Other Hobbies / Interests

M                                                   Motorsports
In 1996, a truck pulled into the back yard and the driver unloaded what appeared to be a totaled Chevy Camaro, that had likely had been in a fatal crash.  I was later told it was a stock race car. Three months later this car drove unto the Devils Bowl Race track as the first of four #38 race cards Mike would drive for the next 9 years.  Toward the end of that season I bought a jumker with a #9 taped on the side for the express purpose of driving it on my 60th Birthday.  I did and I was well ahead of my younger son until turning toward the checkered flag where I sideswiped the wall and blew up two tires stopping 100' from the finish.  In 1997 we rebuilt that car as the #39 and turned it over to my son Pat Jr.  There would be 3 more #39's before we retired from the track in early 2006.  Pat Jr. works part time as the compliance inspector at the Devils Bowl and does the same 8-10 times per year with the National Hot Rod Assn in the SW Area.  Mike presently races incredibly high performance electric powered RC trucks in an indoor dirt track.  There are still some scattered remnants of that era at our abandoned web site    www.wallsracing.com    NASCAR satisfies our racing desires these days
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Computers-Software and Web Development
Sometime in the 1970's, an inventive co-worker introduced me to microprocessors.  In 1978 I built my first computer and subsequently learned how to write and compile programs in Basic language.  Hobbies are supposed be fun and relaxing, but computer hardware and software do not provide that luxury.  Instead they drive you to the brink in keeping up with the technology and in the process drain you mentally and financially.  Yet you keep coming back for more abuse.    In 1989 I began developing websites and getting deeper into server technology.  In late 2007 I built the web server you see in the panel on the left.  Surprisingly, this is the only project that has not taunted me or asked for service beyond the norm.  It has been running for nearly 4 years without a single hardware or software failure.  It takes its automatic updates from Microsoft and prods me to open the case and blow out the dust on an annual basis.  I can affirm that Microsoft server software is a heck of a lot more stable than their run of the mill operating systems.

 
                                        Video Editing and Production

In 1990 I began converting 8MM movies to VHS using an early version of Adobe Premiere and a Matrox AVI input card.  By today's standards it was crude, but state of art at the time.  In 1995, fully digital non-linear editing hardware was becoming more predominant and pricing was coming down for faster PC's and high capacity hared drives.  At this point I realized I was too deep into this to back out.  By 2000 I transitioned from simple editing of pre-recorded video clips to doing on-site taping and video production.  This was a slow learning process, but in 2008, I co-produced a two hour documentary on Linda's 50th class reunion with one of her classmates from Germany.  We had developed a story board for the flow and had all of the video clips, photographs and documents assembled in May of 2009.  We released the production between Christmas and New Year.  I now have different slant on the complexity of making a movie.  More recently I filmed and produced a four hour Folk Music Concert at the grand opening of the Keller, Texas Library.  It was good, but it would have been great if the sound guy had an understanding of what the knobs on the sound board were for!   And of course I have and will continue to film and edit my daughter's annual Dinner dance at North Central Texas College.  She is in a special needs program that is part of this school   But looking forward I am not sure if I really want to take on another major project.