Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Archive for July 2013

Test-Driven Goals

leave a comment »

At one point, I was asked to give a talk about goals.  I don’t set personal goals very often, and until this blog, hadn’t deliberately followed through on many, so it took me a bit to find something to honestly say.  That’s when I realized that unit tests, like the ones I had been writing for both personal and work projects, are themselves a kind of goal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by eswald

30 Jul 2013 at 10:26 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Technology

Painting Habits

leave a comment »

I’ve posted nearly every Tuesday for more than two years now.  At this point, it feels like a habit.  I may not be a better writer, and I certainly haven’t followed through with certain grand plans, but weekly writing is now a part of my life.

With that in mind, I recently decided to draw or paint something at least once a week.  Perhaps I got caught up by a certain artist’s fandom.  Perhaps I thought it would be relaxing.  Perhaps a certain scene is still trying to work its way out of my head.  At any rate, I told my spouse, and the kids overheard, so now it’s happening.

The first week didn’t go so well.  Along with the art kit, I pulled out the watercolor paper with my last set of paintings.  They were worse than I remembered.  My new experiments with watercolor pencils weren’t much better, even when I tried to use the oval trick described by every “how to draw” page I’ve ever seen.  At least my four-year-old was able to recognize a horse.

With that in mind, the second week was a struggle to even start.  Fortunately, there was a convenient chunk of time wherein I needed to entertain exactly one child.  Even more fortunately, the snake book on our table offered an idea.

It turns out that snakes are hard to draw, particularly when working from a close-up of one with very little patterning.  After perhaps a third of the little red scales, my hand started to cramp, so I opened a new book and started work on the first appealing thing I saw.  That turned out to be a tucuxi, a type of dolphin found in the Amazon River basin.

Written by eswald

23 Jul 2013 at 7:03 pm

Fat Chat

leave a comment »

I’m not particularly obsessed with my health or appearance.  There are plenty of things I could be doing better; then again, there are plenty of ways I could be worse.  As you might guess about a programmer, I’m largely sedentary; I choose to commute by bicycle in large part to ensure that I stay active.  I eat fresh fruits and vegetables because I enjoy them, pace out sugars and fats to avoid immediate bodily consequences, and pack protein for lunch to ensure that I can get home without shaking.

For my spouse, such issues aren’t exactly an obsession, but a frequent source of irritation.  This week’s rant was triggered by Boy Scouts of America, who are refusing Jamboree admittance to individuals based on their Body Mass Index.  BMI isn’t particularly accurate at measuring obesity, nor is obesity particularly great at determining fitness.  Even if it correlates strongly with heart disease and similar health problems, that doesn’t mean that any particular person will be unable to hike three miles uphill in an afternoon after walking around all morning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by eswald

16 Jul 2013 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Cycling, Food, Lifestyle, Spouse

Run-on Words

leave a comment »

I’m not alone in my annoyance at seeing “a lot” joined into a single word.  I’m starting to suspect that those who speak more than they read are doomed to repeat that mistake until they’ve been individually criticized at least once for it.  In fact, it happens so often that notable English usage books speculate that the single-word form may eventually become acceptable, as “awhile” and “another” have.  Until then, it will still cause my estimation of a writer’s intelligence to plummet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by eswald

9 Jul 2013 at 9:43 pm

Posted in Lifestyle

Grand Canyon Watchtower

leave a comment »

For certain parts of the world, the Grand Canyon embodies America.  Natural, rugged, and huge.  I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few times, but had somehow overlooked the Desert View Watchtower until this month.  Granted, my previous visit was interrupted by snow, but I’m still surprised how much there is to learn about pretty much everything.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by eswald

2 Jul 2013 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Lifestyle