Upcoming Talk: Building a Community Site with Drupal

On Wednedsay, January 5th, I'll be giving the MHVLUG lecture on Drupal.  It's been two years since I started poking at Drupal in order to overall the Poughkeepsie Farm Project website, and this talk is largely going to be about that experience, and some of the basic lessons I've learned along the way.  While there will be plenty of technical bits, covering basics of getting deep enough into a drupal project to make it interesting, there is also another interesting story about getting involved with non profits.

The talk is coming along nicely, and I'm quite excited for giving it next week.

For love of cross country skiing

Of all the things my parents gave me, one of the things I most appreciate is the love of x-country skiing.  When I tell people I grew up in Vermont, I'm often asked if I ski.  I have to give a qualified yes by saying only x-country, as some time in High School I gave up downhill because of the cost, which meant that none of my friends were doing it either.

I have no real recollection of my first time on skies, so I couldn't tell you how long I've been on skies.  I have an early memory of skiing at the Granville elementary school as part of a day of winter sports.  By that point I was comfortable snow plowing down hills, so I must have been on skies for a while before then.  While many other activities with my parents went to the way side, skiing is one that I'm typically chomping at the bit for, and I'm always looking for a snow report when I call and talk.  Some of my favorite childhood memories involve neighborhood ski parties, were a pack of 20 or so family friends would trek through the mountains, taking turns breaking trail along the way.  The parties have since passed, but we still typically get out with my parents when we visit Vermont.  Our mid winter trip is timed to give us the best chance at getting some good skiing in.

There is something magical about gliding through the quiet woods after a storm.  Once you get into a fluid motion, with a consistent glide, you almost feel like you are flying.  Susan knows that a good snow fall down here in New York means we're getting up early the next day to take advantage of the snow before the Sun does it's damage.  Our 2.5 hour outing to Fahnestock Winter Park yesterday, under really excellent conditions, may be one of my favorite memories of the winter.  That we got out skiing in December here in New York gives us pretty good odds of having at least one more ski day this year.

Here's to hoping that 2011 brings us plenty more snow in the North East so even more skiing will be in our future.

X-Country Skiing at Fahnestock

A big storm around here means getting out to Fahnestock Winter Park as soon as they open for cross country skiing.  Mornings are the best times for it, for 2 reasons: it almost always breaks freezing by noon after a storm around here, and the New York City folks roam in around noon.  Today the snow would have lasted longer, but on our last stretch back to the lodge we passed a steady stream of folks that were complaining about the snow, or their skiis, or something else, and realized it was good that we were about to be done.  I'm not sure why so many folks from NYC have the inability to appreciate a beautiful snowy day, but apparently they do.

MyTracks provided me with a great map of the ski, so here it is to share and enjoy:


View 2010-12-28 X-Country Skiing in a larger map

You know it's a blizzard if...

From the Poughkeepsie Journal:

Meteorologist Tom Wasula said the Weather Service in Albany has not been able to confirm if the storm can officially be called a "blizzard" in Dutchess County. He said the wind sensor at Dutchess County Airport broke last night in the storm.

The parameters for a blizzard include heavy or blowing snow, visibility reduced to less than a quarter-mile and wind or consistent wind gusts over 35 mph for a period of three consecutive hours, he said.

I think that if the storm breaks your wind sensor, it's safe to call it a blizzard.  Based on what we saw at 11pm last night while shoveling, this would definitely qualify.

Better ideas for a retreat

Seth Godin had a post on better ways to organize a retreat that had these as good points:

  • Create a dossier on each attendee in advance, with a photo and a non-humble CV of who they are and what they do and what their goals are
  • Never (never) have people go around a circle and say their name and what they do and their favorite kind of vegetable or whatever. The problem? People spend the whole time trying to think of what to say, not listening to those in front of them (I once had to witness 600 people do this!!)

I think the going around the room thing is really spot on.  I am here by banishing that from any gathering I've got.  Time to invest in more name tags.

Radio Lab: The Walls of Jericho

Given that I've told half a dozen people to go listen to this in the last week, it's probably worthy of posting.  Our friends at Radio Lab had a great piece a couple months back where they look at the Bible story where 7 trumpeters bring down the walls of Jericho.  They ask the question, how many trumpeters would it take to bring down a wall like that?  Along the way you learn quite a bit about acoustics, the science of sound.

It's about 15 minutes and available on their website.