After many, many months of being offline, I am finally resurrecting my old stomping grounds here on the world wide web. Thank you for your patience as I continue to work out the kinks and update the content. Stay tuned…
Another year has passed, and man, what a year it was for me. Of course, I didn’t allow myself the time to blog at all during it, but this morning I decided that I shouldn’t let this year pass along into history without at least giving it a chance to be remembered here. (Especially since getting active again on my blog is supposed to be one of my New Year’s resolutions.)
This year was definitely a different one for me, in that I spent a full ten and a half months in DC over the course of the year. Those extra months were filled with hard work, a bit of adventure, and a lot of accomplishment.
And yes, I know that doing a month-by-month review seems a bit cheesy, but that’s how my brain works.
You know what I’m sick of hearing?
Every time there is a major tragedy or disaster, be it natural or caused by man, I will go to the next church or worship service, and watch whichever pastor is preaching struggle to fulfill the impossible task of addressing the immediate question, “how could God allow something so terrible to happen?”
And I get it. The pastors of a worship community are our spiritual leaders. Their role is to give us comfort, to uplift our spirits, to help us move on and continue to accept and rejoice in God and Jesus Christ and all that. As the scripture says, “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.”
But when I hear that in response to this latest tragedy, all I will be able to think is: Stop making excuses.
How can we justify believing in a God that will part the Red Sea, or knock down a wall in Jericho, or in his son who cured blind men and lepers, but allows such a senseless act of violence to kill twenty completely innocent 6- and 7-year-olds and destroy the lives of their families to occur? How can we believe in a loving God, a merciful God, yet a God who sits idly by as up to eight horrific mass shootings take place in this country this year alone?
The victims are twenty 6- and 7-year-old children. What did they do to deserve this? What did their families do to deserve this? What did their friends do to deserve this? These children, these angels, all had their lives ahead of them. They were our future. They were just starting to learn about how they would each, in their own way, make a difference in our world. And yesterday, they were violently slaughtered, their divine sparks extinguished.
And the other six victims represented the best of our country. Five of them teachers and a school principal, adults who work tirelessly every day to teach and inspire our country’s children, and who yesterday, amidst absolute terror, put the safety of their students ahead of their own. They are a profession that our country’s leaders and pundits, completely oblivious to the incredible contributions and sacrifices of everyone in this profession, so frequently vilify as union-controlled freeloaders.
I can’t stand it anymore.
Today I’m reaching the end of a fairly nondescript summer break at home, hence the lack of interesting any blog posts this past summer. Starting tomorrow I will be heading back to DC to start my junior year at American University. But while I will save my traditional annual new school year blog post for a little bit later, I thought I should probably share some of my travel plans.
Turns out, thanks to some interesting scheduling ideas, budget, and the attraction of doing a bit more travel, I will be taking the train cross-country from San Francisco to Washington, DC this week.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I’ll be hopping aboard the California Zephyr in Emeryville, CA at 9:10 AM, arriving almost 52 hours later in Chicago at 2:50 PM on Thursday. After a 3 hour layover, I’ll board the Capitol Limited at 6:10 PM, and arrive 17 and a half hours later in DC at 12:40 PM on Friday. During the trip I will traverse through twelve states, covering over 3200 miles.
Anyway, despite having to go three days with no bed and no internet, I’m looking forward to trying this new travel experience, and to try to push my enjoyment of train travel to the limits. Besides, since AU is starting classes a week later this year, what better way to spend the extra week? Plus the best part is this trip is actually costing me less than it would have been to fly.
Perhaps it’s becoming a tradition that every June, I take the time to redesign my personal website. Well, tradition or not, here it is, the third edition of The Smorgasbord of Douglas Bell.
This year, I decided to re-do the architecture of my website by implementing the WordPress Multisite mode that I’ve become so familiar with over the past few years. In so doing, my website now has multiple sections that allow me to provide a unique focus and design to each of the ways that I want to present myself online. As part of this arrangement, my blog now lives at DouglasBell.us/DBlog rather than on the top-level of my website, allowing me to put a bit less emphasis on my blog. (Which is appropriate since I’m not blogging quite as much as I used to these days.)
The front page of my website is much cleaner and simpler, focusing on providing a brief bio about myself and links to the various places that you can find me on the web. I have also begun working on an online resume for myself, which will eventually expand to include a portfolio of my past web design work. Later this summer, as I get back into developing my WordPress plugins, I will be adding a new section of my site dedicated to those as well.
So whether this will be the redesign that finally gets me to focus more on blogging regularly has yet to be determined. But I’ve definitely been working hard on this new version of my site for the past week, and I’m really excited to bring it live today. It’s not 100% finished, so please pardon my remaining dust. Enjoy!
Student Government election results are out. Now I am excited to see that my write-in campaign for SOC Secretary was successful, even though AU’s Student Activities messed up by attributing my write-in votes under SOC Vice President and refuses to correct the officially-published results. But whatever, I’ll save the subject of how grossly incompetent Student Activities is for another day.
But I would like to set aside my personal victory in the ever-so-competitive race that is SOC Secretary (end sarcasm here) and share some of my thoughts on these election results at large.
A month or two ago, the AWOL magazine made a bit of hay with a cover story on the “male-dominated” Student Government. They made the point that a majority of the members of the Student Government are male, even though female students outnumber male students two to one at AU. Of course, the response from SG members was that a majority of the appointed (read: unelected) positions in the SG are filled by women, and as for the Undergraduate Senate, more women have been appointed to fill vacant seats as men have dropped out. But today’s election results show yet again that the fault for this is simply that AU students don’t care about their Student Government.
Cross-posted from the Tech tAUk Blog
If there’s one philosophy that Apple and I generally agree upon, it’s software. I love software. Whether I’m designing it, or using it to design other great stuff, I firmly believe that practically all great technological inventions are only great if they have great software, and that’s the way I like to approach my coverage of tech.
In just a few weeks, Apple is going to mark a major milestone: the tenth anniversary of the original release of Mac OS X. On March 24, 2001, Apple said goodbye to the “classic” Mac OS that had served it well since 1984 (when it didn’t crash), and introduced Mac users to a UNIX-based operating system with a new user interface called “Aqua” that was almost lickable. There was no iPad, no iPhone, no iPod, no iTunes, really almost nothing that resembles the Apple that we think of today. The iMac was only three years old, still sold in its multi-color CRT-based model.
Not only did Mac OS X essentially save Apple from destruction, after the failures of the attempted Copland and Rhapsody operating system rewrites in the nineties, but it has most certainly fulfilled Steve Jobs’ then-prediction that it had set Apple up for the next decade. Apple has since had seven major releases of Mac OS X (codenamed Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard), and Mac OS X has of course predicated other big shifts in Apple’s business including the transition to Intel processors, and the iOS mobile operating system.
But now, the Apple of today is very different than the Apple of ten years ago. Back then, Apple was somewhat of a joke in an industry dominated by Microsoft. Today, Apple is dominant in an industry that has primarily shifted towards mobile devices and software. Well, this summer, Apple intends to refocus on the Mac platform with its biggest update to Mac OS X in nearly four years.
This is part three of my five-part blog series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the District of Columbia.
Well, I kind of lost my every-Monday track for this blog series, thanks to the busyness that is college life, but I will persevere and get through this series. Last week I described an overview of the algorithm by which the city is laid out, which is great to be aware of if you’re driving or walking. But for most residents in the metro area, and certainly if you’re a college student in the District, you’re more likely to think about the layout of the region based on public transportation, specifically the Washington Metro map.
The Washington Metro (technically “Metrorail,” though no one really calls it that) is the #2 most-used heavy rail system in the country, and it is the central hub that all other public transit in the region revolves around. Compared to other regions of the country, it really is an incredible system.
Dear Members of the AU Undergraduate Senate,
It’s a new semester. It’s a new calendar year. You had a good first few meetings in October and November, enjoyed a nearly two month break, and today you return to the realm of Ward 5 with three straight months ahead of you to dictate the direction of our student government. But I beg you, please don’t just dive blindly into the wading pool of agendas and bills and motions. Take this moment for reflection, and look at yourselves as a body. Who are you?
It’s not hard to find the original reason for your existence. You don’t have to look any farther than the second paragraph of the SG’s Constitution, where it reads, “The purpose of the Undergraduate Senate shall be to represent, legislate, and delineate policies regarding the concerns of the American University undergraduate student body with regards to academics, programming, and university policy.” And then, perhaps as an afterthought, the paragraph continues, “The Undergraduate Senate shall also serve to ensure proper consideration and exercise of the judicial and executive powers of the Student Government.”
Well, I’ve spent thirteen months observing you from my role as your parliamentarian during the 4th & 5th Senate sessions, and as an interested student (and two-time proxy) during the current 6th Senate session, and I am concerned that you are continuing to fall short of fulfilling your duty to represent the needs of AU students.
This is part two of my five-part blog series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the District of Columbia. The series will be published on each Monday in January 2011.
Last week, I inaugurated this blog series with a history of DC’s Home Rule efforts, but this week, I’m going to lighten it up a bit with more of a primer on how to navigate your way around the city. Because Washington is a city that has been laid out and planned in a very interesting way that is quite logical and systematic on paper, but in reality, it gets quite confusing for a lot of people.