time since we bought the house.  We’ve been paying insurance for a house with a fireplace for a year and a half, but we haven’t used it yet.  I have been trying for a good year to find someone to inspect it, but there’s no one around the city who can do it.  I don’t even need a certified person to check it for insurance or sale purposes–I just want it done for my own piece of mind. But we’re done waiting.  We lit the sucker up tonight.