Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Godspeed To My Conservative Christian Brethren:

I would like to take a moment and wish Godspeed to my Conservative Christian Brethren who are actively Fighting the Good Fight.  To my friends with fear that the over-reach of judicial activists threatens the freedom of religion in America, to my sisters who believe passionately in Bible-centered morality, to my brothers who would willfully see the government shut down to protect the life of but a single, precious, unborn child -- I pray Peace Be Unto You.

And though I wish you well, I don't understand you.  Try as I might, my own pitiful fallibility is laid bare in this endeavor.

I wish you well because: 1) I love you, and it hurts me to see such anger and fear in your midst, and 2) I understand where you are coming from - I myself was raised with American Fundamental Evangelical values in the Church of Christ.

But I will not march with you against Planned Parenthood.  I will not march with you against SSM.  I will not join in your rally to put the 10 Commandments on the walls of Every City Hall.  Those are easy decisions for me.  What is hard for me, is coming to terms with the fact that your 'good reasons' for marching are just as real and very much as important and valid as my 'good reasons' for not marching.  I'm daily struggling to understand this, but I know it's vitally important that I honor you.

If I am to live out my belief that the God I serve is Sovereign, that everything that takes place is either allowed to happen by, or caused to happen by, Him, then I must accept that your viewpoints and your actions are within the Will of God, however difficult that may be for me.

I invite any Seeker of Truth to the table in my home.  If any of my Brethren would like to discuss the different sides of these social issues, I'm here.  Not to debate, but rather to explain to each other how exactly we came to our current Points of View.  I don't subscribe to American Christianity.  I don't subscribe to whatever messages the AFA, FRC, CMP,or The Blaze* are pushing.  I subscribe to the active and powerful working of the Holy Spirit in my life, tempering my understanding with Patience and Love, informing my Heart and Mind by the Holy Word of God.

I don't understand you, but I love you.  I don't understand you, but God tells me He needs us both.  I don't understand you, but Love demands I try.

AFA - American Family Association
FRC - Family Research Counsil
CMP - Center for Medical Progress
The Blaze - News and Entertainment Network founded by Glen Beck

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Regarding the Kim Davis Case

I have no desire to wade into the ideological sides of the debate regarding Kim Davis.  I would like to offer layman descriptions of the following ideas, hoping that they give folks a clearer picture of what is going on.

Contempt of Court (criminal vs civil applications)
Roots of Contempt of Court go waaay back hundreds of years.  Here in modern America any Judge, be they federal, state, or county, has huge, almost absolute power in their own courtroom.  Note: no specific law breaking need be in question.  If Judge says “no blue shirts in my courtroom” and you wear one, he will ask you to leave.  If you don’t, it is within his power to jail you (not totally realistic, but it’s the idea).  This would be an example of a Civil Contempt charge.  For these the Judge can award either fines, imprisonment, or both, with the sole purpose being to coerce the offender into following the Judge’s order.  It’s very important to understand this is NOT punishment.  If imprisoned, the offender can gain release simply by agreeing to follow the Judge’s order.  There is also a Criminal Contempt charge.  An example of this would be a person who a Judge orders to turn over handwritten letters.  That person burns the letters instead.  A Judge could impose fines, imprisonment, or both, for the purpose of punishment, to vindicate the authority of the court.

Folks may disagree on the larger picture, but from a legal standpoint, Kim Davis was jailed for Civil Contempt of Court, for failing to follow the Order of a Judge in His courtroom, to wit: Issuance of Legal Documents pursuant to the duties of the Office of County Clerk.

Public vs Private Entity (Kim Davis the Citizen vs The Office of Rowan County Clerk who happens to be a person named Kim Davis)
Sometimes citizens give up certain rights by virtue of being public servants.  For example, uniformed service members are prohibited from speaking disparagingly of POTUS, their Commanding Officer, and other High-office Individuals.  Seems like that would be a clear 1st Amendment violation, in the restriction of Free Speech, but the issue runs deeper.  When a citizen is employed by the Gov’t, their Individual Rights can be superseded by their Governmental Employment status.

Plenty of case law and other commentary on this one alone to keep a person busy for days, but this specific case has more to do with the Office of County Clerk than with Ms. Davis as a citizen. Citizens enjoy protection of their Individual Rights via the Constitution.  Official Offices, such as County Clerk, Governor, Congressman, do not, they are simply Offices with specific duties that must be carried out.

Federalism (State's Rights vs Federal Gov't Supremacy)
Super sticky issue.  Since our country’s inception, some folks want strong Federal Gov’t, some want all power to the States.  In this specific case a Federal Judge imposed his will on a County (her authority came via the State) Employee.  The SCOTUS case involving SSM was a federal thing, which is why a federal judge was the one doing the hearing here.

Folks big on State’s Rights (to include the Oath Keepers) question whether a Federal Judge even has jurisdiction over a county employee.  I’m inclined to say he does, but there’s not a cut-and-dry answer.  The idea the Judge didn’t have jurisdiction has legal merit and will play out in the courts in following months.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Both the Federal One and Kentucky’s)
A big word floating around is “Accommodation”, which is an element of both these laws.  The Federal RFRA was passed by Congress in 1993 and sought to outline what types of accommodation employers or the government have to provide to employees whose job might require them to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs.  The Supreme Court ruled that the application of this law to the individual states violated the Constitution, so in turn some states enacted their own legislation, as did Kentucky.  When the states did this, they often used wording different than the Federal Statute, in some cases making the protections broader or changing what the required accommodations look like.

For the issue at hand, Ms. Davis’s name is on the licenses.  She feels this makes it a Freedom of Speech/Freedom of Religion issue, and I’m inclined to agree with her.  Their current work-around is to remove her name and her office, simply stating “by decree of Federal Court” or something to that effect, which I think fixes the issue.  But reading both of these laws will give a clearer picture on what options exist to fix the problem (because that is far from straightforward).

OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES (The SSM case at the heart of it all)
I'm really disinclined to even write on this, but I feel many folks have feelings/opinions on the case without understanding the exact nature of the Supreme Court decision.  This is a legal description of the case, not a defense or endorsement of any specific ideological viewpoint.

The 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution contains what's known as the "Equal Protection Clause".  Basically the clause states that the laws of the Individual States cannot favor one class of peoples rights over another class of people without showing a substantial reason why.

The 5th and 14th Amendments of the Federal Constitution contain what's known as the "Due Process Clause".  Basically this clause states that neither the Federal Government nor State Governments can deprive citizens of "life, liberty or property" without showing s substantial reason why.

In Obergefell, the Supreme Court decided that marriage in America has two very substantial, but very different aspects.  One aspect is religious in nature.  It is relationship strictly between a Man and a Woman, sanctioned by God, binding two people together as one for eternity.  The other aspect is a legal one.  It is a contractual agreement between two people, agreeing to become a single legal unit with respect to the state/federal governments, binding them together for purposes of taxation, business, inheritance, and so forth.  SCOTUS has no authority over the religious aspect.  It can no more redefine marriage than it can attend church or temple.  Indeed, Separation of Church and State protects religious institutions from this very thing.  SCOTUS decided it did have authority over the legal aspect, by way of the 5th and 14th Amendments.  The Court stated that the lawyers for the States failed to prove a substantial compelling reason for only allowing certain individuals (one man one woman) to enter into this contractual agreement.  The Supreme Court has modified this legal aspect of marrage more than once in the history of our nation.  Of note would be the striking down of couverture and also the permitting inter-racial marriages.  The Opinion in the hyperlink above lays out exactly how the Court applied both Equal Protection and Due Process, but I'd be glad to expound on them by email or Facebook Private Message.

The Kim Davis case has increased the polarization of the SSM issue.  Many people on the News are presenting their opinions on the topic without any real consideration of legal facts of the case.  I’ve tried not to color the above topics with too much with my opinions.  If anyone would like to chat about my sources more, I’d be happy to discuss how I get my data.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Hippy Engineer's Introspection (the paradox of American Christianity)

My minister has a great quote he shares with us occasionally, "Paradox has been defined as 'Truth standing on her head to get attention.'"

To a engineer and mathematician, numbers represent truth, or rather, numbers are Truth.  We study them with a diligence and passion that rivals the most solemn of monks.  Numbers are pure: they don't lie, they don't manipulate, they aren't selfish, nor do they change in degree.  Those traits are reserved for the folks who use numbers in life to further an agenda at the expense of Truth.

A Good Mathematician should keep a healthy dose of emotional separation between themselves and their data.  A mathematician may study a data set for 30+ years, learning all the deep intricacies of how the different variables influence one another and the system as a whole.  He may write countless papers explaining His Understanding of His Data... but then one day a paradox presents itself.  A piece of Pure Truth, directly negating that mathematician's understanding of His Data.  Truth that had been lying there the whole time, but hadn't been noticed... until it stood on it's head.  If that mathematician is to be able to change his mental paradigm to align with Truth, it's essential that he not be emotionally attached to the data, but rather emotionally attached to seeking Truth, however much It may seem impossible to him.

The God-Fearing Rural South gave birth to me.  In the fertile lands of the Arkansas River Valley, I learned how to live a life steeped in Religion.  It permeates every aspect of daily life for the Country Man, indeed He knows no other way.  This Engineer assigns no fault to that man, we must walk our own paths, but in studying engineering I did discover another way to exist, another way to walk.  What I discovered was the importance of researching Truth for myself, balancing my own biases and prejudices against what was revealed to me, then boldly following the Truth regardless of what others thought.  That's why I don't follow Glen Beck, or the Family Research Council, or even the goings-on of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Those outlets funnel a single world-view, and relegate to outright falsehoods any idea that doesn't fit precisely with Their Message.  This is not the way to Truth; this is the way to subservience to an agenda.

As an engineer introspectively examining my relation to my own religion, the paradox I found was this: That the people who most strongly needed to be defined as "Christian" in order to make sense of the world, were the ones most likely to be assholes.  How can this be?  How can those who have dedicated their lives to becoming more like Christ show such abject contempt for their neighbors?  For me the "truth standing on her head" was that these people hadn't dedicated their lives to being more like Christ, they had dedicated their lives to being "Good American Christians" which is an entirely different matter all together.

I have liberal friends that rail against those crazy conservatives who support Kim Davis.  I have conservative friends who can't fathom how those godless liberals don't see that abortion is murder.  Meanwhile, my rural roots are showing as I'm washing the dirt from my hands after working in the Community Garden, asking "don't you fellas have anything better to do?"  In the Navy, we had a saying, "if you have time to lean, you have time to clean."  If a person feels convicted to engage in activism to right social wrongs, Peace Be With You.  I just can't help but wonder if that time would be better spent volunteering at an English Language Center helping an impoverished immigrant better navigate american society, better spent inviting the widow next door over for a home cooked meal, better spent handwriting a note of encouragement to a person that Life is Beating Down.

I don't profess to Know Truth; I only profess to be chasing it, damn what the Establishment tells me.  Jesus condemned the Pharisees' outward religion in Matthew 15.  I really don't want him to repeat that lecture to me at the Gates of Glory.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Catching Up With Woody Projects

I've discussed a few of my ongoing projects on here.  Here's a status update:

1)  Recording guitar and music on Linux - I've got most of the software more or less figured out.  I can program drum loops, make bass/rhythm/lead guitar loops, and independently mix all those loops.  I still need to spend some time learning/figuring out "gain staging in my signal chain".  Also need to work on learning my DAW better.

2)  Raspberry Pi Temperature Monitor Project - Succeeded in getting the temperature probes to talk to the Pi (made a rookie mistake and was picturing the Plug #1 upside down).  I'm now able to poll the sensors from the command line, which is fun but not very useful.  I'll be working on a Python script to do the reads over and over, then log the data to a database.

3)  Budget 2.0 - I've got all the Google Forms set up to manage my budget line items.  My hope is to go live 01Aug15.  I've still got a few nagging issues I haven't been able to wrap my head around, but we'll just have to see how it all comes out in the wash.

~Had a good weekend camping at Lake Memphis with Sarah.  It was nice to get away from the noise and bustle of a Lincoln Home Football Game.  This week has two exciting events, hopefully a dinner with our first Family-with-small-children, and an Arduino/Raspberry Pi introduction to a controls tech buddy from work.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Woody Has A Wish For His CakeDay

Today I turn 33.  Jesus Christ, John Belushi, Eva Braun, Sam Cooke, Chris Farley... all dead, aged 33.

The last 6 years of Life have been transformative for me.  Most notably in how I see and treat others. ~  In 1997 a middle school guidance counselor informed me that my Slosson Test results put me in the top 0.06% of the population for intelligence (as if such a thing can be measured).  This was perhaps not the wisest thing to tell a 14 year old, as for the next 14 years I was an egotistical jerk.  And not just any egotistical jerk, but a highly intelligent evangelical fundamentalist one.  I was an expert debater and apologetic.  I just knew what was Right and what was Wrong, and I expected (demanded) that others agree.  When they didn't, I browbeat them with The Truth that they were sinners and that Jesus loved them anyway.  There were more than a few things missing from my life during that time: Life Experiences, Wisdom and Empathy, among them.

During those years, I didn't know Peace.  Sure, I 'had Jesus', but what good is a heirship for Heaven if one's heart doesn't understand Love?  At age 28 I had been out of the Navy for 2 years.  The Life Experiences I gained being an unemployed disabled vet, trying to survive the hell of obtaining a Chemical Engineering Degree, caused me to start questioning many of the beliefs and viewpoints I had cultivated while being a life-long die-hard supporter of the GOP.  I was so angry that my Personal Responsibility, Civic Engagement (voting), and Morality weren't providing me Peace.  The truth was, my eyes were looking outward and the cares of my spirit were looking inward.  Hint: That's bass-ackwards.

Today my Life Focus isn't on the morality of this "Christian Nation"; my Life Focus is on Loving Others, where they are, how I can.  I honestly could not care less about issuing marriage licences, building walls between us and Canada, or defunding PP and Obamacare.  None of this really matters.  Politicians are going politician, contrarians and going to contrary, and money will continue to be the driving force of our society.  I can't control or change any of that, and obsessing on it is guaranteed to rob me of Peace.  What I can control is this, I can focus my eyes inward on my own heart and focus the cares of my spirit on serving others.  Others that need serving are all around us, if we can just get past ourselves (and our Network News).

My CakeDay wish is this: May God, in his Infinite Mercy, use me, The Intelligent Frustrated Idiot, for His Good Purpose, so that others may know I follow The True Christ by the way I Love others.  (Luke 11:11-12)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Remote Temperature Monitor 2.0

Yesterday I started staging for my next nerd project.  Last year I showed my "Arduino & DS18B20: Remote Temperature Monitor, with bluetooth and homemade Android App" at the 2014 MakeLincoln event.  Although I didn't register for MakeLincoln this year, I am going to be taking that project to the next level.  The old project ran on an Arduino UNO and was written in C.  The Arduino would read the digital temperature sensors connected to it, then broadcast that data over bluetooth to my Android phone, upon which I had created an App to read and display those temperatures.  All in all it worked okay.  A bit clunky but done is better than perfect.

For this project, I'll be using the same DS18B20 digital temperature sensors, this time connected to the RaspberryPi.  The Pi will read the temperatures, then upload that data to a database in the cloud over wi-fi.  After I get that part worked out, I'll write some HTML and possibly AJAX to create a webpage to display the temperature data.  At the moment I don't have a specific use case or goal in mind, but a possible application would be simply monitoring the temperatures in different rooms of my house over the course of time.  I could also use it to monitor the temperature of my BBQ grill (or my oven) and watch the temperature profile change as food cooks and lid is open/closed.

This will be my first foray into Python.  I dabbled with HTML waaaay back in the day, but I'm not too worried about that.  The AJAX will also be a new one on me, but I've found a pretty awesome Google tool to do most of the heavy lifting for me.  Stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

They Don't Teach This In School

TL;DR - American Media is borked.  I use a computer thing called RSS to manage large amounts of news/data to consume at my leisure.
Media Bias, Confirmation Bias, Attention Bias, Projection Bias.... wikipedia has a huge list of cognitive biases for the intrepid reader.

What they don't teach in school is how to "do" the news.  I have friends that loudly decry the "Liberal Media".  I have friends that loudly decry "FOX  News".  From my personal experiences with them, these two groups share some striking similarities.   First, 95-99% of the news they consume comes only from sources that align with their ideological positions (Left/Right/Christian/Atheist/Free-Market/Pseudo-Law/ect).  Secondly, that 5-1% of news that they do consume from opposing sides, is consumed solely to be mocked/derided/infuriated-by.  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, their discussion points and the evidence they provide to support their viewpoints demonstrates a harrowingly narrow comprehension of the issues.  Fourth, the vast majority do not research Source Documents.

Like The Food We Eat, The News We Consume has a profound impact on our mental well being.  Eight years ago my radio consumption was exclusively Talk-Radio.  I was more up to date than any of my peers regarding the latest political scandals and could quote from memory what different Politicians had to say about other Politicians.  It was the equivalent of Processed Food for the Brain, 24/7/365.  I was angry, I was in fear, I was frustrated.  The problem wasn't that I didn't care to be informed, I cared very much.  The issue was HOW I was getting my news.  The American Media is broken.  Categorically, unequivocally, perversely, broken.  The 24-Hour news cycle, and our consumer based society have colluded to create a system that is self-reinforcing in its negativity.  And it's not enough that the Major Networks have overly filtered lenses, but any yahoo with a Blogger account can rant for all to listen (such as this blog, LoL).

Two things I'd like to put out there: The Importance of Source Documents and How RSS Works.  The main issue I have with network news, is that they only tell you ABOUT stuff, they never actually show you the STUFF.  Cases in point would be the recent Planned Parenthood videos or perhaps the recent Supreme Court case legalizing Same-Sex Marriage.  Does Woody tune into MSNBC or FOX to be told how to feel?  No.  I read the full transcripts of the videos and I read the full Opinions of the Justices.  The talking heads are only there to reinforce the feelings you already have on an issue, not to educate or enlighten you to opposing viewpoints.  I choose to read the documents on which they report and come to my own conclusions.  A major aid to me in this endeavor is RSS, which stands for Really Short Syndication.  I have a feed-reader that manages the hundreds of Sources I have collected over the years.  Every time a new blog post, a new study, a new SCOTUS decision is published, a short three sentence summary shows up in my reader.  If I click on it, I can get the first paragraph or so, and if that looks good I can click to go to the actual story.  This allows me to cultivate the Sources that inform me, picking ones that aren't sensationalist, and to learn the type of spin their viewpoint utilizes.

Studying Engineering changed many things in my life.  I found that even in the crazy distraction filled world we live in, methods can be applied to the mayhem that allow reasonable thought processes to prevail.  If anyone wants to know more about RSS or the types of Source Documents I routinely study, just ask.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Evangelical, Progressive, Fundamentalist, Liberal - What's in a Word?

My Division Officer in Rota, Spain, had a phrase I used as a mantra for some time, "Words have meaning.  Use them wisely."  In that vein, I spent a deal of time today with Mr. Webster and a host of internet articles researching how some people describe themselves and others, when it comes to Life Outlooks.  It was enough to make anyone's head spin.  ~  I was raised with a certain set of values, instilled to me by the viewpoints/actions of my parents/society.  Over the past 15 years, I have worked extremely hard to "know myself".  I've studied Multi-Variable Calculus and Differential Equations, along with their applications.  I've studied both the Old and New Testaments of The Bible along with various Commentaries.  I've studied how tones come together in a rhythmic fashion to make "Music", and endeavored to create my own.  I've studied the Opinions and Decisions of The Supreme Court of The United States as well as the writings of numerous Political Philosophers.  I search for the Deep Truths that defy words to explain them.  The result of this hard work, is that I feel very comfortable with my place in the Universe.

My viewpoints on some things are very far removed from small-town Muldrow, Oklahoma, from whence I hail. Although strangely, mysteriously, inexplicably, my Values themselves have not changed, my connection to them has simply been refined.  What's mainly changed is the way I see others and how those Values reveal themselves in my thoughts and actions.  When I was younger, I mixed Politics and Religion freely, thinking that was "right".  Today, I am very much against their mixing, not because I found the correct answer was not to do it, but rather because I found not mixing them was what's right for me.  When I was younger, I consciously applied value decisions to people based upon their intelligence, because I believed that Truth could be found by anyone, save for the lazy.  Today, I don't do that, not because I think Truth can't be found by anyone, but rather because I've found the Truth that Love demands we don't despise our Brother.

Our world is complicated.  Some people are smarter than others; some people are more compassionate than others.  I stand convinced we could all do worse than to learn something new, appreciate something old, and embrace someone in need.


New Additions To Blog

I've added a new Page to my blog, one for links of things I find interesting.  I haven't quite figured out how to manage it yet, but for the moment I will simply append each new item.  I'm also going to try to move my Music Theory documents off Dropbox and onto my Google Drive, which I will then link to my blog.  I'm still getting the hang of the blogging thing, but I think I'm enjoying it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Budget Revamp!

Long post about my family budgeting, feel free to skip over if not your thing.
TL:DR -> Family budgeting can be tricky.  I'm going to be trying something that will take about an hour a month to manage, in an attempt to remove some of the trickiness.
Anyone that follows me closely on Facebook knows budgeting is a big deal to my family.  Since making Financial Peace a goal 2 years ago, Sarah and I have made huge strides in streamlining our expenses, finding economies of scale, and crafting creative savings solutions.  We have seen large improvements in our overall quality of life.  There are two particularity sticky/annoying parts of my budget though, and those are Timelines and Managing-Multiple-Items-Being-Saved-For.

Our Family Budget is set up for a Calendar Month.  I get paid twice a month, but never on the actual 1st and 15th.  I have some additional income streams that drop in on the 1st.  Most of our bills have some flexibility on due dates, but others are hard on the 1st and 15th.  My issue isn't having enough money to pay the bills, I have 2+ months worth of living expenses in savings, the problem is getting the paychecks to match the bills on paper with respect to a calendar.

In our Savings Account (vice Checking Account), we have multiple 'bags' of savings, e.g. Emergency Savings, Car Repair Savings, Woody's Hobby Savings, Vacation Savings, ect.  Since all the money is in the same overall savings account, I've developed a way to ear-mark where funds are headed and what they can be used for.  I've been managing this by hand on pencil and paper, but it's becoming more of a burden than benefit (which is something that happens in a working personal budget).

I've been banging my head against these problems for a few months and I think I finally have a solution.  I've decided to try looking at this from a Business Manager point of view, I have plenty of cash and liquidity, it's just the timelines and data management that's a problem.  To tackle the timeline problem, I will expand my effective budget cycle and transfer this duty over to my savings vice checkings. I will set aside 1.5 months worth of Living Expenses in my Savings Account, called Woody_Holdings.  By design, this 'bucket' of money will always have enough cash to pay any and all bills due before next 2 paychecks.  The cash flow of Woody_Holdings will be that I pay into it "Pre-pay Rent" or "Pre-pay Groceries", and then pay out of it "Pay Rent Due" or "Pay Grocery Stipend".

Just prior to my payday, I will ensure that the Checking Account gets zero'd out (except for a safety buffer of $x to insure against over-drafts (this also lets me waive overdraft protection from bank which saves me on fees, yay!)).  Any cash over the buffer is essentially "Free Money", i.e. money I budgeted to be spent but for some reason didn't spend.  Those monies will be moved back to savings (and dropped by percentage into our different 'extra' savings accounts like vacation or hobbies, which a spreadsheet can easily do for me).

Upon getting paid, I will transfer the paycheck straight into savings and will let my spreadsheet do the "Pre-pay Rent" or "Pre-pay Student Loans" to Woody_Holdings as is appropriate (our current system has rent coming out of first check, student loans out of second check and so forth).

On the 1st of each month, I will transfer from Woody_Holdings, over to checking, any monies needed for either cash or debit card expenses for that calendar month.

This system will require maintenance action by me, 5 times a month. The day before and after each paycheck, and on the 1st of the month for Outgoing Expenses.  I'm estimating 5-10 minutes for each of those evolutions, adding up to an hour of budget maintenance per calendar month, which doesn't seem too onerous.  The biggest things I'm hoping to get from this are: Peace of mind that all upcoming outgoing expenses have matching funds already available, Easier time picturing where extra money is, what it should be doing, and where it could get used better instead of where it is, and a better picture of the health of all our miscellaneous savings items.  Potential drawbacks would be that the system ends up being more trouble than its worth, in which case we just revert back to how we are currently doing them.

I hope to have this implemented within the next 4 weeks.  I'll post results from the process.  I'm happy to answer any questions about the system on the Facebook thread.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Food... It's Just Another Way To Share Yourself

One of the biggest things Sarah and I were excited about with our new living arrangements, was having more margin in the kitchen and dinning arenas.  Less than month and a half into our new digs, we've settled into a 2 dinner per week cycle, (tues and either sat/sat).  Last night we had some Chicken Cacciatore with a good old-buddy, now a new Grad Student at UNL, and her missionary mother (fresh in from New Guinea).  This week will see us host a friend from work and his lady, and on Sat we are doing brunch with a couple we friended at Panic a few years ago.  We love the intimacy of our wooden-floored dinning room, no TV, no phones, just good company and good food.

Conflict surrounds us in this day and age.  Facebook and the American-Media-Beast will always have something new and exciting to either fear, distrust, or rail against.  A home filled with Love and Good Food, opened to weary wayfarers, is but one way to Fight the Hate in the World.  Sarah and me? we're fighters for Love :)

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Something Missing From My Music

The 3 basic elements of music are rhythm, harmony, and melody.  My harmony and melody chops are decent, but rhythm is the least developed of my skills.  To remedy this, I've been studying up on the elements of a good drum loop and elements of the groove.  "Sound on Sound" has a great 4 part article on this:
Here's the .pdf with all the examples:  (will take a bit to download)

I'm currently using a program called Hydrogen to program my drum loops.  Hopefully within the next week or so, I'll be more comfortable creating basic drum rhythms for my looping.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Getting Acquainted With the World Of Linux Audio Production

I've recently begun learning how to do Audio Production on a Linux Platform.  The bulk of the music I make could be classified as "looping", which is where I record short sections of sound and then play them on top of each other (mostly just guitar, with a loop of rhythm, loop of bassline, loop of melody).  In the past I've used Mobius Looper on Windows, now I learning SooperLooper on Linux.  Learning my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is probably the most difficult part of "Music" that I've attempted, save the initial decision to learn music theory.  Now I'm in the weeds of EQ, arranging, filters, plug-ins, routing of audio, ect.

I've gotten past the first hard part of just getting things set up.  On the Linux Platform, a program called JACK is used to route audio signals around inside the computer, for example connecting the output of my guitar to the input of the monitor speakers, or the output of my Looper to the input of the Recording Program.  This is very powerful, but takes some getting used to.  SooperLooper wasn't too bad to get started with, I'm not sure if I'll like it better than Mobius Looper or not.  I'm still learning how to control the sync functions to keep my different loops playing together in time.

The two biggest challenges I am facing at the moment are getting comfortable with my DAW, which is Ardour, and also learning how to use a Drum Loop program (I'm thinking I'll use a program called Hydrogen).  I'm pretty weak when it comes to knowledge of rhythm patterns.  I'm a bit nervous that it will be quite difficult, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  If I turn out being successful creating my own percussion loops, I'll have most of the tools I'll need to begin composing original songs, arranging them on the DAW, and EQ'ing them well enough to share with the world.

I'll keep the blog posted with my progress.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Arduous Learning with Ardour DAW and SooperLooper

I was successful downloading and installing Ardour, a Digital Audio Workstation.  Not sure why I was crazy and thought I could use it right out of the box :(  Today I'll be studying up on how to get JACK, Ardour, and SooperLooper working together.  Time for a few hours of youtube videos, LoL.  I'm not super looking forward to it, but gaining the ability to really EQ and produce my music will be nice. ~ On a separate note, I also need to figure out how to use Pandora Radio as a Source to Winamp so I can play pretty visualizations on the TV while jamming to Pandora at home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SooperLooper, Mobius Looper, Jack, and Linux

Well, I got my desktop up and running a Linux Debian distro.  Went over fairly well.  Yesterday I installed sudo, which doesn't come installed, and also a number of other small programs.... including a new looping software, SooperLooper.  Linux uses a program called JACK to manage audio in and out.  I had some pretty grave concerns about getting it working, but wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined.

At the moment I miss Mobius Looper, which is what I cut my looping teeth on (but doesn't run on Linux).  Over the next few days I'll be trying to learn SooperLooper, and I'll also be looking into a DAW to process my recorded audio.  I'll post back with the results :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Computer Work and Home Networking

My desktop PC died a horrible power-supply death a few months ago.  A good buddy hooked me up with a spare PC he had laying around, sans a hard drive.  Today after my mentor meeting, I'll be getting started trying to get the old HD installed in the new PC.  After that, I'll be setting up a network for my home, so any device can access storage on the server.  I've been wanting to have a "home network" for years, but never really had the gumption to make it happen.  Let's see if I succeed on the first shot :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Settling in to New House

We're still in the first month of our new rental.  Things are progressing nicely.  Although there has been a high amount of stress getting all the responsibilities met, Sarah and I feel very blessed.  I've got the room to work on my Mustang (got new battery in her, running fine, going to replace serpentine belt today).  We've got an oven that sits level on the floor and heats quickly and evenly (also has a self-clean mode we can use to recondition all our cast iron, soooo excited about this).  The Central Heat/Air has been keeping the house nice and cool despite the heat wave.

We still have some setting up to do on the Music Room and Dining Room.  We also have all the "extra" stuff in the basement to sort.  Sometime in the near future I'll have to get my Electronics Lab created in the Basement, so I can get back to programming and making cool stuffs with Arduino.

God is Good.  My wife is Awesome.  The Woody's are doing well.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Budget Technification

With the new living space, I'm revamping how I handle my budget.  I've created an Android App that is linked to a Google Form.  Our budget is set up with line items, and the Google Form asks for a line item and an amount.  The Form's response is then sent to a spreadsheet, which sums all the line items.

I'm thinking about setting up an IFTTT recipie to send me an email of the summed results every 3 days.  This is the first time I've used most of these tools, but I'm having quite a bit of fun.

Testing Cross Post To FB

This is a test to see if Blogger will cross-post via IFTTT.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rarely do I read writing this good.

"The Art of Manliness" is a blog I follow.  The writer lives near where I grew up as a boy.  The blog has posts on "Manly" things in the classic sense of the word, things like Chivalry, How to Be Handy With Tools, guides on hiking, camping, fishing.  The author also posts classical writings that espouse Goodness, Self-Control, Humanity, such was the post that floored me today.

The title of the post was "Manvotional: The Supreme Charity of the World" (

This post introduced me to William George Jordan (1864-1928), an American editor, lecturer and essayist.  It's not surprising that someone who edited both the Ladies Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post, would have some interesting Truths to tell.

Here are two links to a collection of his essays.  Each essay takes 10 min or so to read, but far longer to absorb. I'm hoping to come back and do a write-up on selected ones sometime in the future.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

First Post

This will someday be the place I maintain my online presence.  For the moment though, it is only a Landing Page.