Oct 092010

Script page with php code

Why was my life's script being written in code?

If you have been following along, you know that a slowly progressive, disabling, muscle illness (inclusion body myositis) caused me to rewrite the script I had written for my own life. Seeking a new challenge after no longer being able to write, play music, play golf or tennis, etc., I decided to take up watercolor painting – specifically plein air painting – because my scooter gave me a unique advantage for moving from one paintout vantage point to another. It was at one of those paintout gatherings that the next chapter in my life story began. I was asked if I would become the leader of the group – not because I was a good painter but because someone seemed to think that I might be well-organized. (They had no idea how compulsive organized I could be.)

The job consisted of finding a different paintout location for each week, making sure it had adequate free parking, restroom facilities, and subject matter worth painting, and then handing out a sheet listing locations for the next few months to the group.

Mike on scooter painting

From plein air painter to php programmer, now that's a rewrite!

Since there were between 50 and 100 possible locations, there was quite a bit of typing involved. I decided to convert the entire list into a database which made it go much faster. You can still see some of my work and 54 of the sites we visited by going to the Plein Air section of our Shirk Studios website.

About this time I joined the San Diego Watercolor Society (SDWS) and I was asked to become part of their Board of Directors in charge of Membership. Naturally I developed my own database solution for that job, since it involves keeping track of more than 750 members. I found this volunteer work to be very rewarding and continued to take on new tasks until eventually I became President of SDWS. Along the way I had been developing database solutions for a variety of needs, including staffing the gallery, monthly member shows and our annual International Exhibition. Eventually I realized I could save a lot of our volunteers time if they did not have to type in all of the information in the database. We already had a website, so I converted it into a dynamic site, using PHP and a Filemaker Pro database. This meant I needed to learn PHP programming and how to interface with the database on a website. It was a great challenge and I truly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed getting up (so to speak) in the morning and seeing true purpose in the way I would spend my day. You can see the results of my work at the SDWS Website.

After six years on the SDWS board, I “retired” and once again found myself at loose ends. But in the meantime, voice recognition technology was making great strides, and there was finally a good program for my Macintosh computer – MacSpeech Dictate. This meant I could think about writing again. Thus was born this blog site. And if people keep reading, I will keep writing!