abstract musings

abstract (adj.): Considered apart from concrete existence: an abstract concept.
musings (n.): A product of contemplation; a thought.


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Friday, October 22, 2004

About Me

I figured I should put up a little blurb about myself. I suppose I'll update this from time to time.

I am a Internet developer for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Since February of this year, I have been the lead programmer in Web Services for myUT.

A few weeks ago, my most recently completed project was launched: the University Calendar of Events. It hasn't been up for a month, and already I am working on version two. Besides working on some performance improvements, one of the ideas I am adding to it is an XML feed, which will allow us to publish events, similar to an RSS feed, for other university departments and people to integrate into their own websites.

Last year, I was primarily invovlved in the redesign of the university's website, and the creation of templates for departmental use based on this design. Another project I have been heavily involved in over much of the last year has been development of the university's Institutional Improvement program. The program has two goals: one is for the university-wide accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and the other is the long-term identification of strategies for institutional improvement of the university. I built a good bit of the data entry and display pieces for the program, and just like the events calendar, I am currently working on version two. I also have several other projects underway, most of which aren't near completion or require access to myUT to use them, so I won't bother to mention them. Although, I will probably update this post as more projects are finished.

Some Personal Details

I played alto saxophone and baritone saxophone throughout junior and senior high school. My favorite saxophonists are Branford Marsalis, Gary Mulligan and Paul Desmond. I also composed a short piece for concert band, which was performed by my high school band a couple of years after I graduated. I wrote the piece in 1991 to commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of Mozart's death in 1791 and the passing of Leonard Bernstein in October 1990. I juxtaposed the styles of the two great composers. For Bernstein, I chose to use modern jazz melodies, rhythms and Instumentation. And for Mozart, I choose to use a sonata form, which was a common musical form used by Mozart and his contemporaries in the Classical period. When I have some time, I'll digitize the recording and put a link to it up here.

In August of 1992, my parents, older brother and I were living in Miami when Hurricane Andrew came through town. We had chosen to stay in our home and ride out the storm. Big mistake!!! We were in the house when a big boom sounding like a howitzer came from our living room. It turns out that part of the roof of our house was violently removed by the wind and the windows of our living room were actually blown out of place. We spent the remainder of that night huddled in a bathroom-the only room in our house with no windows in it. And despite the recent hurricanes which criss-crossed Florida, my family refuses to leave South Florida. I am happy to report that this time around nothing remarkable happened.

Lately, most of my reading has consisted of non-fiction. I am currently reading An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson, about the Allied campaign in North Africa, the infancy and growth of the U.S. Army in World War II, and the decline of the Axis powers in Europe. I also recently finished two books by Victor Davis Hanson, Carnage and Culture and Ripples of Battle. And before those, I read Simon Schama's three-volume History of Britain. My father-in-law, who is a retired naval officer, managed to get me a copy of Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces by Tom Clancy and Gen. Carl Stiner (ret.), which Gen. Stiner was kind enough to autograph for me. I've also been known to enjoy books by Issac Asimov, Larry Niven and J.R.R. Tolkein.

My other hobbies include hiking, bicycling, photography and travel. On a recent trip to Las Vegas with my wife, I managed to combine a few of these and hiked a lot in Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Yosemite, Sequoia & King's Canyon National Parks, and Mojave National Preserve, among other places.