NORAD Tracks Santa

Most everybody has discovered the amazing NORAD Tracks Santa website. Or cellphone app. Or Twitter feed. But just how did the North American Aerospace Defense Command get started on their yearly track of the Man in Red? Seems to me like they would have more important things to do.

It all started in December 24, 1955, when NORAD was still CONAD, the Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command, and Sears made a big mistake. Seems that Sears got in touch with Santa, and got his permission to publish his personal phone number so that kids could call in and talk with him. The problem was, when they published the phone number in a newspaper ad, they published the wrong number. As it turns out, the wrong number for Santa was the right number for CONAD.

Colonel Harry Shoup

Colonel Harry Shoup

On duty that night at CONAD was Colonel Harry Shoup, USAF, and when the calls for Santa started rolling in, Colonel Shoup didn’t miss a beat. Sure, the kids couldn’t talk to Santa that night, but the Colonel and his team were able to look up Santa’s location on radar and let all the children calling in know where Santa was.

Fast forward to present day, and CONAD is now NORAD, Colonel Shoup has passed away, and volunteers now handle 12,000 emails, 70,000 phone calls from all over the world, and tweets to over 100,000 followers on Christmas Eve.

Did CONAD have more important things to do on December 24, 1955? Probably, but does the story of what Colonel Shoup did really surprise you from a member of our military? Like many stories from the armed forces, it is at the same time both astonishing and expected, run-of-the-mill and ground-shaking. We find what they do astounding, yet we understand it is simply just what they do.

Through the course of this year, I have thanked many members of military, active and retired, but today I have one very special thank you for Colonel Harry Shoup, USAF (b. September 29, 1917, d. March 14, 2009).

Thank you, Colonel Shoup, not only for your service to this country, but for answering the phone one night and telling a little girl where Santa was. And Merry Christmas.

NORAD Tracks Santa

Hiking in Wayne National Forest

Spent the morning hiking and river stomping with my niece, Laura. Fantastic and fun morning. Educational, too. I learned that the Little Muskingum River is just chocked full of freshwater oysters.


Four Down, One to Go

Looks like the first of my Twelve for Twelve that’s going to get completed is brewing five beers. The pale ale is gone, but not forgotten. The blueberry bock is very close to being gone as well, which is good, because the witbier is ready to drink. The lager has been put into lager, and the raspberry wheat has been ordered.

I can’t thank Julie enough for buying me the kit to get me started on this. I’m loving it and want to upgrade to a 5 gallon kit. Austin Homebrew Supply seems to have what I want, but if anyone has any suggestions as to any other place I should look/consider, let me know. I don’t want to drop a couple hundred bucks just to be disappointed that I didn’t get what I needed. Specifically, I think I want the Deluxe Brewing Equipment Kit. Any thoughts?

Ah, beer, my one weakness. My Achille’s heel, if you will.

–Homer Simpson

Twelve for Twelve Update: February

Two months down, ten more months to complete my twelve. Here’s how I’m doing.

Abysmal Failures – So, no progress on any of:

  • Go zip lining
  • Learn AJAX
  • Take Julie and Shannon camping
  • Hike 30 miles
  • Watch the sun rise over the ocean

…but I’m ok with these.  Four of them are summer goals, and I’m figuring the AJAX learning for the fall.

Incomplete Successes – The other seven items, I’m pretty happy with the progress on:

  • Run 500 Miles – 19.41 miles in February, for a total of 21.83 miles. Would have been more with better weather. I hate running when it’s cold. I really hope that hate will translate to me getting this done while it’s still warm this summer.
  • Release 12 premium WordPress themes – Earlier last the month I launched 10T Themes and have since released two premium themes, putting me back on track to get to 12.
  • Try out Drupal – Yep. Trying it out. Haven’t given up on it yet, but I’m not all that impressed so far.
  • Post to blog twice a week – Eight posts in February, reaching the twice a week average for the month. So far for the year, this is the 12 post out of a required 104.
  • Complete 100 hours of Pro Bono web design – I have yet to pick up any other takers on this, but I do have two museums, the Monroe County River Museum and the Baker Family Museum, that have been on board for two and one years, respectively, that I’ve been donating the design time, and will continue to through the year. Still, even with both of them, I’m only at 2.38 hours.
  • Say “Thank You” to anyone in military uniform – One for one last month. This is, by far, my favorite of the twelve to do.
  • Brew five different beers – And this one is my second favorite.  One beer being enjoyed, one will be ready on the  7th, and one being fermented now.  I’m going to have this one wrapped up by the 4th of July.

So, there it is.  As far as I can tell, I’m at a total of about 10% complete, and still rockin’.

New Reebok Realflex Running Shoes

So, I was way overdue for a new pair of running shoes. My previous pair was no longer comfortable when walking, let alone running. After thinking about it for a while, and deciding that I wasn’t quite ready to take a complete minimalist dive into Vibrams, I decided to buy a pair of Reebok Realflex.

I wore them around the house a bit this morning, and out of the box, they are more comfortable than walking around barefoot, and they are super light. So I took them for a 4 mile run, and am really satisfied so far. Hope I’m a happy with them on mile 500.

Miles down: 6.50

Miles to go: 493.50

The Great Drupal Experiment, Part 1

I’m a WordPress guy. All of my current client sites are WordPress sites. All of my personal project sites are WordPress sites. I develop almost exclusively for WordPress, and I’ve never found anything yet that I can’t make it do. In short, if WordPress is wrong, it’s quite possible that I don’t want to be right. So why Drupal?

It’s all about mind expansion, really. Getting myself out of my comfort zone and making myself try something new. And, perhaps, I might find that I like Drupal more than WordPress. Well, that and I committed to that goofy Twelve for Twelve thing, and checking out Drupal isn’t going to be the one thing that keeps me from getting all 12 done this year.

Going in to The Great Drupal Experiment, I do know a few things. For instance, I know that the top three content management systems for websites are:

  1. WordPress (used by 15.7% of all websites)
  2. Joomla (2.7%)
  3. Drupal (2.0%)

WordPress is, by far, number one, with a CMS market share of 53.9% compared to Drupal at 6.7%. I understand bigger or more popular doesn’t always mean better. I mean, I run Linux (about a 1.5% or so market share) 99.9% of the time, and complain about Windows (about a 74% market share) the 0.1% when I’m forced to use it. Still, that’s a pretty big gap between WordPress and Drupal.

Actually, now that I think about it, that’s about all I know about Drupal. That, and I’m skeptical.


I’m so used to installing WordPress that I can do the “Famous 5-Minute Install” in about two and a half minutes. Not trying to brag on my elite WordPress installation skills, just saying that WordPress is crazy easy to install. But, thinking back to the first time I installed WordPress, it took about ten minutes to get in figured out, up and running.

First install time for Drupal: about ten minutes to install on my netbook. (And before you ask, yes I said netbook. If you want to talk about why my netbook runs a web server and how much of a geek that makes me, we’ll just have to do that some other time.) But, yea, no major difference, as far as I can tell, between the installation processes for someone that isn’t familiar with the process. Pretty much a push.

In order to really try this out, though, I decided to install Drupal on one of my side project sites, Second install: about four minutes. Again, verses a WordPress installation, no advantage either way. I’m pretty sure if I installed this 30 times or so, I’d get just as good at it as I am at WordPress.

Initial Configuration

One thing that I can say about the first time I installed WordPress is that it all felt very intuitive. I wouldn’t say the same so far about Drupal. Adding some initial content was simple enough, but it did take me a few minutes and some Google-ing to figure out how to make a page the main page. Adding an initial article was simple as well.

“Block” setup did not feel natural at all. Getting the blocks where I wanted them was no big whoop, but not as simple as how it is handled in WordPress. I still haven’t figured out how to have the Recent Content block only display articles and not pages, and, although I think it’s pretty neat that new pages can be included in the Recent Content block alongside articles, it’s quite possible that I don’t want pages to show up there, and so far see no way to keep it from happening.

I also as of yet haven’t been able to get Clean URL’s enabled, which the equivalent in WordPress is so simple (and flexible) that you can change it daily if you really like. Drupal error-ed out with a very uninformative “The clean URL test failed.” message, with no explanation as to why it did or how to fix it. A quick search returned no useful information as to how to fix this.

Day One Summary

The only things I have found inherently intuitive about Drupal are initial setup and content addition/management, items that, had they not been, I’d have already given up on this little project. Everything else seems a bit clunky.

Twelve for Twelve Update: January

One month into my “Twelve for Twelve” (plus 11 days), so I guess it’s time for an update.

  1. Go Zip Lining – Not yet, but give me a break, it was January. I want to do this when it’s warm and I’ll actually enjoy it.
  2. Run 500 Miles – I’ve run 2.42. It was January, I was sick have the month, and the treadmill’s speed control is all screwed up, so I can’t use it. In fairness, I tried to run one other time, and the treadmill took off at full speed when it was off and threw me.
  3. Release 12 Premium WordPress Themes – Ok, none actually released yet, but I’ve been working on the first, so a little progress.
  4. Learn AJAX – The fact that I actually thought about starting to learn AJAX made me feel better about not starting to lean AJAX.
  5. Try out Drupal – See #4, Learn AJAX.
  6. Post to Blog Twice a Week – I owed you 9 blog posts in January, and you got three. Got to do better here.
  7. Take Julie and Shannon Camping – Ok, I’m starting to feel like I didn’t do anything in January. Then again, this is a summer goal.
  8. Complete 100 hours of Pro Bono Web Design – Ok, this one wasn’t actually my fault. I did approach two different non-profits, but neither were interested. Bah!
  9. Say “Thank You” to Anyone in Military Uniform – Ok, I hit a home run on this one. Not a single person left my area wearing a uniform that didn’t get a thank you. One guy I actually chased down.
  10. Brew Five Different Beers – Good stuff again! The West Coast Pale Ale is done, and I had the first two pints of it yesterday, which is why I didn’t write this post yesterday. Quite good. Also, the Blueberry Bock has been bottled as of yesterday as well.
  11. Hike a Total of 30 Miles – Again, it was January.
  12. Watch the Sun Rise over the Ocean – Yeah, January.

So, as best as I can tell, I’m about 4% complete at the end of January. Baby steps through Twelve for Twelve.

Twelve for Twelve

So I’ve never really been into the New Year’s Resolution thing. For the last handful of years, I’ve always just made my New Year’s Resolution to not make any New Year’s Resolutions the next year. (Which, of course, I broke every year by making the same resolution.) But I’ve been thinking about it and have decided that I wanted to put together a list of, while all not all exactly resolutions, goals that I want to have for this year.

I tried to make it a pretty eclectic list, ranging from adventures, relaxation, physical and mental self improvement, relationship building, and giving back to others. Nice and well-rounded. So, without further ado, here is my 2012 to do list, which I’m creatively calling my “Twelve for Twelve.”

#1 – Go Zip Lining

Starting off with a simple, but exciting one. I’ve wanted to go zip lining for several years, and have never taken the time to just go do it. It looks like a blast, and I’m told that it is. If anyone is interested in joining me on this one, let me know. I’m thinking late spring in Hocking Hills area, but could be somewhat flexible.

#2 – Run 500 Miles

But not all at once, of course. Sounds like a big number to me, but it when I did the math, it would only be an average of just under 1.4 miles per day. I guess I can do that. Those two zeros still look pretty daunting, not to mention that I’m already 15 miles behind pace.

#3 – Release 12 Premium WordPress Themes

I’ve been developing WordPress themes for clients now for just over two years, but I’ve never released any for sale. Could be a good way to expand 10T’s business a bit. So in any spare time I have with the business this year, I’m going to spend working on a dozen.

#4 – Learn AJAX

What could be more New Year’s Resoluton-esque than to dive into something completely new, right? Whenever Java’s been around, I’ve always stood on the other side of the room. Time for the two of us to get to know each other.

#5 – Try Out Drupal

And speaking of diving into something new and uncomfortable, add Drupal to the list as well. I’ve always been a WordPress guy, but acknowledge that Drupal must have benefits of its own. Time to find out for myself what they are.

#6 – Post Twice a Week

I mentioned when I started this blog that I didn’t know why I was starting a blog when I had never really been all that committed to them in the past. Still, I want to give it an real effort to see if I can keep it up for a whole year. It’s only a little over 100 posts. Easy, right?

#7 – Take Julie and Shannon Camping

For those of you who know these two girly-girls, you might find this one a little funny. This one could quite possibly be the most challenging of the twelve, because I actually have to convince them to go first, which will be the hard part. The actual camping will be the easy part.

#8 – Complete 100 Hours of Pro Bono Web Design

I’m no good a fund raising, and public speaking makes my knees shake. But I can design web pages, so I’m looking to volunteer in a way that would actually be beneficial to the group that I’m volunteering for, specifically, for small South-Eastern Ohio non-profit organizations. If anyone out there is part of one that is looking to have a website, please let me know. First come, first served.

#9 – Say “Thank You” to Anyone in Military Uniform

Whenever possible and especially if I don’t know them. I know that this isn’t why these guys and gals do it, but if you’ve ever just walked up to a member of the military, and given them a smile and a “Thank You,” you will see how much that simple act means to them, and they don’t get to hear it nearly as often as they deserve.

#10 – Brew Five Different Beers

Thanks to the fantastic Christmas present from Julie, I really think that home brewing might just be my new hobby, and I want to give it a good chance to be so. I figure that if I’m as interested on the fifth batch as I am on the first, new hobby found.

#11 – Hike a Total of 30 Miles

Hiking for me is extremely relaxing, mentally clearing, and just generally gives me that warm fuzzy feeling. And I didn’t hike a single step in 2011. That simply has to change. Thirty miles of hiking isn’t that ambitious of a goal, but it’s a lot further than none at all.

#12 – Watch the Sun Rise Over the Ocean

Last but not least, a simple pleasure. I haven’t seen this happen in ten years. That’s an unacceptable length of time.

So, there they are. Twelve for Twelve.

Ready? Go!