When learning a new programming language, it's a minor convention that the first thing you learn is how to output the phrase, "Hello, World!" Then you proceed to learning a new syntax, new methods, properties and idiosyncrasies of the language. After all that, a few migraines, copious amounts of coffee, and cursing the computer and its children through seven generations, finally you may know enough to put something together that's useful to yourself, and, if you're good, maybe a few others.
Fortunately, I've got a head start of over three and a half decades in learning the language that I'll be using in this blog. However, I do want to reach a bit outside my usual writing comfort zone (which exists somewhere between bad high school poetry and technical manuals) in order to bring to you some of the content I want to. What type of content is that? I'm glad you asked:
LEARNING ABOUT TECHNOLOGY
Ever want to know what goes into making a theme park ride? Me too! I work for a company that designs, assembles and installs control systems for themed attractions - primarily for Universal Studios these days, but for other clients as well. I fancy myself a controls engineer, but while my skills and knowledge have increased quite a bit in the few years I've been doing this, the fact is I've still a ways to go. For now, I'm just an Engineering Associate - though a talented and handsome one - who needs to bone up on various subjects. This is where you come in.
Let me explain: I find that there's only a couple good ways to learn things. One is by doing. Want to learn to program? Write one. Want to learn to about wood-craft? Build a swing-set (more on that escapade in future posts). The other way to learn is through teaching. That, it turns out, is going to be one of the main purposes of this blog. I'm going to be learning about things that I feel are important for me to know and then turning around and trying to explain them as best I can. My goal is to do so in a way that keeps things simple and interesting.
As an example, I'll be posting in the near future about signal reflections in transmission cables. Sound a bit esoteric? It's actually pretty interesting stuff and has some everyday applications I'll talk about.
I also hope that part of this process will be interactive, where anyone can call me on something I've gotten wrong, or ask questions about something I haven't covered adequately.
I tend to think big. When I was young, I had an ambition to cut up my Dad's old Chevy Vega and turn it into a Transformer. Besides the fact that it would have been the lamest Transformer ever, I didn't have the skills or tools to pull it off. Now that I'm older, well, I still don't, but at some point I decided to not let that stop me from creating the things I want to. Tools I can buy, now that my allowance is a bit higher. Skills... well, what better way to get them than by diving in and making something (see above, re: Doing).
As it happens, I'm just gearing up for my second big project this year: Halloween. This is my Christmas. Seriously, I do nothing for that holiday, decoration-wise, but for Halloween I have given myself bigger and more ambitious assignments for each of the last few years, and this year I'll be detailing the process for you here.
I've got a lovely wife, Amber (who has a blog of her own), and I'm father to two wonderful little children, Atom and Trillian (who don't have their own blogs...yet). I may occasionally feel inspired to write about some aspect of parenting - or spousing, for that matter - the laughter, the tears, and how much time I've had to spend in the Naughty Chair.
I am an atheist, a fact which probably wasn't missed by anyone who spent more than a moment looking at this blog's banner. The Darwin Fish was a symbol thought up as a reaction to a prominent religious symbol, that then took on a life of its own. Why did I choose to co-opt it for my blog title? Mostly because I enjoy the word-play with my name, but also because my atheism is a part of my identity. That said, it's not my intention to write a series of screeds against religion here. But because this is "my party," I won't rule out posting a piece on some news nugget or other that strikes a nerve.
So, I've introduced myself and set my goals, written a slightly overlong introduction to the blog, and you're still reading this. That means you're either a member of my immediate family, or you've taken a little interest in what I'm doing here. In either case, I thank you and I look forward to putting out as good a blog as I can.