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J. Daniel Ashton

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, —Ecclesiastes 9:10a NIV
The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands:
"See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
and humbly obey your God." —Micah 6:8, CEV
With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment.
Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. —Proverbs 3:5,6 CEV

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Name: Daniel Ashton
Location: Germantown, Maryland, United States

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Owning Our Own Wires

This idea holds fantastic promise! If individuals (as co-ops) owned our own connections to the Internet, the economics would change drastically. Read the article and tell me what you think.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

News in the SCO v IBM case

See GROKLAW for details.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Way to go, Times!

Today I agree with Arianna Huffington.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Commute Education - Week 9

Monday (June 26) I was so focused on studying portlet development that I never got around to starting anything on the iPod. The commute was strange anyway.

June 27, morning:June 27, evening:
Wednesday (June 28) morning—same as Monday

June 28, evening:June 29, morning:June 29, evening or June 30, morning:June 30, afternoon:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sounds That Go To My Heart

In the last 24 hours I've been reminded of two sounds that evoke a strong reaction within me. Sunday afternoon my young nephew went through an allergic reaction: he had eaten some soy-based vegemeat about 25 hours previously. He basically went into hysterics, and we could hear wails of anguish and anger. (Funny: I wonder whether those two words (and angst) are as closely related as they look.) I could hear the heartbroken sobs punctuated with screams of "No! No! No!" as his four-year-old psyche fought with the chemical imbalance in his system. It was a sound that told me of a deep and intense unfairness, coupled with a complete inability to do anything about it.

There was something about that sound that struck a chord with my heart. Something in my forgotten past echoed that cry precisely. I experienced something much stronger than the expected sympathy for my nephew and his mother: I felt an intense empathy.

Another sound that evokes a strong reaction in me is the sound of someone coming out of their shell. The two most obvious examples are both from Hollywood. In the movie Sister Act, Sister Mary Robert (Wendy Makkena) is a shy, red-haired novitiate who can barely sing above a whisper. Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi Goldberg) teaches her how to sing in a full voice, and a few scenes later we find her singing a short scat duet section in performance, and loving it. She came out of her shell, and was radiant with joy. (Nice acting, by the way.)

A similar "unshelling" happens in The Music Man, when Winthrop (Ron Howard) forgets his moping and shyness to sing excitedly about the Wells Fargo wagon. These moments of expressive, excited extroversion awaken my heart and move me nearly to tears.

This may be a normal human reaction, but I do not observe it in others, and so I cannot gauge my level of normalcy.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Catching Up, Part 1

I know it's been a while since I've really written anything, other than listing the ways I put my two-hour commute to good use, so I hope this post doesn't startle anyone too badly.

Life has been busy for the last six weeks. I haven't really added up all the hours, but there's something pretty draining about having to commute this far to work, even though I'm not driving.

I'm not used to getting up at five in the morning, for starters. Vicki and I take most of an hour in devotional reading and prayer, then maybe ten to fifteen minutes reading our daily dose of the funny pages. That leaves less than 45 minutes to shower, dress, shutdown and pack my computer, and otherwise get ready for the day. If we leave the house before 6:57 I can pretty consistently catch the MARC Brunswick line train at 7:07 from Germantown, since Vicki (wonderful woman!) typically drops me off and I don't have to take the time to park.

The train usually arrives at Union Station a few minutes after eight, and I take MetroRail: first the Red Line to Gallery Place/China Town, then the Yellow Line to Eisenhower Avenue. From there I take a DASH bus to the Baker building where I work. Baker also provides a shuttle, which is usually a couple minutes quicker than the bus. Either way, I'm usually in the office just a couple minutes before or after nine o'clock.

Returning home is usually a reverse of the same process. On Monday and Wednesday nights, when I have a rehearsal in Columbia, I take the MARC Camden line from Union Station and meet Vicki at the Savage station. So not only is this arrangement taking a lot out of me, but Vicki is bending over backwards to make it possible for me to continue with the brass ensemble twice a week.

I can usually use my laptop on the MARC trains, and I'm typically focused on work-specific computing. On MetroRail it's not a likely that I'll get a laptop-friendly place to sit (or any place to sit, for that matter) so I use that time to work through language lessons or study brass musicianship by listening to the Brasscast podcast.

On the nights when I have rehearsal (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Rockville until last week) we typically don't get home until eight or later, sometimes much later. It takes time to unwind, get the kids pointed toward their beds and spend a few minutes with the birds. I'm usually headed for bed before eleven, but not much before. So I've been running on six hours of sleep on an average night for the last six weeks.

The last few weekends have been beautiful weather, and I have felt a compulsion to get outside, in the guise of visiting some of the wealth of National Parks in our area. The kids have been earning Junior Ranger badges right and left: and I'm delighted to watch that happen, especially when it means that I get to stroll about, breath some fresh air and internalize some of the history documented in these parks.

I'm not sure what I'm learning from rehearsing all of this to you. All of this explains to some extent why I haven't been able to think introspective, blog-worthy thoughts at moments when I can create blog posts. In fact, I feel very much like I'm spending five days running at full throttle, trying very hard to think work thoughts and accomplish work, followed by being a good leader for the brass ensemble, and at all the remaining moments, I can't seem to think or do much else worthwhile. On Sabbaths I'm so desperate for rest that it's hard to get to church, much less Sabbath-school. It's a mental/emotional imbalance problem, and the last few Sabbaths have been critical in helping to restore that balance.

I'm grateful that I have found ways to use my commute time, rather than staring at tail-lights. And there's a significant degree to which I'm happy to be commuting because there's no other time when I would listen to Brasscast or study languages. On the other hand, . . .

If we could relocate close to the Baker building in Alexandria it would free up nearly four hours of my life every day. That's huge! But housing in Alexandria seems to be even more ridiculously priced than in Germantown. Our 1,200 sq ft townhouse is worth more than $200K, last we checked, but the townhouses next door to the Baker building are over $600K! It seems improbable that we could move close enough to improve the situation. Dropping the brass ensemble would help, too, or convincing them to rehearse at a better time and closer to our home. But that doesn't seem to be the right answer.

I don't know if I'll have time to write two more posts, but I've been mentally sketching them out as I write this one, and here's what I would write about if I had time. Part 2 would talk about everything that happened last Thursday, and how that throws some of this into doubt, i.e. doubt about what, if anything, to attempt to change. Part 3 would talk about where I am now, and why I have time to write a blog entry this afternoon.

Given that I have so much to say, I may forego the triple-check editing I usually do, in the interests of getting more words out of my head.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Commute Education - Week 6

June 5, morning: listened to Brandenburgs 4 - 6 while working

June 5, evening:
  • Pimsleur Russian I, readings 1 - 4 (again)
  • Pimsleur Russian I, readings 5 - 10
  • IBM developerWorks This Week - 5/31/06
June 6, morning:
  • Brasscast - 9/25/05
  • Pimsleur Russian I, readings 5 - 10 (again)
  • Pimsleur Russian I, readings 11
June 6, evening: Vicki picked me up after visiting Fort Washington and Fort Foote with the kids.

June 7, morning:
  • Pimsleur Russian I, readings 11 - 16 (multiple repeats)
June 7, evening:June 8, morning:
  • IBM developerWorks RSDC Keynote: John Wiegand, Eric Gamma, Lee Nackman & Martin Mally (all three parts) - 6/7/06
June 8, afternoon (driving from Alexandria to Columbia):June 8, evening:

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Commute Education - Week 5

May 29: Memorial Day Holiday

May 30, morning:May 30, evening:
  • Pimsleur Russian I, lesson 28
May 31: worked from home because of eye-doctor appointment, but on the way home from brass practice listened to June 1, morning:June 1, evening:
  • Pimsleur Russian I, lesson 30
June 2, morning:
  • Brasscast - 8/28/05
  • Pimsleur Russian I, lesson 30 (again)
June 2, evening: