The Rise and Fall of Great Powers

The Rise and Fall of Great PowersI do enjoy my recent complete random reading of library books. While it can be a bit of a risk, it is refreshing to just read something that you have no previous expectations of.

I picked The Rise and Fall of Great Powers thinking that it was about the Soviet Union or some other historical nation. Turns out it was a novel (as was written quite largely on the cover looking back).

I did enjoy how it jumped through various points in time from chapter to chapter, past, to near present, to a bit further back. That was a pretty interesting technique. I was always pleased at not really having any idea just how things would turn out.

I really expected a bit grander of a surprise twist at the end, but it wasn’t. And that was a surprise in itself.

Turned out to be not too bad and completely different than what I had expected.

Currently 4/5 Stars.

Comments (0)

Drupaldelphia 2014

Took the PATCO again to Drupaldelphia yesterday. It’s really a great Drupal and just overall tech gathering, with a lot of higher ed folks. Which is really great to meet some peers who face similar issues as I am at work.

The trip was so much easier that it was last time around for me. I knew to bring exact change and not a $20 to the station to get my pass (change is given from the machine in $1 coins, I have no idea what to do with a $1 coin). I also knew which way to insert my ticket as well. Apparently last time was quite the disaster know that I mull it over a bit.

I got there right on time and saw Jesse from Atlantic Cape who is in the position I once held. We discussed work, shared ideas, and joked of co-workers and situations that clearly don’t change. Fun times, he’s a good guy.

I took in the following sessions:

  • Keynote – pretty interesting discussion with 4 folks. They had some very valuable ideas.
  • How to make Drupal NOT look like Drupal – this was  a solid session on theming. I’m interested to see his slides and code once posted on the site.
  • Using Git to Manage Deployents/Updates - uhhh, this one wasn’t for me. I left after a few minutes and went to …
  • Drupal Security Made Simple - though I arrived late, this one had some very useful modules to consider in securing a Drupal site. Oh and never hack the core!!!
  • Migrate Magic: An Overview - I still have to master the migrate modules. This session was helpful, but I just need more hands on practice.
  • Building Beautifully Complex Content Types - the presenter was very entertaining, but I found much of what he discussed to be bad practice. I hope nobody walked away with bad habits.

I started my first every BOF (Birds of the Feather) session. I picked up a magic marker and wrote “higher ed” in the 3:30 time slot. I had no idea if anyone else besides Jesse and myself would show up, and we were pleasantly surprised to find a table full of folks attending our BOF session!

This was probably the most useful thing of the entire day. A bunch of higher ed web folks exchanging war stories and sharing their success and pitfalls. We all went around asking the group questions, and pretty much at least on of us had been though it and had some sage like advice. It was pretty great. Very glad I picked up that marker and wrote on that board!

For lunch I met up with first ballot Honey Badger hall of famer and Atlantic Caper great Lauren. She works a few blocks from there and we dined at the Hard Rock Cafe. I’d never been to one of them, so it was a true adventure for me. Felt like old times lunching again, and it was pretty great to get caught up in person. I did smuggle a really ugly Drupaldelphia t-shirt for her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to meet me for lunch.

All in all a pretty great and useful adventure. Looking forward to more conferences and continuing to be more active when at such events.

Comments (0)

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall ApartI’ve found that I’ve been very much stumped with what to read next. I suppose much of that is due to just how much I have read over the past few years. While I know it’s the furthest from the truth, it does feel as though I have read most everyone by now.

So, while at a loss at the library I Googled the 100 best books ever. High atop all the various lists was Things Fall Apart. Lists cannot be wrong, so I went with that.

This edition of the book did have a built in bookmark, which I found to be very cool. A simple string built into the book itself, genius.

While it wasn’t a bad story at all, I’m not sure I’d place it so high on my list. It was good and got you thinking, but I guess I went into this one with a bit too much hype considering the ranking I had found online.

I did agree much with the whole concept of not understanding the customs of others. It does frustrate when I hear others wanting to “fix” others problems, thinking that their way of doing things is of course the “right” way. I see this happen all the time, especially with the ease in which social media allows others to share their thoughts and opinions.

I think if I didn’t get my hopes up so high going into this one I’d of enjoyed it more, but it was still a fine read and glad I checked it off my personal list.

Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

Comments (0)

Shovel Knight

Shovel KnightHad to give Shovel Knight after reading all the fine stuff about it. From the Kickstarter campaign and the excellent reviews, it was just a matter of time before I gave the fine Shovel Knight.

The developers did a pretty amazing job of creating an old school’s NES style game. It was a mix of mostly Mega Man, and Ducktales to me. Both pretty amazing games back when I was just a young lad and looking forward to the next issue of Nintendo Power (the good old days).

Not only was this an excellently done throwback, but it was also very challenging as well. Some of the bosses and pesky jumping levels were very tough! Challenging, but also very gratifying when you do finally overcome them.

This was very well done, even with the cheesy makes very little sense story that goes along with it. Excellent job of capturing the essence of those amazingly fun NES days. Very fond memories of playing those old Nintendo days.

Currently 4.5/5 Stars.

Comments (0)

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The Sixth ExtinctionAlways been a fan of the animals, so I gave The Sixth Extinction a shot. Though a book about extinction would be a bit somber, it’s always interesting to learn about what’s going on in this fine world.

Though I already was aware of the previous five extinctions (thanks in part to the recent refresher from the fine show Cosmos), it was nice to learn more about each. It’s amazing just how close all life had come to cease existing altogether on numerous occasions. It make the whole life thing even more impressive.

What’s very sad is the rapid rate of some current trends that are leading many species towards extinction. While I have noticed less of certain critters over the years, it was very interesting to find out about the rapid decline of toads. I was just commenting on how few of the little guys whom I use to see in abundance every summer are around any more where I live.

Also a super bummer was to be reminded about the dwindling numbers of the large mammals and apes. Rhinos and gorillas are so amazingly cool, but sadly there just aren’t many left in the wild. So sad.

This was a very informative book, and kinda got me a bit more reenergized to to a bit more to help the planet out.

Currently 4/5 Stars.

Comments (0)

Water Park Fun

Had a pretty amazing water park fun day at Morey’s Oasis Park in Wildwood. It was Maggie’s birthday and she was kind enough to invite this old kickball captain along.

Getting there wasn’t too bad, traffic wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be for the summer. I was surprised to see all the construction on the Parkway in Cape May County. It was quite a bit.

I went to the Raging Waters park, which was the incorrect one. However I ran into other attendees and we figured out where to go and walked over to there.

The park was really nice! I hadn’t been on a water slide in probably 14 years, so I wasn’t sure if it would still be fun for me. I am much older after all.

Turns out it was a lot of fun, and I’m sure that was heavily attributed to the company. It was quite a fun and energetic bunch, and great to hang out with people mostly out of my norm.

I was scared waiting to go on their super tall slide. The ride itself isn’t too bad, but the waiting in line gave me more than ample time to psych myself out. I did go down, and it wasn’t too bad. Minus an almost lost contact and not knowing where to go to get out of the pool. Ha, I was really confused for a bit!

I guess my finest achievements were climbing in the activity area and winning the race slide despite a huge cheater starting way too early. I just like trying to climb stuff, it’s a really great workout. And racing friends is just super fun.

I’ve had a pretty stinky week or two, and this fine adventure was perfectly timed. It was a very fun time, and good stuff.

Comments (0)