Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 New Year Resolutions

What do I hope to accomplish in 2009?

In no particular order:

  1. Publish at least one article from my dissertation data, which I haven't touched in 2 years.
  2. Participate in and successfully complete NaNoWriMo this November (with maybe a trial month earlier in the year for a short story?)
  3. Do more laundry.
Now, keep me accountable, people!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Going to Bed?

Kari got me a Kodak Zi6 Pocket Video Camera for Christmas. I use it all the time, as evidenced by the video below. There will probably be more of these coming soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Relevance of the Palin Pregnancy

I realize that it's been a while since I posted anything of substance. (BTW, if you really want to keep up with what's going on with me, you 'd do better to follow my Twitter feed, which I update obsessively.) I'm actually working on a post now that sums up a lot of things that have happened since my last post, such as The Music Man, our new puppy, Daisy, and Aidan's first day of Kindergarden. I hope to post that update as soon as I have a chance to finish it, but lately a topic has been in the news that I thought merited some attention, but perhaps not for the reason most people think.

Most people have probably heard by now that John McCain has selected Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his presidential running mate. Most people have probably also heard about the fact that her unwed, 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. This has been all over the media since Monday, and it has evoked a whirlwind of pontification and speculation by the public and media alike, but for the wrong reasons. Most of the conversation centers around the role of women in the workplace, the fact that the girl didn't want to have an abortion (Come on. She's from a conservative, Christian family with a Republican politician parent; that was never going to happen anyway), or the fact that the young mom- and dad-to-be are getting married (potentially disastrous mistake!).

But I think the real problem brought to light in this story is one that I believe is much more relevant to Sarah Palin's potential as the President of the United States. (I know she is running for VP, but you always have to think of the VP as if he/she was president when evaluating his/her fitness for the office.) Palin is a strong advocate of abstinence-only sex education, which is "a form of sex education that emphasizes abstinence from sex to the exclusion of all other types of sexual and reproductive health education, particularly regarding birth control and safe sex."1 This is a policy position that she has taken and would wholly advocate if she were to take office. That is the part that disturbs me, and that is the only aspect of this story that I believe is even remotely relevant to the election.

Abstinence-only sex education is a flawed method of sex ed. All empirical evidence consistently points to the fact that not only is it ineffective, but it is actually harmful. Rates of teen pregnancy have been found to be even higher among abstinence-only students than that of the general population because it spreads ignorance regarding sexually transmitted diseases and the proper use of contraceptives to prevent both infections and pregnancy.2 As evidence, contrast teen pregnancy rates in Texas and California, two states with diametrically opposed approaches to sex education: 
Texas' policy is to deny contraceptives without parental consent wherever possible and to push an abstinence-only sex education program in public schools.

Experts, though, are questioning that approach. They note that from 1991 to 2004, the state's teen birth rate dropped by 19 percent, while the U.S. rate dipped by one-third.

By contrast, California, which has seen its teen birth rate drop by 47 percent in the same period, teaches abstinence but also explains contraception at school and has gone to dispensing birth control to teenage boys and girls – for free, no parental consent required – in community clinics and doctors' offices.

-- The Dallas Morning News, November 5, 20073
Teens who participate in abstinence-only education also have greater trouble understand the role of sex in their marriage relationships later in life. All considered, it is a dangerous policy that has the opposite effect than it intends. That's not to say that I don't appreciate the intentions behind the policy. Saving sex for marriage is a great thing. I advocate that whole-heartedly, as it can be an incredibly powerful experience for the couple if done properly. But abstinence-only sex education does nothing to promote that end.

So now, Bristol Palin, the daughter of a prominent abstinence-only advocate, is pregnant. She epitomizes the failure of this policy. Yet, her mother refuses to acknowledge it as a failed strategy, despite the evidence in her own home, much less the scientific and empirical evidence. That is the most problematic aspect of this affair. If she dogmatically sticks to a failed sex ed. policy in light of glaring evidence, she almost certainly will do so with other national and international matters. We've had eight years of dogmatic stubbornness. We don't need any more.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I got my iPhone!... but not without problems...

I got up at 5AM this morning, and was at the Apple store by 5:45. I waited in line up through the store opening at 8AM. I waited to talk to an Apple employee for another 45 minutes. That was when the real waiting began. Through a combination of wacky iTunes servers being down and Kari's AT&T corporate discount causing havoc, it definitely was not a smooth process for me to get this phone. But get it, I did, and the first thing I did was make a video of my unboxing experience.

Everything is fully operational now, and I absolutely LOVE IT!!! Check out this video to hear the full story, though.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Currently Listening: Beck's "Modern Guilt"

As I anxiously await the arrive of my new best gadget, I've had to find something to occupy my mind until 8AM Friday (40 hours, 53 minutes away, as I write this). Thankfully, I've been ├╝ber-busy at work. All of my clients have actually been coming in, which is very rare for this time of year. Also, rehearsals for The Music Man have really picked up, as it should less than 2 weeks from Opening Night. Also, this is one of Kari's 2 really busy times of the year at work, so I've had to pick up quite a bit of slack at home (not that I've really succeeded in that area... oops). Nevertheless, my mind still frequently wanders to the Gadget of my Dreams. How can I obsess over something else to prevent my certain descent into impatience-induced insanity?

Enter Mr. Beck Hanson. One of my favorite recording artists, Beck consistently gives me some of my favorite music, such as his songs "Devil's Haircut", "Sexx Laws", "Paper Tiger", "Rental Car", and "Strange Apparition". His new album dropped on Tuesday, and I immediately pounced on it. Produced by Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley and The Grey Album fame (and who coincidentally produced one of my favorite albums of 2007, The Good, the Bad, and the Queen), Modern Guilt is an album that doesn't present any shockingly revolutionary material, as Beck has become known for. Rather, it feels like a Beck album. I think that's a good thing. I like the sound of his last two albums, and I don't mind having those themes explored more. Others, however, tend to disagree. I realize that this album has received less-than-stellar reviews. One reviewer wrote that Beck is "dropping down a rabbit hole of psychedelic noisemakers." Another wrote that the album "sounds like an obligation. It sounds like Beck has disengaged from his music." I could not disagree more. If anything, he seems to be delving deeper into his own music. There is undoubtedly a darker tone to the music, but unlike the very dark Sea Change, Modern Guilt has a dark, paranoid quality that makes for very interesting and exciting music for me.

My only complain is that it is WAY too short. 10 tracks, 34 minutes. Granted, it's an awesome and trippy 34 minutes, but just as you are grooving and "dropping down the rabbit hole", it's over. Whatever. I'll just put it on repeat and keep listening. I wonder how it will sound on Friday on my new iPhone?

Favorite tracks: Gamma Rays, Chemtrails (which VERY appropriately has been compared to Caribou), Volcano

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The new iPhone is REAL!! (but not here yet)

Anyone who reads my blog, even in passing, has to notice that I am a big fan of Apple's iPhone. Over the last 6 months or so, I have become absolutely obsessed with it. I decided in March that when the next generation iPhone came out, I would do whatever I could to get one. Since then, I've been putting away my nickels and dimes to cover not only the cost of the new phone and a few needed accessories, but also the Early Termination Fee (ETF) that I'll have to fork over to Verizon. I have saved what I thought would be enough, but I couldn't know for sure until they announced the new details.

So it should come as no surprised that I followed yesterday's announcement of the updated iPhone by Apple VERY closely. Needless to say, I was blown away. Not as much by the specs, most of which were pretty well-known by the rumor mill (3G wireless technology, GPS, Exchange/MobileMe integration, etc.), and not by the form factor, which while appealing does not seem to be quite as cool as the first iPhone. Rather, I was blown away by the price: $199 for the 8GB model, and $299 for the 16GB model. That is MUCH less that I thought it would be. I couldn't believe this when I heard it. I knew there had to be a catch... and there was.

The new iPhone will not be available until JULY 11. That's right. July. Not June. July.

That really bummed me out. Did I mention that my obsession had been going on for months now? When I found this out, I emailed Kari:
Good news: $299 for the top model (16GB)
Bad News: Release date July 11
My Calendar is marked.
Her reply:
What about all those boxes being shipped?
What about Father's day presents!
I have to hear you pine and lust for another MONTH?
So, yeah. It's going to be a rough month to come.

But I guess I might enjoy learning more about it, feeding my obsession with a fervor never expressed before. To start, I could list all of the things I love about the device, but I think it would be easier and faster to list all of the things I DON'T like about it. Here is the comprehensive list:
  1. No cut-and-paste: Why is this so difficult? While I can't imagine this being a big deal to me overall in the long run, I could certainly see how it might be an inconvenience at times. DEALBREAKER? NOT REALLY
  2. No video recording: Granted, I know next to nothing about what it takes to turn a camera phone into a video phone, but my thinking is that if my LG VX9900 can do video, why can't the iPhone? Potentially, this could be fixed by a third-party application to come, but it really should be integrated into the firmware by Apple. Again, though, I don't use video-on-the-go very often, so I might not miss it. DEALBREAKER? NOPE
  3. No document editing: Although Apple announced full ability to view iWork and Microsoft Office documents, it did not allow users to be able to edit those documents on the iPhone. Nor did they provide an easy way to port Keynote or PowerPoint presentations to a projector or monitor. This would have been a much bigger deal for me 2+ years ago when I was still working on my doctorate and needed to edit documents on the go. Now? It would be nice, but DEALBREAKER? NOT EVEN CLOSE
  4. Storage max out at 16GB: This is definitely the hardest one to swallow. I really thought they would come out with a 32GB model, which would have been perfect for me. My current iPod is a 30GB 5G iPod with video. For me to completely replace my iPod with the iPhone, I will need to find a way to cut the amount of media I have on me by more than half. (I'll need to save some room for apps and available storage for on-the-go downloads.) This will be difficult, especially considering that my music collection alone is around 18GB. Although this comes the closest to giving me pause about a purchase, ultimately DEALBREAKER? *gulp*... no...
As you can see, that's a relatively short list, and I cannot find a true dealbreaker in the bunch. Although other bloggers and fans have found a number of other flaws with the World's Most Complete Phone/Gadget, none of the other criticisms are in the least bit relevant to me.

As iDay (July 11) approaches, you can expect to see more iPhone related posts to help me feed my obsession.

[Update]: I can't believe that I forgot this, but I actually have one other problem with the iPhone.
  1. No voice dialing: This is a feature that I never used on my phone until a year ago. That's when I started commuting 1 hour away once a week. Voice dialing became important for me to use in the car, and given the iPhone's UI, I would think it would be even more important. The only reason I can think of not including this is that the voice recognition technology for phones is not at the level that Apple expects for its products, and I can understand that. The voice dialing on my LG VX9900 only works about 50% of the time, and is VERY frustrating the other 50%. Although I will miss this feature, I'm sure I can learn to live without it. DEALBREAKER? I don't think so.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Tweet me up!

Twitter Screen Capture

Some of you may not know that I actually post many times a day to one of my blogs. It's not this one, obviously, but rather my Twitter account. A while back I wrote here about Twitter when I first opened my account. After a period of ambivalence, I started to really embrace the service to the point that I now post around a half dozen times a day or so. I try to post each time something interesting happens, I have an interesting (to me) thought, or when I something new.

I have really enjoyed this because it allows me to maintain a public, short-attention-span diary of what I'm experiencing. Now, I'm not narcissistic enough to believe that anyone but me would even care about those sorts of minutia regarding my life. Rather, I just enjoy being able to document my life for my own purposes. Not that I go back and review it regularly, but it's interesting to write something (in 140-character chunks, no less) that I know may be around indefinitely.

What makes twitter really cool, however, is that it has such a simple API that many other applications, websites, and services can easily integrate Twitter into what they can offer. For instance, when I post a public video to Viddler, Viddler automatically posts a link to the video on my Twitter account. The same is true when I post a mobile photo to Flickr through the use of TwitterGram. One of the cooler integrations, however, is that I can set Facebook to use my latest Twitter post (or tweets, as they're known) as my current Facebook status. And because I can tweet from the web, numerous desktop clients, IM, and SMS, I can post anything from almost anywhere. There are also reply, direct message, and privacy functions, which theoretically could be used to expand the possibilities much further, but I haven't had a chance to fully explore these. One notable example, however, is one programmer's use of a private twitter account (and some fancy-schmancy curl scripts) to create an iPhone lo-jack system for finding a lost iPhone.

My purposes, however, are much simpler: I just want to keep track of what I'm doing! So along those lines, I thought I might start posting a Twitter Digest on this blog periodically. It's just a summary of all of my tweets during the previous 24-hour period. So here's the digest for yesterday, June 5, 2008. (BTW, if anyone out there reading this already has a twitter account, let me know and I'll follow you.)

  • Making the most of another no-show by Installing OpenPandora. Good use of my time, right?
  • The lengths that people go to avoid talking about the problem amazes me, especially when they COME to therapy to talk about their problems.
  • Came home for lunch today for no reason and feeling guilty for wasting the gas needed for the 7 minute drive.
  • @cdevroe Here you go.
  • Already had too many cancellations this week. The summer client dropoff has officially begun!
  • @ecc1977 Absolutely! A Facebook app for GFF would be a great idea. I'd use it.
  • Looking for a good twitter client for Windows to use at work. Methinks I'll give Twhirl a whirl.
  • I am really up too late. I need to go to bed. **anticipating my own worthlessness tomorrow**
  • After the LAST t-ball practice of the season, trying to pretend we can have a clean house with 2 small children.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Music Family

Well, we're getting back into theatre. After a hiatus of more than 8 years, it's finally a good time again to do a show, and Kari and the kids have agreed to do it too! So this weekend we auditioned for The Music Man with the United Players in Friendswood, TX. It should be fun, but I'm a little nervous about dedicating the kind of time necessary to be in a show. Aidan and Regan take up a lot of our time, and I'm worried about how they will adjust to this schedule. I guess there's no way to find out but to just jump in. So here we come! Shipoopi!

Update 5/21/08: I got a call from the director offering me the part of Marcellus (Harold Hill's sidekick). I accepted. It's a good part, and I'm really looking forward to this!

Family Guy - Shipoopi -

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My Affectionate Little Girl

Kari and I are very proud that Aidan and Regan have such a great relationship. Even though they are still young and things can (and likely will) change, they are unquestionably each others' best friend. They play well together most of the time. They turn to each other first when looking for a playmate, even around other kids. They are fearful when they think the other is in danger. They even defend each other when one gets in trouble with Kari or me. They have the closest relationship I could hope for.

Sometimes, however, it seems a little too close, like when they would rather cuddle up with each other than Kari and I. Or when I can't find Aidan when I wake up, and I find that he's snuck into Regan's room to sleep with her. I know they aren't doing anything inappropriate. It just seems a little too intimate for my tastes. Lately, Kari and I have been intentionally trying to teach them more appropriate ways to show their affection for each other, and it had been working. At least I thought it had.

Regan and ElliottRegan's 3rd birthday party was yesterday. She had a Barbie Princess-themed party and she invited a couple of her friends. Although we didn't really know her friends from school before the party, we had heard a few names numerous times. Elliott is one such name. So when it came time to invite kids to her party, he was a no-brainer. Little did we know, however, the depth of their relationship, at least on Regan's part.

From the moment he walked in the door, Regan was leading him by his hand, putting her hand on his back, talking enthusiastically to him, and even kissing him on the cheek. This wasn't just momentary behavior. It continued through most of the party. Although I never saw him return the affection, Elliott seemed to take it all in stride, politely enduring her advances. I eventually had to pull her aside and tell her to knock it off (in so many words).

She was exactly like a giddy 15-year-old whose new boyfriend had just showed up, and Elliott was the aloof boyfriend who didn't even know what she was up to. I couldn't help but think about the times she hugs her brother so tight that he gets annoyed or when she comes up to me and kisses me, saying "I wuv my diddy!" I always thought it was behavior she reserved for just us, but that was nothing compared to the affection she showed Elliott. At first it was cute, but then I began to get flashes of what I can likely expect in her teen year.

This girl is going to give me a heart attack, and heaven help the boy who's lucky enough to get her.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Done!!!

I can't believe that it is over. After long last, I have finally finished all of my hours for full licensure. I sent my paperwork off to the State today, and I now have my Full License, meaning that I am no longer in residency and are now longer required to work under a supervisor. This allows me to officially get the promotion and raise that was approved at work, contingent upon the full license, and I can also begin to branch out and have more freedom in terms of teaching and taking clients. It also puts me on more insurance boards, meaning that I can take a MUCH wider range of insurance providers.

This essentially is what I feel has been holding me back professionally. I finally feel that the shackles have been removed, and I'm completely autonomous and legit. It feels very good.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My obsession

I have become obsessed as of late. I can hardly think of anything else. I can hardly type this blog post without thinking about ways to fulfill my deepest obsessions. I don't know what to do. I bother Kari with talk of my obsession constantly. She is distraught; she feels that I have neglected her and the kids to maintain my obsession. Perhaps I have. I'm sure I have...

But I don't know what else to do. I am tormented. Watch this video to understand what I mean.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Aidan's Winter Program

I just posted a new video on The Martin Family Podcast showing Aidan's Winter Program at the Montessori School of Downtown. Thanks to dad (Kim Martin) for videotaping the program, and thanks to mom (Mary Lou) for the above picture. If you haven't seen my podcast, it's primarily short videos of the kids that I make with iMovie 06. If you like my kids, you should love it.

You can view the podcast at the following locations:

  1. iTunes (subscribe to the podcast here too)
  2. YouTube
  3. Download directly
(iTunes and/or Quicktime required for numbers 1 and 3.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My Humanity, My Frustration, My Sin

Sometimes I absolutely hate the fallacies of the human species. I am not referring the stupid things that other people do that irritate us, nor am I referring only to the big things that others do that hurt us or cause us great distress or sorrow. I am referring to the things that I myself do that I despise. Sometimes I find myself saying or doing something that I know is wrong, even in the moment. I may even hear that voice in my head screaming "Cut it out, you moron!" And yet I keep at it. I can be petty, selfish, vindictive, and just plain mean, all the while knowing full well that I am making a mistake. I hate that about myself, more than anything else. Yes, I may be angry at the person or situation that provoked my behavior, but because I am ultimately responsible for my behavior, I am most disgusted with myself. Afterwards, I feel bad, I want to take it back or do something to make it better, but that's not possible. Only time might heal those wounds. I pray that it will.

It's times like these that I can most sympathize with the Apostle Paul. Granted, I disagree with Paul on many different matters, but I think he nailed the tedious and frustrating failings of humanity. Romans 7:15-20 describes exactly what I mean:

15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Nothing in the Bible more aptly describes how I feel at such times. It gives me a minuscule but notable amount of comfort to know that I am not alone in this internal struggle. Nevertheless, I hate the sin I do. I know it is wrong, and I do it anyway. I am ashamed. I am sorrowful. I am human. I spend every day of my working life helping people better understand the nature of the mistakes they make in their own lives, in an effort to avoid those mistakes and improve their lives. Yet, I commit some of the same mistakes. It's not that I don't know a better way. I can't plead ignorance. Rather, I am simply stubborn, belligerent, and sinful. I say and do these despicable things because I allow my humanity to overtake me, neglecting and rejecting the spiritual heights to which God has raised me through Grace. I hurt others, knowing full well what I am doing, and by the time my better judgment wins out, I've sinned against God and those I love, and the damage is done. Lord, forgive me my sins, and grant me the patience and wisdom to turn to You when my humanity becomes more than I can bear.