Category Archives: family

Airport wifi!

In every mormon thanksgiving, some weddings must fall.

In this case, my sister’s getting married tomorrow (!!), so I’m hangin’ at Hartsfield Jackson waiting for my flight to come up. Planning for security delays, I got in 2 1/2 hours early, after a half hour of ticketing and security, time to settle in for the 2 hour wait (or at least, the hope is for only 2 hours).

I finally let the airline sucker me into an upgrade at the ticket counter. The upgrade was pretty cheap, and I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about United’s legroom in coach lately, so I sprung for the extra space. (I’ll have plenty of flights to compare footroom, see if this is a luxury I’ll want to pay for in the future or if I wasted my money.)

I need to figure out when I’ll sneak a meal into this. Battery’s charged, so the laptop’s all set for the air. Thing is, everything close is the especially uninspiring airport food. It’s tempting to just hold out until I get to Denver… though that means eating at like 10pm subjective time.

And we’ll leave it at that for now. Been exhausted for weeks, need to force myself to relax.


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get your flickr on

My family’s been looking for a good way to share photos. We’ve tried a few things with off the shelf self-served gallery applications, but for the past few months I’ve been leaning on folks to just go with flickr.

I’ve managed to pull some folks over, so now I can quickly share some photos of events past (and people familial).

From the long lost South by Southwest 2006 archive…

Originally uploaded by silver7728.

Me, Mom, Dad, and Eric. (Johannah’s taking the picture so she doesn’t have to be on the business end of the camera.)

Originally uploaded by silver7728.

Me, Dad, Eric. Never expect me to behave myself if I know you’re taking a picture of me. You want a serious shot? One word. Candid.

Now off to sunny Provo, Utah. (Don’t everybody get excited at once.) Fortunately, there’s the occasional cool person in BYUland.

Originally uploaded by silver7728.

I’m not the only one that can’t keep from gettin’ their laugh on all the time. Here’s Adam and Heather outside the Crabtree engineering building at BYU in Provo. (No, BYU doesn’t keep it’s engineering classes in temporary buildings. The Crabtree’s out of frame.) I think they’re dressed up cuz they both have church in the Crabtree or something. (I so don’t miss having church in lecture halls.)

Originally uploaded by silver7728.

Adam at peace, manipulating the elements with his powers of dance.

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6 months

About this time of year I tend to think back to what I was up to 6 months ago and how I’ve used the time. (And ain’t it awesome to finally get some real spring this week! Lucille’s been so excited… convertibles are great.)

This set of 6 ain’t lookin’ too shabby.

  • 6 months ago this weekend, I was in Waveland, MS with a work crew
  • Next day was my birthday
  • Started dating a gal I got to know during the Waveland trip
  • Finished up rehearsals and performed the radio show.
  • In the end we only had two traveling performances with veterans, but it was cool to talk with the WWII, Korea and Vietnam vets (the younger, more recent vets all came to the Roswell shows)
  • Did a great karaoke rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody with Jey and Cliff in front of all our friends
  • Followed by a really sucky version of Don’t Stop Me Now, which was supposed to be the easy one
  • Finally went contra dancing… or was that more than 6 months ago
  • Got back into superhero comic books something proper… thanks to DC’s Infinite Crisis event
  • Saw my comic book shop of choice close its doors forever
  • Dumped City of Heroes to start playing World of Warcraft with my friends from Tech and GSU
  • Got so busy with church stuff that I haven’t played WoW in a couple months, leaving my little gnomish trade empire in shambles
  • Had a great Thanksgiving with most of my family (so great it was even okay that we were in Utah)
  • Finally got to meet my li’l sisters boyfriend and realized that he really should be a full member of the family… when they’re ready
  • Started listening to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books on my iPod. Fun, fun stuff, especially the ones read by Nigel Planer
  • Left Comcast cable service for Dish Network, been very happy with it
  • Broke up with the aforementioned gal I’d been dating, learned some interesting things along the way
  • Had a great Christmas with Mom, Dad, Adam and Heather (even though Eric and Jo didn’t come… even though it was our year this year)
  • But we had a rousing round of We Three Kings, which made us feel okay about being abandoned
  • Purchased The Chosen Collection just as it went off the market, have celebrated by watching Angel instead when there’s TV time, because for whatever reason, I like that Buffyverse series more
  • Saw off my quorum instructor, as he moved into a new neighborhood where he, his wife, and their daughter will own their own house
  • Watched him bless his daughter with his tios, primos, and other family members
  • All of which makes more sense if you know that at the beginning of these six months, he wasn’t really keen on doing churchy stuff at all
  • Got my “professional/official” blog going (the one that’s not this one–where I talk about all that eggheaded information architecture and game stuff)
  • Hit South by Southwest Interactive for the first of as many times as circumstances will permit
  • Which is to say that I went to Texas, messed with it, and returned home safely
  • I got to baptize in the temple a time or two, which I love doing because I love saying the prayer (and all the Spanish names), and trying to make it a special experience for the proxy and the one getting baptized. That and working at the veil are the coolest things a man can do in life… well, almost the coolest
  • Said the occasional thing actually worth saying on the xuhoch blog. Mostly political and politics and religion stuff that felt important… though commenting on friends’ posts has been cool and helped reconnect with folks I’d been a bit alejado from
  • Got a few of the hermanos together before Priesthood session to have ice cream… anybody want popsicles or ice cream sandwiches?
  • I’ve been dressing more how I’d like (comes with that replacing old clothes thing)
  • Which has led to at least a few of those much needed Johnny Bravo moments in front of the mirror
  • Helped Mom and Dad get their media player working again so they could listen to General Conference together
  • Which is to say that Dad’s been making it a priority to listen to conference (even cut short a phone call with me so he could listen)
  • Which isn’t something that I did, but it’s mighty mighty cool
  • Visited some families with our branch president… today we even got to actually talk with a family instead of standing outside doors that wouldn’t open
  • That one makes a lot more sense if you know how awesome he is and how much he’s grown in the past 8 months
  • Was officially re-dubbed Superman at work (due to my failure to stop Katrina and subsequent 05 hurricanes, I was stripped of the title, just got it back on Friday)… it’s a sandwich shop thing, so it’s important but makes no sense without explaining a bit

Yeah, a bit of a haphazard list (for effect of course), but there’s the occasional northern California nugget in there.

I’d like to think I’ve grown, but honestly, I’m around myself too much to see many of the changes. I got more proactive at work and started organizing things with friends from church so I can see them more than just FHE or institute night. I’m socializing a bit more in those amorphous large group situations (post-institute) that I don’t really like. (I really just typed that “out loud,” didn’t I?) I’m getting a better fix on how to encourage the hermanos to get out and visit their home teaching families more faithfully.

Still doesn’t feel like enough though. So much more to do. We’ve got families having tough times, we still haven’t quite worked out how to get everyone on the same web standards “page” at work, spiritual matters could use more attention, as could a number of the friendships that I hardly seem to have time to maintain.

And as Cassiel reminds, there’s that whole “find a girl, have a family” thing, but not all of us have Damiel’s luck on that one. (Of course, Marion doesn’t shine her brightest until the follow up.)

Anyway, looks like I’ve got some things to shoot for these next 6… hope I can hit ’em.

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it’s about the network

After returning to sustained activity on my LJ for a bit now, I’m seriously considering changing venues for my personal blogging. There’s a few reasons for this, but it comes down to balancing the benefits of the LJ community features against the benefits of other blogging software I’ve been tempted by.

As we learn from Metcalfe’s law, the value of a network is approximately the square of the number of users in the system (Value = (n (n-1))/2). Put otherwise, one telephone is useless, but once there are millions of telephones, that telephone network becomes very valuable, with (1,000,000 * 999,999)/2 = 499,999,500,000 possible connections. (We’re really talking more of a Reed’s law situation with LJ, but these numbers are easier and get the basic idea across.)

So to say it with less numbers and more specifics, the value of LJ’s community features for me at this point is the number (and value) of people I connect to and who connect through me using those features (out of the billions and billions of possible connections and groups of connections available to me through LJ).

I could of course see about maintaining that same network through different means (send people the new blog url or an rss feed), but it seems pretty ingrato to require people to go somewhere new to see what I’m writing, when the LJ norm they’re used to is to just look at their friends page and see what’s going on with me and all the rest of their friends. Sure, there would be RSS feeds for whatever new blog I did and for everybody’s LJ, but it still leaves everybody in the dark on “friends only” content from either side.

I’m hoping to find some middle ground through Six Apart‘s upcoming Project Comet. It appears to offer a more sophisticated blogging experience than LJ but provides similar friend listing and post locking features. (Software I use for other blogging will allow for this as well, but it requires having people log into my individual blog, which I just don’t think anybody will bother to do. If I thought people would, I’d just set up a personal section on my professional blog and be done with it.) If they make Comet accounts interoperable with LiveJournal, and if it provides solid tools for managing your friends list and post security, that may seal the deal… though price will naturally play a role in the decision. (I’m still kinda partial to the whole free idea for personal stuff, what with those years of free LJ.)

In somewhat related news… As our family’s blogging and forum habits change, I’m starting to wonder if we would be better served with an off the shelf family blog than we are with our current forum. (Can you say maintenance nobody has time for?) With the right social network (friends) tools, a group of individual blogs would serve the same purpose and address everybody’s concerns about keeping family matters within the family. I’m definitely eager to see Comet make its way out of closed beta and kick the tires.

Terry Pratchett | Jingo: Discworld #21 (Unabridged)

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hey, I breathe with those!

It finally happened… I finally saw Million Dollar Baby.

I really could have timed this better. I’ve only wanted to see it for a year and a half. I knew the “surprise” that makes the film about something other than what the ads suggested.

It was not especially good planning to see this on vacation late at night when everyone else would just go to sleep. The movie keeps standing on my chest and won’t get off.

Strange in a sense… some people cry in the face of a well crafted tragedy, some get fired up over this injustice or that. With a movie like this, my lungs just decide to stop inflating until I work through the psychic shock… which usually involves talking with people… and everybody else is now asleep.

And seeing as I don’t know how many of you fine readers have already seen the movie and how many plan to see it someday, I can’t bring myself to…

Now that it’s only those of us that know the story… I still don’t know what to say. I feel as lost as Frank. (Which is as it should be with a movie like this… for a while.)

You open your heart to someone after hiding from your pains for years, and fate beats her down so hard that all she wants from you is to be set free from life. How do you handle that? It was almost like getting back the daughter that would never come back to you, almost like your own blood, you helped her find her wings and she soared. Now her wings have been ripped free and she just wants you to let her go.

Powerful movie. No wonder people couldn’t contain the conversations about euthanasia all those months ago. I may have to do the same once I’m up for it, though between Austin and SXSW adventures, I’ll be squeezing in the blogging material as it is. (Though much of it’s for the colder, more professional blog. Rants about cluetrains, kicking ass, findability and cybermoms. Fun stuff, just not a great fit for right here.)

Anyway… my ribcage is a bit concave this evening, and I’m feeling mighty thankful to have story spaces in which to examine these sorts of emotions from an empathetic but ultimately observational distance.


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It’s time for this year’s South by Southwest film, music, and interactive conference, and with my brother living here now, I don’t have a lot of excuse for not coming down, despite any irrational for-entertainment-purposes-only personal aversions to the lone star state.

Met Dad okay before our flight from Atlanta. We managed to, through no coordination of our own, book ourselves on the same flight from the ATL to Austin, in nearly the same row. Mom met us in baggage claim (she came down Thursday), and we eventually met up with Eric and Johannah for dinner.

After a fine hands-on dinner at Rudy’s, which bills itself as the “worst barbecue in Texas” (think Fat Matt’s Rib Shack without the live blues), we commenced to planning the weekend… which amounted to everybody else trying to figure out what we’d all try to hit at the film festival while I reviewed the interactive panels to see if there were any must-sees that conflicted with the movies. There were naturally the obligatory “geez, bri, why didn’t you figure out all this panel stuff sooner?” (mostly from Eric), but with the standard millions of other things going on in the ATL day-to-day, panels had to wait. (Picking what panels to go to is the least of the SXSW preparations I didn’t get to before coming down.)

Despite the whining, if all goes as planned, we’ll get some interesting movies tomorrow. Why We Fight and a doc on Al Franken. Tomorrow’s must-see interactive session is How to Create Passionate Users with Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates. Looks like it will fit around the movies just right. So I’ll get a good share of family time tomorrow.

The evening finished with a fun political discussion with Eric and Jo. Being among fellow liberals, my internal devil’s advocate naturally attuned to speaking for conservative views, especially when we got into “I don’t understand how they…” sorts of comments. There weren’t too many, but it was fun to see my little dialectic engine shift to the right. Maybe C-snail’s right about how Libra I am.

Probably the most important part of that though… it looks like Jo’s realizing that despite the political differences in the family, she’s among friends. We have our differences in the fam on various issues, but hopefully she’s seeing that we can disagree on politics without being too disagreeable.

So, met up with the fam, ate, had some fun conversation… Tomorrow get my badge and wait in lines for small release and independent movies… should be a good time. And with one movie on militarism and another on a key liberal media figure, fun political discussions are sure to ensue. (As long as we can all get in.)

I wonder if I’ll manage to devil’s advocate my way into alienating the folks in the family I normally agree with on political issues… be fun to see.

Cibo Matto | Spoon

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extended family

Just got back from a visit with my… quarta abuela (for lack of a better way to put it). We’re not really family at all, but she’s adopted me as another son or grandson. She’s visiting her daughter and grandchildren (she flies up every few months if she can), and insisted that I come by the house before she flies back home on Saturday.

I know the family pretty well. When I visit I tend to get the kids all wound up to the point that they get in trouble for not calming down and going to bed at a decent time. (They’re young kids and very excitable. I actually wish we could play more without getting in trouble.) I’ve known Efraín, the dad, pretty well for a while now, supporting each other in our church responsibilities. He used to work closely with the missionaries, now he’s a counselor in the branch presidency. I’m president of our priesthood quorum, so we still see each other a decent bit. Sharon, Efraín’s wife leads the Relief Society now, so we’ve gotten to know one another by working together more recently (and last summer she got in this habit of introducing me to every single woman she could find, which was funny, if a bit awkward).

Sharon’s mom (the aforementioned “quarta abuela”) is just one of those great older latin women who loves everybody and wants to know why you don’t come by the house more often. (And if you’re single, like some of us, she talks about how she’s gonna find you a good husband or wife.)

To that end (the coming by the house one), she worked on me a good bit tonight to get me to go visit she and her husband back home in Costa Rica. She’s told me more times than I can count how great it is there and how much I’ll love it. (Judging by her description, the only thing I can think of that might be better is an afternoon at the beach just west of Golden Gate Park, but that’s cuz I get my nature and city fixes all at once, and there’s a great restaurant just a block or two away.) So I need to make some time to go in the next year or two, balancing that with trips to visit relatives… and Heather’s gonna kill me if I don’t make it back to SF one of these days (or at least that’s my current excuse).

Unfortunately, I lost the thread I was tracing here. I’m sure it had something to do with the great part of latin culture that leads everyone to invite people over all the time. Certainly makes me feel appreciated. (Especially those “hey… why haven’t you come over to our house in a while? You come to our house tonight!” moments.)

I still don’t think I’ve got across the flavor of things. There’s just something cool about people telling you how great their country is and how much they think you should visit. (And Costa Ricans have a special talent for it.) It’s even better when you can tell that they’re inviting you because they care about you and want to bring you into their lives that way. (Better still when you feel that same caring for them, and understand what they’re really saying when they invite you over.)

Explaining some of the church culture and jargon

Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) don’t have a paid clergy. Within the church, men and women serve voluntarily, men serving in various offices of the priesthood (all worthy men are priests of one kind or another), women serving in the Relief Society, a women’s service organization. Both organizations are essential to the service work that we do within our congregations and in our communities.

Congregations are called wards or branches, large congregations are generally called wards, smaller ones branches. A branch is led by a branch presidency, consisting of three brothers who hold the primary responsibility of serving the needs of the branch, specifically, leading the Sunday meetings, coordinating with the priesthood and Relief Society to serve the members of the ward, supporting the missionary effort, and attending to the spiritual and ecclesiastical needs of the branch’s members.

The priesthood and Relief Society serve the members of a congregation by organizing visits to each family’s home at least once a month, to see how everyone’s doing, offer help and support with any difficulties the family may be experiencing, encourage family spirituality, and share a brief spiritual message each month. Ideally, it’s an opportunity to become friends with those you visit and invest yourself in their welfare.

Terry Pratchett | Mort

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