Wednesday, May 25, 2005

We Know He's Guilty, But There's No "Evidence"

One of the things which has continually confronted me during online discussions with atheists and non-Christians is the need for evidence that they can acknowledge. They sometimes need a photograph of God: sounds simple enough, but that photograph has to be authenticated by all, I repeat, all the photography experts in the world that this photograph wasn't "faked". It doesn't stop there, since now all, as in all religious people in the world, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikh, Hindu, etc., would have to agree that, yes, that person in the photograph is God and not someone else. Yet, I have met the atheist who is also a skeptic which, even if this preposterous requirement of "evidence" is met, will still not believe, because they have already assumed a priori that since Premise 1 - All sightings of the supernatural is an instance of hallucination, Premise 2 - All "evidence" of God is a supernatural sighting, Conclusion - therefore any evidence of God is just an hallucination.

And yet, despite the unwarranted assumption that the lack of any "solid" evidence for a phenomenon automatically means that that phenomenon hasn't happened, outside of relgious arguments, "supposing" is seen as equal to science, if not science itself. One of my favorite shows on TV are the CSI: Crime Scene Investigator series of shows. Numerous times, the investigators reconstruct a crime scene based on whatever "evidence" they can find. Most of the time, they are able to get an admission of guilt, by reconstructing what happened even if they had never been there to see what happened. Yet there are those times when the evidence only goes so far, and the criminal goes free because the evidence isn't enough to arrest or hold them. We, as the audience, are usually privy to what actually happened, and sometimes we feel the frustration the fictional characters feel when the fictional characters go free.

Yet once in a while, in real life, criminals get to go free inspite of the overwhelming evidence that should have kept them in jail. In A Celebrity Murderer Beats the System, an unrepentant murderer named Wilbert Rideau gets to go free for being, supposedly, "the most rehabilitated prisoner in America"; it doesn't matter that he blames everybody but himself for the crimes; even when
[i]n 1961 Rideau robbed a Lake Charles, Louisiana bank using a gun he'd purchased the day before along with a buck knife. He ordered three employees into his car and drove them to a bayou. There he emptied his gun into them at point blank range, hitting two in the neck and a third in the arm. One escaped into the water; one feigned death. The third, Julia Ferguson, made the mistake (according to the others) of begging for her life. Rideau drew his knife and plunged it into her heart, killing her...
he still thinks that he isn't criminally liable because
  • it's the fault of the weapon he happened to have; if he didn't have it, he reasoned, he wouldn't have committed the crime
  • it's the fault of the bus that he missed; if he hadn't missed it, then he wouldn't have been so pissed that he needed to vent his ire on a bank and its employees
  • it's the fault of those he shot; they tried to escape—he only did what he logically had to do, shoot them
  • it's the fault of racism; those he shot and stabbed were white so, he reasoned, of course the jury will find him guilty, since he's black
  • it's the fault of being too young; he was just 19 years old, so now that he's older, he's not liable anymore
  • it's the fault of the media; they turned it into a media circus, so he was flabbergasted into admitting guilt

So, what has this to do with the skeptics and the atheists? The fact that a lot of people honestly think that Rideau was the victim rather than the criminal, inspite of all the "evidence". Those in Rideau's camp have claimed that the facts were in their favor, not the other way around.

We know that God exists. We know that Jesus is who He says He is... we know that Jesus fully intended to claim that He was God, and that the only way to salvation is through Him. Yet, inspite of all the "evidence", they would convince us that the facts actually are for atheism or paganism. In the above example, Rideau's supporters claimed that Rideau was not guilty because a mob of angry white people wanted to do Rideau bodily harm, therefore he was innocent (even if it doesn't logically follow); atheists love to point to the supposed viciousness of the Crusades and groups of misguided Christians as the reason why Christianity is not true (even if history shows that the popular conception of Crusades being run by power-mad popes is a misconception).

We know that God exists. Yet whatever evidence we have will never be accepted and, in fact, be controverted to prove otherwise, as Rideau's lawyers have done to make Rideau "the victim" instead of the victimizer. Christians will always be the "bad guys" and the atheists will be the "good guys", no matter what we do. We know what really happened... yet even now Christians will mouth the philosophies of the lie instead of the truth just so that they can seem to be learned. Seminary professors and University summa cum laudes, supposedly Christian, but who would rather deify Marx and Mao than fall down at the feet of Jesus.

As Ærynn would say, it is a fallen world; so what did I expect? My anxiety pushes to the roof when I think that I will be raising my children in this world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I sometimes get really frustrated with my Dad. Even though I take pride in the fact that my Dad is one of the only really "old" people (he will be sixty-five this coming fall) to be able to use the a word processor on a regular basis, backup his files, search and sort his eMail, copy and paste information from the internet, and other stuff which will boggle other senior citizens from our particular cultural heritage (and he learned it pretty late, too; only about 12 years ago for word processing and two years ago for sufing the net), my Dad still manages to frustrate me over things which I have since taken for granted as a given or obvious.

For instance, my Dad was a pretty skillful WordPerfect 5.1 user—he can layout a page using that DOS program as if he was using a high-end page layout software like MS Publisher or the good ol' Pagemaker programs. Very skillful. Yet, when I upgraded to WordPerfect 6.1 after an install of Windows 3.1 (yes, this was some years ago), he went bananas. Why? I not only had to "re-educate" him on the nuances of a fully graphical and WYSIWYG interface but also to reconfigure the keyboard layout in the original WPDOS system, that is, the original keyboard layout of the DOS program. Because I had to use that program with my Dad at home, I had to continue using that original layout, inspite of the more recent and (in my opinion) better keyboard layouts that are available.

This repeated itself for versions 10 and 12—I've had to make trips to his office just so I can "configure" the software for his use; he can't ever use it out of the box.

Recently, I've tried convincing him to switch eMail providers, from Hotmail (with its pitiful 2MB inbox and interface) to Gmail (which gives 2 Gigabytes for free). Since he is a Yale alumni and is provided with a lifelong email address, he can essentially change eMail providers whenever and wherever but still having his old eMail address (which is an @aya.yale.edu).

But he won't. Why? Because he can't "understand" that new Gmail. It doesn't matter that Hotmail has a more cluttered interface than Gmail. It doesn't matter if Hotmail's filing system is chaotic compared to the elegance of Gmail. It doesn't matter that even with the differences, those differences aren't much when it comes to functionality—there's an inbox, there's a "compose" link, etc.



Still, I will see that he makes the change. When his office computer, for some reason, cannot run his beloved WordPerfect, he reluctantly learned (on his own) how to use Microsoft Word. True, MS Word is severely limited in a lot of things that WordPerfect excels at, and there are plenty of things my Dad was unable to do in MS Word that he used to previously in WordPerfect... but that's beside the point. He learned on his own.

So, I will transfer the connection of his Yale eMail from Hotmail to Gmail, and he can learn the hard and traumatic way—the way, it seems, that he learns new things best.

I've always wondered at that. My Dad has, in his youth, consistently tested at an IQ of 152, which is much higher than anyone I know (although I know that there are higher IQ scores). Yet, when it comes to "things new" he seems to be just like one of us, bumbling and craving for the old comfort of familiar things. Dad has been taught for as long as he can remember that there is just one "correct" way to do things, and maybe that's the reason why, for him, interfaces should not change. So, inspite of the IQ, thanks to the way education is done here in the Philippines, where there is only "one correct way" and that teachers are always right, he cannot get beyond his limitation and accept that there are new ways to do old things.

Still, he has that IQ (which I have hoped for years that I had). Maybe he will surprise me if once I cut him loose. Maybe I've been holding him back by "helping" him too often.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I'm a Third Culture Kid

I have always wondered why I've found it difficult to fit in. I don't see myself as anti-social, or as particularly unfriendly. But for most of my life, except for interactions with my nuclear family, I've found it much easier to be aloof. It doesn't mean that I like being aloof or alone. It doesn't meant that I don't crave for companionship and some place to "fit in". I just find it "easier" to just not "fit in". Now that I have my wife, it is just another way of interacting only with my family. For instance, no matter how welcome I am in the home of my in-laws, at the work place or in school, places where I should be at ease, I am not. There is always this need for personal space.

For a while, I thought that my twin and I were the only ones who had this condition, and that our super-social youngest brother didn't have this unease to be with other people. I was wrong. He would socialize as a way of coping, but he too wanted his "Fortress of Solitude". And he was only able to be at ease with his wife's brother only because they live near each other enough to be included as the nuclear family. All Pastor's/Preacher's Kids or PKs I have talked to craved this personal space, this place that is uniquely theirs and no one else's.

I had, of course, assumed (wrongly, as I later found out) that the reason why we PKs long for such places was because, being in the ministry, we had no house. Oh, the church provided free lodging for us, of course. But, it wasn't ours; we were temporary boarders. Frequently, the free lodging was too small, even for small families. But it didn't explain why those PKs who stayed at at a particular church practically their entire lives, or who had their own houses, or (especially those Bishops' or District Superindents' kids) who had really large and spacious lodgings, also felt the same way. Almost immediately, a PK who grows up will try to find a place to settle down, a house (if it can be afforded), and a group of people to belong to. Still, this assumption was good enough to explain a lot of things.


Until I came across this article on my research on what Boarding Schools were like. It is about what is called a Third Culture Kid (click here). I quote it below, with my emphases in italics and in a different color:

Third Culture Kids (TCKs) is a term for children whose families move frequently, usually because of work obligations, and who have grown up in so many cultures that they don't consider any one of them to be their "home" culture. These include military brats, the children of diplomats and Missionary Kids. The term can also be expanded to cover children in other circumstances, such as those sent to boarding schools or the children of immigrants.

The term was coined by Ruth Hill Useem in the early 1960s. According to her, a Third Culture Kid learns to cope with a new culture rather than adjust to it, becoming part of a situation and yet remaining apart from it in a certain sense. Their experiences among different cultures and various relationships makes it difficult for them to have indepth communication with those who have not experienced similar conditions.

While Third Culture Kids usually grow up to be independent and cosmopolitan, they also often have trouble "fitting in" with anyone who hasn't had the same combination of cultures that they have. Some of them come to terms with the tremendous culture shock and loss that they have experienced. They gain a broader understanding of the world through their varied experiences, while others spend their adult life trying to come to terms with those issues.

The term is sometimes also used to describe autistic kids and people with Asperger syndrome who grow up in their childhood in considerable isolation and without much social relationship, largely in a conceptual world.

All this time, I had been searching for a "home" and although I have found it in my wife I think I am still coming to terms with it. At least I know now, and so does my wife. One thing I am sure of: I do not want my own children to be a Third Culture Kid. Oh, I know the experience may bring wisdom and a broader understanding, and I may change my mind about this years from now... but right now, I find it extremely debilitating.

One more reason for me to wish that my wife and I had a life in the Philippines rather than in Australia. I want my kids to grow up in the Philippines, not Australia.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Professional Killers and Kidnappers Have Rights, Too


Note: This entire post does not reflect my real views. It is sarcasm; it is my attempt to use the "logic" that has been used to justify some questionable actions.


The world is no stranger to legalized gambling or to legalized abortion. Right here in the Philippines, legalizing jueteng (a numbers "game") is seen as being beneficial in the long run, while legalizing abortion will prevent under-the-table dealings that cause preventable deaths. But, as I said, this isn't new; gamblers and those who undergo or perform abortions have gotten their rights guaranteed in various points in the world. There are those who decry it, yes, saying it is wrong according to some moral or religious codes (or preferences), but they did get their rights. Pinoys will get these rights eventually.

However, practices which have before been much more moral or honorable are continuously denied. The right to vendetta, the right to duel to the death, and the ancient right to the practice of ransom used to be a part of everyday life because they are supposedly "wrong" and "violate" the rights of others to life and property. Yet, gambling and abortion can equally be argued as violating other people's rights of life and property, especially the rights of those who cannot defend themselves; but they will have their rights guaranteed.

Yet professional killers and "kidnappers" are forced to go behind the law, forced to hide or go into exile or even sentenced to death without anybody defending their rights. Oh, they are given excuses, like extreme poverty or insanity; but never really about defending their rights to kill or to hold someone for ransom.

Fraternity members, for instance, have been forced to go into hiding or into exile, never finishing college and never being able to lead normal lives or find jobs, at best, or sentenced to life imprisonment or to death, just because they also have been forced to sneak around and kill their schoolmates in ambush. Whereas in times past they could have honorably challenged them to a duel, in full sight of the public, and regulated by a code to prevent abuse. Thanks to some namby-pamby excuse to "preserve life" (in this case, the life of another frat member who would have done the same thing; life, apparently, only becomes important once you are dead), this is no longer possible.

Not just vendetta, but it also used to be an acceptable policy to assasinate your enemies. That is why we are laden with leaders who are indecisive and who take for granted their obligations in leadership: they never went through the fire... they never had to learn to outwit and outlast their enemies... they never had to learn to live for their people. Assassins are seen as common criminals now—they are shorn of any honor they used to have.

If they legalize killing, don't they (the government and all the "conservatives" out there) see that instead of wanton bloodshed we get discipline and order. Each time there is a "killing" it is ordered, controlled, and people have the chance, the right to defend themselves. Instead of having frat members having to sneak in the shadows and commit "murder" (as they call it), both parties have the opportunity to choose the weapons, choose the battlefield, and choose the way they ought to die. They are given dignity, even in death. The relatives of those who die will stop seeing it as a tragedy but as an honorable way to die, as we all will do, in combat.

Those who assassinate and are assassinated, given a code of conduct, an assassin's code (if you will) shall be more careful about who they kill, that is, only legitimate targets and no innocents (as assassins are frequently forced to resort to because they are forced into the shadows). Our politicians gain respect for other politicians, instead of endlessly filibustering each other in session. The government, of course, regulates all this; or, if they are unwilling, let an impartial body decide. With assassinations so controlled, with those targeted given ample opportunity to defend themselves, such political killings will be brought out of the corruption that they have been embroiled in.

Killing is a way of life, and no religion has any right to deny this. Besides, this does not mean a loss of choice; anyone is perfectly within one's rights if one doesn't want to kill. But to force one's preference (or squeemishness) over killing over everybody else? No one has that right.




How about kidnapping? Or, more accurately, the abduction of persons for the purpose of ransom? This used to be done very often as well, in fact, by honorable knights against other knights. How could such honorable practice have fallen as the practice of knights to the practice of thugs (as they claim). They abduct the Chinese in our country for money, sometimes for exhorbitant sums of money, sometimes much more than the families are willing or able to pay, circumventing the actual worth of the individual. This has come to this situation only because it has been outlawed. As always, if only it can be legalized, the abuses and the frustrated killings of the abductees will be lessened. Killing is fine and good on its own, of course; but they should be given the right to defend themselves, as knights were given the right: if they lost, they are held for ransom.

Too often, "kidnapping" has degenerated to a crime of passion or of revenge, or even of bigotry, when it should have been a part of an honorable profession. If legalized, it means (of course) regulation. Only those families that are capable of paying will be seen as legitimate targets, and each abducted individual will be valued accurately. A college student will, quite obviously, not "cost" as much as the CEO of a company. In the current practice, such ransom demands are shamefully arbitrary. If legalized and regulated, the government stands to make money out of it also. It can be taxed; the country stands to benefit from even a percentage of the sort of amounts that is being exchanged here. Why are a lot of abductions are sloppy, why a lot of law enforcement authorities get injured or killed, why the abductees are injured or killed when both parties could have gotten what they both wanted, and all the rest of us benefitting, too? It will mean more jobs, for those who can be bodyguards, for the teachers and martial artists that will teach the bodyguards, not to mention those involved in training abductors.

Bigotry will also not be tolerated. Currently, only the Chinese and the Americans get abducted... why? Why not those of other nationalities? Why not movie stars? Why not the Cojuangcos? Once it is regulated, only a certain quota of any group will be abducted. The Philippines will be known as enlightened.

The only reason why it is dangerous and dishonorable is because it is not legal. It is done by amateurs and hatemongers, when it can be done by professionals and those who are dispassionate about doing a job. It becomes a game, with no loss of life for those who want life, but an opportunity for an honorable death and acceptance of death for those who can.

Bottom line, legalize organized killing and organized abducting. Only those without the courage and strength of character, only those who do not care about choice will oppose this.



It appalls me the way this has turned out, trying to use the arguments and the justifications of those who think that legalizing jueteng and abortion can ever be a good idea. I had wanted to show the weakness of their argument by parodying their logic in presenting two of the most reprehensible acts as acceptable using their reasons. Instead, as I read through it again, I am shocked at how hard it is to show that killing and kidnapping is wrong and should never be legalized. How? When and if I appeal to the rights of persons, the magic word of "choice" crops up. What if a person chooses to die? What if a person "chooses" to kill? What if "choice" is the only inalienable right that all humans have? In fact, appealing to any moral code will just, in their eyes, weaken my argument. They would say "Well, that's precisely what you would say, you conformist, conservative, backward bigot." The thing is, the basic premises already differ; even if their syllogisms are correct, yet when the premises are not valid but cannot be proven to be invalid, what is to be done?

It is like all those episodes of CSI, where we as the audience are privy to what actually happened, that a criminal is really guilty, and that the Crime Scene Investigators know that the criminal is guilty, but they just have no evidence for that; what does one do? They are constrained from punishing whom the law says are innocent when, in fact, they are guilty. How does one say that things are wrong, then, when you cannot prove that there is something above and greater than us, even if you know that that something exists?


Sunday, May 15, 2005

Stop-over at Tagaytay

We had spent the day at Batangas for some swimming and enjoying the famed LorJay's cuisine (mmmmm-mmmmm!) On the way back, we stopped over some place for a little picture-taking, where I took this panoramic shot of my sister-in-law and other relatives.

I just wish we had been a bit closer to Taal...

Tagaytay3

Boys' Names

Deecee has grown! She couldn't even support her head when I was there. Now she can stand up a bit. It has only been three months since I last saw her.

Speaking of babies, I've tried to think of a good name for a boy. But it has been hard. A lot of names I liked before have to be discarded because I've actually met men who have those names. And the names are now indelibly linked to them. Other names are great but I don't like the nicknames that come with them.

So far, here are some names that are okay with me:

Colin (Irish names rock!)
Connor (of the clan McLeod)
Deakin or Deacon (from Secret Garden)
Timothy
Alex

Any suggestions? Don't want something that is so commonplace like John. I've had enough of the commonplace with my own name.

My Niece

My Niece

My beautiful niece, DeeCee, whom I haven't seen personally in a long, long time.

--
forged in

Gryphon Hall
(google branch)

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mom's Amazing Bag of Love

Yesterday is Mother's Day and I celebrate the fact that my mother and I are closer now more than ever. When I greeted her, she said that she wishes she could also tell me, "Happy Mother's Day!" Gulp. Where did that come from? Is she craving for grandkids now? Didn't think I'd get a hint this early.

A recent article I came across talked about why the Japanese have a deep and abiding love for "cute" things. Cute characters like Hello Kitty, Doraemon or Pokemon help give a feeling of comfort to children and is a way for adults to connect with their childhood and their imaginations. I remember that as a child, I loved Sanrio characters, especially Hello Kitty and the Twin Stars Kiki and Lala. During the time I was five, this love for Japanese characters was cemented.

My first day of school was coming and my mother knew about my Sanrio dreams. It was only the rich who could afford to buy Sanrio stuff and we did not have much money. And times were especially tough for my parents emotionally and financially as mom was soon going to give birth and my beloved grandfather was dying. Mom sat me down and carefully explained why we couldn't buy any Sanrio item.

But one magical day, my mother came home from work and gave me a light blue school bag with Kiki and Lala hitched to a star on the front! I was beside myself with joy and it helped ease the anxiety of going to school. Of course, there were soon some holes on the side as it could not quite hold all the books and notebooks. Mom kept mending it. But I brought that bag to school with pride until it was beyond repair.

With the wisdom of the years, I now know that the Sanrio bag was a cheap imitation that one can buy in the street corners. But it doesn't matter. I am just glad that my mother knew me well enough to give me my heart's desire. And she went through all that trouble to help an anxious little girl go to school. That plastic bag is now a truly wondrous item in my memory.

I still love Hello Kitty and the cast of Sanrio characters until now. I don't have any kitschy Sanrio stuff, except for the Hello Kitty alarm clock my husband gave me a while ago. But Japanese cute characters bring a smile to my face because they remind me of the special woman in my life. I know I've said it to you before, mother goose, but let me say it again. "Happy Mother's Day!"

Thursday, May 05, 2005

My Web Site Project Is Finished!!!

After a few weeks of lovely toil, I finally finished my project for C2 Handcrafted Collections. This project was put on hiatus for so long—I took this project last year so that I can fund my wedding. As it turned out, what I thought would be just a two-month project ended up taking nine months to finish.

Well, that's not strictly true. It did not take nine months of work to finish. It actually only took three and a half weeks to finish. Rather, the project was shelved very often because I didn't have the capability to give what the client wanted last year, and when I did have the capability, I was already knee-deep in wedding preparations and an ill-advised 2nd stint in Storgedelphia. Let me explain.

When I first created the original C2 website almost four years ago from this writing, I was a webmaster and HTML coder that didn't have a place to host the website for free (since C2 was a small business and cannot affordt web space) except in Yahoo! Geocities. Furthermore, I was just learning HTML then (HTML 3.0, at that) and there were problems about cross-browser performance. JavaScript was a new and magical weapon at a time when glitzy web sites were the fad. So, with those limitations, I coded and created.

Of course, the main drawback of that old school approach to creating websites was that, if the content needed to be updated or revised, the webmaster had to actually delve into the code again and make revisions there. I didn't even want to think about revising the look at that time—it was impossible and difficult to do and would mean that I would have to start from scratch; that is, if I was foolhardy enough to actually take the job of revising the site. I guess I was feeling foolhardy.

One thing about a web site for a small business in the Philippines is that prices change very often, and often very dramatically. It came to the point that having a web site for them was just an empty boast. We have a website! Yeah, right... even if the information in it is old and obsolete. Now, the proprietor of C2 tried to get my old boss to do the updating. Even if he had HTML experience (which was even more limited now than what I had years ago) or even if he had the time (which he didn't, since he was too busy doing the "network" thing), I mean, he wasn't stupid. It was difficult for the original designer, let alone somebody trying to understand my very old and unsemantic code. I had, thanks to my earlier training in programming back in college, made the code as structured and as "commented" as I can without making the HTML file too large. Still, updating the site means I would have to edit each and every one of the web pages. My ex-boss passed it on to me and I accepted it because I thought it was easy money and I was feeling creative.

That is, until I met my hitherto indirect client.

Though unschooled in the creation of web pages, or maybe because of it, she said that she wanted an easy way of updating the site without having to hire a webmaster to do it for her. What? I said. She thinks she can enter the info or edit/update the info herself? Inwardly I laughed and tried to "educate" her; but she was adamant about having that capability. And, oh... adding more pictures. It was with a sinking heart that I found that she was serious and that she expects to get what she wants.

I knew much more about HTML, JavaScript and, my new toy, CSS by now to know that the project was remotely possible. Plus, I had created a very attractive wedding site for my brother in Geocities and I was feeling pretty formidable. But there was no way she can edit or update the contents in what she demands in as simple an interface as possible. It is, of course, possible to create such a site, but not in a free site like Yahoo! Geocities. I needed a server that will allow PHP code, or probably Perl Scripts that will allow her to enter a site, type/edit within a form and make the necessary adjustments. I thought that, in the meantime, I would create the "look" of the new site (it had to be a new site, the reasons of which will be clear later) before entering the "code". So, I did my research as well as I can, drafted a contract, put up a price, and started away...

... into nothingness. I can't find a free server, or a provider, or a host that will do it for me. I was also finding that learning PHP or Perl on your own is next to impossible if I have to work on other smaller, less ambitious jobs so that I can keep a roof over my head and food on my table. I can, of course, use frames, and the only type of text that she can edit are those that require the least amount of code, but that was a desperate move.


Finally, in all my researches, I came across these wonderful, very informative sites which have changed the way I look at creating sites: glish.com and A List Apart (or ALA for short). For the first time, I encountered elegant, speedy sites without all the Flash and glitz. It was there that I first truly learned the power of CSS—Cascading Style Sheets—for creating what I needed; actually, creating all of the web sites I would ever create. I also found that my knowledge was somewhat limited after all, and that most of my HTML is already obsolete or being phased out. Still, finding those sites was the first of some very important breakthroughs.

The second breakthrough actually should have happened months ago, specifically, around the month of January of 2004. My friend, Wulfgar, was keeping a blog at Tabulas and I became introduced to it because of something really tear-jerking post concerning my brother's wedding on the 3rd of January 2004. I had, of course, known about blogs before this, but had thought of them as the recourse of people who knew no HTML to set-up their own sites and is non-customizeable as far as visual design was concerned. As I said, it should have happened months ago, but I only read that particular post. Around August, I just wanted to relive some happiness by visiting that post again, then exploring his blog, and finally making the discovery that one can make limited customizations to the HTML code of the blog itself. Breakthrough number two: if I can just create one master template with the graphic design I wanted, then my client can just later on enter or edit her previous posts.

However, I found Tabulas too unwieldy and the URL just wasn't, well, domainish enough for me. I, instead, found the original Blogspot and found that, at that time, the templates can be customized. Besides, I apparently joined Blogger since March 2004 to detail the wedding preparations process.

I already had all I needed but, as I said, I took an ill-advised stint in that school to be its Computer Teacher again. There were a lot of other factors that contributed to my having to work harder than last time, involving a self-important individual and people with misplaced trust; but at least, in actually teaching the new XHTML I solidified my knowledge on it. I still can't claim to be proficient in coding without a manual, or doing more than just copying and modifiying CSS or JavaScript, but I had progressed to the point that I can teach students to create Blogs and later modify their templates using whatever knowledge they have.

In the meantime, of course, the project was not being done.

By November, I had resigned so that I can more fully concentrate on preparing for my wedding. My wife was in Australia at the time and I had to do a lot of the work myself. She was coming on the first week of December and things were coming to a head.

I got married on the 2nd Saturday of January 2005, went on a honeymoon, did a lot more odd jobs for about two more months as well as fixing a lot of the required paperwork to be able to follow my wife to Oz, before I finally officially started work on April Fools.

Basically, I had two templates that I could have easilly built the project around. Basically, it involved the use of a three-column layout, with a fluid middle column and a header and a footer. As I still am not an expert in CSS, I thought it would be faster if, instead of creating the basic template from scratch, I would instead make modifications on it. The two templates are from glish and from ALA. I experimented with both and decided upon the ALA method of using negative margins as the more flexible and modular layout.

I had been working on the code for about a week before I showed it to my wife. I had, until then, been basing the visual designs on the original graphics of the old site, and Ærynn wasn't happy with it and wanted it changed. Now, in the old days, changing "the look" of a site after a week's work of design was just too much to ask if you are on a deadline (I was, by the way, more than six months overdue; hehehehehe). But, thanks to the "magic" of stylesheets and semantic markup, all I did was, yes, change the stylesheet... until I hit upon a snag.

Apparently, with all the little modifications I was making to the original ALA template, simply changing the stylesheet wasn't a solution. Still, semantic markup still saved me, since it has made the structure of the page itself much more apparent to me. Using the new stylesheet, I eventually did start from scratch, creating my own markup and (oh, joy!) my own stylesheet. It was still based on what I learned from ALA, but at least it was not a carbon-copy anymore. Plus, I was able to create a separate stylesheet for when the page is printed out.

One reason I lagged so many months ago is that I had forgotten that form followed function and not the other way around. I had been trying to create the visuals first before dealing with PHP or whatever came later. That was wrong. One has to have the bones in place first before fleshing it out. With Blogger, I didn't need PHP to generate content and since the content is not destroyed even when I change the template, it was the best solution. Plus, it allowed me to design around function. The graphics, which took more than a week to set up, was just secondary.

A number of other tools helped me as well. I have already been using Mozilla Firefox for a while as an alternative to Internet Explorer, not because it was a safer browser than IE (which it is) but because ALA said that it was more web standards compliant than IE.

Of course, there was the lovely Firefox Web Developer Extension (which I downloaded from here) that made my life easier when it came to validating my code and experimenting with CSS.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Don Moen and Theme Songs

I was listening to the "best of" album of Don Moen and it amazed me how many of the songs have marked my Christian journey and a sense of nostalgia swept upon me. Then I thought about theme songs. Ever have theme songs during different stages of your life? Well, I've had several of them including "Kailan" by Smokey Mountain when I was in high school.

Back when I used to work in a radio network, a colleague of mine and I were assigned to put up a huge event that involved Christians who worked in media. But we were short of time, resources and support. For two months, we literally breathed, ate and even had nightmares about this event. During one of our many overtimes, we looked at each other warily, trying to encourage one another. Nothing we said helped. But then we sang "God is the strength of my heart."

My heart and my strength many times they fail
But there is one truth that always will prevail
God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever


And so somehow, we survived and managed to put up the event. It wasn't really that successful but it was still a herculean effort that we were able to do with God's strength.

Forward to today. I am in a foreign land with values and ways that are still strange to me. My husband is still back in our home country and I don't know when we will be together. Add to that, my work place has become unbearable and I need to leave soon. I know rent, bills and other payments are just looming in the horizon. I have a new theme song from Don Moen:


God will make a way where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Draw me closer to His side

This has actually been my theme song since I came here. When I had four frustrating months looking for a job, this was my theme song. When I had to move to another residence, this was definitely my song. And now as I head for a new direction, I'm confident that God will make a way. In fact, the only time that this song was replaced was when I went home and got married early this year. Then it was Don Moen's "Give thanks."

Theme songs. They can define the particular stage in your life. But they can also be a source of inspiration as my current one is to me. What about you? Got any new theme song?