Paths Not Taken

I spent Saturday on the east coast of Florida. I made a quick stop in Miami’s South Beach to watch the sun come up:
Ocean Drive

After that I drove up to Palm Beach County to check out all of the places there that I used to live. I’d been over to that area exactly once since I’d lived there, but as I was driving through Alligator Alley it occurred to me that even that visit was probably over 15 years ago.

I saw the trailer park that was my first home in Florida. It was a lot smaller than I remembered. I visited a few parks & such where I spent my time as a kid, and they were all slightly familiar, but only slightly. The whole experience felt like I was walking through a setting for a story that I’d read; The names were familiar but I felt like I was seeing almost everything for the first time.

The real highlight for me was visiting the town of Boca Raton. I saw my old house & the houses where a lot of my old friends lived. I lived in Boca throughout middle school and Boca Raton High School was the first of many high schools that I would end up attending. I’d made good friends there and leaving was pretty tough. Unfortunately I never heard from any of them again.

Boca holds a special place in my memory. It stands out in my memory as one of the two happiest periods of my life. My stepfather was an ass and things weren’t necessarily easy, but I had a pretty stable life, lived in a nice house, had my Mom, my friends, and a future to look forward to. At the time I thought that I would graduate at that same high school and keep my friends until we all went our separate ways for college. Shortly into my freshman year, Mom and I moved into a trailer park in Delray before moving on to an efficiency motel in Daytona. That was the beginning of a very chaotic period in my life where friends were hard to come by and life was anything but stable. Dreams of a future in college were replaced by dreams of having an actual cooked dinner. I’ve only seen Boca Raton twice since.

Later in the night after driving around town and exploring I found myself sitting at a restaurant I’d never seen before, in a shopping area I’d never seen, off of a street that didn’t exist a few years ago, and found myself thinking “I went to high school here.” It all seemed so surreal, to feel a tie to a place that wasn’t familiar. I began to wonder what life would be like if I had been able to stay in Boca Raton. I wonder what kind of person I would be if I’d gone to just one high school instead of six, or if I’d been able to maintain relationships with my friends instead of learning how to expect all relationships to be short-term.  I guess in a way, Boca Raton doesn’t stand out in my mind as a “home” but rather as “the home that might have been.”

What would I be like?  It was an interesting little mental diversion. The answer lies in some alternate reality where a different path was chosen. It’s odd how every now and then, a decision can change the course of your life forever. I didn’t get to keep a stable life in Boca. No sense in crying over it. In truth things probably worked out for the best. Like I said, my stepfather was an ass. My Mom and I were better off without him. Also, Boca Raton (and nearby Palm Beach) can be an insular little place where people with too much money live in a little bubble of their own creation completely removed from the outside world. In several neighborhoods we drove through the only dark-skinned people I saw were the ones doing the landscaping and cleaning. I have to imagine that I’m much better off for having gone back to New York and lived among people from many different cultures, better off for having had the experiences I’ve had.

Sour grapes? Perhaps, but I can’t spend my days thinking about what might have been. That way madness lies.

Posted in Florida Life
Late-night adventures

“Hey, want to go watch the space shuttle launch?” This question usually leads to some sort of goofy adventure, and very rarely results in actually witnessing a shuttle launch. With the shuttle program slowly drawing to a close (only 8 remaining launches are scheduled) I figured I’d head over to the Cape to catch a rare Saturday-morning launch just after sunrise.

I loaded up the car shortly after midnight and hit the road, dodging the Friday night drunks. After the trip to Tennessee a couple of weeks ago I was thinking to myself that this was becoming a habit, packing up the car and leaving late on a Friday night after a quick catnap.

As I was nearing the end of an uneventful two-hour drive across the state I crossed I-95 and I noticed that most of the traffic heading west away from the Cape consisted of tour buses. Uh-oh. Check the iPhone and sure enough, the launch had been delayed.

I was so close to Titusville at that point that I figured I might as well continue on and scout out the area, in case I got the chance to head over for another launch. Even considering that it was 2:30 in the morning and a lot of people had already left, the coastline was pretty crowded. Lessons learned: You cannot arrive too early for a launch, and as always it’s a hit-or-miss affair. I took a few pictures of the sky and the floodlights that were illuminating the shuttle Endeavour on the pad. What the heck. I’d gone that far, the least I could do was take a picture of something.

No-go for Launch

If I had one gripe about the experience, it’s that NASA had scrubbed the launch just before I left the house, but it wasn’t announced on their website until about 2 hours later when I was arriving on the east coast. Maybe I should have checked NASA TV instead. Oh well. This was my fourth trip to the Cape to see a launch, and I’ve only seen one so far. Even so, seeing a launch that one time makes it all worth it. Hopefully I’ll catch one before the program ends.

Posted in Florida Life
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Well that was pretty painless

The WordPress “5 minute installation” took slightly longer than the advertised time, but not by much. It’s really a pretty slick package and a hell of a lot better than the last canned framework I tried to implement. I spent more time poking around with the options than I did getting it installed and running.
There are a few minor style issues that I’ll hunt down once I get the time, and I’d love to start tearing the php code apart. For now, I think it looks ok and the admin is pretty much what I was working towards with the last site but never had time to implement. At least the styles play better with Internet Explorer right out of the box.

Posted in Software Development
What do geeks do on 3-day weekends?

How about install WordPress and totally re-create a website?  Well, it is a rainy weekend after all.  This is obviously a work-in-progress, but hopefully it won’t take me very long to get it tailored a bit to my liking.

1 Comment Posted in Software Development