Monday, October 3, 2016
This is the season of dancing squirrels, cool weather, declining mosquito populations, and Getting Things Done in the garden.
But the simple indulgence of enjoying all of the above has been overshadowed a bit by lingering remnants of my former life. So, having spent far too much time in diaristic grousing, I’m embarking on a new enterprise that involves taking more seriously my original intention of producing periodic essays on life, the universe, and nearly everything else. Now, in my idle dotage, I must rethink my website, Owldroppings, which was conceived back in 1997 as a student-focused site devoted to educational materials related to the classes I taught.
So, while the site fulfilled its purpose splendidly, especially in the absence of institutional web support (that came along nearly ten years later), that purpose no longer exists. I’ve left the pages mostly intact as I feel my way around rather blindly in a student-less world, but I’m now wondering whether or not to simply abandon it, or transform it into something new. Although I’ve thought of maintaining its focus on education, providing resources for progressive home schooling and/or lifelong learning, one alternative that seems the most sensible is to simply rename it “Owl’s Farm” and move this blog to that site and proceed from there.
I’m especially reluctant to abandon the domain name (owlfarmer dot com) because it was suggested by my dear, sweet, goofy, late father. A German acquaintance once pointed out to him that “Uhlmeyer,” when pronounced properly as “OO-leh-my-er,” sounded awfully like the equivalent of “owl farmer” in German. I’m not sure how this could be, since “owl” in German (“eule”) is pronounced more like “Oil-uh.” But apparently in some dialects it can be pronounced “oo-leh,” and my dad thought the idea of owlfarmers was hilarious. Soon afterwards, I was in need of a domain name when I decided to build the website, and he suggested “Owlfarmer”—and so it went. He had also discovered that “Uhlmeyer” freaks out the dictionary in Word, and when you ask it for alternative suggestions it comes up with “Whatever.” Had I tried that one, I might have beat John Scalzi to it—but only by a little.
One thing, of course, led to another, and after I started blogging in 2007, Owl's Farm begat Owl's Cabinet of Wonders. When some of my educational musings seemed a little out of tune with the Farm, I added The Owl of Athena (which later dissolved back into the Farm). And just before students started getting tired of blogging in general (and my blogs in particular), I convened The Owls' Parliament, the shortest-lived of them all. And of course I have been given all manner of owly things from carvings made from Mt. St. Helens ash to innumerable mugs, by friends and students who think I have a "thing" about owls. I don't, but there you go; I did it to myself. And I do appreciate the thought behind the gifts.
At any rate, the owlfarmer domain thus needs to stay, and since I really don’t remember how we came up with “Owldroppings” as the page name (it was better than Owl Barf, which was another suggestion--I’m pretty sure the choice involved alcohol), that’s completely expendable. One of the early hosts of the page, Matthew LaVelle, designed a cute Flash program that featured line drawings of various stylistic interpretations of owls, dropping randomly from the top of the page and piling up on the bottom. That would have made some sense of it, at least, but I lost the file. And Matt’s gone off to Oregon to grow wine and raise a family, so I don’t imagine he even remembers it.
So here’s the plan: improve my web design chops by updating my Dreamweaver skills, talk to my server about how to convert it to a blog, and archive the best of the educational stuff so it’s still available to stray students who wander by wanting to use something they remember.
If anyone who still reads this has any suggestions, please let me know. I don’t really need any technical help, because as many who have tried to help me with redesign in the past know, I’m ferociously selfish and egocentric and determined to effing do it myself, damnit. But I would welcome directional advice.
In the meantime, I’ll write next about dancing squirrels and Autumn in Texas. And maybe baseball.