Introducing Smolblog

Around the end of last year, I wrote an essay about what made Tumblr unique in the blogging world, followed by another essay about different technologies that can be used by a blog platform. And then I did nothing.

Well, not nothing. I went and got a new job. I also started sketching out some more concrete ideas. And while I want to be farther along in the actual development of things, I also want to start getting feedback on the ideas themselves.

Full disclosure: I’m great at talking about ideas, but I’m still learning to actually execute on them. Which is kinda disappointing, since the execution is where so many ideas go from "good" to "awesome." So, bear in mind, this is an idea. It may not get very far, it may not get very good, it may crash and burn spectacularly. But these are problems I have wanted to solve for myself, and if I can help solve them for others, then I feel that I must try. So with that, let me announce…

Continue reading Introducing Smolblog

I Like To Appreciate

I appreciate a lot of things, and I like a lot of things. They are not necessarily the same things.

In my personal dictionary, when I appreciate something it is usually on its more concrete qualities. I appreciate the workmanship of a well-built desk. I appreciate the fuel efficiency of a moped. I appreciate the cuss out of my laptop’s battery life. These are all quantifiable qualities: I can back up my appreciation with numbers and comparisons.

I also appreciate less-quantifiable things. I appreciate the way an illustrator uses facial expressions to convey emotion. I appreciate an author’s use of language to set a mood. I appreciate a composer’s ability to weave chords and melody together and a drummer’s ability to play the cuss out of some drums. These things are less quantifiable but still concrete to some extant.

All of these things add up to a healthy appreciation for something, and that is usually the biggest factor into whether I will recommend something for general consumption.

But it doesn’t mean I like it.

To me, liking something means I can connect with it on an emotional level. This connection is usually dependent on very personal factors: my temperament, my experiences, my ideals. Something I like will often remind me of or awaken in me a strong, unfulfilled desire for something, and it almost always ends up inspiring my imagination to go to new places.

It’s hard for me to recommend things on this basis alone. Usually if I like something, I’ll say things like “It’s not for everyone” or “Your mileage may vary.” I’m well aware of the personal nature of my feelings, and it’s hard to justify a recommendation simply based on that.

Maybe it’s a confidence problem: I’m not sure enough in my own taste to confidently recommend something. Maybe it’s a language issue, and I need to figure out the right words to use to differentiate my feelings. Or maybe it’s a false dichotomy, and I simply need to accept the fact that as a complex human being my opinions can be equally complex.

Maybe I just need to appreciate that I don’t always know why I like something.

The Voice

It was the middle of the night in the middle of winter my freshman year when God spoke to me.

I was skirting the edge of depression and worrying about the future. In this particular case I had worked up the courage to walk across campus to see if some girls I had been hanging out with were around. They weren’t. On the way back to my side of campus I stopped at the lake to calm myself. The part of my brain that I should never listen to (yet always do) was yelling again about how much trouble my future was in. In this case, it was how my fear of approaching women and my general personality and just absolutely everything about me was going to mean that I was not going to find my wife at college even though most people do and that meant I was never going to find a wife in general and so on.

So I went down to the lake to pray.

Now, when I say “pray,” you should read “talked and sometimes yelled out loud at God because there was no one else to listen.” It was more than a little irreverent, but it was what I needed. I poured out everything: how anxious I was about the future, how I was afraid that even if God brought the right person into my life I’d be too stupid to notice her, how lonely I was, and how afraid I was that I’d always be lonely. And while I didn’t hear a voice, my thoughts went in a direction that was completely different from where they were going.

In that moment, it was like God took the scared, freaking out child that I was, took him gently by the shoulders, knelt down, looked him in the eyes, and said, “Evan, I have been watching out for you your entire life. Why would I stop now, especially on something that is this important to you?”

I was still scared. But a lot less freaked out. And—spoiler alert—I found her.

This week, I’ve been skirting the edge of depression (maybe more than skirting, to be honest) and worrying about the future. In this particular case, I’ve been without a job for three months now. I’ve been searching and interviewing, and I’ve been subject to the usual delays and pitfalls of a job search. Despite my relative success at keeping myself busy with a nice side project, I’ve been giving into panic more than I care to admit. The part of my brain that I should never listen to (yet always do) is yelling again about how much trouble my future is in. In this case, it’s how my lack of what I perceive as a robust background is going to mean I can’t get a job and if I do get a job is it going to be one that I will enjoy and not just show up to and will I really be able to do the job if I do get it and so on.

Time to go down to the park to pray, but somehow I don’t think the message has changed.

I Tried To Make a Good “Blackbaud” Pun To Title This Post But Nothing Can Top “Raisers Edge”

Today was my last official day at Blackbaud. Never you mind that I haven’t done any work for them since I got the news two and a half weeks ago. I knew a lot of great people there, and I will miss working with all of them.

I want to be clear right now: there are no hard feelings on this end. Maybe someday later I’ll post some navel gazing and tell all of you in Internet-land just how I’m feeling right now, but suffice it to say this is a beginning, not an ending. I’m chasing down some leads here in the Greenville area, but if you know of anything that fits my resume please get in touch.

If you’re thinking about working at Blackbaud and you’ve ended up here by some happenstance, let me tell you to give them a shot. The people you work with and report to make or break your experience, and all of the managers I’ve worked under have been great. They’ve congratulated me on successes, given me a push when I needed it (and I have needed several), and taken an interest in me as a person, not just an asset. They have set a high standard for anyone else I will be working for.

So now we get to wade elbow-deep in the cesspit that is free-market insurance (until I get a full-time job). It’s not as bad as I was afraid it would be, but it still leaves much to be desired. I’m finishing up my iOS self-study program; no idea when I’ll get an app in the store, though you can bet I’ll post here when I do. All that to say, to those that have supported us, thanks. We’re ok, but we might ask for help. In the form of cookies.

My God is so big…

Edit: Altru: no faults. (Thanks, Brittany!)

So Long…

There’s about 3 hours left in 2011 here in South Carolina. I’m probably going to do some new years survey thing in the next 24 hours or so. But for right now, I’d like to end this year. And so…

To everyone, my friends, my family, my co-workers, my wife, my God: I have not been all I could have been this year. I have probably let you down at some point this year, and for that I truly apologize. I don’t regret this year; there have been some amazing memories and triumphs this year. But right now I’m painfully aware of my shortcomings. This hasn’t been brought on by one particular thing; it’s just some general depression and anxiety I’m dealing with. And right now I want nothing more than to leave all… (gestures to all of that) this in 2011. In the past.

So here’s to a new leaf, a new beginning. God’s grace is new every day, including tomorrow. Happy new year, everyone; I’ll see you in 2012.

Next To Godliness

I had a job satisfaction crisis earlier in the week. In reality it was more of a life satisfaction crisis, but a crisis of that kind is usually called a “mid-life crisis” and isn’t supposed to come until you’re 32, not 23. Besides, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it led to a realization that, while not completely positive, is better than the depths of despair.

This particular crisis was instigated by the realization that I’m spending a third of my time on a project that isn’t mine. I knew that going in. That’s what comes with any job where you aren’t self-employed. Duh. I figured I’d make up for it with my spare time projects like I had been doing in college. For a while I did that, and I managed to get my album out the door in the process. And then it stopped.

Normally around this point I’d say something to the effect of ‘I have no idea why I stopped.’ But now I do. See, I’ve finally realized that I work best creatively in a clean environment. And my room is a mess. But logically it makes sense. Why does my room get in a mess? Because I don’t feel like I have the energy to put things in their proper place. In other words, if my life is a mess, my room is a mess. So if my room is a mess, I feel like my life is a mess and therefore cannot focus my creative energy appropriately.

Right now, my room is a mess. That’s about to change. Brittany, hold me to that.

2008: Time To Grow Up

If I had to sum up 2008 in one word, it would be “woah.” If you could give me an extra word, though, it would be “growing up.” In my personal life (and in some ways the world around me) this year has been about growing up.

2008 was the year I finally had to come to grips with the fact that not everyone I meet or spend time with will like me. And even when I’ve apologized as much as I can (or even farther), other people may still decide not to forgive me (despite what they say to my face). And in the end, what I’m responsible for is forgiving them; anything past that is in God’s hands.

2008 was when I was hit in the face with the fact that the best laid plans of mice and men will quickly come to ruin, especially if God has anything to say about it. Case in point: this time last year I was hoping to get a web development job in Greenville. Between February and April, I shifted focus and ended up taking a .NET programming job in Charleston after being offered my ideal position in Greenville. Crazy, huh?

2008 was when we as a nation finally realized that placing most of our investments in funds and bonds that were so complicated even the best economists didn’t know exactly how they worked was a bad idea. Those funds? They were backed by shaky mortgages. Maybe easy access to credit isn’t such a great idea after all…

2008 was also when we as a nation took another giant step forward in moving past racism. It already says something when people in my generation have to be reminded that racism exists. I know that it is far from eradicated–and this election doesn’t change that–but as a symbolic gesture, the fact that we have elected a president whose skin tone is different from the majority of the population says that it is far less of a stumbling block than it once was.

2008 was when I realized that maybe I had skills other people might want. I thought it would be much more of a struggle than it was to find a job. Yes, I interviewed several places that said I wasn’t experienced enough, but I still received more than one job offer. I still ended up talking to organizations that I never thought would consider me.

And that spilled over into other areas too. See, 2008 was the year I finally got tired of being the odd-numbered wheel. But since I wasn’t willing to try my luck with anyone around me, I signed up for an online dating service. And said so on facebook. And was promptly chewed out by someone I was kinda interested in. See, there were people around me that I was afraid to notice. But when I finally decided to allow myself to think in that direction…

2008 will always be the year I graduated. The year I got my first job. Moved out. Finished my CD. But I will always remember this year as the year I fell in love.

Maybe growing up isn’t so bad after all…

The Screw Is Driven

Thoughts while recovering from my first self-made screwdriver:

  • I can’t tell if I made it stronger or weaker; the lack of ice ruined my frame of reference. Don’t worry, both the OJ and the vodka were chilled.
  • Drinking it from a coffee mug is so much more college kid than a high ball glass.
  • Buying from Total Wine is a pain if you’re exactly 21 (like I am). They have to xerox your drivers license and get you to fill out a form. Every. Freaking. Time.
  • You need the drink to get though the first two thirds of Hot Fuzz, after that, the explosions kick in.
  • Despite the hassle, I’ll probably go back to Total Wine. Four shots worth of vodka there is cheaper than one screwdriver at our usual hangout.

Next on the list: Black Cherry Vodka and… what? Give me some suggestions!

Slick Roads + Evan Driving = Not Fun

Sometimes God throws a curveball and it’s fun. Sometimes it’s not. I had a not-so-fun curveball this past weekend in the form of a car wreck.

Setup: I’m in Charleston for the weekend to catch up with friends and family. The incident in question is on Saturday.

Scenario: slick roads, wet Evan. The guy in front of me was going too slow for my tastes (turns out he was the smart one), so I went around him and tried to pull back into the lane and turn onto the freeway. I pulled into the lane, but I went into the curve so fast the car drifted and I ended up hitting the wall at about… oh, 15 MPH.

Initial assessment: bent rim on tire (could be bad), missing hubcap (who cares?), missing cover on turn signal (again, who cares?), and punctured windshield washer fluid tank (never worked anyway). I managed to limp home and discovered the bent rim was indeed bad. Very bad. I limped over to the tire place only to have them tell me I needed a new rim. It’s Saturday afternoon; all the wheel places are closed until Monday.

I had planned to get back to Greenville Sunday night. So much for that…

By that evening I had pretty much resigned myself to the fate. There was some talk about me hitching a ride back to Greenville with someone, but that never materialized. The overwhelming consensus of those who had seen the car was that the wheel was pretty much the only thing wrong. All I needed to do was get a new rim, get the tire installed on it, and get out!

Monday morning, the phone calls begin. Place number one doesn’t have the rim. Place number two isn’t answering the phone. Honda dealership number one doesn’t have it. Honda dealership number two doesn’t have it. They offer to order it for $140. My response. The Boss (my dad) suggests calling salvage yards. Before I do, though, place number two calls me back. They’ve got it, and it’s only $46. Score.

Here’s where things get a little frustrating. Mom suggests that since Unnamed Tire Company referred us to Place Number Two, we should let them install the tire and do the alignment. They end up charging me twice as much as the (Christian!) business down the street. When asked why, they claimed the place down the street only does “part of the alignment.” Bulls–t. It ended up being just shy of $100 there to have the tire installed, the old wheel disposed of (I wanted to hang it on my wall, dangit!), and the alignment done.

And it’s not over yet. I ended up having to drive it back to the place because of some noise coming from the wheel in question. They gave it the twice-over and concluded that the car was safe to drive; I should get my brakes checked before too long, though.

I end up not being ready to leave until 6pm. But my good buddy the rain had returned, and apparently I’m not the only person in Charleston that doesn’t know how to drive in the rain. There were several accidents that tied up traffic until I was well out of Charleston. Finally made it back to Greenville around 10:30, too tired to even go grab some Smirnoff.

I’m still recovering emotionally. I’m still trying to decide if it’s resignation I feel, or if it’s just a refusal to stay put, or if it’s anger/resentment toward God. Honestly, I don’t know. Obviously, there’s a reason it happened. (For one thing, I was able to sell my old camcorder to some podcaster for $150, so that covers everything. If I had left Sunday, I couldn’t have made the sale.) The problem is, I don’t know what the reason is, and every reason I come up with isn’t good enough. Unless, of course, God’s trying to teach me something about myself — and by extension, Him.

Lesson: God is God, and I’m not. This is the one thing that I know.



It’s a wonderful feeling, really. Getting what you don’t deserve. I guess that’s the lesson I had to learn. See, I was saved as a small child. There was never any one moment I can point to and say “There’s my epiphany; that’s where I first experienced Grace!” For me it’s been more of a slow realization, a gradual increase in knowledge of Grace. Well, I just got my biggest shot of it.

CS-30: B
CS-38: A-
HST-A55: B
Cumulative Grade Point Average: 3.011

This means I get to keep my Furman Scholarships

In all honesty, I don’t know how this is true. I’m fully expecting my mom to get an e-mail tomorrow that says there was a mistake and I got a D in CS-30. But what really interests me is how by mid-term I had — and still have — accepted the fact that my grades won’t be what I want them to be. I’m going to lose financial aid. God has a plan and I have to work with it. For a while I thought that plan was for me to stay at Furman, even if it meant incurring a little debt. The friendships I’ve made there and the real-world experience I’m getting outside of class are worth the price.

And now this. I may not have to go into mountains of debt after all. That, my friends, is grace. And it’s helping me see what Grace really is. Amen?