Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


The Prodigal Son Gamer

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Recently, in one of their Netflix binge-watching marathons, my kids discovered a show called Video Game High School. Most of what they watch is aimed at younger teens, mostly Disney (teenage soap opera) drama and comedy. This looked pretty promising at first, but as the series ran on, I started not liking what I saw.

The show centers around a kid who unintentionally ends up at an elite high school for competitive video gamers. It's filled with the usual action and drama, but I guess I was expecting more of the traditional cheesy comedy. I ended up pulling the plug when the show's main antagonist started dropping 4-letter words (cause my pre-teen kids were watching it too).

The problem is, in typical drama show fashion, VGHS shows unrealistic caricatures of what real gamers are like. If you didn't know better and only went off of what the show presents, you'd think all skilled gamers are egotistical jerks, they all have some weird accent/slang dialect, and run in weird cliques. But from my experience, the people that have the dedication to drag a computer setup to a hotel ballroom somewhere just to play video games for fun and prizes are much, much nicer than that.

Twenty years ago, I used to be pretty big into gaming. I had a dedicated LAN party rig, and I went to competitions a few times a year. I gave that up to be able to raise a family shortly thereafter, and for the most part, I never really got back into it. Here's a shot of my last custom LAN rig:


Homeschooling The Delight-Directed Way

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


My wife and I homeschool our kids. I think it's an awesome way for kids to reach their potential, and I wish I had been able to do it when I was young. There's a lot of people leaning towards homeschooling now (thank you, Common Core...) but all of these new "home teachers" have questions on whether they're doing it "right" or not.

My wife and I have gradually over the last few years gravitated towards something called "Delight Directed" learning. This is essentially what it sounds like: we use things the kids are already excited about to teach things they need to know. As it turns out, you can work math, science, history and language into just about anything if you look at it long enough. So far, it's working very well.

But the question we get asked the most is "How can you let your kids learn whatever they want, and still have them be effectively learning what they need to know? What if they get out into the world and just fail miserably?"

Understandably, this is based on fear of failure, for you and your children. Nobody wants their kids to fail, and nobody wants to be a failure. However, the fear of delight-directed learning is both unfounded, and counterproductive. To bust the myth that kids need tons of structure to learn, we will need to dissect it piece-by-piece.


Fall Is Here

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

fall maple

Where I live, "fall" is kind of a relative term. Instead of trees turning beautiful colors, everything dies and turns brown. Instead of everybody wearing scarves and drinking pumpkin spice lattes, we get hurricane season. Instead of looking forward to fall, we get three more months of flip-flop weather and all the kids get sick.

But, all is not lost! You see, the beautiful thing about fall here is that after six months of being inside with A/C, we can finally go outside and not die of heatstroke. We open all the windows in the house, send all the kids outside to play, and just revel in the gorgeous weather while it lasts. It truly is a wonderful time of year, when it's not too hot or cold. (Now I sound like Goldilocks!)

It also is a good time for us to do some "fall cleaning" around the house while the kids are occupied and all the windows are open. We pull out furniture away from the walls. We clean off stacks of junk that accumulate during the beginning of the school semester. We get to a break in school, and the kids just play and relax for a bit. It's glorious. We start thinking about getting ready for late fall, and about getting the house in order for when it gets cold and we're stuck inside again.

But mostly for us, it's about a renewal. New ideas, new routines, newfound energy. It's like spring, but without the allergies.

With that in mind, I'm thinking about posting a few more articles on minimizing, and frugal living. I haven't done anything on that in a while, and I'm getting the itch. I might even revive my attempt at the 23 Days Of Frugality Challenge.



Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I just finished watching Ragamuffin: The Rich Mullins Story. I think, as I look back on it, I was most impacted by the spiritual hardships he endured. And as usual, it got me thinking.

It seems to me that the most creative, amazing, Godly people I know of got that way due to horrible hardships and trouble. I can't think of one person who really impacted the world for God who was perfect. And it seems to me that the more people suffer through, the more creativity they have at their disposal.

When you hear someone play the blues, it's easy to tell if they've lived through real hardships. It comes through in their playing. There's a grit there, a sorrow, a hardness that you just can't fake. Some of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard were written by people who were teetering on the brink of destruction. Their passion and hearts were poured out, even as their lives came crashing down around them. Because their lives were crashing down around them.

I'd like to say I've been through hardships. I suppose, compared to a lot of people, I have. I've cheated death more than once, and somehow God saw fit to save me from my own stupidity, or whatever it was, and give me another day to live and serve.


Success And Failure: Rest And Laziness

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I hate sleep. And much for the same reasons, I love coffee (and caffiene in general).

But try as I might, I can't shake the fact that I need sleep. I need rest. And I'm not comfortable with that, really. I always feel like I'm missing out on something. I'm always thinking about some cool project, idea, story, song, or something I'd like to have time to work on. I feel empowered when I accomplish things, and God has gifted me with the ability to do some amzaing things. Like being a dad, a writer, a musician, an inventor, an avid cyclist, etc.

Lately, I'm beginning to believe that when God commanded man to rest on the Sabbath, it applied to more than just one day a week.

God knows we are made to be workers. We are innately capable of working tirelessly if the proper motivations are in place. For years, I was ridiculed and singled out by my school teachers for being "lazy" because I didn't give a rip about history or math. Or homework. The truth was, as a genius-level child, I was bored to tears. I hated homework because I generally got the concepts and understood them fully in class. I didn't want to practice something I already knew. I was ready to move on to something more exciting! I was the farthest thing from lazy, but they couldn't understand that.


New Pedal: AdrenaLinn III

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

adrenalinn iii

Got a new (to me) Roger Linn AdrenaLinn III pedal. For a while, I've been looking at pedals that will let me do several different things: Midi-synced tremolo (like a Gig-FX Pro-Chop), Midi-synced beat slicing (like a Boss SL-20), Midi-synced delay (like a Strymon Timeline), a pedal-operated Midi drum machine (like the Beat Buddy), an amplifier sim (like the Tech21 Character pedals), and a Midi step sequencer (like the Electro-Harmonix 8-Step Program).

And behold, the AdrenaLinn III does all of these things, and then some. So far, I'm extremely impressed for a single box that has all of these features in it. It's got more tricks in its bag than you can shake a stick at.


In All Seriousness

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I just can't be serious all the time. I guess after years of blogging here, I've become accustomed to only writing about things that really irritate me, or things I'm really passionate about. This might lead one to believe I'm an angry stuffed-shirt curmudgeon who disapproves of everything.

But that's the furthest thing from the truth. I'm actually a very laid-back, chilled kind of guy. Anybody who's met me in person knows that... if I were any more laid back, I wouldn't have a pulse.

And yet in my day-to-day life, I don't get to discuss things like theology, economics, politics, music theory, programming, and so on. They're just not common topics of conversation. This is a large reason why I blog about that stuff here. And of course, anybody here is welcome to discuss anything civilly. I relish those opportunities to think and talk about things besides Sportsball and Hunting (the two national passtimes of southern Louisiana). I have absolutely nothing against those things, but I also don't really care about them, either.

I don't want to seem indifferent about everything though. I don't really hate a lot of things. Driving while texting/calling, yes... I despise that with the burning fire of a thousand suns. But I don't hate people as much as I hate seeing the effects of what people do. Sometimes it gets depressing, honestly.

But not to fear! I haven't lost my sense of humor. Maybe I need to post funny cat pics, cause you can never have too many of those, right?

DOg chasing dog FAIL GIF

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Need Vs. Want

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


There are times when people (Christians specifically) need to seriously take a look at what they're asking and whether or not it's appropriate. There are, believe it or not, some times when you need to think about Jesus outside of church. I'm seeing a tendency for Christians today to go into "incognito mode" when they're discussing anything not directly church-related. We compartmentalize Jesus and God, so that even mentioning them outside of a church building is seen as "inappropriate" or a "Jesus juke."

But I've heard this so many times, I'm going to step on some toes. This just shows that we have superficial faith. In reality, God is involved in every area of our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. It would be foolish of us to pretend otherwise. I see this predominantly in Christian circles where people are asking recommendations on some sort of new expensive toy or luxury. We don't ask if it's wise to get something like that. We effectively suppress the teachings of Jesus in order to not offend anyone.

This is comparable to secular consumerism today. Is it okay to demand that our food be ethically treated before we kill and eat it, but not okay to ask if someone's food choices are wise? Is it okay to demand our electricity be cleanly produced (because environment!), and yet pay no heed to ecology when we purchase disposable (and toxic) electronic devices, all designed with planned obsolescence? So it shouldn't surprise me when I see people claim "Jesus is Lord!" and then proceed to pamper themselves with luxury.


Who Do You Want To Be?

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Recently, I stumbled across a sermon series by Bill Hybels, called "Simplify." I listened to it, thinking all the while it was going to be full of useful advice on how to simplify our lives... pretty obvious, right? He talks about simplifying finances, simplifying your schedule, simplifying your job, and so forth. For the most part, I was right.

Except that in one of the messages, he says something to the effect of "Don't ask what you should do; ask who do I want to become? And when you schedule your life around that idea, the rest will fall into place."

I can't really explain why, but that little question made me stop and think. What is it that I want to become? Why am I wasting time on doing things that have nothing to do with what I need to be? Why do I do those things?

His talks of calendars and tithing didn't phase me: I already do those things. I fail horribly at using calendars in general, but you know... I have one. But simplifying my soul was something that I hadn't really given much thought. Simplifying my mind is darn near impossible, and there is no such thing as spiritual Ritalin.

The best way to become something is to work exclusively on that thing, until you achieve it. But what is it that I want to be? Once upon a time, I wanted to be a world-famous musician that toured everywhere, and wrote music that impacted people's lives. I wanted to write a game-changing novel that redefined the spec-fiction genre. I wanted to deeply touch people with the gifts that God gave me.

Except that I wasn't. Oh, I'm well aware of it... for better or worse, I am glaringly aware of my shortcomings as a writer and musician. But I was missing the whole point. I was still focused on what I wanted to do, instead of what kind of person I wanted to become.

Who do I want to be? What kind of person do I want to be?

I want to be kind. Wise. Thorough. Thoughtful. Cheerful. Generous. Helpful. Excited about life and what God is doing all around me.

So why haven't I filled my life with things that will let me achieve these goals? In all honesty, God isn't as much concerned with what we do, as much as how we do it. I may only be a simple technical writer, but am I cheerful? Am I generous? Thankful?

Sadly, if I hold myself to scrutiny in the mirror, I fall short... very short. I am not nearly as generous and kind as I want to be. I'm not nearly as wise as my wife needs me to be. Not nearly as forgiving as my kids need me to be. And patient? Pfah. Nowhere close. And the answer is, I have taken my freedom in Christ for granted.

This reveals to me two things: 1. God is where all these good things come from, and if I try to be them on my own, I will continue to fail. And 2. I need to live my life in a manner that leads me in that direction, and remove distractions that keep me away. It's not going to happen by me feeling sorry about it. Not going to happen by me saying "I'm just going to be spiritually fulfilled from now on!" Remember: there is no spiritual Ritalin.

No, these kinds of things are only tapped from the unending source: God the Father. Through the Spirit, God gives me the ability to become all those things. But they're only usable to me if I am walking in the right direction. That's not to say they have anything to do with my will! But God is not going to force Himself upon me, I must choose to follow Him and daily ask for my portion of humility and grace. I know God's grace is not dependent on me, and yet for me to utilize it, I must humble myself and accept it for what it is. To become wise, I must apply God's grace generously to my worldly self on a daily basis.

Only then will I become the man that God wants me to be. Only then will I be able to do what I want to do.

Only then will I become who I know I am.


Scrivener For Linux

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


As a creative-type person, I understand when people get picky about what tools they use to create their particular art form. Musicians will obsess over the tiniest things to get the sound "just right." Photographers will spend hours waiting for just the right light.

But why are writers usually just the opposite? They use kludgy writing tools, and sometimes even physical "index card" information management. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a single program that could do everything a writer needed? Formatting, templates, organization, storyboarding, corkboards, revision management, links and information, pictures, exporting direct to publishing formats, and even a full-screen writing mode?

Well, there *is* such a program. It's called Scrivener. It's completely changed the way I write, for the better.

Scrivener was made *by* authors, *for* authors. It's like a tool that plugs directly into your brain and lets you focus on writing. There are plenty of testimonials praising the OSX and Windows versions, but I run the Linux-specific version, which is technically still in beta. It still has more features than a regular word processor, and I've found it has become integral to my writing process.

For those of you familiar with Scrivener, the Linux version is available as a free (for now) Beta. For the rest of you, here's the overview: