August 2005 Archives

I have a hypothesis about online communities, which goes something like this: if you, as the moderator/owner/list-mom of an online community, find yourself in the position of having to say things like “Being an asshole is not acceptable behavior and will result in expulsion from this place” multiple times in multiple ways in some short interval of time, then that online community is already mortally damaged, whether you realize it or not.

I’m currently involved in a test of this hypothesis, unfortunately; something I have neither the time nor inclination for at the moment. I hope I’m wrong.

(Suggestions for dealing with “assholes in the midst” gratefully received.)

I’ve been to a good chunk of the US, but I haven’t gotten around to Nawlins yet — it’s looking like after tomorrow I’ll have lost my chance:

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA 413 PM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005 EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE KATRINA CONTINUES TO APPROACH THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL…LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE. HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY…A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT. AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS…PETS…AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK. POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS. THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.

I’m from Kansas, originally; heavy weather doesn’t scare me, per se, but I’ve got a very healthy respect for it. That respect is very, very glad I’ve got several states between me and this hurricane.

clouds over iowa city

We’ve just returned from a week of vacation. Technically, we returned yesterday, but I’ve spent most of the day unpacking and catching up on this and that and the other and I’m counting today as part of the vacation anyway and so there.

We headed out last Saturday, drove about half-way to Chicago, and spent the night (after much travail) in a too-expensive, too-noisy Comfort Inn in Sandusky, OH. The travail was largely due to our driving too late into the evening — it was after 10pm when we started looking for a room — and the fact that we were sharing the road with a bunch of college-bound kids and their parents, and they all seemed to stop before we did. Anyway, the Comfort Inn was the fourth or fifth place we tried, and we weren’t in the mood to be too picky at that point.

Back up in the morning for an easy drive the rest of the way in, although the road construction in the Chicago area was insane. We rolled in to TheWife’s parents’ place around 5pm or so, leaving just enough time to catch up with people and tell road stories before unloading the van and having a bite of supper.

Monday was TheChild’s third birthday. TheWife and one of her sisters spent a goodly part of the day baking a cake; I spent a goodly part of the day leaching wireless access from neighbors and catching up on email. The rest of the family started rolling in as the afternoon progressed, and by the time we sat down to eat, we had ten-odd people plus the all-too-happy birthday girl. We had presents, dinner, more presents, cake, and, possibly, more presents, before it was all over.

Tuesday we got up late and eventually stumbled out the door. First order of business was to head to another Chicago suburb and spend some time hanging out with J. and S., friends of ours from our undergrad years at Iowa. When we first arrived, S. was out having a lunch meeting, so we had a bite of lunch with J. and the new baby E. Between catching up with J’s doctor adventures and admiring the way S. has decked out the house, we had a fantastic time. (Private to S.: TheWife and I want to know if you do architect/design stuff by wire — we’re planning on finishing our basement and would be overjoyed if it ends up looking half as put together as your entire house does…)

Later in the afternoon we said our goodbyes, promising that it wouldn’t be mumble years before our next reunion, and then we pushed on towards Iowa City. We rolled into town right around 7pm, and quickly checked into our hotel and hit one of our old hangouts for dinner. After eating, we roamed around the downtown area for a bit, and then eventually ended up back in the hotel, as TheChild was getting a bit cranky. Everybody was pretty worn out from the time in the car, and we all ended up asleep a bit earlier than normal.

on a kiosk in iowa city

More roaming around in the morning, then TheWife and TheChild went to meet up with some of TheWife’s old registrars’ office friends for lunch. I roamed around by myself, soaked up the scenery, and caught up on some email (what else?) The whole day was really a festival of wandering around the once-familiar campus and downtown area, looking for things that had changed and things that hadn’t. We also took the chance to replenish the “Iowa” section of our wardrobes, of course. Gotta help that local economy. After we checked out of the hotel, TheChild took her afternoon nap on a quilt on the Pentacrest, while TheWife and I hung out and read. Once she woke up, we wandered a bit more and then grabbed some dinner. After that it was back in the car to check out a few more sites — the grungy old apartment house where I lived the last two years is still standing and appears to be occupied! — and then we headed back towards Chicago, finally arriving (damn construction!) around midnight.

asleep on the pentacrest

Thursday was mostly a hang-out and catch-up day. We all enjoyed not being in the car, although TheWife and I did duck out for a bit to run around Crystal Lake. I think TheChild enjoyed the grandparent time.

Friday morning we loaded the van back up and set out for home. We made a quick stop at TheWife’s home office in Northfield, had a quick bite to eat, then crawled down through the center of the city and headed eastwards. We stopped for the night early, around 7pm, just inside the western border of Ohio (exit 13, to be specific). The clerk at the hotel counter recommended a place down the road called the Maywood, so we figured we’d give it a shot — and we were pleased that we did. The food was first-rate, and the beer selection was astounding given the size of the town were in. The co-owner was manning the grill (the other co-owner, his wife, was waiting tables), and he took a break at the table next to us. Since he and his friend were chatting about good beers, and since I happened to have some good beers in the van, and because the meal had been so unexpectedly good, I ran out and grabbed a pair of Dogfish Heads — one Aprihop, one Raison D’Etre — and gave them to him, which of course sparked the inevitable beer conversation. As we were leaving, he insisted we take some desserts to go in trade for the beers; later on, back in the hotel, we found they were as excellent as the food. If you’re ever in Montpelier, Ohio, look up the Maywood, on Platt St. south of the railroad tracks. Worth the detour off the Turnpike.

Saturday morning, bright and (relatively) early, we got back in the van for one last push. Around eight hours later, about 6pm, we rolled back into our garage. (And then we quickly offloaded the van and rolled back out in search of dinner — but the vacation, for all intents and purposes, was over.)

All in all, we had a good vacation. Caught up with family, some old friends, and an old stomping ground. Had some needed time away from work. Found a diamond-in-the-rough restaurant in when we least expected it. Even managed to catch up on some reading!

Update: Just found some scrawled notes — apparently the best band names spotted in kiosk ads were “Jesus Don’t Like Killin” (playing a Mid-East Peace benefit, no less) and “Moonboot Death Stomp”. Neither appears to have a web presence.

gtalk

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Anybody Google-talking, feel free to add ‘genehack at gmail.com’.

A whole bunch of life happened since that last entry — a hospital stay, a head cold or three, a house guest — and so I haven’t really made any progress towards any of those things I talked about doing. They’re still coming though, so just you hold tight.

In totally-different news, I’m going to be in Chicago-land for a good chunk of next week, and may have some free time if anybody wants to get coffee or beer or lunch or whatever and talk about weblogs or Linux or Emacs or any of the crud I natter on about here. Next Tuesday, I’m in Iowa City; same deal applies there. Drop me a line at the usual spot.

This patch of quiet brought to you by the semi-annual (and still on-going) personal reboot — that periodic “what the hell am I doing? what the hell is all this stuff? Arrrghh!” point where you not so much fall off the wagon of personal organization as much as you climb down off the current wagon, set it ablaze, and start collecting parts to build a new-and-improved wagon (which in all likelihood will look just like the old wagon, only with bigger tailfins).

Back towards the end of the week, hopefully with some good stuff about organization, a link or seventeen, and a review of the omighodthisissoawwwwesome Perl Testing: A Developer’s Notebook.