In The Papers

Today my band, Superficial Charm played at a benefit concert for Bethany Christian Services, a great organization that helps a lot of kids find homes. As I’ve mentioned, my son Jonathan is adopted, so when they asked us to play, we jumped at the chance.

One of the reasons we were invited was a song I wrote, which Bethany’s local director, Mark Unger, heard when we played a gig with his band. I wrote the song “Find Me” for Jonathan, in an attempt to explore what his life must have been like before us.

Mark liked the song so much that he had Bethany’s PR guy contact us, and we ended doing an interview for the local paper to help plug today’s concert. They got a few details wrong (for example, my band is a three piece, not a duo) but we were happy to be able to share a bit.

I may write more on this later, but right now I’m typing on my iPhone and it’s getting kind if tiresome. 😉

The article is here: http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/267036.

My Weekend Was Better Than Yours

I know it’s already Tuesday night, rx but man, stuff I had an awesome weekend.

Friday night was supposed to be the night we meet with our church small group, but only two of the couples were available, so we ended up skipping the study and just hanging out, which was really nice. It was really low key and laid back. We just chatted and our kids played.

Saturday morning I got up early to do a five mile run with some friends. Our circle of runners is expanding, and one of the two new runners with us this weekend was someone who used to live right up the street from me back in high school. We used to be really close, but we lost touch after high school, so this was the first we had a chance to catch up. And catching up on almost twenty years is a great way to take your mind off of the fact that you’re running five miles.

The run itself was great, and I was pleased with my time. It rained for most of our run, but that honestly felt great. I had my iPhone wrapped in a plastic bag inside my armband, so it stayed nice and dry.

Saturday evening was the Battle of the Bands at the Art & Soul Cafe. I was asked to be the emcee, which was a blast. I normally don’t like speaking quite so much in front of crowds, but I was in the zone. I introduced the three competing bands as well as the artist whose work was on display. They also asked me to play a couple songs after the last band performed so that the audience would have something to do while the judges deliberated. I ended up doing four songs, and unbelievably, the same kids who had been going nuts for the screamo bands a few minutes earlier really seemed to be enjoying my music and cheered wildly. To top off the evening, I did a song called “Sara” by The Rainchildren, who used to be a pretty big name in the local music scene before they broke up in the ‘90s. One of the judges had been the percussionist for The Rainchildren, and he joined me onstage to play that song. That was pretty cool.

Congratulations to End Of Silence for winning the competition, by the way. That was a nice moment for me, because their lead guitarist is in the youth group at my church, and I’ve watched him go from zero to awesome on the guitar. And their singer (screamer?) used to go to my church and has helped me lead worship a few times. Great guys with bright futures. It was really great to see their excitement when they won.

On Sunday morning, we had three baptisms during our church service, two of whom were children. All three shared their testimonies, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the church by the time they were done.

We followed the church service with our annual church family picnic. Burgers and hot dogs on the grill, lots of good food, a dunk tank, two hundred water balloons, and a homemade waterslide.

I got home right in time to meet my friend Matt, who was coming over to do some recording for a solo EP he’s working on. We worked on music for about two hours, which was fantastic. Made me wish I had my own professional studio so I could spend more time on music. Anyway, we got the bulk of the recording done, but I still have some mixing to do, and Matt asked me if I’d lay down some bass, some lead guitar, and maybe some harmonies.

After Matt left, we went to the home of another family from our church for a nice meal on the grill. The whole thing was kind of impromptu, but the food was great and the conversation was wonderful. Our daughters conspired for my daughter to spend the night, so we took our son home and put him to bed.

At that point, finally able to breathe and relax after a really busy weekend, Jen and I had the opportunity to spend a romantic evening alone, something we rarely get a chance to do these days.

So yeah. That was a pretty sweet weekend.

Since I Started Running

Back in April, ed I took the plunge into the Couch to 5K program. My good friend Ted had started it and was raving about it. I knew I had to do something to get in shape, stomach so I plunked down three bucks for the iPhone app and started running.

Slowly.

The first workout has you running for a total of eight minutes, drug and those are broken up into one minute segments. But I still found it pretty grueling. I’ve never been one to run, and while I sometimes get on the exercise bike, I hadn’t done that for months. By the time I got to work that day, I knew I was walking funny. My legs ached. Getting up from my desk was a struggle.

The second day was the same workout, and by the time I got to work, my only hope was that no one would notice that I was walking like a mummy. I couldn’t bend my legs. But I was determined not to quit.

And by the end of the third workout (which was, admittedly, a couple days later), I was okay.

The workouts increased in intensity, and this morning was my last C25K workout. And to be honest, I went further than the program called for, running four miles without stopping.

I never thought I’d be a guy who runs for pleasure, but I find myself really enjoying it now. The days when I can’t run (either due to weather or just oversleeping), I still hit the exercise bike.

When I started C25K, I also decided to start a new diet program. At 210 pounds, I had gained back over thirty of the seventy pounds I had lost years ago on the Atkins Diet. But I knew Atkins wouldn’t work again. So I decided to go low calorie. I met with my chiropractor, and he recommended a 2400 calorie per day limit. I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge, so I decided to stay under 2000. At around 1850, actually. I grabbed the loseit.com app for my iPhone and started tracking my calories and my workouts. Tracking my calories obsessively really made me aware of what I was eating, and it forced me to “budget” my food better. Hmmm…. if I have that second helping of steak, I won’t have any calories left to spend on some pretzels during LOST tonight.

That was nine weeks and 23 pounds ago. This morning after my run, I weighed in at 187. I was thrilled, but I know I still have more to lose.

But anyway, I’ve been amazed at how much running has improved my life.

Since I started running:

1. I have lost 23 pounds, as mentioned above.
2. my waist is at least 3 inches smaller.
3. my gut has started to disappear, which is weird since I haven’t been doing any stomach exercises.
4. stairs don’t leave me winded anymore.
5. my kids can’t get away from me. 🙂
6. I have way more energy than I used to.
7. I’m sleeping better and waking up better, and that’s without giving up caffeine.
8. I actually went to the Apple Store and bought an armband for my iPhone so I can run without having to hold it.
9. I’ve gotten closer to some friends who are runners. We get together almost every Saturday to run, because running with others can be really encouraging.
10. I’ve registered for a 5K race. My first. And I know it won’t be my last.
11. my daughter has expressed tentative interest in trying C25K.
12. my wife has remarked how much she enjoys being able to actually put her arms around me.
13. I am proud of myself. I set a goal and I achieved it.

Web vs Desktop

For all intents and purposes, I haven’t done any desktop programming for almost a year. This was after years of writing Mac and Windows apps, even going so far as to be a regular presenter at REAL World.

But since taking my current position, I’ve been all about the web. PHP, to be exact.

To be honest, I miss the desktop, but it’s not all bad.

For example, I really like being able to call functions without knowing the their names, just using a string. That’s pretty cool.

Also, there is TONS of documentation and help out there for PHP. Way more than I ever found for REALbasic, my desktop weapon of choice.

The JavaScript event model, though, leaves something to be desired compared to REALbasic’s event model.

And while it’s convenient not to have to declare my variables, I find it makes it all too easy to use unconventional and meaningless names.