The Obama era: a perspective.

Thoughts on Obama's presidency

An acquaintance of mine posted this yesterday on Facebook.  He gave permission for posting elsewhere on the condition that he not receive credit.  I share it here, for the ages.   [Read more…]

Coming full circle

First, let me post the TL;DR version right up top: Shirly and I have suspended all efforts to adopt.  We have closed our old site,, and have deactivated our account on  I’m sure this is disappointing and even heartbreaking to our friends and family, who have held out hope and prayed for us and with us as we have sought the blessing of posterity.  We’re simply at a point of spiritual exhaustion with respect to this matter, for reasons that should be abundantly clear in the course of this post. [Read more…]

Belkin B2B128 and macOS Sierra: how to get them working again

I’m fairly militant on keeping my electronics running the latest updates – security, stability and all that.  Which made it frustrating that, after I installed macOS Sierra on my MacBook Air, my Belkin B2B128 Ethernet adapter stopped functioning.  The USB outlets seemed to work fine, but the Ethernet functionality – which is of course the main reason I bought the thing – was AWOL.

I put up with it for a while and got by with WiFi – grudgingly, I might add, since our router is right next to my home office desk – but now that I’m on a consulting assignment with a different client whose WiFi is less than reliable, matters came to a head.  I need Ethernet on my notebook, ASAP.  So I jumped on a chat with somebody from Belkin.  His response: sorry, it’s broken, we no longer support it, you’ll have to get a replacement.

Seriously?  This thing cost me around $50 last year.  It worked fine until the latest macOS update.  This is a software issue, not a hardware issue, meaning it’s easily remedied.  I griped on Twitter, which yielded this response:

Thankfully, Tom’s Hardware came to the rescue.  Seems that, in cases like these when a software update breaks something (which seems to happen with USB 3.0 hardware), you’re better off checking with the chipset manufacturer, which in this instance is an outfit called Asix.  I went here, downloaded and installed their latest driver (compatible with macOS 10.12, AKA Sierra), and I’m back in business.

Hey, Belkin?  Get with the program.

The undelivered eulogy

On June 18, after many years of struggle with drug addiction, my youngest brother Chris was found dead of an overdose.  At the funeral service, a close friend to Chris and one of our brothers spoke.  For my own healing process, I elected to write a eulogy of my own.

Let me repeat here what I have personally told my brother and Chris’s friend: nothing about this blog post should be considered an attempt to “set the record straight,” or to somehow clarify or articulate more effectively anything either of them said at the funeral service.  One or both of them covered what follows here; they truly did an exceptional job honoring his memory.  I wrote this to help my own mourning process, simple as that. 

I should also say that they have earned my respect.  It’s taken me literally months to write what they turned around in just a few days.

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A sincere request: please help me answer this question

So I’m filling out adoption paperwork for our latest attempt at a home study.  Those of you who have gone through this experience know something of how probing these forms can be.  This is one of the questions it asks:

How would others describe you?

I have an idea of what people might say about me.  But different people have seen different sides of me: those who know me in a professional setting are likely to say something rather different than my friends who have only seen me at church.

Because I prefer not to speculate if I can help it, and because I am sincerely desirous to know, I ask you who know me to please answer this question.

Really, I’m serious.  This isn’t a bait-and-switch, or an attempt to determine who my “real friends” are.  If you know me, how would you describe me?  Feel free to go into as little or as much detail as you want.  Don’t worry about hurting my feelings – if you think I’m insufferable, by all means, let me have it.  All I ask is your complete honesty.  And if you prefer to remain anonymous, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email via the contact form.

Unstoppable force versus immovable object: dealing with crying toddlers in public

Well, this caused quite a little shoving match on the intertubes last week.  Up to a certain point, it was fairly pedestrian: parents take toddler to restaurant, toddler gets wrapped around the axle about something and starts crying.  And then, the wrench in the gears: the restaurant owner comes out and, well…

Naturally, there are a couple of different perspectives of precisely what happened; mom’s version of events is here.  Look, we’ve all had to deal with somebody else’s cranky kid at one time or another.  I find it especially delightful on airplanes, but that’s just a personal preference.  I’ve also found Reasons My Son Is Crying quite amusing, which virtually guarantees that we will end up with a child who considers going thermonuclear a genre of performance art.  But what if that’s the only way we can really learn to cope with toddler meltdowns?  This account suggests that “there is only one guaranteed cure for getting annoyed by it: having a kid.”

For non parents, a crying child on a plane will provoke feelings of rage. For people with a recent memory of parenting, that same crying child will provoke feelings of sympathy for the parent—and perhaps a little relief that it isn’t their problem this time.

It’s like a vaccination; once you’ve had kids, you’ve heard so much relentless crying, your brain has developed an immunity. That’s probably why the allegedly inattentive diner parents didn’t even hear what so vexed the diner owner.

While I’ve worked around enough toddlers that their crying doesn’t quite set me on edge as much as it once did, I’ve heard this from a few parents: that once you have your own, hearing a child cry just doesn’t provoke as it once did.  It almost sounds like Harry Potter after he had destroyed the fragment of the Dark Lord’s soul that had attached itself to his own; once it was gone, he could no longer speak Parseltongue.*

In any event, once we have a child of our own, I do hope to be considerate and remove the child if he/she starts getting fussy.  But as in the case of this story, there are circumstances when taking the child elsewhere just isn’t an option.  So let’s hear from you parents.  What do you do in such a situation?

*Yes, I just compared having a child to battling Voldemort. #sorrynotsorry

MBA: check.

Ryan graduated from the University of Texas

Hook ’em Horns.

A long, complicated story preceded this picture. I hope to start telling it soon.  For now, it’s enough to say that a goal more than three years in the making has been accomplished.  (In the meantime, read this.)

“Hello, is this thing on?” (taps on microphone)

Shirly with a new little friend

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Contact Form 7 not working? Consider Jetpack

I’ve been doing some consulting recently for a local start-up that has used school computers for sale.  When I put their website together, I did what I’ve done for numerous other clients: I used Contact Form 7 to put some email forms on the site.  I put a shortcode in a sidebar widget for an email form.  But for some reason, although the main contact form worked with no problem, emails submitted through the sidebar form failed, every time.

After some research and discussion with the hosting provider, I reached the conclusion that there was some issue with the sidebar that was breaking the shortcode’s functionality.  Bottom line: I would need to either insert the code manually into the template (I try to avoid that), buy a premium plugin (not really an option in this case) or use some other hack such as Foxy Form.

However, I discovered a simple workaround via Jetpack, the free service from Automattic that connects self-hosted WordPress sites with  Very handy way of getting an email form into a site without running around looking for a new plugin.

RSS Live Links RIP

So I was looking at the row of extension buttons in Google Chrome, specifically hunting for the RSS Live Links icon so I could catch up on search news.  When I realized…it was gone.  I looked in my list of installed extensions to see if it had gotten switched to inactive for some reason.  Nowhere to be found.

Where on earth did it go?  I hunted around a bit, and found this.

As the original author of RSS Live Links, I sold the extension in January to what I thought would be a safe home. Unfortunately, that home then sold it on. I have contacted the new owners and have received a very curt reply that Google pulled the extension (I have not been told why) and that they are working to reinstate it.

I apologise to all for this – my intention when selling it was to ensure its continued survival in the face of my lack of time to maintain it.

Well, isn’t that unfortunate.  Fortunately I found a good replacement: RSS Feed Reader.  If you’re a Chrome user looking for a good RSS extension, seriously check it out.  It’s everything RSS Live Links was and then some.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I need to go hunt down a bunch of RSS feeds.  🙁