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News Opinion by Spencer on November 7, 2012

My Post-Election Thoughts

I know it has been a really long time since I’ve posted, and I’m not certain that I will start back up on a regular basis, but I have to get this out there and then just will be done with it.

I am numb after the election.  Our county has slipped past the brink where we now have more people believing they are entitled things from the government than believe that a person has the right and responsibility to make his own choices and outcomes.  I’m not sure if we can come back from that.  Other countries in history haven’t and eventually collapse or look to be on their way to collapsing.  The United States isn’t to that point, but it will take a long time to turn things around if it ever will.

Personally I am a little surprised and very disappointed.  I am surprised that it really wasn’t that close.  As I watched the returns, I knew as soon as PA and WI were called quickly for Obama and NC was still counting and not called.  At that point, I knew all of the swing states (and more) that Obama needed he wasn’t going to have any trouble getting.  I’m disappointed from so many on the right especially showing that things were closer.  I tend not to believe Democrat pollsters when they argue the methodology of polls showing a close race, but in this case they were correct.  It wasn’t a landslide by any means, but certainly a more comfortable win than even most of the media was projecting.

So, where do I go from here?  At this point, as I mentioned, I’m a bit numb.  I’m going to do my best to avoid all political discussion for the foreseeable future.  I’m turning off talk radio for a while; I’ve closed my political news feeds on my home page, and certainly taking a few days off from Facebook as the winners and losers will most certainly be taking their shots and I don’t want to see it, so I am posting here instead as the amount of people that will read this is vastly a smaller portion of the population and will primarily be my family whom I love dearly.

From there, I’m just going to live my life and to do the best I can to provide for my family as best as I can.  I’ll continue to vote for sure, but I don’t plan to pay attention to the ebbs and flows of politics over the next 4 years as I have nearly my whole life; even before I could vote.  I’m not giving up my beliefs or my hopes for the country, and the small part of me that has entertained the idea of ever running for office (very small but the nugget has been there) won’t go away completely, just on hold for sure.

There, I’ve said what I want to say about this election and my thoughts going forward.  I needed to get it out there, but really don’t feel like engaging in long discussions over it at this time.  Take care all!

Technology by Spencer on February 23, 2012

The Computer is Dead, Long Live the Computer

Soon, it appears I get to see how good my backup software is.  I currently use CrashPlan, and have everything backed up to their online source and then backup the Users folder to an external hard drive as a separate backup set.  One of the things that drew me to CrashPlan over Carbonite was the flexibility of multiple backup sets and destinations… but I digress a bit.

Our hard drive looks to be failing (nearing the completely failed state).  We have had this computer for a while; and both DVD drives have been spotty at best (they work when I can get them open, but that is the trick).  Recently, nearly every time the computer boots it runs CHKDSK, but still boots.  This past week, however, I got a pop up from Vista that it is detecting the hard drive is failing and that I should backup immediately and stop using the computer until I fix or replace the drive… Yikes; that’s almost worse than the old blue screen of death, because this was specific.

To try to extend life of it a bit, I ran through a full disk check last night, it appears to have taken about 6 hours or so to complete and all seemed ok when I started up this morning.  To be safe, I checked on my backups (whew, 100%) and moved a few folders over to the USB drive just in case… and this morning, I got the call… “Honey, the computer says it can’t read from the boot…” yep, that will nearly seal the fate of this computer, or at least hard drive.  So, now I have to either buy a replacement drive and rebuild Windows (which means getting Windows 7, something I’ve wanted to do for a while) or buy a new computer… which brings up lots of possibilities, build one from scratch, go with a Mac, etc.  Regardless, it’s a lot of $$$$ I wasn’t planning on spending.  Hopefully I can squeeze just a bit more life out of it, or we may be going using the iPad a bit more for a while.

Life &Sports by Spencer on January 28, 2012

Slow Off the Blocks

One of my resolutions this year is to continue to increase my fitness and I had mentioned that there was an aquatic center near my work that I was looking into. Well, that place didn’t suit my needs but I found a recreation center with a nice 6 lane pool near our house and joined up.

My plan was to build up to a mile (1650 yards straight, not a true mile, but what is considered a swimmer’s mile) and I found a plan that helps get you there in six weeks starting with 700 yards three times a week. I figured that would be easy as I did 3000+ yards in practice in high school. Boy was I wrong. My first workout was a Friday a few weeks back, and I couldn’t even do 300 yard and made myself sick… I had to pull over on the way in to work because of it.

So, I took a step back and have been working up my yards gradually… I was able to do 600 yards this past Friday (4 x 100 then 4 x 50). I am hoping to start the six week trek officially on Monday with the 700 yard workouts.

My start has ended up a little slower than I wanted but I really like the rec center pool and am enjoying swimming as a workout again. Hopefully six weeks from now, I can do the mile and go from there with my swims.

NCAA Tournament &Technology by Spencer on January 14, 2012

March Madness in January?!?

As I do every year, I work to make my NCAA Tournament website a bit better and more streamlined. This year I wanted to focus on providing a bit more functionality for the users, as well as minor updates to design, changing colors as I also do each year. Basically I had three things I wanted to do this year:

  • Change color scheme
  • Make it so players see and can print their bracket upon submitting it
  • Create a new area where a user can look up their bracket(s) prior to the games starting

I get requests nearly every year for people to see their brackets and in the past, I wasn’t able to provide that and really wanted to this year. Players will still need to contact me if they want to make changes to a bracket, but now they have the tools to see what they need to.

While just doing the above was a major undertaking, as I started working, I ended up doing those things as well as a complete reworking of all of the pages and nearly all of the code. Most of these are behind the scenes but here are some new additions that really advance the site into newer techniques.

  • All PHP. In the past, I have used a Perl script generated by my pool software to insert entries into the database staging area. This year, I completely wrote that functionality into my own PHP.
  • Complete CSS. I replaced nearly all inline style declarations and created solid CSS in two files (one for the pages, and one to specifically define the bracket and location of teams and results).
  • 100% Validation. HTML has changed a lot since I was first introduced to it back in 1995. Now pages have important DOCTYPES that follow particular formatting to ensure that all browsers interpret the pages properly. I updated every page to ensure and check for XHTML validation. I can even have the seal of approval on the site to prove validation.

I am very pleased with how the site is turning out and should only have to make very minor changes when the 2012 version of my pool software comes out. I don’t plan on any more changes/enhancements for this year, but am already trying to think of possible changes for next year (perhaps looking into using AJAX instead of iframes to serve up the pages).

I hope you are all planning on joining this year as well. Details will be sent as the time draws near!

Life by Spencer on January 1, 2012

New Year, New Start, New Resolutions

It is the beginning of a new year and I can honestly say that I am glad to see 2011 done and over with. In nearly every area of my life, there were challenges this year and difficulties throughout. Rather than looking back, however, I want to use this time and this space to look forward.

In this year (and really the last month of 2011) I am in a new house, in a new state, starting a new job. We picked up the family and moved from Las Vegas to just south of Charlotte in South Carolina. I have taken a new position with one of the largest health systems in the region supporting the oncology service line that is going major growth. It is a position with a lot of potential and I feel like I am making a more direct impact on the care of cancer patients, especially given that I don’t have a clinical background.

Resolutions have been up and down over the last few years. 2 years ago I feel I did pretty well since I used this blog to help keep me on track. Last year, I wasn’t as focused and didn’t hold myself accountable by having specific goals or a plan to implement them. With all the changes going into this year, I want to be specific and dedicated to my resolutions as much as possible. So without any further delay, here are my resolutions for 2012:

  • Daily Devotional: In 2010 I set out and successfully read through the Bible in one year. Last year I wanted to keep up with a devotional but was never consistent about it. This year I want to try again.
  • Physical Fitness: I have been able to maintain my weight for a couple of years but I still have a long way to go to get in shape. I don’t believe that I will be able to bowl regularly as there are no centers within a decent range of the house. There is, however, an aquatic center very near my office. I will check it out sometime this week, but my thought may be to swim each morning before work. If that doesn’t work to be a good option, I will have to figure out something else.
  • Self Improvement: For the most part I believe I am a good person but there are certainly times that I react to situations in a less than ideal manner. The only way to truly change to become better is to acknowledge those times and figure a lesson to learn from that to hopefully not make the same mistake twice. While I may not detail out every aspect, I want to use this space as a personal journal to identify those situations and what I can do to better handle them. This will by far be the hardest resolution I have ever taken on and also the hardest to truly measure.

I believe those three are plenty for this year and hope to be more active on the blog this year as I track these and post about life in general. Take care all and I wish the best 2012 for each of you.

Life by Spencer on November 15, 2011

Boxes, Boxes, and More Boxes

We are in the process of packing and moving out of state…so far things are lining up fairly well. We have the moving truck booked and coming next week, we have our housing lined up in the new location, and we have gotten a good start on packing. It is a lot of work and we are swimming in boxes right now but we are on our way.

Bowling by Spencer on November 12, 2011

Wish All Nights Were Final Nights

Wednesday night was my last night for league this year as we are soon going to move (more posting on that possibly later). I had a very solid night of 224, 212, 217 for a 653 series. It is too bad I can’t build on that as it will probably be a long time before I bowl in a league again. We took 5 out of 7 points as a team so I went out on a high note there as well.

I will miss my team here as well as the league bowlers and wish them all the best going forward.

Bowling by Spencer on October 27, 2011

Strange Night

Last night was a very strange night for our team and for me.

As a team, we were all but one below average and the last was just around average.  Despite that, we won the first game by 80 pins, the second by 3, and lost the last game by 82.  That means we took total by 1 pin… 1 pin difference across 8 bowlers for 3 games; as they say, it just doesn’t get any closer than that.  We took 5 points, and should be in the top 5 going into position round next week I would guess.

Individually, things were even stranger.  I missed a couple of easy spares in the first and second games to wind up with a 170 and 184, respectively.  The last game the wheels came off.  I’m not sure what it was other than maybe being a little tired, but I wasn’t able to get anything to go down and wound up with 3 splits (2 in the first three frames).  I couldn’t ever find a line or speed that would work, and the final score was 138.  That gave me a season low series of 492.  I’d prefer not to see me go below 500 ever again!

As noted, next week is a position round.  I don’t think we’ll be realistically in the hunt to win the quarter, but to finish top 5 would be pretty sweet.

Bowling by Spencer on October 22, 2011

Two Week Recap

Let me start by apologizing for missing my post last week. It was a bit strange since we didn’t have a team against us as they were going to have to make up so I couldn’t report how we did. Personally that week was my worst of the year, with a 537 series. We were on the left side of the house (lanes 1-32) and I could never find a line that worked for me. That being said, we still ended up taking 4 points and found ourselves in 2nd place!

This week we were back on the right side of the house which plays much differently (not really sure why, but both sides always have played quite differently) and our team bowled quite well; all of us were at or above our average throughout, but the other team bowled lights out so we only one the first game, and that only by 5 pins. They killed us in the team score the other two games, so we were lucky to take the one game, but I don’t expect us to be in 2nd next week.

My League Summary

Take care all and have a great week.

Technology by Spencer on October 9, 2011

Testing From the iPad

This probably won’t be a very long post at all, but I just found the WordPress app for the iPad and wanted to try it out. So far it looks like a simple interface that could work out fairly well to allow for more short posts from time to time.

Like I said a short one to test the new app. Take care all.

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