The year that was 2007

I will probably have to get ready to help Annette pack here in a bit (we get on a plane for home tomorrow morning), but since I’m sitting in front of the computer anyway, I thought I’d write a post about the year that was, more or less, at least according to my unofficial blog:

Well, you’ve seen the latest stuff from the holidaze if you’re looking now. Wow, that took longer than I thought. I’d better help pack. See ya next year.

Pew on teens online

No time to actually read this right now (let alone write about it) because we’re wrapping up the Florida leg of our holidaze break, but via danah boyd comes this info about a Pew Center study on how teens use the ‘net. Could be useful for 516, which I’ve been working on here poolside among the palms. Tomorrow morning, on an airplane and tomorrow afternoon, back to the snow and the grey.

After X-Mas in Florida

Normally, Christmas is an “every other year” thing with different sets of parents: one year we go to Iowa, the next year we go to Florida. But because of the way the holiday fell this year, because we decided to celebrate Krause Christmas the weekend before the actual day itself (a good time was had by one and all, btw), and because we don’t start school at EMU again until January 7, we decided to double-dip with family visits. So we flew down to Southwest Florida Christmas day, and we’re leaving New Year’s Eve day.

Florida is always a strange place to visit for me, and the holidaze time is not much different. It’s nice to be sitting by the pool and enjoying sunny weather in the low 80s, but it is strange nonetheless. It’s a lot more crowded than I remember this time of year, too.

Anyway, one of the highlights of the trip has been the visit to Everglades National Park and the Shark Valley Trail. Basically, it’s a paved road that goes out into the swamp 7 miles to an observation tower. You can get out there by tram, but, as the video above documents, we rented bikes (well, Bill and Irmgard brought their own and one for Will). The video doesn’t do complete justice because there were a ton of birds, quite a few big turtles, and many many more alligators. From the observation tower, we saw some giant crane kind of bird swim under water, catch a big fish, and gulp ’em down. Pretty neat stuff, though I cannot imagine how awful it would be to be out here in the summer.

Tonight Annette and I are going out to see Sweeney Todd and out for a fancy dinner. Tomorrow, we’re going to the beach. Monday, we’re going home. And in-between all this, I’m trying to get my ducks in a row for Winter term.

Google Reader Boo-Boo

I use Google Reader as my RSS feed reader, though I will certainly be careful to not use its latest feature, which allows users to mark particular things as articles to share with each and every person on your contact list, regardless of who that person is– friend, work colleague, or, in my case, one of the hundreds of people who I email about something having to do with our writing program. As this user said, quoted in this article, “Google Reader Making More Enemies Than Friends,” “What genius at Google thought that this same list, consisting of hundreds of people from all sorts of parts of my life, would be the same list I’d want to share my Reader entries with?”

The article goes on to make the connection with the problems Facebook had with Beacon (which I never used personally but which also shared a bit too much), and for me, both of these things suggest two closely related things. First, contrary to a lot of concerns from various privacy folks, many– maybe most– users of services like Google Reader and Facebook are savvy enough to realize that there are things that they don’t want to share with just everyone. I think about this with Facebook frequently enough, and certainly with my own blogging habits. And second, there is a line out there– fuzzy though it may be— which, if crossed, users will raise flags and backlash against companies like Google and Facebook. So far, these providers have been willing to respond to those customer needs, too.

On the outside chance anyone cares…

I didn’t mention this before, but I will be or rather am out of town for a while to celebrate the Christmas holidaze with family. Just a few things to mention about the events so far:

  • While in Iowa, we succeeded in not being one of the many travelers who ended up in the ditch around Christmas-time.
  • While I do not want to live in Florida, I must admit it is nice to be here this time of year (seeing the in-laws).
  • I was pirating er borrowing wifi access from my in-laws’ neighbors, but they have either figured something was amiss or it just stopped working for some reason. So now I’m working on their computer, a dicy proposition since if anything goes wrong, well….
  • Originally, I wasn’t going to do any computer work at all over the break– just read. That failed miserably. Now I realize that I left at home many of the things I was going to read, yet I still managed to bring many of the things I need in order to plan my Winter term teaching. I think I am sending myself a message.
  • I am seriously mulling over the idea of breaking what has been my traditional division in blogs, my “official” and my “unofficial,” and just combining them into one big mish-mosh of blogging. I’d like to call it something catchy though, something better than “Steve Krause 2.0” or something….
  • As I understand it, there is this whole MLA thing going on right now, something I am hoping to never ever attend again, even if I’m looking for a job.

Perhaps more random and non-academic thoughts than you want, but there you have it.

Read “R3” for great dystopian Christmas cheer

My friend Dennis Danvers has published a very amusing and unusual Christmas story, “R3,” which is really R superscript 3, but I don’t want to mess with the code to make that appear here. In any event, it is the best science fiction/dystopian/funny/Christmas story I have read and I encourage everyone to take a look.

X-Mas in Iowa post (I couldn’t resist)

MY millions of loyal readers will recall that I said I wasn’t going to post until after the Christmas season, kind of in an effort to get away from teh Internets for a while. You can tell how well that’s worked out. Jeesh. Actually, the only reason I’m posting now is to procrastinate a bit and to post this video I made with my cell phone:

Annette and I were in a drug store and they had a row of all of these reindeer things that rocked in rocking chairs while singing “Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer.” Naturally, I had to push the button to make all of them work. You can imagine how proud Annette was. As you can see, I recorded it with my lame cell phone video camera; rotate your monitor 90 degrees clockwise of optimal viewing.

Other Iowa travel news:

  • No travel problems to speak of on the way here, but we are nervously watching the weather channel for our return on Monday.
  • While Annette has attempted to be an earnest and good person (she is at the gym as I type), I apparently have seen this as an opportunity to fatten up on cookies, sugar, BBQ, and eggs, not necessarily all at the same time.
  • The grand kiddies seem to enjoy running about the house and screaming. Joy.
  • You have certainly heard of this whole Iowa caucus thing. It puts a whole different vibe on stuff here compared to Michigan. Literally, every other ad on TV out here is a political spot. My father told me that something like 25% of Iowans have met at least one of the candidates ; I know my mother has seen both Hillary and Obama. It’s all a little bizarre to me.

Anyway, back to reading and chasing after kiddies. Enjoy the reindeer over and over again.

Something to hold you over until next year

We’re getting ready to do the family holiday thing around here (first to Iowa, then to Florida– an unusual “duel parental visit” Christmas season trip), and I’ve decided more or less on the spur of the moment to not take my computer. I’ll probably borrow Annette’s to check my email a couple of times in the next two weeks, but that’ll be about it. I dunno, I kind of feel like it might do me some good to have some computer “away time,” and I have a bunch of reading (both school and for fun) that I want to do, and I’m afraid that if I take my computer, then what I’ll do is pick at that instead.

But not to leave my millions of regular readers in the lurch, I thought I’d share with you a bery strange movie trailer I came across, Fiend of Dope Island:

It is completely apropos of nothing in my life, but man, this movie appears to have it all: drugs, sex, tropical climes, and Yugoslavian bombshells. Here’s what IMDB had to say. If anyone sees it over the holiday, let me know. See y’all next year.

MacArthur Series on Digital Media and Learning

Via danah boyd, I’ve learned that the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation of a series of books out on Digital Media and Learning, and, better yet, the articles in these edited collections are available for free here. I will have to do some browsing, but I think my timing in discovering these pieces is pretty good– I’m trying to put together as much of a syllabus/reading list for English 516 as I can before I get out of town for the holidaze. This, combined with some good advice I got from tech-rhet the other day, might just about do it.