Thursday, February 26, 2004

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday has come and gone. At the homily of the mass I attended, the priest said "What a wonderful time Lent is. We get to ask ourselves, 'Do I really like being Catholic?'" I was struck by how profound that question was. I kept turning it over in my head. What would it be like to "not be a Catholic?" Different beliefs? Yes. Perhaps a different way to view death? Different holidays? Christmas as an utterly secular ritual?

The priest said that for nearly all of us, Catholicism is a gift, handed to us by our parents thanks to baptism. And it's a gift that we get to ponder most closely during Lent, the time in which we're asked to "turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel." I'm always glad for the Lenten season. It reminds me of this gift my parents gave me, and the season reminds me that I should use this gift.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Jonathan Camaya

One day long ago, when I was in high-school, I went over my friend Jonathan Camaya's house. He was almost done refinishing the kitchen cabinets. He was amazingly handy, and he had that craftsman's touch. One year, he built a gazebo in his back yard. I told him once "I'd like to get started with wood working someday." He said "Start with something simple. Make a box."

Jon's advice has been lodged in my head ever since.

How do you start anything new? You have to start small. I can imagine Jon making those small boxes, using wood lying around his basement. I can see him trying out different nails, trying different tools, making small boxes, then small benches, then small lattice work, until eventually he made a small gazebo that for all I know is probably still in parents' back yard.

For the past few months, I've been making lots of small boxes, in my attempt to learn Java, a computer technology that's missing from my resume. Java is very current. There's yards and yards of books about Java in the technical book stores. Where do you start? How do you start? "Start with something simple. Make a box."

With the help of some good books and some freely available tools, I've begun to explore Swing, XML, JDBC (using MySQL), Tomcat, Servlets, JSP, and SOAP. Can I make a gazebo yet? Probably not. But the boxes I'm making are getting bigger, and more intricate. I'm writing a lot of small to medium-sized programs, and learning how they work. I'm becoming more comfortable with the tools and the jargon. It's a good start.

"Start small. Make a box." Thanks, Jon.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Valentine's Day

I had a nice Valentine's weekend with my two favorite women (my wife and my daughter).

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Star Wars on DVD

I was amazed and thrilled to read the announcements that Star Wars will soon be on DVD (arriving by September 2004). I can imagine the news reports of people lining up at Tower Record or Suncoast Video, waiting to be the first to buy this set (it's a box set containing the entire first trilogy). I won't be one of those nuts, but the box set will be on my Christmas wish list, and I'll be opening it early.

(Star Wars was one of the great influences in my life. I have written about this before.)

Friday, February 6, 2004

Audi Woes

For the record, I'm driving my car again. I picked it up this morning, dropping off my rental at the dealership. The service manager said I needed my throttle body replaced, so I had them replace it. When he told me this late last week, the part had to be ordered, so I put in another five days in my rental. If this is the big repair for my car this year, I'll take it.

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Patriots Win Superbowl

New England 32. Carolina 29.

Possibly the best Superbowl that I have ever watched. A very worthy opponent (Carolina) showed up and fought a 7-point favorite (Patriots).

This game will be dissected every which way between now and rookie camp. For the record, the two-point plays were huge. Carolina blew one; Patriots made one. And in the end, Adam Vinatieri, the kicker for New England, was the difference after an authoritative final-minute drive by quarterback Tom Brady.