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New Year, New Look

ryuI’ve had my personal blog for about 4 years now and have finally decided to upgrade to a newer look and something that’s responsive (i.e. reads well on all screen sizes). Anyone who’s had a blog knows how fun and how terrible choosing a theme is. There are probably millions of options out there, paid and free, and I always struggle with how much I do on my own, since “web stuff” is kind of my job. The reality is I don’t have enough free time to design a theme and if I’m being completely honest, I could spend days and days doing something that probably wouldn’t be much better than something that’s already out there.

With every theme there are its own quirks to get used to and it takes a little time to figure out all the features, templates, and styles. Inevitably I also end up tweaking the stylesheet and a few of the php files, at least a little, to accommodate those personal preferences that I just can’t let go of.

So here it is, the new hokament. I’m now using the Ryu theme by Takashi Irie from Automattic. It’s still simple and obviously bolder/easier to read, and the best part is it scales well (in my opinion) on mobile devices. I’ll probably be making minor tweaks here and there, but I hope you like it, and if you don’t, well, I hope you stick it out and still read my blog anyway.

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Humbled by Gratitude

thank_youToday I received a Thank You out of the blue. It came from a young woman that lost her wallet two years ago just before Christmas. I had found her wallet outside a gas station in Folsom (a few hours from where I live) on my way home from celebrating Christmas at my aunt’s house. It was late and after glancing at the contents in the wallet, I decided I didn’t want to risk just leaving it with the gas attendant.

When I got home I found her on Facebook and messaged her to find out where I should mail it. I wanted to be sure I mailed it to her most current address. We connected, I dropped it in the mail, and all were happy. I expected that to be the end of it.

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Authentic Online Connections

authentic_connectionsOne thing I’ve really been enjoying lately as a byproduct of this nerdlution thing and posting every day, are the extra connections that are being made. Part of my goal isn’t just making and putting my own stuff out there, but finding, reading, and commenting on other’s posts. So I’m learning new things every day and getting to know others better, and I think others are getting to know me better as well.

In particular, I wrote a post on songs that have sparked emotion throughout my life, and in turn, it has sparked my friend Joel in New York and Kevin in Massachusetts to post their own musings on that topic (and they’re both great posts you should read).

For me, this is what an authentic online experience is all about. It’s about sharing thoughts and experiences that are my own, are honest, and that make me human. And I think that’s what others can relate to and appreciate, which ignites something in them to think, question, and explore for themselves and share back, and thus conversations are born. It doesn’t happen with every post, but the times where those connections are made are what inspire me to keep sharing online in an honest, authentic way.

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And About This Facebook Thing…(again)

facebook_againLately—probably because I’m on vacation and find myself with a little extra time to think (I know, not good)—I’ve found myself wondering why I haven’t been checking Facebook. I still post stuff there occasionally, but I haven’t really scrolled through my News Feed in months. If you’ve noticed my absence in your likes and comments, which seems unlikely since no one’s said anything, this is why. I’m just not drawn there anymore.

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Life in Ballads

life_in_balladsWhen I was growing up, pretty much the only way to hear your favorite song was via the radio. I didn’t have a lot of disposable income to buy any album I wanted, not even those singles that came out on cassette tape. I remember just listening to the radio in hopes of hearing that one song and stopping everything just to listen to the whole thing or belting it out with friends as we cruised around looking for something to do.

I’m a sucker for sappy songs. From my angsty, emotional teenage years, right up until my last road trip with the family this past week, I pretty much can’t get enough of songs about love, loss, and pain. I tried to make a top ten for my life to share with you, and I had to leave out way too many, but I got it down to 11. This list covers a broad range from childhood up to the present.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Step in It, but Step Up When You Do

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Photo by DeShaun Craddock

Today I read about ?uestlove’s offensive remarks he made while touring Japan. Then I read his statement he posted to his Facebook page addressing it. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve been a fan of The Roots and ?uestlove since I was in high school, but his response was honest and heartfelt, and not some ass-covering, canned PR auto-reply. Here’s an excerpt:

—look. i’m a human being and dumber yet, i’m a public figure. if you’re lucky enough to be either of the aforementioned, then not only should one stay clear of saying or writing hurtful things, one should actively work against feeling comfortable, thinking hurtful thoughts. given that black culture consistently finds itself at the butt end of so many offensive “outsider” jokes, I should be way, way more sensitive (after all, who’s zooming who). I for one, should never allow my cultural bias to take precedence over my “examined life” (clunkers be damned). i know the whole kinder and gentler thing reeks of a self serving political correctness, but eff it, it’s “all me”.
Ahmir Thompson / “Questlove”

Here’s my take:

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Missing the Toys

missing_toysMaybe this is a shallow post, or even a selfish one, but in these fading moments of Christmas, I find myself missing new toys. When I was kid I loved getting into that new toy, the one that I was especially excited about. I would carefully open the package so I could read all the details later, then explore every nook and cranny, seeing what it did, and launch it into my imagination. I remember often falling asleep content, knowing that the entire next day would be filled with as much time as I wanted playing with my new toys.

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Christmas Eve Marathons Past

silent_nightWe didn’t believe in Santa. When we were young, Christmas Eve wasn’t about anticipating the clatter of hoofs and bells—it was all about the Christmas Eve services at church. My mom was a minister and we didn’t just go to one service, we went to all the services.

You had to have strategies. You had to have stamina. When my brother and I got older, we had to have jobs. One year we directed traffic at a fancy church that had over 5,000 people attending services. Stress, expensive cars, old people driving in the dark for that one special night of the year…yeah, nightmare. At that same church, one year we lit hundreds of those cute little bags with snowflake patterns and crosses cut out of them. When we finally finished they looked pretty damn magical, glowing along the path to the sanctuary, until one of the bags caught on fire and we had to stamp it out. We took bets during the service how many more would be alight when we got out.

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Tall Man: A Character

tall_man“Man, you’re fucking tall,” they’d say. Next was, “What?! You don’t play basketball?!” as if their minds were actually on the verge of exploding at the absurdity of it. Where can you hide when you dwarf nearly everyone in your town? How could one’s entire existence be distilled down to how far one’s head was from the ground? Nobody cared about the paper bag placed in the white plastic bag that he religiously carried with him. He was big enough to hold most grown men like babies, an urge he fought like the urge to let that paper bag go.

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Unplugged from The Matrix: Being Alive in Reality

the_matrixThis past couple years I’ve unplugged from the Matrix. Unlike the popular movie, it hasn’t been so dramatic as joining an underground militia to start a human revolution against machines, but the plot is actually pretty similar.

If you’re somehow not familiar with the movie, the basic gist is that people in the future become slave-batteries, powering machines, and are kept subdued by having their brains tapped into and fed fake realities. It all seems real until you’re unplugged from the matrix and shown a much harsher, but ultimately freer reality; a reality in which you have choice. In my own life, I’ve started focusing on my problems, stopped drinking alcohol, started working on my spirituality, and started realizing that in everything—even how I feel—I have a choice.

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