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The personal blog of Michael Ashby

Category / That Reminds Me Of A Story…

Screenshot header from from 2001

My Matt Mullenweg Story

Yesterday was the 20-year anniversary of WordPress, so it felt like a good time to share this story about the time I gave free webhosting to Matt Mullenweg.

Back in the late 90’s and early aughts, I was really into a little handheld computer called the PalmPilot. The Internet was different back then. There weren’t as many channels of information, and one of the carry overs from the pre-Internet were User Groups. I had created a couple of Palm User Groups (PUGs) and since building web sites was mostly done by hand back then, I saw a way that I could help so I created the International Palm Users Group (InterPUG).

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standing on brick

It’s A Little Thing, But I Like It

I recently moved my office from West End to Center615 in East Nashville. We’ve only been here a couple of weeks, but I’m really enjoying the new space even though they still have a lot of projects ongoing and everyone is still settling in. I too am settling in as I learn a different commute, different parking, locations of things (like the post office), etc. Yesterday, I stumbled upon a new little habit I have, that I particulary enjoy. Continue Reading

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Through iTunes

A broken pencilIt’s funny how ideas can come clear out of the blue. I was chatting via IM this morning with my good buddy Mike Rohde and I was commenting on how good my random mix was in iTunes. I had selected the category “Electronic”, hit “Random” and then let her rip. Normally this can yield a bizarre mix, but for some reason this morning’s random play list was really, really good. It was so good in fact, that I started typing in the song names as they would come up.

The weather was a cool 68F. I had the window in my office open wide and Gracie was sleeping at my feet. With the music playing, I was just really entering a great groove. My taxes are done, I’ve got bills going out and I’m was just flush with the feeling that “Life Is Good!” So every time a new song comes up, I type it into my IM window to Mike. Here’s just a sample:

Soul Coughing – “Idiot Kings”
Lamb – “Gold (Hip Optimist Mix)”
The Beloved – “Let The Music Take You”
Lamb vs. Cosmos – “What Sound”
Mandalay – “Beautiful”
Paul Oakenfold – “Decent (Original Mix)”
Paul van Dyk – “The Politics Of Dancing”
DJ Rap – “Bad Girl”
The Crystal Method – “The Winner”
Hooverphonic – “Renaissance Affair”
Rinocerose – “Dead Flowers”
Tosca – “Worksong”
Patchwork – “Psychym”
Paul Van Dyk – “Out There”
The New Deal – “Receiver”

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A Turn For The Worse

A hockey player doing a face plant into the iceLast Thursday, just as the penultimate episode of Friends was about to come on, Holly made the statement, “After Friends, we’re going to Home Depot.” WTF? ??? My agenda for the evening was to stay firmly planted on the couch and submit to the “Must See TV” lineup for the night. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself going to Home Depot, much less check myself for scars afterward.
Going to Home Depot means work to me. If I’m shopping there it means that I have something I’m trying to fix, or I’ve started a new project around the house. Whatever the case, it means that I have work to do. By Thursday night, I’m not thinking about work. In fact I’m not thinking much at all. I’m usually zoned out on the couch until I drift off to sleep and then drag my sorry butt upstairs to finally go to bed. This past Thursday, we were supposed to be cleaning the house, because we had a dinner party planned for Dan and his wife Rachel and the house needed serious attention. However, Holly somehow convinced me that we needed to go to Home Depot first.

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He’s Back!

Robert Downey, Jr.Earlier this week, I was at a client site and something GREAT happened. Something that hasn’t happened in a long time and I welcomed it’s return. It was so unexpected and hearing it helped reaffirm that I’m making progress on my diet. So what the heck am I talking about? Someone said that I reminded them of Robert Downey Jr. 🙂
Back in college, I used to hear that comment a lot. I would meet someone and they would say, “You know who you remind me of? Robert Downey, Jr.” This was in the late 80’s when Downey’s star was on the rise and he hadn’t yet shown signs of his addiction to heroin. Looking back on it now, he was kinda like the Aston Kutcher of his day, although maybe not quite so popular but a great deal more talented. I of course took it as a compliment whenever someone compared me to him. It’s not as if I was being compared to Abe Vigoda, so what’s not to like?

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Jane Stop This Crazy Thing

George Jetson On The Dog WalkHave you ever laid awake at night unable to fall asleep because your brain is at such a high RPM and won’t “shut off”? Well, my brain has been doing that for awhile now and not just at night before I go to sleep, but ALL the time. Ideas are just popping up like popcorn kernels in a microwave and each one is as delicious as the next. I’m beginning to feel like Michael Keaton in Night Shift, where he jots down all of his crazy ideas on a tape recorder. “Wait a minute! Why don’t they just mix the mayonnaise with the tuna in the can… HOLD THE PHONE! Why don’t they just FEED the tuna fish mayonnaise!”
Most of my ideas are web based, meaning they’d involving building a web site and creating a community around it. As of this entry, I have about 7 web sites that I’d love to build and launch right this minute. Unfortunately, none of these sites have a good business plan behind them. They may be good ideas, but it’s not as if they would generate much in the way of revenue. In other words, 95% of the ideas will do nothing but cost me money. I suppose it’s one of my fatal flaws really. 😛

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One Dollar

One Dollar billLast year I began what I call Nomad Computing. Looking for a way to break up my usual routine and to have some interaction with others, I found working at a nearby coffee shop that offered a free WiFi access point to be a nice change of pace. It’s said that Tolstoy wrote War and Peace in a public square and I can see why. There’s something about the energy of having other activity around you that helps to motivate and keep me focused. There have been some days where I’ve spent the entire day in a coffee shop just clicking away on my laptop. My schedule, nor my stamina can do that very often, but having a solid 10 hour chunk of time to get work done is always nice. There are people that provide you with food and beverages, so that I can focus on nothing but work and I get a TON of stuff done.

One of my favorite hang outs has been Perk Central. I stumbled upon this place after fighting to find a good HotSpot and Perk Central kind of became my little oasis. It was my home away from home if you will, or is it my office away from office? They have the best coffee in town and I now stock my Fresh-O-Lator with their beans so that I can enjoy it at home. Since I would occasionally spend long hours there, I got to know the owners fairly well. Sometimes they would offer me a taste of a new dessert they were trying, or a bite of a new soup to get my opinion. Everything I tasted tasted great and I would end up ordering it when they’d begin stocking it. All-in-all, I really like hanging out at Perk Central and I’d even go there for a quick lunch, or a morning coffee when my schedule wouldn’t allow for a long visit.

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OK, Hoofin’ It Sucks

Someone soaking their feet in a tub of waterI’ve been saving up for some time now for a Mini Cooper. I’ve mentioned my lust for this vehicle before and it hasn’t waned in the least bit. I had to turn in my Jeep Cherokee when the lease ended in November and since then, Holly and I have been functioning with one vehicle – her beloved Turbo Beetle. It’s been a bit of a cramp on our lifestyle, but the savings have been kind of nice. Only having one car note is nice on the pocketbook. Well, this warm comfy feeling for being thrifty ended today.
Today is one of those crazy days. Holly needed her vehicle and we need to be somewhere shortly after she gets off of work, so I had to be near her office for when she got off work. Normally, I would just meet her at her office in my own vehicle and we’d leave hers there until we got done with whatever we had to do. Since we only have one car, that idea was out the window. Luckily, I didn’t have any appointments with any clients, so I decided that I would go to the library and work there for the day.

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Ground Control To Major Mike

The Bliss wallpaper from Windows XPSpring is just around the corner. I can feel it. In fact, I’d have to say that watching the world change is one of the fringe benefits of writing this weblog. I have a routine on most mornings and when I write my weblog entry, I sit at the kitchen table. I bang it out on the Dana Alphasmart Wireless and as I look up to ponder my next thought, I can look out the bay windows that overlook our backyard and the pasture behind it. The view reminds me of the Bliss Wallpaper found on Windows XP machines. You know the one with the green hill and blue sky behind it? It’s not exact, but the pasture behind my house reminds me of that and I have to admit, I do feel blissfull looking at it.

Right now the trees are still stripped bare of their leaves. The wind kicks up and the trees shake as if waving their fists demanding that their clothing of soft green leaves be returned immediately. “Where I my leaves?!”, they shout. To whom I don’t know, but they’re tired of being naked, that’s for sure. Behind the trees lies the pasture, which is one big hill that stretches up until it’s bathed in the blue of the sky. From my perspective, clouds can drift behind it like boats sailing behind a levee. For the first time in a long while the hill looks green. It’s been brown for so long, seeing the green is a bit of a surprise. Although it didn’t appear overnight, it seems like it has.

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I’ve Only Met One Rude French Person

Phone BoothEvery culture has something about them that others use to stereotype them. The Irish drink, the Italians have hot tempers, etc. For some reason, the French have been given given the label that they are rude. I don’t know where this stereotype has come from, but whenever I’ve been to France, I’ve never found them to be rude. In fact, I’d have to say that my experience has been quite the opposite. I found the French to be very hospitable. Being from Louisiana, with it’s rich French influenced history, I used to say that I found France to be the birthplace of Southern Hospitality. However there was one notable exception and I used to like to tell this story from time to time, well that is until I became the punch line of my own story.

My first time travelling in France was back in 1990. I had just graduated from LSU and a buddy of mine and I decided to take our bikes and ride through Europe. We started in Ireland and made our way through Wales, England, Scotland and Belgium and after two months we were in Paris. Both of us were new to bicycle touring and extended travel and as a result we were together most of the time. Spend two months with someone 24 hours a day you really get to know them, wether you like it or not. 😛 So by the time we hit Paris, I had had about enough of my companion and I was ready to go solo. Well, I can’t say that I was ready to go solo, but I was ready to get away from my cycling partner to say the least.

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