1000 Miles or Bust!

Take a Hike…

WordPress Spreadsheet 0.55 released

WordPress Spreadsheet 0.55 is an interim release that offers numerous new features and bug fixes over the previous major version. At this point, I would say I am about halfway to the increase in user interface functionality I want to accomplish in version 0.6. As usual, you can download a zip file containing wpSS v0.55 from the WordPress SpreadSheet website.

Changes in this interim release:

  • Cell Locking/Cell Protection. Cells may now be locked (protected) individually by any user by pressing ctrl-L with a cell selected. Autolocked columns and rows are not affected by pressing ctrl-L. Locked cells do save with the spreadsheet (if the user can save.)
  • The arrow keys and TAB keys now work as they normally would in a spreadsheet, that is: entering data and advancing to the next cell.
  • Added toolbars button to add a row at the bottom or add a column at right.
  • Added a toolbar button that makes for prettier number displays by modifying the cell’s formula to =FIXED(oldcellcontents).
  • Added nicer, graphical toolbar buttons using icons from famfamfam.com.
  • Continued to fix minor display bugs in various browsers. No progress on Netscape display issues, though it is working.
  • Fixed bug in editing spreadsheet admin page where after using the save/load/clear buttons, the spreadsheet would reload with auto_locking turned back on.

User interface items projected for wpSS version 0.6 that are still under development include:

  • Selecting ranges of cells with a mouse drag or shifted arrow keys.
  • Copying and pasting ranges of cells.
  • Relative range addresses should automatically adjust when pasted into their new cells.
  • Inserting a column or row at any point in the SS.
  • Deleting a row or column.

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May 22nd, 2007 Posted by Tim | Hacking, Every last post | one comment

Bear Peak

Bear Peak Shrouded in ThundercloudsMost of the hikes so far this year have not had much in the way of relief, but the spring weather has finally turned hot and the muddy trails have finally dried. So Francoise and I decided to tackle Bear Peak, which is a long steep hike, although not necessarily all that many miles. But the average difficulty factor on my hikes has been slipping of late–I grade hiking the Mesa trail as having a 1.0 difficulty factor for my purposes, both in terms of the quality of the terrain and the elevation gained. Hiking Bear Peak is a bit more of a challenge, and I have no doubt the first ascent of the year will make me too sore to hike much for a day or two.

The hike up began with another great photo-op–the same butterflies in Bear Canyon that I encountered the other day, sans camera. And since it was within the first mile, it was still in the grumpy ‘oh, this is going to be hot and difficult even if we did start early in the morning’ stage, before the limbs unwind and the body is convinced that it will be here, doing this for a while, hiking and walking uphill. I swear there are times when my body seems to act like aWhere the Plains Meet the Mountains puppy on a hike, eager to run exuberantly up the trail at the start of the day, dragging behind the mind for the next bit of the trail, before gradually coming into rhtyhm with the mind and the will, the will that will have the body climb up this mountain. The phenomenology of the split-self metaphor hits us all, I suppose.

Bear Canyon trail is exceptionally pretty in the spring, though i do marvel that the power compant strang poles up the canyon.  How on earth will they ever replace them?   It finally tops out after the Green mountain trail intersection, and then comes the long slow traverse before the last push up Bear Peak, which is a bit of a scramble at the very top.  Francoise had the good sense to wait below the actual summit at the junction with Fern Creek trail, but I made the scramble to enjoy the feeling of sitting on air.  Unfortunately the summit quickly became rather crowded–someone was even trying to convice their dog to scramble to the top–so I bailed soon.  Summits are better enjoyed alone.

There’s not much to say about the descent via Fern Creek, other than I was certain that my legs were going to hurt for a few days.  Usually I like to do this route in the opposite order as I prefer a gentle descent, but c’est la vie.

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May 18th, 2007 Posted by Tim | 1000 miles, Every last post | no comments

Butterflies in Bear Canyon

Butterflies In Bear CanyonSome days time just runs away from us and leaves us grasping at unfulfilling false starts, days without rhythm, without form or conclusion. I had had one of those days, despite starting with a solid walk early in the morning. But it had turned into a day scattered with distractions, interruptions from the person from Porterville, anathema to concentration. So without much done I went for another short hike in the early evening to settle my thoughts–when I came upon this photographic metaphor for the day–butterflies in Bear Canyon, now flitting above a small reflecting pool, pensively perching again on the path, rippling and disquieted by my interruption. I sat and watched as the same waves ensued for a jogger, for a man and dog, for the long-legged woman with Achilles’ limp. They may have thought me odd, sitting cross-legged and watching butterflies, but they did not pause to see. They are as Nietzsche once wrote of philosophers–”sweating like beasts, clambering toward their Archimedean summits, they fail to realize that there are beautiful views to be had along the way.” That is too often true of me as well: More often than not, my hikes, my days and my life lack having butterflies in Bear Canyon.

(photo credit: FEC)

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May 15th, 2007 Posted by Tim | 1000 miles, Every last post | no comments

Lost while Larking off on a Spur road

Larkspur along the roadThere aren’t many places that I don’t know where I am within Boulder county, but today’s hike was one of those times. As usual, we headed out without as map–the intrepid five of the six who had Sunday brunch at Leaf. I had wanted to hike from the Gross Reservoir end of Flagstaff Road for about a year and a half, because last fall I had hiked a few miles down toward Gross on an old four-wheel drive road with Randi. That year’s aspen colors were amazing, but the hike was long and we never seemed to make it around that last bend in the corner to where we could see Gross or at least the Walker Ranch burn. Eventually Randi and I had turned back without getting to where I thought we would come out (it was one of the last longish hikes for Libby before her knee pain finally had us call a halt to hiking with the dog).

So I was eager to try starting the hike from the other direction. My memory of the starting from the Gross Reservoir side was that it was quite confusing as to what was a road, what was a driveway, and what was a trail. I was right–we were quickly lost and casting about for a trail–and the only other day hikers starting around the same time were equally as confused. Fortunately, we figured out which fork in the road to follow, and the five us set off on a pleasant amble up a mountain lane. But since I had suggested the day’s route, I spent the first half of the hike preoccupied, trying to figure out where we were going, whether the terrain resembled the Aspen hike Randi and I had taken more than a year before. It didn’t–instead of leading to Gross Reservoir the road wandered toward Twin Sisters Rock, which I remembered having rock-climbed in college. And when our four-wheel drive track came down into a different dead-end county road, I was even more baffled. Not so much about where I was now–as the Repo Man so eloquently put it: wherever you go, there you are. All we had to do was retrace our steps to get back to the car, and there was no doubt that that back county road was a spur road off Magnolia road. Besides, growing up I had hung out with a good friend who lived on the Magnolia side of the Twin Sisters Rock, and the county road seemed familiar in that I-sorta-remember-this-from-high-school way. But why hadn’t we come into the road Randi and I had walked last fall?

At least on the return trip I was able to put aside my uneasy confusion behind me and chat a bit. Hiking with five is a good number–it is easy to hold a conversation in pairs and occasionally even in threes, while nobody waits and woofs if you want to focus on taking a long flower shot or want to hike alone a bit. The number makes for a pleasant drifting in and out of conversations, synchronizing thoughts now with this friend, then with that one. Ron sounded Gina and I out on his latest observations upon his return from China and India–that the economic system had very little to do with a society’s success or failure due to too many intervening variables–a great disappointment for a rational libertarian like him. The conversation always drifts from politics and ideology to history and books, and it reminded me that I wanted to loan them my copy of American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips (great read!), not to mention borrow some books from each of them. Then there is the idea of reviewing books and such on my blog, rather than just filling it with hapless tales of an itinerant soul. But it is almost summer, and the thought of getting a reading discussion group together was ill-received… until the winter. Ah, Colorado–everyone wants to backpack all summer, read in the winter. Me, too, actually.

The Sulci and Gyrii of South Boulder CreekIn the end, I had to consult a map at home to get some idea of the differences between where I had been today and a year and more ago–two different valleys, two different spur roads of Magnolia, one memory that had clouded them together. But I didn’t really get a grip on where I had been until the following week when I took this photo of the various drainages of South Boulder Creek from atop Bear Peak. Thinking back upon this hike from a better vantage, it is easy to realize my mistake. The mountains are replete with sensous folds, and they make it easy to get lost in the crevices of our memories. One drainage blends into another; the mountains and the brain are both complex topographies of sulci and gyrii, networks of spurs, ridges and valleys through which the mind slips and slides, hikes and hides. One conversation blends into another; this time into that; one year into the next; and it takes the philosopher’s trick of climbing to an overarching perspective to know–nay, to feel–where one has been wandering, wondering; thinking, walking; conversing, hiking.

Lost on a lark about? A better way to spend a Sunday I know not.

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May 13th, 2007 Posted by Tim | 1000 miles, Every last post | no comments

Deja vu on the creek path

Due to the Boulder Police shutting down the area around Boulder High this morning, Lauren and I randomly ended up walking east instead of west on the creek path today. That turned out to be propitious, as I had the very surreal experience of running into a friend I worked with in Boulder nearly 20 years ago. He was meandering along the creek path in the opposite direction out near the office parks on east Pearl, and when we first passed him I slowed down as I thought I recognized him, but wasn’t quite sure. In any case, I couldn’t at first attach a name to his face, so we just passed him by. But in musing about it with Lauren, I finally hit on the fact that it was Juan F., with whom I had worked and who had been hanging out back then with my upstairs neighbor and former high-school Spanish classmate, Cyndi, the year after I finished my undergraduate degree. Moreover, one of the offices in which we had worked together had been exactly on the other side of the creek from where I had happened to bump into Juan. It is a small Boulder.

You know by now that on the way back I took a chance and asked if he was in fact Juan. He was, and we had nice little chat about how our lives had gone since those days. Despite my vanishing to parts non-Colorado for more than a decade, it turned out that he and I had lived for a time in the same neighborhood in Denver, gotten married, wrote software, both had joined the petty bourgeoisie and were home-owners–none of which were actually exceptional in themselves, I suppose, because many members of my same generation have now done the same things–hey, I’m nearly 40 after all. But Juan and I used to have raging philosophical discussions back and forth as we stared diligently ahead into the computer monitors, drawing bits of mathematical art for a calculus textbook we were being paid to illustrate. More importantly, however, we were forever discussing our goals of becoming artists and writers, and sharing some of the twists in the stories we planned to write. And that naturally led me to reflect a bit on what my ideals had been then, and what decisions had been made since that led me along this path instead of that path until one sunny spring day I bumped into Juan again on the Creek Path. And he was dressed in a suit, just coming from a job interview as a programmer, and we both laughed about having a life that where we now wrote bits of code that few ever read.

So I could turn this entry into a soliloquy about the life paths not chosen, so on and so forth, and perhaps I already have. But the real point is not that. It is that seeing Juan reminded me that there is more to my 1000 miles of hiking resolution than simply hiking 1000 miles. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig’s character has a magnificent little soliloquy about what it means to hike–synchronizing the rhythms of your breath and your legs, getting the body back into the frame of mind that says ‘hey, you are going to be doing this for a while,’ and the mental freedom, the free play of the imagination, that rhythmic physical activity engenders.

Well, I haven’t been writing about that side of hiking. Perhaps it has been that I’ve been too focused on the numbers, or perhaps it has just been that it has been that I’d rather gripe about how difficult it is to reestablish a habit (speaking of: meeting with damned house contractors ate up a bunch of my time and potential miles this week!). But bumping into Juan reminded me that my resolution was as much about reestablishing a writing habit as much as it was about reestablishing a hiking habit, as much about blogging as it is about hiking. And while I’ve never been a diarist before, I wanted the blogging and hiking habits to spring into the free play of the imagination, not just into a head for the numbers and writing a spreadsheet application to keep track of the numbers. Yet somehow it has taken more of the latter direction than the former, and so I feel the blade of the old saw that old habits die hard. Et tu, deja vu?

A resolution, properly executed, can change your life. I’m not sure I’ve been walking the right path on this 1000-mile hike so far.

What Juan reminded me was that it is time to shift directions and write about what I’ve been thinking or talking about on my hikes. If you see that shift happen, it will be better measure of progress than the mere measure of miles toward an arbitrary numerical goal.

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May 10th, 2007 Posted by Tim | 1000 miles, Every last post | one comment

WordPress Spreadsheet 0.5 released

WordPress Spreadsheet 0.5 is an incremental improvement from the initial release version. The major revisions in this version include adding an spreadsheet editing page and a spreadsheet options page to the WordPress admin menus. Additionally, autolocking rows and columns has been implemented and the interactive display now has limited power for anyone other than the WordPress administrator. Some minor GUI display glitches have been fixed as well.

First, there is now a wpSpreadsheet editing subpanel the Write menu in the admin pages to facilitate editing spreadsheets, which was clunky at best in the previous version. The display=interactive option now does not have the option of clearing the spreadsheet or loading/saving any spreadsheet id #, as that was granting too much power to any user. Instead, a user’s interactive display of a spreadsheet is restricted to saving and reloading that particular spreadsheet id #. However, the WordPress administrator still has access to the clearing the spreadsheet and the spreadsheet id # button when display=interactive .

Second, from an “options menu” administration page you can access wpSS-specific options, such as auto-locking rows and columns to protect formulas you do not want others to change (beats editing the PHP code!). The eventual idea here is to be able to create use wpSS to create enduser-fillable, savable forms where the enduser can’t muck up the spreadsheet’s formulas… a feature which most online spreadsheets strangely seem to lack.

As usual, you can download a zip file containing wpSS v0.5 from the WordPress SpreadSheet website.

Most of the code changes in 0.5 focused on the PHP/Javascript code base that interacts with WordPress. In the next version I am planning to focus on the Javascript user interface for the spreadsheet, specifically:

  • providing a keystroke or menu option to lock or protect individual cells
  • inserting and deleting rows and columns
  • copying and pasting
  • nicely formatted numbers, hopefully no more of this bazillion decimal point stuff
  • in-place cell editing, not just in the formula bar
  • selecting multiple cells
  • maybe even some more (and standard) date functions, possibly even formatted

Note also that the syntax of the DATEFROM(year, month, day) function has been changed. Month now accepts numbers from 1 to 12 as you would expect, not the counter-intuitive Unix-ian 0 to 11 of wpSS v0.4. There are also some minor GUI improvements made to the Opera and IE6 spreadsheet display routines.


WordPress SpreadSheet Editing Page

WordPress SpreadSheet Options Page

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May 9th, 2007 Posted by Tim | Hacking, Every last post | 3 comments

White-tailed in Wonderland

Francoise and I went for a longish hike (7.4 mi) again, cranking out some miles if not doing much in the way of wildflower spotting. We started at Wonderland Lake, hiked the Foothills trail and then Hogback Ridge, and thencoming down we spotted this herd grazing placidly on the range. All in all, May’s hiking has gotten off to a good start, though with some home improvement projects coming up it may suffer–but here’s to averaging well above 3.3 miles over the first two days!

Whitetails in Wonderland

Photo credit: Francoise Cooperman

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May 2nd, 2007 Posted by Tim | 1000 miles, Every last post | no comments

An April of Almosts

In April I came close to hiking the eighty-two-and-a-half miles I needed to manage to make quota for the first month, but the snow and heavy rain early in the month set me far enough back that not even the warmer weather toward the end of the month could allow me to catch up. Still, I managed to hike 71.6 miles in April for a pretty even pace of 2.4 miles a day. That’s much better than most months so far, and reverses a worrisome trend. Consider the following spreadsheet of monthly hiking miles:

In January and February I was averaging about 1.75 miles a day, thanks in no small part to our vacation in Hawaii in January and snowshoeing and ski hut trips in February. But March was another story–it was mud season here on the Front Range and the hiking was cold, wet, slow and difficult–and so I managed only about 1.2 miles a day hiking, not good at all. Moreover, I went hiking on fewer days in march than in the previous two months, which was a huge handicap. It makes me wonder if I really am a fair-weather hiker after all. So after that dismal performance, 2.4 miles a day in April seems much better.

After 4 months I am at about 64% of the necessary mileage to be on track for 1000. But to not fall behind, I’ve got to up my goal from the 2.75 miles a day to at least 3.3 miles a day for the rest of the year. So even though I didn’t make my goal of averaging 2.75 miles a day in April, in May my goal is to average at least 3.3 miles a day. And actually, I need to do start exceeding my monthly goals–I am not likely to average 3.3 miles a day in November and December.

So May’s real goal is hit not just 102.3 miles (3.3 a day) , but to break 100 miles by a goodly margin, say at least 10%. And in June, July and August the bar needs to be set even higher…

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May 1st, 2007 Posted by Tim | 1000 miles, Every last post | no comments