Category: Life

Leaving the Sun

After almost four years working at the Baltimore Sun, I am moving on to new things. I will be starting on May 10 as a Web Developer at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Four years. It seems like an unbelievably long time to me and yet it’s passed so quickly that I can’t reconcile the two thoughts. Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or twelve about design and programming. I think it’s a fare statement that if you can’t look back at most of what you were doing five years ago and laugh at how bad it was, you’re probably not progressing. Let’s just say that my design and code archives are good for a few chuckles. I wouldn’t know half of what I do today if it weren’t for all of the great people I worked with at the Sun; I’m definitely going to miss them, but I’m sure that they’ll continue creating one great design/project after another long after I’ve gone.

I’ve spent the past week reminiscing and unwinding, but now I’m really looking forward to working for IGS. The biotech field continues pushing the boundaries of the impossible and I’m excited to be a part of that.

Jumping the Shark

Photo of my fish tank

It all stems back to a faulty thermometer. I’ve liked pet fish for as long as I can remember, but I’m appallingly bad at keeping them alive. Growing up, I had serious allergies so a dog was out of the question; I kept tropical fish instead.

At some point, my fish started dying—one fish every few days until only a small shark remained. A few days later, my little sister saw the shark jump out of the fish tank and land on the carpet; luckily, we were able to get him back into the water quickly and he survived a few more days until he jumped the tank again. His second suicide attempt succeeded.

While the fish were dying off, we noticed that the water heater wasn’t keeping the temperature warm enough and necessitated raising the heater power to keep the temperature at a healthy level. Cleaning the tank after the shark died, we noticed the water seemed fairly hot; it was much warmer than than what the thermometer stated. Further inspection revealed that the thermometer—not the water heater—was broken and the fish were dying because we were slowly cooking them alive.

I set up a fish tank in my apartment this past October and have had two die-offs since then; only one of the original October fish remains. On Monday, I replenished the tank with a half-dozen new fish, including a three-inch, red-finned shark. Sometime later that evening, my shark jumped the tank.

This Is Not a Blog

I’m almost certain that the W3C prevents me from calling this site a weblog anymore. The odd thing is, with the exception of very brief periods, I don’t know if I ever ran a blog. However, when the home page shows entries that date back nearly a year (and only displays 10 posts total), something about the format isn’t working.

My life is busy. Since my last entry, I’ve moved to a new apartment, bought a new (used) car, become engaged, was promoted to Web Developer at work, and started several freelance design projects. I’m trying to simplify a lot of things in my life: clutter, diet, goals, and more, but I realize that I won’t have less to do or more time to do it unless something drastic happens. Like winning the lottery or a generous windfall from the Walton family. My goal to write shorter entries more often is clearly not working. I just don’t have the time or the interest to prioritize it.

I’m thinking about deemphasizing the blog format of this site and shifting focus to the items that have been in the sidebar for-(almost)-ever: the photos, the links, and the reading. I would really like to put together a web-based library application for myself and include that on this site. There are better ways to incorporate my photos and links than just sidelining them. And perhaps I’d have time to write up some longer article-style entries. A home page that gives equal time to all of these areas of my digital life makes more sense than antiquated weblog entries hogging the home page real estate.

A Little Late for Resolutions

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions; if it’s important enough to me, I don’t need a calendar switch to get started. That being said, some articles I’ve read recently have me feeling motivated to stop thinking and start doing things.

Work Out

My friend Joe recently blogged that he has been going to the gym this year and already noticing positive changes. I never really used the free gym when I was at Scranton, but I could definitely afford to join one now. Or maybe I could just run around the block a few times. Either way, I want to get more exercise than walking from my apartment to my car and back once or twice a day.

I’ve been feeling more drained every day I know the weight I’ve gained since college is partly to blame. It’s nothing Oprah-esque, but I’m sure I’d have more energy if I dropped a few. I’ve already been trying to eat less, but I need to make sure that what I eat is good for me. Since I’m such a lazy ass when it comes time to actually work out—right, Jason?—I think a paid gym membership might throw some financial motivation behind, you know, my health and all.

Read More Books

I read a tremendous amount of blogs, news, Wikipedia entries, and a cornucopia of random online articles. Trouble is that a large portion of that is trivial crap that I won’t remember the next day. Most of this stems from procrastinating something more useful. Theoretically, there’s nothing wrong with what I read online; it’s only that it prevents me from reading or doing more substantial (or productive) things.

I am going to start cutting down a half-hour to an hour of online time-wasting and try to read at least one book each month. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non or whether it maintains any credible hold on the term “literature.” I don’t care if it’s Dan Brown or Dante at this point.

Create More

I like to think of myself as creative, but I haven’t created much in my spare time lately. The last thing I want to do is allow my writing or coding skills to stagnate. I’d love to be able to write articles again like I did for the Scranton Student, but I just don’t have the time at this point. As I’ve been saying for years, I want to write more here. I think if I force myself to write at least once or twice a week it will develop into something of a habit.

In terms of creating websites, I want to design, code, and program more. At this point, I might focus on improving some of my existing sites, but I’d also like to seek out clients for professional projects. I need to focus on finishing projects, rather than a series of false starts.


In order to make all of the above even remotely possible, I need to organize myself. I could blame it on a hundred things beyond my control, but staying organized has never come easy to me. I think I’ve always battled clutter, but lately it seems to be winning. I want to work on scheduling my time better, but cleaning my room is priority one. I recently read a Lifehacker article that had a few great ideas for pilers. Already it’s helping me, but I need to take it further.

I know this might seem a little… much. But I don’t expect to accomplish all of this in a week or a month. Gradually, I want to make these changes part of my life, not some random things I might be trying. It’s going to take time, but I’m committed this time.

Baltimore’s Smoking Ban

Baltimore City and Maryland State are each considering bans on smoking in all indoor buildings including bars and restaurants. While some are saying that this is another example of the government overstepping its bounds, I think that this will be a great thing for the city and/or state.

Most of the concern stems from the idea that smokers won’t go out to the bars as frequently as they do now, but this neglects the other side of the issue. The main reason I don’t go out to pubs more often—and I suspect that I’m not alone in feeling this way—is because I don’t like smelling like an ashtray when I come home. I’d be much more likely to pop into a bar for dinner and a drink if I knew I wouldn’t reek of smoke all evening.

Update (4/29/07): Both Baltimore City and the State of Maryland have passed laws designating all bars and restaurants (excluding cigar or tobacco clubs) smoke free beginning January 2008 and February 2008, respectively. I don’t see the need to wait so long to enact the ban, but I’m still thrilled that the bills passed.

Christmas Shopping

Every year I tell myself that I’m doing all my shopping online since most stores are packed around the holidays. Each year I tell myself that I’ll do all my shopping a few months before the crowds hit the malls. Sometimes I swear off buying gifts all together. I’ve never planned to wait until a week before Christmas to start shopping, but I do just that consistently. Wake me when it’s over.

Full-Time Design

A little over two weeks ago, I began working for the as a Jr. Web Designer. Obviously, it will take some time to adapt to my new position, but everyone I work with has been very friendly and helpful. I think that this job with this company is the best possible career step for me right now. Every moment that I’ve been there just feels right.

Whenever I’ve talked to friends or acquaintances in the design field, they told me that it took them six months, a year, or more to get hired. Over the past year or so, I doubted whether a web designer with an English degree was employable. I felt confident enough in my abilities, but felt that my lack of formal experience was going to kill my chances for full-time employment in web design. But my friends were right: it just takes time. Lots of it.

From when I found out I was hired almost a month ago, I’ve been happy. I’m excited that I’m getting paid to do something I enjoy; I’m relieved that my coworkers are as nice as they seemed when I first met them; and I’m looking forward to all of the possibilities that lie ahead.

Still Breathing

I haven’t written anything here in more than a month, but I’m still alive. I’ve been making subtle updates to the site and I have dozens of things that I want to write—or started writing—but I have little time to complete those thoughts. More on that later.

Not Homeless!

My landlord is selling my apartment building, so I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be living at my current location. However, I found out the other day that the new owner plans to continue renting the apartment to Kevin and I for the same amount of rent! In celebration, I finally uploaded some pictures of the apartment—exterior only, the inside needs spring cleaning—that I took in early November.

I also have a few design jobs going in addition to a full-time job that I’m working to pay the rent and other bills. So I’ve been busy; made obvious by my lack of posts. But I’m finally getting some good design work and decent income so I’m relatively happy. I could use a better full-time job, but I also could do a lot worse.

FYI: I briefly considered titling this post “!Homeless” but perished the thought.

My Top Five for 2005

Overall, 2005 was an eventful year for me, and most of those events were positive ones. I thought it would be interesting (and somewhat challenging) to force myself to come up with the most important happenings in my life for 2005. The events I came up with are merely keyframes in a very busy year:

  1. College Graduation – In May, I graduated from the University of Scranton. Through nine semesters in five years, I managed to acquire a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, with a minor in Theatre. Earning my BA is my biggest accomplishment to date.
  2. Move to Baltimore – After several years of theoretical planning and one lucky roommate/apartment find, I moved to Baltimore, Maryland in October. Which reminds me of my third event.
  3. Fifth Anniversary – Annie and I celebrated five years as a couple in May this year. We marked the occasion with a beautiful day in Cape May, New Jersey.
  4. Student Government Website – While it may not be as momentous as my top three events, my successful redesign of a large organization website was a major time commitment and a challenging opportunity.
  5. Myrtle Beach Vacation – It was a few years since I’d taken a real vacation, so this trip was long overdue. It was great to get away from the computer for a week and fill up my new memory card for my camera.

I enjoyed 2005 and I’m looking forward to 2006. I’m sure I’ll have some new challenges to add—and a few solutions—so I’ll be writing them down here for everyone. Look for more frequent posts and pictures (really!), a new site design (goodbye, default!), and better integration of current features. I’ll also be announcing a BIG PROJECT that I’m working on with Joe right now. See you next year!