It’s been quite awhile since I posted anything, but that’s ok. The end of last semester was not very pleasant for me, and I was focusing all my energy on just making it through. After the semester ended, I took some time off work, visited family in Florida, and just relaxed.
This has been a strange week. I say “strange” because I can’t really bring myself to call it “good”. However, things have generally gone better than normal this week. I had a couple tests, one of which I don’t think I did too well on and the other (I think) went pretty well. I had my typical Monday lab experience, which basically means that we showed up to our programming lab and were asked to write some assembly based on knowledge we didn’t have. But this week was a bit different in that I told our TA (in no uncertain terms) my opinion of how the class was being taught, being careful to point out that it’s not his responsibility to teach the material, only help us understand it.
A bit more background: our teacher is fond of saying things like “I won’t be around in two years to teach you everything, so I expect you to learn how to find it yourself”. This generally means that he “teaches” by giving us reference manuals (a few thousand pages of them, to be more precise) and telling us “The answers are in there”. I’m pretty sure that you don’t teach someone English – or any other language – by handing them a dictionary, but such is life.
Despite the fact that I had the usual things this week that have been bringing me down so much lately, it didn’t totally suck… and that confuses me. Perhaps things are getting better, or perhaps my ability to care is just being drained, but I am going to hope that the scale is tipped more toward column A than column B in that equation.
Things that went well this week
In order to have this not be a passive-aggressive “bad” post, I want to acknowledge that some good things did actually happen this week. Yesterday marked exactly 1 year until I finally get married! It feels really good to finally be getting close to the big day. Becca and I have been waiting a long time for this, and we are excited that it’s finally getting close. I also made the last payment on the deposit to have Abe & Jake’s Landing as our reception venue for our wedding. We still owe the remainder of the balance, but we are making awesome headway with planning getting contracts signed and paid.
Genuine Imitation performed last night and will do so again this evening, and singing always brings my spirits up. On top of that, I spoke with the manager of Abe & Jake’s, and it sounds like they will be willing to let GI have a concert there in the Spring, free of charge! The though of performing at A&J again is really exciting.
Lastly, I think I just might see some light at the end of the tunnel with regard to my academic situation. I did some back of the envelope calculations, and I think that I now have a better than even chance at being able to continue taking classes. Considering how much I have left, I am hesitant to be too optimistic, but it certainly looks to be an attainable goal at this point.
So there you have it… my first non-crappy week in months, and I don’t even really know how to react! The good news is that I have the new Assassin’s Creed game at home, waiting for me to tear open the shrink wrap and sink hours into some serious gaming time over Thanksgiving break next week.
It’s almost 6am, and I have yet to go to sleep. At this point, I don’t plan to, of course, but I certainly want to. I have lost track of how many all-nighters I’ve pulled so far this semester, and the way things are looking I will be surprised if I average less than one a week for the remainder of the semester.
It’s no secret that this semester has been pretty difficult for me, but even that feels like an understatement much of the time. I believe I can safely say, without any hesitation, that this semester is the hardest I have ever had in every way. The classes are harder, I am taking more credit hours than I should, I’m dealing with extra academic misconduct crap that is sapping my will to do anything other than quit, and I have some of (in my opinion) the worst teachers I have had so far in my academic career.
Put it all together, and it makes for an extraordinarily stressful time. I’m getting through (so far), but every day is more difficult than the one before, and I have less desire to continue on top of that. I just hope my will to get a degree sustains me for the next five weeks. Heaven knows energy drinks won’t be enough to do it by themselves.
I have been working on a CSS pre-processor lately (another post on that sometime this week), and I have been learning quite a bit about things like CSS transitions and animations. I decided to add a few to this site for a little bit of extra panache.
The new effects can be seen in all modern browsers (read: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera). I plan (at some point) go see what can be done to wrangle Internet Exploder into submission, but my site looks good in IE already, so I don’t feel the need to spend too much time on it. Anyway, the new effects are in the social media icons at the bottom of the sidebar, the main navigation at the top of the page, and the short URL link to the left of any page or post.
The effect on the icons is one I found described here. I thought it was a pretty cool effect, but couldn’t find anything big on my site to use it on. I think, however, that it adds a nice touch to the icons since they were already going from monochrome to color when hovered on. The effect on the main navigation is a basic fade that inverts the colors.
Both of these effects are achieved with pure CSS, meaning there is no extra code (other than a little markup) involved!
I started blogging in 2007, and since then I have tried a few different software platforms. Eventually I settled on WordPress. Having tried it in the past, I wasn’t entirely impressed, but newer versions have made great strides toward being more usable and stable.
As a person of a many varied interests, I enjoy blogging about lots of different topics. On this blog, you will find posts about everything from gaming to music to programming to running.
You may find that some of my posts get a little personal, while some of them are about as impersonal as can be (code isn’t exactly a “touchy-feely” subject), but such is the reality of my life. I hope you like the variety, and enjoy the ride!
I started dancing when I came to college in 2000. I still remember the first time I went. A friend of mine who lived on the same floor of the dorms was always telling me about her ballroom dancing class, and on one particular Sunday evening, she stopped by my room. It turns out she had heard about a weekly swing night on Sundays, and she was planning to go. She asked if I wanted to join her, and I am not ashamed to say that after seeing her dressed up for dancing, I was certainly interested. What can I say? She looked good.
I don’t think I danced at all that first night, intimidated as I was by everyone’s amazing dance skills! But I kept going back, and eventually I worked up to dancing several days a week. Over the years, I have learned quite a few dances, but swing is and has always been my favorite. I started teaching basic group lessons and DJing at the same studio where I first learned to dance. After almost five years, I slowly stopped dancing, taking a break that lasted almost two years.
Back in 2007, I started dancing again. I joined the Swingsters, a semi-professional dance troupe based out of Louis & Company in Overland Park, and I started teaching again. It was wonderful!
Since I have been back in school, I have had to once again reduce the time I spend dancing, but I won’t give it up again. Dancing is where I have had many of the best experiences of my life: I met many of my closest friends there, I met my fianceé there, and I even proposed at a swing night. Dancing is a major part of who I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In late 2007, I met someone. She was a few years younger than me (or so I thought), but I was enraptured by her. She was a swing dancer, like me, and we met at a typical Saturday swing night at Louis & Company. But what started out as a typical night became the beginning of a saga that still has me wondering on a daily basis just what I did to deserve such a wonderful person in my life.
I am speaking, of course, about my fianceé, Becca. Though we didn’t start dating for almost a year after we met, her smile and zeal had me smitten from day one. When we started dating, it didn’t take long for me to admit that I was in love with her, and not much more time to tell her that I was pretty sure we were going to get married. In fact, as a few of my friends can attest, I started planning my proposal within only a few months, even though it wasn’t going to be for another full year.
For the first part of our relationship, Becca lived in Manhattan, attending K-State. She was pre-vet, though, so I don’t hold that against her. But we saw each other as often as we could, and in the spring of 2009, I got her father’s blessing to propose. I planned to do it at her birthday circle. I don’t want to get into the details of swing circles, but the gist is that you go to the center of the dance floor and people take turns dancing with you for an entire song.
It was the perfect time for me to propose. I arranged to have Becca’s sister and best friend present, and my friends were there as well. In fact, Nick agreed to hold onto the ring while I danced, and at the end of the song (after the dip, of course), he quickly put it in my hand behind my back and without Becca even noticing. I dropped to one knee, and at first she didn’t even realize what was happening. We had talked about getting engaged, but she wasn’t expecting it for another year or two.
I won’t go into detail about the proposal here (that’s a story for another post), but obviously she said yes. Since then, we have had more than two years of happiness together, and I know we will have more in the future. Sure, there are times when I can get a little stubborn, but I’m a man… done explaining.
We get married in a little over a year, and I can’t wait! The past three and a half (ish) years have been a blur of joy and amazing things, and I know that we will have many, many years of happiness ahead of us.
Stay tuned in a year or so for the follow up to this post: “About Bill: husband”!
I haven’t been writing every day like I wanted, but that’s ok. I don’t have much to write about today, or much time to do it, so I will just post this. This is a poem set to music that I sang in high school. The first time I performed this was the summer after I lost a good friend to cancer. Two years later, I directed the same piece in the final choir concert of my high school years.
The poem itself is about life and living. It’s a message of hope that compels us to take risks, lest we wind up at the end of our lives having never really lived.
This is the kind of thing I need to be reminding myself of right now.
The Ship That Sails
I’d rather be the ship that sails
And rides the billows wild and free;
Than to be the ship that always fails
To leave its port and go to sea.
I’d rather feel the sting of strife,
Where gales are born and tempests roar;
Than to settle down to useless life
And rot in dry dock on the shore.
I’d rather fight some mighty wave
With honor in supreme command;
And fill at last a well-earned grave,
Than die in ease upon the sand.
I’d rather drive where sea storms blow,
And be the ship that always failed
To make the ports where it would go,
Than be the ship that never sailed.
That’s all for today.
As most of you know, Genuine Imitation’s first big concert of the year was last week. In all, the performance went quite well. We ran out of programs, meaning we had at least 200 people show up, which is awesome! Our set list felt a little short, but we managed something like 8 or so songs, so it wasn’t too brief.
We have a few more performances coming up in the near future, so if you didn’t get a chance to come last week (or hell, even if you did!) you should make a point to come to one of them.
Friday, November 18th, 7:00pm (ish) We will (probably) be competing in the KU’s Got Talent competition, held in the KS Union. I say “probably” because we auditioned yesterday and have not yet officially heard back. However, the judges seemed very impressed with us, and I will be extremely surprised if we do not get in. Side note: this contest has a cash prize, and we are raising money to get to the ICCAs next spring, so come help us win!
Tuesday, December 6th, 8:00pm Not exactly a full “performance”, but we will be singing the Star Spangled Banner at the KU Men’s Basketball game against Long Beach State. Come cheer us (and the basketball team) on!
Wednesday, December 7th, 7:00pm Our second fall concert! The location is still up in the air, but rest assured I’ll be posting here when we have more information.
I have been musical all my life, but it really became a passion when I got to high school. I joined the choir m sophomore year, and I haven’t looked back since.
I was in several choirs throughout high school, and when I came to college, it was no different. For the first couple years of school, I participated in several different groups at KU. When 2003 rolled around, I took things to the next level. That was the year that I, along with my friends Matt and Nick, started the group Genuine Imitation. GI was an opportunity for us to perform a totally different type of music than we were used to in other choirs. It was a contemporary a cappella group, meaning that we performed any and all kinds of music. In our first year, we performed everything from Eric Clapton to Tonic to Stevie Wonder.
It was during this time that I started learning to beatbox. Beatboxing (aka vocal percussion) is the art of emulating drum sounds with the human voice. When Genuine Imitation first started, we didn’t really have anyone who could beatbox, so I and one other member stepped in to fill that role. Over that first year, I learned quite a bit about making different drum sounds, and I have been beatboxing ever since.
This year, I rejoined Genuine Imitation. Because it is a student group, I had to leave when I dropped out of school. But now that I am back to being a full-time student, I am once again eligible to join. Earlier this spring, two friends asked me to help them prepare for auditions for the group, and in the process, I rediscovered my love for a cappella. I decided to audition as well, and I was lucky enough to get in.
I certainly hope that music will remain a passion for me throughout my life. It has long been a way for me to explore my feelings and express emotions that cannot otherwise be put into words.
As I wrote in a poem once upon a time, “Music is all eternity lived in a single second.”