Category Archives: Journal

Default – Self reflection etc.

Says it all

Tonight, Barack Obama won the election to become the next President of the United States.

After the events unfolded tonight, both candidates gave closing remarks to mark the end of their campaigns.  As McCain spoke, he mentioned Barack Obama a couple times.  He mentioned that he called to congratulate him, that he was honored to run against him, and really he was pretty gracious and respectful in defeat.

Obama’s closing remarks were similar, being respectful of McCain and focusing on uniting the nation regardless of political party.

There was one huge difference that literally says it all about this whole campaign and candidacy on both sides.  One gleaming ray of perfect clarity that shows everything wrong with our economy, our country, and us as a collective citizen.

As John McCain mentioned Obama during his speech, it drew astoundingly negative reaction from the crowd.  The sound of the crowds “boo” of disrespect was enough for even McCain to call out “Please… Please….” and signify them to stop.  It might have seemed insignificant to most viewers and listeners, but to me it was a very bold and underscored point of low that shouldn’t exist.   It’s extremely sad and shows how naive, disrespectful, and inconsiderate so many of us are.

I am proud to say that I voted for Barack Obama.  And I’m even prouder to say that there were no disrespectful reactions from his crowd when he mentioned John McCain with his closing speech.

This, in my mind, says it all.

Mr. Obama – if you are ever in Grand Rapids Michigan I am going to buy you a beer.

Scare Me

I thought I would throw out a little Halloween spirit tonight with this post.

I enjoy a good scare – plain and simple.  And I’m not talking about the kind of scare where somebody sneaks up behind you, or the kind of scare where you see a deer run in front of you as you’re driving;  I’m talking hold me mommy, I lost control of my bodily functions, sheer frightened.  There’s always been something fun about it for me that I suppose I can’t really explain.

Obviously since I am now a grown man, I don’t really get scared this way (at least, not nearly as often as I did growing up).  🙂   so I wanted to document some of the better scary moments I had back in the day…

Starting off with a light one – One scary thing I can remember is renting “Resident Evil” with Vanbergs on some random Friday night.  We rented that game, and holed up in our room all night long with no lights on taking turns playing through the game.  At the time, we were just terrified, but we had fun doing it…  The game played like a legit horror movie, and we psyched ourselves out by playing it in total darkness.  “Barry… where’s Barry??”.  Granted this one doesn’t make the greatest story to tell – you kind of had to be there, but it’s worth mentioning.  If you played resident evil, you probably know what I’m saying.

Now we’ll up the anty just a bit with this story – One time when I was in jr high, a group of friends and I were playing a “Ouija” board at like midnight.  This group went the whole 9 yards.  We had candles out, lights out, a brand new Ouija board, everything.  Mostly it was kind of boring, and I was thinking it was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.  but then I distinctly remember one of the girls saying “please give us some kind of sign if anyone can hear us” – at which point the big candle next to her went out instantly and completely.  We turned the lights back on.

Finally, one of the scariest things I can remember – The story of Otis – We’ll begin with a background:
Growing up in Hart – one of the ‘town legends’ was that State Street gym was haunted by a man named Otis. I am unaware of his last name, and I’m not aware if this is true to any degree.   Anyway – St. Street gym was just ancient, it had a dingy basketball court with pale wood flooring, a grim looking theater stage with large retractable curtains, and back rooms with hallways that ran behind served as storage and locker rooms.  The large flourecent lights hummed loudly, and dark carpeting on the walls seemed to steal the light out of the room.  Even with a full crowd for junior high basketball games or school programs, it was an eerie place.

The story says that Otis was doing some roof work in the rafters of this gym, and somehow in a terrible accident he fell from the roof and died.

I’ve always thought this ‘could’ be true – because the basketball court floor had one spot where the wood flooring was different color.  On the court, about 10 feet in front of the drinking fountain, the wood was noticeably darker and textured differently.  I once laid down on that spot, and it was pretty much a direct shape and size as if somebody had fallen through the floor.  (Although, realistally it was probably cut up to replace some plumbing or something).

With that background, here’s one of the scariest moments I can remember.
After a basketball practice one night, there were a few of us hanging out in the gym shooting basketball.  As it got later into the evening, everyone started going home for the night – until finally there were only three of us left.   Lol – this is seriously so scary that I’m getting goosebumps writing about it.

Well, it got dark early (it was fall) so it was pretty dark outside by the time the last three of us headed into the locker room to change our clothes.  The lights were out, but you could make your way through the locker room by the light shining in from the court.  We were in the very back locker room….  The furthest away from the exit.  Just as we’re getting ready to start heading out of the gym, we hear a very loud “KLANG – KLANG – KLANG”  three distinct metal sounding bangs.  My heart fluttered a bit and the three of us looked at each other and shrugged it off.  But then we heard it again – “KLANG – KLANG – KLANG” the same sound.  At this point I was scared, but trying not to show it.  I zipped up my bag and we started walking out onto the court when we heard the same noise a third time.  This time it seemed much louder and much closer to us.  The frightened child in us overtook the rational young adult and we sprinted out of that gym like frightened school girls.

As we made our way outside, caught our breaths, and started to really think about it – we figured somebody had to be playing a joke.  There was only one entrance into that gym, and we just came out of it.  We decided we had to find out who was doing it.  One guy waited at the door while me and the third guy went in to check both locker rooms, the stage, and the seating.  We each went through one end of the gym and met back at the court, neither of us had found anybody inside.  Just as we start to make our way out, we hear the sound again – ‘KLANG…. KLANG….. KLANG…”.

I sprinted out of that gym, and all the way to my house…

So, with that type of feeling in mind I’m scouring google, netflix, and imdb for the scariest movies out there.  I’ve been queueing them all up in my Netflix.  But really, I struggle to find a ‘good’ scary movie.  I always come back to The Shining, Aliens, Saw (the only good one, imo), etc.

Newer movies almost always seem to miss the mark.  The Ring, house on haunted hill, movies like that have a great base but for me the endings just ruin the whole thing and make it cheesy.

Any scary movie ideas, readership?

Job Change

It’s not every day you have your “last day” at a job you’ve worked at for nearly 4 years.  But, that’s what today is for me.

Everyone’s been very nice to me during this transitional phase – but I can’t help feeling very strange about it all.  On one hand, it’s very exciting for me to be looking forward to an amazing new opportunity.  In fact, I can’t wait to start!  But on the other hand – the people I’ve worked with over these years have become friends; and it does feel strange to think I’ll never be back here again…

Regardless, I’m embracing this change in full, and I feel very optimistic being a young professional in an exciting field.  I’m realizing that the IT industry has alot to offer (even in West Michigan) – and it’s definitely worth seeing it from a fresh perspective.  And I must say – I don’t feel bad about getting out of banking with the current economic climate.  I’ll feel significantly more secure working in the health care industry.

All in all, it’s a very exciting time for me – and I look forward to learning alot of new things and getting a breath of fresh air.

Music Comeback

It’s probably just me – but for about a year I have struggled to find any ‘new’ music that I enjoy.  It’s partly my fault, because I’m admittedly picky about music for some reason.  But that has seemed to start changing lately…

First, I made a point to start using my ipod as it was MEANT to be used. Instead of hacking it, linuxing it, rockboxing it, etc;  I decided to push the default apple firmware onto it,  I upgraded to itunes 8,  and finally synced some new music over to it.

My ‘new’ music is mostly it’s new; but some is just new to me.  I’ve been listening to the following:

I really like Metallica’s new CD.  It’s cool to see they’ve gone back to their “roots” a bit with this new album… I didnt hate  albums like Load or Re-Load; but their older stuff was definitely better.

Taproot seems to continually improve;  They’re just a great band overall and their new Cd is just awesome.  I would even say I love Taproot.  

Finally, I simply must thank Russelteee for putting me into Austrian Death Machine.  This band plays sheer metal; and their subject matter is all based on Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.  The lead singer acts like Arnold, and the songs are based on movies like Terminator, Total Recall, and Predator.   It does sound a bit ridiculous, but the music is good and I cannot get enough of this band.  

Finally, it’s been good to be able to take advantage of my ipod.  Particularly in my car.  I previously used a DLO transpod, which is an FM transmitter that has never fit very well in my car because of where my lighter jack is located.  But I recently talked Mickeyvb into trading me FM transmitters; so I’ve been using the Griffin iTrip instead.  It works way better in my car, and has helped me in gaining a renewed appreciation for music.


I’m writing this post from work; since it’s my first time doing a Saturday rotation and there is nobody else around. 🙂

I’ve known about DD-WRT for a long time.  But, probably not many other people have.  So, let me start with a little background.  DD-WRT is an open-source linux based firmware for consumer grade broadband routers.  The idea is that you install DD-WRT, and in the process, erase the default (linksys, netgear, etc.) firmware.  Normal people might say “Why do you want to do that?” – Well, because.  BECAUSE.

For me, I can’t stop hacking things.  It’s almost an OCD.  I’ve hacked my ipod to put Linux and Rockbox on it.  I’ve hacked my Razr v3m with seem edits, I have a modded Xbox (thanks again JJA), and in general I just like to ‘hack’ at things and see what I can do with them.

But with DD-WRT, there’s more of a benefit than just ‘hacking’ your router.  You can turn a bare-bones wireless router into a much more useful piece of equipment.  Your basic device can be transformed to have VPN capabilities, QoS, Vlans, Bandwidth graphing, SSH access, and enhanced security features.

Now, DD-WRT isn’t a new thing by any means.  But for me, I have hit one of those compulsive phases in my technical life where I simply MUST do this.  I MUST use DD-WRT.  Unfortunately my stupid Netgear WGR614v6 does not agree, and is not supported by any open firmware projects.

So I began shopping on ebay, craigslist,, and any friends I knew that owned a Linksys router.  The Linksys WRT54G is famous for being a hackable device (Linksys actually open sourced the Firmware).  I was simply hell bent on finding a Linsksy WRT54G v4.  Specifically, version 4 is by far the best router to have when looking at DD-WRT because it has 4 megs of flash memory and is not locked down nearly as hard.  In fact, you can upgrade to DD-WRT right from the default Linksys web interface.

After a few hours of looking around, fighting the ebay crowds, and coming up empty overall; I stumbled across an amazing tidbit of information on Wikipedia.  Apparently, there was such a high demand for these WRT54Gv4 models, that Linksys re-released them and still currently sells them.  They just rebranded it and label it as an open source router.  The new model number is WRT54GL (with the L standing for “Linux”).  

I found one of these WRT54GL routers on and it was currently 15 dollars off AND had free shipping.  And, since Vanbergs still owed me a birthday present, I decided to cash it in on a brand new router.

Now I’m just waiting for it to get to my house so I can immediately flash it with DD-WRT.

Anybody need a ‘non hacked’ Netgear wireless router?