Two Years Later.

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Two years ago, my wife and I welcomed our son Everett into the world. His first year of life gifted us with many wonderful memories and was a whirlwind of emotions: exhaustion, elation, anxiety, wonder, sadness, happiness, frustration, and love. I wrote about our time as new parents last year on the occasion of Everett’s first birthday. The pace of life is unsettlingly fast, and so I find myself writing today on his second birthday.

Two years is a strange birthday. It feels like the beginning of some unspoken transition. In the early years, the child is like a newly planted flower. You tend to the flower constantly and fear that the slightest wind will jeopardize its chances at survival. The flower does not exist in final form, but lives as some unrealized potential. Then one day you look away for a second and notice upon return that the flower is now there with slowly expanding petals. While you will always care for the flower and fret about its well-being, you feel more free to take a step back to watch it bloom and to appreciate its beauty. Our flower is blooming and it is so very beautiful.

I am a scientist and pride myself on a reverence to logic. I try to make decisions based on fact and not emotion. Although I feel deeply, I prefer to face situations with a calm and objective approach. But then we became parents and I’ll be damned if my son didn’t make me think with my heart. Author and professor Elizabeth Stone said:

Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body

This is the rare quote where the words are able to express the wordless feelings in our mind. So it is, my heart has been outside of my body for two years.

Just as my son has grown over the preceding twelve months, so too has my heart. When my son took his first steps with a prideful grin, my heart was filled with pride. As my son looked at the pictures of friends and family members when we moved across the country - smiling, but with a bitter sweet undercurrent resting just below the surface of his eyes - my heart became nostalgic. On the day we first dropped him off at a new preschool in a new state and he cried while staring deeply into my eyes with hurt, my heart broke. On the day I dropped him off and he smiled at me and then walked into his class, my heart smiled. And on the day I dropped him off and he no longer looked back, my heart again broke. Every bump, bruise, and disappointment was my heart’s ache. Every success, milestone, and discovery was my heart’s glee. As my son begins to understand that other people matter and that their feelings are important, as he tells us when a character on his favorite show is sad or happy, my heart’s capacity for empathy grows.

Indeed, my heart walks around outside of my body. That heart makes me feel so many things. I love that. That heart teaches me so many things. I love that. My wife feels the same and we are both better for it every day. We are so very proud that Everett is becoming a polite, empathetic, kind, sweet, stubborn, rambunctious, and independent person. And we love him.

Happy Birthday, Everett.

Two years


Apple Fights For Privacy.

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In recent years, there has been a growing outcry from federal and local law enforcement agencies to require that private companies create a digital backdoor so that they can easily access private information on our personal devices, such as tablets and smartphones. This is almost always presented under the guise of increased security and is usually accompanied by dramatic examples of how such a requirement will save lives. Before delving into the absurdity of these claims and the potential ramifications of a digital backdoor, let us quickly cover how encryption works.

Consider an iPhone or iPad. These devices contain a large amount of your personal data across a multitude of categories, including financial, health, identification, communication, location, and more. Those are things that you most certainly would not appreciate being accessed by criminals. Apple understands this, which is why they include encryption on each of their devices. How does this work? At a very high level, Apple applies an encryption algorithm that converts your data into a seemingly unusable set of random characters. As a result, a person who obtains your device would not be able to simply read its contents. For this to work, the algorithm needs a key to lock and unlock the data. This is usually in the form of a passphrase in combination with a device id. That is why using complex, or at the very least long, passwords is important. If you use a simple password, then a criminal can easily use brute force to guess your passphrase. In more recent devices, Apple incorporates a finger-print reader that makes your data even more secure. Since these keys are located on the device, Apple does not have the ability to decrypt your data. That means that law enforcement agencies also lack this ability. Read here for a simple overview of what Apple offers, or here for a more detailed explanation.

As part of the Edward Snowden revelations, it was found that government agencies (e.g., NSA) were privately working with companies to develop digital backdoors to help access information from devices. Apple steadfastly denies that they were involved in any such efforts. As we will cover below, there is ample reason to believe them. Though we are always told that these measures employed by government agencies are used to track terrorists and criminals, the NSA were found to have a rather extensive domestic spying program. The perceived authority for this behavior likely stemmed from a complete breakdown in the assumption of liberty following the 9/11 attacks. As news of the NSA program spread, people began to understandably demand that the government walk back its intrusion into the citizenry.

Faced with this backlash, the government predictably resorted to absurd worst-case scenarios in order to convince citizens that they needed access to our data. These scare tactics almost always include the use of children or bombs to make people fearful, although they can never provide real examples of where they were hampered by the lack of a digital backdoor. Undeterred, the government demanded companies provide backdoors to help break the encryption on devices. Think of the backdoor as a master key that would allow the government to bypass your device’s security measures in an effort to obtain personal data. The problem with this approach is that you cannot leave the house key on the back porch and guarantee that only the good guys will use it.

The efforts to ban encryption largely fell flat until recently. The Paris attacks were politicized by law enforcement agencies as a concrete example of how access to encrypted data might have prevented a disaster. In fact, there is no evidence to support such claims. The argument was again revived following the attacks in San Bernardino. Despite a plethora of information gleaned from the assailants belongings, they FBI now contends that they need access to a work phone - an iPhone. To this end, a federal magistrate ordered that Apple create software to allow the FBI to unlock the phone.

Apple refused this order and announced today in a letter to customers that the company will fight such efforts. In the letter, CEO Tim Cook details the situation:

But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

Cook explains why Apple is challenging the court order:

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

It is understandable to ask why giving the government access to a single device is a bad idea if it can help prevent a future attack. Realize, however, that the FBI would not be going to such lengths over a single device. This is about developing the technology to access any device they deem necessary. Also realize that, despite the scare tactics which are routinely used against citizens since 9/11, there is actually no proof that such affronts to liberty prevented anything. Even if the government operates with the best of intentions, they have proven to be an unreliable steward of sensitive data. The actions by Apple are not meant to make the job of law enforcement more difficult, rather they are meant to prevent another government overstep.

I applaud Tim Cook and Apple. Their consistent approach to encryption is one reason why I use Apple products. But Apple does not represent a majority of smartphone users, which is why it is vitally important for other technology companies to stand up with Apple. I fear their continued silence is evidence of complicity. In an age when more and more of our personal data are stored on phones, and when we are expected to store that data in the cloud, we must demand that the companies entrusted with our information do not betray the basic assumption of privacy.

This is one of the most important privacy issues of our time. We are now in a situation where the world’s most valuable company, and not the people’s government, is the loudest advocate for personal freedom. That is a damning indictment of our country’s leadership, and I for one hope that Apple prevails. Everyone was swept up with fear and anger in 2001 and our decisions were made in haste. We know better now. There is no excuse. If you agree, make your voice heard. Put pressure on your elected officials. They work for you after all. Make sure they know that.


Audiobooks.

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I love podcasts. I listen to them while performing a wide variety of tasks, including programming, running, cleaning, and driving. The obsession started during graduate school when I became bored while coding. I had a large iTunes library, but music went stale quickly. I also swore off terrestrial radio due to the absurdly obnoxious advertisements, misogynistic sports talk, and repetitive music lists. Around that time, I happened upon a podcast called The Talk Show, then hosted on the 5by5 Network. I even wrote a small list of my favorite podcasts. Podcasts became my saving grace.

It is hard for me to fully communicate my love for the podcast genre. I am a scientist, however, so let us look at numbers. My podcast player of choice, Overcast, has a feature called Smart Speed that tries to increase the playback speed of a track without adversely affecting the audio quality. Since Overcast launched 18 months ago, that feature has saved me 152 hours of listening time — or almost an entire week! I suppose my affinity for podcasts is simple. I like listening to people talk. To be more specific, I enjoy feeling as though I am privy to a secret conversation between a group of smart friends. No matter the topic, a podcast is a form of storytelling — and I love a good story.

It would be logical, then, that I should love audiobooks. Up until now, however, I have eschewed them with a pugnacious arrogance. Clearly listening to audiobooks was cheating, and to truly experience a book required the absorption of the words that were printed so nicely on page or screen. That was my response whenever my wife spoke highly of her audiobooks or attempted to convince me to try one out. I realize that this sounds silly, but my stance bordered on zealotry and the battle between reason and belief raged wildly in my head.

Two things happened last month that acted to change my mind. First, while perusing old articles in the New York Times mobile app, I found a story by T. M. Luhrmann, titled Audiobooks and the Return of Storytelling. This passage helped me understand why I felt that audiobooks were a form a laziness,

We tend to regard reading with our eyes as more serious, more highbrow, than hearing a book read out loud. Listening to a written text harkens back to childhood, when we couldn’t read it ourselves, or a time when our parents left off reading the chapter out loud in the middle, a nudge that we’d use our school-taught skills to finish it off by ourselves.

and this passage helped me understand why I was wrong:

But for most of human history literature has been spoken out loud. The Iliad and the Odyssey were sung. We think that the Homeric singers of those tales mastered the prodigious mnemonic task presented by those thousands upon thousands of lines of text through an intricate combination of common phrases — rosy-fingered dawn, the wine-dark sea — and nested plots that could be expanded or shortened as the occasion demanded.

Second, my wife and I set yearly reading goals on Goodreads. I fell woefully short of my goal in 2015, while she exceeded hers and almost doubled my output. It was not a matter of book length; her average pages per book was larger than mine. Frankly, she kicked my ass. We are competitive and enjoy talking smack, so the thought of enduring another losing year was too much. I conceded that audiobooks were worth trying.

Time is a precious commodity. Its value lies in the fact that we cannot create more. This is the main roadblock for me to achieve my reading goals. Between a full-time academic job, a child, and a small business, reading is usually limited to the time right before falling asleep. This almost always ends earlier than anticipated because my eyes become intent on closing. “Come on, dude! Fucking stay open!”, I say to my eyes. They always get the last laugh when I read the the same sentence five times or smack myself in the head with my Kindle. The efficiency afforded by audiobooks — allowing one to consume a story while also performing other tasks — is perhaps more appealing to me than the art of oral storytelling.

In January 2014, I started the process of chronologically reading Stephen King’s entire bibliography. The process has been slow, but I just finished the 18th work, Pet Sematary, at the end of 2015. The start of this year seemed like the perfect time to try out an audiobook version of the next story, Christine. I paired this experiment with another personal goal of running every day. To my pleasant surprise, the result has been wonderful. I am not only able to focus on the story, but I find that I run at a far more steady pace than I do when listening to music (I am sure that you, like me, feel the need to speed up when Eminem starts on an awesome riff). My brain also seems to focus more on the story than telling my out-of-shape ass to quit. Listening to the audiobook has also proven effective while cleaning or doing any other mindless jobs. While I have been able to follow along when driving, there have been a few instances where I had to rewind 30 seconds because I missed a sentence. I am now almost halfway through the book after three days by combining listening to the audiobook and reading on the Kindle. Although I can certainly read faster than the narrator speaks, the ability to listen while doing other things means that I am much farther along than if I were solely reading.

I plan to listen to the audiobook version of my next assignment. At some point, I will post a follow-up to address whether audiobooks are still working out. In the meantime, I encourage you to give audiobooks a chance. If you share my previously held opinion that audiobooks are lazy or that written books are intellectually superior, then take a step back and distill them down to their essence. What is a book, after all? Luhrmann tells us through the quote of the 17th century missionary Matteo Ricci:

The whole point of writing something down is that your voice will then carry for thousands of miles, whereas in direct conversation it fades at a hundred paces.

Just like a book, an audiobook is someone telling us a story — and I love a good story.


Anne Frank’s Diary Enters Public Domain.

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The Diary of a Young Girl entered the public domain on 1 January 2016. The book contains journal entries written by Anne Frank while she and her family were in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The diary dates between 14 June 1942 and 1 August 1944. She and her family were captured on 4 August 1944, and she later died in early 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, possibly from typhus.

European law says that a work enters public domain 70 years following the author’s death. Despite this, the Anne Frank Fund (a Swiss charity who previously owned the rights) is vowing a legal fight to withhold the release. They claim that Anne’s father, Otto Frank, earned a copyright due to his extensive editing work and that the diary should be protected until at least 2050, or 70 years following his death in 1980. The Anne Frank Fund relies on proceeds from the diary to fund numerous charitable organizations.

Olivier Ertzscheid, a lecturer and copyright activist was undeterred by these claims. He posted the diary online, free for download in its original Dutch form (this version is in plain text. If you prefer a more navigable form, visit here). I agree with him. I am not an expert on copyright law, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Granting after-the-fact co-authorship to an editor in order to maintain copyright protection feels dirty. Such an action, if granted, would seemingly subvert the rights of original authors.

While the Anne Frank Fund may do good work with its earnings from sales of the diary, a greater good is achieved if all have access to Anne Frank’s words. A good portion of us would have no problem buying a copy of the book, but many are not so fortunate. My wife and I toured the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam during a trip to Europe, and it was a very powerful experience. Everyone deserves the same. The diary is a voice, frozen in time — a time when unspeakable horrors were perpetrated against millions of human beings. Voices like Anne’s are necessary so that we never forget the past, so that we remain vigilant to never allow such horrors to repeat.


Writing Again.

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It has been 810 days since I took a break from writing in public. I offered my rationale then, but the reason I stopped blogging was simple: I was emotionally burned out and no longer enjoyed writing.

What followed my Ph.D. graduation was far different than what I had imagined. Of course there was the immense relief, the feeling of personal accomplishment, and a sense of gratitude towards everyone who helped me. After awhile, though, I seemed lost in a world without a place for me. I accepted a postdoctoral research position and felt a tremendous responsibility to prove that my degree was not wasted on an idiot. For all of the amazing benefits that academia affords, its transient nature can equally bring sadness. Friends — the truest friends that I have ever known — graduated, left for other opportunities, and pursued their own lives. I was neither a faculty member nor a student, rather an in-between, consigned to some sad and lonely purgatory. On top of this, my wife and I were expecting a child that upcoming February.

I realize those are all great problems to have, so it probably seems like I have nominated myself for the Whitest Whine of 2016. Truth be told, though, I am a simple person with only so much emotional capacity. Those circumstances all split what I had to offer, and I felt like sharing myself through writing was borrowing on credit. So I stopped.

That overly dramatic introduction is all to say that I am back. I plan to actively blog this year, and hopefully for many more to come. What changed? In the intervening years, I moved from Oklahoma to Utah, accepted an assistant research professor position, and have enjoyed the hell out of my wife and son. I feel good. And writing makes me feel good. So I will write.

But perhaps the biggest impetus was the inspiration that I gleaned from a tweet about the confederate flag. I’ve followed Dave Winer on Twitter for some time. This past July, he tweeted about Oklahomans greeting President Obama with confederate flags during his visit. I replied to say that we were not all assholes. He favorited the tweet and then followed me.

I pride myself on not holding people in reverence. People are people. Some do cool things, some do not. But they are people. I will admit, however, that I exclaimed in my office, “Holy shit! Dave Winer followed me.” In fairness, the man pioneered blogging, invented podcasting, and helped develop the RSS protocol. The principles that led to his career’s work shine through in his Twitter feed everyday. Mr. Winer is a prolific blogger. He advocates for an open and interoperable web. He shares himself. Small things, big things. But he shares. This quote from his essay on the 20th anniversary of blogging is the perfect explanation of my motivation:

Blogging is a platform for free people. We’ve seen people distort what blogging means to the point where blogging is a job for some. I never thought of it that way. It’s a way to tell your story, to share what you see, to process it, draw conclusions, and move on. It’s like a fresco painting. Or an interview with a reporter. It’s quick, it’s over, and it’s done with.

Why do I still use my own site on my own server? I could use Facebook, but then I would have to use Facebook. Their tools for blogging are not good, and I am forced to trudge through so much anger, hate, and stupidity. I love Twitter and use it daily, but the current limitations on post size make it a poor platform for blogging. I could use Medium, but, like similar platforms, it suffers the disease of being a silo. I want to own my words. I want to own my source code. I do not want rich people’s motivation to please investors deciding who sees my words or how they see it or when they see it. Fuck algorithms. I post something and you can read it. Simple.

I will post details on my tools later this week. In short, everything is written in Markdown, published using Hugo, synced using Dropbox, and hosted on Linode. That may sound convoluted, but it is actually quite simple.

What will I write about? Anything except professional scientific opinions (those will reside somewhere else, details soon). This year promises to provide plenty of material. Politics. Science. Education. Health. Entertainment. Media. Technology. The newest version of my site will separate original posts and link-blog style posts. This will make the delineation between essay and quip clearer.

There is still some cleanup needed, so bear with me over the next week or two. In the meantime, I look forward to sharing with you. I hope you do the same.


One Year Later.

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I am writing this at 11:30p. At this time last year, my wife and I were wide awake in our dark hospital room. Our families had long ago left and we were alone. Well, except for the new boy, Everett, sleeping next to us in the room. He entered the world that morning at 4:45a.

You often hear about that moment a child is born. I recall many describing it as a transcendental experience. One filled with tears of joy, of immeasurable pride, and deep gratitude. I distinctly remember the moment he was born, and how I was not crying. I was certainly proud and grateful, but I did not feel that I was transcending reality, and I did not have the urge to cry. I felt tired. Physically, of course, but mainly emotionally. This felt especially selfish, considering my wife had actually done all of the work. Not just that morning, but over the entire pregnancy. Nevertheless, I felt tired - tired from uncertainty, tired from fear. Why was I not crying? Was something wrong with me? No. Crying would come. Until then, happiness and exhaustion would rule the day.

Today we celebrated Everett’s first birthday. One year later, I thought about those tears that eventually came. Tears when my wife and I were sleep deprived to the point of insanity. Tears when I did not understand why my son was crying and why my comforting hugs failed to stop his tears. Tears when I had to return to work. Tears the night before we first took him to daycare. Tears when I bumped his head while carrying him around the house. Tears every time I watched a TV show or movie involving a child being hurt. Tears when my wife told me stories of heartache at her job as a pediatrician. Tears when I knew things were bothering her in the same way and I did not know how to help. Tears when work and life were overwhelming and days were filled with frustration. Tears when he was sick. Tears when he hugged my wife and I saw how wonderful she was as a mother. Tears when he first said ‘dada’. Tears when he first said ‘mama’. Tears when I realized my son was one-year old. One. Year. It went by so very fast.

Tears - happy, sad, confused. Tears. My son has taught me many lessons. Some about him, a lot about me. He has made me happier than I understood possible. He makes me laugh. He makes me cry. He makes me feel. One year later, it was worth every moment. I happily await the many more to come.

Happy Birthday, Everett.

One year


Concluding 2014.

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Dearest friends,

I wish you all a delightful New Year and hope that it brings you the happiness and success you deserve.

On a personal note, this past year was full of many wonderful memories for my family and I. Even more adventures await us in 2015. As this year concludes, annual introspection has illuminated my shortcomings and will guide how I approach the next year.

It is evident to me that I have wasted far too much time on social media to the detriment of things that actually matter. I often find myself agitated and angry in response to others. At times I bathe in self-righteousness, write in a condescending tone, and engage in arguments with a fervor that far exceeds the worth of my viewpoint.

I have spent countless hours mindlessly refreshing various websites, like a drug addict waiting for the next hit. Harder yet is the knowledge that I sacrificed quality time with loved ones in order to check the latest tweets in my feed or to post some quip that probably was not very funny. It really is a sad way to spend one’s life - a life that is painfully too short.

I have much to accomplish in 2015: moving my family across the country, increasing my professional output, writing more, becoming a better father and husband, and a few more goals that I am not yet ready to share. These all demand time, attention, and effort that social media will only act to dilute. Accordingly, I am engaging in a personal experiment to investigate what I can achieve without a social media addiction. Starting on the first of January, and lasting for at least six months, I will not use Facebook, Twitter, and any other related networks.

The lone exception to this rule will be for automatic posting of content, such as a tweet linking to a blog post. That will allow friends to follow my writing (if they are so inclined) without my direct interaction. Alternatively, people may subscribe to this site’s RSS feed.

I value your friendship. If you need anything, do not hesitate to email me anytime. I look forward to sharing what I learn.


Three Years.

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It is a freeze-frame in my mind - that moment three years ago that we stood holding hands in the humid Florida heat while exchanging vows. Time stood still that day as I married the girl I met in seventh grade. Even now it seems as though the moment just passed. Unfortunately, life doesn’t stand still and the increasingly precious moments speed by beyond our control. As is life, our third year of marriage went by as fast as the first and second years. Though it passed with disquieting pace, it was filled with many wonderful memories. Memories that young men are too foolish to appreciate. Memories that middle-aged husbands reminisce about with friends over a cold beer. Memories that old men cling to when their days are few.

Holding Hands Holding hands during our wedding.

Last year, I concluded my thoughts on our second year of marriage with:

I don’t know what the future holds. If it is anything like these past two years, then it will be a crazy ride. I know one thing, though - we’ll tackle it like we always have: side-by-side and hand-in-hand.

Hand In Hand

That statement was proven true in short order. The last year was a crazy ride and we did it hand-in-hand. Except this time, our hands had a little more to hold.

Hand In Hand Another pair of shoes.

I previously stated that our wedding day was the best of my life. However, that designation was replaced by June 22, 2013. On that day we found out that my wife was pregnant. It was something that we had both talked about for years - something that we had desperately wanted over the preceding year. It was now a reality. And with that positive test result, our whirlwind year was underway. Unfortunately for June 22, three little words made the first day of October the best of my life - “It’s a boy!”.

It's a boy It's a boy.

The following months were filled with nursery preparation, doctor visits, and a quiet panic about whether I had any business being a parent. We also faced a scare of premature birth at 33 weeks. Luckily, our son channeled the determination of his mother and held out until he was full term. My new “best day ever” was February 21, 2014 when our son Everett was born.

Babies The new family.

Every day since his birth has been the best of my life, all filled with so many different memories. Waking up every hour-and-a-half in the first weeks. The first time he grabbed my finger. The first time he opened his eyes and looked at me. The first time he smiled at me. The times he fell asleep on my chest. And for every one I mention, there are countless others. I’ve tried my best to capture those fleeting memories, much like a child grabbing fireflies in a jar - fearful that she’ll forget how bright the light once shone.

As meaningful as my personal memories have been with my son, the most rewarding have been those involving my wife. Her unconditional love and affection for our son melt my heart. The best my inadequate words can hope to convey is that seeing the person you love become the parent you envisioned is one of the best treasures in life. I cannot wait to see what our fourth year of marriage brings.

Though a picture may contain the equivalent of a thousand words, this one contains my world.

world My world.


Everett Hines Gibbs.

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I hope you will indulge me in a short story. Almost 30 years ago, a boy was born in Oklahoma. Ten days later, a girl was born in Germany.

Babies

Fate made their paths cross in the 7th grade. They were best of friends. Unfortunately, the boy had to move away in 10th grade and they lost touch.

Babies

After three years apart, fate would once again force their paths to cross while at college. The boy (finally) asked the girl out in October of their freshman year.

Babies

Nine years later, the boy asked the girl to marry him. She said yes.

Babies

The boy and girl were wed following a two-year engagement.

Babies

After two years, the boy and girl learned their family would grow.

Babies

Today, the boy and girl finally met their new son. Everett Hines Gibbs. He arrived at 4:45a, weighed 8 lbs. 3 oz., and was 21”.

Babies

That is the short story of how the boy’s world grew from one to two.

Babies


Thank You and a Hiatus .

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As the drama surrounding the United States government shutdown escalated last week, I thought back to last year’s presidential election. Unrelated to politics, I found myself almost shocked to think that nearly a year had passed since I was at home with my wife watching the debates between President Obama and Governor Romney. As my mind wandered, I was overwhelmed at the rate and magnitude of change over the preceding year.

During this time in 2012, I was fighting internal doubt and frustration while trying to complete my dissertation in time for a December graduation. I was also a mere 28 years of age, so thoughts of life’s brevity were still obscured by youthful ignorance. My wife and I had only began to discuss having children, meaning our biggest worry revolved around who was making dinner. Fast forward to today, and everything has changed.

I completed my Ph.D. in December, and have worked since January as a postdoctoral research fellow. I am filled with confidence and excitement because I get to work on really cool problems with really smart people. I turned 29 this past March, so of course I began to think about 30, which were really just thoughts about life writ large. My wife and I learned in June that we were going to have a baby sometime in late February or early March of 2014. Things are definitely much different than in 2012.

All of this led me to today. I’ve run this website for over two years, with daily postings starting over 21 months ago. I’ve posted some 920 stories, of which 892 have occurred on 652 consecutive days. The site has been visited by nearly 50,000 people, with over 35% originating from outside the United States. A few reviews and personal stories I did were very popular, with one post reaching over 10,000 page views. I have even been contacted by Facebook to update a tutorial I posted because it was ranked fairly high. All of the above far exceeded my expectations when I began this experiment in late 2011. Needless to say, it has been a very fun experience.

Despite all of the positives, I will no longer publish this website in its current form. There are many reasons for this decision.

Firstly, I haven’t enjoyed doing it for several months. Trying to find something to share everyday feels like a burden, and I simply don’t care about most of the subject matter. That is why the site has been dominated by linked posts instead of original writing.

Secondly, no one really cares. I started the site because I wanted to share things I found cool in a voice that hopefully resonated with visitors. In reality, the site is nothing more than a version of what many were already doing - that is copying the Daring Fireball format of linked posts with a bit of commentary. The site does not offer anything new, and so it is largely a wasted effort. Stated another way, the site is yet another place that does nothing but add to the vacuum of soulless internet garbage.

This leads to my final reason. There is no clearer motivation than life’s nagging reminder of one’s mortality. I want to do things in life that matter. I want to do things that will make my friends and family proud. I admire my wife because she had many opportunities to sell-out in medical school by choosing a field that would make her rich. Instead, she chose one of the relatively lower paying fields (pediatrics) because advocating for children was her passion. In the past, she has volunteered at “free” clinics, served on various boards, and worked in Peru for month where she served poor children. Most recently, she has focused on abuse prevention and awareness. I could not be more proud of her. However, the light of her generosity has illuminated the inadequacies of my own life. I am in a fairly rare position for Oklahoma by having an advanced degree and not immediately leaving. I have been afforded a standing in our society that, whether deserved or not, has the potential to open many doors. I want to open doors that positively affect people. This site is not one of those things.

I might write here occasionally when there is something important to say, although those times will likely be infrequent. In the meantime, I will spend my efforts on a few projects that I think are worth my time. I have a mobile application that aims to improve the efficiency of pediatric medical professionals. I also have a few more application ideas that I want to pursue. In addition, I am working on launching a website that will focus on politics - not in the typical hyper-partisan way, but in a way that illustrates how our lives are shaped by our leaders’ decisions. Finally, I want to pursue an idea on improving education in Oklahoma. The idea is to focus on the time between when school lets out and when it starts anew the following day. The idea might broadly be considered a Variety Care for education.

In parting, I want to offer thanks to everyone who has visited and given feedback. I have really enjoyed interacting with people I might not otherwise have met. I especially welcomed when my ideas were challenged and debated. You’ll hear from me in the future when I feel I have something meaningful to contribute. Until then, I’ll be taking a much needed hiatus - thank you, all.