Thanksgiving Dan Rides Again

I’ve been going to the McNeely family thanksgiving for so many years now that, as far as they are concerned, my name is Thanksgiving Dan.  This Thanksgiving was special though, because I’m not in school.  I’m not working for a school.  I don’t set foot on the campus of a school.  And I have to say, it’s been over 8 years since I could say that, and I’m starting to recall why I was so happy living and working in Cincinnati- not in school. Now, before I get ahead of myself, I want to take the time to properly express what Thanksgiving is about: being alive and being ok.  I’m really glad to have completed my doctorate.  I can’t imagine going anywhere else or doing anything else.  Dennis AsKew was a tremendous mentor, and remains so as I unpack my head from the long haul of finishing a terminal arts degree in an economy that holds little promise of actually using that degree.   I’m thankful to Barbara Murphy at UT for getting me through my MM there as well, and I can’t imagine what my life would be without that experience.  The friends I made there are still my best friends, even though I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like. On the thankful-train, I’m also glad my parents have been so cool along the way.  It’s not every parent who can be supportive as they watch their kid quit a good-paying job he likes to go back to school for something that pays not much.  I’m also thankful for the time I had with Heather...

Archeology

I’m being a nerd and rebuilding my computer this evening.  In the backing-up and saving-off of files I stumbled upon something I have been looking for since windoze update ate my blog: the backup.  I’m a fastidious computer nerd.  I do all those things you’re “supposed” to do, like change passwords.  Now I’m faced with the question, what “should” I do. In the year and a half since I restarted my blog, I’ve graduated, moved to Asheville, gone back into IT full time.  I’ve worked another summer at Brevard, started a band, cut an album, become a pretty competent potter.  I’ve purchased some new clothes but remained the same underneath.  And that begs the question: should I restore the backup? The tech-guy in me says one thing, and one thing only: duh- yes.  The forward-mover in me thinks otherwise.  There’s a lot of history in those blog posts.  Things that don’t matter anymore, but maybe matter more than I’d like to admit. If I had found the backup and gotten it working right after the crash, it would be an easy choice.  But now, a year and a half, or 400 lifetimes later I...

How Google Ads Work

As a web designer and programmer I’ve long known how internet companies think: sure, some offer great services to get at your money or your info, but really, if they had the technology, they would write a site that once you click on their home page it sucks the money out of your wallet. But I’m reminded in some subtle and interesting ways how advertising works.  This morning is a case in point.  I logged into my trusty gmail account, saw that I had nothing (nobody loves me…), and checked my spam folder for the first time in a week or so.  I’ve lost some interview opportunities to the spam folder in the past, so I make a habit of checking it now.  Here’s how it’s supposed to work: the google ad bot is a little program that runs on the page and “reads” the words there and finds corresponding ads that match. You can see the problem with this approach.  Start at the search box with the words “in:spam” and look down about an inch to see what google ads thinks a foodie like me auto to be doing with spam.  Hurray- four servings! You’ll also notice that the wonderful folks at “Max Gentleman” have made me a very enticing offer.  I hope the google ad bot doesn’t read that too.  It’ll start thinking I’m some sort of perv. It’s a little alarming to think that “someone” is reading your email, but the advertising companies are clever.  They don’t really read your web browser for content, just for key words.  And no human (in theory) ever sees it. ...

In Which I Wax Rhapsodic About Junk

I’m a cheapskate.  But an adventurous one.  I’m also a jack of all trades, and a willing student of those trades I don’t know yet.  Finally, I’m more willing to spend money on projects and experiences than I am on stuff. All of this means that I have a tendency to build or make everything, just to see if I can.  The answer is usually yes, I can.  But it’s also usually, no, I probably shouldn’t. But this time was a lot of work and a lot of fun.  Allow me to introduce the latest object of my affection, the project that has taken all of my free very limited time over the last few weeks: Table Actually, it’s a pile of boards that (through the magic of internet blogging) will become a table in just a few paragraphs.   Hurray! A pile of dirty moldy crap! And it’s all MINE. I moved into this house a few months ago and noticed in the corner of the basement a cobwebbed, dust-covered, moldy hulk of an old dinner table.  The basement is a bit damp, so the base of the legs were starting to rot, and the thing was just rickety.  I could tell it used to be something nice, maybe not very nice, but it used to be a handsome piece of furniture. I leaned on it one day and the entire frame yielded under my weight.  I made a comical noise and helicoptered my arms energetically enough to stop my fall, and once recomposed examined the carnage.  It seemed that all the moisture had been more unkind to...

“Sunday Morning Coming Down” or “Channeling my Inner Ysabel”

Some of you may recognize the title of this post as a Kris Kristopherson song.  It was stuck in my head yesterday morning as I shuffled around the house.  This past weekend was the Asheville Art Stroll, and my studio mates and I at The Squeaky Wheel took part.  The stroll started Saturday and Sunday at around 10 or 11, and if you know me at all, you know I’m terminally incapable of sleeping in.  Which gets me into trouble when I don’t have anywhere to be till 10 or 11… One of my diversions* over the past couple weeks has been rehabilitating a junk table I found.  It’s very old, very stout, and very much made of oak.  It weighs a country ton.  I have spent weeks sanding, gluing, staining, resetting joinery, covering everything in the house with a fine layer of ancient sawdust and that lovely chemical smell of oil-based refinishing products.  Somewhere in there I accidentally glued my backpack to the floor and the legs together for my work jeans. Sunday morning was exciting though, because I put the top back on the table.  The frame was reset, rebuilt, stained, and sturdy.  The top is none of those things, but it’s a work in progress (and yes, there will be pictures in a forthcoming blog post, but only after it’s finished and I can smile like a proud papa).  I ate some oatmeal, cranked up Pandora for a very interesting mix of Skynerd and Death Cab for Cutie (it got Kristopherson out of my head), and started sanding the table top.  A few hours later I...