One week ago…

We were saying “goodbye” to Jeff in New Orleans, as he headed off to PlayFair (a campus scavenger hunt) and our thoughts turned towards dinner (which wound up being pizza). And I was grumbling about being rained on by the remnants of Tropical Storm Faye.

Today, we had lunch with Jeff — pizza, of course — and while we were eating, Tulane announced that they hoped to reopen the dorms next Sunday, courtesy of Hurricane Gustav.

Sunday morning thoughts

I’m not sure that “obsessively” is the right word for how I’ve been following the news from New Orleans over the last couple of days, but it comes pretty close. I’ve got the Weather Underground‘s Gustav for iPhone and in tabs on my iPhone; I keep checking the Tulane Emergency page and the president’s blog (though I wish they had feeds!); and I just found the Gustav Information Center.

Jeff is safe at home, for which I am grateful. We even took advantage of his being home to go to ComedySportz last night, where they put on a great show (with absolutely no hurricane or political content); he ran into some of his Castro Valley friends from CSz Camp, much to his surprise and pleasure. But I hope he can go see a show at ComedySportz New Orleans soon.

He’s back!

One of the things that Tulane demands of its students is an evacuation plan. Since we live a goodly distance from there, our original plan was for him to use their arrangement with Jackson State University, expecting it would only be for a couple of days.

But when the word came down yesterday that classes would end at noon today and wouldn’t resume until Thursday, it seemed that forcing Jeff to camp out in the gym for at least five nights wasn’t right, so I disconnected from a rather chaotic conference call (as they say, it’s an ill wind that blows no good) to concentrate on making flight arrangements. I quickly figured out that we were going to pay full fare, and decided to use Southwest because Jeff already has a raft of frequent flyer credits with them (not enough for a free trip, though). Since I knew he had classes until noon, I picked a 3pm flight.

And then I thought about it a bit more and thought he might be able to miss his last class today, so I tried to call his instructor (and here I thought I wasn’t going to be a helicopter parent). The phone was answered “Room 313” — his instructor wasn’t there, but other grad students were, and their advice was not to worry about the class. So I called Southwest and moved him to a 2pm flight.

After lunch, I finally connected with Jeff (he’d been in class while I was making the arrangements). He was happy to come home instead of going to Jackson State, but he asked if I could get him on an even earlier flight — he was willing to blow off Spanish as well as Statistics. So I got back on the phone with Southwest and made the change (by this point, I was glad that I was dealing with them and not, say, United — no extra fees for talking to a human, nor for changing flights).

Tulane had set up free shuttles to the airport, but, unsurprisingly, the 6am shuttle (first of the day) was full, so he couldn’t get on. Equally unsurprisingly, there were taxis nearby who were more than willing to take students to the airport — and plenty of students to share them. So he took a taxi (good decision) and was through security before 7am, and in San Jose by 3 (despite some confusion in Las Vegas).

And when he checked his mail, he found that his Statistics class had been cancelled, and that his Spanish teacher was not going to count today as an official absence. Somehow, I was not surprised. Nor was he.

Now we wait to see if he can, indeed, return on Wednesday as planned — some of the models show Gustav as slowing down, which might delay things. I hope not, though — if the storm moves quickly, it’s likely to be less intense, which is a Good Thing all around.

Happy third anniversary of Katrina. Stay safe.

We have separation!

This morning, we made a return trip to Bed Bath and Beyond and Target to pick up stuff we forgot yesterday, then drove to Tulane (without too much confusion) in time to meet Jeff for the “Newcomb-Tulane College Orientation”, which conflicted with the Hillel brunch. We did both, though I’m not sure we got full value out of either — we sat way in the back of the McAlister Auditorium for the orientation, so we heard everything at least three times due to echoes (or not at all, due to the person behind us complaining that he couldn’t hear), and by the time we got to the brunch, it was crowded and the food was running low, but what they had was welcome, and Jeff signed up for the Holiday Meal Plan, and we all got T-shirts.

New Orleans Hillel T-shirt

And, of course, we had to contend with the remains of Tropical Storm Fay; fortunately, all we got was rain and some wind — but it was enough wind to turn my Thanks! umbrella inside out a few times.

After brunch, we walked up to the parking garage and moved the car somewhat closer to Jeff’s dorm, then dashed over there with our goodies. I tried, and failed, to get his printer to work, while Jeff and Diane unpacked the rest of his stuff. Then we hugged “good-bye” and all walked over to the Student Union (LBC) for dessert. I tore myself away and went to the last program item, a Q&A with the deans and assistant deans, where I learned a few things but nothing earth-shattering. Then I went back to the LBC lobby to say good-bye for real, as Jeff dashed away for PlayFair (a scavenger hunt).

Diane and I spent a while figuring out where to go for dinner, eventually choosing to follow a recommendation in the Hullabaloo and visiting Reginelli’s for pizza, wine, and chocolate truffle cake — tasty and inexpensive. Then we returned to the hotel; when there was a break in the rain, we hiked over to the French Quarter and somehow found ourselves at Cafe Du Monde, where we were required to have beignets and cafe au lait. Tasty and inexpensive.

And now we’re back in the hotel, not expecting the phone to ring, nor the email to beep. It feels weird.


As the old ads for Sydnor and Hundley Furniture had it, “today is the day I’ve been waiting for” — the day Jeff officially began his career at Tulane.

We started the day with a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond in Metairie to pick up the stuff we’d preordered; somewhat to my surprise, it was all there except for the surge protector — they didn’t have the same kind, but they gave me a slightly more expensive one for the same price. No real hassle, and we were there early enough to beat the lines.

After that, it was time to go to campus for Move-In Day itself. Traffic started backing up about 6 blocks from the dorm; it took us an hour to travel that six blocks. Fortunately, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me was on the radio during that hour, so we were amused more than annoyed. Eventually, though, the show ended and we reached Monroe Hall, where we offloaded Jeff’s stuff; Jeff and Diane stayed while I parked the car at the baseball stadium, which was the closest available parking.

By the time I returned, Diane was in the room with the stuff, and Jeff was still in line to check in. And after he checked in, he had to wait in line to have his keycard recoded — apparently, someone had goofed and the codes they were planning to give the students weren’t the ones in the system. But by 1pm, he’d gotten through the system and was able to go to his room.

So, of course, rather than unpack, we set off for lunch — breakfast had been early, and we were hungry. We went with him to Bruff Commons, but I wasn’t focused on the food, but rather on the time; “Parents as Partners” programs started at 1:35 (clearly, they hadn’t planned on the faux pas with the keycards). And Jeff still had to pick up the packages we’d shipped and his books. So we split up, and Diane went to the program while I helped him schlepp (and after hearing Diane’s description of the program, I think I got the better end of the deal).

Except that there was more confusion; when we went to the FedEx trailers, they said they only had one package, and I’d shipped four! And when they retrieved the package, it wasn’t any of the ones I’d shipped — instead, it was a self-powered flashlight/radio that I’d gotten as an IBM Thanks! award and had sent to Tulane for emergencies. So we went back to Bruff and checked his mailbox; sure enough, there were four package slips there, along with delivery help. Jeff headed for the dorm with his stuff and I joined Diane for the programming.

The most interesting item was “Being Safe in the Big Easy”, led by the Chief of the Tulane University Police Department and one of his Colonels. To net it out, using common sense and not being drunk in stupid places are the best ways to stay safe here; Tulane also has a shuttle system to help students get where they need (or want) to go. The other thing they pointed out was that safe areas are often adjacent to very unsafe areas — we’d suspected as much last night while we were finding the hotel (and hoping not to have to stop).

While we were hearing about safety, the students were being herded into the McAlister Auditorium for welcome/orientation speeches; then it was time for convocation, which was simulcast to satellite locations for parents to see, and then we rejoined the students for the President’s Family Picnic on the lawn. We found some shade, ate some food, and talked with another family.

Then we went to the bookstore (even though I’d already picked up the books and had been carrying them for a couple of hours); we’d forgotten to pick up any notebooks or paper. And Diane bought a Tulane shirt (I’d confiscated the one Jeff was given during our scouting trip).

Finally, we went back to the dorm to help him unpack and move in; I wanted to get his printer (HP C4480) set up, too. But I failed at that — when the printer was going through its initial calibration, the paper jammed, and once we fixed that, it had decided that the print cartridges, which were the ones in its box, were “incompatible”. And I hadn’t found any way to get it to change its mind by the time we left an hour later. So the printer is unplugged, and I’m hoping it forgets by morning. Grump.

By now, Jeff should have had a mandatory meeting with his RA, followed by a party in “Pocket Park”, wherever that is. In contrast, we had ice cream at The Creole Creamery, then took a walk down Bourbon Street. I don’t see the attraction of being drunk in the middle of the street, but clearly many people do!

And we just got a text from Jeff: “I’m back. No need to reply.” I guess he is launched!

Almost empty nesters

I write this post from the Hampton Inn Downtown in New Orleans. Tomorrow is Move-In day for Tulane, and we’re here to do our part, by contributing Jeff to the Tulane Community (after schlepping back out to Metairie to pick up dorm stuff).

Tulane has this separation bit down to a science; they have a ton of activities for the students, and a mostly-different ton for parents. So sometime Sunday before 3:30, we’ll say “goodbye” for a few weeks (we’re planning to return for Parent/Family weekend).

But for tonight, we’re still all together.

In my CUPS yet again!

A few days ago, I posted a reminder about how to deal with installing the latest level of CUPS and the HPIJS drivers on a Mac.

Tonight, I discovered an important caveat when I tried to install them on Jeff’s new Mac: do not try to install the HPIJS drivers before you install GhostScript (and possibly FooMatic)!

If you do, the installer will go into an uninterruptable loop, beeping at you, and the only way out is a shutdown.

Needless to say, I discovered this the hard way.

Hike and Havdalah

At the Shir Hadash Hard Hat Ball earlier this year, we signed up for “Hike and Havdalah”, and, after a few false starts, the event finally took place yesterday. One of the hosts brought along his GPS, and after the event, sent me a Google image showing where we’d walked (the blue line — downhill, mostly).

Hike and Havdalah Route
Hike and Havdalah Route

My calves have been letting me know that they aren’t used to that kind of downhill walk, but other than that, it was great fun and I’d like to do it again.

(Oh, and even though there are caches indicated on the picture, we didn’t even try to find them.)

In my CUPS again

Back in September, 2006, I posted the saga of how I’d solved my printing problems on my Mac mini, running Tiger.

But now I’m running Leopard on IBM’s laptop and my new iMac, and I’ve had to revisit the wonderful world of printing. Fortunately, this time around, everything I needed was in one place; downloading all three packages there and installing them solved my problems.

Will I remember this the next time I upgrade or buy a machine? Beats me, but my odds are better if I blog and tweet it than if I don’t!

Denvention Day 2

Day 2 of Denvention is in the history book, at least for us – we went on a Haunted Denver tour and decided to blow off the parties.

The highlight of the day was the Boca Fandom reunion in the Fanac exhibit area (see below, I hope – I’m writing this on my iPhone, so I’m not quite sure how it will turn out).

The panels were ok but not astounding, and the time-keeping was disorganized. Not quite enough for me to volunteer to do it, but close.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the con.

The world is too much with us

As I write this posting, I am about 38,000 feet above Colorado, on JetBlue flight 169. And, as is usually the case on JetBlue, my TV is on.

What’s unusual is what I’m watching: live coverage of passengers evacuating American 31, which returned to LAX when they found smoke in the cabin.

As far as I can tell, everyone is fine, but it sure makes me think about how much has to go right every flight.

I’m also under-impressed with the amount of speculation that the anchors are doing to keep chattering. The phrase “we don’t know” seems to have vanished from the CNN dialect of the English language.

Of course, by the time this actually gets posted, I will have landed. Then I just have to worry about ground traffic, which is mostly not operated by trained professionals.

Wikinomics, Expanded Edition: A brief review

Diane and Jeff gave me Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything for Father’s Day, and I finally got around to reading it over the past week. It seemed familiar, and, after a while I realized that I had already read the original (getting it from the library), but it hadn’t made enough of an impression on me to recognize the book soon enough to exchange it.

Like Star Wars, the added material isn’t worth the extra running…err, reading…time. But the basic book is of interest, and the need for an enterprise to find a balance between proprietary and the commons is vital.

Worth a read, or at least a close skim.