Top 379 Catch-Up: #98-#89

I was recovering from my kidney transplant over the summer of 2011. I felt like I was freed up to figure out some new career skill to attempt to acquire. I thought about how I been WordPress blogging for years, and how I enjoyed customizing the blog. But I hadn’t ever looked into the best practices for really working with WordPress at a level that might lend itself to career doing something like this. Si I thought I’d start a new blog and use it as my development platform.

I was also feeling nostalgic for my mixtapes of 20 years earlier, which mostly consisted of sappy love songs and a general quality of music that most would judge as pretty darn awful. I was nostalgic for the lengthy countdown cassette series I had made. Top 100. Top 100 II. Top 100 III. Top 100 IV. And then, in college, the Top 200. Each countdown included voiceovers announcing the countdown, Casey Kasem-style. “Up six notches to #12, it’s Peter Cetera with ‘The Glory of Love'” (…more)

98

Dionne Warwick

I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again

My Rating 9.22My 2015 Rating8.00Rate This!


97

Drifters

Save The Last Dance For Me

My Rating 9.22My 2015 Rating8.00Rate This!


96

R.E.M.

Losing My Religion

My Rating 9.22My 2015 Rating9.00Rate This!


95

U2

One

My Rating 9.23My 2015 Rating9.00Rate This!


94

Lionel Richie

Truly

My Rating 9.23My 2015 Rating7.00Rate This!


93

Cyndi Lauper

All Through The Night

My Rating 9.23My 2015 Rating10.00Rate This!


92

Mitch & Micky

A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow

My Rating 9.24My 2015 Rating7.00Rate This!


91

Chicago

Look Away

My Rating 9.24My 2015 Rating8.00Rate This!


90

Bee Gees

Too Much Heaven

My Rating 9.25My 2015 Rating8.00Rate This!


89

Duran Duran

Come Undone

My Rating 9.25My 2015 Rating9.00Rate This!

In the oughts, I operated the Shoutcast streaming station “Toastie Radio – Love Songs and More”. I’d be excited when there might be some 40 or so concurrent users around the world and people from far-flung places would sign the guestbook. The guestbook, yes. But I had had the goal of making a fully functional website with lots of PHP and mySQL programming. My vision never materialized. And I realized a lot of the listeners were bots that were ripping the music off the stream. And I was paying $100/month for a dedicated remote server.

Back to 2011. I was curious what a Top 100 15-20 years later might look like. But it had been so long. I could surely come up with 200 or 300. And then top379.com was an available domain. And so I decided my WordPress project would be to countdown my top 379 songs.

One song a day for a little over a year. I’d hit number one on Valentine’s Day 2013. That didn’t quite work out. The bulk of my time was not spent on making an awesome design or on designing some backend database structure that would make for an amazing dynamic data-driven site. It was spent looking up countdown data from obscure websites. And once I started figuring out every country I could find where a song charted, I felt obliged to continue that process. An hour a night was not sustainable.

Not to mention, I constantly lacked the confidence to post these sappy, schlocky ballads. Did I REALLY still like all of these Air Supply songs? I just wouldn’t be in the mood to deal with the question. I’ve listened to a lot of different music in the past 3-4 years, and my taste for sentimentality has dulled significantly. It’s hard to be motivated to post about songs I care nothing about and may be embarrassed to admit liking.

Well, I didn’t intend for this to be a recap of the history of the Top 379. It’s just a recap of the last 10 songs. Now that I’m under a hundred songs to go, I can see an end in sight…somewhere. I feel a need to finish this out, even if there is little interest from anyone including myself to persist. Frankly, I don’t even want to hear half the songs remaining in the countdown, though some of that may be a reflection of my current null-pointer relationship status. (Don’t ask what that means).

So…88 songs to go. Maybe if I can go through two a week, I’ll be done by the end of the year, or next Valentine’s Day.

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If you can’t stand the heat

I’m the one person who does not get excited to find 72-degree temperatures in early February. I do not not like it one bit. In North Carolina, I’m lucky to get perhaps four straight weeks of temps below 60. Spring and summer can encroach at any time. I love the few nights a year when it dips into the teens. It’s invigorating. I’m a fan of the cool air, in general. 62 degrees. That’s perfect. But 72, in February? Ugh.

Why am I such a loner when it comes to my weather preferences?

Body image issues. For years, I was overweight, with my enlarged polycystic kidneys giving me the appearance of man expected twins Colder temps mean the ability to cover up the body in oversized shirts and sweaters and coats. Warmer temps mean exposing yourself. And if you see yourself in a grotesque light, this is awful.

Sweat. I’m a hairy guy. I sweat a lot. Warm temps, more sweat. Gross, especially for an perpetually out-of-shape guy. Even when it’s only 72 degrees, I’m sweating. Heck, if it’s 50 degrees, and I’m wearing a coat, and the sun is out, I’m sweating.

Immunosuppressants. While I’m hard-pressed to find any evidence now when I Google for it, I was told following my kidney transplant that my Prograf might make me experience the environment as warmer than the average person experience. A 70-degree living room feels like 80. A 74-degree office feels like 84. A cool summer day in the low 80s feels like the low 90s. Etc. Today, with the sun beaming down, is already uncomfortable.

Skin cancer! Related to the above, immunosuppressants put me at higher risk for skin cancer. I’m already so moley. I have no desire to wear bee-keeper attire to keep out the sun. If I wear long sleeves, I’m going to sweat. I get scoffed out when I say I don’t like the beach. Really, I love the idea of the beach, but it’s a horrible place for me to spend more than few minutes.

It’s depressing. What?  You’re thinking, I thought the short days of winter were responsible for depressed moods. For most, sure. For me, the warm temps are a stark reminder of the passage of time. Stuff growing out of the ground? Holy shit, please, no, not yet, too soon! I’ve got lot of life to get right and not enough time to do it. No springtime temperatures yet, please!

So when you exclaim what a gorgeous day it is, and I shrug, this is why.

All things are possible with Dog

Was going to be excited to post something from RunKeeper, would’ve been the first thing I logged in a year…but the GPS went haywire and logged three times farther than Moksha and I actually went. First real run/walk with Moksha. Will need to force myself to do more of these. And perhaps and actually blog for real. This was going to be a Facebook post but then I realized I could just as easily post this to WordPress.

image

I shall write

I was on the receiving end of a blast email from entrepeneur and Iron Yard investor John Saddington encouraging the list to blog. I had been inspired by John before when I first began at the Iron Yard in June and he encouraged the cohort to write. I adopted this Bull City Dave moniker and decided I’d be bold and transfer the old blog here, despite the obvious risks. As the summer went on, I found it difficult to reconcile being authentic and writing regularly. It was a rough summer, for a lot of reasons, some of which I could have attempted to write about publicly and others that just would not have been appropriate to write about. Heck, I received some secondhand feedback that my tone in job interviews and networking schmooze events would trend negative just long enough to counter the enthusiasm and positivity I might have initially projected. Or, I speculate, these people actually looked me up later and read some of what I’ve written, and that’s what countered what I truly believe were, overall, far more positive self-presentations than I’ve been capable of in the past. Whatever the exact truth is, I’m well-aware that authenticity is a big risk. My theory is that my mixed success in attracting people is a combination of my own difficulties projecting a greater degree of self-confidence and other people’s problem exposing their own vulnerability. How dare I say what I really think about topic X when they’ve been taught to and religiously practiced avoiding such topics in professional. I’ll try to be clear that I’m not referring to topics that should be taboo in professional informational interviews–politics, sex, religion, etc. I’m referring to topics such as what truly interests you in your career and what’s sucked the life out of you. And I don’t mean being insulting or disrespectful when touching on negatives. I’m unfulfilled when I am desparate to build and create things, and I’m left watching the work outsourced and having to be the one to assign out that work and later correct it. Anyway, I’m rambling, which I’m going to do if I take up writing again. This was meant to be an introduction.

 

I’m using, for the first time, John’s Desk app for O.S X, which I was relucutant to pony up the $30 for, and there’s no trial version, but, after reading his post today, I recalled how anxious I was to try this a few months back and that I do trust that I’ll enjoy the experience of writing. And I really do. Apple did give a Best App of 2014 award. Writing within the bloated WordPress website can add stress to the writing process. Desk is crisp and clean, and I feel like a writer. (Not that I am; and I ought to stop saying things like that.)

Anyway, it’s 4:14 in the afternoon on a day off, and I am overwhelmed with the number of things I want to accomplish. One of those things was getting some blogging in, and I’ve done that now, though I haven’t gotten to any actual content.

 

Indeed, I even interrupted by little recap of thig blog. So, I was apprehensive about blogging anything all that personal. Posts were sporadic. Coding problems. Pet posts. Meta-blogging posts. Top 379 posts. Years ago, with the pseudonym-authored blog, I’d blog several times a day. I miss that. I miss not having much of a filter. I suppose, back then, the blog wasn’t associated with my name, and even if it was, I had bigger problems, like being a dialysis. I had so many days when I just didn’t give a shit.

 

Yeah, so, even before the move to Bull City Dave, my blog had withered. I wasn’t writing, and there were so many topics worthy of writing about. (Not that one needs to find “worthy” topics. Someone who feels the need to write should just write).

 

I’m going to rattle off some topics that I’ve failed to adequately expound on over the past couple of years. That’s not a promise to write about them now, just an acknowledgement that blog posts are always churning and just never leaving my mind.

 

Improv – It’s been over 2 years now. Still taking classes yet no idea where it’s going and, to be quite blunt, I don’t think I’m very good at it at all. And I didn’t intend to actually write a blurb about these topics that I very quickly wanted to list, so let’s move on.

Running – I started taking improv classes in 2012. 2013 was the year I started running. And stopped running. I felt good at the end of 2013 that I was slowly geting myself into shape. And then 2014 was the year (like all the years prior to 2013) that I sat on my ass. It’s terrible, really. It’s always been so difficult for me to find any exercise regimen I could stick with. I have no 2015 plan as of now.

Kidney health– Ah, the missing element from my career story. “I did something very specialized for a long time but could never get out of it and do something else.” Or something like that, my story goes, when I tell someone how I arrived at The Iron Yard and my front end development career. I leave out the whole health-gradually-deteroriating, two years on dialysis, subsequent kidney transplant and nephrectomies that ate up years and years in which just surviving was all I could handle. And how’s my kidney health now? Good. 3 1/2 years post-transplant and 2 years post-second-nephrectomy, my one kidney is doing quite well. But, like I said, I haven’t done any exercise for a year, so I’ve treated my new body badly, and I’m not happy about this.

Pets – Yeah, I post pics and videos of my pets and a blurb when a pet dies. But I wish I had taken the time to write about what it’s like to mourn the loss of an old pet. What it’s like to adopt a pit bull mix. What it’s like to take in foster cats. What it’s like to have this life that revolves around pets. What it’s like when you’re very aware that you sound ridiculous talking about your pets, particularly when virtually everyone else has actual human children who are, I’ve heard, somewhat more challenging to take care of than cats and dogs. There’s real stuff to write about there. I wish I did more of that.

[I really hope that Desk autosaves, because I’m just typing, and while it feels good to run my fingers through the keys and see thoughts transferred to the screen, I actually do want this out there. Well, I hit Save; not sure if I needed to or not.]

The music site – “The music site”? What, am I embarrassed to even mention it by name? Yeah, I am. Top 379. I’ll cringe thinking about it, feel like it’s a poor representation of who I am, that it’s a silly project, that the lack of actual coding behind it is embarrassing and I ought not share it, and then I persist in updating it now and then. Because I hate the idea of quitting something. It’s a countdown. By definition, it is finite and should end at some point. It was supposed to end sometime in early 2013, but I didn’t stick with it. Because it’s ridiculous. And I no longer want to be known as that guy who listens to horrible music and has such limited horizons. But then I do go on the site, and I hear some very cheesy song from 20 years ago, and I think, “I do love this shit.”

The pet profile site – I’m not embarrassed to use the name. pett.io But it is the trademark of a Chinese company that makes pet strollers, so I should change it. I have a couple of an ideas. But I have far more to say about the site.

Front end web development – I have far more to say about this, overall. I wish I had been logging every programming challenge I’ve encountered and how I resolved it. I’m curious to observe my evolution and not afraid of exposing my shortcomings. Ok, somewhat afraid.

 

This is sufficient for now. I’m not going to read back over what I’ve just written. I’m not going to proofread. My brain doesn’t always do the best job of getting the correct words done, and some errors are downright baffling to me when I read things back. But I’ll leave this unedited and get it up there.

 

The big Top 379 catch-up post

112

Air Supply

Every Woman In The World

My Rating 9.16Visitor Rating7.00Rate This!


111

Chicago

Hard Habit To Break

My Rating 9.16Visitor Rating8.00Rate This!


110

Bette Midler

Glory Of Love

My Rating 9.16Visitor Rating6.00Rate This!


109

Dido

White Flag

My Rating 9.17Visitor Rating7.00Rate This!


108

Chicago

Colour My World

My Rating 9.17Visitor Rating9.33Rate This!


107

Coldplay

Fix You

My Rating 9.19Visitor Rating5.67Rate This!


106

Celine Dion

It’s All Coming Back To me

My Rating 9.20Visitor Rating7.75Rate This!


105

Patty Smyth & Don Henley

Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

My Rating 9.20Visitor Rating7.00Rate This!


104

Barry Manilow

Can’t Smile Without You

My Rating 9.20Visitor Rating7.33Rate This!


103

Cyndi Lauper

Time After Time

My Rating 9.20Visitor Rating7.33Rate This!


102

Harry Nilsson

Without You

My Rating 9.20Visitor Rating7.50Rate This!


101

Bon Jovi

It’s My Life

My Rating 9.21Visitor Rating8.00Rate This!


100

Richard Marx

Chains Around My Heart

My Rating 9.21Visitor Rating6.00Rate This!


99

Kermit The Frog

The Rainbow Connection

My Rating 9.21Visitor Rating9.00Rate This!

I just wrote a meandering explanation of what this is all about, and how it’s been 51 weeks since I made a Top 379 post in this blog. Then, my writing devolved into the typical meta-blogging. And I wasn’t happy with what I was going to post. Writing for the sake of writing? Not publicly. Not right now. So, posting now without further comment.

Trinket: using background gradient with background to improve text legibility

I’ve been playing around with Trinket, a Durham-built app that lets anyone create interactive coding lessons. Originally, the site let you build Python trinkets but has expanded to HTML 5 trinkets. As I’ve tweaked pett.io’s splash page over the weeks, I’ve experimented with the use of various gradients, particularly after I decided I needed to look at a different image every time I came to the site, rather than just the original one of Zellouisa. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time finding the perfect images for overlaying white text. Just adding a transparent black gradient helped a lot. And that inspired me to create a Trinket. I wish I had some time to delve more into what’s going on and create better examples. And there are other ways to accomplish clean text overlays of images. Anyway…here it is… I’m a Trinket fan.

https://trinket.io/embed/html/548c44b9b6

Pet profile site now allows updating of profiles (v 0.1.49)


I know, you’d think that would have been functionality from Day 1. But there hasn’t been a Day 1 for this app. Still WIP (or, as I keep saying…a proof-of-concept!)

You’ve always been able to create as many pets as you want and add as many pictures as you want (and toss in Flickr photos, though I know no one uses Flickr.) But now you can go back and edit that profile. How cool is that? I know, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

Lots and lots of time poured into <a href=pett.io, and I’m actually kinda proud of it. There’s still an infinite amount of work to do before I’d say every pet owner and rescue group in the world should use it, but I’m going to keep at it.

Did you add your pets yet? Go head, add ’em. Do you have a profile because I told you to create one but haven’t touched it in a month? There’s never been a better time to update it!