I have been thinking a lot about getting back on the AT. Most of my thoughts have been centered around gear changes for the next trip. I wrote about this previously, and with some more research (along with a larger budget and access to incredible deals through work), I have come up with an ambitious goal of eliminating 10 lbs. from the dry weight (before food and water) of my pack.

This requires rethinking (and re-buying) almost everything in the pack, including the pack itself. I can save more than 4 ozs., for example, by buying a nice rain jacket. I have even started comparing the number of grams I can save by going to a watch-battery powered LED headlamp, rather than one that is powered by more powerful, but heavier, AAA batteries.

What will be next, sawing off the end of my toothbrush?

I think 10 lbs. is a reasonable, if ambitious, goal.

For all of the gentle readers out there, though, this is where I appeal to you. I am looking for volunteers to hike with me for short stretches of time. Anywhere from 2/3-day outing all the way up to a week or more would be welcome. One of the things I am reevaluating about the last attempt is that I definitely had issues with loneliness on the trail.

Details: I plan on starting the first week or so of July, 2010 in Maine and hopefully making it to the top of Springer Mountain, Georgia, by Thanksgiving. The trail comes within a few hours of basically every major city on the East Coast. If desired I can give rough dates of when I will be close to places like New York City, Washington, DC and so on.

You will be hiking quite a bit each day - I would say roughly 10-12 miles a day. We may or may not hike together every step; it might work out that we will get up in the morning, agree on a stopping point that day, and meet up at camp that evening. If our paces work out, you are definitely welcome to keep me company during the day, as well.

I will primarily be staying in AT shelters along the way, meaning if you plan it right you would not need to bring a tent with you. I will be carrying a stove, so you would be able to do without that, as well. A pack, some clothes, a sleeping bag and pad and you should be pretty well set. Oh, and your food. Need to bring some of that, obviously.

I plan on keeping about the same schedule as the last time I was on the Trail, hitching into town every 3-4 days to resupply.

Anyway, that is about what I have for now. I will post when I have more details, but contact me if this sounds like something you would be interested in.
Relocating to the D.C. area this coming weekend. Any job leads?
This weekend I spent at Hungry Mother State Park, in western Virginia. While there some friends of mine and I went and did an out-and-back dayhike along a section of the AT near Mount Rogers. We saw the famous wild ponies, and had lunch at the Thomas Knob Shelter. It was a short hike, about 6.5 miles total.

The next day we hiked to the top of Molly's Knob. About 1.5 miles each way, for another out-and-back hike.

Future plans:
My roommate has a conference in early March at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia. I think I am going to hitch a ride and then do a simple two-day up-and-back along the 8.5 mile approach trail to Springer Mountain. Nice 17 miles in two days.

Later in March I am going to do the Georgia section of the Benton MacKaye Trail. It is about 92 miles from Springer Mountain to the US Hwy 64 crossing. Should be a nice week out on the trail.

More information about the BMT:Ahh, the sweet freedom of unemployment...
Well, I promised a more in-depth entry upon return to Athens, so here goes...

Had a fairly good holiday vacation. Had a good Christmas and an even better New Year's.

This weekend I got back to "real life" only to find there is not currently a "real life" for me to return to. I am still unemployed, so today started the "I need to make sure I have rent money come 1 February" portion. I am sure some of you will be interested to hear that I just got done applying for a ICS position at the closest Fruit Stand. That store is about an hour away, so I am unlikely to end up working there, but we will see...

If anyone knows of anything in the Athens, GA area, definitely let me know.

Other than that life has been fairly uneventful. I am practicing my water conservation skills (learned in the VI, taken to another level in northeast Georgia this past year).

That is all for now.
So there has been some requests that I compose a LJ entry of actual "this is my life" substance, so here goes:

1) I quit my job at PeachMac. Today was my last day. It was fun, I enjoyed my coworkers, but computer retail, at least on a "on the floor" position, is not for me anymore.
2) I leave for a week in Kentucky tomorrow. Anyone in the Louisville area - I will be doing family things until the 26th. If you want to get together on the 26th. or 27th., just let me know.
3) I got an iPod Touch as a Christmas bonus from work, even though I was leaving.
4) I live behind a Waffle House. As a result I eat there a lot. I like it. So there.
5) I need a job. Anyone having any IT-related (or retail, or education) leads in the Athens, GA area, let me know.
6) I will write more about my future plans when I get back after Christmas break.

That is all.
So two nights ago I got Leopard Server up and running at work. Yesterday I got the mail server portion up and running. Or, at least, what I could test before the MX record moved over.

Today was my day off, and I got a call at 9am saying that the mail server was refusing incoming mail. No clue why, so I spent about two hours trying to come up with a solution. An outside contractor finally got it up and running, but it definitely required delving into the command line and slapping PostFix into shape. Definitely not the "Just turn on a switch" that OS X Server is known for.

So I spent two hours doing that, and then decided to upgrade to Leopard Client on my main machine. This was for two reasons:
1) 10.5.1 was released yesterday, meaning it has some of the early bugs worked out.
2) Server Admin tools for Leopard Server only run under Leopard Client. Does not make a ton of sense, but...

Got that up and running (only after trying to install a new 1GB SO-DIMM in the machine, only to learn it was a bad chip). Spent the remainder of the afternoon updating various applications to their Leopard-compatible versions, and the second big project of the day: Banking.

As I wrote previously, my bank was shut down by the government. Since then I have been researching accounts and, having decided on ING, opening a new checking account. My "account verification" finally went through, so the account is now up and running.

I spent the afternoon moving things around and generally updating the financial side of my life.

I have retirement plans set up in two places, so I researched rolling those over into a rollover IRA.
I connected my new ING account with my brokerage account.
I updated my automatic bill pay for my student loan.

That last step was a pleasant surprise. About forever years ago I set up auto account deduction for my student loan. $50/month on the 7th. of each month. Each month I would have to make sure I remembered that was going to get taken out, but never really put too much other thought or effort into it.

Today I checked and saw that I have only about $400 remaining to pay off! I have a little extra money right now, so I immediately cut that in half. Come spring of next year, that will no longer be hitting my checking account each and every month. It has been deducting for what seems like FOREVER (it has been almost ten years now).

Anyway, a highly productive day, but one that did not require me to change out of my pajama pants (or even really get up from in front of the computer.
I have decided to make it official - Never again will I work at a school. After this May, there will be no more substituting, no more support position, nothing.

I will continue to tutor and do other things in a one-on-one setting, but no more kids in group settings, at least in classroom settings.

I am just tired of the arguing, the obnoxious nature, the lies, the "you are a teacher, so my life is necessarily better than yours" attitude, and everything else.

I know this is simply symptomatic of adolescence, but every time I work at a school I end up hating it. I am making a promise to myself that I am not going to put myself into this situation again.
So in May I will be relocating to Athens, Georgia. I will write a more detailed entry on this at a later time.

In the meantime, though, I am also looking for a job in the Athens area. I will still most likely still be vehicle-less, so any position really actually needs to be in the Athens area. My experience is very diverse, obviously, so I am willing to hear about just about any job.

[Note: In a few months I will be celebrating three years without a vehicle. Woohoo! I admit that I do plan on getting a bicycle when I get to Athens, however.]
Really, I kept meaning to write up an end-of-2006 wrap-up, and I just never got around to it.

So much changed during this past December-January, and so much of it stayed the same.

I am still alive and well in the Virgin Islands. I still work the same job I had in November.

A few things to remind people what I am normally like in this journal:

* First, and most importantly, Barack Obama. I say "most importantly" in regards to this person in a very dissimilar way to most people who are throwing his name around. I have major issues with Sen. Obama. The word "issues" is probably the most important word in that last sentence. For the life of me, I cannot find out where the Senator stands on almost any issue! Alright, so I know he is against the war in Iraq, and that is all nice and good. And he has always been opposed to the war in Iraq. That is very commendable of him. Where is he on almost any other issue?

Check out The Democratic Party's webpage, for example. There is a nice "Agenda" link with major issues, and their stances on them. Now go to Sen. Clinton's Senate webpage. Again, an "On the Issues" link that takes you to a page listing the Senator's views on a wide variety of issues.

Try the same on Sen. Obama's Presidential Exploratory Committee webpage. Or on his Senate webpage.

I find it extremely scary that this many people are willing to get behind a politician who seems to be going out of his way to hide his stance on a great number of topics. Suppose you learned that he voted against increasing funding for Amtrak, despite talking about how we need to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Or that he voted in favor of continuing the USA PATRIOT Act? I mean, you all are the same people that were up in arms after watching "Fahrenheit 9/11", correct?

I am fine with people voting their beliefs, I just want people to do some research and make sure that Sen. Obama's stances, whatever they might be, match those of the people in his grassroots campaign.

* Next, we come to my future. I had set a "end of January" deadline for figuring out what I was going to be doing post-VI. Due to some things that were in the process of changing at the end of January, I was unable to meet that deadline, and therefore gave myself a two week extension to figure it all out. I am very close to a final decision, and I will let everyone know what it is when everything gets finalized. To give you a sneak-peek, it looks like I will be returning stateside, probably on 1 May 2007.

On a related note, my roommate might be staying on island after I leave. If you are interested in spending a few months in an apartment on St. Thomas, definitely get in touch with me.

* It looks at least probable that I will return to working at a Fruit Stand sometime this year. Location is definitely not set (see above), but we will see.

* Other things are going on in my life, and I might write a more private entry on those events. Things have been a bit rocky recently, but they seem to be working out well for now.

* I was pleased to see that Adium v1.0 was released yesterday. I installed it a few minutes ago, and while some of the new user interface is taking some getting used to, I am pleased with some of the advances. Being able to sort chat logs based on aliases is worth the upgrade alone. Yet another example of an outstanding GPL program.

* In other tech news, my eyeTV 200 recently blew itself up. I am in the process of mailing it off to el gato, and it looks like I will be getting an eyeTV 250 in exchange. I am really looking forward to getting a working one, since I recently found some software to help with the eyeTV software that looks really exciting. I anticipate playing around and hacking with that software. The software looks a little old, but I am really hoping I can get it working with the newer versions of eyeTV.

* It looks like I will be in the Atlanta area for my spring break (the first week of March) and would like to see people. Details forthcoming (as in "after I buy the plane ticket").

Hopefully I will get a couple more updates posted in the next couple of days, but I did want to get everyone caught up with what is going on.
To get caught up on a whirlwind week and a half:

I flew to Atlanta to visit. It was a good trip. Going through security, I ran into a little difficulty.  )

Spent some time in Athens, GA. Went kayaking on the Broad River. Went to a Red Sox game at Turner Field. It made me appreciate Fenway a lot more.

I checked in for my Tuesday flight back to Boston on Monday. Lucky me. I was flying AIrTran. Little did I know that their computers would completely crash Monday night, and they would not be able to check in ANYONE who did not check in prior to the crash. Thousands of people were waiting in line at their ticket counters. I was able to breeze through security and board the plane. We were running about an hour late, but in the grand scheme of things I think we were really lucky.

Oh, and security at ATL? Did not make me take off my shoes.

Got back Tuesday evening. Wednesday at the Fruit Stand, and Wednesday night I went to The Streets show at Avalon, on the band list. Great show.

Thursday was back to the Fruit Stand, and Thursday night was out with some coworkers for drinks (I just had a spinach and artichoke dip).

Friday morning was back, again, to the Fruit Stand. Friday night was out with a friend for a movie, dinner, and dessert.

Saturday and... well, you can guess. The Fruit Stand. Last night I stayed home, made some dinner, and watched a movie. Today I got up and met an out-of-town friend for brunch in Coolidge Corner. Came back, went for a run, and then just relaxed. Tomorrow is running, doctor's appointment, and then groceries.

Oh, and I might write an entry complaining about the Fruit Stand tomorrow. RIght now I just do not want to think about it.

EDIT: Oh, I forgot to mention the most important part of this weekend - I just purchased a one-way ticket from Atlanta to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. 28 August 2006. The big-bosses at the Fruit Stand do not know this yet, though, so...
Just an update on some various subjects.

1) QMaster and xServe: I got QMaster up and running on several of the PowerMacs. We have not had a chance to do any actual load testing yet. That will probably be on Tuesday. We have figured out a spot to put the xServe, and have install discs for 10.4 Server. That will be later in the week.

2) The eMate: Has not been delivered yet. Did some research over the weekend to figure out what I will need. The next step is to purchase either an ethernet card or, preferably, a wireless card for it, and then just sync it via TCP/IP.

3) EyeTV 200: I have been lazy and have not done any AppleScripting on it. I just try to sit down for 20 minutes once a week or so and pick a few shows to record. I really like the device. The software is only a 6/10, but it is good enough to not bug me too much.

4) The fish: I am going to get a fish to keep in my corner at work. Thanks to Kat for the idea.

5) Next year: The plan is still on to leave the country in the late summer/early fall. Current locales include the Virgin Islands, Greece, and Austria.

6) This week: LinuxWorld Boston 2006

7) Tomorrow: Pancake breakfast, purchasing running shoes, haircut, and then a couple of runs.

8) Right now: Sleep.
As many of you know, I have worked with high school students since... Well, since about the first year I was no longer a high school student myself. I have worked a variety of roles - tutor, counselor, teacher. In addition, I have served as a confident, and as a friend. I have stayed in contact with a large number of my old students, and have followed their progress through college.

David Brooks recently wrote an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, where he envisions talking to a Harvard University freshman-to-be and talks about what that student should learn while in college. He gets his recommendations from a wide variety of sources, and I agree with each of them.

The last paragraph, however, reminded me of something I wish I had pushed harder into my students' thick skulls.

Forget about your career for once in your life. This was the core message from everyone I contacted. Raised to be workaholics, students today have developed a "carapace, an enveloping shell that hinders them from seeing the full, rich variety of intellectual and practical opportunities offered by the world," observes Charles Hill of Yale. You've got to burst out of that narrow careerist mentality. Of course, it will be hard when you're surrounded by so many narrow careerist professors building their little subdisciplinary empires.

Do not get me wrong; I tried to push this idea in their head.

"All that matters is the piece of paper at the end, people do not really care what is written ON the piece of paper."

"Major in something you enjoy learning about, not what you think will help you get a job."

"You will change your mind several times about what you want to do for a living. Do not choose a school based on their credentials in the one field you think you are going to study."

I simply wish I had yelled it from the mountaintops. Written notes and hidden them in their backpacks. Followed up routinely with them to make sure they were not in a career rut before their careers even began. Smacked them upside the head when they were unable to see past their nose, stuck in one of their textbooks.

High school students simply put so much pressure on themselves. I believe a large part of it is coming from a society that means well. High school students are led to believe that their actions have life-long impact. To some degree, this is true. However, all too often it is micromanaged down to "If I get a C on this chemistry exam, I will get a B in this class. If that happens, I will not get into my top college choice, and will not be able to study the pre-med curriculum that will get me into a top med school."

As our culture has made adolescence even longer, students need to take advantage of the full opportunities that are before them. Perhaps that is the exact problem. Perhaps when faced with so many choices, students are overwhelmed and fall back onto something safe and known.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.

I would like to say that this behavior changes after college, that friends of mine my own age look back at college with regret. "Wow, I wish I had taken a little more time to stop and smell the roses." Unfortunately they are not that enlightened just yet. Will I be writing the same about them in ten years hence? Are most people doomed to a life of pre-planned certainty, all at the expense of actually living?

I suppose I am the living representation of taking this advice to the extreme. I never knew what I wanted to do for a living. The more subjects I studied, the more people I met, and the more experiences I had, the less and less idea I had. As many of you read last February, I finally decided to simply embrace this idea.

I just wish I had been better able to get this across to my students.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The current plan:
16/17 July 2005: Head back to Louisville, KY
17-24 July 2005: Pack and supply for the AT.
24/25 July 2005: Head to Maine to begin the AT.
Mid-November 2005: Finish the AT in Georgia.
Mid-November - Thanksgiving: Visit friends in Georgia.
Thanksgiving: Return to Louisville.
December - May: Work somewhere, saving lots of money.

From there, currently there are two options.

Option 1: Move to the Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, or Puerto Rico. Get a job to pay the bills and just enjoy life.

Option 2: Do some traveling with friends for the rest of 2006, including possibly (but not limited to) Japan for 10 days in May, and Europe for a month or so in the fall.

I am happy with either option. Option 1 looks like a more realistic plan (strange to be saying that dropping everything and moving to the Virgin Islands is the more "realistic" thing), but Option 2 would be fun, as well. I could always move to the Virgin Islands later.

[Oh, and ignore the "mood" tag. This afternoon I woke up from a nap in an inexplicable bad mood. I have been grumpy since then. This evening did not help, either.]
Given my current place in life, I have been thinking about my future goals. The main problem I kept running into was a lack of direction. There does not seem to be anything I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. Indeed, there are almost no things I can see myself doing for more then a year or two at a time. The only jobs I have ever enjoyed were short-term gigs. Anytime I tried to make them long-term they lost their appeal quickly.

So here I am, without direction again, and hesitant to make a move in any direction for fear, or even knowledge, that it will be the wrong direction to go in. I am unable to make a choice for fear of making a choice.

There are so many things I want to do with my life, though, and there seemed no way to accomplish them.

That explains my current position - getting older, without direction or a career, and without any real desire to lock myself into one.

The last couple of days, though, I came to a realization, an epiphany. Not only is it a direction, in a sense, but also a new way of looking at life. While I will probably be able to describe the new direction, the new paradigm might be more difficult to describe.

I have decided the only person I am responsible to in this life is myself, at least as far as accomplishments and satisfaction go. I have done enough in my life to improve future generations and, with them, the world. I am never one to be locked down in an office somewhere, and I am not one who is ever going to be happy doing something for more than a couple of years. Therefore I should do what I want to do.

This life will be like a vacation. The time I have on this earth should be enjoyed. I should take advantage of all life has to offer me. I am already wasting time. I have done a lot of different things in my life, and when I look back on all of these things, I realize how much I enjoy the variety. I like the different people I have met. I have liked the challenges, and I like new things. I should not be bothered if I am unable to find something permanent that might end these experiences in the future. I should rejoice in the fact that I have accomplished so much so far, and should not quit now!

Rather than try to find some end to the constant exploration and foolish errands, they should be embraced and accepted.

A job will be an ends to a mean. If it is better than that, so be it. Otherwise it will simply be something tolerated until something more fun comes along. It will be something that is used to collect and save money and then discarded.

Things I will do, in no real order at all:
1) I will hike the Appalachian Trail
2) I will take a backroads tour of America on a motorcycle.
3) I will live for some time on an island somewhere.
4) I will step on every continent, including Antarctica.
5) I will immerse myself in a language for a long enough time to learn it.
6) I will take a performance driving class.
7) I will fly in a helicopter.
8) I will live in NYC for a while.
9) I will compete in a few duathlons.
10) I will visit Sole in Ecuador.

This list is always subject to addition. I will continue to work, but only as a means to support these goals. Jobs will be filler between these things. They can take place alongside some of these goals, but will probably never be the center of my life.

Right now the first goal will be to hike the AT. My current lease ends on 1 September 2005. I could work until then, save money, research, and purchase gear. When I get back from that... Well, I will figure it out from there.
Last week I submitted my application to Tufts University for their M.A. Mathematics program.

Right now the plan is to leave here regardless of where I go. I need to send out some resumes this week to some different high schools.

This weekend was nice - no kids were around.

Damn kids.
It has been a while since I wrote in here. The reason for that is that there has not been too much going on. Work goes on. I eat, I sleep, I work, and I really do not do too much other than that.

I have been working on a grad school application. I hope to have that finished up before this weekend.

Other than that, I am trying to figure out what I am going to do over February extended (and March extended, for that matter)
So I have been giving thought to what I will be doing next year.

1) Email Tufts and ask them to re-consider my application.
2) Apply to WKU's math program and get a job at the Center.
3) Stay at IMSA one more year.

The problems:
1) Requires that I not be able to work the opening of the Academy.
2) Requires I live in Bowling Green, KY (also known as "The Fast Food Circle of Hell")
3) Requires me to... well... stay at IMSA one more year.

So all three have their problems. I do not have to decide now, though. I am going to email Tufts and fill out WKU's application. When I hear back from both of them then I will have to make a decision.

Any other suggestions will definitely be entertained.

[I really like this song. I am going to have to get the album. Before anyone complains - I have this song on an indie CD compilation I bought from ear X-tacy No illegal downloading here.]
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