Great Expectations

Ian has a reading project on tap for his summer break ahead of an honors-level English course next Fall. The assignment: read (and then write about) Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. I’ve never read much Dickens, having survived my school experience without it (although I do remember at one point finding a copy of “A Tale of Two Cities” at a library book sale or a garage sale of some sort, but only made it through the first couple of pages before losing interest).

Given some of our other reading lately, particularly stuff by Jasper Fforde and his Thursday Next books with their foundation in old lit, I am actually looking forward to digging into “Great Expectations”. After reading (and loving!) FForde’s “The Eyre Affair”, Deb and I both read “Jane Eyre” and loved it. I guess there may be a reason some of these are considered “classic” literature. So we are treating GE as a family reading project for the summer (although Ian gets the solo pleasure of the writing portion of the project that goes along with it in preparation for school next Fall).

And there is something about just the title of this particular work that seems like it fits my life right now…

More TiddlyWiki

I have been using a TiddlyWiki to keep track of a bunch of loosely-organized information and statistics about the junior high school boys soccer teams that I am coaching this Fall. Using Alan Hecht’s WebView plugin, I decided to publish it for the players on the team (and their parents), so that they can keep track of what’s going on and coming up.

I have been using TW for several weeks now, both at home and at work (see my earlier post) to keep track of a variety of different things. The more I use it, the more I am impressed!

Zero Free Time

Soccer has started back up again for the Fall season. I am coaching a team of junior high school boys — that would be ages 13, 14, 15 or grades 7, 8, 9 — and heading up the program there at the same junior high school. As a result, my free time has dropped to something very close to zero through somewhere near the end of October.

We’ve already lost our first player to injury. He broke his wrist at a school dance on Friday evening. Rumor has it he was trying to do one of those “run up the wall and launch yourself into a backflip” moves. Apparently, he didn’t land on his feet…

I can’t wait to hear the rest of this story…

I haven’t had much time to do any reading lately, either. I have struggled to make it through a couple of Clive Cussler books, and have given up. They are, in my opinion, just not worth bothering with — I had high hopes for them after seeing a movie recently that was based on one of the books. The movie was fluff, but very enjoyable fluff. Not so the books.

The one bright side, from a reading perspective, is that we are almost finished with the latest Harry Potter book. Our tradition is that we read each of the books in this series aloud as a family. It makes for much slower going, but is very enjoyable and a different way to experience them. We will probably finish it this evening…

Time Sinks

Over the past few weeks, I have been playing with a couple of different window managers on one or more of my Linux boxes for reasons that are diametrically opposed. I want a desktop that is easy to use, stable, responsive, easily configured and customizable, reasonably polished in appearance, and is (again, reasonably) consistent across all of the applications that I really care about.

Fluxbox: I used to run Fluxbox on my Mandrake boxes, primarily because of its very low overhead and speed. I hadn’t played with it in nearly a year (since switching to Ubuntu). Still very fast, very customizable, lots of themes available (and those themes are very easy to tweak). The one piece that it seems to be missing (and this probably says more about my own idiosyncracies than any real shortcomings of the project) is support for SVG icons. It does support icons on its menus, but until it provides SVG support, those menus will never look good for anyone (like me) who can’t design decent icons at small (e.g., 24×24) sizes.

Enlightenment: I looked briefly at Enlightenment DR16 a while back, but couldn’t ever really find a way to get DR17 running at that point. I recently came across several posts on the Ubuntu forums about DR17, and in fact someone has established a repository that put me in a position of being able to very easily get E DR17 installed and running via synaptic. Impressive, heavy on the eye candy, and very usable at this point. It’s drawback (and, again, this is probably more about me than the project): I can’t figure out how to configure nearly anything there — the menus, the applications available on the iBar at the bottom of the screen.

At this point, however, I am back to my Gnome desktop. Why? It just works, looks good, and is consistent across applications (at least the ones I use and care about). I have enough horsepower on all of the boxes I am currently using for Linux that Gnome is responsive enough to be satisfactory. I found myself spending so much time tweaking, twiddling, and looking for help, that I wasn’t getting anything done, and ultimately, I need my desktop to help me get work done. It needs to be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself (at least for now).

A Teenager

It’s official. Ian is now a teenager. Hard to believe…

Not that I expect to see a step-change in anything, really. It has been amazing to watch howmuch he has changed, both physically and emotionally over the past year. God has really given us an amazing gift in this young man.