My friend Brian Harden has some cameras streaming. This is within a mile of our house, if you want to see how things are holding up in that area.
Jewel made it through major surgery today. 8 screws later, her upper femur is now, once again, firmly attached. It’s been a rough couple days/nights, but Jewel is and always has been a champ.
Due to some fibrous dysplasia in her bones, it fractured while doing some routine 7-year-old dancing/running. The doctors have warned us for a few years that it was a potential possibility but that you can’t keep kids from being kids, and well, I’m thankful for doctors who know what they’re talking about and know what they are doing. I’m so very thankful for UNC Chapel Hill and their professional and top-notch care.
And we’re supremely grateful for our friends and family members who have poured out their prayers and support to us and our children. Joseph said today was “the best day ever”, so he must not be missing us too terribly.
And because of the possible outcomes, I can’t describe the gratitude for our loving Heavenly Father, who by his grace, has been with us and Jewel the entire time and allowed this outcome, a successful and “uneventful” surgery.
When they pulled her back to the OR, away from us and our our ability to do anything more for her, Deuteronomy 31:6 came to my mind, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” — and I held onto that promise for Jewel.
We couldn’t be in there with her, but the keeper of the stars, the one who ordained this surgeon’s passion for medicine umpteen years ago so he’d be ready for this day, the one who designed the subatomic structure of her bones, and the one who loves her beyond even my capacity to understand… he was there with her. She was and is in good hands.
We’ll have some weeks of recovery, and there will be some rough spots, but for now, I’m feeling thankful to be thankful. Love that girl. ❤️❤️❤️
First. I believe it is entirely possible to resent the players kneeling WITHOUT being racist. Many service men and women believe the flag is so much more than a symbol. And when the flag is “disrespected”, they may feel their service is disrespected. This is an extremely unfortunate side-effect of the protest, and I have never heard any of the players say otherwise.
As for us who respect the flag/anthem more than we respect these men for protesting in something they believe this strongly in… I just urge you to think about that. Is the flag and anthem more important than the ideologies the flag and anthem represent? The ideologies of freedom, and equality? The freedom to kneel during the anthem is ABSOLUTELY WHAT MAKES AMERICA GREAT.
I should mention, It is almost shocking to me by how much apparent (or willing) confusion there is on what the protests are actually about. Many believe the NFL folks are actually protesting the flag, or the anthem, or the USA, or literally any other thing besides what this is about. Still others, attempting to be supportive, make this simply about the right of free speech.
But specifically – they are protesting the long-standing (and proven, like, by real studies/sources, like the FBI) bias against the black community, from the police community (generally). Police brutality against the black community – that’s what it’s about.
If you’re understanding of the protests align with any of the misunderstandings outlined above, you’re certainly not alone, but I would hope you’re willing to rethink things in light of what the protests are intended to shine a light on. To miss the point is to miss the whole reason any of this matters.
Shannon Sharpe talks about this same confusion:
He 👏🏽 called 👏🏽 everybody 👏🏽 out. "I'm even disappointed in one of my best friends, Ray Lewis" pic.twitter.com/ne8FJClvp9
— Tanisha (@SportyByNature) September 25, 2017
And Nick Wright (gets extra amazing at 3:57):
The protests have been hijacked by folks with an agenda. I tried to set the record straight this morning. I think this is worth your time. pic.twitter.com/p5xmmjeeYY
— nick wright (@getnickwright) September 25, 2017
I believe the kneeling angers “us” partly because the issue is not real enough to us as white people, and so it’s easy to make this into a “bigger” thing. Each time one of “them” gets shot, we don’t feel it as if one of our own was shot. You may believe you are not racist, but if you cannot “kneel” in solidarity with “them”, or even grant empathy to the kneeling, then it is a possibility that racism is latent. Racism is not simply hatred for another race, it can also manifest in our underlying “otherism” (which I definitely struggle with). “They” should be treated as “us”. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. If we were to do that, we would not need this to be a “bigger” issue. The issue is already big enough!
You may argue that there are better ways to handle this. I’d rather not, but my stance is that I don’t believe there is a more visible way for someone like Kaepernick to protest without worse consequences (e.g. violence, e.g. Charlottesville). The point of a protest is to draw attention to an issue. Argue all you want about the method, but the protest, by that definition, is extremely effective, even with the conflation that followed. Thanks to Kaepernick, and the men who kneel, and the ensuing drama, anger, and incension, I have never thought harder about the issue of police brutality towards minorities, and for the first time, I’ve allowed myself to mentally step into their shoes. And it’s a painful and scary place to be. Maybe they’re all making it up. Maybe they all “deserved it” (really?!). Maybe it’s a big media conspiracy, or generationally poor mental fortitude.
Or maybe there’s just too many witnesses, and too many anecdotes, and believe it or not, too much evidence. And maybe “them” is “us”.
And finally, to believers. Jesus is so much bigger than any nation. While he was here, he told us the two greatest commands. Surprisingly, they were not “respect the flag, stand during the anthem”.
They were 1) love God, 2) love people.
I cannot imagine a Jesus being here on earth and agreeing with our anger over the kneeling. I also cannot imagine him agreeing with the way we have equated God with USA. What I absolutely CAN imagine is Jesus walking over next to Kaepernick and kneeling with him. Because Jesus loves people, even the dark ones, even the young ones, even the disrespectful and wayward ones, even the ghetto ones. Even the self-righteous ones, even the silver-spooned ones, even the nationalists, even the liberals, even the conservatives. Even the Russians, and the North Koreans, and the Trumps, and the Clintons.
The ones Jesus most often left alone (or had the harshest words for) were those who felt strongly in the rightness of themselves. The self-righteous.
The ones commended? Those who stand for others. Or in this case, kneel.
I love our country. What those players are doing on the field make me love our country even more. FREEDOM is an incredible and sometimes unwieldy thing.
I built Joseph a bunkbed for his 4th(!) birthday. I don’t have much for gratuitous making-of photos, but here are a few of the finished product. Let me know if you’re interested in more detailed pictures (up close, joints, connections, that kind of thing).
The wood is top choice white pine, which you can find at your local Lowes/Home Depot.
I knew staining it would be a bad idea as Joseph would likely end up denting and marring it (he’s rough, and pine is soft), so I kept it the natural look, which I like quite a bit. And to help protect against fingerprints and such, I used this Minwax water-based Poly.
Howdy! Pardon me while I clear out the cobwebs in the blogging corner of this site.
Recently I’ve started following the work of James Clear. He seems to be (at least trying to be) a 21st century version of Stephen Covey or maybe John Maxwell. Coincidentally, today I came across this tweet:
I've never found setting goals effective and this perfectly articulates why. https://t.co/MyjkWhxd7f
— Brad Touesnard (@bradt) August 30, 2017
This post by James Clear, as you can imagine, talks about the possible overvaluing of goals (Turns out Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert has some similar things to say on the matter). As with Brad, I’ve often been uncomfortable with the ever-present concept of goals-setting.
Why is that? I’m not a slouch with no vision for my future. While I am no Covey, Maxwell or Clear, I consider myself to be a very driven, and most of the time, effective person. But to me, the idea of goals has always felt a bit too much like a prison, or more, a chastising schoolmarm. When I think of goals, often my impatience kicks in. I just don’t have time or mental capacity (I am notoriously bad at multitasking) to worry about that possible future which may never materialize.
But I’m no dummy. I recognize you cannot get to where you want to go unless you know where that is.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Several years ago, a group I was in read the book, “The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” by Andy Stanley. In that book, Andy makes the simple case that the best way to get to that future destination (your “goal”) is to get on the path and start walking. And that at any point, we can look down at our feet. If they are not on the path (or pointing the right direction), then we need to “recalculate”, and get back on the path.
This is my favorite way to look at goals. Because one thing I can definitely do is to take the next step in front of me. And trust that somewhere down the line, I will arrive at my destination. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that I am involved in many things with this same driving principle. My church‘s motto is “helping you take your next step”. The ministry I am heavily involved with, Celebrate Recovery, is a steps-based recovery program with a key motto, “one step at a time”.
Even with with learning new things… about 8 years ago, I started to learn the guitar. My primary encouragement was the comfort in knowing that even though it was harder than I thought it would be, and I was worse (longer) than I thought I would be, if I just kept playing, I could only keep improving until I die. Depending on how long I lived, I might eventually be decent. :)
This definitely also applies to my job and learning new things in programming (Vue/React anyone?). If I just keep writing/reading/doing, I won’t suck at it forever, and eventually, I’ll even be good at it.
And James Clear’s article resonates with that same principle. He states the case that Systems are often more valuable and productive than setting goals.
Because whether you call it systems, habits, or steps,
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
But just like the principle of the path, where you need to know where the path should lead, you cannot build a system if you do not know what that system should accomplish. So as much as I dislike setting goals, they are still an integral part to becoming effective. The difference to me is that goals should not be the… goal… but rather a way to orient us on our paths and provide a structure to our systems.
“I want X.”
Old me… “I should set a goal to get X.”
New me… “I should build better habits. X will come in time.”
— James Clear (@jamesclear) September 1, 2018
Thanks to this Ugmonk post where he talks about building his own monitor stand, I was inspired to build my own. I used my (free) wood of choice, pallets.
As you can see from the detail pictures, the pallet wood is far from perfect, but I appreciate all the little knots and saw marks. Because this is the desk of a working man! 😝
This was pretty simple to make. The most difficult part (as is always the case when making anything near “furniture grade” with pallette wood) was the intense sanding that was required to get the boards smooth.
I opted not to finish this with anything at this point, but I may eventually apply some Tung oil. For now, I just wanted to get it on my desk to see how it works. I’m super happy with it!
Side-note: if you’re curious about my desk, you can read about that here, and if you’re curious about some of the things on my desk (monitor, speakers, mug… etc), or even how I made my desk, check out the “my favorites” page.
I spent an amazon gift card to get this sweet x-wing schematics poster.
I didn’t want to hide the cool matte chalk-board-like finish behind a Plexiglass poster frame, so I built a plywood poster frame instead. Pretty happy with it, except I had to cut a half inch from the top and bottom of the poster to account for my mis-measurement. I measured once & cut twice. 😳🙄
In late February, thanks to some nudging from my kids (and a slight case of Spring Fever), we decided it was high-time our backyard had a tree house. Our yard has a large number of tree-house-ready trees, so we actually struggled over which location would be best.
In the end, we decided the best place would be nestled between a live oak and willow oak, just inside the fence. Not only is the location perfect, with 3 large trunks/branches to support it, but being within the fence line, it helps prevent neighbor kids from coming over and hanging out on the tree house. Not that I wouldn’t be happy about that, but there’s a certain liability that comes along with that prospect.
Building this has been one of the most therapeutic and rewarding things I’ve built (I’ve built a few things). If you’re contemplating doing something similar, my advice is go for it, because you (and your kids) only live once!
To get started, I read a lot about some of the basics of building a tree house. E.g. what size boards should be used depending on the distance being spanned, what type of fasteners to use, how to make things level against an organic surface, etc. I also bought this handy little book. It’s full of awesome little tidbits and illustrations. While not meant to be a complete how-to, it provided plenty of light bulb moments and inspiration. Highly recommended.
I started construction February 25 (2017), and after a weekend and some help from friends/family, I had a basic platform installed with floor joists.
Since I am a web developer by day, it feels super good to get outside and work with my hands (and some power tools!).
As much as possible throughout this project, I tried to use reclaimed wood. In that platform, the joists are all new pressure treated 2x6s and hung with joist hangers, and the longest span (in the picture above) is a new pressure treated 2×10. But the other side’s 2×10 is a leftover from our old water-bed (yep, you heard me right), and the two side 2x6s are leftover frames from an old bunk bed that we never used for the kids that we got from some garage sale.
To fasten the boards to the tree, I used 4 or 5 inch lag screws and washers.
The next weekend was spent working out some details, like corner braces, angle braces, and corner beams for the eventual hand-rails.
Much of the braces are boards from pallets that we scrounged up (the final project probably has about 5-8 pallets in it), and the corner 4x4s were used to hold up an old lattice divider in the yard (the lattice has been gone/destroyed for quite a while).
Here’s a redneck stunt I pulled to get some of those pallets:
Redneck stunt pic.twitter.com/9L1CTnIIGc
— Justin Sternberg (@Jtsternberg) March 19, 2017
(I need a truck!)
By the end of weekend 2, we had half a floor!
As you can see, we also used boards from pallets for the tree house floor.
The next weekend, the first order of business was to finish the floor so the kids could come up and check it out. 😁
Time was limited that weekend, so I had to wait another week before I could start adding the hand-rail. Took me a bit to sort out how I wanted that to look. I didn’t want to have too many boards to obstruct the views (I wanted the tree house to feel open), so I left about a 6 inch gap between each board.
Well, it turns out my son can fit his head through that gap, and so Meagan was having none of that. So, back to the drawing board, and I had to add some lateral boards to make sure nobody was gonna be squeezing out. As you can see below, we took this opportunity to add a little flair and make it look like an authentic kid-built tree house (I mean.. I am just a big kid, so it’s pretty accurate).
We let our kids, their cousins, and some of their friends paint their names and other things on a few boards, and nailed ’em on!
Another end to a successful weekend.
The next weekend, we finalized the other 2 sides (minus the door). We got a little creative with those sides to try and work with the trees’ structures.
This is the point where I consider the top “habitable” and began working from the tree house.
Today's office. pic.twitter.com/iW6vfYePWD
— Justin Sternberg (@Jtsternberg) March 27, 2017
Day 2, to prove it's not a fluke. 😉 pic.twitter.com/DKvYgxEOHK
— Justin Sternberg (@Jtsternberg) March 28, 2017
Of course, some people had fun with this.
suggestion. also maybe a fridge. pic.twitter.com/FEouHdC6Gw
— Daniel Espinoza (@growdev) March 28, 2017
I looked too close pic.twitter.com/bh6nS8gren
— Daniel Espinoza (@growdev) March 28, 2017
The next step was to build the door/gate. I used a gate latch and built a crude rope/pulley mechanism that allows the kids to open the latch from below the door. I posted a video at the end where you can get a general idea.
Once that floor was complete, it was time to begin construction of the first level, half-way up. I wasn’t sure I was going to go that route, but once the main part was complete, it just seemed like the best way to go.. It would provide a bit of a safety net on the side where the kids would climbing in/out of the top, and allow them to have multiple levels to their “tree condo”.
At first, I attempted build the platform without adding the additional 4×4 supports on the outer corners, hoping the angle braces would be enough. Unfortunately, they didn’t provide enough structural shear-strength, so I had to dig some holes, pour some cement and install some ground-rated 4x4s. Once those were in place, the platform structure was as solid as a rock.
We then got the sides built:
At this point, the only thing missing is the ladders. Surprisingly, building these was some of the most difficult work in the whole process.
Phew! This has been a ton of (fun!) work. Happy to see it come together. Here’s a quick video tour:
You might be wondering, “what’s next”. Well, the grandparents purchased a tube slide as an early birthday/Christmas type of gift (ssshhh they don’t know yet), so we’ll see about installing that once it gets in (we got it installed! Scroll down to see). 😁 The adventure never ends! Thanks for hanging with me this far. If you’re interested, page 2 of this post is a big gallery of images from the process. Hope you enjoyed!
LOL my sister-in-law sent me this: pic.twitter.com/PQZvWAxTpS
— Justin Sternberg (@Jtsternberg) May 2, 2017
Update 5-14-17 we got the slide installed!
Another pallet venture. This is modified from some pictures we found on Pinterest. In those pictures, the ones that had coat hooks had them attached to the front piece of wood, but that won’t work for us since the door would open into them. Instead, we got some celing hooks to attach underneath, and a couple standard coat hooks to serve as decorative “key hooks”.
Deconstructed the pallets with a reciprocating saw, sanded the crap out of them (80 & 120 grit), then a couple coats of tung oil.
In 1980, after long consultation with some of America’s most senior nutrition scientists, the US government issued its first Dietary Guidelines.
The most prominent recommendation of both governments was to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol
Look at a graph of postwar obesity rates and it becomes clear that something changed after 1980. In the US, the line rises very gradually until, in the early 1980s, it takes off like an aeroplane.
At best, we can conclude that the official guidelines did not achieve their objective; at worst, they led to a decades-long health catastrophe.
After 5+ years, last Thursday was my last day at WebDevStudios, and needless to say, it was a sad one. I’m going to miss working with those guys/girls, who have become practically family, and they are, truly, an incredible team. 3 years ago, I wrote a post, Why you should work at WebDevStudios, and I still stand by that post. If you are looking for a great job in the WordPress space, you would be remiss in not considering applying with WDS.
I am leaving on really great terms, and am even seriously threatening to crash their next #WDSCamp. I have also bantered some ideas around with Brad, Brian, and Lisa individually about possibly working together in the future on different projects, and I’m very excited at that prospect.
So, the obvious question, why am I leaving such an awesome place? The simplest answer is, I’m ready to take my next step, and for me, that next step is freelancing. This isn’t a decision I’ve come to lightly, and is one I have been weighing for quite some time. This is going to be a huge change for me. While I had freelanced before starting with WDS, and have a bit since, this will be first attempt at full-time freelance work and trying to earn a living (I have a wife and 3 kiddos!) off of it. I’m exhilarated, but also, obviously, a bit nervous.
So that being said, I’m available for projects, starting immediately! If you know of any WordPress projects needing a senior level developer, please hit me up. I will be operating out of my DsgnWrks business, and would love to take any inquiries at my contact form (or hit me up on Twitter). I have experience in a variety of areas (just ask!), am a tenacious problem-solver, and can provide plenty of references and code examples!
As a parting thought, I will forever be grateful for WebDevStudios, and especially to Brad and Brian, for taking a chance on me in the beginning, when I was some house-painter guy from North Carolina with barely any experience, so thank you guys, and thank you to WebDevStudios for over 5 awesome years! And wish me luck for the next 5!
Had the awesome opportunity to baptize my oldest daughter, Mia. Of course, I barely made it through it. Love this girl.
Here’s a recent project I took on. My wife has been begging me to do something with a dining room table for a while. I’ve been reluctant to paint the one we have because it has a laminate/formica top, and I wasn’t fond of the idea of the finish chipping off.. But after some research, I felt more comfortable with the idea. After sanding the crap out of it, I ended up using oil-based kilz as the bonding primer. My cousin Pete suggested XIM, but I had already completed the priming process, and I’ve had nothing but good experiences with kilz over the years. But while talking to him, I did get some invaluable advice for which products to use to ensure durability for years. Since This table project is not something I’m looking to repeat any time soon, I took his advice to use a lacquer paint followed by a lacquer clear-coat. I hauled it over to a friend’s cabinet shop where he let us loose with the HVLP cup gun. We gave a it a couple good coats of white, came back the next night to scuff it up a little to give it that touch of shabby chic, and then gave it a couple good coats of clear.
Overall, I’m super happy with result, and I think it’s going to hold up even in our hazardous environment (we have 3 kids, I’m sure you understand).
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the “boss” is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets “laid off,” nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village- in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such: he is needed, & needed badly- the man who can carry a message to Garcia.
If you haven’t seen it yet, go read through the
#YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter. It’s so sobering and a sad reality that we need to stop being naïve to. As a father of 2 girls, I want all of you to raise your sons to respect and honor women. As a father of a son, I am 100% committed to do the same. My son WILL honor your daughters.