August 2004 Archives

the long road home


We left the beach this morning. The condo's owner had told us before our trip that the day you leave is always the prettiest day, and it's so sad. Not so for us. We left in a torrential downpour, so bad we could barely see the road. It made it a lot easier to bid farewell to the beach.

First stop on the drive home was the family farm, which I've abandoned for the evening after discovering Eclipse Coffee a charming coffeeshop and bookstore in Montevallo with free wifi! It seems to have a primarily collegiate clientele (University of Montevallo), and it's pretty entertaining listening to the students complain about homework loads while I work on my syllabi for next week.

Now that MT 3.1 has been released, I'm preparing to put out a 3.1 compatible version of the courseware. If you'd like to use it, you should install 3.1 (the educational license is quite reasonably priced for unlimited sites, or you can do the free version for one site), and then the TypeMover plugin. I'll distribute the courseware as a single file that can be installed using TypeMover in one easy step, rather than as a bunch of separate template files and instructions for configuration. Yay!

I've got a couple of classes running under 3.1 already for this quarter. No big changes in operation just yet, but I expect to release another version later this fall that incorporates more of the nifty features of 3.1, like dynamic templates and subcategories.

As we head north I'll be posting more pictures, and trying to shift my head back into a more professional and research-focused space. Blogging should pick up by next week. In the meantime, I'll be seeking out connectivity on the road and checking mail as we go.

good morning



on the road again: alabama to florida

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(This was written yesterday morning...)

One night in Birmingham at my stepdaughter's house, four in Randolph at the Lawley Farm. Now we're back on the road, headed to a week of relaxation on the beach in Navarre, Florida. The boys are in the back seat, playing Super Smash Brothers Melee (ah, the luxury of a built in video system with hookups for a game console), I'm in the front seat with several fully-charged batteries.

We didn't have much Internet connectivity on this trip. I was able to check email occasionally on my mother-in-law's dial-up connection, and last night Gerald and I went to dinner in Montevallo and made a brief stop in the parking lot of a cafe with free wifi. The cafe was closed, but their network was running, so I took advantage of it to grab the developer's beta version of MT3.1 so I could work on the courseware this week.

While it was nice to see family in Alabama, it was also difficult in some ways. There's something about being in a parent's house that brings out the ten-year-old in all of us, and that's often not a good thing. Being in recovery helped us deal with those stresses much better than we have in the past, however, and unlike our trip two years ago, we're headed down to the Gulf already in pretty good spirits.

Much as I'd like to spend this next week doing nothing but soaking up sun and salt spray, September's rapid approach has me thinking about work. I actually had my first teaching nightmare in a long time last night. In it, I watched from my office as my colleague Weez led a masterful class, which ended with the students singing and swaying with her gospel-style. That would have been fine, except the students that went into the classroom after her class sat there for 90 minutes before I realized that I was supposed to be teaching them--I'd somehow confused the times on my schedule, and thought I was teaching at 6 rather than at 4. I rushed into the classroom as they were beginning to leave, most of them angry and demanding refunds of their tuition. Ugh. (Weez thought this was pretty funny when I recounted it to her...I haven't yet gotten to to that point.)

So there's a balance to be struck this week. Some rest and relaxation, certainly. But also a gradual ramping up of intellectual activity--work on the grant research, and course prep (not to mention memorization of my teaching schedule!) so that the re-entry shock next week isn't too great.

travelogue: rochester to alabama


Well, we're finally in Alabama, where we've got cable modem connectivity. We've had a lovely three days of camping and exploring (and driving, which was less fun), with no access save an occasional cell phone signal. (And not even that while in caves, of course.)

If you're interested in a short photo essay of our trip thus far, read on. I'll upload more photos (I took a lot on this trip) to Flickr later this week.

trip planning


We're gearing up for the long drive down south, and are going to try to enjoy ourselves as much as possible along the way. Towards that end, we're reviewing AAA maps and guidebooks, and have settled on two stopping points en route to Birmingham.

First stop will be outside of Columbus, Ohio, where we plan to visit the Olentangy Indian Caverns. We're thinking about camping that night at Delaware State Park (which is in Ohio, natch). I'm particularly intrigued by the "Rent-a-Yurt" option there.

From there, we'll head down to Mammoth Cave National Park. I've never been there, but it looks really interesting. We'll spend one or two nights there, possibly at a campsite or cabin, and then do the last leg down to Birmingham.

After a few days in Alabama visiting with family, and possibly a day or two of camping at Lake Lurleen (if the weather isn't too stifling...ha!), we'll head down to Navarre, Florida, where we'll spend a week at a condo owned by Gerald's cousin. Bliss. We've stayed there once before, and loved it. Lovely pool, direct beach access. If only the hurricanes will stay away for a few days, it will be perfect!

Expect lots of photos along the way...a few here, but most over on Flickr.

v400 - os x sync issues


So, Apple finally released a version of iSync (1.5) that recognizes my Motorola v400 cell phone, which is great news. But it only lets me sync contacts and calendar information--which means there's still no way for me to download photos or upload ringtones. <sigh>

I've poked around quite a bit, and can't find any sign of an OS X utility that will provide this functionality. I really wish I were enough of a programmer to write something myself, but I'm not.

Anybody know of something that will do this? Either existing or in the works? Failing that, perhaps the lazyweb will come to the rescue...

how's that working for you?

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At an Al-Anon meeting a few weeks ago, the subject was control. (That's the subject of a lot of Al-Anon meetings, actually.) Or, more accurately, the illusion of control. The hardest thing about dealing with an alcoholic is letting go of the false belief that through sheer force of will you can change their behavior. You can't. One of the women in the meeting said that when she finds herself trying (yet again) to change someone else's behavior, she asks herself "...and how's that working for you?" It's a great line, because it highlights the futility of that behavior.

But what is working for me is the Al-Anon program itself.

Last night, a woman at one of her first meetings asked the group whether she'd be able to walk out with an answer to her main question--how to detach from her sister's self-destructive behavior. It scared her, she said, to hear that some of the people in the room had been coming to meetings for as many as 20 years. How could she wait that long for help, she wondered.

Many of us answered. One person reminded her that recovery was a bit like going to the gym. You can't walk in and say to the trainers that you need to be fit right now. If you ask how you can be strong and fit like them, they'll tell you to start doing what they're doing...and to keep doing it. You have to keep coming back.

But just like going to the gym, you can see some results soon. Maybe not the first day, but certainly in the first few weeks. You start to recognize the flaws in your thinking, in part because you hear other people talk about how they recognized theirs. You hear about new ways of interacting with people. Those of us with co-dependence issues, for example, tend to tie their emotional state directly to the people around them. So the idea that I could be happy even if the people I cared about were not...well, that was pretty novel. Amazingly (to me), it's even true!

This summer I've spent a lot of time on my emotional well-being (through the recovery process, and healing time with my family) and my physical well-being (through the resumption of regular exercise, and a return to anti-depressants). What's suffered has been my intellectual well-being, as evidence by my lack of attention to blogging (my intellectual gym, really) and other scholarly activities. As the new school year approaches, it's time to shake off the summer doldrums and shift my brain into a higher gear...hopefully without losing any of the ground I've gained in other areas of my life.

free sidekick phone available


Now that I've moved off TMobile and onto Cingular, I've got a first-generation Sidekick sitting around gathering dust.

It's a b&w version that has some screen scratches (not terrible), so I probably wouldn't get much for it on Ebay. So, if someone out there in blogland would like it, I'll give it to you (along with the power adapter and the camera attachment) for the cost of the postage. (If you're local, you can just pick it up from me at RIT.)

Leave a comment here...first person to ask gets it.

Folks, this entry is more than a year old! The Sidekick is long since gone, so I'm closing comments.

still here


Yes, I'm still here. I haven't been blogging, but I have been posting occasional cameraphone photos over on Flickr, including this one of the boys that turned out quite well. (I love the fact that I can instantly send photos from my cameraphone to Flickr using MMS!)


This was taken at a beach on Lake Ontario, right by the Irondequoit Bay Bridge. We stopped there on our way home from Seabreeze, a local amusement park. I didn't take photos there because I spent most of my time on the rollercoasters,, including four trips on the Whirlwind with Alex. (Lane preferred the Jackrabbit, an old-fashioned wooden coaster, which is also a lot of fun.)

I suspect blogging will pick up when we pile into the new van and head south. Gerald likes to do most of the driving, so I'll have plenty of time to write while the kids watch DVDs. Travel blogging is always fun. With luck, I'll have lots of pictures like the ones we took the last time we stayed down on the Gulf. Here's one of my favorites from that trip, two years ago:


This one is nice, too. It was taken at the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. The memorial is quite beautiful...waters is actually pouring over the wall behind the boys (they soaked their backs, but it felt pretty good in the Alabama summer heat), and over the table to their left.


For those of you more interested in courseware updates than family vacation photos, I expect to be releasing the courseware as close to when MT 3.1 comes out (August 31st) as possible.

TypeMover rocks!

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On Anil's recommendation, I just installed Sebastian Delmont's MT3 plugin TypeMover.

Oh. My. God.

Sebastian, you rock!

This is exactly what I've been wishing for...a way to selectively clone an existing MT blog. The biggest problem with my courseware has been the need to recreate all the customization for each new class (or section of a class).

TypeMover makes it easy to create a new blog including just the components you need. So I can create a new instance of a class and include all the configuration, template, category, and entry data...but leave out the comments and trackbacks! w00t!!

typemover options screen

I can also distribute the courseware as an archived backup without entries or comments of any kind, greatly reducing the installation burden for new users. All they'll have to do is import the single file that I distribute, then make minor editing changes to reflect their content.

typemover import screen

The only downside of TypeMover is that it requires an FTP server to be running on the server where your weblog resides. But I can live with that. It's only an issue for my localhost installation.

So, between TypeMover for cloning blogs, and MultiBlog for coordinating content (announcements and calendars for multiple sections, for example), the courseware should see some nice improvements by the end of the month. I'm glad I stuck with MT through the upgrade storm...these are the kind of improvements that I really hoped we'd see with a new version, and that weren't immediately apparent when the pricing was first announced.

note to self: remember this equation

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Sunny Sunday morning + kids with grandma + excellent latte + free wifi + great jazz = greatly improved state of mind

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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