*breathe in, breathe out*

The last couple weeks have been REALLY hectic. Finished up another grad class with group work, got a new TV, moved the old one to the GF’s house, got hit by a ton of grading, moved computers back and forth to have things hooked up appropriately, started another grad class with even MORE f’ing group work, and just been busy each and every weekend for the last few.

Also, I’ve been on pain meds for the gout.

Things have started slipping around here as far as normals go…I haven’t put away my laundry in a few weeks, just having it piled up in a chair…this isn’t really anything new, I do that a lot. But the dishes are starting to pile up with only occasional dents in the pile. I have grapes to make beer and peppers to pickle but I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. I am behind on NaNoWriMo. I am in the middle of a bunch of books and haven’t updated the sidebar recently (though I probably should do that while I’m here bitching and complaining).

And of course hunting starts up this weekend.

I’ve started to react to things irrationally: seriously considering dropping out of my grad program, overreacting to a character death in a tabletop RPG (like swearing off gaming with the group), wanting to curl up in a ball and just unplug from the outside world for a good long while.

I’m reasonably certain it’s a combination of the pain meds and the amount of stuff I’ve had to do with classes I’m taking. They tend to trip my LOTS OF THINGS TO DO METER. I just need to monitor the situation so I don’t flip out on some poor soul.

I tell you what, though, if I get a full time job somewhere, I am dropping out of the MS in Education program for the time being. That’s a more than full time job on its own.

Been a while…

So it’s been about 2 months…actually, two months to the day. Almost two months to the time too! Big things happened around Froydlandia. I got me one of them girlfriends and she’s been sharing a lot of my time recently. Too bad for the blog, good for the Froyd.

Anyway, I dropped in to update the ol’ books to read and books having been read list. And to share my opinions on the three I’ve got read.

First up, Unbecoming Americans…this is literally one of the worst books I’ve read. It is so buzz-word heavy that it’s completely incomprehensible in some spots and a hassle to get through in all other parts. It is not written for a general audience, and I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that it was published to uphold the “publish or perish” ideals of college profs. It is pretty horrible. I do not recommend it.

Second up, The Handmaid’s Tale. I just got around to reading this, and it is a horrifying novel. The dystopia it describes is horrifying in large part because it is possible, realistically so. Luckily it isn’t real, but still. It revolves around a fertile handmaid (think back to Old Testament and Sarah and Hagar). Since fertility rates had gone down so much, the society relegated women to property for propagation of the race and to focus on “important” things. The ending, however, was worth reading it. I won’t spoil it.

Third up, which wasn’t listed, was Myth and Meaning by Claude Levi-Strauss. It was a nice intro to what he believed, and would be of benefit to get into his longer and more specific works. To assume it is anything but a short (and it is short) overview of his beliefs is to assume it to be more important and significant than it is. Still, a good read, and one I wish I would have read in my introductory myth courses in grad school.

Also, I picked up quite a few more myth books (some I’ve read before) in August, so I’ve added those to ye olde sidebar. My goal is to get 30 books read by the end of the year. I figure I can do it.

Oh, also, by year’s end, I’ll have a retrospective of all the video games I’ve played/beat too. Then you’ll all see how lucky it is I’ve got these hobbies…otherwise I’d OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT!!!! That’s not a threat, NSA. You can stand down.

Upon reflection…

Wordcamp Minneapolis was a fantastic time this weekend. It’s probably been the first time where I’ve felt part of an excited group of people. I’ve been to academic get-togethers before, but there’s something different between being a part of an excited group of people and being part of a crowd looking at and trying to find holes in specific aspects.

I’m going to compare and contrast WordCamp with my experiences at the Myth Symposium I went to last year. It was a marked difference.

I’m guessing a good bit of it was me, personally. I went to the Myth confere…*coughcough* symposium last year as a scholar. There were few presentations that really appealed to me on that level. There were a lot of stories that were of a very personal caliber: this is how I interfaced with the material, this is how the journey spoke to me, these are the names of my mythic ancestors that I identify with, etc.

The bottom line with the symposium is that I attended and viewed a lot of the presentations with a very jaundiced academic eye. I looked for holes, and lo and behold, I found many of them. I compared (unfairly, I admit) the quality of their academic side to how my academic presentation would have been. I left the symposium thinking that a fraction of it had been useful, while the majority of it had been fluff. My discussions with others there backed up my conceptions.

My experience at Wordcamp, however, was almost 180 degrees opposite. I found that even with some of the presentations being below my level and not very helpful, there were always one or two tidbits that would prove useful down the line. I actually felt part of an appreciative audience here, one that knew how it was to deal with wordpress, clients, and the minutiae of web development. Even when we didn’t know them personally, it was easy to talk with them about what we were doing and what they were doing. Everyone seemed very excited to tackle the aspects of wordpress development that were discussed. Heck, just check the twitter feed for the hashtag wcmpls. A lot of positives. I’m not sure that academic conferences can compare.

Now, as I said, a lot of it was probably me. I went to the myth symposium with the idea that perhaps I would run into interesting information that would benefit me, but perhaps mainly looking for ways that the presentations fell apart (in retrospect, perhaps that need was not necessary). I felt like I was an outsider looking in on these personal interactions with myth, never once like I was an academic discussing ways to interface with these stories and use them to educate. Some of that may be the general idea behind the symposium in not living up to my ideal of an academic conference, some of it may be the choices they made for presenters, some of it (I admit) may have been professional jealousy.

I had none of these feelings at Wordcamp. I felt like I was actually a part of a group that was all looking for different ideas and different ways of interfacing with something that we all had in common. We shared tips, hints, and similar complaints. It was very interesting, I think, to have actually been part of a group that understood where I was coming from when I said something.

One thing to note is that this may have been part of the organization: Wordcamp was clearly delineated as far as what aspect was being discussed, things were moved around in a clear manner, and they didn’t try to do too much. It was a well balanced conference. Kudos to them for getting it set up like that.

It may also have had to do with the fact that the conference was set up to help developers with wordpress. That goal, which was different than the seeming goal of the myth conference (allow people to share their personal experience with myth) may be why I found Wordcamp so enjoyable and why I found the myth conference so grating.

Although, as I’ve pointed out, it could also be because I’m an asshole. Let’s not take that off the table.

Passive/Aggressive Spam

So I’ve been inundated with spam for about a week now (I less than three akismet spam filter, btw). It started last week, I must have been cataloged in search engines or somesuch.

Anyway, it started out very complimentary (“Man, I love the post here.” or “I shared this post with my boss and we laughed” or “You were very clear here, write more on this topic!”). Of course, with a username like “Farmwowgoldnowforfreeexp” these sentiments are obviously designed to appeal to my ego and so approve them. I say thee nay! My ego is large enough that fake blog comments wouldn’t do anything to it.

Anyway, one of the spam bots must have noticed it was getting caught…because the spam comment I just deleted was along the lines of “You’re dead wrong. I can’t believe you would even say something like this. How could you?”

That first sentence was a direct quote, btw. The other two were paraphrased.

That’s not going to get me to approve the link either, so…good try spam bots.


The last three posts started with “So…”

I hope you all appreciate the fact that I was mixing conversational tactics in with my writing in order to make you feel at ease and make it seem like we’d already been speaking about other things.

You’re welcome.

Aaaaand we’re back.

Database connection went down for about 10 minutes there…but what I really like about being with Prohosting is that they are generally very swift on any tech issues. This is only the second time in the 12 years I’ve been with them that the site has been down due to tech issues (and not say, billing or bandwidth overage issues, which happened once each and were my fault).

Good on them. Also, they don’t make you listen to poorly recorded 1930s tunes when you call them.

Good enough is the enemy of Great (not applicable to coding)

Yes, but Great tends to take longer than what I’ve got to put into this this evening.  As such, the RSS feeds are set up as a list of HTML links if you visit the Feed link in Chrome.  They’re still futzored on Android systems, but that’s tomorrow’s issue.  It should be an easy fix, another half an hour of dinking around likely.  The plugin works, it’s just very so-so.

Then I’ll probably attach a style sheet to make it look relatively decent too.  Great just takes longer than Good enough when it comes to coding.

So they’re not really enemies, per se, they just don’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues.  They still go out for coffee now and again.

Addendum: now that I know how these things are done by looking through the code in a plugin, I will be rewriting it to be much more effective and efficient, and dump the plugin.

I’m out *flips hands over and waves*

This morning I downloaded the archives from both google+ and facebook. Then I deactivated the accounts. I’ve got to say that I’m very disappointed in the way facebook “archives” their stuff…about 90% of the posts I’d made were missing, and all of last year’s content was not included in the archive. Oh well.

A lot of it has to do with the time I’ve spent on both networks. I read a lot of what people post, respond to them, and carry on several conversations at a time. Multi-tasking is all well and good, but Facebook was starting to feel like a networking meeting, stop in for a word or two here, get an appetizer with that person there, nod politely at this other person. There were very few meaningful conversations, and when I’m spending that much time, I’d prefer to get a little deeper when conversing with folks. Besides, if I want to share links, I’ve got this ‘ere blog.

That was the main reason. The other reason is the commodification of my conversations. By that I mean that they are using the space that I speak with my friends, and the subject of what I speak to my friends about, and then serving up advertising based on that. It’s a savvy business practice, but I don’t have to be party to it. I know all free services do the same thing, but that’s why I have my own website and my own email. It’s a small principled stand, but in essence I’m saying “This space is mine, I pay for the privilege, and if you discuss anything with me, it will not be sold to the highest bidder for cash money.” Obviously the blog here is open to the public, but I’m not making money off of it. The last few months I’ve been considering that issue: why am I spending so much time making other people rich? By the simple act of conversing with people through facebook, facebook makes money. Yes, they provide the service through which that communication happens but that trade off was no longer worth it for me.

Also, I have to consider what social networking is doing to my growth as a human being in society. In the past, people have moved on from their relationships (friend/family/love) because of time/distance. People change. Facebook provides a space where people don’t HAVE to change. They will always post the same things, becoming entrenched further in their opinions, becoming angry with anyone who challenges what they have built. The adjustments we make due to growing up and out are crystallized and frozen in time because facebook provides a space where we don’t need to grow or adjust. We can continue stalking those crushes from high school, those famous people we want to emulate, those old enemies. Letting go of these things is made nigh impossible when we can see their activity in two clicks. Society will adjust, sure, but I worry that constant contact with those around us is retarding the adjustment or the growth of humans as individuals. Also, what fun is catching up when people have facebook showing us what everyone is doing constantly?

I know that a lot of people say they’re junking their account and never coming back, but that’s not my style. I may be back (maybe on weekends?), but for now I’m done. I’ve been slowly extricating myself from facebook for the last month or so, trying to cut back on posting to my board, keeping my comments made to other people’s posts. I still found I put in too much time. Much as there are people on there that I want to stay in contact with, my concerns with what facebook has done/is doing overshadowed that. Besides, there’s always email.