Shameless promotion

Mom and Dad have set themselves up with a dandy website about their vacation townhouse in Bend, Oregon. Now I would like to perform a Viva Bend!little experiment, and see if I can use my blog to help them be “found”. For anyone who is interested, it can be found here and the gallery is here. Even if you are not looking for a get-away, the pictures are fun. Doesn’t this sound nice?

“This is not your usual rental. The house is complete, with leather furniture, Turkish robes, cable TV and a wireless broadband Internet connection. In addition to the 2 master bed rooms upstairs, it has a sleeper sofa in the den. The townhouse sleeps 6 adults. Downstairs is a gorgeous vaulted ceiling living room, dining room (small patio off the dining room), and a wonderful, all gas kitchen. There is a small, private yard with a patio, a brand new hot tub and a gas barbecue. The former owner is a professional interior decorator and it shows! This is a quiet, comfortable place to make lasting family memories. It is located on a quiet street, close to main highways and local attractions such as the Old Mill district, Les Schwab Amphitheater golf courses and the Mt. Bachelor shuttle.”


Today was the official release of WordPress 1.5, and of course I could not just let it go without upgrading. Actually, when I started the upgrade I did not know that the announcement had only been out for about an hour. The upgrade process as documented in the wiki is pretty drastic. After a full database backup and deletion of all existing files, I uploaded the new stuff. It did not work. I tried this and I tried that, but all that was coming up was garbage. A tip to fellow Ftpers everywhere, check to make sure you upload PHP files as ASCII and image files as binary. I know, it is a silly mistake, but I still made it. Then there was the trouble with my template, and I found that I was using an outdated index.php file. I deleted it and stuck in the new one, and it looked better. I still wanted my own image for the header, but even though it was there before, and I copied it over to the new theme folder, it was not showing up. First I found that the image that I had used was corrupted (somehow), and then I found that the new default theme, based on Kubrick, has the personal header image commented out. Once I took care of that, every thing was fine. Whew! It still took about an hour or so to do the upgrade, but I was feeling a bit tense there (“Ethan, stop asking me what that marker is for!”).

Switch-back story

Some of you will be unhappy to know that I am running that other OS in our house again, after a break of seven months or so. Although I like Linux, and would love to use it daily, the amount of frustration in sharing things over the network (with OS X) and using a shared printer, was just too much for daily use when I do have other options that are easy for me. The problem was as much with OS X as it was with Linux, but I am not quite ready to trash our iMac workhorse, and I know that I can make that other OS do just about anything want it to. All that said, it still took me all day yesterday to get my computer to print to our Samsung ML-1740 connected to the iMac via USB. The solution invloved CUPS, Gimp-print, and ignoring messages that say “Accss denied”. In the end the most help came from Any of you ambi-OS-terous folks out there have some advice for running OS X, Linux and Windows on the same network and sharing everything in between? Just to calm some of you, I had another hard drive with that other OS already installed, and I simply added an entry in Grub to allow me to boot to it. My Linux install is alive and well, and I will just switch back and forth. I do have all my general tools installed in both places, so the transition is not that hard.

Soar or sore

Last Thursday I finally had a chance to find out if my skateboarding skills transfer well to snowboarding. They don’t. At least, that is my assessment based on that one day of attempts. Glenn (B’s Dad), Amanda (B’s sister) and I got up early and headed for Cadillac, north of Grand Rapids. Amanda drove, and despite a wrong non-turn (not her fault), and breakfast, we arrived just after they opened at 10am. It seems to me that skateboarding is a little more controlled, and directional. You steer with your front foot, and there is usually pretty good traction. When I attempted to apply these facts to snowboarding, I quickly became sore and dazed. In snowboarding you steer with your back foot, and you have to create the traction with the edge of the board by actually swinging your back foot around. Near the end of the day I had stopped falling down, and could use the heel-edge to do all the steering I needed (I am goofy, so that means I could only steer right). I even started going a bit faster, knowing that I had the skill to at least slow down. That point in the day was relatively fun. Soon after that I must have become fatigued, because I started falling down again about three times a run. I decided that I was done, and we were close to leaving anyway. Glenn drove to the Chinese place in Claire where we had dinner, and I drove home from there. We were all tired, but Amanda and I were both very sore. The soreness lasted another 3 days for me, and I had pain everywhere. This tells me something very important… I need to get off my rear-end more often, and get more exercise.

To do

OK, here is the list of things I should be doing, instead of this. This won’t take long, so no comments about wasted time:

  • Write another letter
  • Replace tires on our car
  • Write a household computer plan
  • Bug Sal at Lasa Auto to send the title to our car
  • Bill WCHS for consulting time
  • Call Keith Wood
  • Tidy desk (I did that yesterday, why is it still on my list?)
  • Email Jeff about deed of sale for our FX (I am pretty sure we left a signed one)
  • Send Ubuntu to Luke
  • Send Kefir grains to Peter
  • Reply to Jon
  • Send check to Gpa
  • Call Vince
  • Call Marty
  • Set up Mondrian again
  • Design personalheader template using Inkscape

I am sure there are more, but that is all that is on my white board. If you can think of anything else that should be on my list, let me know.

Switch story

As alluded to in previous posts, I am primarily using Linux now as my OS of choice. Actually, that is not quite fair, as it is not really completely by choice. I do have a hard drive with Windows 2000 on it (and Baldur’s Gate II) that used to be in a borrowed computer, but when I put it into this one, it choked on the network card. The result is that I have a desktop (without BG II) that I am using for my daily use, and it happens to be Linux. I am enjoying the new environment, as I try to figure out how to do all the things I am used to doing in a new way (or at least evaluate if I am going to continue doing them if it really is this hard to figure out). My main tools are all the ones that I used under windows and OS X, so everything is fine there, but the file sharing part is a bit of a problem. I will save that for later. I started off using SimplyMEPIS, and I liked it. Soon, though, I grew bored and decided to see if I could install something new while leaving /home in place. I knew that it should be possible, I just was not sure that -I- could do it. I did not have a whole lot stored there, so I went ahead and installed Ubuntu on top. I found both easy to use, but the default window managers (KDE for SimplyMEPIS and Gnome for Ubuntu) were a bit bulky for my hardware and I installed XFCE on both. XFCE runs nicely, and I can get just about any package I need via the apt-get command. Sounds nice, but the only drawback was that under MEPIS my 15″ monitor would only do a max of 800×600. I can tolerate those large icons, but when it comes to remotely managing servers via VNC or RDP, it is insane. I found myself scrolling back and forth constantly, just to see what was in the log files. A recently acquired friend named Jeff told me that the local power company had a warehouse that is open to the public on Wednesdays, and they have 17″ monitors for $25. That was a good price for me, and so off I went. I picked up a nice black Dell monitor, and it does a nice 1024×768 although I am still working on a higher refresh rate. They also have Dell desktops that are around 900 MHz with 256 RAM, for $125. Not too shabby for a few extras around the house to do things like stream music and that sort of thing. Maybe after I get a job….

Back to reading…

I browsed Arts & Letters Daily today, something I have not done in months. It was interesting to find a few articles that in some way point at the same problem: unhappiness and moral decline in culture today. Before I say anything more, I am but a lowly observer, and one without a history of unusual social insight. I write here only because I find the correlation interesting, and the truth sad.

Theodore Dalrymple, a British doctor that spent the last 14 years working in a prison and a slum hospital, in The Frivolity of Evil looks at the almost spontaneous nature of evil in the underclass of Britain, and the causes. A key insight is given near the end that would apply to our own culture here in America:

So while my patients know in their hearts that what they are doing is wrong, and worse than wrong, they are encouraged nevertheless to do it by the strong belief that they have the right to do it, because everything is merely a matter of choice. Almost no one in Britain ever publicly challenges this belief.

In a similar way, Mary Eberstadt looks at the results of irresponsible adults on their children, most notable in the angry and misogynistic music of today’s youth, in Eminem Is Right. It is a disturbing look at the source and focus of their rage.

And, not to be left out, the Christian community is scrutinized along similar, albeit less extreme lines in The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, where it is noted that Christians as a whole are not doing much better, despite a profession to live according to the teachings of Christ. It seems that our morals as Christians may keep us from performing as many illegal acts, but there still seems to be an obvious carelessness and selfishness demonstrated in the home. At the end of the article things take a brighter turn and some positive trends are revealed.

I think that the common thread that runs through these articles is the popular belief that personal irresponsibility is a right. There is more than individual choices represented here though. These trends also indicate a general direction of a spoiled democracy (in the way a child is spoiled), and a complacent Church.

Lampost in the Woods

Having been in the tropics for the last few years, snow fog is very novel to me. On this particular day, a few weeks ago, the fog was wonderful, and I was almost in a panic to take pictures. Normally I would not panic, but just go take pictures. I had sent the camera with B to take pictures of furniture at resale/antique shops, and thus the panic. It was nearing sunset when she finally got back and I headed right out. The timing was perfect. All the shots ended up spooky and bluish, and the lamp lit up orange. This one in particular has me looking for a faun…