Documentation for people that don’t know how to read documentation

I’ve been toying around with this idea for blog posts. I love computers and software, but it’s very haphazard for me how I learn and apply solutions. When I read formal documentation, my eyes often glaze over.

I’ve enjoyed writing technical posts in the past. Maybe I can do more of that with the goal of explaining things that leave me completely mystified. It would be an exercise in practicing patience and focus enough to spend more than 30 seconds trying to understand something.

At the same time, I still want to grow an audience of devoted readers, who clearly would have no interest in random technical posts. This crowd wants… I don’t know. Hopefully they want shallow minutia, as that is what I feel most qualified to deliver.

Hey, everyone! I’m glad you’re reading this.


I finally started playing Minecraft late last year.

There is so much freedom to build and do things, but just as important are the constraints. You have to work at it. I mean, there is Creative Mode and I do stuff in there, too. It’s great for experimentation.

But it’s in Survival Mode that I feel transported to my real home. Even the parts that can get tedious are rewarding in the service of larger goals.

And I guess that’s life, then, right? Are we truly immortal, and we’ve just created this “real” world to have something to do, where we can believe things matter?

And it can be kind of fun. For some of us. For others, the world is a big place and I’ve heard there are people that may not see it in the same leisurely terms. Awful things happen out there.

But… good things, too. I’ve been fortunate. I love this idea of the world as unreal. The Matrix. A simulation. Fun.

The appeal of Minecraft is that it is a world. A whole world inside of the machine that we can enter into and live a different life.

Maybe Today

They say you should announce your goals in public to have a better chance of sticking to them, and I think there is something to that.

I also think there is something to the idea of quietly resolving to do some things and then just doing them.

“They” also say New Year’s resolutions don’t work that well. I think they say that, don’t they? You know, the gyms full of people that clear out by February.

I haven’t been big on new year resolutions, but I do think you can always start something now. Just as you can always wait for tomorrow or the next day.

Today I’m writing something and posting it on my blog.

Tiny Toads

Nothing to do with the post, really, except that there's a toad lawn (step?) ornament.

I saw lots of tiny toads while mowing the yard last night, which made me worry for their well-being. I didn’t want to hurt them in my lumbering giant ways.

And then again I saw one on a sidewalk this morning while walking the dogs. So small — like, he’d fit on a nickel. I only noticed him because he moved.

It occurred to me that this is an interesting choice for the little guy. How does he assess the risks? A dog might see movement and gulp him up with barely a thought, or a cruel child may step on him or otherwise torture him. But I was happy for the chance to enjoy seeing him, and to avoid crushing him.

And so we decide to be seen or unseen, with such limited information.

(PS: I’m aware he might have been a girl toad.)

Slow Down


I decided to slow down today, and it turned out well.

There’s a Rush lyric:

“A driver on the busy freeway / Racing the oblivious cars.”

That’s me. I get caught up in the competition out there. That race. The rat race. I want to win. I want to get home faster. I don’t want to be the sucker waiting in line.

But most of the drivers are oblivious. Or if not, they’re playing the same losing game.

Today I chose to slow down and not compete as much. And it was good.

Less stressful.

I engaged my frugality to help with the attempted behavior modification. The slower I go, the more fuel efficient, and the more dollars saved.

The makers of the $100 Automatic hardware thingamajig for your car emphasize this savings. (I don’t need to slyly connect the dots for you on their motivation in emphasizing the payback for a $100 toy, do I?) I would love to have that device. I love collecting information, and this would be a treasure trove. And it would help re-train myself in driving less aggressively. But for now, I think I’ll work on it with just the aid of logic and reason.

Competition is a funny thing. Not, “haha” funny, but more like frightening in its implications for violence in the face of scarcity.

I’ve embraced capitalism and competition in general, well enough in my life to tread water and even swim against the tide for a time, but I have less taste for it as I grow older.

Winning is stressful. Exhausting.

But I do like to win. I also like being able to define winning on my own terms.

Or what I think are my own terms.

I know I have to dance to other people’s strings at times, but I think I’ve been fortunate in drawing lines, and staying on the side of the line I can cope with.

Or at least cope with so far, anyways.

It helps if you can slow down.

Again, Y’all


Yesterday I wrote about how I’d like y’all to read what I write.

But, why? Is this just about attention seeking?

The goal shouldn’t be simply, “to be read.” It should be to communicate. I’d like to share something with you. For you to get something out of this. It needs to be about you, too.

The great fear is always that I have nothing to say that’s worth reading. That I won’t be able to express anything in the heartfelt and eloquent way I vaguely daydream about.

I mean, sure, I feel special and all that. I was raised in a nurturing middle class home. To think that I mattered, to think that I have something to offer.

Certainly I must have wisdom and brilliance to share. I’m sure I can fix whatever is broken in your life. In your mind. Just listen to me. I’ll tell you how to do it. How you too can be special. How you can be self-actualized or some shit like that. I’ve got it all figured out.

“God the Holy Ghost is calling out to embrace you. I want you to reach deep into your hearts and your pocketbooks and take his hand.”
The Mission

I don’t think it’s the worst thing to be intensely self-involved, as long as you have sufficient awareness about it. Even better if you can have fun with it. But I’m all too aware I’m still deeply in denial about my relationship with the truth.

Anyway. For today I just wanted to highlight a problem with the post that stood out to me. (Never mind the problems with today’s post.)


Hi, y’all.

I’m not really a y’all guy. I’m totally Northern. Although I spent a summer in Memphis once, and I gained some experience with “y’all.” I like y’all.

But it’s not me. Not as long as I live here in the North.

Up here, it’s “you guys.”

So, you guys, I need to write something. I need to keep this thing going.

I continue to struggle with what I might serve to y’all.

I’m really all about me. And, this being my blog, I can make it all about me if I want to. But I want y’all to read it, too, and if this is too self-involved, it will just be me writing to myself. And as much as I’m hung up on myself, I don’t know if I can deal with it: me going on and on and on about me. And if I can’t stand it, where does that leave you?

What I need to do is write. I’m going to start doing that every day, or almost every day. Just like I’ve been getting up almost every day at three o’ clock for an hour on the elliptical, and walking the dogs four to six miles when I get home from work. It feels good. You just have to do it.


I’ll try making the same commitment to writing. Maybe thirty minutes a day for starters. Just writing. Like this, if need be, but hopefully more substantively and interestingly in time.

But it starts with putting the words down, and publishing some of them.

Back to… Back to the Future II

For teenage me in 1985, watching Back to the Future, the trip back to 1955 was a trip into ancient history. The ’50s had such a distinct flavor — at least as portrayed in movies and TV — and back then, thirty years ago was forever ago. Anything that happens before your sixth birthday is forever ago.

Now we’ve travelled thirty years into the real future, to the time of Back to the Future II. In turn, the ’80s turned out to have their own florid signature. We might not have a lot of Cafe ’80s around, the way we do ’50s Grills, but you know the 80s. They would stand out in a decade lineup.

Egyption Ideas of the Future Life

It’s hard to get my mind around the passage of time, that these movies of my youth took place as long ago now as the 50s had taken place, then.

Watching II back in 1989, I didn’t think 2015 would look anything like the movie’s depiction, but it was so far away that I could enjoy the escapism and not be overly concerned with accuracy. Obviously, one way or another, things would be way different in this impossibly distant future, even if we didn’t have flying cars.

I mean, thirty years. I’m surprised we even made it this far.

And then it turns out…

2014 feels pretty much like 1985, with the sole exception of the big hair. Look at all this stuff that hasn’t happened:

  • The aforementioned flying cars
  • Scrolling marquee text on cop visors
  • Reliable weather control
  • All lawyers gone
  • Hydrating pizzas in Black & Decker hydrators
  • Hoverboards
  • Rocketboards
  • Totally intense 3D that attacks you on the street
  • Unattended flying news cameras
  • Thought controlled video games
  • Mr. Fusion
  • Talking clothing
  • Clothing that can make chicken noises
  • Fax machines in every room and closet
  • Some kind of antigravity belt
  • Robot trash cans
  • Gas station robots
  • Dog walking flying robots

Please don’t point out the way any of these things are coming true today. You might be right, but you’re even more annoying. And clearly, these things aren’t commonplace as they were in the movie, right? So shut up and don’t be a pedantic pissant.

I still love the trilogy. The first movie was and is a masterpiece. The second and third have a number of shortcomings that stand out more all the time, but I still enjoy the characters and the adventure and seeing how it all ties together.

I watched it this time with my 8-year-old daughter, which reinforced the culture shock even more. Can you really grasp the second movie if you weren’t of a certain age in the 80s?