Monthly Archives: March 2005

Your Life is Too Hectic If…

I just looked out my office window and saw a guy eating a bowl of cereal while riding a bicycle in traffic. He would wait until a moment of relative calm, take his hands off the handlebars and take a bite. That’s just unhealthy and unsafe in so many ways…

A Moment of Solitaire

A month or so ago, I walked by the office of someone that I respect very much. In fact, I would be absolutely thrilled if my professional life followed more-or-less the same arc as his. In any case, I walked by his office and saw him sitting at his desk playing solitaire on his computer. We tend to think of those we look up to as superhuman. I especially look at academics who have established magnificent reputations with some degree of awe and admiration. Their feats sometimes seem superhuman, and one tends to imagine that they work 16 hours a day 7 days a week in order to achieve success. But there he was, playing solitaire.

I’m pretty sure that when I saw it I laughed out loud. It really made my afternoon. I noticed soon thereafter that he had adjusted the blinds so that when you walked by you could see whether or not he was in, but you could no longer see his computer screen. We must all seek to maintain appearances, you know.

(PS – It probably wouldn’t take someone familiar with my work environs very long to guess who I’m talking about. And if you ask me privately, I’ll tell you.)

Redesign update: I have installed WordPress over at mackenab.org. The next step is to find a suitable template and then modify it to my liking. Once I have found a base template, I’ll probably start posting there; I’ll let you know. Eventually, I’ll attempt to relocate much of my archive to that site, and this site will either point to the same place or be repurposed.

Reinventing Mackenab.com

In a comment to my previous post, Jody encourages me to blog a hobby or interest. And those are exactly the lines along which I’ve been thinking… Unfortunately, doing what I want to do will require a redesign, and I’m not sure how to find the time to make that happen.

Here’s my vision at this moment, though:

  • The main column of the site would be devoted to several sections, showing probably only the most recent post in each section. The top section would be devoted to a photograph, just like the first days of mackenab.com. Other sections I can think of at this moment might include: travel logs from trips that I take, my ongoing adventures in home improvement, and maybe even a diary section like at Genehack. The sections would be subject to revision from time to time, but the same basic format would be kept intact.

  • No more politics, sortof. I’ve decided that talking about politics in such a public forum with my actual, honest-to-goodness, legal name attached probably isn’t such a great idea. My biggest concern here is students. I don’t know if any undergrads read my blog, but I’ve always been afraid of being pigeonholed by an undergrad before they even get to know me in class, just because they Googled my name and found my blog. Well, my political opinions don’t have anything to do with what I teach in class, with the exception of generic things like demanding critical thinking about issues. (I loathe people on all parts of the political spectrum who don’t think critically.) Similar issues apply to graduate students. I’ve been recruiting a couple of graduate students this year with whom there is at least a statistical reason to believe we would probably disagree about a number of political issues. And while that disagreement is totally fine, I don’t want that to be the first thing that they learn about me when they Google my name.

  • I did say sortof. My current solution to this is that I will use Furl or del.icio.us to link to things that I find interesting. I’ve really enjoyed looking at such lists on other people’s sites; I can usually tell be reading the headline whether or not I would also find it worth examining. It would give me an opportunity to link to things that I think are interesting or engaging without implying that I necessarily agree 100% (or even 20%) and without having to explain the nuances of what I found interesting and what I parts I agree/disagree with.

  • So, the basic design is two column just like now. Left column is narrow with a calendar, Furled links, perhaps a blogroll, and other crud. Right column is wide showing the most recent post from each of several categories in an order specified by me. Site is built on WordPress, since I think MT’s new licensing policy is ludicrous, even though I could qualify under their free license.

  • Next Action: Install WordPress. Enough bellyaching about not having enough time. I’m on it.

Bored

I have gotten rather bored with Mackenab.com, hence the lack of content. It’s the same basic issues that have surfaced before, though perhaps I have more clarity about them this time. (1) It is not clear how mackenab.com contributes to my goals. (2) I’m just not having that much fun with it. And, well, it’s hard (and pointless) to spend time on things which aren’t either fun or goal-advancing.

So, the blog either needs to be reinvented or killed. And I haven’t had time to think seriously about either option. So, we’ll muddle on in uncertainty.