Hello again, World!

It’s been years since I blogged. Frankly, my writing has had little focus or purpose over the years, perhaps with the exception of my most recent and now defunct foray, Across the Line, which covered the intersection of music & technology for several months in 2010. As good as parts of it were, even it lacked the kind of truth and honesty I now seek. I believe my time away from writing has helped me break those habits. Secondly, I’ve always felt an intimidation factor that comes with any blog I wrote. The time to write for and maintain it being the most evident. Apparently this problem isn’t unique to me, hence why platforms like Medium and Tumblr exist.

And so, here I am starting to write again. I promise what I write here will always have a focus, a single, running thread: to act as a chronicle of my experiments with technology.

Over the past year, I’ve experimented with integrating technology into my daily life in more in more ways than I can count. I owned and sold a Pebble smartwatch. I backed the Bike Spike on Kickstarter. I tried every which way possible to get my music library onto my Sonos. I got addicted to dictating notes and reminders to Siri. And I changed smartphones so many times I started a single-purpose site, whatphoneisbillusing.com as a joke so my friends could keep track. #firstworldproblems indeed.

Still, I often try my hardest to remind myself we live in an insanely challenging yet amazing time. Billions of people will have their first experience with the internet in places never wired for telephones. Some children born today will do “homework” at school and watch recorded lectures at home. Entire segments of economies, both developed and developing, will bloom from backing provided directly by individual patrons (I’m looking at you, Kickstarter and Kiva).

The technologies we create and the habits we engender around them have the power to change the world around us in ways we may never come to understand. My writing here serves as a chronicle of my own personal attempts at understanding it.

Thoughts on Maintaining Balance

This piece has been something I've been meaning to jot down for a while. For me, writing is a great way to shape and critique my own thoughts. The push to write this came when I received an e-mail from an artist I follow and friend, musician Quiet Entertainer, aka Greg Freeman. I interviewed Greg when I was focusing my blog on music and he and I have since continued to write back and forth. Greg's e-mail to his fans was a good push to finally put these thoughts in my head into words.

It's always striking to me to think back about how I spend my time, doing the things I do. To me, life is a puzzle with different pieces to it: all the friends we make, all the places we go, all the media we consume, balancing work and play, and the lack of separation between the two.

My "State of the Line" Address

2016 Update: This post references a now-defunct blog I once operated, Across the Line. The blog covered the intersection of music & technology. Many of its posts, including all original content I wrote, have been imported into these archives.

Hello friends.

It’s been well over a month now since I re-launched my Across the Line domain as this experiment in blogging. I’ve received a fair amount of feedback from close friends and casual readers alike on what they think works and what doesn’t. As a reader of my blog, I’d like to take some time to share these findings and my plans (read: “best guesses”) for the future.

The Story of My Last Name's Origin: Welense / Velence

My whole life, I've always wondered where my last name came from. The whole "they made it up at Ellis Island because they couldn't pronounce it" story is probably true, I'd always thought. However, a little bit of research has turned a new leaf.

You see, in much of Europe (Germany, Austria, etc.) the pronunciation of the letters V and W are swapped; V is pronounced like a W, as "wuh" and W is pronounced like a V, as "vuh." A good friend of mine from undergrad is from Germany, and when she first came to the States she often swapped the letters herself.

My Great Grandfather, Michael, emigrated from Hungary in the early 1900s. Granted, Michael was likely not his real Hungarian name, but it is the name he took. I visited New York City and Ellis Island in 2001 and saw for myself "Michael Welense" engraved on the stone blocks they have there. Hungary, which is near Germany, also happens to swap the W and V pronunciation. We've always thought that "Welense" was probably made-up, it's been family lore for years.