Monday, September 9, 2013

The Future

Recently I've been trying to find a new home for myself on the internet. A permanent one, based on my name. Andy.anything have all been taken long ago. and both aren't being used, and are even for sale. In the multiple thousand dollar range. Not happening. is unfortunately being used as a memorial page for an Andy Mercer from Florida who died in 2008. It's being maintained by a company who is run by the guy's uncle, so it'll be there, if not forever, for a a very long time.

I even looked into odd names. is currently the home of WordPress's founder. An.dy isn't possible though, because there is no .dy. There is a .er, so theoretically I could do However, there are no companies selling that domain at the moment, and there are no plans for any other companies to start. and both are second-tier choices, but both pretty good. I ended up going with because .net is a better known domain than .me. I have purchased .net (and given that it's only 15 bucks in the future I could always change to .me), and so I will be moving there shortly. I am going to be upgrading to a WordPress installation. Makes sense, given that I develop WordPress sites through Catstache Design, LLC. I'm really excited about the design of my new site. It's entirely from scratch, with heavy inspiration from several other sites which I'll detail soon. This URL will redirect to, which will be the new URL of my blog until such time as I acquire or Andy.something (a long long time from now, if ever).

Anyway, stay tuned. The site is up and running on my internal server, and I'm getting the last few bugs worked. Should be up online soon. Thank you all for your continued support (support being reading, given that I don't do ads ... because screw ads).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vegetarianism - A Choice?

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a status stating (paraphrase): You should avoid saying to vegetarians that "Well it's not that you can't eat meat. You choose to be a vegetarian." I humbly disagree. It could be phrased better, certainly. The thought behind it, though, that being a vegetarian is a choice, is true.

Being a vegetarian IS a choice for most vegetarians. Granted, there are always those few people who are allergic to meat [Ref.]. However, the vast majority of vegetarians choose it for moral reasons. They choose what they perceive to be the higher moral path, which is to avoid being responsible for the killing of animals. Granted, the question of the morality of eating animals is still being debated frequently and vehemently. However, if you are the type of person who reads this blog, you've probably read arguments on both sides before so I won't waste your time rehashing. For the purposes of this direct topic, it's enough to say that vegetarians believe they are making the moral choice.

The disconnect, I think, is that my friend believes that saying something is a choice makes it seem less sound ... less respectful. More flighty, maybe. This is probably of their experience in the marriage equality struggle. One of the main arguments of traditional marriage proponents is that being gay is a choice. By saying that, they are diminishing it. In this case though, saying that choice is the primary reason doesn't diminish.

I hold that not only does the fact that choice is the primary reason not diminish being a vegetarian, it does the opposite. Saying that it isn't a choice is what diminishes. That idea robs vegetarians of their free will. It robs them of their choice to take the moral high road. Lets use an analogy:

Person X is driving along out in the middle of no where, and they see hitchhiker. For the sake of argument, this hitchhiker is homeless with no family, and somehow Person X knows this. They are far from any witnesses or cameras. Person X could stop, kill, and rob the hitchhiker without getting caught. They don't, and pass on by.

Person Y is driving along in the middle of New York City, and sees a hitchhiker. This hitchhiker has lots of family connections that would notice a disappearance, and there are witnesses and cameras all around. Person Y could stop, kill, and rob the hitchhiker, but would absolutely by caught. They don't, and pass on by.

I hold that Person X's action of passing by without doing anything to the hitchhiker is morally good, because it's not under duress. It's a totally free choice. Person Y is under duress. They are under threat of reprisal, be is jail-time, loss of income, maybe even the death penalty. Person Y's action of passing by isn't immoral, but it's not moral either. Any time an action is forced, it's not a free choice and therefore neither moral or immoral. That person doesn't have the opportunity to made the moral decision.

This applies because if we hold that vegetarianism is the higher moral path, then if a person has a free choice and they choose to follow it, they are taking that higher moral path. If it's not a choice though, we are robbing them of that opportunity to make the moral choice, just as the duress does for Person Y. Therefore acknowledgement of the fact that it is a choice does not diminish the vegetarian, it in fact is an acknowledgement of their taking a higher moral path. Not because it's forced upon them, but because they of their own free will are choosing to take the hard road, the moral road. I think that that is a good thing to acknowledge.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

WordPress Plugin

I recently finished work on (Old Site), and am in my reflective period that follows every project. One issue that I ran into with this site is the organization of images on the site.

Several sections of the website are basically image galleries; food, media, etc. It would be nice if I could upload images into folders and organize them by the page in which they are embedded. Unfortunately, with WordPress, this isn't possible.

WordPress started as a simple blog software, and while it's doing an admirable job slowly transforming itself into a full CMS, it's not there yet. The way it handles images is a prime example of this. Currently, there is a single media folder, in which all uploaded images go. WordPress each month, a new folders is made by wordpress inside the media folder. All images uploaded that month go in there. Additionally, when viewing the images, there is a single list of images. One can't view folders.

It would be nice to fix this. I have sketched out several user interfaces which would incorporate folders. A real fix would require updating the core, though, which I'm not really prepared to do. A plugin, however, I think is within my current capabilities. A plugin will not be able to full accomplish my goals, but it will let me start. So tonight, I am going to write a simple Hello World plugin to teach myself the basics. Having created several themes in the past, it shouldn't be too difficult.

From there, I can start figuring out how to go about adding folders to WordPress.

Friday, June 28, 2013

An Annoucement

This should have been posted about 2 weeks ago, but during the time I was doing a lot of soul searching about even continuing this blog. Everything that has come out in the past months about government surveillance gave me an initial reaction of wanting to withdraw from the internet entirely. That isn't possible, however. And upon further thought, I realized how silly I was being, since this blog is public anyway. So without further ado, on to my news.

I got engaged! My wonderful girlfriend and I went down for a walk on a local walking trail by a small river, and after finding a place out of site of any other living people, I dropped to one knee and popped the question. And she said yes! Odd to think how just how a year and three weeks ago I had such a dismal view of ever finding someone. Just a year ago I was too busy thinking about how did the last two dates go to worry about if we'd be engaged in a year. Yet here I am. It's been a pretty great year, looking back, but I'm happy to be where I am. Hopefully sometime next April or May you'll see a post here about how I am no longer engaged, but married.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Marriage Equality: The Aftermath

Yesterday, SCOTUS handed out it's decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act, and on Prop 8. They invalidated Prop 8 through technical reasons to avoid a country-wide decision, and fully invalidated the section of DOMA which kept the government from recognizing gay marriages from States which recognize them.

To put in another way, SCOTUS struck down DOMA, in the battle of the acronyms.

Humor aside, these decisions, along with the increasing speed at which States are coming into the marriage equality fold, leads me to the conclusion that full marriage equality is certain, within a matter of decades, if not years. And with this becoming a certainty, recent events are starting to cause me concern.

There was an indecent in the past year where a baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, and was sued. This, in my mind, crosses the line from right to wrong. So far in this entire debate, the question has always been, are we trying to be free, or force our beliefs on others. Live and let live is the proper solution when possible, and so for marriage, the proper answer is to let anyone get married. Conservatives are trying to force their beliefs (that gay marriage is wrong) onto others, by controlling them and forcing them not to get married. Marriage equality proponents are therefore in the moral right.

Yet in the case of this baker, it becomes our side which is in the wrong. We are forcing someone else to do an action, namely making a cake, against their will. A couple has no moral right to have a cake made for them, just as conservatives have no moral right to live in a world filled only by people who fit their definition of "good". Because this example has already happened, I worry that in the future similar things will happen. Even more so, I worry that our side, filled with confidence from winning and bitterness from decades of struggle, will over react and become guilty of the same types of abuses of power that were used against them. Will it be considered okay to force a priest/pastor/minister/etc to marry someone? Or to force a Church to allow their building to be used for a marriage? I sincerely hope not, but I worry because I personally know several people who would consider those acceptable.

We are winning the war. Let us not lose our morality in the process.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


In general, the Halo 4 soundtrack disappointed me. Most of the music was bland at best. However, one song stood out. Number 12 on the disc, entitled simply '117'. Very powerful.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wordpress and the Rise of Vector Image Fonts

As a Wordpress developer (ironic, I realize, since this blog is hosted on Blogger), one thing I follow pretty closely is the Wordpress Make UI blog. An overhaul of the WP backend has been cooking for several months now, and one aspect of that overhaul is a change in the way icons are displayed. Currently, WP uses PNG rastor icons, but the new backend will likely use vector icons in the format of a font. Confused yet? Let me give you some background info.

Images come in two types: Raster and Vector. Most images you see on the internet are Raster. JPGs, PNGs, GIFs, all of these are Raster images, which means that they are static. You can think of them as a giant grid, with each point, or pixel, having a specifically set color. When all these points are put close enough together, you can't tell that it's square points. But when images are zoomed in, they look blocky. Vector images don't consist of set points. They use lines and formulas and things that I don't fully understand. The end product is an image that will look sharp no matter how far it is zoomed in and out.

Wordpress is switching from Raster to Vector, because Vector images look better when zoomed in (when using a Retina display, for example). They are also going one step further and using a font, instead of image files. Fonts have used Vector images for a long time. Each character is a small image with a transparent background. It's certainly possible to place custom images yourself. I found a very interesting article on the reasoning behind switching to icon fonts, rather than using icon image files, which I've added a link to here.

The Era of Symbol Fonts

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Subscription Software and the End of Used Games

This morning while drinking a diet coke and trying to fully wake up, I was browsing the tech section of Google News and stumbled upon an article regarding Adobe’s new Creative Cloud. To summarize, the article discussed how unhappy Adobe customers are, about moving from a buy-once license that never expires to a subscription model. This comes after last week’s Xbox One announcement and the subsequent rumors about the lack of used-game support. It seems like there are quite a few software companies that are pissing off their user-base. Why is this happening, and is it all...

Read my full article at

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wieght Loss Update

I reported a few weeks that my diet is going well. I can now report that I've made it to my first goal, 200 lbs! Starting from 215, (and 220 last fall), I've lost 20 lbs, and I'm still going strong.

One thing I've confirmed is my believe that it all comes down to math in the end. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you eat less than you burn, you lose weight. Granted, the body doesn't like losing weight and has lots of tricks to work against you. Slowing itself down metabolically, for example, and burning less calories just in life processes. But if you push through, things happen. It's slow though.

It's been almost 4 months now, and I still see almost zero difference when I look in the mirror. As it goes though, the percent lost with each pound goes up, so hopefully change will accelerate. The next goal I have in my sights is 170.

I did, unfortunately, have to lower my calorie limits starting next week. Since I weigh less, I need less, so the number has changed from 2194 to 2000. I'm rounding down a little because I've been way under the limit for several weeks in a row. The good news is that to maintain 170 lbs, even with very little exercise, the number is 2150. So when I get there, I can still eat a decent amount.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Storing and Retreiving Dates - PHP

I had a bit of free time over the past week, and I started working on the final section I promised to convert to CMS for the CESAC website. This section involves the annual career fair, and to save down on the number of variables I looked for static relationships. The first thing that jumped out at me were dates.

For each career fair, there are four dates that need to be dealt with. Early registration, company info sessions, career fair, and post-fair interviews. The nice thing about these is that the latter three have a static relationship. The info sessions are always the day before the fair, and the interviews are the day after. Really then, only two dates need to be stored. This does pose an additional challenge of finding the next day and previous day of a specified date, but it's worth it to cut the inputs down by half. Less to store, less code, and less chance for user screw up.

The question then became, how do I best store the dates to save space and use the most efficient code in conversion for display. In previous sections of the CESAC website I'd stored dates as three separate numbers. Example:

September 18th, 2013 becomes: month = 9, date = 18, year = 2013

Not elegant, because one needs three inputs instead of 1, and three columns in the SQL table instead of 1.

I started looking for a better way and found a few ideas, none of which I really liked. I considered an idea of creating a single large number which would then be converted mathematically into the final three numbers. These three would then be converted using PHP date() function into the final display form. Example:

September 18th, 2013 becomes: date = 09182019

I still didn't like this, because it required some complicated mathematical code, plus a second step of the date() function. I finally gave up on storing as a number, and looked into characters. Storing as:

September 18th, 2013 = date = '9-18-2013'

This might be able to plug directly into date(), saving time. In the process of testing I discovered that if the input format was changed into '2013-9-18' (which makes more sense from a logical perspective), it could indeed be placed directly into date(), saving considerable time. Success for step 1!

This left me with the issue of figuring out how to get the next/previous day. I was hoping to avoid doing some custom function writing. It would require an array of the max days in each month, to figure out if the next day was actually the 1st. Plus a math function to figure out leap years. I was saved from this by the internet, and I found that the php function strtotime() could do it for me!

  $previousDay= date("F dS, Y",strtotime($specifiedDate." -1 day"));

The outputs into the correct format, and does the math for me, no matter what is the specified date. the final code, after pulling the raw data with a query, ends up being:

  $displayDateInfo = date("F dS, Y",strtotime($dateCF." -1 day"));
  $displayDateCF = date("F dS, Y",strtotime($dateCF));
  $displayDateInt = date("F dS, Y",strtotime($dateCF." +1 day"));
  $displayDateReg = date("F dS, Y",strtotime($dateReg));

Clean, concise, and with half the columns used up for storage.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why Same-Sex Marriage Will Destroy Society

1. Being gay isn't natural. Real Americans reject unnatural things like eyeglasses and oral sex.

2. Same-sex marriage will encourage people to be gay, just as hanging around tall people makes you tall.

3. Same-sex marriage will open the door to very strange behavior. People may even marry animals, since pets have legal standing and can sign a contract.

4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all. Women are property, blacks can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if same-sex marriage were allowed. The sanctity of Brittany Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people should't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full, and the world needs more children.

7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8. Same-sex marriage is not supported by reIigion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female. That’s why we forbid single parents from raising children.

10. Same-sex marriage will change the foundation of society. We could never adapt to new social norms, just like we haven’t adapted to cars or longer life.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dieting Update

Back in February, I posted that I am trying to lose weight and get healthier in general. I set the official starting point at 215 (because different weighing machines at different locations had given me a range from 212-217), and have gone from there. You may remember that my initial goal was 200 lbs, and my long term goal is 170.

It's been 3 months, and I can now report ... mixed results. In terms of weight loss, I've lost 11 lbs and am now at 204. That part part I'm pretty happy with, it's moving. In terms of fitness, I'm not doing so well. I've been working a 50 hour week and then spending most of my weekends traveling, over the past 4 months. Free time to go exercise is limited. I've tried to keep at least one hand in the game, but I'll admit that I haven't really done much recently. This summer my free time is going to increase, so I'll be putting a larger portion of it towards exercise.

That also should help with the weight loss hump I've been told about. The first ten or fifteen come off easy, but after that it slows down? Maybe so, but I've lost the first ten from basically just diet. When I start exercising seriously, that should help as well.

Calories aren't the only thing I've been counting though. I'm also watching saturated fat and sodium. 20g and 2g, respectively, are my daily guidelines. Like calories, I average them over a week and it's the weekly limit that I keep under. In fact, staying under saturated fat has made the calorie limitations much easier. There are so few processed foods that have lots of calories but not much saturated fat. Pasta is one, so it's a good thing that I love pasta. As to sodium, I just started it last week, and went over my limits. This week I'm trying harder to stay under, so we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

10 Signs That You Are a Lazy Blogger

1.) You may have trouble finishing things.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Morality of Solution Manuals For College Homework

I recently got into a discussion with a former professor about the morality of providing college students with a solution manual to problems in a textbook. I’ve taken several of my emails and re-written them here, polished up a tad bit.


Background Knowledge: Many college courses use textbooks to help provide reading material, as well as assign homework from. Many of these textbooks have a companion solution manual, published by the same publisher. Most professors attempt to tightly control access to these solution manuals.

The Question: Is providing students with a solution manual morally wrong?

  • I submit that the point of taking a college class is to learn useful knowledge and skills.

  • I submit that students are taking the class of their own free will, and in fact paying to take it.

  • I submit that if a student fails to learn material, the only being harmed is that student. (No one else!)

  • If a student was taking classes just for themselves, there would be no need for anything other than learning. No need to exams; No need to prove knowledge to anyone. However, this is rarely the case. Most commonly, students take college courses in order to get a degree (and therefore a more profitable job). Since Purdue (or whatever university is in question) grants this degree on the assumption that students are really learning the knowledge that is taught, Purdue is putting their name on the line to say that X student does know X knowledge. Therefore I'll concede that X knowledge needs to be tested in some way. Hence we have exams.

  • I therefore submit that the purpose of exams is to test knowledge, while the purpose of homework is only to help students learn.

  • This affects our current topic (a solution manual to homework problems in the textbook). If the sole purpose of homework is to help students learn, then testing and proving knowledge should be no part of it (That should only come into play during exams). It doesn't matter if a student knows the material during or after homework. From this it follows that homework should not only not be graded, it should be optional. In a perfect world, homework would be optional completely, and if turned in would be checked to provide feedback to students; it would not be graded though. This would allow students the opportunity to learn, without punishing them for not learning fast enough.

    We don't live in a perfect world though, and there is also the consideration of how to we keep students involved. Many professors feel the need to force students to be involved. Hence homework is graded (and attendance is recorded). While I disagree with both of those, it's just the world we live in. We can mitigate them though, by making homework (and attendance) worth very little. And by dropping stupid homework policies like keeping track of how students complete homework. This brings us to the solution manual.

    With students that use a solution manual, there are three possible situations (One might argue that 2 and 3are the same, but I'll address each separately for the sake of logical completeness).

    1. Students attempt homework problems before looking at the solution manual, using it to check answers and help with areas they still don't understand
    2. Students copy word for word from the manual without first attempting the assignment, but still pick up a lot of the knowledge just through memorization and repetition.
    3. Students copy word for word from the manual without first attempting the assignment, and learn nothing.

    Lets examining all three of these possible scenarios.

    In scenario 1, students are learning the material without copying. I've found that most professors don't object to this, but also don't believe that it ever happens (assuming instead that students will always take the easy way, and that any other assumption is just nativity). Regardless of the frequency though, if no one objects, then it's not a problem.

    In scenario 2, students are copying, but still learning. I've found that this scenario too is assumed to be highly unlikely by most people. And unlike scenarios 1, I'll concede that it probably is. However, again regardless of the frequency, if the student is still learning, then it's not a problem.

    Finally, we have scenario 3 (The only area where there seems to be actual disagreement). These are the students who will look at the solution manual, copy word for word, and not learn anything. These students are the reason that professors for the most part try their hardest to remove solution manuals from general availability. But here is the thing. There's nothing wrong with students doing this, and here's why.

    If you look at my assertions 3 and 4 together, I submit that students who are learning for themselves are responsible only to themselves. Responsibility to Purdue only comes into play when Purdue is putting it's name on the line to vouch for a student. Since exams cover the testing and validation of knowledge, Purdue is covered. Therefore until a student takes an exam (during homework, for example), they are responsible solely to themselves, not to Purdue (and not to professors). If a student doesn't want to learn, then a student doesn't have to learn. It follows that if a student doesn't want to complete homework assignments or do complete them in a way that doesn't help learning, then they don't have to, and professors shouldn't be attempting to force them. It is the professors' job to teach students who are willing to learn, not to control students who are unwilling to learn.

    This covers all three possible situations that arise from students having a solution manual. If none of them are objectionable, then having a solution manual isn't objectionable. Additionally, another reason that banning solution manuals is silly is that going to office hours has the exact same result. Solutions are provided. And nearly every college course has office hours.

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

    Facebook Friends

    I listed a story last week on NPR concerning Facebook; more specifically the concept of ""Facebook Fatigue". The idea is that people have so many "friends" on Facebook that their newsfeed contains more information than can be reasonably processed. People spend so much time that they finally realize the only way to cope is just to leave Facebook, either temporarily or permanently. This story on NPR was about someone taking a different approach. Instead of deleting herself, the author deleted all of her friends. Thereby having zero newsfeed entries to watch.

    Now, I fail to see the point in this. Deleting one's account and deleting all of one's friends has in the end the exact same effect. And it's really, really dumb. It's akin to someone who realizes, 'Woah, I eat too much food. What should I do? I know, I'll just eat NOTHING from now on." Anyone health expert (and anyone who isn't a complete moron) will tell you that literally starving yourself isn't a good idea.

    The thing is, deleting everyone or just running away from Facebook is the lazy route. It's saying that yeah I have a problem, but I don't want to take the time to fix it so I'm just going to run away. An admission that one doesn't have the willpower to use this tool without abusing it.

    The real fix is to just start using Facebook correctly. That starts by looking up the definition of friend. Merriam-Webster gives several definitions, such as "one attached to another by affection or esteem". My own definition of friend can be shown in the form of two questions:

    1. If John was walking down the street and saw me without me seeing him, would John come over and say hi.
    2. If I saw John walking down the street and saw him without him seeing me, would I come over and say hi. (Be honest!)

    Now if the answer to both those questions isn't yes, then John isn't really my friend. He might be an acquaintance, or a classmate, or a co-worker. He's not a friend.

    You can set your own definition of friend, the above is just mine. For less friends, go stricter; for more, maybe your definition is a little bit more lax. But when you come up with that definition, you stick with it. The solution to Facebook fatigue if you want to do it right, is to spend some time and go through your friends list. Go through person by person and decide if said person is really a friend by your definition.

    Start with the easy stuff, delete anyone that you've never met. Maybe you added them to boost your numbers or because they added you. Either way, they certainly aren't really a friend. Next, start deleting the people you haven't seen in years. Your high school classmates, co-workers at a place you used to work, etc. See where that gets you in numbers. Finally start looking through people that you know currently. Maybe classmates, maybe co-workers. Just because you know someone vaguely doesn't make them a close friend.

    One thing that will make this more rewarding is by keeping track of your numbers. Check how many you have before you start, and then check after you are finished. It'll probably feel pretty good looking at that second number and realizing how much unnecessary baggage you no longer have to see every day in your newsfeed. You could even set yourself a goal, or do this over time. Say you have 600 friends. Try to get down to 400, just remove the least connected people. Then wait a while and get used to it. Maybe you'll be okay right there, or maybe you want to go further and try to get to 200. (Even 200 is rather huge, how many people have 200 "real" friends?) Still, take your time. Eventually, you should try to get under 50. Anything under 50 means your Facebook friends list is approaching parity with your real life friends. If you can get there, you'll find yourself with no more Facebook fatigue. (Without having to give up Facebook entirely).

    Of course as a side note, you can always change the formula. If you see one person that might not really be a friend but who is maybe useful for some other reason, keep 'em. Nothing is set in stone. Making your life better is the make goal, so if you have to bend the process, bend it.

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Engineering - 6 Weeks In

    I've now had a real engineering job for 6 weeks, and I think I'm starting to settle in. The first few weeks were mostly setting up the field office, buying desks and chairs, getting the tech up and running, setting up the paper trail, etc. The last month though, I've really started to get into things. My job consists primarily to two areas: Technical drawings, and being a conduit for questions (from sub-contractors to the official design engineers. In the past month, I've learned some things.

    1.) Affter 4 years to get an engineering degree from Purdue, I know basically nothing about what is done here in the real world. I'd be frustrated except that I've realized that really...

    2.) ...Entry level engineers are basically sponges. Or at least, good entry level engineers are. Sponges in that most of the job really is just soaking up knowledge and trying to learn as quickly as possible.

    3.) The "Final Version" of a project schedules isn't complete until the project is. (Additionally, MS Project sucks.)

    4.) In-company politics do happen, even especially at a small company. (One reason that I'm so low in the hierarchy at this point; I'm almost still an outsider, so I watch rather than participate).

    5.) Fairness is a great thing in a boss. Everyone screws up, and I'm certainly no exception. Getting my ass chewed out after I do doesn't really bother me. But getting yelled at for doing what I was instructed to do (or not doing something that I was told not to bother with) gets old real fast. Having a boss that yells only when it's deserved is a treasure.

    6.) Never buy a car from Hubler Chevrolet in Rushville. They'll pressure you, they'll lie to you, and they'll try to slip in $2400 in extra cost, hoping you won't read the contract. (Not directly related to the job, but I only bought a car because I have money from the job).

    7.) Windows XP sucks.

    8.) Computers that run Windows XP and are a decade old suck.

    9.) 2013 HP Probooks running Windows 7 are wonderful.

    10.) ALWAYS keep phones numbers and business cards.

    11.) In the field, lamination is almost a necessity.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013


    Over the summer I started really heavily exercising, and in a period of 4 months went from being able to job for about 30 or 40 seconds to being able to run for over 10 minutes. I lost about 15 lbs, and overall felt better. Then I went back to Purdue and just put it all on hold.

    Over the weekend though my girlfriend and I were talking about weight and the physical condition we are both in, and I'm now going to start it back up. This time I'm not just going to be exercising, but also counting/recording calories. For my current weight of 215 lb, 2700 calories/day will let me maintain my weight, and 2000 calories/day will let me lose 1 lb per week.

    I've created an Excel sheet where I can put in food items each day and figure out my exact calorie intake. In my free time though I might turn that into a web application instead, to make input and display easier. I'm also going to start weighing myself every morning and putting that on the daily calorie sheet, just for record keeping and to see my progress.

    The short term goal is to get under 200 lbs. Long term, I'm shooting for 170 lbs. That'll take a while, but the slower you work it off the more likely it is to stay off.

    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    Online Tracking

    I have to wonder if Facebook is in fact sharing my information despite their assurances that it doesn't happen. Today I opened up AccuWeather to check the radar and temperature for the day, and I saw on the side of the screen an advertisement for Pioneer Seed.

    Now up until recently I had never heard of Pioneer. And I'd never seen ads for them on the internet. Well then I get a job working on a Pioneer Seed plant and suddenly I start seeing ads for them. The only places on the internet that I said anything about it are Facebook and LinkedIn. I updated my employment history on both just to keep it up to date. This means that either the internet just randomly decided that I was in the market for seed, after all these years ..... or that we are in fact being tracked by advertising companies, and that more significantly, they are getting info from Facebook/LinkedIn.


    Monday, January 28, 2013

    How O'Charley's "Screwed" Us

    My brother Alex is attending my alma mater (crazy to say that word now), Purdue, next year. He (or more accurately my parents), got some good news in the mail today. They are giving him the Presidential Scholarship, which is quite a bit of money that we won't have to pay, for all four years. So to celebrate, we took him out to O'Charleys.

    It's one of his favorite restaurants, and probably favorite sit down one here in town. Only when we got there, we found a surprise. Upon ordering soup and getting it, my brother took a few bites and then saw, sitting in the soup, a giant iron screw. Pictures below:

    The pictures are kind of blurry, but it was most certainly a screw, and a large one at that. This was on top of them having to try three times to get my hamburger right, twice to get my dad's drink correct, and one time just forgetting my own drink. Not the best service in the world.

    The manager did apologize quite effusively, and comped our entire dinner drinks and the soup.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    Holy Moly I'm Back

    So you may have noticed that I haven't posted anything since October of last year. I can attribute this to my life getting busy. A, I met a girl. And B, I just recently graduated from Purdue and got a real job. Prairie Engineering was the lucky firm that snapped me up. I'm working on building a corn seed treatment facility in Rushville, Indiana.

    Lets see, besides graduating, getting a job, and finding a lady, not much has changed. I'm still the libertarian, geeky, philosophical engineer that I've always been. One sad thing is that Catstache has sort of died down. I don't have time to do anything with it, unfortunately. It's still legally a company, but it's inactive.

    I'll try to start posting here again. Most of the reason I haven't been is that it's been so long that every time I look at it I feel guilty for not posting, and so put it off. Well, here's the first one in months, so hopefully we'll break the trend. For now though, I'll leave you with a song.