Having a Life–for a day

Today, I skipped work. In my former life as an adjunct professor, I usually taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I used Fridays to learn new things–mostly new technical things. I wish I could reinstitute this policy. I am sometimes able to do this at work, but not always. Because the phone rings, the e-mail comes in–someone needs me for something. And that’s one difference between working a regular, 9-to-5 job vs. being in the academy. Oh, I know there are committee meetings, students at your door, letters of recommendation, etc. I’m married to a professor, so I know. But if you want to hide at your house one day a week, you can. Your time is your own to decide how to fill. You decide when the students can come visit (office hours) or when you’ll write that letter. Committee meetings, faculty meetings, okay, but these are far less frequent than my phone calls–believe me.

So today I’m taking my life back. I’m really feeling pretty good about this. I’ve been gradually, over the past year, taking my life back. I jumped from the professor track to an I-don’t-know-what track and am really starting to make it the Laura track. So here’s the plan for the day:

  • Work on the novel–writing, not reading. I’m on page 87. I’m hoping to be to 100 by the end of the weekend.

  • Pull out the poetry again. My poetry is not so great, but it’s mine and I’m thinking I want to work on posting it online in some sort of multimedia form.

  • Buy a scanner. I need to scan pictures for the above project.

  • Plant flowers. As I said, I’m not much into Mom/Housewife stuff, but I feel compelled to keep up just a little. Plus, I like looking at flowers.

  • Take housewarming gift to friend. Much belated.

  • Laundry–but I might wait until tomorrow. 🙂

  • Blog

Not a bad list. We’ll see how it goes.

Some Geek Moments

So I had a couple of geek moments today. The last and most astonishing, to me, was the sudden desire to have a phone/iPod combo. I was walking across campus to the car, listening to my iPod, Buddy Holly I think, when suddenly my cellphone rings. I yank my earbuds out, cursing because I almost step on them (I’m not very tall), then nearly dump out the contents of my purse trying to get to my phone (I really hate purses). So after talking to my husband, who just wants to tell me he’s going to the hardware and that the kids are at the neighbors and could I order the pizza, I think, damn wouldn’t it have been great if I just could have hit the “phone” button which would have paused the song, and voila, I’d be talking and then could go back to listening when I hang up? I tell my husband about this when I get home (he’s a geek, too) and he says, well duh, don’t you think they’ve come up with that already. And I’m thinking, where’s the marketing campaign? So, of course, I Google it, which brings up on two items. A concept photo for the iPod/phone combo and the n-gage which is an MP3 player and a phone, but the site is so flashy that I can’t tell if it would work in the way that I just described. I think it’s a cool idea anyway.

My other geek moment came when my boss walked in and I was blogging away and I had to confess I was a little addicted. (I love my job, though. I mean, I got paid for that blogging. 🙂 )Now this was work-related blogging. I’ve had a work blog on my server there for a while, but I’ve become increasingly obsessed with it. It’s even better than usenet and listservs–other forms I was once obsessed with and still use. I’m a bit of an information hound, I guess–or maybe it’s a communication hound because a lot of the blogs I read and enjoy don’t necessarily provide information; they are often discussions of key issues related to topics of interest to me. There’s just something nice about finding people who share my interests. I live in a big city, but aside from the people I work with, I don’t regularly run into people who are enthralled with all things technological as I am. In fact, many of the people I know are kind of horrified by it–they hate tv, for example. Some of them are simply frugal–technology costs money and they don’t rank it highly on their expenditure list. We do. I mean, we plan for computer replacement the way most people purchase homes and cars. We’re working on a second Tivo purchase–with better tv attached–as I write. I have other obsessions. You’ll find out about them later.

What is a Geeky Mom?

Hello, my name is Laura and I’m Geeky, and a mom, thus Geekymom. I have been a Geek now, for, oh, about 25 years. I have a SmartPhone, iPod, and an iMac. I think Tivo is the greatest invention since the remote control. I’d rather play video games than go shopping. I learned how to design web pages on maternity leave. I don’t do much in the way of mom things, and other moms I know look at me like I’m from another planet when I talk about the things I do in my spare time–like blogging. In geek circles, I’m like the woman who likes sports at a party. Thankfully, my job is geeky. I’m an Instructional Technologist. It’s actually my job to explore new gadgets and software. I create web pages on a regular basis and train others how to do it (maternity leave paid off well). I get paid to blog and read blogs. What cooler job could there be?

I’m also a writer. That’s what my original degree was in–Creative Writing. I’m working on a novel now. Originally, I was a poet. So you’ll probably see some blogs about that, too. You can see by my previous two posts that I intended this to be my professional blog at first, but I’m letting the school host that and here, I can have some fun.

Open Source/Shareware Word Processors for Mac OS X

So I spent some time the other day searching for a decent, inexpensive word processor for my Mac. Apple Works just doesn’t cut it. We have a Linux machine too and have OpenOffice for that machine. OpenOffice is okay, but it’s just so ugly. If I’m going to have to stare at something for long periods of time, it should look nice. Plus, it does weird things with my fonts.

So I downloaded a version of OpenOffice for Mac–NeoOffice/J. It’s ugly, too. It’s a java-based application that looks just like OpenOffice for Linux. Plus, I couldn’t open a document. I could create a new one, but I was never able to open one–not good. Granted, it’s beta, so you can’t expect much, but still . . .

So then I downloaded a program called Mellel. It’s actually very pretty and seems quite functional. It looks like Safari and has the formatting palette just like Microsoft Word. I haven’t run this program through all of its paces, but I’m planning to in the next couple of days. This program seems to offer the most promise so far. It only costs $29, which is quite a bargain.

I have just downloaded Nisus Writer Express to see what it’s like. It looks nice from the screen shots, but we’ll see. I’d also heard about Mariner, but they offered no free trial, so I couldn’t test it out.

I also looked into AbiWord, but it’s only available for 10.3 and I haven’t upgraded yet.

I must say I find this whole process frustrating, but I suppose there aren’t too many options on a Windows machine either. You either go with Word, WordPerfect, or OpenOffice. I would really like a better alternative to Microsoft Word and I’m willing to pay for it, though I have limits.

Ultramookie has some good comments about all of these.

Tomorrow–some stuff about Multimedia.

Initial Musings

I’m coming off a week of training students in Web Design and Multimedia–five days, 8 hours a day. They’re an interesting group of students, all with different talents and ideas. Although it is really intense to be helping seven students at once with a wide variety of questions–how do you do a rollover and what is a motion tween anyway–it’s neat to see their progress.

To give you an idea of the kinds of things I do–with school out and all–here’s what transpired today. I assigned a student to teach a professor how to edit video using iMovie; I helped a staff member scan a document to send to alums; I helped another staff member edit a web page and re-post it. Then I copied a DVD–homemade–for another professor. I also listened to 20 progress reports on the projects the above students were working on. All coming along–course it’s only been a week.

Once things settle down a bit–next week–I hope to have some meatier musings.