What If

What if the bottom fell out of the economy? Oh wait.

What if Cher had a comeback?

What if the machines didn’t know what chicken tasted like, so that’s why chicken tastes like everything?

What if I found an awesome(sauce) job, but it required moving to a new state?

I believe that ‘what if’ is the source of creative genius. Asking this question can lead you to an infinite number of answers. Some are whimsy. Others are inventions. In 1903, Mary Anderson noticed that streetcar drivers in New York had to roll down their windows in the rain to see. She thought, ‘What if there was a way to clean the window while driving?” and invented the windshield wiper.

But of all the places ‘what if’ takes me, I inevitably arrive at… grammar.

What if I understood grammar?

Special grammar super-rules apply to expressing a wish or hypothesis. From this article, you can see that the past subjunctive must be used when expressing a wish or hypothesis. For our what ifs, the past subjunctive is used after the conjunction if in a contrary-to-fact protasis. Therefore, ‘What if I was manly man?’ is properly expressed as, ‘What if I were a manly man.’

Ahem.

What if I could choose between flight and invisibility as super powers?

What if I could go back in time and take the blue pill?

What if I were not left-handed?

What if you found out an asteroid was going to hit the earth in eight hours?

 

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good

harry-potterOK, I admit it: I love Harry Potter. Wait, that doesn’t sound right.

My beautiful wife and I have been HP fans since the beginning of the franchise. I’ve really enjoyed J.K. Rowling‘s writing, and the movies have been excellent as well. But most of all, I like the themes that she presents throughout: losing someone is really hard (but you can recover), friendship matters in ways you can’t possibly anticipate, and real magic is just a state of mind.

Not sure about that last part. Maybe that’s just what I believe.

On a seemingly unrelated note, I’ve never understood why people get tattoos. Everyone I know has a story of someone who got a tattoo of their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/canine unit, only to have to scratch it out or tattoo over it later in life. Ha, I thought to myself, I’ll never do that. I’ll never permanently mark myself in some way that I might regret later. Never.

Never!

Disclosure

I’m driving over to my friend Ned’s house today to help him with his website. He’s a remodeling contractor who runs his own business, and lately, business isn’t great. Actually, he’s concerned about going out of business. Because there’s no business at all. The person that used to maintain his site and list him on various services like Craig’s List bailed on him, so I’m going to volunteer some of my time.

I have adequate ’setting up websites’ skills. In fact, this blog is not the only website I have on the net. In the interest of disclosure, I’ll introduce my other not-for-profit project. I say not-for-profit because, even though it’s a ‘webstore’ that ’sells clothing’, it doesn’t ‘make any money’. I’m basically running it as a favor for my friend.

To be fair, I should say the my beautiful wife is running it. Julia (whose signature points at the store when she comments) does almost everything on our website. She takes the pictures, edits them in Photoshop, manages the inventory, ships items, and tracks sales. And, at all these tasks, she absolutely rocks. My contribution was the server-side application (written in Django), and I fix bugs and add new features every so often, but she handles all of the day-to-day stuff.

The Boeing Museum of Flight

museum-of-flightLast ‘Holiday Season,’ we visited the . By ‘we’, I mean most of the extended family, including my parents, sister, and my brother-in-law. One of the cliches of living in any town is that you never really visit the attractions nearby. In my case, that included the Museum of Flight, and I was really happy I finally went.
As museums go, this one is excellent. There is a fantastic exhibit on the start of aviation, including a very detailed Wright Brothers fabrication shop. I was amazed by the the wind tunnel that they constructed to test lift of their wing designs, and was further amazed to learn that they actually ‘fixed’ the drag co-efficient algorithm to achieve flight. There was also an incredible ‘Space’ exhibit, with interactive displays documenting the beginnings of rocketry and the Space Program here in the United States.

red_barn_and_galleryAs cool as the indoor displays were, my favorite part was outside. You walk over the adjacent street over this really cool covered walkway, and then, there before you, are an actual British Airways Concorde (that you can walk through!), and a retired Air Force One. Whoa!

I had a very difficult time fitting the whole Concorde into a picture. I was using my cell camera, but that thing is LONG. L O N G. Really long. Walking through was very interesting – the plane is tiny inside by today’s standards. One very narrow aisle, with two sets on either side. That’s it. I have no idea of how the flight attendants managed it, pushing carts laden with Dom Perignon.

Air Force One was equally interesting (and also primitive). Cabin room seemed almost as restricted, and paled in comparison to modern jet accomodations. It also reeked stank smelled bad still had the odor of stale cigarettes, 50 years later.

Check out the very cool website for the museum – on top of being an excellent museum, they also have an excellent site. I highly recommend going there if you are in Seattle. If you actually live here, don’t wait 30 years like I did.

Big day

Last night, I dreamed I could dunk. Actually, in my dream, I could stuff the ball up to my elbow. When I was growing up in Spokane, my Dad installed a hoop on top of the garage. The rim was exactly ten feet above the driveway, and I spent many happy hours shooting ball with my friends. But I never grew tall enough (or the ability to jump) to dunk the ball.

Last night, it was no problem.

In my dream, I could stand flat-footed on the driveway in the sun, crouch, and then spring upward so fast I could hear the wind in my ears. When my eyes got level with the rim, I would grab it with my right hand, pull myself up an extra foot with the momentum, and then jam the ball into the basket left-handed, landing on the driveway like a cat. It never got old, even after dream-dunking one hundred times or so. The feeling was a mixture of disbelief and elation at mastery of this ability that had eluded me for so long.

‘I can actually dunk now? Really?’

‘Yes I can.’

Focus

I’m having a hard time staying focused. There are so many things I need to take care of! And so many things I’m trying to do. It’s almost impossible for me to stay with one task long enough to complete it, as other tasks keep grabbing my attention and distracting me.

Take blogging, for example (take my blog, please!*). This is the fourth draft I’ve created over the last few days, trying to get a blog post out. Oops, hang on, bath time for the girls. IB flooded her bed last night, which earns her a trip to the tub.

OK, I’m back. The girls are watching a new episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Have you ever seen an episode where Mickey says, ‘Maybe one of our Mouskatools can help! Oh, Toodles!’ Toodles trundles over, they look at the tools, and there’s nothing that can help. Yeah, I haven’t seen that episode either. Toodles is amazing. It will be a sad day at the Clubhouse when he gets laid off.

[‘Beautiful wife just asked for a phone number from my cell phone. I got it, and let the dogs out, let the cats in, and made sure they all had food.]

My number one task is trying to find a job. I had two interviews last week, but no job – wait, beautiful wife just announced she’s going to interrupt me now, hang on… OK, back, sorry. She wants me to take something back to the store when I’m out running errands this morning. So, interviewing is good, and my job search seems to be picking up steam. It’s like any marketing exercise, I guess – you want to fill up the queue with leads, and eventually, results start popping out the end.

Is anyone else distracted? Anyone have advice on how to focus on something for more than three minutes at a time? I’m really – hey, I wonder where my Matrix soundtrack CD is, I haven’t heard that album in like, forever. No! No time. I’m going to get dressed, start the Departure Procedure with the girls (kiss, hugs, pirouette, kiss again), and leave.

Focus…

*I don’t get no respect.

10 minutes

I work in a fast-paced environment. My employer (it’s a contract) is a website builder, and the team is made up of five people who all communicate over IM and email. My ‘b0ss’ is very demanding, and I’ve noticed that he really likes instant status updates. Looking through my chat logs, I have lots of messages that look like this:

Boss: Try to connect to the server
Me: OK, trying to connect…
Me: Server error, trying a different login…
Me: Connected, running server scripts…

Instant status reports, handed out on a minute-by-minute basis. Crazy! But it seems to work. I’ve learned how to Get The Job Done Right Now, even if I only have 10 minutes to get something important out. Or, just a blog post. Like this!

5:07 PM

My high school band director used a great metaphor. He said that the secret to a great performance is emulating a duck on a pond: on top of the water, the duck just seems to glide serenely across the water. Underwater, however, the little web feet are paddling like crazy. My own Father (a physicist) has studied paddling a canoe, and can tell you that there is a fairly massive amount of science that goes into ‘paddling’, so it’s not quite that easy.

And THAT is how I feel: it’s not easy to crank out work that is correct, on-time, and FAST.

5:11 PM

But that’s what I’m doing, both at work and in my own personal life. I had an assignment due at the University of Phoenix last week, with only 40 minutes left before the deadline. So, I just waded in, learned the material as quickly as I could, and aced the assignment! OK, the acing part was a bit of a surprise, but it was proof-positive that it can be done.

Tagged Content in Audio and Video Streams

Last night I completed a homework assignment for my course that had to do with storing video and audio files in a database. I used YouTube as my example of a database management system that handles tagged content to organize, search, and MODIFY videos, sometimes huge batches at a time.

For example:

Shortly after I got laid off from my job, I shot a video of myself creating a snow angel in my backyard. It was the result of a bet I lost with my beautiful wife. I used the the song Super-massive Black Hole by Muse, from the Twighlight soundtrack (I’m crazy like that), and I really liked the final result.

Then, YouTube got smarter with tagging.

They STRIPPED MY VIDEO! Well, lots of videos, actually. Every ‘unauthorized’ audio track that represented possible copyright infringement was stripped out of EVERY video. I went to my videos and watched my Goodfather Snowangel, and .. total silence. It was lame!

Then, YouTube got smarter with tagging.

YouTube RE-INSERTED my soundtrack! Complete with artist information, copyright info, and a $5.00 bill in the mail! Actually, I didn’t get 5 bucks. But, I did get my video back.

Like a Rusty Faucet

That.. may not be the best choice of metaphors.

Wow, it’s a mess around here! I’ve gotta do some house-cleaning. My ‘big countdown’ got stuck at ‘2′, I should fix that first, I guess. I’ll try to get it down to ‘1′ by tomorrow, just to see if it will catch up. Or, perhaps a different number? Or letter? I’m trying to figure out what I should put up there, and having a hard time. Maybe I’ll redesign everything, and go with a whole new theme.

I haven’t really blogged in quite a while, but for those who re-find me, we’re doing fine. Actually, we’re doing really well, considering the turmoil we’ve experienced over the last year. I’ll blog about our experiences as I remember, we’ve got tons of pictures, so I’m sure I’ll have lots of inspiration.

Guest post from my beautiful wife

I haven’t blogged all week. I’m not sure this post counts for me – my beautiful wife is stepping in with a meme she did on Facebook. I’m not going to tag anyone with this, but feel free to take it if it appeals to you.

Quick status update: I don’t have any pending job offers or likely sources of employment. I’ve gone back to school at the University of Phoenix. Today marks 1.5 months of unemployment.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. Jeff and I never dated until after we were married, we married just three months after first meeting, and our 6 year anniversary is coming up next week.

2. I try to raise my children bilingual, but sometimes it is so hard to explain something in German, that I just end up it doing it in English.

3. I always wanted two little girls, blond, blue eyes, and curly hair, so I got my wish, well mostly, no curly hair.

4. My husband is my best friend. He makes me laugh so hard every single day.

5. After having Amanda, the first night home was so horrible I wanted to give her back, to I don’t even know who.

6. When a very good friend left her husband, I felt like a child whose parents were divorcing. Stuck in the middle.

7. I run a website for a friend, I take the pictures, and photoshop them, and put it all online, and I really enjoy doing it, I just wish we would sell more.

8. After my husband got laid off, I stopped believing in Adobe Photoshop (I still use it though).

9. I miss my family terribly, but to be honest America is my home now and when I will be offered citizenship, I will definitely do it, can’t wait! This is my home now.

10. I read a lot, I read at least two books a week. I read in the evening, before getting up in the morning(even if it is just for 5 minutes), and I love reading on the elliptical, The kids have fun and are safe and I get to work out and read, yeah!

11. I drive a minivan, I know, nothing new, but I never thought I did, and here I am a sucker mom driving her minivan, sometimes I imagine people looking at me and saying: look another soccer mom!

12. I used to have a horse, His name was Adriano. I miss horse back riding,

13. Today is Amanda first night without a diaper, She is growing up so fast, I can’t believe I have a four year old.

14. I could never imagine loving any other child as much as I love amanda, but it is possible, my kids make me laugh every day, Ianna I think has an even better sense of humor than amanda,

15. My husband is my absolute favorite person. I love to do stuff with him more than anyone else, like watching a movie, sitting at the computer together, playing cards, throwing a ball(we did that alot last summer), but I can’t stand working out with him, he gets so irritable when working out, really annoying. So we stay away from each other if we ever are in a gym together at the same time.

16. I hate having to think about what to make for dinner, and then when I do finally have dinner figured out and on the table, I usually already start to think about what I could possibly do tomorrow. Any good, easy ideas?

17. Having step children is harder than you think!

18. I have a license to ride a motorcycle, in Germany, but I don’t think I could even start it anymore, it has been so long.

19. Ianna is 16 months old and I am still breastfeeding, now that doesn’t sound so weird, but with amanda and until I had Ianna, I was absolutly against nursing, because it hurt alot, like really, alot, but with Ianna not a problem.

20. I love baking, but I don’t always want to eat what I make (not because it doesn’t taste good), so I usually only do it when we have company, or Jeff takes it over to josh,

21. When I was a teenager, I could sleep forever, sometimes I would go to sleep in the afternoon and not wake up till 3 o’clock in the morning, now I don’t even remember sleeping for longer then 5 hours at a time, something always wakes me up, children, pets, bathroom…

22. I am addicted to a new website I found in September, a book trading site, I have about 30 books in my bookshelf just waiting for me and I keep trading more books, it is so fun!

23. I had my first boyfriend when I was 13 and he broke my heart,and I think you could say that I stalked him a little, but not like Rose from Two and a Half Men. I didn’t really get over him until I met my husband.

24. I think I have a great sense of humor.(No explanation needed.)

25. I don’t really like to talk about me or draw much attention to myself, so you might be able to imagine how hard this was for me.