Wednesday, October 27

Thursday, September 16


This morning, on my way to work, the local jazz station played a new recording by Cynthia Felton: an interesting bass-and-vocal duet of Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone."

And I said to myself, I said, "Wow."

Then I found her new album on CDBaby and listened to the previews of the other tunes (all of which are from the Ellington songbook).

And I said, "Wow."

This is high praise from me, as I generally don't enjoy listening to female jazz singers, with the notable exceptions of Diana Krall, Jane Monheit & Stacey Kent. Well, add another name to that list of mine, and probably at the very top. Well, she & Diana can duke it out.

Much praise has been lavished on this new recording, so I'll leave it to the professional reviewers to give more in-depth analyses. My recommendation: just buy it.


Thursday, June 3

Security: Not the fault of the OS anymore

The headline of the article I've linked below is spot-on. Security isn't about measures taken by the operating system any longer, it's about measures taken by users themselves.

For instance, as an IT professional with a good knowledge of computer security practices, if I wanted to I could work every day with Windows and remain malware-free just by being conscientious about what I do with the computer. Windows is certainly an unstable house of cards in that regard, but if you know how to use it you can be just as safe as anyone else, even without anti-malware software installed.

Even OS X has recently had an outbreak of malware, but it requires unwary users to install unverified software in order to infect machines. I still maintain that it requires a much less watchful eye on system processes to keep a Mac clean, but it is by no means immune.

However, I do take issue with the final paragraphs of the linked article. It's true that Microsoft is still the biggest target, and that very fact makes exploitation more lucrative and therefore more likely to be attempted. However, the underpinnings of the operating system still rely on legacy code with a much more relaxed security model. The Unix architecture on which OS X is based is by far a much more stable design.

Windows isn't attacked day and night merely because it's got larger market share; while that's a contributing factor, it's also got many more exploitable attack vectors. And, as John Gruber has pointed out in the past, OS X isn't "utterly impervious to attack because it’s protected by magic leprechauns." It's just better.

But, to reiterate the main point here, either one is only as secure as its users, who have to be quite a bit more fastidious if they've got a Windows machine on their desk.

When it comes to security, it's the user, not the OS | Macworld

Friday, May 28

Progressive Regression?

Fact #1:

  • In the aftermath of my wife's death last November, I'm doing really well. I'm moving forward with my life, beginning to enjoy it in the way she always said she wanted me to after she was gone.

Fact #2:
  • I put my wedding ring back on yesterday (right hand), after 4 months of leaving it in a bag with hers.

The former has been a long time coming. It was always obvious that, while I was taking care of Lauren as cystic fibrosis slowly robbed her of life, nearly all of my energy, time, and love were directed toward her. I visited her in the hospital pretty much every day while she was admitted, and life pretty much consisted of work, hospital, sleep, do it again.

After she passed away, I found myself with a lot of extra energy, time, and love that no longer had a target. I directed much of it toward my church, getting even more involved in the music ministry and attending more services and Bible studies than I had in a long time. I even played an offertory on the piano one Sunday morning less than 3 weeks after she died. In addition, I began spending more time with friends I hadn't seen regularly in a while, and I started meeting new people (a huge undertaking, given how introverted I am).

While it was good for me to get out, and I was glad to have all those opportunities, for the most part I wasn't genuinely excited by any of it. The support from friends old and new was great, and I did have a deepening peace and even joy in Christ throughout the experience, but there was a large part of me that was afraid of enjoying my newfound freedom. It felt like allowing myself to be happy would mean finding pleasure in the fact that my wife was no longer around. In January I decided to stop wearing my ring; it seemed appropriate, as at that point I had dealt with my grief in important and substantial ways, but as I look back I see that I was trying to distance myself emotionally from the perceived betrayal of Lauren's memory. In essence I was trying to become a new man, disavowing encumbrances of the past and trying to force myself to move on with my life.

Much has happened since then. The two most important events, the Writer's Conference and the celebration of Lauren's birthday, were previously chronicled here on my blog. And in the course of everything that has transpired I've felt myself actually changing: not because I've forced myself to, or even out of any desire to make my life different, but because that's what moving forward is all about. I've been able to truly enjoy my life as it now is, and find a way to keep Lauren's memory alive without either clinging to it or pushing it away.

In a sense, Fact #2 above seems a bit like a step back. But it's not! As I put my ring back on yesterday morning, I did so with a view toward fully accepting the realities of both the past and the present. I have become someone new; not because of anything I did, but because God has loved and sustained me through it all—in many ways, through the support of family and friends who have been there for me through the past months.

I don't feel like I've "gotten over" anything, or that I'm "finally done" with some process; of course, life will continue to have challenges both related and unrelated to my widowerhood. But I'm realizing that life has generally become a lot brighter, and I'm glad to have gotten where I now am.

Wednesday, April 28


Prologue: I don't know if I'm just extra-emotional these days, or if I'm embarking on a new stage of being more personal in this blog, but here's another visceral post about what's on my mind and heart right now.

It's Lauren's birthday today. She would've been 30 if CF hadn't taken her nearly six months ago.

I'm listening to that Savage Garden album (Affirmation) she always used to play while she was getting ready in the morning. When she was still working, I heard this music nearly every day coming out of the the CD player she kept in the bathroom. My favorite from it, "I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You," is currently playing.

Brad sits and listens for a bit...

Ooh. "Crash and Burn" really hits me differently now. I'm realizing that I haven't listened to these tunes in a long time.

Anyway, I've taken the day off of work. I'm planning to go up and spend some time with my in-laws today, and we're going to see an Angels game. Then, since I realized I'd be home this morning, I've arranged to have a plumber come fix a faucet and I'll run a couple errands before I head to Ontario. (Finally I'll get the Prius back after a month-long repair job!)

More listening...

"You Can Still Be Free" is a great song, and appropriate for today. As I've mentioned before, the peace and strength I've had in this whole process of dealing with Lauren's death has been amazing. I've never quite understood it, but it's getting easier to accept the gift of joy God has presented.

As I recently told a friend, I'm doing really well in general, but I'm a little afraid of embracing that "doing well" too tightly for fear of losing my grip on the memory of Lauren. She assured me that I'll never forget; of course that's obvious, but I can't claim that everything running through my mind has been completely rational these days. It's nice to be nudged toward reality from time to time, though... I do have a tendency to get lost in thoughts and theories and "what if"s.

Well, the album is over, and the beginning of the plumber's arrival window is approaching, so I should get dressed. As I've told people over and over, the thing I need most right now is prayer, so if you happen to run across this please keep me in yours.

UPDATE: I feel compelled to add this quote from Lauren:
"You never know how much you can face until you turn around and see that it's now behind you."
Very well said.

Tuesday, April 6

640 ought to be enough for anybody

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming: today's Wondermark is fabulous.

And in regard to that title... this is post 640 to this blog, in nearly 6 years. Check here for the "source" of my (mis-)quotation.

Wednesday, March 31

Remembering Lauren

I don't often get very intimate on my blog. I usually just talk academically about silly things like technology or grammar. Or link to my favorite webcomics and authors. But please indulge me as I share some personal stuff.

First, as most of my real-life friends know, my wife Lauren passed away last November (that's her own personal blog in that link there). I haven't spoken of her death much online, deciding to keep things private for a while. Aside from Facebook, that is, but my FB friends are generally people I know from outside the Internet anyway.

She had cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that caused her in her final years to have increasingly frequent and debilitating cases of pneumonia and other lung infections. Despite her disease, she was an amazingly positive woman; for nearly her entire life, she was able to make CF be merely "something about her" and not allow the disability to define her. In fact, the link at the beginning of this paragraph goes to one of her three (3!) blogs: she was trained as a scientist and also freelanced as a writer. She spent a lot of time distilling medical research about CF into information that average sufferers and caregivers could use to understand the illness and its treatment.

In addition, she was a strong Christian (this link goes to her blog where she wrote devotionals reflecting on passages from the Bible). In our nearly-decade-long relationship she was a great encouragement to me, and I to her, as we pressed onward with faith in God and toward the hope of our future dwelling in Heaven. I'm so glad now that she's being given a perfect body, unmarred by the strife of this present age, in which to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

But providing this brief description of an amazing woman, my wife of more than 6 years, is not what prompted me to write about her. You see, in her "side career" as a writer, she attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference on three separate occasions. While there, she made many friends and touched many lives. She was working on a book called "Dear Future Husband" in which she intended to publish selections from a large group of letters she wrote (beginning at age 14) addressed to the man she would one day marry. The last one begins "Dear Brad," and she gave me the whole set as a wedding gift.

Even that awesome writing project (which never got published) isn't quite why I'm remembering her in this post. One of the friends she made at the Writers Conference is Austin Boyd, another talented multi-career individual who for a time worked at the same scientific consulting firm for which Lauren compiled environmental emissions inventories at government installations across the state and the country. Just three days after she died, Austin proposed a scholarship/award to be given at the 2010 conference in her memory, to honor someone else who has withstood many challenges while shining the light of Christ through the written word.

Along with Lauren's parents, I went on Monday night, March 29, to this year's conference to see the presentation of the inaugural Lauren Beyenhof True Grit Award. Between Austin and his agent, Les Stobbe, they were able to present $1000 in her memory. In the course of his presentation, Austin showed a video interview with Lauren and me which had been recorded in 2007. The award went to Rachel Marks, a woman who's fought with cancer but seems as plucky and determined as Lauren ever was to keep hardship from getting in her way.

The whole experience of attending the conference for this presentation was humbling and awe-inspiring (and, as you'd expect, quite emotional). I was able to connect with a part of Lauren's life I hadn't really experienced before, and I heard from many people whose lives she had touched with her ebullience and love. It lifted my own spirits to be in a mountain retreat, communing with the Lord and with other people who knew my wife. I'm glad that Austin paid her this very special tribute, and that I was invited to share in an event to honor her life. I know Lauren would've been confused and taken aback by all the attention, but she and her memory deserve it all.

Thanks, Austin, for creating the award; and Les, for helping to present it. Thanks, Mom & Dad K., for raising a fantastic woman who captivated me and is an integral part of who I've become. And thanks most of all to God, who orchestrated our lives that we might find and fulfill each other in such a wonderful way.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~ Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, March 16

Hey, lookit that!

My blog address is now officially on my own domain (! Blogger is still hosting & publishing everything, but I finally got around to making my server's DNS point to them instead of using the amateurish URL.

Also, in playing with blog stuff I was poking around some old posts of mine. Apparently, in October 2005, I saw into the mind of Steve Jobs. Everything I predicted/desired in that post has come true in the years since.

Sunday, March 14

How Star Trek *should* have ended...

I really like last year's new Star Trek film, and this cartoon parody is hilarious. The best part is at the very end.

Sunday, February 28

Geek code - why do I do this, again?

So, it was pointed out to me today that my current Geek Code, shown at the bottom of every page of this blog, is significantly out of date. As I always mention when publishing these updates, version 3.12 of the Code was formulated in 1996, so my available options for the various categories aren't particularly reflective of how things really work in the world these days.

In any case, here's my new Code:

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+@ s:+>: a->+++ C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P++ E--- W+++
N o++ K? PS PE+ Y+ PGP++ t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- G++ e*++ h r? y?

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.

Friday, February 26

Here I am...

Oh hi, blog. Sorry to be neglecting you. But ultra-short-form posts on Twitter and Facebook are so much easier. I hope you're doing OK. If I think about anything I want to share that organizes itself into paragraphs in my mind, I'll come back and post again. But I haven't forgotten you. I promise.

Friday, February 19

More amazingness from Andy Ihnatko

From a recent interview Andy gave to the Tactical Pants Blog:

If you could rename the iPad, what would you call it? Why?

I have no problems with the name. But if I were to rename it, I’d probably go with “Severe Eye Injury” or maybe “Adorable Baby Ducks In Horrible Imminent Danger.” It would be Apple’s ultimate statement of confidence: “Our new tablet computer is so handy and useful that you won’t give a damn _what_ it’s called.”

As usual, he lives up to his signature wit throughout, but this answer exemplifies precisely why I read everything that ever comes out of this man's head and onto a computer screen.

Andy Ihnatko on His Tactical Internet Pants and Apple's iPad | Tactical Pants Blog

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by emailing the author (use the link above).

The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.