Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kickin' Pandas, by the numbers

This past Saturday, I had to say goodbye to another great youth soccer team. The parting was bittersweet. The team had just won the Fall 2011 Harrisburg Parks & Recreation U7 tournament and was all smiles and yells and gold medals and good ol' kid energy. But after sharing the past 14 weeks together (and with several of the players returning from previous seasons, too), it's difficult to see a season come to an end — even such a great end.

I like numbers, so here's a quick snapshot of our season in numbers:

  • 10 players on the team
  • 1 extremely helpful assistant coach
  • 49 team-wide emails I sent
  • 10 regular season matches played (9 wins, 0 losses, and 1 draw)
  • 4 post-season matches played (4 wins, 0 losses, and 0 draws)
  • 3 goals allowed
  • 43 goals scored
  • 10 players (out of 10) who scored at least one goal
  • 6 (out of 140 possible) match absences
  • 0 injuries

Of course, numbers don't tell the whole story. My 5- and 6-year-old Kickin' Pandas were truly a fun and talented bunch of young athletes, with energetic and supportive parents who provided the best practice and match attendance rate I've ever seen. This team challenged me as a coach to keep raising the bar for them as they successfully mastered skill after skill. As I tentatively introduced new drills and exercises — some of which I was half-convinced would never fly with some of the younger players — I was repeatedly surprised to find each player willing, excited, and able to learn the new techniques.

The more mature players learned not just to play the game mechanically, but strategically — you could observe them thinking beyond just "get the ball, take it up the field, and shoot". And while the less mature ones certainly had their moments of drifting attention spans, they were always ready and willing to engage on the field and give their very best. And my favorite factoid about the team? That every single player scored at least one goal this season.

Of course, as I coach, I learned alot this season, too. First, I learned not to underestimate what even very young players are able to learn. I also learned just how much of a difference it can make in a player's effort investment when they know their coach believes in them. (These might seem obvious to most folks; sometimes I'm a little slow to come around.)

Overall, the Kickin' Pandas were an amazing bunch of kids for whose hard work a championship medal seemed an appropriate reward. I am truly honored to have had the chance to get to know them and their families and to share my love of soccer with them. I hope to see them returning for season after season of youth soccer.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Fill This Place"

A few weeks ago, my church (Providence Baptist Church in Harrisburg, NC) celebrated the opening of its new sanctuary building. Some months prior, Pastor John Cashwell challenged me to compose a song to be used in the dedication of the building. (And I don't use the word "challenged" here lightly — writing songs from scratch is a craft I have failed miserably to refine.)

After some initial brainstorming and prayer, it became clear to me that a new building is spiritually and socially disinteresting. It's what you put into the building that matters. Scratch that. It's who you put into the building that matters. And certainly for a church, if the Spirit of God isn't in that building — filling the atmosphere and the attendees with His presence — well... what's the point?

The song that resulted from those thoughts practically wrote itself. Here are the lyrics (sans repeated sections).

"Fill This Place"

We will gather here today
We will worship, we will pray.
We will sing in one accord
We will bow before You, Lord.
We will bring our tithes and offerings to You, Hallelujah!

You have called us, every one —
Called us daughters, called us sons;
Called us to receive your grace;
Called us to respond with praise.
Now we're calling out to You, Lord Jesus,
"Come, come and fill this place!"

Come, fill this place.
Lead us from the start and send us forth from here.
Send us forth from here.
Come, fill this place.
Lead us toward Your heart, and send us forth from here.
Send us forth to tell the whole world who You are!

We all need your new beginning here.
We all need your grace for living here.
We all need your help forgiving here.
Won't you come? Won't you come?
We all need your hope to heal us here.
We all need your love to free us here.
We all need to meet you, Jesus, here.

It's a simple song, really. But judging from the encouraging feedback I received after our worship team shared it during the Dedication Service for the new sanctuary, it served its purpose of helping our congregation focus on the real point of this beautiful building.

Some might wonder why I've posted these here instead of rushing them off to the U. S. Copyright Office and seeking a willing publisher. I'll tell you. I want to do my part to right what I think is a very large wrong in the artistic community in general and specifically the Christian music community. I'm talking about copyright assignment and restrictive licensing. How can a songwriter thank God publicly for his chart-topping worship song knowing that he sold the publishing rights to that song to a company that will slap a restrictive license on its playback and use? How does it make sense that corporations such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC can intimidate — or even prosecute — people who want to share worship music with each other? There is and has ever been exactly one Creator, and all man's works are mere remixes of the original. I'm not brave enough to restrict what's not mine to restrict. Because the laws of the land grant me the copyright on the songs I write automatically, I'll use those rights for good, freely licensing my songs so that others may benefit from them without fear of litigating, and encouraging their re-use by providing lyrics, recordings, and sheet music where I can.

UPDATE 9/5/2013: I've decided to post my original demo recording.  It's so unpolished and pitchy and ... well, that stuff just matters less to me than the freedom of the song.  So here's "Fill This Place":

Monday, September 12, 2011

Upcoming Subversion 1.7 webinar

In addition to getting to write about the forthcoming Subversion 1.7 release, I'll also get a chance to talk about it in an upcoming CollabNet webinar entitled "Subversion 1.7 — Why You Should Care". To sign up for this free webinar, visit the registration page below:

Subversion 1.7 — Why You Should Care
Date: September 20, 2011
Time: 9-10am US Pacific

Subversion 1.7 article at Dr. Dobbs

I was recently given the chance to write an article for Dr. Dobbs about the forthcoming major release of the software that I spend my days (and some nights, too) working on. If you are interested in version control systems in general or Apache™ Subversion® specifically, or perhaps just enjoy long, dry reads about software used primarily by other software hackers, you can check out my article at

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kickin' Pandas

Another season of soccer is upon us. Another batch of eager young athletes. Another few months of practices, matches, and all the hard work of preparing for both. And... another logo!

This year, my youngest son's team has black and white jerseys. Because of the recent popularity of the so-titled film around my house, we started off with the name "Kung Fu Pandas". But the re-use of a trademarked name was uncreative. So after consultation with my assistant coach, we rechristened the team as the Kickin' Pandas. (We did, however, keep the "1 ... 2 ... 3 ... skidoosh!" post-game chant!)

As usual, I started with a hand-drawn sketch. (The restaurant whose paper tablecloths I used to use for this task is now closed, so I had to settle for a sheet of notepad paper.)

From there, I went to work on the digitization step, using OpenOffice Draw as usual because I'm too much of an amateur and cheapskate to go with industry standard tools.

Then, an unexpected blessing: a fellow coach and friend in a different age bracket happened to choose the same name for her team, and was interested in getting iron-on patches made up, too. With her sharing the cost of the patches, the economics of the whole thing was no longer ridiculous. So we ordered the patches, which arrived today!

Thanks (yet again) to the folks at TJM (aka for the great patch creation work!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The emotional sine wave of church volunteerism

Tonight was one of those nights. Not universally grand; not universally challenging. Just back and forth between those extremes at a break-neck pace.

4:04pm: Leave home to head to church.

4:12pm: Hear a loud pop and see an unknown object fly out from behind my car.

4:13pm: Arrive at church, get music stuff setup for adult worship practice.

4:16pm: Begin moving drums, etc. over to the youth building for youth worship. Notice that my passenger side rear tire is completely flat.

4:35pm: Adult worship practice. My timing is way off this afternoon. Bummer.

5:10pm: Move self, guitar, and youth ministry laptop to youth building for youth music practice.

5:12pm: Youth ministry laptop has crashed. Now in an endless boot loop. No time to fix it—need to practice youth worship music with the others.

5:56pm: Youth worship practice was good, but we have no way to project song lyrics. Move guitar back to worship center for adult worship tonight. Arrange to borrow netbook from Pastor for youth music tonight.

6:02pm: Slam down a quick dinner. Encouraging comment from a church member about recent worship song selections.

6:15pm: Pastor delivers netbook. Download slides (which I'd fortunately stuffed onto a remote server before the youth ministry laptop died), carry to youth building, and setup for projection.

6:25pm: Back in worship center, ready for adult worship. Shoot! Forgot something on the netbook. Head back to youth building.

6:28pm: Final tweaks on netbook. Back to the worship center.

6:35pm: Help lead adult worship. (Great singing tonight, congregation!)

6:45pm: Back to youth building.

7:02pm: Help lead youth worship. (Great participation here, too. Sweet!)

7:30pm: Return netbook to Pastor. Change tire on my car with a friend.

7:42pm: Store guitar and music away.

7:46pm: Start cleaning up youth building music stuff. (Why did somebody leave a cooler with water in it in the youth room? Mildew experiment?)

8:24pm: Head home. Me, my sons, and my donut-sporting car.

Net emotional state, when it was all said and done: Quite positive. Stuff happens. Computers fail at the worst possible time—count on it. Tires blow. Schedule contention happens. And yet I was able to experience not just one group of people singing praises to God tonight, but two! That's enough to make it all right for me.

Special thanks to: Josh, for the extra hand with tire; Erica, Emily, and Camden, for the lovely youth music tonight; Jim, for the encouragement; John, for the netbook save; Mary and Sharon, for working around my schedule tonight; and Barbara, for keeping the whole lot of us sane.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Comets, by the numbers

Tonight, my Spring 2011 U7 soccer team — the Comets — had its end-of-season celebration. We congregated at the local CiCi's pizza (which was very accommodating to our party of thirty or so, by the way) for some food and a trophy presentation. As part of the event, I shared some facts about our season in a "by the numbers" format:

  • 13 weeks in the season
  • 25 degrees Fahrenheit the maximum daily temperature rose over the course of the season
  • 45 team-wide emails I sent
  • 10 games played (5 wins, 2 losses, and 3 draws)
  • 10 goals allowed
  • 26 goals scored
  • 10 players on the team
  • 4 scorers
  • 0 injuries

Personally, the highlights of the season are the ones not reflected in the numbers. It's been great to witness each player's improvement in terms of ball handling and understanding of the game. It's been great to share the coaching experience again with a close friend with a similar coaching philosophy. It's been great to see how my youngest son's love of the game and hard work has rubbed off on my oldest boy, providing the three Pilato guys another common interest.

Had I to do it again, would I change anything? Good grief, yes. That practice where the planned activity flopped and I didn't have a backup plan in mind already? Yeah, I'd do that differently. Those moments in heated matches where I didn't keep my cool? Yup, I'd just bench myself for those. My verbose evangelism on the coaches-only discussion forum about keeping the tournament focused on education rather than competition? Pretty sure those didn't earn me any friends. So, yeah. I'd change some things.

But my hope is that the kids were largely shielded from or oblivious to their coach's failures, and that next season, I'll be able to post one more statistic:

  • 10 players returning to soccer from the Spring 2011 season

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy birthday, Gavin, from an old geek to a new one

My oldest son, Gavin, loves science and technology. His love is not just at a "video games are cool" or "I want an iPod because everyone else has one" level. It's much deeper, almost like just needing to know how the world works — by what rules does the Universe play, and how can we use our creativity to bend them? While his overactive imagination can sometimes be a source of conflict in the home (or in the restaurant, or church, or public restroom, or …), his mother and I do recognize the beauty of it.

Gavin turns eight years old in … well, in about two hours from now, technically. I was trying to think of something special I could do for him, when it occurred to me to use one of his favorite toys/tools — Lego® blocks — to create a portrait of him. At a design level, this isn't really so challenging. I mean, it only took moments to load up a recent photo of him into the GIMP, shrink it, posterize it, replace its palette with one based around primary colors, etc.

The result was a blocky image with Lego-ish colors whose aspect ratio had been adjusted to account for the fact that a 1x1 Lego block isn't square, but instead roughly 3:4:

No, the difficult part was in actually building the thing! Okay, not difficult so much as tedious. And of course, I failed to inventory my available blocks before starting, so it was on a wing and a prayer that the hours-long activity began. But in the end, every piece planned was in place (minus some black shadow blocks on the bottom I decided to omit), and the work was complete. I had a roughly 14" x 18" image of my son, made out of plastic, to present to him tomorrow as a surprise.

Monday, May 23, 2011

In our home, soccer is a staple (or, "Seeing God even when it hurts")

[WARNING: Images that some might find disturbing follow.]

I had a great time last week in Berlin for Elego's Subversion Day event. I really like that city anyway, but to be able to hang out and code with so many of my fellow Subversion developers was just plain fun. Of course, the best part about any trip I take away from my family is when the trip is over. Well before my plane landed in Charlotte on Friday afternoon, I was already looking ahead: Saturday would bring my youngest son's soccer match as well as my own; Sunday held church and a church-wide picnic at a local park; and Monday was my oldest son's piano recital.

The first of those events was far more enjoyable than I even foresaw. My 5- and 6-year-old Comets played better than ever! Every last one of them was hungry for the ball, and it showed. They won their match 2-0, with my son scoring the first of the two goals. We had some time between that match and my own, so we celebrated with my friend and assistant coach Paul and his family at an area Japanese steakhouse. (Paul's son scored the other of the goals!) We've tried and failed to get together with this family several times recently, so it was nice to finally align schedules and enjoy the shared meal.

Now, my match was scheduled to begin at 8:30pm. Ordinarily, my wife and kids would not attend such a late match, as waking everyone up for church on Sunday morning is quite hard enough without us having the kids out at such late hours! But Paul's family was interested in taking in the match themselves, so my family opted to join them. It's always more enjoyable to play a sport when you have friends and family cheering for you, so this was a pleasant development. But it was at this point that the weekend took a turn for the unpleasant.

I play a central defender role for my team, and was more or less responsible for our opponents getting on the scoreboard first when I failed to intercept their striker's approach and ultimate shot. But then, a few minutes before half-time, it all got worse. Much worse. We conceded a corner kick to the other team, and when the kick came in, it came directly to me. I knew what was required: I had to head the ball away from frame and protect the goal. I did my job quite well this time. But unfortunately, our opponent's striker also went up for the header from behind me, and his eyebrow smashed into the back of my head. I didn't realize I was even injured. Someone said they saw blood, and I assumed it was that of the other guy. But as I turned to look, I felt that nasty warmth pouring down my face.

My team acted quickly to supply gauze and ice packs and even an unused jersey to mop up the mess that was pouring from my head. I wasn't lightheaded or suffering from a concussion — just gushing blood. The local urgent care centers were already closed for the night, so a half-hour later, I was in the emergency room. My wife Amy was with me, as was Paul, since neither Amy nor I was in any sort of shape to drive. My sons were with Paul's wife until Amy's parents could pick them up. Finally, four hours after the incident, I emerged with new hardware: six staples in the head.

Some would look at this event and see tragedy. My oldest son saw something worse: I had asked him to pray for my safety before the match, and he'd forgotten to do so. And I confess that there are times when a bit of anger at the other team's striker wells up inside me. But even as it was all unfolding, I have no choice but to see God's protection and an opportunity to give Him glory. My wife should have been home with our sleeping children, but she wasn't — she was with me. Paul should have been elsewhere (after all, he'd never been able to come to any other of my matches), but he wasn't — he was with me. Statistically speaking, you should have been reading some other web page instead of this blog post, but you aren't — you figure it out.

Oh! As for the rest of the weekend: I gratefully helped to lead worship at church as usual (on just a few hours of rest), the picnic was a ton of fun (minus one admittedly frightening moment when a wooden boomerang managed to find its misguided way into my shoulder blades), and I look forward to my son's recital less than two hours from now.

As for me and soccer? Well, we're going to have to slow our relationship down a bit over the next few weeks. But I look forward to stepping out onto the pitch again for the Fall season.

UPDATE (2011/05/24): My oldest son's piano recital went great! Both of my sons are goal-achieving winners!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Soccer logos for the big kids

In the past several months, I've been given the opportunity to whip up another pair of logos for area soccer folk.

The first was for the adult football club-in-the-large in my town (Harrisburg, NC, USA). I was tasked with putting something together that was stylistically similar to the logo for the popular Premiere League team Arsenal, but with green and gold colors. Originally, I was asked to incorporate a train image into the design (symbolic of our town's history as a stop along an old railroad route), but that didn't work out too well. I was able to salvage from those efforts the shield backdrop, but decided to replace the train with the somewhat-popular player-in-action silhouette (modeled after some stock photo shots of real players doing cool stuff). The result was accepted by those who commissioned it:

You might wonder about the white star on the design. As it turns out, Cabarrus County (in which Harrisburg sits) is roughly triangular in shape. So I added the star to represent Harrisburg's general location in that triangle, using the "swoosh" of the ball and the shield edges to form the triangle itself in the logo. Oooh... mysterious...

The second logo was for the adult soccer team I play on, the Orange Crush. I really had no ideas on where to take this one, so the team captain whipped out some rough sketches of what he had in mind when he asked for the design:

I implemented the ideas, with some minor modifications, and we were good to go:

It simply wouldn't do to not thank Israel Curiel, Rachael Curiel, and David Karpey for their creative input into these designs. So, thanks, guys!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DiscipleNow 2011

This past weekend, our church (Providence Baptist Church) hosted DiscipleNow, the Youth Ministry's annual "retreat you don't leave town for", and the biggest event in their calendar. Each year, a bunch of teenagers get divvied up by gender and age and spend the weekend sleeping in host homes (typically, the homes of other church members), sharing in small group studies with college leaders, and then worshiping all together back in the church's youth building. There's a guest speaker, a guest worship band, member-provided meals — everything you'd expect from a youth retreat, minus the long drive in a cramped van that smells like teenagers.

Like last year, I was asked to help design event T-shirts. I met with Minister to Students Paul Batson over hamburgers to brainstorm ideas. The theme for the event was to be "Pause", covering how life can get so busy with all the activities that consume our days and nights that often we fail to notice and acknowledge God. Sometimes, we just need to pause a bit and focus on the Eternal rather than merely on the immediate.

Now, I'm big on the idea of making shirts that are conversation points. In my experience, you don't get much conversation by wearing a giant "I'm a Christian" banner across your back. Oh, people will be talking, all right, but just about you, not so much to you. Still, we wanted to include something in the shirt that illustrated not just the noise of life and need to pause, but also the "punchline" of the event's theme. Paul brought to the table the idea of using the universal pause symbol — two side-by-side vertical bars — with perhaps some words scattered around them to represent those distracting activities. And we had a stylized text "Pause" logo to work with, provided by the publishers of the study. But we were still trying to find a way to make the God connection in the design.

Then, inspiration hit. I was thinking about slowing down, pausing, relaxing, growing silent, blocking out noise … these things led me to picture turning off the lights and just enjoying the stillness of a perfect night. And in that stillness, that's where we see God. And that was the a-ha moment! See, I use Contagious Graphics for my screen printing, and every October they start pushing their glow-in-the-dark ink. I'd never used that ink for a shirt project before, but here was the perfect chance to do so. What if we could design a shirt that showed God — literally — when the lights were off?

The result was a design printed on cardinal red shirts, with a constant stream of "distraction words" broken up only so that the negative space could reveal the pause symbol:

But what you don't see in the light is that certain of the letters of those "distraction words" are printed with glow-in-the-dark ink, so that when the lights go out, God is revealed:

The final product turned out great! And better yet, Paul didn't tell the teenagers that the shirt had this feature until Sunday morning when many of them were standing at the front of the church serving as an adhoc choir. It was fun to watch the wave of surprise wash over them when this little detail was revealed!

Here are some photos (taken by Chuck Shoupe) of folks wearing the shirts on DiscipleNow 2011 Sunday:

Adhoc Youth choir

Amy sings out, with Carson on the bass (Paul's the bald fellow on the right)

Mike and Nick play guitar

NOTE: The stylized "PAUSE" text in the shirt design was modeled after the logo of the Orange XP3 "Pause" curriculum used for the event, with permission (obtained by Paul) from the publishers. Thanks, Orange!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Out of a job. Kinda. (And thankful!)

In 2006, CollabNet, Inc. helped the committership of the Subversion open source project organize and incorporate for the purposes of having a legal entity tasked with protecting that software, its intellectual property, the solidity of its brand, and its general well-being. I was elected as one of the first Directors of the newly formed Subversion Corporation, and served as its Treasurer for the entirety of the Corporation's existence. Today, I can speak in the past tense about that existence because…

Subversion Corporation is dead!

Now that Subversion — I mean, Apache™ Subversion® — is wrapped up in the loving and protective arms of the Apache Software Foundation, there was nothing for the Subversion Corporation to do anyway. So the membership voted to dissolve the corporation, and for the past ten months I've been working with my fellow Directors and the fine lawyerly folks at the Software Freedom Law Center to do exactly that.

So, I guess I'm out of a job now. Or, at least, that job. I'm grateful that the Subversion developer community trusted me with the position I uniquely held for the past four years. But honestly, if the opportunity to do it again came 'round, I think I'd have to decline. I'd much rather be coding.

Long live Subversion! Long live the Apache Software Foundation!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Sita Sings the Blues" comes to Cabarrus County

I was pleasantly surprised when I read the latest edition of In & Around Harrisburg (Issue No. 15, Jan. 13-27, 2011) and spotted a listing for an upcoming showing of Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues at the Davis Theatre in Concord, NC.

Why "pleasantly surprised"? It's not simply that this film is beautifully done, with all the bright colors of Indian culture vividly parading across the screen at a dazzling pace. It's not even just the hilarious, almost Monty-Python-esque narrators' dialogue. Nor is it the incredible soundtrack of Annette Hanshaw's 1920's-era tunes. Let's forget for a second that the story itself is a lovely one and is told here in a lovely way. I'm intrigued by the story behind the story.

Now, you can read for yourself the film's crazy history at the film's official website, But the synopsis runs something like this: girl has cool, creative film vision; girl creates film to match her vision; girl runs smack dab into the ugly copyright culture's prohibitive approach to … everything; girl goes into more debt to get legally upright; girl then does something completely unorthodox — she gives her work away for free. Oh, and girl and film are arguably more popular now than they likely ever would have been under traditional distribution models.

As someone who makes his living writing (for the most part) free software — that is, software which itself costs nothing and for which the original source can be readily acquired and used and modified and redistributed by anyone who wants it — I constantly see the benefits of this permissive, sharing-oriented mindset. But it's been interesting to learn of Paley's own growing awareness, ultimate adoption, and now outright evangelism around the same permissive distribution model as applied to audiovisual works of art.

So if you find yourself looking for entertainment that's both fun and culturally educational (Sita… is a retelling of the epic Indian Ramayana tale), consider checking out this free showing of the film on January 20. For details, see the official showing information page at [Parents: It's been a few months since I saw the film, but I seem to recall that it had some elements that, in my family, at least, would earn it a PG-13 rating.]