My Pocket-Sized Mobile Dream Office

For the last few years, I’ve had a dream of having a completely mobile office. I want to be able to spend my life bouncing from city to city, country to country, in the company of a special person, all while earning enough money for the next plane ticket, bed, and dinner. The way I plan to do this is programming. So far I’ve been able to travel while working a bit, and only time will tell how much more I can do it in the future. But, this post isn’t about traveling and working. It’s about the equipment used to do so.

The Problem

Me with my travel backpack

Would you want to add any extra weight to this thing?

Right now, I usually work-travel by bringing along my laptop and an external mouse. This works, but there are a few issues with it. First, I never have space in my bag to bring an external keyboard, like I have in my home office. This leaves me typing on my laptop’s keyboard, which is a pain. You have to hunch over it and lift your arms  into an uncomfortable position. After 8-10 hours of that, I end up in a fair amount of pain.

Second, my monitor size is quite limited, and directly related to the overall size of my laptop. I certainly cannot pack my external monitor in my travel bag. Even though ubuntu has a nice workspace switching feature, only having my single 17 inch laptop monitor adds a bit of stress the daily grind. I’d like to fix that.

Third, a laptop is fragile, bulky, and something people are likely to want to steal. If I were to mishandle my bag a bit and break my screen, my work-trip would be ruined. I’d have to buy a whole new computer, which I probably wouldn’t have funds for after airplane tickets and lodging. Even if it never breaks, it adds an awful lot of weight to my backpack, and takes up a fair amount of valuable space. I can assure you that, as an overweight and lazy computer programmer, adding 8lbs of laptop to my bag is a tolerated, but certainly not welcome addition. Lastly, although I’ve never had the issue, people consider laptops to be valuable, and a malintentioned individual would recognize my laptop instantly, and steal it just as fast. Perhaps we could trick people so that there wasn’t even a recognizeable computer in my bag.

Fourth, my laptop doesn’t fit in my pocket. I want an office that fits in both my pockets.

The Solution

Using some fancy new compact technologies, I think we could overcome all of these problems and build ourselves a perfect little office that fits nicely in my travel backpack (or pocket). Lets scrap the idea of bringing along a laptop and see what type of mobile office is possible these days.

The Computer

A 2 inch by 2 inch computer

This tiny CuBox is perfect for the pocket-office

The computer of choice for my backpack office is the CuBox. This little guy is a computer in a tiny (2 inch) box. Available for pre-order at $135, this computer seems like it makes the perfect base to my mobile dream office. Sure, its probably not powerful enough to run my IDE, doesn’t have much RAM, and probably couldn’t even store all of the code I would need. But, this guy should be powerful enough to run a remote desktop program. Instead of carrying around a fully capable computer, my new dream office will consist of this little guy as a shell to log into a powerful desktop sitting at home or maybe in some hosting company’s data center. Its incredibly small and light, and a potential theif would probably not be able to recognize it as a computer. If it did get stolen, it wouldn’t have all my data on it, and buying a new one at $135 would be much more budget friendly than purchasing a whole new laptop while on the road.

 

The Monitor

A Hand Sized Projector

This Projector might suit our monitor needs

Monitors are the sticking point in this dream. Initially, I had hoped that the smart people had already invented my ideal mobile monitor. I want a monitor that can be rolled up like a piece of paper. Imagine a 26×26 inch flat piece of paper which could be rolled up like a poster, and unrolled and taped to a wall when in use. I think these will be available in the future, and it looks like they’re already very close. But, I can’t wait around for that to be invented, and once it is I probably can’t afford it. So I decided I need to compromise here. My paper-like monitor compromise is a mini projector that fits in the palm of my hand. The good news is that these are already available on amazon for about $100. The cool thing about this is that it meets the “fits in my pocket” requirement, and should also allow for a pretty large screen projected onto any nearby wall. I don’t know about the resolution or anything, but that seems like a minor detail which we could deal with. The downside is I’d need a pretty dark place for this to be functional, but if I’m able to work from a greek island or a tropical beach, who cares if half the day I’m inside a dark room?

The Keyboard

A Flexible Keyboard Being Rolled Up

This flexible keyboard is durable and would fit in my pocket. They're large pockets.

Finding a keyboard that meets the “fits in my pocket” requirement seemed like it would be very difficult, but thanks to our friends over at ThinkGeek, I think I’ve done it. Check out this rollup keyboard which you can even go swimming with. Although you would require pretty big pockets to fit this in there, it’s certainly do-able. Traveling with this keyboard would be a non issue, and as it’s detached, I could put it anywhere I wanted for wonderful ergonomics. Also, pricing in at $20 its quite affordable.

In Conclusion

It looks like I could have my entire dream office for about $265. Of course this doesn’t include the actual computer that the cubox would connect to, but I assume most people looking for a mobile office already have one of those at home. I also left out the mouse, because I already have a suitable one, and I assume most others do too. A mouse is already travel-sized. The only thing stopping me from buying this mobile dream office today, other than the fact that I’m currently saving all extra dollars for traveling, is that the CuBox is not readily available. It looks like it can only be pre-ordered at this point, but these cheap tiny computers (RasberryPi) are becoming increasingly available, so I have no doubts the CuBox or something similar enough will be up for purchase in the next year. Another main drawback is internet connection speeds. Right now, I think remote login from europe to the USA would have enough latency to make this dream office less than ideal.

What do you think? Would this work? Is there a better way? Perhaps using my android phone instead of a cubox, if that would work? Not sure how I could connect my mouse and keyboard to it. Would the latency be unbearable? The projector too hard to work from? Can this dream come true before the end of summer?

CodeIgniter HTML Emails and =3D Preventing Styling

This is the ugly email I kept getting before i fixed the problem

I just spent a few hours trying to fix a problem where my styles were being broken in emails I sent via Code Igniter for PHP. Now i’m gonna spend another 15 minutes writing about it to hopefully help fellow googlers. Here’s my situation:

I am generating an html email in codeigniter by loading a view, returning the data by setting the third parameter to TRUE, and then setting that to the body of the email and then sending it with CI’s Email library. This all worked fine except that none of my styles were being applied when I viewed the email in gmail. I looked at the source and noticed that everywhere i had class=”someClass” in my HTML, it was being replaced with class=3D”someClass”. That’s weird, I thought. In my eternal knowledge I immediately thought, these 3D things are fucking up my email. To confirm this, I copied the email source, saved it as an html document, and then viewed it in a browser. Yup, the styles were jacked up because of those 3Ds. I removed them and then my html looked like I wanted.

The next step was to figure out how to get rid of these blasted 3Ds which were messing up my beloved styles. I googled a bunch and found lots of people with the same problem. Everyone recommended modifying the CI Email config file in different ways as well as an assortment of other things. I tried these things for hours. It felt like years. Nothing was changing. Finally I stumbled upon this article about style support in email clients.

Ahhh, Finally my Unit Test Errors in a more readable form.

Could it be? I quickly opened up a few nicely styled emails I regularly receive and looked at their source. Yup, all of the styles were inline. I was wrong. Completely, terribly, ignorantly wrong. If you googled for this article you probably are too. My problem had nothing to do with these 3Ds and other weird characters which were being inserted into the emails. My problem was just that I was using classes and an in-document style sheet which was not supported by gmail. I moved all my styles to the style tag on the elements, sent an email, and it looked just how I wanted it.

The lame thing is that I knew this. I researched style support in emails like 18 months ago when i was tasked with sending nicely styled emails. I had just forgotten that even in mid summer of 2011, a technology company like google who is pushing for quick adoption of html 5 doesn’t support style sheets in their html emails. Lame. Anyways, hope this helps you.

 

Prop 19: Its not about the college kids getting their weed.

Today is Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010. Today California has been given the opportunity to vote on the legalization of Marijuana. Today, I voted to end Marijuana prohibition in California. I hope you did too, and this is why:

Contrary to popular belief, the issues of marijuana legalization and drug policy in general have deep roots which influence a multitude of societal factors. The question of legalizing marijuana is not, as many people seem to view it, simply a question of “Should we let the college kids get stoned in order to raise some tax dollars?” In the hopes that I’m not shattering your world view, I must bring light to the alarming fact that the college kids are already getting stoned. Additionally, aside from the students who have lost their financial aid, the kids in college are hardly being punished for their officially immoral acts. No, the college kids are not the issue here.

Neither are the working professionals, male and female, who earn moderately high wages, participate in all the expected mainstream social institutions, and smoke weed on the weekends.

The prop 19 vote is not just about whether or not these people should be considered criminals, whether or not these people deserve to lose their jobs, or whether or not these people should be accepted by society at large.

No, prop 19 is about much more than that. The opportunity to vote on prop 19 is the opportunity of the people of California to express their disapproval with the way our country is handling its drug problem. It is a chance for the people of California to say “We understand that the harm coming from the war on drugs is exponentially more damaging than the harm coming from the drugs themselves. In no case is this more clear than in the case of Marijuana, and we are not okay with public policies which debase freedom, unjustly lock-up minorities, and fill our streets with violence.”

It is imperative that citizens recognize that prohibition is a serious issue which extends far beyond tax revenue and young white stoned adults living in the suburbs and driving their parents SUV’s. It is so important because drug policy dramatically influences almost every issue that politically concerned citizens ought to be concerned with.  In fact, a bit of research into the area of drug policy will reveal that drug policy is a human rights issue, a public health issue, a class warfare issue, a minority rights issue, a states rights issue, a gang violence issue, a prison-industrial complex issue, a civil liberties issue, a corruption issue, and an economic issue.

I know, thats a long list, and it might seem like Marijuana is not linked to most of these things. But, Marijuana, and the drug war in general, is actually a huge influence on all of the aforementioned issues. If you happen to be concerned with any or all of those issues, I would recommend doing some research on drug policy to realize how big of a role it plays in our society. In my opinion drug policy is the single biggest political issue (save possibly the wealth distribution ratio) facing us today. Just so this post doesn’t seem entirely mute, i’ll briefly discuss some of the ways the war on drugs is tied to the plethora of serious issues mentioned above, but a full understanding will, unfortunately require more words than I can write tonight.

Here it goes:

Human Rights – Currently, people in border cities all along the US Mexican border, especially in places like cuidad juarez, are afraid to leave their homes as a direct result of the actions of the people and governments of the United States. The people create an insatiable demand for drugs which their government has not been able to curb by any means, and their government refuses to allow any method of filling this demand through legal means. The result is a violent black market which erupts into warfare just 20 minutes from my home town. The warfare which goes on at our border produces more deaths annually than our publicly despised Iraq war, and creates a climate where innocent kids and well intentioned families are too afraid to leave their homes. That is a human rights violation and that is directly due to the United States’ war on drugs, of which marijuana makes up a large part.

Public Health – Drugs are, almost by definition, a public health concern. Many drugs cause all sorts of damage when they are abused. What is interesting is that if drugs were regulated, we could ensure that the people who use them do not suffer from the added affects of drugs which are impure, laced, or sold as things they really are not. With Marijuana, many people argue that THC in weed “now-a-days” is so much stronger that it is dangerous now, even though it didn’t used to be dangerous. In reality, THC is about as safe as milk, and higher THC levels mean less carcinogens required for a given affect, so the point is mute. But, if you’re swayed by the “Super Weed” argument, you should realize that regulation, not prohibition, can control THC levels.

Class Warfare – Arresting people on drug violations ends up putting lots of poor people into the criminal justice system. Poor people are arrested disproportionately for drug possession and use. The rich can do it without punishment, but the poor cannot.

Minority Rights – This is the same issue as mentioned above. In Los Angeles, just to throw out a quick example, Black people account for 11% of the population, yet they account for 49% of Marijuana possession arrests. Blacks do not use disproportionately more marijuana. This is a clear instance of institutional racism.

States Rights – The United States Government considers marijuana a Schedule I drug. That means it is more dangerous and addictive and less medically beneficial than cocaine or crystal meth according to them. This shows any person who possess any degree of common sense that the Federal Government is off their rocker. What sucks is that the feds deny states the ability to decide the issue of marijuana legalization themselves. If you are in favor of leaving these decisions with the state, where the constitution says they should be made, you should have a big problem with federal drug policy.

Gang Violence – Common sense dictates that gangs make money in only a few different ways, namely selling drugs, selling guns, and controlling prostitutes. Although I don’t know exactly how much money comes from Marijuana, I can assume it must be a fair amount. The other drugs must supply the gangs with lots of money too. The drug trade gives money to criminals and leaves their disputes to be settled by guns on our streets – just like Al Capone did during prohibition.

Prison-industrial Complex – There are certain people who benefit by having lots of people in jail. It is called the prison-industrial complex, and consists of everyone who runs the business of housing criminals. They have been making increasingly more money over the last few years as prison populations grow. Making Marijuana legal will stop us from spending so much money housing people who otherwise would not be criminals.

Civil Liberties – This one is a no brainer. Civil Liberties and the general notion of freedom dictates that people should be in charge of what they do to their bodies so long as that something does not directly harm others. This is an important issue. Its not up to the government to tell you what to eat, it shouldn’t be up to them to tell you what to smoke either.

Corruption – Anytime you prohibit something that has no victims, you end up creating a system where the only people with a stake in stopping that crime are the police. With murderers, the general public has a stake in stopping, finding, and arresting them. With stoners, the general public has no stake in stopping them so the police are put in a situation where the public is not cooperative in finding the perpetrator. This, combined with a lucrative market, inevitably leads to corruption among police, judges, and lawyers. For more information on this check out Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and  former Police Chief Norm Stamper.

Economic – The economic issues are pretty obvious. Taxing marijuana generates revenue. Putting people through the criminal justice system drains revenue.

As you can see there is a whole lot to this issue. It really does turn out to be a matter of life and death. It is more than a matter of letting hippies and college kids do what makes them happy, although that is important too.

Netbeans 6.9 Custom Syntax Highlighting

A quick search to try to figure out how to set the syntax highlighting for custom and obscure file types in netbeans 6.9 turned up nothing. Most things I found told me to go to Tools > Options > Advanced Settings and then set it up in there. Well, in my version of netbeans there is no “Advanced Settings,” so I had to figure it out on my own, and this is how I set syntax highlighting for custom file types:

This is where you can declare custom file types.

  1. Go to Tools > Options and an Options panel should pop up.
  2. Click on Miscellaneous
  3. Click on the files tab
  4. Here you will see a list of extensions and their associated file type.
  5. Click on the “New” Button
  6. Enter the name of your new extension
  7. Choose the correct File Type
  8. All Done!

What this means is that you can now teach netbeans to display .inc files as .php files. You can highlight plain text as html, you can highlight objective-j files as either javascript or c++, or view any other file as any other type. The possibilities are endless.

Granted, this process is pretty obvious once you figure out exactly where in Netbeans’ giant menu you need to look to accomplish this task. Hope this saved some of you some time. Cheers!

A jQuery Debugging Plugin

Quite some time ago now, I finished my first ever jQuery plugin that could potentially be used by other people. It was this little jQuery debugger plugin and now I am happy to announce that I’ve created a mini site for it and I will soon release it to the official database of jQuery plugins.

For almost a year, my jquery debugging plugin has been on my computer, and I’ve been using it to display variable values with jquery for quite some time now. Although I thought it is useful, I was hoping to improve the code a bit before releasing it. I haven’t had a chance to improve the code just yet, but I released it anyways, with the hope that it will help someone out there in the world. Here’s a bit of info about it:

Basically, all this plugin does is display the value or a variable using jQuery. It is a method which accepts a variable as its first parameter, and then it does its best to display that variables value, as well as loop through all the properties of a variable, and display those values as well. It isn’t perfect, but I do find it helpful. I would keep trying to explain how this can help you debug javascript with jQuery, but I think its better just to view some examples. So, head on over to my jquery debugging plugin demo and test it out for yourself.

Until next time, Happy Coding! Oh yeah, and leave comments if you have any!

Some data on the distribution of wealth


SDSU Should Vote Against The Modern Space Referendum

For those who aren’t aware, SDSU students are being asked to vote yes on a referendum to increase our fees by $94 per semester in order to fund a new “Modern Space Student Union.” I just heard of this recently and checked out the website to see what it’s all about.

When I first looked at the website, I found a laundry list of why this is beneficial and necessary. I also saw lots of fancy pictures and, like a good consumer, became excited about the prospect of SDSU having this new state of the art building. I thought I should vote yes on this referendum so that future SDSU students could enjoy this new space which looks quite comfortable, and has the added benefit of being an environmentally friendly building. After I sobered up from the “chance to buy something fancy” consumerist stupor induced by the modern space website, I decided that voting yes on this is a bad idea. Here’s why:

The new student union will cost an awful lot of money, and I think that, while the new building would be nice, it is not the best way to spend such a large sum of money.

One of the first things I wanted to know is exactly how much this will cost. Sure, its $94 per student per semester, but what is the total cost of the project? I couldn’t find this information anywhere, so I had to calculate it myself. I found that SDSU has approximately 30,000 students who will be paying $188 per year for 30 years. That means the project will cost us $5,640,000 per year, for a total cost of $169,200,000. Wow, I thought. Voting for this means voting to extract 169 million dollars from the SDSU student body. After coming up with this large number, I thought to myself, “If I could spend 196 million dollars to benefit SDSU, how would I do it?” Many things came to mind, and in the end, tearing down our existing aztec center and building a new one fell to the back of this list. Here are some ways to spend this much money which are, in my opinion, more beneficial than the new modern space student union:

Decrease Book Costs

With this amount of money, over 5 million dollars per year, SDSU could easily buy many copies of every book used in every class and allow us to check them out from the library. Sure, we’ve got the reserve books, but in practice there are so few copies available that you have to head to the library at 2 a.m. and is isn’t feasible to get through a class without buying the book. Also, reserve books must stay in the library. If I had this much money to spend, I would devise a system where textbooks can be checked out for special 2 day periods and where there are enough on hand to meet student demand. This way, we would never have to buy another overpriced book, and I bet we could create such a program at a far smaller expense than the new student center.

Increase Study Abroad Programs

The associated students have previously decided to increase study abroad funds. This is great in my opinion, but studying abroad still set me back several thousand dollars. Rather than build this new center, I would like to see SDSU take the same funds and make a program where students get the opportunity to study abroad with all expenses paid. Studying abroad, in my experience, creates a bigger and longer lasting impression on a student than any other potential educational experience. America has a big problem of not being able to see beyond our 50 states and I think that increasing our study abroad program would be far more beneficial than a new student center. Would you rather sit in a comfy chair studying in a state of the art building, or fly to Italy and study on the shores of the Mediterranean?

Increase Merit Based Scholarships

Most of the students I know, who are not getting a free ride from their well-off parents, are working their asses off to pay for tuition, books, and living expenses each semester. I wonder if all of these hard working students would rather see this tax go into a fancy new building, or have the funds be awarded to the students who work hard and demonstrate academic success. Its unfortunate that students have to come up with so much money to buy their education in our society. The least we could do with a flat tax of $188 per year is redistribute it to those students who show they really want to be here succeeding in school.

Reduce Class Sizes

I know that on the web site for this referendum it says we cannot control the tuition which is mandated by the state and how that tuition is spent. This being so, if we were to self impose a 5 million dollar fee increase, I don’t see why we couldn’t allocate it to hiring more teachers and reducing class size, thereby ensuring that we get a decent education where we are able to have some one-on-one contact with professors.

Now is Not the Time

At the end of the day, I do not think this new student union is the best possible allocation of funds. I think there are numerous things we could do with our money which would benefit students substantially more than a fancy new student union. Just last week me and many other students walked out of class in protest because student fees are raising while our educational experience is degrading. This substantial increase in fees would make our educational experience suck for the next two years, and then it would make it only slightly better once the building is complete. Already, due to state mandates, lower class america is being priced out of an education. Do you think that the highschool student who spoke out last week about her struggle to get accepted into and pay for college would rather fork over an extra hundred bucks each semester for a fancy building, or would she rather be able to afford an education while settling for a less than optimal building? In my opinion, this fancy new building would be nice, but it is irresponsible in our current climate of raising fees and lowering education quality. This is why I say vote no on the Modern Space Student Union Referendum.

Need Inspiration? 10 Most Inspiring Youtube Videos

Everyone can use a little inspiration from time to time. Unfortunately, most of the lists of inspirational videos are full of cheesy garbage like Steve Jobs rambling about how he dropped out of college for 15 minutes. This list is different. I’ve scoured the internet like Sherlock Holmes on crack just to bring these to you. Check out these ten videos deemed most inspirational by none other than yours truly:

10. Monsters Get Slain By Ghost Mice

So, this is one of my favorite bands presenting a great story through the magic of song. If you can get past the singers voice, this one can really make you feel good. Read the lyrics as you listen.

9. Imagine – John Lennon

So I know this is old news to everyone, but honestly, the list would not be complete without it. Its a neat video too.

8. Playing Guitar With Feet

I’ve actually seen this guy at the OB Street Fair a few years ago. He plays guitar with his feet because he has no arms. If you’re a San Diegan you might have seen him too. He used to perform often at Balboa Park. Anyways, hes better than most people who have hand. This guy and this video are truly awesome.

7. Radical Honesty

Okay, so maybe inspirational is the wrong word for this one, but this guy is really one of the weirdest and for some reason most awesome people ever. Check out Brad Blanton as he presents his radical honesty philosophy:

6. Always Look on the Bright Side

Alright folks, now we’re really getting into the inspiration department. If this video doesn’t cheer you up, you might not have a soul. Check out the Monty Python crew doing their thing.

5. Always Wear Sunscreen

This one is truly a gem. The best advice ever given is set to some great music. It will make you smile, I promise.

4. Free Hugs

I know this one has gotten around quite a lot. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really ought to. 3 minutes and 39 seconds of hope for humanity.

3. Where the Hell is Matt?

I was shown this video at SDSU before leaving to study abroad. It’s powerful, fun, and of course inspiring. You’ll be wanting to do Matt’s quirky little dance all over the planet in no time.

2. We are the World

So, it was fun to make fun of the king of pop back when he was accused of being a rapist. Now he’s gone though. Fortunately he left us this gem of inspiration which will make your arm hairs stand up. Featuring the king, the boss, bob dylan, and so many more famous people. Try to name them all.

and… finally… the winner of the rice, the taker of the cake is…

1. I Dreamed a Dream – Susan Boyle

You probably saw this coming. What can I say? This girl is an inspiration to the world. She dreamed her dream and showed the world that dreams can really come true. She was the underdog, she was laughed at, shes never been kissed, she lives alone with her cat (pebbles), and she beat the odds and put the cynics in their places. Much love to Susan Boyle, who inspired me to make this list.

Thanks for checking out this list. Now go dream some dreams and make them come true. Then, pass this list on to your friends and digg it. Lets get inspired!

Here are the runners up. They’re great but didn’t make the cut. And the last one, well I just like it. Here is a Peace Corps video, an awesome love song, and a song about wine:

FBI Agent rallies for the drug war in San Diego Paper

Drug WarriorsThis is a quick post in hopes that some fellow San Diegans will help me send a message to the San Diego Union Tribune. Today they published an article by a San Diego FBI Agent which seems to be rallying folks for the drug war. Obviously there is nothing wrong with publishing any opinions in the paper, but when they publish pro-drug war stances I hope that San Diegan’s can rally back and tell them that the War on Drugs is not the answer.

Also, something about government officials being directly published in the paper seems wrong to me. The media is supposed to keep government in check, not give them an additional voice, but thats a separate issue.

So, I would love it if anyone who agrees that the war on drugs is the wrong solution would please write a letter to the editor and tell them so.

The article they published can be read here.

If you write (please do), send an email to letters@uniontrib.com and include your name, address, and phone number. Below is the letter I sent. Use it as an example if you like. Keep letters short to increase your shot at getting published.

Thats all I have for today. Enjoy the game and Go Chargers!

I am deeply concerned with FBI agent Keith Slotter calling for the “Next big push on drugs.” What exactly does he have in mind? He accurately notes that high school drug use is declining and that the key to this issue is reducing demand. He fails to mention that tobacco use across the nation is also declining, and that we accomplished this without contributing to the 15,000 people that have been killed in Mexico since 2006 in drug war related violence.

The blood of those being killed just miles away from San Diego is on our hands. This problem will not be solved by stepping up the war on drugs. Instead, lets approach the issue like we approach tobacco, with a system of regulation and education. We can solve our drug problem without killing thousands and incarcerating millions.

Andrew P. Groff
Address
Phone #

I Lurnd What’s Important

Today I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting. I’ve been thinking about what is going on in Haiti right now and also about what is important in my own life. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a few words about Haiti and then to share some information about myself, which I’ve been writing in preparation for an online resume and portfolio I’ve been working on. No sardonic attempts at satire today, my friends. Just a few sincere words and then a personal bio to let everyone know more about my life, my interests, and my dreams.

What is happening now in Haiti is hard to bear and impossible to understand. I can’t help but consider the philosophical problem of evil and wonder why these types of things happen. An estimate is putting casualties in the tens of thousands. That’s three times the tragedy of 9/11 and we can’t even blame the terrorists. This tragedy has got me thinking about many things, like why people can cry during the notebook and simply change the channel during this earthquake. I cannot help but try to imagine myself in the position of the thousands of real human beings who lost their wives and kids and parents in the last 48 hours. I wonder how it would feel to walk down the street you grew up on and see your neighbour’s bodies covered by blankets. In the end, I keep being led back to the question of “Why?” What reason is there for so much pain and suffering?

Of course, I know that asking why is useless. There is no reason and their doesn’t need to be. Nonetheless, its a hard thought to deal with. If anything good can come of this situation, perhaps it can help give those of us who are unaffected a different perspective on life. Perhaps it can help people like myself be grateful for the things we have and the things we take for granted; such as family, food, a decent house, and access to healthcare (even if it is a bit too expensive). When you see a child being pulled out of a pile of rubble, all of a sudden unemployment, taxes, and all the other garbage Glenn Beck rants about seems pretty insignificant.

A shot from Haiti (Reuters)

Although it is certainly important to try to improve our country, recent happenings in Haiti have served as a reminder to me that in the grand scheme of things, we really haven’t got much room to complain. That being said, I want to encourage everyone to keep Haiti in your thoughts and to hope for the best. I think this is a good opportunity for everyone open their eyes, look around, and realize all we have to be grateful for. Having food, friends, a cozy place to sleep, and all of your limbs is really quite the little blessing. Pray if you do that, help if you can. Thats really all I can say for now about Haiti.

The rest of this post is about me, so stop reading now if you’re not interested.

During the last two days, I’ve been working on an interactive, online portfolio and job resume, in hopes of getting hired soon. That online resume is not ready yet, and I’ll certainly post about it when it is. But, I did finish writing the “about me” section and that is what I would like to share today. I realize that some people read this blog who don’t know me particularly well, and that my attempts at satire, dry humor, and the generally sardonic tone I take on can sometimes be misconstrued as my honest opinion – which is almost never presented here.

So, for anyone who cares, here are some sincere words about what I think is valuable in life, what my dreams are, and what I am passionate about. Enjoy, and feel free to comment or email me if ever you have any questions. Here it is, straight out of the “about me” section of my newest work:

the important stuff:

A nice canal in Brugge, Belgium

A nice canal in Brugge, Belgium

I’m not a fan of representing people with numbers, titles, locations, occupations, and statistics. Here’s some of the more important info about me:

I’m passionate about traveling, writing, music, programming, meeting new people, learning, and sharing good times with great friends. I love coffee and exotic foods. I like philosophy and reading books which can alter a persons perspective of life. On a sunny day I like to ride my unicycle or relax in the park with a glass of wine. There are two truly defining moments in my life where I learned how lucky we all are to be alive and what kind of things are important in life.

First, there was the road trip I took with my friends to Tennessee. We drove for 12 to 16 hours a day, spending short yet fun nights in hotels accross the country, until we finally arived at Bonnaroo — our destination. There we spent four days hanging out, meeting people, and watching the best musicians in the country perform live. After an exhausting stay, we packed up and headed home. This was an amazing experience. It helped me open my eyes to the size of the world and showed me the importance of having some of the best friends a person could ever hope for.

Eating olives in Almeria, Spain.

The second experience that changed my life and helped turn me into who I am today was when I studied abroad in the spring of 2009. I got to spend 5 months living in a small city in the Netherlands called Maastricht. This opened my eyes more than I ever could have imagined. Experiencing the world from outside of the American perspective shaped me dramatically and will forever reserve a special place in my heart. During my stay I travelled through Spain and Italy and visited Germany, Belgium, and of course the Netherlands. I lived in an amazing student house with students from all over Europe and the rest of the world. I learned things you cannot read in a book. Studying abroad taught me what it means to be alive and it is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

my dreams:

On a boat in Brugge with Özüm.

Living without dreams is like watching a movie with your eyes closed. Here is what I want to do in the future:

First, I’m planning to graduate from college. This isn’t terribly ambitious, but it is important. After college I dream that I will be able to either work for myself as a freelance web developer or that I will establish a trusted relationship with a great company that will allow me to telecommute rather than coming in to an office every day.

Once I have a steady income without being tied down to a physical location, I want to see the world. I want to travel on a budget through South America and Europe. Eventually I want to have my own company and make enough money that I don’t have to worry about anything. I want to buy a sailboat, learn to sail, and cross the atlantic. I want to buy my own house with lots of beautiful land — maybe in Spain or Italy. I want to have cherry trees and grape fields. I want to fall in love, settle down, and start a wonderful family in a beautiful country. I want to make my own art, to write songs and books and learn to paint. I want to learn lots of laungauges and meet people from countries I’ve never heard of. I want to do all these things and so much more…

Well, that’s all there is. Thanks for reading and best wishes to Haiti.

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