Monthly Archives: December 2008

All The Kings Horses

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Much like the famed Humpty Dumpty, the larger extended family appears to have shattered into too many shards to be put back together again. Our family’s egg did not fall off of one wall to only to shatter, but many, of which some of the walls and some of the falls were spectacular, like all of 1990, Thanksgiving 1992 or 93, again on Thanksgiving 1994, and then the first weekend of May 2002 was the dilly.
With each fall off of a wall, has come more divisions and separations. More of the family troops have sub-divided into camps. The camps have further sub-divided. A once large, boisterous, albeit dysfunctional Irish-American family is now in silent, walled off pieces.
It is only now that it has become obvious how the events at the birthday dinner on that Saturday in early May 2002 were the final nail in the family togetherness coffin. Even though 97% of us were not involved in the row that bloomed that night, much like a dot of mold on the cheese, it has now spread to almost all of us, even the one’s of us who are not at war.
I am tired and sad by all of this. I came home last night and both Tweeted/Jaiku’d that I want to move to another continent. Preferably the London or Helsinki continent.
Yesterday’s Christmas dinner was the echos of the evidence of how bad it has gotten. Two of my mom’s sister’s and their families were in town, but they had Christmas’ completely separate from our immediate family and the grandparents who are not involved in the May 2002 event at all. My mom was agitated and our dinner was subdued. I cried as I drove home. Christmas felt like a struggle not a celebration.
I am sad that family members who live on the east coast and I have not seen in years were within 15 miles yesterday yet we did not get together. Sad that one family member who called while we were over at my grandmother’s didn’t even recognize my mom when she answered the phone, yet invited me to come visit in January.
I know that it is considered natural in modern America that big families don’t stay in touch after the grandparents pass on, but all of the grandparents in this case are still alive and so are the step-grandparents. And I know of families in the US and in Ireland that are even bigger than mine and they still get together for Christmas.
Part of me wants to pick a neutral park, sometime next summer, and invite them all over for a family reunion BBQ and include all the Kilroys I can find on the West Coast to diffuse the tensions (really how bad can one behave if Walt’s side of the clan comes?). Another part of me wants to write a big letter naming names and calling out bullshit, but that will just inflame the ashes. Another part of me wants to write it all off and be done with it, Hanen family style (Hanen’s never ever get together for anything. Well, maybe once a decade in groups of 3s & 4s).
The best black humor part of all of this, is that most of the prime pushers of the egg off the wall of our family and stompers of the egg shells into more shards are nice good family values Republicans. God bless America!

My One True New Love : Google App Engine

I have read up and checked out the Google AppEngine in a cursory fashion a couple of times in the last few months, even to the point of signing up for an invite before it was publicly open and downloading the SDK. But life and work and play were too busy, so I didn’t have time to really delve into GAE with any intent and real application.
Until today. Last Friday night, a much admired friend passed away in a car accident and on Sunday I was asked if I would develop a memorial web application for friends, family, and colleagues to post photos and stories up. I said yes and ran through my head quickly all the possible ways we could do it. Given the resources at hand it seemed that PHP, be it hand rolled or Cake PHP would be the only approach to take given the time & server constraints. Yikes.
I really struggle with PHP, I dislike all the verbage, punctuation, and braces. When I am able to make a whole app work in it, I am vastly relieved. But most of the time the butt kicking that PHP delivers is greater than my feelings of accomplishment.
One of the things that I do adore about Python and Ruby is that they both are lean and make sense. There is not butt kicking, only happy writing, testing and deploying. Except most host servers don’t like one to run a good Python or Ruby framework such as Django or Ruby on Rails. So if a client or friend already has a server and a domain and wants to move forward fast, much of the time Django and Ruby on Rails gets ruled out. Thus, the evils of PHP reassert themselves.
After sending most of yesterday and this morning debating of how I should plan and construct the memorial site, a meteor of insight flashed through my head… Google App Engine.
GAE is free (for now), uses Python and Django (happy days!!!!), it has great tutorials on top of all the Google resources. No reinventing the wheels with PHP and/or Cake PHP.
So this afternoon I started experimenting with GAE and discovered very quickly that between its webapp extension and the images/Picasa API that I would be able to develop the whole memorial application with very little fuss and stress.
Here is a quote from an email that I sent to the folks organizing the memorial:

Google AppEngine is a dreamy love bug of a dev environment, I may have to marry it. PHP is formally now dead to me. Normally 6 hours into a dev project I am not happy but really really really really really frustrated and writing snarky twitters about how much I *hate* PHP. But no… Love love love love the Google.

Google, thank you for making my life easier today when I would rather be crying than developing.

Sunset, Solstice

Sunset, Solstice

Sun 12.21.08 – Today is the shortest day of the year, the start of winter, and starting tomorrow the light wins.
Sorry for the lack of words here the last few days, I have had a very stressful last week in work world, I have been fighting a cold for a good week and a half that has decided to revisit with a vengeance this weekend, and last but not least – after a delightful Friday of celebrating Thomas’ joining the Land of the Free & Brave – yesterday I received a phone call that a friend who I have greatly admired for years was killed in a car accident on Friday. Thus, the last 24 hours has been very sad on top of tired & sick.
I truly hope that the light starts to shine tomorrow and into the next year.