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Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.

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Doghouse Dilemma [Jun. 2nd, 2013|09:05 am]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

Dilemma: I’m building a Snoopy doghouse for photos at my daughter’s 1-year birthday party.

(1) Should I just build a facade, or make it a full-blown, functional doghouse?

(2) If I just make a facade, what should I put behind it so that we can make it appear as if midgets are sitting or sleeping on top of the doghouse?

(3) If I make a full doghouse, do I go for an authentic gable roof and thus still require an answer to (2), or modify the design so that there’s a flat portion of the roof for sitting and lying?

(4) What’s the optimum height of this thing for photos of midgets (and interior comfort for smallish to medium-sized beagles)?

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Gentlenews & Two Nagilas are moving! [Nov. 11th, 2012|02:25 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

I’ve moved my site to a new server, after almost a decade of using the same old dusty debian box. If you’re reading this and I host your sites, please contact me via subspace radio. At the end of November, the old server will bite the dust it has been collecting.

Does this mean I’ll start blogging again?

Do bears use toilets?

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DFW Bass Players (Who Aren’t Terrible): Read This [Apr. 17th, 2012|02:05 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

I play bass guitar for a band that plays out with some regularity. My wife is having our first child this summer, probably sometime in June. Though not mutually exclusive, these two interests have the potential to conflict.

If you play bass, are not terrible (at bass, at driving, at not being a jerk, at life… take that however you wish), live sort of near me, and would like to be an understudy, please contact me via whichever medium you wish. I’d like to work with one or two people to be sort of “on call” for our gigs in June in case I have to, you know, perform some fathering or husbandry.

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Computers Are Horrible And Should Never Be Used By Anybody [Mar. 2nd, 2012|04:56 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

Last night the display adapter on my four-year-old 24″ iMac started going nuts, so I shut it down hoping a cool-off would make all my problems go away.

This morning it was still doing the bananashits. It’s probably just trying to manifest all of my suppressed emotions about the pending Michael Bay Adult Non-Ninja Non-mutant Turds culture brouhaha. After two minutes of uptime I can’t even ssh to it anymore. So I’m backing it up via target disk mode with SuperDuper. It will probably take all day to finish that backup process. I’m amazed that it’s staying online even in target mode.

normal view... NORMAL VIEW... NNOORRMMAALL VVIIEEWW!!

Tomorrow I will ask the Apple store people to tell me how much it would cost to fix it. The support site is down right now, and I don’t want to schedule anything until I’m more certain of when my backup will complete anyway. If it’s effed in the ay, I’m probably going to give myself a peptic ulcer over whether to buy a new machine and if so which one.

I have a brand new 13″ MacBook Air that my new job bought for me. I’d like to think that’s all the portable computing I need. I have my wife’s three-year-old MacBook, good enough for fiddling around while I’m in the kitchen or something.

What I won’t have anymore if the iMac has met its demise is a main machine I can throw stupid tasks at in my office. Recording and editing audio and video, watching stupid TV shows and movies while I clean or rearrange my office or fold underwear, compiling code, whatever.

I have gotten used to having many square miles of screen real estate: 27″ Thunderbolt display I connect to the Air when I’m at my desk, the 24″ main display on my iMac, and a 30″ secondary display connected to the iMac. I’ve got a system for what goes where on what screen and I love it. Right now, more than 60% of that space is unusable. I only have the work machine’s piddly 27″ display to use. I can add the 13″ built into the Air if I want to temporarily rearrange and keep the Air opened rather than closed, but I don’t see an efficient use of such a small-by-contrast screen at the moment. I could barely fit a 24pt Comic Sans “First World Problems” banner on such a screen.Haters will continue to hate

Should I consider downsizing all of that? Maybe just get a Mac Mini and connect it to that 30″ display? It would give me more free desk space for workbenching. Or I could get a much smaller desk and have more room for music gear in the office, since I have a very fancy workbench in the garage that would get a lot of use if I could just motivate myself to clean the damn garage.

Or I could get a MacBook pro. It would make life slightly less complicated when I want to move my recording workspace somewhere else.

I think I want to get another iMac, but I also think that I don’t need it. It would be cheaper. Two giant displays on my desk is probably more than enough for work and play. I’d try to downsize to just one, but then I’d run into the problem of having to disconnect the Thunderbolt from the work machine when I need to use it for play.

I briefly considered just hooking up one of the 500 PCs I have for now, but I don’t wanna do that, and it would still leave me with an unsavory environment for recording and editing. All of my stuff is in GarageBand, Logic, iMovie, or Final Cut. I guess I could go Hackintosh, but that hasn’t sounded like fun for a few years now.

I could also just not replace it, and only use the Air for work and light play, dragging out an older machine for any creative stuff that requires something more dedicated. It would certainly save a ton of money. We do have a baby on the way. I hear babies like money. Stupid greedy babies.

Anyway, here’s a video. No awesome, accidental, Abramsian lens flares, sorry:

 

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Christopher Hitchens: A Confession [Dec. 17th, 2011|02:13 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

This started out as a comment on Joel’s quite respectful comic about the death of Christopher Hitchens. In case you weren’t aware, Christopher Hitchens has been a pseudo-idol of mine for the entirety of the Current Farris Era (a little over a decade, I would guess). I was in a rather foul mood yesterday, due in part to this (from my perspective) abrupt but not shocking end to the man. The following is my attempt to convey how important his writings and persona are to me, as well as an admission that my love for Hitch is as deeply rooted in my own intellectual laziness as his eternal sparkle was conversely the result of his uncanny cerebral superpowers.

Christopher Hitchens was (and will forever be), aside from a great hero of mine, a very convenient crutch in a world of intelligent, well-meaning, and otherwise pleasant cow-orkers who, upon learning of my atheism, seek to “debate” with me over how untenable such a worldview is. After it becomes apparent that neither side is more open to re-evaluating a truth than the other, I often drop a copy of a Hitch book, essay, or article on their desk (or in their inbox) with a quick note along the lines of “Hey, it was fun, but this should explain why I’m really not interested in continuing this conversation.” Most of the time they send me a rebuttal such as “I see. I understand how someone such as yourself would be attracted to such a poorly-reasoned argument as Hitchens’s, but the evidence clearly indicates that he bases his conclusions more on emotion than fact.”

I get a good chuckle at that, refrain from taking the bait, and go on caring a lot less about who approves of my “worldview” than most of those folks do. Hitch just makes it very easy to find an eloquent way to end such a discussion, which is much different than trying to win one. I know I didn’t change the other guy’s mind, and I most likely didn’t even make him think twice about his position, but I do feel better having not fallen into the trap of getting upset over it beyond my capacity to hold my own intellectual ground.

And most of them do exactly the same thing for themselves with the writings of William Lane Craig. At the risk of sounding snotty (and feel free to chastise me if I indeed do): (A) Which of those two men is more entertaining to read or listen to? And (B) which name is better known?

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Happiness & Comedy: Oil & Water? [Dec. 5th, 2011|01:53 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

The quest for wisdom & stoic joy can be detrimental to the quest for a career in comedy. The best comedy usually springs forth from discomfort or misery, and the more centered and peaceful one becomes, the less likely one is to even be irritated by the little things that serve as the genesis of humor. So it is very important to retain a small, realistic awareness of how painful life can be, even after you have reached nirvana and become so one with the universe that a stubbed toe is more likely to generate a 1200-word blog entry on the falsehoods inherent in our expression of emotion than a very loud “OHFUCKMEOHGODTHATHURTSLIKEFUCKINGBALLSCHRIST!”

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The Middle [Nov. 30th, 2011|04:40 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

I find myself so completely in the middle of most political issues that I cannot even relate to most of my online friends and family. The hate, thinly veiled in cynical humor, thrown from afar (or, worse, from around the corner) at the Occupiers by my so-called conservative friends is downright depressing. But, I have to admit, sometimes I can smell the urine, body odor, and patchouli through the LCD screen when I read and watch some of the Occupation activities, and the futility of their undefined goals start to seem completely divorced from the laws of physics and social reality.

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Oops [Sep. 28th, 2011|01:13 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

OK, that didn’t work out 100%, but it’s a start.

Why was my title all wonky? Why did I have to copy only the HTML text within the < body > tags? It seems to me that, unless there is a plugin for Scrivener that will take what I give it in Markdown, convert it to WordPress-friendly HTML, and post it directly to WordPress in an aesthetically pleasing manner, I will still have to manually cut out the doctype, < head >, and < body > crap. That ain’t me. I’m not a damn HTML coder, I’m just this guy who desperately wants to write stuff without thinking too much about how he’s doing that.

How much do you reckon Merlin Mann would charge me to come sit fully clothed on my office futon for a week and give me notes while I try to juggle my soul-sucking job and my quest to show people stuff that’s in my head in various formats?

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This Is The Title Of My Blog Post [Sep. 28th, 2011|01:06 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

This Is The Title Of My Blog Post

I’m going to post an entry on my blog. The temporal language might be confusing, since your reading this would seem to imply or require that this has already occurred. Don’t lose any sleep over it, since it doesn’t really matter.

Here I am again, writing about writing instead of just writing. I’m still stuck in a tool-rut. People who think they’re giving encouragement will say, “Hey, it doesn’t matter what tools you use, just do it.” And they’re right. But they can go straight to hell. I know myself, and I know that each time I try to get back in to the swing of this, the tools get in my way and I develop just enough dread over starting to write or finding where I last left off to justify procrastinating myself into oblivion.

So I’m going to try using some combination of no more than three writing tools. If there are plugins available, I’d like to get it down to one tool that I actually have to manipulate.

What I want to do is write in Scrivener, using Markdown syntax, and then hit a button (or short series of buttons) to review it and then publish it directly to WordPress. My google-fu is failing to find the special sauce required to do that, but it appears that I can add an extra step to compile in Scrivener from Markdown to HTML and then select-all, copy, and paste into WordPress. We’ll see how that goes.

(Pardon me while I try that.)

(It didn’t work. I must be missing some Markdown plugin for Scrivener.)

(I also need to learn the Markdown code for italics. Or do I mean emphasis? Man, I’m probably way off on both. I have a shitload of reading to do. Mostly about Scrivener, which I paid for, Markdown, which I think is free, and WordPress, which I have used for almost a damn decade and still get mad at frequently.)

This is getting pretty bad. Let’s recap the progress:

  • I have written some words.
  • I have not learned anything about the tools I have decided to try to use for continuing to write word.
  • I need a job that gives me more free time to read about these things enough to be productive with them.
  • I have some awesome links with my own commentary in the Research section of my Scrivener file about how to fix all the problems I’ve discovered so that I can just use Scrivener for blogging.
  • I think I’m still missing some magic to let me compile Markdown -> HTML from within Scrivener.
  • No, I’m not, it’s in the “Compile for” drop-down in Scrivener.
  • I need to figure out my file workflow. A new Scrivener file for each blog post, or separate Binder items in one big Blog file in Scrivener?
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Foundation [Aug. 18th, 2011|04:33 pm]
Sammy F. Ringwell, Jr.
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Originally published at The Gentle News. You can comment here or there.

My house, like many other houses in my plastic, suburban neighborhood, sits on a subtle hill of poorly-laid topsoil in such a way that overwatering my own lawn results in moistening the pavement of the back alley and reinforcing the moisture at the base of my neighbor’s house’s hill-bottom. Unfortunately, that neighbor doesn’t overwater, so the relationship isn’t exactly symbiotic. I don’t have a sophisticated irrigation system in my yards, so the health of my lawn and the integrity of my house’s foundation are only as good as my discipline at twisting nozzle handles and periodically relocating cheap sprinklers. It’s been hot as hell for many weeks, so finding the time to manually water my yard and slab has been futile and inconsistent.

A section of the ceiling in my garage has been slowly separating from the joists for a little over a year. It’s one of those things that I’ve told myself I would get around to fixing (or having fixed) when work is less demanding and finances are less demoralizing. This weekend, while my father and brother were in town just for the hell of it, most of that particular sheet of drywall fell right off the ceiling. Just for the hell of it. For a few minutes I thought, “Hey, this is great timing! I’ve got two of the most awesome dudes in the world here, and they would be glad to help me fix this.” However, it’s been hot as hell for weeks, and the thought of the three of us standing on various ladders and dubiously makeshift step-stools to patch the hole (never mind the cutting, prepping, and temporary garage door removal) quickly put the kibosh on asking them to actually do anything about it.

In other words, my house is old and busted, and I’m too lazy or busy (take your pick, I’m fine with either one) to do anygoddamnthing about it.

But I like this house quite a bit. I know that I could start now to take better care of it, and in less than a year things would be better, but there are no truly urgent problems motivating me to do so. The water heater is barely a year old, the air conditioning keeps inhabitants mostly comfortable, and the only things leaking are the ancient soaker hoses I use to at least attempt to keep the foundation from crumbling in the cracked, grassless earth.

The front lawn is watered, in part, each morning by a very convenient watering timer. I used to have a similar device in the backyard, but the last freeze this winter destroyed it and I have yet to shell out the cash for another. Also, the leaky hose in the back, again quite conveniently, keeps my sister’s dog’s water bowl full most of the time when one of us finds the motivation to at least pretend we’re watering the yard.

This afternoon, at the top of the sixth inning of today’s employment adventures, I decided to take a break. I poured myself a drink and walked out onto the triple-digit heat of the concrete jungle that is my back patio. Something inspired me to find a shaded spot for the sprinkler and open the nozzle as wide as possible. Immediately, the water pressure turned the big hole in the soaker hose next to the rose bush into a giant hole. Water arced halfway across my back yard, irrigating a nice chunk of my singed St. Augustine. Frustrated that my equipment was malfunctioning, but appreciative of the hydrating side-effect, I did what any sensible, adult homeowner would do in such a situation:

I ran straight into the geyser of water and soaked myself, jumping around in it for many minutes as if I were participating in some neopagan ritual thanking the municipal watergod for the opportunity to look and act like a complete buffoon behind the shield of my cedar privacy fence.

Summer. I like it, and you can’t take it away from me.

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