How to Spend 14 Hours Stuck in a Chair

I’m heading to the airport in a couple hours, with a very long plane ride ahead of me (well, two, but the second is next week). How long? Well, if United is to be believed, it’s thirteen hours and forty-four minutes long. This will be the longest continuous flight I’ve ever been on (Dulles to Bangalore is twenty hours in the air, but there’s a four hour “break” in the middle). Since I almost never sleep on planes, I’ve compiled a list of things to occupy my time:

  • A bunch of DVD’s including the first season of The X-Files, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (so I can finally watch it with Wizard People, Dear Reader) and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember at the moment.
  • I downloaded a ton of TED Talks and stuff from iTunesU.
  • Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky and The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.
  • The old standby, the DS Lite
  • A bunch of silly programming things to play with:
    • I’m going to try to write my own queueing server, or if that fails, play with Starling
    • Work on the blog re-write
    • Work on another top secret thingie I’ve been meaning to play with.
    • Adobe AIR
  • A bunch of podcasts
  • And then, if I do all of those things, I can always watch whatever movie the airline provides.\
    Hopefully, that’ll be enough to keep my occupied from Dulles to Beijing (for the W3C AC meeting). I’ll let you know how it goes (if I can get to the internet from China… I hear they have some version of it).

The Two Best Photos I’ve Ever Taken

These aren’t great from a photography standpoint, but they tell a story that still makes me crack up.\
There were eight Americans in a row boat (rowed by a tiny Indian man) in a bird sanctuary. Our driver promised crocodiles. The guy rowing the boat lifted up his oars as we got close to a large (we guessed about 14 feet) and said “Watch this!” We drifted in towards this very large fellow sunning himself on the rock.\
The boat drifted closer and closer and eventually stopped with a thud against the croc’s rock. The croc wheeled his big head around, opened his mouth and hissed. Cliff was zoomed in all the way and thought it just looked like we were close the the gigantic angry crocodile.

Cliff holding a camera up to his face while staring down an open-mouthed crocodile.

When the croc hissed, Cliff lowered his camera, sprang back and screamed “*Oh dear, crocodile!!”

Cliff screaming 'Oh dear, a crocodile!' after taking the camera down from his face and realizing how close we were to the open-mouthed croc.

Still makes me giggle…

Holiday Highlights

This is just the fun stuff. I am leaving out all of the fevers, vomiting, face implosions, second-degree burns, and tears:\
We left for my parents’ house in Mississippi on the Friday before Christmas, a day earlier than we had planned, because Max kept nagging us about wanting to be there already. The drive really was better than I expected, but I had to pull out a DVD about three hours into the second day’s drive. That kept everyone happy until we got to town. Yay. We got to Miss about 1 pm. It was so nice to see my parents. I just wanted to hold hands and sing “Kum By Ah.”\
While there we went to the zoo and had fun having a sing-along with a dancing, singing Santa statue and dropping coins into the spinny, twirly donation bucket. Yea, that isn’t a ringing endorsement of the zoo, is it?\
My parents took the kids to see the chipmunk movie and they both loved it! (Which is difficult to achieve with their age gap.) While they were doing that, Kevin and I saw Charlie Wilson’s War. Woot!\
On Christmas Eve, we drove to this little town, Tylertown, to see a Christmas lights display in the town’s park. One hundred miles round trip for a 13 minute drive through the park. Do I know how to prioritize my resources or what?\
My dad had fun taking the kids for rides on the trailer attached to his riding lawn mower. That is our version of a hayride, I guess.\
One of th gifts Brian received is a Barbie, because he’s been asking for one for ages. My mother-in-law let him play with one at her house and said that he just loved it. Well, I am not sure exactly what was going on there, but all Brian wants to do with his new Barbie is “smell her butt.” Yes, he’s three.\
My mom invited a friend over for Christmas dinner. She is a gifted educator. We talked for awhile about Max, and she kind of spurred me on to do more about Max’s schooling. It’s been really hard to find out answers here and I keep getting the run around. Boo.\
My dad and Kevin took the kids fishing for the first time. Apparently everyone had fun. I only have one picture though because the adults were too busy keeping the fishing hooks out of the kids’ eyes and keeping the kids from falling into the lake.\
The town had a fund raiser by selling giant fiberglass swans to businesses and organizations. It was fun to drive around town and spot them. Think of the painted cows in Chicago and you’ll get the idea.\
Probably the highlight of the trip, and isn’t this sort of sad, was watching the USA-version of The Forty Year Virgin with my parents. No F-words, but all the raunch. That movie is hysterical. For some reason, let’s blame the eggnog, it was so much funnier the second time around.\
I was really intent on trying all the yummy regional food: fried catfish, shrimp creole, bbq ribs, and Krispy Kremes (heh). Add all of the holiday food on top of that and I need to eat salad for the next month to cleanse the body.\
We left a day later than we had originally planned. I needed that extra day with my folks; they just live too far away now that I am hampered by school vacation schedules. Boo. Before we left, we made plans to go down there in June and then drive to the beach, plus my mom said that she and my dad would come up here next Christmas. :)\
There may or may not be pictures posted soon.

Au Revoir, Paris!

It’s been a good week in Paris for XTech. I haven’t been able to do a lot of site seeing with Jen because of a chest cold and my foot, but the food’s been good, the company great and I’ve learned some interesting stuff and met some really cool folks. I spent most of the afternoon in the hotel bar with Molly, Simon and a bunch of other geeks laughing and drinking (them wine, me Fanta and a Coke). Then tonight, to cap all of this fun off, Jen and I had dinner with Daniel Glazman and his lovely wife at a fantastic French restaurant. The food was out of this world, and the company was wonderful. I love Daniel, and am always happy when we get to share a meal. We both love food and giggle over each course, how it taste, how they made it, where the ingredients are from… way too much fun.\
It’s up early tomorrow, breakfast, then off to the airport and home to see the boys and hear all about their adventures with Grandma. Au revoir, Paris!

Web 2.0 Expo – Making Lemonade

It’s been a wonderful (italics = sarcasm!) week so far. My second presentation at Web 2.0 Expo got moved to Wednesday at the last minute, and I won’t be here, so I’m not giving it. It’s a long and sad soap opera, and I’d rather not talk about it. But, instead of giving up entirely, I’ve decided to make some lemonade. Instead of doing the presentation (Microformats for Web Services and Portable Content) in a hallway at Web 2.Open, I think I’ll go to the Mashroom and see if I can get some help turning it into a Rails plugin. While I’ve launched a product on Rails, I’m no expert. I’ve been meaning to play with plugins, but haven’t had time (oddly enough, working on this presentation). I’ve zipped up the Rails app if you want to play with it. You’ll need to install the mofo and ruby-openid gems for it to work correctly (and you need a database for the profiles).\
What does it do? The main demo takes OpenID and after you log in, it grabs the OpenID URL looking for an hcard and pre-populates your profile with some selected bits of info. It was pretty painless to throw together, and I’d love to turn it into a plugin to make it even more painless. I think this could be a great alternative to CardSpace and the OpenID 2.0 attribute exchange stuff that’s still in the works. With delegate links, you could have multiple hcard “personas” that all point to the same identity provider but contain different profile information. Wouldn’t that be cool?\
In related news, I’m tired of conferences. I’d rather stay home, work and spend time with my family, who I feel is getting away from me. I’m missing too many of Brian’s little developments, the little things that kids learn on their ride from babies to little boys. He’s already a toddler and well on his way to kid-dom, and I don’t want to miss anything I don’t have to. Max gets smarter every day, and I want to be there to help answer questions.\
Other than Mashup Camps, and XTech (only because I already agreed to do it), I’m done until SxSW next year. It’s a gigantic pain in the ass to travel, and conference organizers don’t make it any easier. You’d think they’d treat speakers better, but they don’t. Yes, it’s a privilege to speak, but it’s also a huge commitment – both in time and money. They move your presentations around (without warning, or checking to see if you’re available), the network never works, and no one will answer e-mails (oops, here I go, I’m dwelling on this conference again). I’m tired and I need a break.\
So, if you’re going to Mashroom on Tuesday, come help.\
Update: I ended up not doing the Mashroom because I wanted to meet John Allsopp and see his microformats presentation (which was fantastic, and mine would have been a great sequel to it). By the end of that, I was tired and didn’t feel like writing code so I went back to the AOL booth to help out.

Lacking Bandwidth

Verizon’s high speed EVDO stuff hasn’t made it down here, so I’m stuck at dial-up speeds for the next week. So… there won’t be a whole lot of blogging, but the Sidekick works, so I’ll be updating my Twitter page fairly often, so check that for updates.\
It’s morning in Mississippi, and it was a rough night for the Lawvers. Max had a little too much excitement (and ice cream, and one too many road meals) and spent a good portion of last night throwing up. Jen handled most of it, and is now snoozing on the couch, but it still made for an interesting evening.\
The boys woke up early because we’re still on EST instead of CST, and now Max is playing with the camera and we’re watching The Goonies. Breakfast is around the corner and then hopefully, we have a day of not doing much ahead of us (and maybe a nap).